Verse 3: Its urgent that the seven churches to whom these prophecies were originally sent recognize that they must respond quickly to these warnings and assurances because the events described, whether punishments or persecution (Rev 2, 3), will happen soon. Church members must listen carefully and act quickly, and if they do God will bless them, meaning first of all that He will give them the true happiness that comes from having a close personal relationship with Him. Some will be blessed by sparing themselves the punishments that are coming. Some will be blessed by finding strength in the Lords promises to endure the intensified persecution which lay ahead. And most of all, if they remain loyal and obedient to Christ they will be blessed by ensuring that they will receive eternal life (Rev 2:7, 11, 17; 3:5, 12, 21).
Verse 3 (continued): This promise of blessing applies to all generations of believers. The problems experienced by these seven churches have troubled us in one form or another throughout church history. So we can use their example to scrutinize our own faith and conduct and thereby avoid repeating their failures or experiencing the punishments about which Jesus warned them. In every generation Pauls words hold true,
if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged (1Co 11:31). God sent these prophecies to try to prevent serious judgments from falling on certain churches and theres no reason to believe He does not still bring this type of direct intervention when churches or individuals stray too far (1Co 11:30-32). There is quite a difference between the ongoing discipline which God sends to every believer (Heb 12:4-11) and the severe punishments being threatened against certain of these seven churches (Rev 2:5, 22, 23; 3:5, 16). It would seem from these prophecies that there are thresholds of disobedience which, if crossed, bring a disciplinary visit from Jesus (Rev 22:7, 12). If these rebukes and the following revelation concerning the last days and the return of Christ helped them repent and obey they will do so for us as well. We too will be blessed if we heed the things which are written in this book.
Revelation 1:4, 5
Verses 4, 5: Here is Johns salutation to the seven churches. He says, John to the seven churches in Asia, grace to you and peace from the One who is and who was and is coming, and from the seven spirits which are before His throne
In it he identifies himself as the one writing down this manuscript and seven churches as its primary recipients. He tells them that God the Father, who he identifies as the One who is and who was and who is coming
.; God the Son, who he identifies as the faithful witness, the first born of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth
; and God the Holy Spirit, who he identifies as the seven spirits who are before His throne, greet them and send them a blessing of grace and peace.
Revelation 1:4, 5
Verses 4, 5 (continued): The terms applied to the Father focus on His eternal nature. He exists now, He existed at all times in the past, and not only will He exist in the future, but He is coming, meaning He will draw closer to us so we can behold His glory and have fellowship with Him (Rev 22:3-5). The description of the Holy Spirit as the seven spirits who are before the throne (also: Rev 4:5) sounds confusing unless we recognize that John is picturing the Holy Spirit as Gods Menorah. The Menorah was a seven-branched lampstand which served a functional purpose by providing light in the tabernacle (Ex 25:37; Lev 24:1-4), but also stood in the outer court to symbolize Gods promise to provide the light of spiritual revelation for His people. Just as the table holding twelve loaves of bread symbolized His promise to provide needed resource for each of the twelve tribes, the seven-branched lampstand spoke of the availability of the revelation of the Holy Spirit to guide His people, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
Revelation 1:1:4, 5
Verses 4, 5 (continued): Using the image of the seven lights atop the seven branches of the lampstand, John compares the seven flames burning there to the revelations by the Spirit to each of the seven churches. In just a few verses further on (Rev 1:20) he will employ this image again by telling the seven churches that they were Gods Menorah through whom God was sending spiritual light to Asia Minor. So his use of the term seven spirits is rooted in the symbolism of the tabernacle. There arent seven Holy Spirits, but on the Menorah there were seven lights shining before the Holy of holies which promised that Gods Spirit would be available to guide us day by day (Lev 24:1-4).
Revelation 1:1:4, 5
Verses 4, 5 (continued): Jesus is introduced as the faithful witness because He has accurately reported this revelation to John (Rev 1:2), but He is also the faithful witness in the larger sense of having revealed the Father to us (Jn 1:14). He is called the firstborn of the dead because the Father has placed Him in the honored role of eldest son (firstborn) over a huge family of resurrected people. Because of His atonement the entire family of God will receive resurrection bodies similar to His (1Co 15:20-24, 51-57; Col 1:18). Just as an eldest son is honored and given authority over siblings in Near Eastern families, Jesus will have that role among us. To the redeemed He will be our eldest brother, but to ungodly human governments and the nations they control He will be an overlord, the ruler of the kings of the earth. At His return He will be King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16).
Verse 5: After declaring the supreme authority of Jesus Christ, John can go no further without bursting into worship, and the worship he expresses takes a surprising turn. Instead of talking about the power of Christ, he talks about His love and the privileges He has won for us. In effect he says, this majestic Lord to whom all will bow the knee (Php 2:9-11) is first and foremost the One who loves us. This sense of being loved by Jesus was always central to Johns view of Him (Jn 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20; 1Jn 4:10). For him the main reason Jesus should be given glory and the dominion forever and ever (v 6) is because He is the One loving us, having loosed us out of our sins by His blood (literal). Afterall, it was John who stood at the foot of the cross as his Savior was dying and beheld the love in His eyes even at the height of His misery (Jn 19:25-27).