THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO HIS SERVANT JOHN
Chapter 1: Introduction
Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new Covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, a Covenant which they broke, even though I was their Master, Yahweh declares. No, this is the Covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares. With them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother, saying Learn to know Yahweh! No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind. Jeremiah 31:31-34
Jesus teaching in the Temple the week of His passion: Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing and we marvel at it. I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Matthew 21:43 (Jesus quoted Psalms 118:22-23)
Jesus addressing the crowds of Jews in Jerusalem the week of His passion: you will draw down on yourselves the blood of every upright person that has been shed on earth, from the blood of Abel the holy to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. In truth I tell you, it will all recoil on this generation. Matthew 23:35-36
Yahweh commissioned his prophets as His prosecuting attorneys to call down a Covenant Lawsuits (a ’rib’,in Hebrew; pronounced reeb.? It can also be spelled riv ) when the people of God?s Covenant, through their wickedness, brought the curses of the Covenant down upon themselves. Some examples are the prophets Isaiah and Hosea who prophesized the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722BC and the covenant lawsuits of Jeremiah and Ezekiel who prophesized the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem and Solomon?s Temple in 586BC. In the 1st century AD, Yahweh kept His promise to send the Messiah (Anointed One) who would redeem the people of the Covenant. In the 6th century BC, the prophet Jeremiah linked the promise of the coming of the Messiah with the promise of a New Covenant: Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new Covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, even though I was their Master, Yahweh declares. No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahweh declares. Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they will be my people. There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother, saying ’Learn to’ know Yahweh! No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind. It was this passage that must have come to mind to the Apostles in the Upper Room as Jesus instituted the Eucharistic meal when He gave them the NEW COVENANT in His blood: Matthew 26:28 Drink from this all of you for this is my blood, the blood of the new Covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Under the Old Covenant forgiveness of sin was incomplete. No animal was pure enough a sacrifice to remove sin. The confession before a priest and the blood of the animal sacrificed could only ’cover’ the sin. But Jesus Messiah would be the perfect sacrifice that was required. With Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, for the first time sin could truly be forgiven and for the first time there was the promise of heaven!
Judah, the only remaining nation of God’s people, rejected God/ Messiah just as the ’perverse generation’ of the golden calf rejected God at Mt. Sinai. No other two generations in Salvation History had witnessed such amazing evidence of God’s power and God’s grace. Jesus warned His generation of God’s Covenant people, I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realized He was speaking about them. Matthew 21:43-45. A Covenant judgement, like excommunication, is not meant to forever separate God from a sinful person or community, but the judgements are meant to separate those who have fallen away from the error of sin and restore them to the Community of the Faithful.
God in His mercy, gave Judah (known as Judea under Roman occupation) 40 years to accept the New Covenant in Christ, just as He gave 40 years of grace to the new generation of the newly formed nation of Israel to adjust to the Law of the Sinai Covenant. Those, who in their sinfulness still rejected Jesus, would face the Covenant Curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 32. God’s prophet, John, is the messenger of the Covenant Lawsuit to unbelieving Judea, but at the same time John offers hope and encouragement to her successor, the new Israel of the New Covenant in Christ. Observe the Chart [see below] and notice the way the Book of Revelation divides into the formal Covenant Treaty format. Covenant agreements between nations and treaties between a great king and a vassal people or ’lawsuits’ against a rebellious people were written in a formal style in the Middle East from approximately the 15th century BC. The Book of Deuteronomy, for example, follows this outline and this format is repeated in the Book of Revelation. Also notice the series of 4 - seven fold judgements of the book of Revelation and how they correspond to the judgements Jesus prophesied in Matthew's Mini Apocalypse of Chapter 24. Then too there is the amazing correlation of the 4 seven fold judgements of Revelation and the Curses in Leviticus chapter 26 in which, 4 times, God promises to call down a seven fold judgement of Covenant Curses if the Covenant is broken by Israel: (1) Lev. 26:18 I will punish you 7 times for your sins: (2) Lev. 26:21 And if you go against Me and will not listen to Me, I shall heap 7 times more plagues on you for your sins.(3) Lev. 26:24: And if that does not reform you, and you still go against me, then I shall go against you and punish you another 7 times over for your sins. (4) Leviticus 26:28: And if in spite of this you will not listen to Me but go against Me, I shall go against you in fury and punish you 7 times over for your sins. The number four is used in Scripture in association with the earth, especially the land of Israel. It is also interesting that the land, like an altar, is pictured as have 4 corners (see Isaiah 11:12; Exodus 27:1-2) from which the 4 winds blow (Jeremiah 49:36); the camp of Israel was arranged in 4 groups around the Tabernacle in the desert (Numbers 2) and there are many other examples to be found in Scripture. In Leviticus chapter 26 and in John’s Revelation the 4 groups of 7s point to the consequences of disobedience to the Covenant that will result in full and complete judgement upon the Land of Israel for her sins, the murder of God’s prophets, and especially for the rejection of the Messiah.
