I have decided to do a study on Revelation and blog some of my notes and thoughts as I make my way through this book.
The first 3 verses of this book serve as a simple introduction as well as a summary of the book.
Revelation 1:1–3 (ESV)
1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
There are 3 things that stand out in this opening verses. The source, the timing, and the promise. Let’s look at these one at a time.
Revelation is a book that comes from God, to Jesus, to the angel, to John and then to the servants (representing believers). This is a message that comes to us from God. This is not a message that John is making up. This is not a message that Jesus sneaks to the church while the Father is not paying attention. It comes from the Father through Jesus and eventually to us. The Father and Jesus are working together. The book comes to us with the full authority of the Godhead.
We have two references to timing in these first few verses. In the middle of verse 1 we read, “the things that must soon take place.” And at the end of verse 3 we read, “for the time is near.” At the end of the book we read very similar words, for example in 22:6 we read, “what must soon take place”, and then in verse 7 we read, “I am coming soon.” In 22:10 we also read, “for the time is near.”
So at the beginning and end of this book we read that the contents of this book are about to take place. Surely God is wanting us to understand that this book refers to the immediate future. But I would say it also refers to fact that these events WILL take place. In Daniel 2 when Daniel is about to interpret King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream he says that God has revealed “what will be in the latter days.” Daniel was revealing what God said WILL happen, not “maybe” happen and not what “might” happen. And that is what is happening here in Revelation. Revelation is not a book about maybe’s but about definite’s. God is revealing to the church what will happen (and very well may have already begun at Jesus’ first coming).
In verse 3 we come across an amazing promise. God says those who read, hear, and keep this Word are blessed. I think we need to pause for a moment and unpack this promise. If God is promising those who read, hear, and obey this message will blessed, then are we to conclude that this book is to be a difficult mystery that we are to stay away from? Is God warning us with these words or inviting us? So many believers talk about Revelation as if it is a complete mystery and we have no hope of understanding it. Others seem to say that only if we make lots of timetables and charts can we understand it. But is that what God is communicating here? I think God is warmly inviting us to come an partake of the blessing that will be received if we read, hear, and obey this book. We should not be scared about this book. And yes, we will have to study and try to understand what the author is saying. But isn’t that what we are to do with every book of the Bible?
I want to point out one other thing also. John says we are to “keep what is written” in this book. This book has implications about how we are to live. Revelation is a book about how the church is to live in holiness as we journey through the tribulation (1:9). So as we read, we must look for what we learn about who God is and what He has done through Jesus. But we are also to then think about how those truth’s affects the way we live.
Here is my conclusion about these first three verses:
Revelation is a gift from God about the things that will soon take place so that we, the church will be blessed as we await the immanent return of Jesus.