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4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and 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 freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

7

Look! He is coming with the clouds;

every eye will see him,

even those who pierced him;

and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

 


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4. John—the apostle. For none but he (supposing the writer an honest man) would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole survivor and representative of the apostles and eye-witnesses of the Lord, he needed no designation save his name, to be recognized by his readers.

seven churches—not that there were not more churches in that region, but the number seven is fixed on as representing totality. These seven represent the universal Church of all times and places. See Trench's [Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia] interesting note, Re 1:20, on the number seven. It is the covenant number, the sign of God's covenant relation to mankind, and especially to the Church. Thus, the seventh day, sabbath (Ge 2:3; Eze 20:12). Circumcision, the sign of the covenant, after seven days (Ge 17:12). Sacrifices (Nu 23:1; 14:29; 2Ch 29:21). Compare also God's acts typical of His covenant (Jos 6:4, 15, 16; 2Ki 5:10). The feasts ordered by sevens of time (De 15:1; 16:9, 13, 15). It is a combination of three, the divine number (thus the Trinity: the thrice Holy, Isa 6:3; the blessing, Nu 6:24-26), and four the number of the organized world in its extension (thus the four elements, the four seasons, the four winds, the four corners or quarters of the earth, the four living creatures, emblems of redeemed creaturely life, Re 4:6; Eze 1:5, 6, with four faces and four wings each; the four beasts and four metals, representing the four world empires, Da 2:32, 33; 7:3; the four-sided Gospel designed for all quarters of the world; the sheet tied at four corners, Ac 10:11; the four horns, the sum of the world's forces against the Church, Zec 1:18). In the Apocalypse, where God's covenant with His Church comes to its consummation, appropriately the number seven recurs still more frequently than elsewhere in Scripture.

Asia—Proconsular, governed by a Roman proconsul: consisting of Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia: the kingdom which Attalus III had bequeathed to Rome.

Grace … peace—Paul's apostolical greeting. In his Pastoral Epistles he inserts "mercy" in addition: so 2Jo 3.

him which is … was … is to come—a periphrasis for the incommunicable name Jehovah, the self-existing One, unchangeable. In Greek the indeclinability of the designation here implies His unchangeableness. Perhaps the reason why "He which is to come" is used, instead of "He that shall be," is because the grand theme of Revelation is the Lord's coming (Re 1:7). Still it is THE Father as distinguished from "Jesus Christ" (Re 1:5) who is here meant. But so one are the Father and Son that the designation, "which is to come," more immediately applicable to Christ, is used here of the Father.

the seven Spirits which are before his throne—The oldest manuscripts omit "are."

before—literally, "in the presence of." The Holy Spirit in His sevenfold (that is, perfect, complete, and universal) energy. Corresponding to "the seven churches." One in His own essence, manifold in His gracious influences. The seven eyes resting on the stone laid by Jehovah (Re 5:6). Four is the number of the creature world (compare the fourfold cherubim); seven the number of God's revelation in the world.

5. the faithful witness—of the truth concerning Himself and His mission as Prophet, Priest, and King Saviour. "He was the faithful witness, because all things that He heard of the Father He faithfully made known to His disciples. Also, because He taught the way of God in truth, and cared not for man, nor regarded the persons of men. Also, because the truth which He taught in words He confirmed by miracles. Also, because the testimony to Himself on the part of the Father He denied not even in death. Lastly, because He will give true testimony of the works of good and bad at the day of judgment" [Richard of St. Victor in Trench]. The nominative in Greek standing in apposition to the genitive, "Jesus Christ," gives majestic prominence to "the faithful witness."

the first-begotten of the dead—(Col 1:18). Lazarus rose, to die again. Christ rose to die no more. The image is not as if the grave was the womb of His resurrection-birth [Alford]; but as Ac 13:33; Ro 1:4, treat Christ's resurrection as the epoch and event which fulfilled the Scripture, Ps 2:7, "This day (at the resurrection) have I begotten Thee." It was then that His divine Sonship as the God-man was manifested and openly attested by the Father. So our resurrection and our manifested sonship, or generation, are connected. Hence "regeneration" is used of the resurrection-state at the restitution of all things (Mt 19:28).

the prince—or Ruler. The kingship of the world which the tempter offered to Jesus on condition of doing homage to him, and so shunning the cross, He has obtained by the cross. "The kings of the earth" conspired against the Lord's Anointed (Ps 2:2): these He shall break in pieces (Ps 2:9). Those who are wise in time and kiss the Son shall bring their glory unto Him at His manifestation as King of kings, after He has destroyed His foes.