|COVENANT TREATY FORMAT||
In the Covenant Lawsuit
|MATTHEW’S MINI APOCALYPSE|
Identifies the lordship of the Great King stressing his greatness, power & his nearness and presence
VISION OF THE SON OF MAN
Chapter 1: history of the Covenant
||Four sets of 7 judgments||Matthew Chapter 24|
Surveying the king’s previous relationship of the vassal, especially emphasizing the blessings bestowed
THE SEVEN LETTERS
Chapters 2-3: Specific stipulations dealing with false prophets, persecution, lawlessness, love grown cold, duty of perseverance
|24:3-5,9-13 : Tell us when is this going to happen and what sign will be of your coming and of the end of the world. Take care that no one deceives you because many will come using my name. Then you will be handed over to be tortured and put to death and many will fall away...love in most people will grow cold but anyone who stands firm will be saved!|
Expounding the vassal’s obligations, his ’guide to citizenship’ in the covenant
THE SEVEN SEALS
Chapters 4-7: Concerned with wars, famine and earthquakes
|24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet for nation will fight against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.|
Outlining the blessings for obedience & Curses for disobedience
THE SEVEN TRUMPETS
Chapters 8-14: tells of the Church’s witness to the world, her flight into the wilderness, the great Tribulation & The False Prophet
|24:11-27 Many false prophets will arise.The good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed to the whole world, so those in Judea must escape to the mountains Alas for those with child, or babies at the breast when those days come! For then there will be great distress, unparalleled since the world began, for false Christs and false prophets will arise|
Dealing with the continuity of the covenant relationship over future generations
THE SEVEN CHALICES
Chapters 15-22: describes the darkening of the Beast’s kingdom, the destruction of the Harlot, gathering of eagles over Jerusalem’s corpse & gathering of the Church into the kingdom
|24:28-31: Wherever the corpse is, that is where the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send his angels with a loud trumpet to gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.|
John, the servant of Jesus the Messiah, is prophesying the Covenant Curses which will fall upon his generation for disobedience to the covenant Israel made with Yahweh and at the same time as the Messiah-King’s representative John is establishing the New Covenant Treaty (promised by Jeremiah in 31:31) with the New Israel, the universal, Catholic Church (The word universal in Greek is katholikos; in Latin, catholicus. The earliest known use of the name ’Catholic Church’ to indicate the Church established by Jesus Christ whose authority rests with the Vicar of Christ, the Roman Bishop, is found in the letter St Ignatius of Antioch (AD 35-107) wrote to the Smyrneans.
A revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him so that He could tell His servants what must take place very soon. Revelation 1:1]
Note: I am using the New Jerusalem Bible translation in our study but I will refer to other translation and I do always compare each phrase with the an Interlinear Greek-English which give a literal, word for word, translation.
Biblical treaties set down God’s transcendence and omnipresence by referring to His actions in creation, redemption and revelation. God’s divine revelation is stressed in the opening verses and it is the declaration of the redemptive powers of Jesus the Messiah that will close Revelation’s preamble:
THE THINGS WHICH YOU HAVE SEEN (Revelation 1:2)
Please read John’s Introduction Read 1:1-8
Question: What is the title of this book?
Answer: As in the Old Testament tradition, the name of a book of scripture comes from the first line. The revelation of Jesus Christ]
Question: Who is the author and what is the message?
Answer: This work is the unveiling of Jesus the Messiah in the context of future events which are only known to God the Father (Matthew 24:36). Jesus, the Son, now shares in this knowledge which he will communicate to John. It is a revelation of Jesus Christ not only because it comes directly to John from Jesus but because Jesus is the subject, the beginning and the end, of this unveiling of future events. (note: when referring to God the Father the Greek text of the New Testament usually uses the definite, masculine article ’the’= the God).
Question: To whom is the message directed?
Answer: God’s servants his servants]
Question: Who has the responsibility to carry the
message? How many times is his name used?
Answer: John. 2 times.
Question: This message is transmitted in 5 steps
beginning with God the Father and ending with us, the readers. Can you list
the 5 step process of transmission?
Answer: 1) from God the Father, 2) to Jesus Christ, 3) to an angel, 4) to the writer, John, 5) to the readers of this letter, the Servants of God.
Revelation 1: 1b: and He made it known can also be
translated and He signified. John chose to use the Greek word semaino from
the root sema which means ’mark’ or ’sign.’ John used this same word in
3 passages of his Gospel: Jn 12:33; 18:32; and 21:19. In each of these cases
this word is used of Christ ’signifying’ a future event soon to occur:
Example John 12:31-33 Now sentence is being passed on this world; and the
prince of this world is to be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the
earth, I shall draw all people to myself. By these words He indicated
(semanino) the kind of death He would die. The ’lifting up’ would be the
’sign’. In this passage of Revelation John is saying that these things
regarding the future soon to come are made known to him by the angel through
’signs’. In other words, the entire message is symbolic not literal. This is
not simply history written in advance but the prophecy of future events
Question: What does verse 2 mean and John bore witness to the Word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ. Note: the Greek word used for ’witness’ is martus from which we get our English word ’martyr’ and the Greek word for ’word’ is ’logos’.
Answer: John bore witness by teaching the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ and through the sufferings he endured for the sake of the Gospel message.
Question: In what setting is scripture most often
both read and heard?
Answer: in the liturgy of the Word at Mass. This is an indication that John’s message is not just for individual edification but the message is to be read to the Church. From the opening verses the Book of Revelation is set in a liturgical setting.
