A Study of


R E V E L A T I O N


The most fascinating book of the Bible!

Chapter one

The following is an in depth study of Revelation as the Bible itself explains it.  The study is a verse by verse examination of all that John was told to write, backed and

interpreted by the word of God only.

In this study, many versions of the Bible will be quoted from. The Bible Probe does not favor one Bible version over another. Regardless of the semantics or translation of one version opposing another, the overall message of God remains the same. Nonetheless, often one version will supply a detail that makes the verse easier to understand.

God did not leave his message to the whims or imaginations of man. If you doubt this, read "Comparing old documents to new" on this website. Each scripture presented will be identified with the version it is taken from:

KJV = King James Version. NKJV = New King James Version. NAS = New American Standard Version NIV = New International Version    Other versions used are the Septuagint, Diaglott, Masoretic Text, James Moffatt and Interlinear along with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries.

In compiling information for this study, many sources of reference are used such as:

A concordance

Nave's Topical Bible

Nelson's Bible Dictionary

Strong's Greek/Hebrew Dictionary

Vine's Expository Dictionary

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Background On Symbolism

Revelation was written in symbolic language for a number of reasons.

1. John was told to write what he saw. What he saw were mental images shown in a vision.

2. Symbolic language is up to date in all ages.

3. Symbolism transcends semantics and translations from one language into another keeping the message intact and universal.

There is something that should be obvious about the above.

The whole book is symbolic!

Everything John saw in his vision was meant to represent something prophetic, not literal.

The word Revelation is a translation from the Greek word [a-po-ka'ly-psis] meaning to unveil, or uncover.

We ... are now living in that time of the end.  That specific end time, this symbolic language is talking about, the time these predictions are being fulfilled with others still to come.  But we have to be careful to understand what each verse is saying in relation to the rest of the Bible.  If we are not careful, conclusions can be drawn that have no foundation within the meaning of the overall picture the Bible presents.  Conclusions can be drawn that end up being very misleading.

The following scripture can portray a good example of what is meant by the above.

Heb 1:13

To which of the angels did God ever say, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? (NIV)

From the above scripture, one can present a case that Christ was originally an angel. One could even further argue that misleading case with:

Heb 1:5

For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? (NIV)

However, Paul is NOT telling us, in the above verses, that Christ is or was an angel. In fact, he is telling us just the opposite and makes this crystal clear in:

Heb 2:5

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (NIV)

A simple reading of the entire chapters of Hebrews 1 and 2 clearly show that Christ was just as John 3:16 says, "The only begotten Son of God."

    The point of the above is to show that no scripture or combination of scriptures stand-alone. All scriptures must harmonize with all other scriptures. This simple fact gives us a key to recognize man made doctrines or concepts, which can then be discarded.  With this understanding let us begin the study of:


Revelation chapter one


    The first verse of Rev is repeated below from four different versions of the Bible to verify what was stated above about the message being the same from all versions of the Word.

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (KJV)

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated {it} by His angel to His bond-servant John, (NAS)

Rev 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, (NIV)

Rev 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants-- things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, (NKJ)

    Compare the verses above from four different versions and see if you can get a different meaning, one from another.  Is not the meaning, in each, exactly and precisely the same?

    It is relating a chain of command. God [Jehovah] gives information, about the future, to his son Jesus.  Jesus then gives it to an angel [messenger].  The angel gives it to John. John writes it down so it can be given to us.  There is nothing mysterious about this verse; it is quite clear and concise. In spite of the difference of the semantics or translation of the words used in each version, the message itself is not affected or altered.  We, who are reading it, now know precisely whom this message came from.  It has come from the father of Christ, God Almighty.

[It is not the intent of this study to debate religious doctrines.  However, those that believe in the doctrine of the trinity might take note that there are four separate and distinct entities spoken of in Rev 1:1, Jehovah, His Son Christ, an angel and John.   This is mentioned only to point out that this study is to find out what God, Himself and not what someone else, is telling us.)

There is something else important to mention about Rev 1:1:

"…To show his servants what must soon take place." God is not saying here that what He is about to tell us might happen, or could happen, or possibly happen, but what MUST happen. The word "Soon" in the verse is not describing time as we see it, but as God sees it.  If this is confusing to you read the article on "TIME" in the Bible Probe.

John now further stipulates what was said in parenthesis above

Rev 1:2

who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. (NKJ)

   It should be noted that verse one ends with a comma, which means verse two is really part of verse one. Numbering the verses has absolutely no meaning except for purposes of identification. This is something that man has done to make it easy to locate a comment or thought in the Word. When John wrote Revelation he did not start with "Verse one". Had he done so he would have included verse two in verse one for the comma tells us it is a continuation of the same thought. Even so, John is verifying, in verse two, that this is a testimony from God, which Christ received from His Father. John now goes on to explain how much this message means to all humanity.

