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Greetings from God! (1:4-6)
(Temple 01/27/2019) Turn in or turn on your Bibles to Revelation chapter one.
Last Sunday night we began our Winter Bible Study in the first three chapters of Revelation.
We got through three verses.
Our passage this morning is three verses.
At this pace, it may be the winter of 2020 when we finish!
God has so much to say to us in these three chapters.
Let’s get right into chapter one beginning at verse four.
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; 5And 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, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
This passage is a greeting from God written through the Apostle John.
The points to this sermon focus on this passage as a greeting.
First, let’s look at whom this letter is written.
Greetings to the Churches (1:4)
The greeting in verse four is a familiar epistle format.
We have who wrote it, to whom it is written, and a pronouncement of grace and peace.
Compare to Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(By the way, Colosse was a church in this region of Asia not mentioned among the seven.)
The number seven can be taken literally such as the seven named churches in this book.
We have previously noted the literal seven beatitudes in this book.
However, seven also has a symbolic meaning in this type of writing.
The number seven indicates completeness.
The seven literal days of complete Creation included the seventh day of rest and indicated completeness.
Joshua literally marched around the city of Jericho seven times with seven literal priests blowing seven literal trumpets, but these actions signify complete obedience to God and God’s complete victory over the city.
Jesus instructed His disciples to forgive 70 times seven, figuratively, meaning always and completely.
The seven literal churches symbolize the complete Church of Jesus Christ.
Seven of the church assemblies in Asia Minor are specifically mentioned, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
Asia Minor had more than seven churches, so seven is used symbolically to represent the complete Church.
This letter is written to all congregations of believers, including us today.
The seven blessings in this book do not apply solely to the seven named churches in this book; they apply to churches on the hills, churches in the cities, little brown churches in the wildwood, churches in the deserts—the Church of past, present, and future believers in Christ.
The book promises blessings to all who read, hear, and keep the things written here.
The blessings apply to all believers who die in the Lord, all believers who diligently watch for the coming of the Lord and are found faithful, and all believers who are in the first resurrection and have a place at the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Seven churches are named but seven symbolizes the complete Church.
Grace is a Greek greeting and peace is a Hebrew greeting.
When we are saved, God greets us with both grace and peace.
His character is grace and peace.
We should see this book as a letter of grace and peace to the Church.
We often only see war and confusing symbols when we ought to see that this book begins and ends with grace and peace from God.
By the end of the book we see no more war, no more death, no more sorrow.
The book closes with grace in the invitation to come and receive Christ by faith.
It begins with His acknowledgment of grace and peace and ends with His accomplishment of grace and peace in heaven and on earth.
What does that say about us if we are disturbed and confused by this book when God greets us with grace and peace?
It says we are looking at this book in all the wrong ways.
We are distracted by the minors instead of focused on the major message.
Unless we come away from this book with a sense of God’s grace and peace, we’ve missed a major intent of the book.
The letter is written to the Church, including us.
Now let’s look at the Author.
Greetings from the Father (1:4)
In this context, He who is and was and is to come refers to God the Father.
The present tense is mentioned first.
At the burning bush, the Lord said His Name was I Am, present tense.
This book reminds us that God the Father is real now.
He is active now.
He is with His people now.
He is not only present tense, but He is past perfect, and future perfect, also.
He has always been and He will always be.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
From eternity past throughout eternity future, God is and was and will be.
God the Father greets us with grace and peace.
Greetings from the Spirit (1:4)
The greeting of grace and peace also comes from the seven Spirits around the throne of heaven.
Just as seven churches symbolize the complete Church, seven Spirits symbolize the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
What does the number 13 mean to you?
I worked for Dover Elevator Corporation in Horn Lake back in the day when a two-lane Goodman Road had cotton fields on each side.
I discovered that elevator plans commonly avoided the number thirteen as a hotel floor.
Apparently, enough guests had an adverse reaction to being booked on the thirteenth floor so that hotels call the 13th floor the 14th floor and the elevator floor buttons skipped the number 13.
If a hotel books your room on the 14th floor, you may actually be on the 13th.
Does that alarm you?
Likewise, people have had a sense of foreboding about Friday the Thirteenth long before the horror movies came out.
(And I don’t recommend watching such violence.)
Now, if you can understand that foreboding of the number 13, apply a sense of completeness to the number seven.
If you can associate the number seven with fullness or completeness, you can understand the meaning of seven Spirits.
Matthew Henry points out that seven refers to nature (a complete nature I would add), not a number.
Our Western minds want numbers to mean literal numbers, not symbols.
We want words to mean words not necessarily feelings.
We imagine seven literal Spirits instead of the fullness of the Spirit.
The fullness of the Holy Spirit is described in And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah describes one Spirit, the Spirit of the Lord, who is also the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.
The prophecy says that the Messiah would have the fullness of the Spirit upon Him.
Do you see that?
Now read And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars… He that hath the seven Spirits of God… “Seven Spirits” definitely indicates the fullness of God and the Spirit of God in Christ.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
Just as “seven churches” symbolizes the complete Church, “seven Spirits” symbolizes the fullness of God in Christ.
Some interpreters say the seven Spirits are archangels or angels who blow the trumpets later in Revelation.
In the NAC Paige Patterson mentions at least one source who uses 1 Enoch 20:1–8 which names archangels as Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Gabriel, Remiel, and Saraqael.”
Patterson also points out the claim of others who ascribe the seven Spirits in light of And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2And said unto me, What seest thou?
And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
4So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
5Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be?
And I said, No, my lord.
6Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
I see similar apocryphal visions between the two passages, but I am not convinced that Zechariah applies to Revelation here.
has a closer resemblance.
G. K. Beale adds that others ascribe the seven Spirits to the seven angels who pour out the bowls or blow the trumpets.
He is open to the possibility that the seven Spirits refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in the seven churches. Looking at seven as a symbol for fullness, the fullness of the Spirit is in the Body of Christ by whom we have the filling of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit.
Greetings from Jesus (1:4-6)
Third, this greeting of grace and peace comes from Jesus.
This passage presents God in the order of Genesis.
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