Revelation 1:4-8: Epistolary Introduction

Revelation - The Lamb is Victorious  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

Scripture

Revelation 1:4–8 ESV
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, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. 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.”

Outline

Revelation 1 - Introduction

Revelation 1:1-3 - Prologue & Benediction
Revelation 1:4-8 - Epistolary Introduction
Revelation 1:4-6 - Greetings
Revelation 1:7 - The Coming of Christ
Revelation 1:8 - The Eternal Father

Purpose of Book

The purpose of Revelation is to challenge/encourage believers, who are expectantly awaiting the reign of Christ, to live faithfully for Him despite worldly circumstances, persecution, and the cosmic battle between God and Satan.

Main Point

John, pulling from multiple Old Testament sources, gives an epistolary introduction revealing the theme of Revelation

Revelation 1:4-6 - Greetings

Revelation 1:4–6 ESV
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, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

***This is the only time in the NT a greeting includes a grace wish from all members of the Trinity***

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

First century context:
Ephesus
Smyrna
Pergamum
Thyatira
Sardis
Philadelphia
Laodicea
Symbolically:
Intended for all churches regardless of time

Grace to you (all) and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come,

Grace to you and peace
What does the church need in the midst of tribulation which could lead them to compromise their faith? Grace and peace from the Trinity!
Peace from Him
God the Father
Who is and who was and who is to come
Exodus 3:14 ESV
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
Exodus 3:14 NETS (Primary Texts)
14 And God said to Moyses, “I am The One Who Is.” And he said, “Thus shall you say to the sons of Israel, ‘The One Who Is has sent me to you.’ ”
Isaiah 41:4 ESV
4 Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.
Isaiah 44:6 ESV
6 Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.
Isaiah draws from Exodus 3:14 to emphasis that Yahweh is still the Creator, Lord, and Savior despite the Israelites exile in Babylon
John also draws from this reality to reassure the church that God is eternal, sovereign over all, He reigns over the entire world, and is one day coming to establish his kingdom in all its fullness

And from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

Seven spirits
Seven symbolically represents the perfection/fullness of the Holy Spirit
Zechariah 4:2–7 ESV
2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” I said, “I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it, and seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it. 3 And there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left.” 4 And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’ ”
Revealing God’s spirit at work in the world - GRACE
Isaiah 11:2 ESV
2 And 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 the fear of the Lord.
The Holy Spirit empowers the Messiah to rule over all in the end-time

And from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

***Allusion to Psalm 89 as it was understood to be messianic by nature as the Messiah will rule on His throne over His enemies forever***

***Psalm 89 develops this idea from 2 Samuel 7:13-16 and Psalm 2:7-8***

2 Samuel 7:13–16 ESV
13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”
Psalm 2:7–8 ESV
7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
The threefold title of Jesus here is meant to encourage Christians who are about to experience persecution because Jesus likewise suffered and overcame, just as these Christians will be empowered to do as they suffer persecution
The faithful witness
Psalm 89:37 ESV
37 Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah
Comparison of the moon being an unending witness like the reign of David’s seed - the messiah
The firstborn of the dead
Psalm 89:27 ESV
27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
The firstborn of the dead via Jesus resurrection work
Colossians 1:15–18 ESV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Ruler of the kings on earth
Psalm 89:27 ESV
27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
Psalm 2:2 ESV
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
Psalm 2:6–7 ESV
6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

To him who loves us
An eternal love that caused Him to free His people from sin
Freed us from our sins by his blood
Freed from the power of sin
Jesus’ high priestly work
Hebrews 9:11–14 ESV
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

And made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,

Kingdom, priests
Exodus 19:5–6 ESV
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
John’s use of Exodus 19 reveals that the church does not compare to Israel, but is not functioning as the true Israel
Our role as priests is to worship the Father with our whole lives

To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Doxology revealing that Christ is truly deserving of glory and dominion forever

Revelation 1:7 - The Coming of Christ

Revelation 1:7 ESV
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

***Revelation 1:7-8 reveal the thematic message of Revelation in two prophetic oracles***

***Revelation 1:7 - Final judgment and salvation***

***Highly influenced by Daniel 7:13 (All nations will submit to the Son of Man), Zechariah 12:10 (All of Jerusalem’s enemies will be defeated, but she will be be brought under her Davidic king), & Matthew 24:30 (The Son of Man is coming to bring judgment on His enemies, rewards for those who are His, and initiate the new creation)***

Behold,

Imperative emphatically validates what comes next

He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him,

Coming with the clouds
Daniel 7:13–14 ESV
13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Every eye will see him, even those who pierced him
Zechariah 12:10 ESV
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

And all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.

Zechariah 12:12 ESV
12 The land shall mourn, each family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;
Genesis 12:1–3 ESV
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Wail on account of him
Those who have lamented over their rebellion
The Abrahamic covenant is now complete

Even so. Amen.

Affirms what has just been written
Yes and amen for the full coming of God’s kingdom

Revelation 1:8 - The Eternal Father

Revelation 1:8 ESV
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

***Revelation 1:8 - The eternal and almighty God will see His purposes fulfilled***

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,”

God is in control of all history from beginning to end especially as it relates to eschatological salvation and judgment

says the Lord God,

This phrase is used repeatedly in Haggai, Zechariah, and Malchi to refer to God’s sovereignty over his people

“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

God’s true sovereignty is reaffirmed to the readers as he closes the introduction

Application

Revelation was written TO the seven churches in Asia, but is also INTENDED for every church

Christ is the true ruler over the earth, thus there is no reason to fear governing authorities

Christ, through His atoning highly priestly work, has made us a kingdom and priests to the Father

When Christ comes on the clouds the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled

Main Point

John, pulling from multiple Old Testament sources, gives an epistolary introduction revealing the theme of Revelation

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