Revelation 1:3 contains the first of the 7 blessings or beatitudes of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
|#1. Revelation 1:3||Blessed is anyone who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed those who hear them, if they treasure the content, because the Time is near.|
|#2. Revelation 14:13||Blessed are those who die in the Lord! Blessed indeed, the Spirit says; now they can rest forever after their work, since their good deeds go with them [doctrine of merit].|
|#3. Revelation 16:15||Blessed is anyone who has kept watch, and has kept his clothes on, so that he does not go out naked and expose his shame.|
|#4. Revelation 19:9||Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.|
|#5. Revelation 20:6||Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection; the second death has no power over them but they will be priests of God and of Christ and reign with Him for a thousand years. [the first death is one’s physical death; the second death is the failure to win eternal life.]|
|#6. Revelation 22:7||I am coming soon! Blessed are those who keep the prophetic message of this book.|
|#7. Revelation 22:14||Blessed are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they will have the right to feed on the tree of life and can come through the gates into the city. [ the Jerusalem of 21:9]|
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2000 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.
Question: What does a blessing from God indicate?
Answer: a divine promise
|Revelation 1:1||A revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him so that he could tell his servants what is now to take place very soon.|
|Revelation 1:3||and blessed those who hear them, if they treasure the content, because the Time is near.|
|Revelation 1:4||John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from him (He) who is, who was, and who is to come|
|Revelation 10:7||The time for waiting is over; at the time when the 7th angel is heard sounding his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, just as he announced in the gospel to his servants the prophets.|
|Revelation 22:10||Do not keep the prophecies in this book a secret because the Time is close.|
Question: What was the test of a true prophet
of God? See Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
Answer: The true prophet had to be 100% accurate in his prophecies because those prophecies came from God. Given the fact that the test of a true prophet was that his predictions came true, St. John’s first century readers had every reason to expect his message to have immediate significance. The words he uses ’shortly’ and ’near’ simply cannot mean anything but what they say. Also consider such passages as Rev. 13:18 where John encourages his contemporary readers to calculate the number of the Beast and in Rev. 17:10 where he tells his readers one of the seven kings is currently on the throne or in 17:18 where John says that the great Harlot is (present tense) the Great city which reigns (present tense) over the kings of the earth. Then too there is the significance of the angel’s message to John in Revelation 22:10 So not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book for the time is near. Compare that passage with the command Daniel (6th century BC prophet) received at the end of his Old Testament book of prophecy in Daniel 12:4 Conceal the words and seal up the book until the time of the end. Daniel is ordered to seal up his prophecy because it referred to ’the end’ which was in the distant future. But John is told not to seal up his prophecy. Why? Because the time is near!
The revelation of Jesus Christ to John concerns contemporary (’very soon’) and future events. The blessing is extended to those down through the ages who prepare for his or her definitive encounter with the Savior by taking these words of the vision to heart and doing what it says. Paul in his letter to the Romans expresses this as the ’obedience of faith’ (Romans 1:5). Even though John’s letter is to the 1st century Christians of 7 churches in Asia Minor, his message is as timeless as Paul’s message to the Romans is to us today. In the context of ’the time is near’ phrase of verse 3 it is also helpful to remember what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:8-10 regarding the coming of the final days when it is asked What has happened to the promise of His coming? (2 Peter 3:4) Peter’s reply (beginning with a reference to Psalms 90:4) was that you must never forget: that with a the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not being slow in carrying out His promises, as some people think He is; rather is He being patient with you, wanting nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to repentance. The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and melt away, the earth and all that it contains will be burned up. However, given the imminent nature of the warning of John’s prophecy perhaps he is not addressing the Second Advent of Christ. There will only be one ’Second Coming’ of Christ that will signal the Final Judgment but God’s comes in judgment continually throughout history on the nations and peoples of the earth. Is John’s prophecy concerned with a judgment other than the Final Judgment?
Compare the time frame for fulfillment of John’s vision with
the interpretation of a dream by the Old Testament prophet Daniel. Please read
Question: When will the vision of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream come to fulfillment?
Answer: Daniel 2:28: ’what is to take place in the final (or latter) days.’
Question: When are these ’final’ or ’latter’ days?
Answer: John’s vision is the fulfillment of the prophecies that were given to Daniel. In Daniel verses 31-36 the visions correspond to 4 earthly kingdoms that will succeed each other in dominating the earth: 1)The Babylonians (Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom); 2) the future Medo-Persian kingdom; 3) the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and the generals who in succeeding him found 4 other kingdoms; and 4) the Roman Empire. But there is a 5th kingdom that will succeed in destroying the Roman kingdom. Daniel 2:35 Then, iron and clay, bronze, silver and gold, all broke into pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole world. Read verse 44 for the interpretation of v. 35: In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and this kingdom will not pass into the hands of another race: it will shatter and absorb all the previous kingdoms and itself last for ever
Question: What is this 5th kingdom? Hint: ’threshing floor’: the Temple in Jerusalem was built on what had been a ’threshing floor’ see 2 Samuel 24:18ff; 1 Chronicles 21:15ff. ’Stone’ = God’s Holy Temple in Jerusalem was built on the ’ev(b)anshettiyah’ the foundation stone of Yahweh on Mt. Moriah and on another ’rock’ God established His New Covenant Church (Simon-Peter).
Answer: The Universal Church is the 5th kingdom. This vision is repeated in Daniel ch 7. (Note: Christ is the evanshettiyah, the foundation/ cornerstone of the New Covenant. See Matthew 21:42-44; Luke 20:17-18; Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:4, 7.