Rev 1:3

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (NIV)

Notice we are being told this testimony from God is prophecy. That this message is for all mankind is obvious from the words "Blessed is the one who reads the words…" coupled with "Blessed are those that hear it and take to heart what is written in it…"

"Because the time is near." What, time, are these five words referring to? This is not hard to answer because Christ pinpoints this time in both chapters 24 of Matthew and 21 of Luke. In fact, these chapters are devoted to this subject. Since this is so, and since understanding the era this time begins in is paramount to the explanation of Revelation, we will digress from Revelation for a bit, to find the scriptural answer to this period of time spoken of by Christ in Matthew.

The time the Tribulation begins

The promised age that has already begun

When Christ was alive as a man on this earth, he preached a gospel, a truth, about the coming of God's Kingdom. In fact, he spoke of this kingdom 56 times in Matthew alone. Now his disciples were well aware of what this kingdom was all about, but they had one burning desire yet to learn of this kingdom. To find out the answer to this question they went to Jesus and asked him.

Matt 24:3  

And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what {will be} the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (NAS)

Christ answered them with the rest of chapter 24 in Matthew. Let us therefore keep in mind that this is not hearsay, but our Lord and Savior, our Messiah speaking. That he is answering three specific questions.

    1. When would he return?
    2. What would be the sign of his presence?
    3. And when would this age that they were living in at the time, end.

[Christ was alive as a man during the Biblical age of the gentiles.]

Now it is obvious that when something ends, something else begins. It is for this reason that Jesus corrects the question and specifically points to what they really want to know, which is the beginning of the age of the Kingdom of God.

He begins by pointing out that there would be many calling themselves Christians, who for one reason or another, would mislead. Along with this, Jesus states a fact that wars have been going on since Cain killed Abel.

Matt 24:6 

"And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end. (NAS)

Notice the conclusion of the verse above. "But that is not yet the end." Christ is here referring to the end of the age that the disciples were asking about, the gentile times.    Now in verse 7, Jesus begins to speak about the age they are interested in, indeed the age we are all interested in.

Matt 24:7  

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in diverse places. (NAS)

    Notice that Christ is specifically pointing to this worldwide clash as the beginning of the time of the end.    What then, was so special about this war, amongst mankind, that Christ is specifically focusing on it?     Christ is doing so because this worldwide war is not like any other war between men.   It is a world conflict brought about because of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.   THE BEGINNING OF GOD’S WRATH.   The first horseman represents Christ in all his glory.   The other three represent Satan's own forces turned against him to begin Satan's own destruction, and Satan is powerless, absolutely helpless, to do anything to halt it.

We do indeed serve a mighty God.   Who but the Creator would have thought of such a thing? God is, in effect, causing Satan to shoot himself with his own gun.  How ironic!  How befitting!     How Magnificent!

How do we know that this age our Lord is speaking of begins at this date? We know because Christ Himself makes this clear with the next verse.

Matt 24:8  

But all these things are the beginning of travail. (ASV)

The Diaglott states it as "Yet, these are only a beginning of sorrows." the King James and New King James Versions explain it as "A beginning of sorrows." The New International Version and the New American Standard versions state it as "But all these things are {merely} the beginning of birth pangs."

    However you wish to say it, the meaning of this message is glaringly clear. The time for Christ’s unrestricted control of His kingdom begins at this date.  Up until then, the time allotted by God to Satan for him to do as he wished on earth had to be waited out.  This was known as the time of the gentiles spoken of in the first three verses of Revelation 11.

Just as in the opening of Matthew 24, Christ predicted the Temple was to be destroyed, leaving not one stone upon another. This complete destruction of the temple occurred roughly thirty years later by the Roman Empire. Even so, a new spiritual temple had already been raised with the resurrection of Christ.

There are people who point to what is called the Wailing Wall, saying it still stands, so therefore we cannot take this prophecy by Christ as a literal meaning.  However, the Wailing Wall is all that is left of part of the platform.  When Herod rebuilt the Temple, he had to do so according to the dimensions laid down by God.  There were no dimensions stated for a platform.  There was no platform mentioned in the Bible to Solomon who built the original temple.  Since this was the case, Herod decided to build a huge platform for the temple to stand on, covering thirty-five acres. Nonetheless, the platform is not, and never was, part of the Temple as God ordained it.  Today, just as Christ said, there is not one stone upon another left of the original Temple.  Those that pray to this wall are praying to stones, of a platform, they have made into an idol.

