Day 350 – Thru the Bible
Today we start Revelation. Here’s the overview video for Revelation 1-11.
Video – Read Scripture: Revelation
How does this video help you understand Revelation 1-11 better?
Revelation 1 – John presents his book as the revelation of Jesus Christ; that is, the book comes from and is about Jesus. God gave the message to Jesus, who sent His angel to John with it, so that the servants of Jesus would be motivated to bear witness to the word of God and to Jesus. John pronounces the first of seven beatitudes in the book on the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, on those who hear, and on those who keep what is written in it. Because He died and rose again, Jesus now reigns and blesses those who are faithful to Him.In Revelation, John is not so much teaching the Gospel as he is building on it, encouraging Believers to endure because of it, and to be faithful to it even unto death. Consequently, he does not always refer to the gospel of Jesus’ atoning work to defeat the guilt and power of our sin explicitly. In verse , however, John refers to Jesus as “the firstborn of the dead” because His resurrection guarantees the general resurrection ( Corinthians ). John also identifies Jesus as the One “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.” Jesus loves sinners and has freed us from our sins. This is the wonder of the Gospel.
At many points, such as here, John presents the salvation Jesus has accomplished as the ultimate fulfillment of a rescue of God’s covenant people analogous to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Jesus dies as the new and better Passover Lamb. Moreover, just as God made Israel a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), so here, having redeemed us from sin and death, Jesus makes us “a kingdom, priests to his God and Father.”
We receive John’s worshipful response to this Gospel message as he ascribes to Jesus glory and dominion forever and ever. Because of the salvation Jesus has accomplished, He is worthy of praise. John refers to the death of Jesus as he describes Jesus coming with the clouds (in fulfillment of Daniel 7:13) when at His second coming “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.” This piercing took place at the cross in fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10, which is itself reflecting the piercing of the Davidic servant in Isaiah 53. By citing Zechariah 12:10 and Daniel 7:13, John brings together the Old Testament themes of the suffering and conquering Messiah, identifying the former with Jesus’ first coming and the latter with His second.
John identifies with his audience as their brother and partner in both the tribulation and the kingdom, requiring patient endurance on the part of those who live between the two comings of Jesus. One consistent New Testament theme related to the Gospel is that those who embrace it will face tribulation (Matthew 5:11–12; Mark 10:29–30; Acts 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 2:21). The pattern of suffering-to-glory undergone by the Savior is the pattern for His disciples.
John himself has been exiled to Patmos because of “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus,” likely a reference to the way that he has borne witness to the Gospel. In the midst of his affliction, the risen Christ appears to him in glory, and the way that Jesus presents Himself to John in His resurrection glory is applied to the churches in Revelation 2–3.
John is not to fear, because Jesus is eternal, and also because of the victorious Gospel: Jesus tells him in verse 18 that He died and yet is alive forever. This assertion means that even if those united to Jesus are put to death, He can guarantee that death will not hold His followers just as death could not hold Him, as the firstborn from the dead. This is stated even more explicitly when Jesus declares that He has “the keys of Death and Hades.” Death and hell cannot bind the followers of Jesus.
In Jesus, death itself has been undone. Those who are in Him have nothing to fear on earth. Our eternal future could not be more secure.
How does this encourage you?
Revelation 2 & 3 – Jesus applies the results of His death and resurrection to the churches in threats of discipline and promises of reward. Because of what He accomplished and His consequent status as our heavenly enthroned Lord, He can guarantee both.
Jesus announces that He walks among the lampstands as He threatens to remove the lampstand of the church in Ephesus. Jesus again asserts that He died and came to life, then He calls the church in Smyrna to be faithful unto death. Threatening to war against them with “the sword of my mouth” (i.e., his Word, 2:16; Ephesians 6:17; Revelation 19:15, 21; and for John, Jesus is also the representation of that Word; John 1:1), Jesus warns the church in Pergamum that He has the sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus tells the church in Thyatira that He has eyes like a flame of fire and then warns that He searches mind and heart.
The church in Sardis is dead and needs the One who has the seven spirits of God (3:1) to enable them to wake up, strengthen, remember, keep what they received, and repent. Because Jesus has the key of David, He can set before the church in Philadelphia an open door to God’s eternal purposes, and because He is the faithful and true witness, the church in Laodicea should heed His counsel.
Because of the truth of the Gospel, Ephesus should maintain its first love (2:4) and Laodicea should not be lukewarm (3:16); Smyrna and Philadelphia should stand fast against the persecution from the synagogue of Satan (2:9; 3:9), and Pergamum, Thyatira, and Sardis should avoid the kinds of compromises with false teaching (2:14, 20) that result in eating food sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality (2:14, 20). Perhaps hiding their compromise resulted in their false reputation of being alive, but those who do such things are dead (3:1). Those who are enduring patiently (2:3), being faithful unto death (2:10), are heeding what the Spirit says to the churches and obeying the call to repent (2:5, 16, 21; 3:3, 19) as they hold fast to the Gospel (2:25; 3:11). They will eat from the tree of life (2:7), will not be hurt by the second death (2:11), will receive a new name (2:17), and will have authority over the nations (2:26).
Jesus promises the one who overcomes that He will never blot his name out of the book of life, and will make him a pillar in the temple. Overcomers will have clothing for their nakedness and salve for their eyes, and they will sit with Jesus on His throne, having conquered as He did. They endure, Jesus says, “for my name’s sake”; as they do so, they hold fast Jesus’ name and have not denied that name. The identification of “overcomers” with those who are united to Jesus is important for correct interpretation. Overcoming, for the apostle John, is not a consequence of human effort but a result of faith in the work of Christ Jesus (see 1 John 5:4–5).
Jesus identifies Himself as the one who has brought Good News, and on the basis of the way He has accomplished salvation, He (1) offers the rewards of the Gospel to those who are faithful to His provision for them, (2) threatens judgment against those who stray from the Gospel, and (3) asserts that those who maintain the Gospel do so for the glory of His name.
Keeping in mind, that John is setting up the rest of the book in these opening chapters, we can still see the choice each church is given – compromise or remain faithful.
When you’re tempted to compromise, how does the Gospel keep or restore you?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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