Welcome back to the fourth post in a five-part series on Revelation chapter one. In this post, we’re gonna talk about some beautiful truths about Jesus, our Savior. At His First Coming, Jesus left earth by ascending to heaven in a cloud. And at His Second Coming, He will return to earth by descending in a cloud. That’s a full circle! Keep reading if you want to learn more.
REVELATION CHAPTER ONE
Four in a Five-Part Series
By Karen Thompson
He Will Come Again in the Clouds
Rev. 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
In verse seven, we are told how Jesus will come back: “he cometh with clouds….” Jesus told His disciples when He was still on the earth that He would come back in the clouds. In Luke’s Gospel account, Jesus said after you see the signs of His coming, “then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:27–28). When they saw the signs of the times begin to be fulfilled, that’s when they were to be ever watchful, looking up in the sky for His return in the clouds.
Jesus Left and Will Come Again in a Cloud
What is interesting is that when Jesus left the earth after His resurrection, it was also in a cloud. In the first chapter of Acts, we read how Jesus gave His disciples His last instructions about when the Holy Spirit would come upon them and how they would be witnesses of Him to all the earth (v. 8). Then after He had finished speaking to them, as they were looking at Him, “he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (v. 9). The disciples watched Jesus ascend to heaven in a cloud. As they stood gazing toward the heavens, two men dressed in white clothing (who were angels) asked them why they were gazing up into heaven. “This same Jesus,” they said, “which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9–11).
They Which Pierced Him
Now, let’s look at the next portion of verse seven: “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” When Jesus comes back “every eye shall see him,” which means He won’t just be seen by a select few. Everyone will be able to see Him. His return will not be a secret.
The phrase “they which pierced him” is a reference to when Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced when He was hung on the cross. There are two Old Testament references to the Savior being pierced. Zechariah 12:10 says, “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced….” The Messianic Psalm chapter 22 also talks about His hands and feet being pierced: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture” (vv. 14–18).
A Great Repentance
Now let’s look at the last part of verse seven: “and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” John says when they see the One whom they have pierced, “all kindreds of the earth” will “wail” because of Him. The prophet Zechariah prophesied about this very thing. He said a great mourning would take place at the Second Coming of Jesus, when He returns in His glory to fight against Antichrist in the battle of Armageddon. Zechariah prophesied, “And I [God] will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn” (Zec. 12:10). Zechariah then goes on to describe the great mourning that will take place in the whole land.
Alpha and Omega: The Beginning and the Ending
Rev. 1:8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
In this verse, we read two phrases that refer to God’s eternal nature. Let’s first look at the phrase, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (v. 8). We see this phrase four times in the book of Revelation. We see it twice in the beginning and twice at the end. It’s stated twice in chapter one, in verses eight and eleven. In verse 11, John said he heard a voice say, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” And then it is stated twice in the closing chapters of 21 and 22. In 21:6 it says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.” And then Revelation 22:13 it says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” How appropriate that Revelation begins and ends with Jesus stating that He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and end of all things, completing a full circle.
The words “alpha” and “omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. To say, “I am the alpha and omega,” would be the same as saying, “I am the A and the Z.”6 This expression is repeated with a like expression: “the beginning and the end.”
Clement of Alexandria from the 2nd century put it this way: “The Alpha and Omega of whom alone the end becomes beginning, and ends again at the original beginning without any break.”7 Clement is describing God’s existence as a full circle, where the beginning and ending meet at the same place. That’s why marriage rings are symbols of eternity, for they have no beginning or ending. The theme of God’s timeless eternal nature is stated throughout the vision of Revelation.
The second phrase, “which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” is another expression of God’s eternal nature. He is—present. He was—past. And He is to come—future.
In fact, there are four expressions of God’s eternal nature sprinkled throughout the book of Revelation. The first expression is “who was, who is, and who is to come” and it is repeated five times: 1:4, 1:8, 4:8, 11:17 and 16:5. We’ve just studied the expression: “the Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, first and last.” It is repeated six times: 1:8, 1:11, 1:17–18, 2:8, 21:6, 22:13. The third phrase is an expression of God’s eternal rulership: “reign for ever and ever.” It is repeated four times: 1:6, 7:12, 11:15, 22:5. The fourth eternal phrase expresses the fact that God is alive for eternity: “live for ever and ever.” It is repeated six times: 1:17–18, 4:9, 4:10, 5:14, 10:6, 15:7.
Write It Down and Send to the Seven Churches
Rev. 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. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The way John began his letter to the saints in the seven churches tells us of his close relationship with them. He says, “I John, who also am your brother,” meaning their brother in Christ. Then he further identifies with them saying he is their “companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ….” Christians all over were experiencing tribulation, meaning persecution, from not only the Romans but from their non-Christian Jewish brethren as well. John and his brothers in Christ shared together in their suffering for the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The word “patience” in the phrase “patience of Jesus Christ” is the Greek word hupomone and it means “steadfastness, constancy, endurance.”8 John and his fellow believers were sharing in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and His patience in what He suffered at the hands of those who hated and killed Him. John wrote that he “was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (v. 9). He was on the isle of Patmos for his faith and his testimony of Jesus Christ. The isle of Patmos was a place where the Roman Emperor sent people as punishment. It was a sort of prison, a prison with no bars.9 So, indeed, John was suffering for his faith in Christ.
In verse 10, John said he was “in the spirit on the Lord’s day.” Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, so the early Christians used to meet together for their services on that day, calling it “the Lord’s day.” So John is telling us this vision came to him on a Sunday.
John continued saying he heard a great voice like a trumpet. The voice was coming from behind him; it said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” We know this voice coming from behind him, identifying Himself as the “alpha and omega, the first and the last” was Jesus because later in verse 12, John said he turned around to see who was speaking and he described seeing a glorified Christ.
A Command to Write It Down and Send It to the Seven Churches
The great voice that sounded like a trumpet gave John a command: “what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (v. 11). John was to write down what Jesus showed him in a vision and share it with his fellow believers in those seven cities.
These seven churches were all clustered together in an area that was called Asia Minor, which is present-day Turkey. They were all located on the western coast of Asia Minor, close to the island of Patmos.10 John addressed the letter to the churches in the exact order of location they were to one another, starting with Ephesus in the south and then going north to Pergamos and then south again to Laodicea, creating a sort of lopsided circle. It is assumed the book of Revelation was meant to be first read in Ephesus and then to the next closest city which was Smyrna, then to Pergamos, on to Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and then back south again at Laodicea. These churches were addressed specifically because they were under John’s oversight.
Sign up to receive a biweekly subscription to End Time Mysteries blog.
If you enjoyed this post, forward it to someone you know would enjoy it.
© 2017–2021 End Time Mysteries a.k.a. Karen Thompson. All rights reserved.