There is another point to be mentioned about this prediction of a war involving the whole world made by Jesus.  Some Bible commentator’s point to other wars in other eras mostly back in the time of John.   To accept this you must ignore the prophecies of Daniel concerning the time of the end.  This is hard to do, particularly when you realize that Christ is specifically mentioning Daniel's prophecies at Matt 24:15 concerning the end times.  Well then, one might say the time for this should be easy to calculate.  Guess what …

IT IS EASY TO CALCULATE.

    In the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had concerning a great tree (the details of which you can read about in chapter 4 of Daniel),  Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of a great tree so large, it reached the heavens and covered the whole earth and it feed all living creatures.  This tree represents God's kingdom.  In the dream, Nebuchadnezzar sees a watcher angel cut this tree down and place a band about the stump.  This represents the gentile times.  God, through Daniel, explained that seven times would pass over the stump of this tree and a watcher angel would guard it.  The reason for this is also explained:

Dan 4:15-17  

Nevertheless leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of heaven, and let his portion be with the beasts in the grass of the earth:

Nebuchadnezzar was turned into a madman, who roamed the fields like a wild beast, which symbolized the madness of mankind at the appointed time predicted.

16. Let his heart be changed from man's, and let a beast's heart be given unto him; and let seven times pass over him.

The period of insanity that overcame Nebuchadnezzar was seven years.

17. This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men. (KJV)

The times expressed explicitly are seven times or years  (Dan 4: 23)   with each day representing a year.   The Hebrew year was 360 days long.    This is calculated from Noah’s time in the ark.   Seven times 360 equals 2520 days.   A day for year makes that 2520 years which begins with the fall of the temple in the year 607 BC.  (Matt 24: 15  Most versions refer to this as the abomination of desolation. The Moffatt speaks of it as the "Appalling Horror.")   This horror occurred when Nebuchadnezzar went into the Holy of Holies and removed the Ark of the Covenant, carrying it off.

No one was allowed into the Holy of Holies except the high priest, and he only once a year because above the ark between two cherubs was the presence of God.    When the Babylonians carried it off, this left the temple without the presence of God, an abomination of desolation indeed.

Subtracting 607 years from 2520 gives us 1913.   However, we moved from BC to AD during that time.   Since there was never a year zero, we have to add one year making the Biblical date for this tribulation Christ was speaking of to start in … 1914.   To make it even more precise, the Jewish year began in the fall.    Guess what?   The First World War began in the fall of 1914.

Any good historian will tell you that the first and second world wars are really the same war.   The First World War did not actually end.    There was simply a cessation of hostilities or an armistice signed by all the nations. In effect, the world took a break while they built bigger and better weapons. The leaders of this arms buildup were Japan, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Now that we understand that the twentieth century is the time Jesus was pointing to in Matt 24 and Luke 21, we can return to Revelation and continue from Rev 1:4 where John now begins to give us the message spoken of in the first three verses.

Rev 1:4

John To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, (NIV)

    Let us start to understand what is being said in the verse above, by first noticing that verse four also ends in a comma. Now verse 5 starts with the word "And" which means that verse 5 is part of the thought or contexts of verse four. So, let us put these verses together as John originally wrote them.   Read it slowly and carefully and observe that this message opens as a greeting:

Rev 1:4-5

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,

5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (NIV)

To begin with, we know this is a message originating with God Almighty Himself and John is doing, with this message, what he was told to do.   He is writing it to the seven churches in Asia.   These seven churches represent the perfect body of Christ.   Therefore, he is not writing to strangers to the Word. He is writing to brothers in Christ. Fellow Christians!   He is also doing something else here that the majority of Christendom has not seen or paid any attention to today.    His writings are stripping the cover from the first revelation.

    "…Him who is, and who was, and who is to come…" John is referring to no one less than God Almighty here.   What has been unwrapped here is that Jehovah God Himself intends to come.   If you find this hard to believe, then read verse 8, in this chapter, where God Almighty is restating this in no uncertain terms.

    We all know that Christ is to return but this is Christ’s Father John is writing about.  The message from God at this point is that not only will His Son Return but God will also come.

    This, of course, unleashes a flood of questions.    Coming to where?   How can this be?   Will God be in human form?   Will we be able to see Him?   These and a thousand other questions come to mind.   However, to attempt to answer them now at the fifth verse of John's writing would be putting the cart before the horse.   Before we can walk, we must first learn to crawl.   This is why Revelation repeats the complete message from God seven times.   Each time it is repeated, there are more details added to the contents.   It can be promised, for now, that all the relevant questions to the first revelation that God Himself is also coming, are answered in this fascinating book.   Just to verify this, let us sneak a peek near the end of Revelation in chapter 21:

Rev 21:3

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (KJV)

Before we go further in this study of Chapter one it might be a good idea, to clear up the meaning of a number that will appear again and again throughout Revelation.    That number is seven.   In short, "Seven" represents or symbolizes perfection.   We are not speaking here of some sort of mystical numerology, or any other form of magical mumbo-jumbo.   The Hebrew language did not have a numbering system as we do.   The first letter in the Hebrew language was also used as the number one, the second as number two etc.   It is not important here to explain this in detail but it is important to understand that it was a common practice for Hebrews to use numbers in their language to add emphases or accent a comment.   Numbers, like everything else in Revelation, are symbolic and not to specify a quantity but to represent a prophetic happening or circumstance.    This should be kept in mind as we go on to understand the meaning behind the symbolism used by God to convey the message of Revelation.