John has now seen the latter days prophesized by the prophet
Daniel arrive. The setting up of God’s Holy Kingdom has begun with the coming
of Jesus the Messiah; and the promise that it shall break in pieces all
these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever (Daniel 2:44) is already starting to be fulfilled. But fulfillment is a
process that began with the inauguration of the Kingdom and will end in its
Question: In Peter’s first great homily at the time of the birth of the New Covenant Church during the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, what does Peter say about the ’Last Days’ and the ’Day of the Lord’ in Acts 2:16-36 and in his defense of the Gospel before the Jewish Sanhedrin in 3:22-26?
Answer: First quoting the prophecy of Joel 3:1-5 Peter tells the crowds of Jews that the ’last days’ prophesized by Joel have come to pass. And in 3:24 witnessing before the Jewish Law Court Peter proclaims: In fact, all the prophets that have ever spoken from Samuel onwards, have predicted these days.
John’s address and greeting continued: 1:4-8:
Question: To whom are John’s greetings addressed
Answer: To 7 churches of Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Get out a map and look up the 7 churches named in chapter 2.
They were (they no longer exist) located in what is today the country of Turkey. They are all located in somewhat of a circle. Perhaps this was John’s diocese or these cities may have been the path of a Roman mail route. Notice the location of the island of Patmos just off the coast near Ephesus. The Romans governed this area and it was known as the procounsular of Asia and the city of Ephesus, where John presided as Bishop of the Church, was the capital.
Revelation 1: 4-5: grace and peace to you from
Him who is, who was, and who is to come.
This greeting: grace and peace, is in the usual New Testament style (see Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessa1onians 1; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; Titus 1:2; Philemon 1:3; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:2) The greeting calls to mind the saving work of Jesus Christ and projects that saving work forward through history.
from Him who is, who was, and who is to come.(literally
from He., bad Greek but good theology. For another example of John’s
bad Greek but good theology see John 16:13 where he uses the masculine article
for ’the Spirit’. In Greek ’the spirit’ is neuter. John makes Spirit
masculine for a good theological reason. The same is true here.
Question: When did God disclose a similar title to one of God’s prophets? See Exodus 3:13-15.
Answer: This title is an elaboration of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, God’s holy covenant name as given to Moses which is usually translated as ’IAM WHO I AM’. By identifying Himself in this way He underlines the fact that He is the Lord of all time, past, present, and future. ’His Story’ is history! And that He is at all times acting to affect salvation for man. See repeated references to this title in Revelation 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; and 16:5. (for further reference see Jesus’ use of I AM in John 8:24; 8:58; 18:5-6; etc.)
Question: In verses
4-5 what mystery, previously revealed by Jesus Christ to the Church, is
expressed and in what order (see Matt. 28:19 for help). There will be 3.
Answer: God the Father (He who is and who was and who is to come), God the Holy Spirit (from the seven spirits before His throne), God the Son (Jesus Christ the faithful witness). This is liturgical order as opposed to theological order (in Matthew 28:19).
Read Exodus 40:16-35 for the
arrangement of the Tabernacle of God in its 3 parts which corresponded
symbolically to the mystery of the Trinity.
Question: How was the tabernacle arranged
Answer: The arrangement was in three sections: The Holy of Holies, The Holy Place, and the Altar reflect the mystery of the Trinity. This mystery is also reflected in the placement of the sacred furniture. The Ark of the Covenant, which was place in the Holy of Holies, represented the throne of God. The 7 branched lampstand placed in the Holy Place, represented the Holy Spirit, and the courtyard with the sacrificial altar and priests represented the redeeming work of the Son. Later John will be taken up into the heavenly Sanctuary. The Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem was only a copy and shadow of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Hebrews 8:5 They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the Tabernacle. For He(God) says, See that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. Show overhead of the Tabernacle plan. See handout of the Tabernacle.
Question: How is this
liturgical order of the Trinity reflected in the sacrifice of the Mass?
Now look at the unique way John expresses the unity (oneness) and diversity (threeness) of God in this passage in Revelation 1:4-5. Remember the concept of the Trinitarian unity of the Godhead is a mystery that was not revealed to the Church until the advent of Christ. It was the very reason He was condemned to death by the Jews:
Let’s look at the titles used for Christ in this passage:
Revelation 1: 6He loves us and has washed away
our sins with His blood, and made us a Kingdom of Priests to serve His God and Father:
to Him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus has fulfilled what no Old Testament sacrifice (animal’s blood) could accomplish. Read Hebrews 9: 15-22. How have we become a ’Kingdom of Priests’? See 1 Peter 2:4-9 (v. 9 But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.
Question: When do we assume this role in the priesthood of the faithful?
Answer: We first are born into this role in the Sacrament of Baptism when we are reborn into the family of God and no longer a child in the family of Adam. Later when our baptism is completed in the Sacrament of Confirmation when we take our place as active members of Christ’s royal priesthood of believers when we become apostles of Christ and carry His message of salvation to the world: Read CCC #1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, had made of the Church a kingdom, priests for His God and Father. The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are consecrated to be a holy priesthood.
Question: Is there a parallel in the Old Testament?
Read Exodus 19:3-8. What happened to cause the loss of this status as a
kingdom of priests? Read Exodus 31:1-4 and 31:25-29.