Unto him that loved us—The oldest manuscripts read the present, "… loveth us." It is His ever-continuing character, He loveth us, and ever shall love us. His love rests evermore on His people.

washed us—The two oldest manuscripts read, "freed (loosed as from a bond) us": so Andreas and Primasius. One very old manuscript, Vulgate, and Coptic read as English Version, perhaps drawn from Re 7:4. "Loosed us in (virtue of) His blood," being the harder reading to understand, is less likely to have come from the transcribers. The reference is thus to Greek, "lutron," the ransom paid for our release (Mt 20:28). In favor of English Version reading is the usage whereby the priests, before putting on the holy garments and ministering, washed themselves: so spiritually believers, as priests unto God, must first be washed in Christ's blood from every stain before they can serve God aright now, or hereafter minister as dispensers of blessing to the subject nations in the millennial kingdom, or minister before God in heaven.

6. And hath—rather as Greek, "And (He) hath."

made us kings—The oldest manuscripts read, "a kingdom." One oldest manuscript reads the dative, "for us." Another reads "us," accusative: so Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas. This seems preferable, "He made us (to be) a kingdom." So Ex 19:6, "a kingdom of priests"; 1Pe 2:9, "a royal priesthood." The saints shall constitute peculiarly a kingdom of God, and shall themselves be kings (Re 5:10). They shall share His King-Priest throne in the millennial kingdom. The emphasis thus falls more on the kingdom than on priests: whereas in English Version reading it is equally distributed between both. This book lays prominent stress on the saints' kingdom. They are kings because they are priests: the priesthood is the continuous ground and legitimization of their kingship; they are kings in relation to man, priests in relation to God, serving Him day and night in His temple (Re 7:15; 5:10). The priest-kings shall rule, not in an external mechanical manner, but simply in virtue of what they are, by the power of attraction and conviction overcoming the heart [Auberlen].

priests—who have pre-eminently the privilege of near access to the king. David's sons were priests (Hebrew), 2Sa 8:18. The distinction of priests and people, nearer and more remote from God, shall cease; all shall have nearest access to Him. All persons and things shall be holy to the Lord.

God and his Father—There is but one article to both in the Greek, therefore it means, "Unto Him who is at once God and His Father."

glory and dominionGreek, "the glory and the might." The fuller threefold doxology occurs, Re 4:9, 11; fourfold, Re 5:13; Jude 25; sevenfold, Re 7:12; 1Ch 29:11. Doxology occupies the prominent place above, which prayer does below. If we thought of God's glory first (as in the Lord's Prayer), and gave the secondary place to our needs, we should please God and gain our petitions better than we do.

for ever and everGreek, "unto the ages."

7. with cloudsGreek, "the clouds," namely, of heaven. "A cloud received Him out of their sight" at His ascension (Ac 1:9). His ascension corresponds to the manner of His coming again (Ac 1:11). Clouds are the symbols of wrath to sinners.

every eye—His coming shall therefore be a personal, visible appearing.

shall see—It is because they do not now see Him, they will not believe. Contrast Joh 20:29.

they also—they in particular; "whosoever." Primarily, at His pre-millennial advent the Jews, who shall "look upon Him whom they have pierced," and mourn in repentance, and say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." Secondarily, and here chiefly, at the general judgment all the ungodly, not only those who actually pierced Him, but those who did so by their sins, shall look with trembling upon Him. John is the only one of the Evangelists who records the piercing of Christ's side. This allusion identifies him as the author of the Apocalypse. The reality of Christ's humanity and His death is proved by His having been pierced; and the water and blood from His side were the antitype to the Levitical waters of cleansing and blood offerings.

all kindreds … shall wail—all the unconverted at the general judgment; and especially at His pre-millennial advent, the Antichristian confederacy (Zec 12:3-6, 9; 14:1-4; Mt 24:30). Greek, "all the tribes of the land," or "the earth." See the limitation to "all," Re 13:8. Even the godly while rejoicing in His love shall feel penitential sorrow at their sins, which shall all be manifested at the general judgment.

because ofGreek, "at," or "in regard to Him."

Even so, Amen—Gods seal of His own word; to which corresponds the believer's prayer, Re 22:20. The "even so" is Greek; "Amen" is Hebrew. To both Gentiles and Jews His promises and threats are unchangeable.

8. Greek, "I am the Alpha and the Omega." The first and last letters of the alphabet. God in Christ comprises all that goes between, as well as the first and last.

the beginning and the ending—omitted in the oldest manuscripts, though found in Vulgate and Coptic. Transcribers probably inserted the clause from Re 21:6. In Christ, Genesis, the Alpha of the Old Testament, and Revelation, the Omega of the New Testament, meet together: the last book presenting to us man and God reconciled in Paradise, as the first book presented man at the beginning innocent and in God's favor in Paradise. Accomplishing finally what I begin. Always the same; before the dragon, the beast, false prophet, and all foes. An anticipatory consolation to the saints under the coming trials of the Church.

the Lord—The oldest manuscripts read "the Lord God."

AlmightyHebrew, "Shaddai," and "Jehovah Sabaoth," that is, "of hosts"; commanding all the hosts or powers in heaven and earth, so able to overcome all His Church's foes. It occurs often in Revelation, but nowhere else in the New Testament save 2Co 6:18, a quotation from Isaiah.




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