    The first and second appearance of the number seven comes in verse four.  The first time relating to the body of Christ symbolized by the seven churches.  The second time relating to the power of God, or what we know as the Holy Spirit. "… And from the seven spirits before his throne," The number seven here not only applies to the perfection of God's power but also accents that this verse is speaking of and about the Father, God Almighty.

Which, by the way, is why verse five was seperated from verse four by those that set up our scripture numerical location system.   For verse five, although it is part of the contexts of verse four, now begins to speak of God's only begotten Son, (John 3:16) Jesus Christ.   To repeat what was said above, verse 4 ends with a comma after "Throne," verse 5 continues, in the middle of this sentence, with " And from Jesus Christ,…"   The verse now goes on to further identify this only begotten Son of God who, at one time, walked and taught among us as a human being.

I cannot imagine any true Christian having trouble identifying Christ with the description supplied in verse 5.   However, we should make a mental note of the words " Who is the faithful witness" which is the beginning of this description, because it clearly identifies one of the two faithful witnesses in chapter 11 of Revelation.

Now we can also take note here that verse 5 likewise ends in a comma, again starting in the middle of a sentence with the word "And" because it is a continuation of the identification of Christ:

Rev 1:6

And has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)

Nonetheless, it is also identifying his body or perfect church as part of His Son. "…Made us to be a kingdom…" That kingdom is made up of the faithful followers of Jesus who through Christ become "Priests" specifically for the purpose of serving the Almighty who is also the God of Christ. "…To serve his God…" The Almighty happens to also be Christ’s father. Notice in the verse that follows Christ again refers to His father as His God four separate times in one verse.

Rev 3:12

Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (NIV)      [Underlines inserted by the Bible Probe]

    Now since Christ is, as we have seen in verse 5, the first faithful witness, then His body or church that continue to teach the gospel as He preached it are the second witness in chapter 11 of Revelation.

    What we have discovered so far is that verses 4,5,and 6 make up one paragraph which it turns out is the opening statement from God to His Son, concerning the message sent through the chain of command to us.  Now after this opening greeting, the message is begun with God the Father offering a promise concerning His Son:

Rev 1:7

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (NIV)

Many religions look for the coming of our lord literally sitting or standing on a cloud.   They do so because Jesus referred, in his preaching, to this event also, and was quoted by some of the apostles in this matter.   Nonetheless, Christ always spoke to the multitudes in parables.   Parables relate moral teachings, in a manner equitable to things, we as men already understand.    Since this was so and since we know Revelation is symbolic, all scriptures relating to this subject have to harmonize. When we look at verse 7 above carefully, we discover the word does just that.  Harmonize!

"Look, he is coming with the clouds…" The use of the words "with the clouds" clearly makes clouds plural which makes a literal translation of this fraught with complications.    As an example, if Christ would appear on a cloud in New York, who would see this in California, and all those in China would be sound asleep.   Yet, the verse is saying explicitly " …Every eye would see him…"   That means this has to occur so that every single man, woman, and child on this globe could see it.   If Christ were on clouds, plural, it would mean a group or collection of clouds, which would make Christ too huge to walk on the surface of the earth.    In short, this would set up a physical impossibility.  

    Even so, although this is not physically credible, it is clearly within the realm of being seen, by all of humanity, as a spiritual event. 

Matt 24:30

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

(KJV)

The word "SIGN" in the scripture above has been underlined by us to point out that if Christ’s second coming were to be a physically visible event there would be no need for a sign of it.  You might also take note the above scripture was Jesus Himself speaking.

Now let us look at the next part of verse 7 that clashes with a literal meaning to this scripture. "…Even those who pierced him…" In order for this verse to be literal, those that carried out the execution of Christ would have to be alive and present for this verse to be fulfilled as stated.  The verse is implying that these men would have to be not only aware of the crime they had committed, but also more importantly that this crime was perpetrated against the Son of God.   This makes the final remark in this verse by God understandable for He speaks as any father would over a son wrongly and gravely injured unto death itself.

"And all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be!"

When mankind pierced and killed the Son of God it was as if they had driven the nails and sword into the father.   Although the death of Christ was necessary for the ransom of all humanity from death, and was predicted by the creator, his feelings concerning this were also stated long before it took place.

