Greetings fellow Eschatologists! Many people refer to the book of Revelation as the apostle John’s revelation. But in this first post of our five-part series of Revelation chapter one, we will learn that it is actually the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to dig into the book of Revelation? Keep reading!
REVELATION CHAPTER ONE
First in a Five-Part Series
By Karen Thompson
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Bible scholars agree that the apostle John is the author of the book of Revelation. At the time John received this vision, he was a very old man and had been exiled to a small island called Patmos, only 7.5 by 6 miles in size. It was located just off the coast of Asia Minor, which is today the modern nation of Turkey. It is believed he was exiled there in 95 AD by Roman Emperor Domitian as punishment because of his preaching.1 John says as much in Revelation 1:9: “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.”
The Greek word for “revelation” is apokalupsis, which means an unveiling or a revealing.2 It’s where we get our English word apocalypse. Like the Greek word, our English word apocalypse also means revelation; but because of its association with the book of Revelation, it has also come to mean widespread destruction or disaster. John called his writings “The Apocalypse” because Jesus revealed to him what would happen in the last days before His Second Coming. The vision Jesus revealed to John are the events that will take place in Daniel’s 70th week (Dan. 9:24).
John’s Revelation or Jesus’ Revelation?
Rev. 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
The first two verses of Revelation chapter one tell us what the book is all about. It starts out “The Revelation of Jesus Christ….” Many people mistakenly refer to it as “John’s revelation.” However, as the first five words of the book reveal, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Verse one goes on to say, “which God gave unto him….” God revealed this revelation of end times to Jesus, and He did so for the purpose of showing “his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” So Jesus, in turn, revealed this revelation to John. And then John was to bear witness to three things: 1) the Word of God, 2) the testimony of Jesus Christ, and 3) everything that he saw in the vision.
God revealed this revelation to Jesus while He was still on the earth. We know this because of Matthew chapter 24 in which Jesus shared with His disciples portions of the revelation He showed John. Matthew chapter 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples looking at the temple buildings; Jesus then prophesied about what would happen to the temple in the future saying, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (v. 2). This was fulfilled when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. Later, the disciples came to Him in a private setting and asked Him, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (v. 3).
They wanted to know three things: 1) when would these things take place, 2) what would be the sign of His coming, and 3) what would be the sign of the end of the world. Jesus went on to describe the very things that are recorded in the book of Revelation. He talked about wars and rumors of wars, nation rising up against nation, kingdoms against kingdoms. There would be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, all of which happen when the seven seals are opened.
He said they would be persecuted and killed and hated of all nations and that this would be the worst time in their entire history as a people. Quoting the prophet Daniel, He warned those who would be alive in Judea (Israel) to flee into the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation (Antichrist) stand in the holy place. That will take place in Daniel’s 70th week. He then quoted Daniel saying, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Dan. 12:1).
Jesus warned them about false prophets who would try to deceive them, false prophets who would demonstrate miraculous signs and wonders so convincing that if it were possible, even the very elect would be deceived. This is an obvious referral to the false prophet in Revelation chapter 16.
He went on to say there would be so much death that birds would gather to eat the flesh from the multitude of corpses lying around. This is a reference to Revelation chapter 19. The powers of the heavens will be shaken. The sun will be darkened, the moon won’t give her light, and the stars will “fall” from heaven. This is a reference to Revelation chapter eight. At the sound of a great trumpet, His angels will gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. This is a reference to Revelation chapter 14. After that, the Son of Man will appear. They will see Him come in clouds with power and great glory. And, lastly, He said “heaven and earth shall pass away.” This is a reference to Revelation chapter 20. Clearly, Jesus’ description of the events of the last days in Matthew chapter 24 is evidence that He received the revelation while He was on the earth.
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