Revelation – Chapter 1


1 The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Greetings and Doxology


To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.

John’s Vision of Christ

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[e] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Revelation chapter 1 is a powerful and complex chapter that sets the tone for the entire book of Revelation. It is a vision that was given to John, the apostle of Jesus Christ, while he was exiled on the island of Patmos. In this chapter, John shares his experience of seeing the risen Christ in all His glory and the message that He revealed to him.  The book of Revelation is a highly symbolic and complex text that requires careful attention to its context and literary features.

In this interpretation of Revelation 1, I will examine the text and explore its meaning in light of the historical and cultural background of the time, as well as the theological themes that are developed throughout the book.


The first chapter begins with a description of the origin and purpose of the book of Revelation. It states that the book is a revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to John to show His servants the things that must soon take place. This verse establishes that the book is a prophetic message given by God to prepare His people for the coming events. It establishes the source of the revelation as Jesus Christ, who has received it from God the Father. The purpose of the revelation is to show his servants what will soon take place, which implies that the message has an urgent and timely character. The revelation is communicated through an angel to John, who is identified as the servant of Christ.

The importance of this testimony of John, cannot be over emphasied – John who bore witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. John is presented as a trustworthy and reliable witness, who has seen and heard the truth of God’s message. John is introduced as a witness to the revelation, which emphasises the importance of his testimony as a reliable source of information about the divine message. The message that John witnesses is identified as both the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, which underscores the close relationship between God and Jesus as well as the unity of their message.

John greets the seven churches in Asia, which were the intended recipients of the book of Revelation. He prays for grace and peace to be upon them, and acknowledges the authority of God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ, the faithful witness who was the firstborn from the dead.

The blessing pronounced on those who read and hear the words of the prophecy reflects the importance of the message for the community of faith. The message is not only to be read or heard but also to be taken to heart, which implies a personal response to its content. The urgency of the message is emphasised by the statement that the time is near, which suggests that the events predicted in the book are imminent.  The address to the seven churches in Asia Minor indicates that the message of Revelation was intended for a specific community of believers. The greeting of grace and peace reflects the Christian ethos of the book and underscores the role of Jesus Christ as the source of spiritual blessings. The reference to “him who is, and who was, and who is to come” and the “seven spirits before his throne” suggests the triune nature of God and the sevenfold manifestation of the Spirit in the book.

John praises Jesus Christ, describing Him as the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. He also emphasises the work of Christ in redeeming His people, by His blood, and making them a kingdom of priests to serve God. The reference to Jesus Christ as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth highlights his unique role as the mediator between God and humanity. His love for us is demonstrated by his sacrificial death, which has freed us from the power of sin and death.

The reference to believers as a kingdom and priests underscores their royal and priestly status in Christ, who has made them a new community of worshipers. The doxology of praise to Christ emphasises his divine power and glory, which will be further developed in the book.

John describes his vision of the coming of the Son of Man, which is a reference to Jesus Christ. He states that Jesus will come with the clouds and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. This emphasises the universality of Christ’s coming, and the fact that all people will be accountable to Him. The sovereignty of God is reinforced, stating that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.

“So shall it be! Amen.” – this is a strong affirmation of the truth and certainty of what has just been said, and a call to trust in the coming of Christ, who will be revealed to all people. This verse provides a powerful introduction to the revelation that is about to be given, affirming the eternal nature and power of God. “Alpha and Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, symbolising the beginning and end of all things. God is described as “who is, and who was, and who is to come,” emphasising his eternal nature and his presence in all times and places. The final phrase, “the Almighty,” further emphasises God’s sovereignty and power over all creation.

John then introduces himself and provides the context for the vision that he received. He explains that he was on the island of Patmos, exiled for the sake of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. On the Lord’s Day, he received a vision of the risen Christ, who gave him the message that is recorded in the book of Revelation.

He provides some context for his writing, and now describes the circumstances in which he received the revelation, indicating that he was “in the Spirit” on the “Lord’s Day.” This phrase likely refers to the Sabbath, which was a day of rest and worship for the early Christian community. John’s spiritual state is such that he is open and receptive to the revelation that God is about to give him. He hears a loud voice behind him, like a trumpet, which serves as the initial announcement of the vision that he is about to receive. The voice instructs John to record the vision that he is about to see, and to send it to seven specific churches in Asia Minor. These churches likely represent a larger group of churches in the region, and the number seven may symbolise completeness or fullness.


John now describes the vision that he sees. He turns to see the voice that is speaking to him, and he sees seven golden lampstands. In the midst of the lampstands is someone who is “like a son of man,” a phrase that Jesus often used to refer to himself. This figure is described as wearing a long robe and a golden sash, which are symbols of royalty and priesthood. The description of the figure becomes more detailed and awe-inspiring. His hair is white like wool, emphasising his wisdom and purity. His eyes are like blazing fire, indicating his penetrating gaze and judgment. His feet are like bronze glowing in a furnace, a symbol of strength and durability. And his voice is like the sound of rushing waters, a powerful and overwhelming sound that conveys his authority and majesty. The figure is now described as holding seven stars in his right hand, which are later explained to represent the angels of the seven churches. The double-edged sword coming out of his mouth is a symbol of the power of his word, which is described as sharp and able to penetrate to the heart of the matter. His face is like the sun shining in all its brilliance, conveying his radiance and glory.

John describes his reaction to seeing the risen Christ. He fell at His feet as though dead, but Christ touched him and spoke words of comfort and encouragement. He reassured John that He was the First and the Last, who was dead but now lives forevermore, and who holds the keys of death and Hades. This emphasises the power and authority of Christ, and the fact that He has conquered death and holds the keys to eternal life.

Finally, Christ gives John a command to write down what he has seen, and what is currently happening, and what will take place in the future. This establishes the prophetic nature of the book of Revelation, and the fact that it is intended to prepare God’s people for for his return.

In conclusion, Revelation chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the entire book of Revelation, establishing the prophetic nature of the message and introducing the main themes and symbols that will be developed throughout the book. The chapter emphasises the sovereignty and power of God and Jesus Christ, and their role in bringing about the new creation. It also establishes the importance of John as a trustworthy witness, and the authority of his message. As readers, we are called to take the message seriously and prepare ourselves for the events that are to come, trusting in the power and grace of God to sustain us through difficult times. May we heed the call of the book of Revelation, and live as faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ, who holds the keys to eternal life.

As we read and study this book, may we be encouraged to trust in the Lord and to live with hope and anticipation for the coming of Christ and the new creation. 


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