Answer: The Levites replaced the people as the priesthood but Aaron and his sons continued as the ministerial priesthood.
Question: Do we also have these two divisions of the priesthood? Read CCC # 1547.
Answer: Yes, those of us who are covenant believers are all members of the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ but some of us are called to serve in the ministerial priesthood.
Revelation 1:6 is John’s doxology of praise to Jesus the Messiah the Redeemer. Not only have we been redeemed from slavery to sin by the power of His perfect sacrifice but He has also constituted us as a Kingdom of priests. The end of the Old is the beginning of the New and Christians are now ruling with Christ (see Ephesians 1:20-22; 2:6; Colossians 1:13), spreading His ’Good news’ across the world over which only He has dominion and power.
Revelation 1: 7 Look He is coming on (with) the clouds: This verse announces what many scholars consider to be the theme of the book, which isn’t the Second Advent of Christ, but the Coming of Christ in judgement upon Israel in order to establish the universal (catholic) Church as the new Kingdom, the New Israel. This argument is supported by the Old Testament imagery John uses which is one of the most familiar Biblical images for judgement: the Glory-Cloud: (see Gen. 15:17; Ex. 13:21-22; 14:19-20 & 24; 19:9; & 16-19; Psalms 18:8-14; 104:3; Isaiah 19:1; Ezek. 32:7-8; Daniel 7:13-14; Nah 1:2-8; Matt. 24:30; Mark 14:62; Acts 2:19). The Glory-Cloud is God’s heavenly chariot by which He makes His glorious presence known. It is also a revelation of His Throne from which He brings judgement upon the wicked and justice and deliverance to the righteous. This is the wrathful judgement against apostate Israel as He has promised in Matthew chapters 23-24. In Matthew 26:63-66 Jesus uses this very passage when pressed by the High Priest to reveal His true identity. Read Matthew 26:63-66. Jesus warns the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas: You shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. The High Priest realizes Jesus is quoting Daniel 7:13 and is claiming divinity and judgement upon Israel. The High Priest tears his clothes and condemns Jesus. Read Daniel 7:13 ff.
..and everyone will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all the races of the earth will mourn over Him. Indeed this shall be so. Amen. This is a reference from Zechairah 12: 10-11. This is the second time John has used this phrase. He also used it in the Gospel of John 19:37. Let’s compare the passages: Zech 12: 10b-11: They will mourn for the one whom they have pierced as though for an only child, and weep for him as people weep for a first-born child. And John 19 beginning with verse 35: This is the evidence of the one who saw it, true evidence, and he knows that what he says is true, and he gives it so that you may believe as well. Because all this happened to fulfill the words of scripture: ;Not one bone of his will be broken; and again, in another place scripture says ; They will look to the one whom they have pierced. John is quoting the prophet Zechariah in this passage as well.
Question: who pierced Him?
Answer: the crucifiers. Those who crucified the Messiah would see Him coming in judgement. In other words, they would experience and understand that His Coming on the Clouds would mean wrath on the Land of the Old Covenant. The Zechariah passage occurs in the context of Judah’s (Israel’s) mourning in repentance. But the Judea of John’s day had gone beyond the point of no return. They were facing The Day Of The Lord. But Zechariah’s prophesy also promises redemption. This promised was to be fulfilled. By the means of the excommunication of the Old Israel the world will be saved through Jesus Christ; the message is to be carried by the New Israel (just as Jesus told the priests in Matt. 21:43). And by that means those of the Old Covenant still could turn again to the Lord and be saved (see Acts 2:37-41: Hearing this (that they had crucified the Messiah) they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles; What are we to do, brothers. You must repent, Peter answered, and every one of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.) Jesus the Christ comes not simply for judgment but for judgment unto salvation: Isaiah 26:9 When Your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. And John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
Revelation 1: 8 I am the Alpha and the Omega,
says the Lord God, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.
Question: What is the significance of the ’I AM’ Read Exodus 3:13-15.
Answer: It is God’s holy covenant name: Yahweh.
In his Gospel John records Jesus’ use of the words I AM ego ami in Greek, seven different ways; I AM the bread of life, the light of the world, before Abraham was I AM, etc. [see the Chart of the 7 Days and the 7 I AM’s of John’s Gospel].
Alpha and Omega are the first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. The meaning is that He is the beginning and the ending of all things. This is expressed in the Old Testament reference in Isaiah 44:6 Thus says Yahweh, Israel’s king, Yahweh Sabaoth, his redeemer: I am the first and the last; there is no God except me. Jesus will use this expression, the Alpha and the Omega, three times in Revelations 1:8; 1:17 and 21:6. Then at the very end of the book in 22:13 the expression is used a fourth time I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End..
The Almighty is the usual translation of the Greek word Pantokrator, which means the One who has all power and rules over everything. It is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament ’Yahweh Sabaoth’ or Yahweh (or LORD) of the Armies (of heaven and earth).
Read Revelation 1:9-16
Revelation 1: 9: I John, your brother and companion in the Tribulation and Kingdom and perseverance which are in Christ Jesus.. This is the fourth time John’s name is mentioned in the first chapter. John’s name will be given 5 times in the book: ( John 1:1; 1;1, 1:4; 1:9 and 22:8).
Question: Why does John call himself our brother?
