The book was “sent and signified by His angel” to His servant, John. The “angel” is an appearance of Jesus Christ on the earth just as we read of the “angel of The Lord” in the Old Testament appearing and speaking to men. The book is “signified”, in other words, there are many symbols and signs throughout the book to mark certain things and events. God defines the symbols for us and when the definition of the symbol is not given, it is to be understood as literal. Symbols, types, figures, and illustrations do nothing but describe and illustrate literal truth in a manner that enables us to readily understand and remember. A figure of speech is never given to confuse the reader but to assist him to understand. We may have to read further to find the meaning but it is always there.
True, the Book of Revelation is not crystal clear as to order of some events or identification of certain characters. The reason for this is that the events are in the future and many of the doctrines are different from those we have in our Church age. But at the same time it is not a book with a hidden, mystical, uncertain message to some one but is very clear. “Blessed is he that readeth…and they that hear…and keep those things written” (1:3).
The Book of Revelation is NOT a record of Church history, it is a record of “things which must shortly come to pass” (1:1) “The time is at hand” (1:3). From the perspective of John and those he writes to, these things are near; they are not 2000 years in the future. Again, failure to believe the simple statements have bewildered students and given false teachers a heyday who use the Revelation for sensational claims.
“Where was John when he wrote the book?” “When was it written?” These are critical in understanding the timing of the events. First of all, as to the actual date of John writing the book, it is not as important as WHERE he was. No one really knows the date of writing. Some say 95 a.d. was the actual date he wrote the book. But that is all guesswork and part of the useless things you pay the salary of scholars to construct their test questions. Men spend their time learning and speculating over useless issues such as human authorship, dates of writing, etc., and ignore those that matter: the names and dates given in the books of the Bible itself. Those dates and names that are necessary God gives in the Book. When He does not give them, they are not essential.
God tells us exactly where John was, i.e., the time covered, by the book. It is a key to understanding. For one thing, get the time of writing correct and you will understand how things “that must shortly come to pass” have NOT come to pass in over two thousand years and may not for another hundred or so. It will also keep you from the habit of Greek mutilation, which is illustrated by men using the “Greek” to change words like “shortly” to make it mean “sometime” to make their interpretation fit.
Before we look at the time the Book of Revelation covers, lets get the rest of the introduction and TO WHOM the book is addressed.
4 JOHN to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you,and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
John writes to “seven churches which are in Asia” (1:4). The book is not written to two hundred thousand churches in the USA or in Europe, The book is not written to churches in all generations throughout time nor is it addressed to the church at Jerusalem in 95 a.d., or any other church in the first century. The book is addressed to seven churches which ARE in ASIA AT THE TIME he writes.
Notice the triplets in verses 1-6:
a. Persons: “Jesus Christ…servants…John” (v1)
b. Acts: “shew…sent…signified” (v1)
c. What: “records…testimony…all things” (v2)
d. Responsibility: “read…hear…keep” (v3)
A “Him which is, and which was, and which is to come, (Father)
“is” “was” “is to come” (v4)
B “and from the seven Spirits” (Holy Spirit)
“seven” (seven in One) (v4)
C “and from Jesus Christ” (Son)
“the faithful witness” “first begotten of the dead” “prince”
“loved us” “washed us” “made us” (vs5-6)
In the above verses, Three Persons are given equal attributes and essence: Father, Holy Spirit, Son. This is one of many other passages in the Bible where the Trinity is found. It is a Tri-Unity, Three in One. A Bible believer must believe in the Trinity: there is One God manifest in Three Persons. Not only that, he must accept the fact that although One of those Persons is One Spirit, He is also Seven Spirits in One Spirit. The verse does not say “seven ministries” it says “seven Spirits”! If that gives you a headache, take a prescription dosage of aspirin (800 mg) because more is on the way.
Those to whom the book is addressed are “kings and priests”. This has never been promised to the Church which is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-30; 1 Corinthians 12:12). Any verses quoted to prove the members of the Body of Christ will be mayors, governors, kings, or priests are twisted and ripped out of their contexts. What men fail to see who teach such things is that there are different churches in the Bible. One group has to do with Israel and two different churches have to do with the Body of Christ (those saved during this present age of Grace). There was a church in the wilderness under Moses (Acts 7); there was a church composed of the Lord’s disciples (Matthew 18:17); a church (Matthew 16:18) that will be built in the Kingdom; there are churches in various locations during this present age that we call “local churches” as well as the Church composed of all who are saved in the Church age which is called “the Body of Christ”. To mix the various organizations and doctrines of these is absolute confusion. Some of the worst errors in religion have been produced by ignoring the differences.
The Book of Revelation is addressed “to seven churches which are in Asia” during the period of which John writes–period. Taking someone else’s mail is a criminal offense in our postal system, to appropriate a book written to future churches in Asia and press it upon churches that are in America today is irresponsible and ignorant theology. We may learn lessons or be inspired from what others do with what God gives to them but a person who tries to build an ark today because God told Noah to build one, is nuts.