Zech 12:10

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (NIV)

Perhaps the simplest way to understand what verse 7 is saying in Revelation is to equate it to the following scriptures.

Ps 57:10-11

For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds.

Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth. (KJV)

Ps 68:34

Ascribe ye strength unto God: his Excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. (KJV)

Ps 97:5

The Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. (NIV)

    Revelations is about the time of the end, but let us understand that the time of the end is referring to the end of Satan and his system, not man.   Yet, Satan's system was and is on the earth, for Satan was given this period during his allotted time of the gentiles.   This is confirmed in Revelations chapter 11 when John is told to measure the temple.   However, John is also told:

Rev 11:2

But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (NIV)

The wrath of God has long been predicted by the word and we should not be surprised because the time for it has come.

Zeph 1:15

That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, (NIV)

    The Bible repeatedly warns and explains how men listening to fallen angels brought this wrath about to begin with.   Yet, men have also been given the ability to freely choose whom they would listen to, God or others.    God has carefully explained what he expects from all those that would serve Him. God did this in His word, the Bible.   Therefore man's plight cannot be blamed on anyone but themselves.

    A good portion of the book of Revelations is devoted to a description of this wrath aimed at both the disobedient angels and the disobedient sea.    (The sea being the symbolic meaning of man in general.)   However, within that sea of mankind in general, is the body of Christ made up of obedient servants to God and his Son.   That the body of Christ will be caught in the middle of this tribulation during this time is obvious.   Nonetheless, if they are true Christians their future is secure with the promise of eternal life after these trying times are over, regardless of how these dreadful times affect their lives during this chaotic and woeful period.   They also have the promise from God Himself, that he would cut this time short, for their sake, just as Jesus promised:

Matt 24:21-22

For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (KJV)

[Underline inserted by the Bible Probe]

    Aside from two world wars with pestilence, disease, earthquakes, volcanoes, storms and other natural disasters that are on the increase, something is happening to this earth that has never happened before.   Pollution is destroying it. "…Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time…"

    Pollution is destroying the oceans themselves.    Acid rain is destroying the trees of all the earth. Rain forests are being deliberately cut down.   Acres of these lush rain forests went up in smoke as you read this.   A rain forest once destroyed never returns.   Never re-grows again like other forests destroyed by fire.   The ozone layer along with the hot house effect man has created for the planet promise dire consequences.    Even things that seemingly mean little is happening, like frogs all over the world dying for no apparent reason all contribute, all add up, to this ultimate disaster or tribulation.   All this is a result of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, that were sent forth along with the four beasts that control the earth and its destiny, which bring about this wrath from God against the sea.   The final and conclusive result of which, man is still to witness.

    Yet, God has explained in detail to his family, through Revelations, what we as Christians can expect.   We as Christians can therefore take heart in the understanding that God's plans are unfolding just as they were predicted.    Which is the meaning behind "…blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…" in verse three of this chapter, which is part of the initial greeting from God.   That greeting comes to a close with what we might consider a signature from God:

Rev 1:8

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (NIV)

To which Christians all over this world can prayerfully shout… the sooner the better.

With verse 9, John begins the narration of what it was he saw in this vision. We know it was a vision because John himself tells us this in: Rev 9:17 "The horses and riders I saw in my vision looked like this…" (NIV)

He begins this by telling us where he was at the time and how it all came about for him.

Rev 1:9

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (NIV)

   Patmos is a rocky little volcanic island with a jagged forbidding coastline, about nine miles long and roughly five miles wide. The island sticks out of the Aegean sea about 65 miles west of Asia Minor; a little less than 150 miles from the seven churches that the seven letters in Revelation are addressed to.   John was incarcerated there because he continually preached the Gospel in spite of the world powers' desire for it to be stopped.   He was sent there in the fifteenth year of the reign of Domitian about 95 AD. If it was Domitian's idea that the ministry of John would be halted, by isolating him on this tiny penal isle; it certainly didn't work.

Rev 1:10

On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (NIV)

    "On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit…" The exact meaning of the Lord’s day, as John uses it above, has been lost to antiquity.  Some commentators claim it was the first day of each week because that was when God began creation.   Others claim that it was the day Jesus was hung upon the tree, (Acts 5:30) others the day of His resurrection.    There are those, that believe it means the Sabbath, but if it were the Sabbath, John would have stated it as such.   It is also possible that John meant on a day appointed by God when He sent this important message, using His Holy Spirit as one of the normal means of communication between God and man.

   "I was in the Spirit…"   seems to confirm this comment along with verse 1 for one cannot see an angel without the power of God behind it.

    That visions by the prophets were accompanied by what is described as a trance like state is common in the Bible. (Acts 10:10, Acts 11:15, Acts 22:17 are some.)

