Seven Churches – Revelation Chapter 1:1-2 Commentary
We are discussing the seven churches in Revelation 1-3. I have given an overview and introduction of the seven churches, listed the promises to overcomers, and talked about the significant number patterns found in the Book of Revelation.
I am going to now start with Chapter 1 and go verse by verse explaining what it means. After Chapter 1, I will go through each of the seven churches, one by one.
Verses 1-2 (Amplified Version)
1 This is the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries]. God gave it to Him to disclose and make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond servant John,
2 Who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw [in his visions], the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Book of Revelation was authored by Jesus Christ and given (by way of vision) to John the Apostle around 95-96 AD. John was affectionately known as John the Beloved, but also Son of Thunder. He was full of love, yet also zeal. He was very outspoken and fiery in his preaching, and especially dealing with issues of sin and walking in love.
John was also Jesus’ cousin, as well as appointed caretaker of Jesus’ mother Mary. John’s death was around 100 AD, and church records report that he lived to be in his 90’s.
The book entitled “The Twelve: The Lives of the Apostles After Calvary” by C. Bernard Ruffin says on Page 89 that according to the Apostolic History of Abdias, it stated that John was 97 when he died. That means he would have been in his early 90’s when he had the Vision in 95-96 AD.
The Roman Emperor Domitian ruled from 81-96 AD. Persecution and martyrdom against Christians was intense during that time.
Earlier attempts during the reign of Domitian were made to persecute, torture and martyr John, but were unsuccessful (God supernaturally intervened and he lived and escaped). Later on John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos to a prison camp as a form of persecution for preaching the Gospel.
It was while he was at Patmos that he received the Vision. Patmos is a tiny, rocky island in the Aegean Sea, around 25 miles off the coast of Miletus – Miletus is around 35 miles south of Ephesus.
The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis from which we have our word Apocalypse. It is defined as: “disclosure of what was concealed or hidden, an uncovering, to lay open what has been veiled, manifestation, to make known, a revealing, an appearance.”
The main theme of the Book of Revelation is that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ. The Amplified says “His unveiling of the divine mysteries.”
The Bible Exposition Commentary says,
“John’s prophecy is primarily the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of future events.
In Revelation 1-3, Christ is seen as the exalted Priest King ministering to the churches.
In Revelation 4-5, He is seen in heaven as the glorified Lamb of God, reigning on the throne.
In Revelation 6-18, Christ is the Judge of all the earth; and in Revelation 19, He returns to earth as the conquering King of kings.
The book closes with the heavenly Bridegroom ushering His bride, the church, into the glorious heavenly city.”
God first imparted the revelation to His Son Jesus Christ.
Then Christ sent an angel to reveal the Vision to His servant John.
Then John sent the Vision to the seven churches.
According to Bible Knowledge Commentary, the angel who appeared to John is not named, but some theologians believe the angel was Gabriel, who explained visions to Daniel, and who brought messages to Mary and Zacharias (Daniel 8:16; 9:21-22; Luke 1:5-31).
The Greek word for angel is agellos, and it simply means “a messenger; to bring tidings; one who is sent.” The definition also says that the word angel could apply to a heavenly spirit-being or could be in reference to a pastor. In Revelation 1:1, the angel is a heavenly being, probably Gabriel.
In the letters to the seven churches (Revelation 2-3), the seven angels are seven pastors or bishops.
The phrase, in the NKJV, “The revelation which God (the Father) gave Him (His Son Jesus) to show (for Jesus to show) His servants (servants would be John, the seven pastors of the seven churches and other servants)”—the Amplified Version uses the word disclose. The Greek word translated as show or disclose is the word deixai or deiknuoo which means: “to point out, to cause to see, to present to the sight, to give evidence or proof of a thing, to show by words, to teach.” This suggests that what was to be revealed was to be presented to the sight by tokens, symbols and words.
The phrase, “certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety” could mean:
- That the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately. Once the end-time events begin, they will occur in rapid succession.
- Time does not exist with God in the same way that we have time here on the earth. A thousand years is as a day in light of eternity, and a day is as a thousand years. On earth, we live in chronos time (the ticking away of the clock in terms of years, months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes). Kairos time is the set appointed time for something to be fulfilled when everything is in place.
The phrase: “He sent and communicated it through His angel” (AMP). The KJV says “sent and signified”. The Greek word translated as communicated or signified is the word semaino meaning “to make known by signs or symbols,” but the verb also includes communication by words.
The word “bondservant” (referring to John) in Verse 1 denotes the idea of being a love slave of Christ. It also refers to being a servant leader. Jesus said that he who is greatest in the kingdom of God must first of all be a servant (Matthew 23:11).
The term bondservant is used by Jesus (Philippians 2:7 NKJV), Paul (Romans 1:1, Galations 1:10, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1 NKJV), Timothy (Philippians 1:1 NKJV), Epaphras (Colossians 4:12 NKJV), James (James 1:1 NKJV), Peter (2 Peter 1:1 NKJV), John (Revelation 1:1 AMP) and Jude (Jude :1 NKJV).
Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus, Himself, was a bondservant—serving His Father and serving others around Him. Mark 10:45 NKJV says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served (to be ministered to – KJV), but to serve (minister – KJV), and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Philippians 2:5-11 NKJV
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the Cross.
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,
11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Verse 2 – John was an eyewitness of what had occurred in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
In John’s writings and public ministry (preaching, teaching, working of miracles and healings, testifying about Christ), John regarded himself as a witness of what he had seen and heard, and claimed only to make a faithful and fair record of it.
The phrase “The Word of God” could be referring to:
- The teachings of God
- A Name of Jesus Himself (i.e. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”).
The phrase “testimony of Jesus” could be referring to:
- John testifying of what he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears the things which Jesus taught, the miracles He performed and other displays of Jesus’ glory (such as on the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-8 when Jesus transformed into spirit, yet man. Bright light emanated from Him. He spoke with Moses and Elijah. The Father’s Voice from Heaven said “This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” They were all enveloped by the Shekinah glory cloud.)
- The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).
The words “witness” and “testimony” are legal terms. It gives the picture of being in a court room and giving an eyewitness account of what happened, what you saw and heard, what was said, what was done, who was involved, when it happened, and so forth.