Answer: We are brothers (and sisters) in the blood of Christ. Covenants create families. This is why in the Old and in the New Testament only one word is used for brother. In the New Testament it is the Greek word ’adelphos’, meaning ’from the womb’, but it is the same word used for brothers in the same family [John and James Zebedee], for kinsmen [the kinsmen of Jesus], for the disciples and apostles, and for members of the nation of Judah and the Israelites of the Galilee. Therefore, when this word is used to refer to Jesus kinsmen it is wrong to assume that Jesus had natural brothers and sisters.
Question: In Revelation 1:9-16 what 3 things are we
united as brothers? In this verse we have a concise summary of the theme of
the Book of Revelation as well as John’s worldview.
Answer: 1 = tribulation; 2 = the Kingdom; 3 = perseverance
..was on (the island of) Patmos on account of the Word of God and the witness to Jesus Christ. Patmos is an island off the coast of modern day Turkey. Patmos is 35 miles from Miletus. It is a rocky , crescent shaped, volcanic island 10 miles long and 6 miles wide at its widest point. John has been exiled to the island of Patmos because of his apostolic activity. Christianity was not one of the approved religions. Christians refused to sacrifice to the Roman Emperor. Such a refusal amounted to treason. But it is interesting how John phrases the reason for his imprisonment. He doesn’t say it is because of his own actions but because God has spoken and Jesus has testified. The testimony of Jesus Christ has determined the march of history.
Revelation 1:10: ..it was the Lord’s Day and I
was in the Spirit,..
Question: What does John mean when he says that it was the Lord's Day?
Answer: It is the day set aside entirely to worship God. The origin of this term goes back to the first Sabbath when God rested from Creation (Gen. 2:2-3). This original Sabbath was the prototype of the ’Day of the Lord’, the Day of Judgement. The weekly Sabbath of the Old Testament looked forward in time to the Final Day of the Lord when Yahweh gathered the people together for judgment, forgiveness, and the proclamation of the King’s Word.
Question: What day of the week was the Old Covenant Sabbath?
Question: What is the New Covenant Lord’s Day and why did the day change?
Answer: Sunday, the day of the Resurrection and the 2nd great Pentecost. Sunday is also the day God began creation in Genesis chapter 1. The Lord’s Day, Sunday, is the day of the New Creation in Christ Jesus.
Question: Can you compare the concept of the Old
Testament Lord’s Day? to the celebration of the Mass?
Answer: For us it is also a day of judgment and forgiveness. We come before God’s throne to be forgiven and restored, to hear His Word and to be reunited to Him in the Eucharist. In the worship of the Mass we are all, like St. John, caught up to the Throne room of God, we are all in the celebration of the Mass in the Spirit.
and I was in the Spirit. The Greek is ’egenomen en Pneumati’ This is technical prophetic language See Matthew 22:43; Numbers 11:25; 2 Samuel 23:2; Ezekiel 2:2; 3:24; and 2 Peter 1:20-21 = No prophecy ever came from human initiative. When people spoke for God it was the Holy Spirit that moved them.? In this moment his dark cell walls faded away and an entirely other kind of reality open up, John, the spirit-filled Apostle is admitted to the heavenly council-chamber just as Isaiah had been admitted 800 years earlier.
..and I heard a loud voice behind me, like the sound of a trumpet, saying Trumpets are mentioned more in Revelation than in any other book of the Bible. They are usually associated with the Last Things and with the revelation of God and Judgement. It is interesting that the Glory-Cloud, the most basic Biblical image for the Judgment, is generally associated with three other images: The Spirit, the Day (or light, since the light of day was originally born from the light of the Cloud) and the Voice, which often sounded like a trumpet; see Exodus 19:16-19 v. 18 Yahweh had descended on it (the mountain of Sinai) in the form of fire. The smoke (cloud) rose like the smoke from a furnace. And the whole mountain shook violently. Louder and louder grew the trumpeting. You may remember that these three images are mentioned in the Garden of Eden when The man and his wife heard the sound (actually the word should be ’voice’, kol in Hebrew) of God walking in the Garden in the cool the Hebrew word is ruah which means spirit. The passage should read in the spirit of the day. You see it wasn’t a gentle, refreshing breeze that floated through the Garden but it was the explosive thunderclaps and trumpeting of the God of heaven and earth that Adam and Eve heard; no wonder they hid!
Revelation 1:11: Write down in a book all you see and send it to the seven churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. John was commanded to write this book and to send the letters to these 7 churches in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). His heart must have leapt at the naming of these particular churches because they were probably part of his (to use a modern term) archdiocese. Ephesus was John’s home church before his imprisonment and he will return to Ephesus to spend his remaining days. These 7 churches are listed in a circular route. It is probably the route a messenger would travel; or even the route John would travel when he visited each of these faith communities.
Revelation 12-13: I turned around to see who was speaking to me, and when I turned I saw 7 golden lamp-stands and in the middle of them, one like the Son of Man dressed in a long robe tied at the waist with a belt of gold. Verses 12-15 is the only physical description of Jesus in the New Testament. Notice that first John hears and then he sees. At the end of John’s revelation in Rev. 22:8 John will tell us again: I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. Perhaps the verbal revelation is necessary to understand the visual revelation.
Question: Where is it that John finds himself when
he turns and sees the golden lamp-stands? Where are golden lamp-stands kept?
Answer: There was a single golden lamp-stand with 7 lamps in the Holy Place in the Temple.