    " I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet" John is not saying the voice itself sounded like a trumpet but meant that it was clear and distinct like that instrument is within an orchestra.   It means the voice, like the sound of a trumpet, was clear and crisp.  It stood out unmistakably.   John is telling us with this symbolic word that there was no way he could misunderstand anything he was being told.   There are dozens of applications of the word "voice" referring to communication between God and mankind in the Bible.   They all mean to either literally or spiritually, define or understand the message God is giving.

    Trumpets are also associated with royalty in the Bible, as they are in the world today. Therefore, this distinctively clear royal voice tells him to write what he sees, and what to do with what he writes.

Rev 1:11

Which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea." (NIV)

Since Verse 10 is also a verse that ends with a comma, this means verse 11 is part of the context. This voice is telling John to write, not what he is told, but "…What you see…"

Also, this verse is not implying that there were only seven churches in the world.   The seven churches represent the complete or perfect body of Christ, his perfect temple.   This you can verify by the statement to each church "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Churches is plural in each case.

This voice John hears is behind him, and he, like you or I would do, turns to face it.

Rev 1:12

Churches is plural in each case.

This voice John hears is behind him, and he, like you or I would do, turns to face it.

Rev 1:12

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, (NIV)

   The KJV refers to these as golden candlesticks.   A moot point to argue, considering that candles were the only lamps they had in those days.    This again points out, that the semantics of words used have no effect on the overall message of the Bible.   The real question here is what these lampstands symbolize or represent.

    John sees the seven lamp-stands first.  This is not only because of their brilliance but because it is proper.  Why, because, they represent the power of God, or what we know as His Holy Spirit.  Just the same, the words Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost are never mentioned in Revelation.  The word spirit is used 11 times but never as an entity of itself, always in connection to God's power or force of action or will.  This spiritual power or force is also mentioned often in Revelation as a tool, such as lampstands, eyes, or His word.   Since the seven golden lampstands are symbolic of God's spiritual power, and since they belong to the Almighty, it is therefore quite proper that John does see them first.  The reason we say first is because verse 12 also ends with a comma connecting verse 13 to it.

Rev 1:13

And among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. (NIV)

That this is Christ being referred to here is obvious because Jesus was spoken of as the son of man way back in Daniel’s time.

Dan 7:13

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. (NIV)

The New Testament mentions the son of man in relation to Christ some 95 times.

Acts 7:56

And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (KJV)

Christ referred to himself as the son of man many times.

Matt 12:8

For the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day. (KJV)

Lord of the Sabbath also helps us understand the meaning of:

"…Dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest." in Revelation 1: 13. For Christ most certainly is our Lord indeed, as well as our king and our eternal high priest which would be what the robes and golden sash represent.   A sash of gold worn about the chest instead of the waist was also something you would normally see a prince of that time exhibiting.

The words "…reaching down to his feet…" would imply that his feet were bare, denoting he also considers himself a humble servant of his God and Father.

    Again, we repeat that it was right that John saw the lampstands before he saw Christ standing in their midst. Proper because Christ recognizes the Almighty Jehovah as his God as well as his Father and that this power or force the lampstands represent, emanate from God.

Rev 1:14

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. (NIV)

If one looks at this scripture carefully, they will notice that it is referring to Christ’s HEAD and His HAIR being white.  White is a color associated with purity.  White is an exact pure blend of all the spectrum of light.  So, both his head and his hair were the pure color of a lamb’s white wool and clean as new white snow.

"…His eyes were like blazing fire." This conveys the idea of one with a glowing alertness. It is common, even today, to hear or see the expression "A fiery glance" or a "lightning look." The inference here is that person can peer into the heart of a matter with his eyes.

Rev 1:15

His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (NIV)

The Greek word for bronze, that Christ’s feet are described as in this verse, is properly translated to mean white brass.  White brass was a metal highly desired for its clearness or likeness to white. That his feet appeared like they were glowing in a furnace gave John the sense that this man had been tested or proven and refined by fire.  [This analogy of being proven by fire is quite common within the Bible. Check "fire" in a concordance.]

"…His voice was like the sound of rushing waters." Rushing water is a pleasant sound, while at the same time representing the undisputed authority of power (of the four 'primal elements'- earth, air, fire, and water- water was known to be by far the strongest).  John’s impression, by his description, is that he is staring one who is of royal blood, quick; pure minded strong and forceful.  A leader who is more than capable of carrying out what is needed at this time.

Luke 21:22

For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.

Yet, this is not all John’s eyes are viewing.  His eyes also reveal someone who is surely no ordinary man.

Rev 1:16

In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (NIV)

The Bible will tell us that these seven stars represent four verses from here.   As for the double-edged sword protruding from his mouth, it represents the word of truth.

