Previously: Laying the foundation
Revelation 1:19 holds the key to understanding the book of Revelation. In the book, John will write the things he saw: what is, and what will be. Chapters 1 through 3 describe what is. In chapter 1 we learn that John was exiled to Patmos, that he was there because they were in the midst of a persecution (Domitian’s persecution of the Christians ran from 95 to 96 A.D., when it was ended because the emperor was assassinated). Chapter 1 describes the awesome glory of the risen Son of Man, whose words John records, and by whose authority the vision is given.
Symbols are introduced. The symbols that have already been explained elsewhere in Scripture, pass without comment. This is helpful to remember when we get to more difficult parts of the book later on. The double-edged sword coming from the mouth of the Son of Man needs no explanation, because the Word of God has already been described as a sword by Paul and the writer of Hebrews. By the time John receives this vision, Paul had been martyred thirty years, and his letters were well- known to all the churches and received as authoritative everywhere. But the symbols not encountered before receive comment, thus we learn that lampstands are churches, and stars are angels.
Chapters 2 and 3 contain the letters to the seven churches. These letters actually describe the seven churches as they were in John’s time, with the Lord’s blessing and warning. Some say these letters describe the church in history, that the church at Ephesus was the church during the Roman Empire, and on down the line, with the church at Laodicea the church at the time when Jesus returns. But I disagree. John is still describing what is. We know, because when the vision shifts to what will be, John is told that. It may also be that as the letters describe the church that is in the present time, they describe the present state of the church, which always is because of the Lord’s grace, human nature, and sin. If so, we can find our church described in one of the seven letters, and us; along with the commendation and a warning. Hopefully we will heed it.
We have already discussed the seven seals in two previous posts, this one, which details the first six seals, and this one, which describes the interval period, the seventh seal, and the earthquake of the fall of paganism.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation 4 and 5