Question: But why are there 7 golden lamp-stands?
Answer: Because John has entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, and he sees 7 lamp-stands, connected to each other in the Person who stands in their midst. We’ll discuss the symbolism when we reach verse 20 but for now picture what John saw: Jesus Christ is the one Lamp-stand, uniting the 7 lamp-stands, Jesus is surrounded by what? [Answer: Light!] And what a vision of Christ, clothed as the High Priest but perhaps also as a King (see 1Macc. 10:89). This vision recalls the Prophet Daniel’s vision in Dan. 10:5-11 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. His body also was like beryl, His face like lightening, His eyes were like flaming torches. According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, the priest wore the sash around his chest when he was at rest from his duties (Antiquities of the Jews, iii.vii.2). Also see the description of the High Priest’s vestments in Lev. 16:4ff.
Let’s look more closely at John’s use of Jesus’ favorite title for Himself: Son of Man: Outside of the gospels, where Jesus frequently refers to himself as Son of Man, this title is only found in the New Testament in three other places; in Acts 7:56; Rev. 1:13 and 14:14. The Aramaic (common language of Jesus’ time) is bar’nishah and originally meant man or one descended from Adam. But the use of Son of Man in this passage recalls Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13-14 I was gazing into the visions of the night when I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven, as it were a Son of Man. He came to the One most venerable and was led into His presence. On Him was conferred rule, honor, and kingship. Besides the Daniel passage where the Son of Man title refers to the Messiah, the expression is only found in the Old Testament in the book of Ezekiel (where God addressed Ezekiel as son of man 93 times beginning in Ezekiel 2:1 ) and one other time in the book of Daniel where God called Daniel son of man in Daniel 8:17 Son of man, He said to me, understand this: the vision shows the time of the End. Jesus used this title to stress His humanity but He also used it in relationship to Daniel’s vision of the glorified Messiah receiving all power and authority from the Father. Daniel’s prophecy of this vision is fulfilled in John’s vision of the glorified Christ as high priest, king and prophet/ judge. Remember, God’s prophets were His prosecuting attorneys; speaking God’s words and bringing God’s judgment.
Revelation 1: 14-15: His head and His hair were white with the whiteness of wool, like snow, and His eyes like a burning flame, His feet like burnished bronze when it has been refined in a furnace, and His voice like the sound of many waters. (many waters is a more literal translation than ocean. This is a key Biblical phrase symbolizing abundant grace and blessings and it will reappear later in the study). This fiery passage of the glorified Christ not only recalls Dan. 7:13 but also Daniel 7:9: While I was watching, thrones were set in place and the One most venerable (Ancient of Days) took His seat. His robe was white a snow, the hair of His head as pure as wool. His throne was a blaze of flames, its wheels were a burning fire. A stream of fire poured out issuing from His presence. A thousand thousand waited on Him, ten thousand times then thousand stood before Him. The court was in session and the books lay open.( these are the books in which human deeds, good and bad are recorded: see Jer. 17:1; Ps 40:8; 56:8; Dan. 12:1; Mal.3:16; Lk 10:12; Rev. 20:1). It is also interesting to compare these visions to Jesus Ben Sirach’s description of the glory of the High Priest in Ecclesiasticus 50:5-12. It starts: How splendid he was with the people thronging around him, when he emerged from the curtained shrine (Holy of Holies), like the morning star among the clouds, like the moon at the full, like the sun shining on the Temple of the Most High, like the rainbow gleaming against brilliant clouds,
Let’s look at the individual parts of this passage and the Old Testament passages to which they are linked:
But why does John bring us back to all these Old Testament references? Why all these patterns of repetition? We will see this pattern of repetition again and again in Revelation. We have also seen the reference to the Alpha and the Omega; it will be repeated two more times. Saying a thing twice intensifies it. To repeat is to underline to emphasize. But repetition is more that that in Holy Scripture. I believe repetition between the Old and New Testament is continuity. We understand that there is continuity between the Son of Man vision of Daniel and the Son of Man vision of John. We should also understand that when we read the reference to the false prophet in the letter to the Church at Pergamum (Rev. 2:14) some of you are followers of Balaam who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites so that they committed adultery what this reference to the false prophet of Numbers 22:2ff tells us is that if what happened in the time of Balaam (over a thousand years before the birth of Jesus) could happen again in John’s time, it could would be wise for us to be on our guard because it is equally likely to happen today. This is what God is doing constantly in Scripture. He has basically just one message for man, the good news of salvation. But in His desire that we should truly understand and also knowing our limitations, He knows the one statement of it will not be enough. Psalms 62:11 Once God has spoken, but twice have I heard. That is why the Egyptian pharaoh is given 2 different dreams in Genesis 41. Joseph, empowered by the Holy Spirit, interprets these dreams as one message. Two dreams are given to impress Pharaoh with its validity. Joseph’s message = famine is coming! Genesis 41:32 The reason why Pharaoh had the same dream twice is that the event is already determined by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Jesus uses repetition with His disciples who are shown 2 separate miracles which convey the same truth in Matthew 16:5-12 (miracle of feeding the 5 thousand and the 4 thousand) to teach them a particular lesson. The purpose of hitting the same nail several tines is to drive it home. But more than that, in repeating all these Old Testament patterns in Revelation may be to revel the truth conveyed in this book to be intensive rather than extensive. What we are shown here may be the working over in COLOR of a picture we already know in outline instead of an extra piece of canvas added on to the original picture.
