The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Rev 1:4-5

Jeff "Miztah" Rogers By Jeff "Miztah" Rogers, 14th Nov 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Religion

John gets right to the point and broadens the audience of this book to the "Seven Churches"

The Heavenly Greeting to the Seven Churches

After the Spirit of God finished his introduction of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ as given to Christ by God, delegated from Christ to his appointed angel and relayed from the angel to the Apostle John, John gets right to the point and broadens the audience of this book to the "Seven Churches".

John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:4-7

In addressing this book to the "Seven churches which are in Asia" we again are faced squarely with the issue of audience context. Note he did not say to some enumerated group of churches in Europe, or in the Americas or in Africa. He distinctly addressed his words to the seven churches which are in Asia.

Looking at this in even greater detail we note that as john wrote in the first century his present tense address to the churches which "ARE" in Asia. He never said to the seven churches which will be in a representative sense in Asia. He never declared that these were churches that represent seven church ages or periods of church history. This is a fairly common view in our day and I believe it has little merit or textual support. If the seven churches of Asia represented seven periods of church history starting with Ephesus in the early church and ending with Laodicea. This would show a pattern of degeneration through the history of the church. My problem with that is that the bible elsewhere teaches that the church is ultimately victorious. So to end with a pathetic church does not seem to fit the pattern of Christ's kingdom moving forward and achieving victory.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4

Another problem I have with the history of the church view is that of the issue of the imminency of Christ's return. If you are going to project the return of Christ on into our future and these churches represent all the different and progressive church ages leading up until the actual return of Christ then how do you maintain the idea that Christ could come at any time? How could the church at Smyrna or Philadelphia, Sardis or any BUT Laodicea maintain the teaching of the imminent return of Christ?

But the best answer to this half way theory about the seven churches being seven ages is the text itself. The present tense "Are" indicates that these churches were all in existence in the first century and actually co-existent with each other. Wouldn't it make sense for John to write seven different letters and like Daniel Seal up the letters for the time of the later churches if these were to represent the ages of the church history? Then if we followed the dispensational thinking we could be opening the seal on our Laodicean letter for our current age. I know it sounds silly…probably because it is.

Remember our introduction in verses 1-3 of chapter 1. We are confronted with very clear time statements: "things which must shortly come to pass;", "the time is at hand", "Soon" and "Near". These Churches were to see the things recorded in this book within these first century time period. How can the later churches be said to be participating within those time frames without making John a deceiver, a liar and a false prophet. John did not single out some churches for" Soon" and "Near" events and other churches for later and delayed events; that kind of language is not to found anywhere in the book.

Suffice it to say that it is this authors opinion that the seven churches of Asia were all churches that literally existed and that John had firsthand first century knowledge of and that all of the Revelation of Jesus Christ applied equally to each of the seven churches at the same time.

I will examine some more details about these churches as we look at the individual letters in chapters 2-3. In these chapters John has specific messages from Jesus directed to each individual church, but to summarize the prologue, John gives a general greeting in verse 4 to each of the churches equally.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.

The general greeting that John is passing on from "Him which is, and which was and which was to come" and from the Seven Spirits which are before "HIS" Throne. Here we are already seeing some of the cryptic nature of the language used in this great book. But let us not be put off by this language. We can see that John does not leave us in doubt about who this is. John is using the past. present and the future tense to describe for us the eternality of Christ. In chapter 1 verse 8 we see that he uses this language again and couples it with the all-encompassing phrase "Alpha and Omega" again indicating the eternality of Christ.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8

So this general greeting to the seven churches of Grace and Peace is from none other than the eternally existing almighty God. As Jesus did say earlier in the book of John, I and my Father are one, if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Here again John is giving us that statement of equivalence again.

But not only do we have the 1st person of the trinity represented in this greeting to the seven churches we have this other character mentioned; "From the seven Spirits which are before HIS throne." This phrase is a very interesting one. We read of this seven-fold Spirit of the Lord which was to rest upon the Stem out of the root of Jesse in Isaiah 11.

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;" Isaiah 11:1-2

Here in this verse we see the "Seven Spirits" represented. (1) The Spirit of the Lord. (2) The Spirit of Wisdom. (3) The Spirit of understanding. (4) The Spirit of Counsel. (5) The Spirit of Might. (6) The Spirit of Knowledge. (7) The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord. Here again are the character traits of Christ are extolled, exalted and praised. We know that Isaiah was referring to Christ for that is to whom the Stem of Jesse refers. But we need to recognize that this is also a reference to the Holy Spirit. And this Spirit is co-regent with Christ in His kingdom and that is why John mentions that these seven Spirits are "Before His (that is Christ's) throne.

So much could be said here about this throne reference. It goes to the fact that at the time John wrote this epistle Jesus was already seated on his throne. We need not take John's word alone on this, Peter on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 declared Jesus to have already ascended to the kingly throne that was promised as far back as David. (Please go read for yourself). Then we have the reference in Hebrews 8:1

Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

This High priestly role of Christ is also conducted from His majestic throne. This is a reference to the same High Priest mentioned seven times in Hebrews chapters 4-8, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek."

This also is a fulfillment of the Priesthood prophesied in Zechariah chapter 6 where he speaks of "The Branch" who will build His temple and a Priest shall sit upon his throne.

And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. Zechariah 6:12-13

We have barely scratched the surface of this incredible greeting and yet in just one verse we have so much, and in our evaluation of these texts we are going to have to leave so much meat behind on the table. I trust that you will continue to eat of the heavenly manna that is the word of God from these texts on your own. Next time we will finish the greeting with the words from verse 5

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood Revelation 1:5

We will see next time that this phenomenal greeting is from all three in the Godhead; Father, Spirit and Son. You may have started to notice many references that we have made to of texts in the Old Testament. This will continue as we go and it will grow.

For further study on the branch and the seven fold Spirit of God please go back to Zechariah and look at these passages. Zechariah 2:10-11, 3:8-10, 4:1-14. Take note of the these other themes as well as these will appear in the book of Revelation as we move forward. Themes like; The Lord "coming", the nations coming to the Lord, the lord dwelling among his people, the branch, the stone with seven eyes, the lampstands, the olive trees, the seven eyes and other ideas that will either appear or already have appeared in the text of this amazing book. I look forward to digging through these and other themes as they begin to show themselves in the text. So much more to come.

Tags

Church History, Ephesus, Laodicea, Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thiatyra

Meet the author

author avatar Jeff "Miztah" Rogers
Lived in many places in the U.S.. Served in the Air Force for 21 years. retired from active duty in 2002. Traveled extensively, lived 8 years in Europe. I write about the bible, faith, and new ideas

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
18th Nov 2011 (#)

Your knowledge of the Bible and your faith are so compelling that I can only read and re-read. Thanks so much for including me as one of your followers.

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