I am preparing a lesson for our Connect Groups this Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. Our lesson this week is based on the book of Revelation, chapter 1. This is not a complicated book if you pay attention to the extremely important details. Understanding the layout of the entire book helps clarify the message. The layout of the book of Revelation is found in chapter 1 and verse 19.
Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.
The author of the book of Revelation is God. The writer of the book of Revelation is the Gospel writer, John. He shares the layout of the book of Revelation with us.
- What John sees (Jesus) Chapter 1
- The things which are (the churches) Chapters 2-3
- Things which will take place after these things (the churches are not on the earth anymore) Chapters 4-19
The word translated into English as “revelation” is the ancient, Koine Greek word “apokalupsis“. This is where we get the word “apocalypse” from. In Greek, it means to uncover or to reveal what was hidden. This is why it is translated as “revelation” in English. The etymology of “apokalupsis” is a combination of two other Greek words: “apo” which means to separate what was once joined and “kalpto” which means something hidden. The hidden truth about Jesus Christ is revealed to John in the book of Revelation and John shares it with the church. Notice that the word “Revelation” is singular. It is the Revelation (one) of Jesus Christ. It is not the book of Revelations because there is only one Revelation of Jesus Christ, found in the Word of God. Any new “revelation” about Christ not found in the Word of God is false.
I. What John sees: Jesus Christ
The very first truth that we learn about Jesus is found in verse 5. Let’s take a moment to read verse 5 and then analyze it.
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood – (Revelation 1:5)
Jesus is introduced to the readers as the Christ. Christ is the Greek word for Messiah. Messiah means the Chosen One or Savior. Jesus is the One who will rescue humanity from its greatest enemy, our sin nature that is within us. Jesus is also revealed as the faithful witness. He is the One who reveals God to us in human form. Another important revelation about Christ is that he is the firstborn of the dead. Jesus was born, lived, died, was buried, and he rose again from the grave. He is the first to do so and He opens the door for human beings to be resurrected from the dead. He has the ability to raise people from the dead because He, Himself rose from the dead. Jesus is also presented to us as the Ruler of the kings of the earth. Right now, He rules spiritually. One day, He will rule the earth over all the nations. In order to enter His kingdom on the earth, we must first surrender to His lordship over our lives spiritually. The final thing that we discover about Jesus in this one verse is that He is able to release human beings from the power of our sin nature because of His death, burial, and resurrection. What an amazing gift that He offers to us!
In verse 8, we encounter a description of God the Father. Why is that important in our understanding of Jesus Christ? Let’s compare verse 8 with verse 17.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
God describes Himself as the Alpha and the Omega. Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet. Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. God describes Himself as the first and the last. In verse 17, did you notice how Jesus describes Himself? That right, He describes Himself as the first and the last. In other words, Jesus Christ is the living God in the flesh who came to this earth, lived a perfect life, died in our place on the cross, was buried, and resurrected on the third day to release us (rescue us) from the power of our sin nature. Do accept the truth that Jesus is God? Many will claim that Jesus is a good man, a good teacher, a great spiritual leader, yet very few actually acknowledge Him as God in the flesh. We continue to learn even more about Jesus as we dig into Revelation 1.
13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.
14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.
15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.
Jesus is described as the son of man. He often refers to Himself as the son of man in the Gospels. This is also a reference to the book of Daniel. Take a moment to read a portion of Daniel 7 and see if the description of God in Daniel 7 resembles the description of Jesus in Revelation 1.
9 “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.
10 “A river of fire was flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened.
13 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.
Once again, we are informed of the fact that Jesus is God in the flesh. The final thing that I want to point out in Revelation 1 about Jesus is found in verse 18:
and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.
Jesus has the keys of death and of Hades. As followers of Jesus Christ, we no longer have to fear death or eternal punishment. Jesus has conquered both and He offers eternal life in the presence of God to those who follow Him. Do you still fear death? Do you still fear eternal punishment?
II. The things that are: the church on the earth
This message that we discover in the book of Revelation is specifically for the church, the followers of Jesus Christ.
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1)
There are several very important truths that the church needs to take away from this letter.
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,
2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1)
The truths found in the book of Revelation are actually found in the Old Testament as well. There are 184 direct quotes from the Old Testament found in the book of Revelation. According to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Jewish man by birth who is a follower of Jesus Christ, there are over 500 direct and indirect references to the Old Testament in the book of Revelation. The current followers of Jesus Christ need to be diligent students of the Word of God, especially the Old Testament, in order to be able to understand the revealed truth about Jesus Christ in this book. Are you a diligent student of the Old Testament? According to the Apostle Paul in Romans 15:4, everything that was written in the Old Testament was written to teach and encourage us. Those who make up the church will be blessed when we read and apply what we learn in the book of Revelation. The word blessed means to be satisfied or content. Obedience to the Word of God causes us to be content no matter what is going on around us. Are you a satisfied person? Are you content in this life? The final thing that we learn about the church in this passage is found in the following verse:
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood –
6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father -to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1)
As followers of Jesus Christ, we will experience resurrection from the dead. We can experience freedom from our sin nature right now through faith in Jesus. Not only that, we also become a kingdom of priests through faith in Christ. The role of the priest was to help other connect with God and learn to walk with Him in a personal relationship on a daily basis. What are you doing to help others connect with God and develop a personal relationship with Him? The easiest way to do that is to share this message with others.
III. The things that are to come: after the church is removed from the earth
In Revelation 1, John sees Jesus Christ and he writes down what he sees. In Revelation 2-3, John addresses the churches on the earth. In Revelation 4-5, the church is no longer on the earth. John sees a glimpse into heaven and the church is in heaven in the presence of the Lord. Once the church has exited the earth in what is known as the rapture, the tribulation period begins on the earth. Revelation 6-18 describe in detail those events. Then, in Revelation 19, Jesus returns to the earth from heaven and He brings the saints with Him. This event ends the tribulation period and begins the millennial kingdom on the earth. Jesus will reign on the earth for a thousand years. His followers will reign with Him. This return is also mentioned in Revelation 1.
7 BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.
Jesus will return to the earth visibly, with the clouds (see Daniel 7:13). Every eye will see Him All the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him because they did not believe the Word of God (see Zechariah 12:10-14). In order not to mourn the Second Coming of Christ, believe the Word of God today and surrender to what it teaches. It will change your perspective of the Second Coming and it will change your daily life forever.
So my dear friend, based on all that we have discovered in this one chapter, I want to ask you some application questions. Do you see Jesus for who He really is, God in the flesh? Are you a student of the Old Testament to learn the Truth about Jesus, the people of God, and the end times? Are you certain of the resurrection based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Have you surrendered to Jesus Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords? Are you living as a faithful priest of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you sharing the uncovered Truth of Jesus Christ with the people within your sphere of influence? Do you shy away from studying end time prophecy or are you a diligent student so that you can warn people of the wrath to come?
May the Lord help us understand the words of this book and apply them to our daily lives, for His glory and for our own good!