Revelation 1:16: In His right had He held seven stars John will go on to interpret this for us in verse 20. There are two interesting aspects of 7 stars that are worth noting. First, in the first century AD seven stars appeared on the Roman Emperor’s coins as a symbol of his political sovereignty. In putting 7 stars in Jesus’ hand instead John may be saying that power and dominion over the earth is God’s alone. Then too, 7 stars make up the cluster of stars known as the Pleiades. The Pleiades make a chain that form part of the constellation Taurus, the Bull. They are mentioned by name in Job 9:5-9; 38:31-33; and Amos 5:8. The sun is with Taurus in the Spring (Easter time) and so the Pleiades are a fitting symbol in connection with the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ as well as looking forward to the second Advent.\
..out of His mouth came a sharp sword, double-edged and His face was shining like the sun in full force. This is a vision of the Word that works to save as well as to bring judgment. The image is taken from the prophecy of Isaiah Isaiah 11:4] He will strike the Land with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. The wonderful passage from Hebrews 4:12-13 also has this same imagery: The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword: it can seek out the place where soul is divided from spirit, or joints from marrow; it can pass judgment on secret emotions and thoughts. No created thing is hidden from Him; everything is uncovered and stretched fully open to the eyes of the one to whom we must give account of ourselves.
Read Revelation 1:17-20
Revelation 1:17: When I saw Him I fell at His feet as though dead, but he laid His right hand on me and said, Do not be afraid;
What would your reaction be to such a vision of the glorified Christ? The prophet Daniel had a similar experience and his response was I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground. Then behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees..And when He had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling.( Daniel 10:9-11) And then His words of love and encouragement Do Not Be Afraid! Do you know that these were the first words spoken by the newly elected Pope John Paul II as he stood on the balcony of the Vatican and greeted the crowds for the first time? John Paul II took these words as his motto.
Revelation 1:18: It is I, the Alpha and the Omega; I am the Living One. I was dead and look, I am alive for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and of Hades. Again He uses the phrase the first and the last. Let’s look at the Old Testament references to this phrase. They are found in the Book of Isaiah in the second section of the book which is often called The Book of the Consolation of Israel in which Isaiah prophesizes the coming of the Messiah and the salvation of God’s people:
..and I hold the keys of death and of Hades The
Greek word, Hades, means the abode of the dead. The Hebrew word is Sheol
(see Numbers 16:33 ff). We use the Latin word Purgatory. The
Roman Empire claimed to have all authority even over life and death/the grave.
But Christ in His resurrection has defeated sin and death. He is now the Lord
of all Lords and He holds the keys to both life, death, and the grave. But
Jesus, our High Priest and our King, also entrusted those very keys which
existed since Creation, to someone else.
Question: To whom did God first entrust the keys of death and the grave?
Answer: Adam was given complete dominion over Eden and the earth [see Genesis 1:28-29]. Adam was in a sense, God’s first High Priest and covenant mediator. As the keeper of Eden, Adam controlled the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In essence, the control of these supernatural trees gave Adam the keys to supernatural life and to spiritual death and the by-product of spiritual death which was physical death. Adam, therefore, had control over both death and the grave, Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in the Greek
Question: To whom did Jesus, the High Priest and King
of the New Covenant, give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth See
Answer: To Simon-Peter and to his successors. With these keys, the Church, led by Christ’s Vicar (Prime Minister) will have the mission of rescuing the elect from death’s dominion, from the death of the soul, to lead them into the Kingdom of Heaven just as Jesus rescued the dead souls trapped in Sheol [the grave] after His resurrection. See 1 Peter 3:18-19 and John 5:26-28, (for further references for Sheol see Genesis 37:35; Numbers 16:33; Deuteronomy 5:26; 52:6; Is. 14:9; 38:18; 1 Samuel 2:6, 8:19; Psalms 6:5; 16:10-11; 49:15; 88:4-5, & 11-12; 89:6; 115:17; Ezekiel 32:17-32; Amos 9:2; 2 Maccabees 12:38f; Wisdom 3:4-5 and CCC # 633).
Revelation 1:19-20: Now write down all
that you see and what are of the present happenings, and what is still to
come. The secret of the 7 stars you have seen in my right hand, and of the 7
golden lamp-stands, is this: the 7 stars are the angels of 7 churches, and the
7 lamp-stands are the 7 churches themselves..
Question: John receives 3 commands to write. What are they?
Answer: 1 = to write about the vision of Christ; 2 = to write about the present happenings; 3 = to write about what is still to come; the future events.
Question: What has he seen?
Answer: the vision of Christ.
Question: What will be the present situation?
Answer: the condition of the 7 churches in Asia Minor
These 3 commands are seen by many scholars as a natural division of the book of Revelation. However, there is a problem. This cannot be a clear cut division because the book of Revelation, like all other Biblical prophecies weaves past, present, and future together throughout the entire book. It is more likely that John is to:
It also appears that there is a parallel here to the description of the One who was and who is and who is coming. Notice in verse 20 that these churches, which represent the Church as a whole (the actual existing churches), are no more than 7 lampstands. The light is Christ and they are to shine through Him. Halleluyah! Maranatha! (Praise God, Yahweh, Come Lord!).
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