At the time of this writing there is a religious group in Kentucky trying to raise around 25 million dollars they claim it will take to reconstruct a replica of Noah’s ark. Their method of gathering gopher wood and the use of it is certainly different from Noah’s “fund raising”! Their use of this ark will also be weird: a visual to further their interpretations. All types of these “projects” are nothing more than fleshly sidetracks to get God’s people distracted from the main job of the Church today: getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the over 200,000,000 who have never heard even His Name in our generation. Of course there are other “arks” that have been constructed around this world but the latest Kentucky version will correct all the other arks! Millions have already been raised for this “holy” work from gullible Christians.
Someone may say, “Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, were not written to Americans either.” They quibble over the issue; the books were not only written to those churches but also for the instruction and benefit of all during the present Church Age by the apostle Paul, the apostle and teacher of the Gentiles–and he plainly says so in over fifty passages. A cursory reading of the books demonstrates this fact.
The person who writes, those who are addressed, and the period the book covers are all elements which must be carefully investigated before the doctrines in the Bible are laid upon people. Just because you find something in the Bible does not mean that it is to you and meant for you to do. Religious fakes make a lot of money on doing just that.
7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
This coming of The Lord Jesus Christ is seen by all men, “every eye shall see Him” (v7). Now, should any have a problem with God communicating His Second Coming to “every eye” I say you know the power of CNN but you don’t know the scriptures nor the power of God. God does not need and will not use CNN to do it, but don’t you think that if man can send “live” telecasts to be viewed all over the world in a few moments, that God can do much more in the twinkling of an eye?
This coming is not as in 1 Thessalonians 4 where only the Body of Christ sees Him. It is not Him coming to the earth in 1 Thessalonians 4 but it is the Church going to meet Him in the air. He comes “WITH clouds” of His saints (see Hebrews 11:1 for “cloud” definition) in verse 7; He comes FOR His Body in 1 Thessalonians 4. This appearance of the Lord will stop all the religious blabber and happy clappies; it all turns to “wailing” (v7). Compare spiritual things with spiritual and rightly divide the things that differ. An able Bible student does that and understands.
Who is this that comes? He is the eternal, just, righteous, holy, the One who began it all (Alpha) and the One who ends it all (Omega) the almighty God! Greek scholars who run their mouths about the “original Greek” –there’s the “ORIGINAL”, you never found Him, did you? In fact, He will find you! Two little letters in Greek, the first and last, are all you really need to keep in mind : their lesson is clear, God began everything and God will end everything and all of that in between had better line up with those two truths, or else.
John aligns himself with these brethren as their companion and so he was. He, along with Peter and James, are “ministers of the circumcision”.
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Galatians 2:7-9)
In his brief Acts ministry and two small letters addressed to “strangers” scattered (1 Peter 1:1), Peter confirms his apostleship to the circumcision when he never mentions the church which is “the Body of Christ”. James confirms his ministry to the circumcision when he ministers to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (James 1:1) and now John confirms his ministry to the circumcision when he aligns himself as a brother and companion to the seven circumcision churches in Asia (as we shall see) during the Tribulation, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” when Israel is scattered by a wild beast and are as sheep without a shepherd.
Like the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekial 3:12;8:3,ff) who was “in the Spirit” and caught into the future to write of things that have not happened yet, John was moved into the future “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” (1:10). The usual mis-treatment of “the Lord’s Day” is that it is the first day of the week and also called “Sunday”. Nothing could be further from the word of God.
Days of the week or month are never referred to as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc.,in the Bible. The pattern is always “first day” “second day” etc.,
“And very early in the morning the first day of the week…” (Mark 16:2)
“And upon the first day of the week…” (Acts 20:7)
“And the third day…” (John 4:1)
Also, the pagan week day names are not used by God: Sunday ( the Sun’s day), Monday (Moon’s day), Thursday (Thor’s day) Saturday (Saturn’s day) etc., If John refers to Sunday, it is a departure from scripture.
“The Lord’s Day” is the equivalent of the Old Testament “day of the LORD”. Technically, Hebrew could not say ” the Lord’s day ” since there are no possessive nouns in Hebrew grammar. In order to say “the Lord’s day” in Hebrew, two nouns are used: “yom Yahweh” (day Jehovah), the possessive being understood. Thus, “the day of the Lord”. The Greek does have the possessive and the KJB accurately translates into English “the day of the LORD”. So the “Lord’s day” in the NT is the same designation as the OT “day of the LORD”. When John says he was in the Spirit on “the Lord’s day” he refers to the same period as the OT prophets who prophesied that coming “great” and “terrible” day of the wrath of God?
(God does break the Hebrew grammar rule in the OT in a unique translation issue that further backs John’s usage. See our study on the Lord’s Day in our word studies at www.right-division.com).
John was moved to the “day of the LORD” or “Lord’s day” and all of the things in the Book of Revelation occur just as they are described in the Old Testament “day of the LORD”.
14 The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
15 That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. (Zephaniah 1:14-15)
John writes from his position, where he has been moved to “the Lord’s Day”. All is in the future to us readers. There is no Church which is the Body of Christ in the book of Revelation because that Body had already been caught out at the Rapture and was with The Lord. All of the churches in Revelation are Tribulation churches.
11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
Normal-literal interpretation (NLI) of the scripture (the Bible says what it says where it says it to whom it says it) is the only method that gives a sure meaning to Bible words. The result of NLI method is right division of the word of God. Words mean what they say; there is no spiritualization or allegorization of the words.
—continued next week