Acts 2:33-37

33. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

[Truth!]

36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

37. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (NIV)

["Cut to the heart" was underlined by the Bible Probe]

    Christ has given us the information about his Kingdom and what we must do to become part of it. The people alive in the time he was here on earth, as a man, both saw and heard Him. Christians alive after His death can still hear Him through the word of the Bible.

"…His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." lets John recognize this representative man as his Lord Jesus.  So much so that, as you or I would be, John is dumbfounded:

Rev 1:17

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last." (NIV)

Remember, what is being stated above is not actually happening.  These are mental images being planted in the mind of John by the Holy Spirit while he is in a trance like state of a God given vision. Nonetheless, John’s mind is reacting to these portrayals as though it was really happening to him physically.  What is truly real, about all this, is the message being given to John, which is the whole point of this vision from God Almighty.

"Do not be afraid." This is our Messiah, our king, the only begotten Son of the one and only Almighty God gently placing a hand on John letting him know, that as a member of the family of God, he has nothing to fear.

As my grandchildren would say,  "AWESOME,"  but I’m afraid our language could not conjure up enough adjectives to even begin to adequately describe this.

"I am the First and the Last." What does our eternal high Priest mean by this… the first what?          He means the first of creation, the beginning of it all.

Col 1:15

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (KJV)

He also means, He is the last sacrifice required by the law as given to Moses. This was verified at his death by the renting in two of the curtain separating The Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Signifying that the earthly temple was no longer needed for it had served its purpose.

Rev 1:18

I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (NIV)

That Christ holds "The keys of death and Hades" does not imply they are different in some way. What it is saying is, the grave is the result of death and since he has already ransomed mankind from death and since He will bring about the resurrection from the grave, it is He that is in complete control of them both.

1 Tim 2:6

Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (KJV)

1 Cor 15:22

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (KJV)

Now that Christ has introduced Himself formally, He gives instructions to John directly.

Rev 1:19

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later." (NIV)

John is hereby instructed to write "what is now and what will take place later."  A present and a future!   Christ is telling John, and us, that the two are tied together.  To Bible students this is a simple and understandable statement.  The Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament.  The earthly Israel foreshadowed the Spiritual Israel.  Webster says "Foreshadow" - means to represent, indicate, or typify beforehand.

Most people think Revelation is a mysterious book that speaks in cryptic language about a subject no one really understands. This is not, at all, the case.

    Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, even the songs of Psalms along with other prophets of old used symbolic language frequently.  Often they spoke of the same subject matter of Revelation in the same symbolic language.  They tied events that were happening, or were about to happen, with and to, events that would happen in what they saw from their point in time, as the distant future.

    As an example, Ezekiel depicts visions, about the end time, almost identical with the visions of John in description; and IS identical in their meaning.  The difference is Ezekiel was prophesying of Jerusalem, while John’s writings concern the entire world.

    This form, of tying soon to occur prophecies with distant prophecies is not only common throughout the Bible; but Christ himself did exactly the same thing in many of His teachings.  This is particularly true in relation to the gospel of His Kingdom.   When Christ predicted the destruction of the temple, thirty years or so before it happened, he was also predicting or foreshadowing the world war that began in 1914.  [We will see how these two events relate when we reach the four horsemen of the apocalypse in chapter 6]

Now the above scripture, Rev 1:19, seems literal enough at first glance but the truth is it is not literal.  All this is being implanted in John’s mind.   The actual writing, he is being told to do, he did not do at that moment.  He put all this into a book after the vision was over.  Verse nine tells us this, which by the way, is the only verse in Revelation that could be taken literally.  This is due to its time and content, in relation, to the rest of the book.  For Verse 9 is John explaining, to us, the reason he was writing the book of Revelation.  All of which is prophecy illuminated and made clear by symbolism.  Christ himself, with the very next thing he says to John, verifies this.

Rev 1:20

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (NIV)

"The mystery…" this verse opens with, was one of many that the body of Christ saw at that time.  It is for this reason John is being told to write down what he sees.   Revelation, as it unfolds, explains all of these mysteries which means there are no mysteries left in the Bible pertaining to the purpose of God concerning humanity.  To prove this, Christ begins by explaining what the stars and lampstands represent symbolically. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."

   There have been debates about this scripture for centuries because religion overseers are all trying to equate their own positions with the seven angels.   In short, it has become a religious political discussion.    Are these angels ... Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons, or the fellow who sweeps up at night?   The answer to this depends on whether you are a Cardinal, a Bishop, a Priest, a Deacon, or the fellow who sweeps up.  This debate comes about because they are trying to interpret this scripture not only to suit their own doctrines but as if it stood in the Bible all by itself. It doesn't!  It is part of an overall prophecy.   As such it must not only fall into the harmony of that prophecy, but also harmonize with the Bible as a whole.

    Strike a tuning fork for the C note over a piano.  If the C string on the piano's harp is properly tuned, it will begin to vibrate.   That’s how you know the piano is perfectly tuned.  Let us see if we can strike this harmonious Biblical note.

    The seven churches here are not seven different denominations.  They are not even seven buildings.  Since we know the word seven represents perfection, these letters are being sent to the one church of God, which happens to be in seven different locations.  The reason these churches were picked was because of their location, which will become apparent when we look at the background of where these congregations are and how that relates to what they are doing and what they are being told.

    The church is representative of the body of Christ or, the perfect church of God.  Therefore, the seven churches represent all of true Christianity, all the perfect body of Christ.  The seven letters were written to all Christians of all times.  If you would like to verify that quickly, look at the last verse of any of the seven letters.  It states, " listen to what the spirit says to the churches." Plural! What applies to one Christian applies to all.

    Now we know these stars resting in Christ's right hand are not literal stars plucked out of the heavens, they symbolize something; something very special indeed.  Look up the word "stars" in a concordance and the answer to this becomes obvious.  We even find this answer starts way back in Genesis.

Gen 26:4 

And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; (KJV)

    There are about three dozen scriptures, equating the congregation of Christ’s church directly to stars.  If the one above seems unclear to you try this one:

Deut 1:10 

The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (KJV)

    Here the LORD is speaking about His people.  Here HE is saying without any doubt that His people, from that day on, would be considered as stars of heaven.  Notice not in heaven, OF heaven.  God has symbolically connected His chosen people with what seems an endless number of stars.  This is confirmed in Revelation 7: 9, which says in part ... "…after these things I saw, and behold! a great Crowd, which no one could have numbered, out of every nation , and of all tribes, and peoples and languages, standing before the throne…" Notice, a great crowd, meaning a multitude, a congregation.  Isaiah, speaking on exactly the same subject as Revelation, uses the same language when referring to the downfall of Satan.    Isaiah is writing as if he were speaking directly to Satan:

Isaiah 14:13

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (KJV)

(Notice) "… above the stars of God … "

    Biblically this is what Satan desires; to be like the most High God. To control and rule the stars that make up the congregation.  In one of Daniel's visions concerning the end times, he also speaks of Satan's great attack against the stars or congregation of God in the same kind of language:

Daniel 8:10  

"And its greatness reached even to the the host of heaven.  And there fell on the earth some of the host of heaven and some of the stars, and these were trodden down." Septuagint Version

[Note] If this scripture were talking about literal stars, it could not physically occur.  A single literal star, just one, would swallow up the earth turning this globe into scattered ashes long before it reached it.   However, now that we know the stars represent the host or congregation of Christendom it makes a great deal of sense.  It is easy to understand there will be some of the host who will loose their faith or fall.  It also explains the conclusion of each of the seven letters.

But, you might rightly say, Rev 1: 20 states "the stars are the angels of the churches." True!  Take your concordance and look up "Angel".    You will see that here we have, along with the symbolism, a metaphor.   One of the functions of an Angel is clearly that of a messenger.  What does a messenger do?  He brings or delivers messages.  Does that mean that the congregation of Christ’s church becomes angels?  NO!  But they do deliver a message.  The message of the Gospel!  The Bible confirms this in:

Daniel 12:3 

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (KJV)

The only way one can turn someone else to "righteousness as the stars" is to deliver the Gospel.  If that someone truly desires to serve God, the Holy Spirit takes over.   How does the Holy Spirit enter this scripture?   The Holy Spirit, as we have already discovered, is represented as the seven lampstands, which are the seven churches.  If the connection is elusive to you let me put it in a more succinct manner.  WITHOUT the Holy Spirit THERE IS NO CHURCH.

Again, the Bible ITSELF has cleared up any misunderstanding we might have on the subject.  Lets sum up what the Bible has taught us about this scripture. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches." This is the entire body of Christianity.  God symbolically looks upon this body, of Christianity, as stars, because they preach or deliver the bright glowing message of the Gospel just as an angel delivers messages.  Stars deliver light.  Christ is often referred to as the light of the world.

    Christians have no power to save anyone, not even themselves.   Christians can only act as stars delivering the brilliant message of the Gospel, obey His commands, and rely on God’s promise and the power of His Holy Spirit .   This power of God through the sacrifice of His son, who HOLDS this perfect congregation in His RIGHT HAND, the Holy Spirit anoints, and as we shall soon see, can and will issue eternal life to those proving themselves faithful.

~~~~~~~

There is one other thing to say about symbolism.  It is also a form of shorthand.  Notice, it has taken 25 full pages, to explain what God told us in 20 short verses.



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