Understanding Revelation (Revelation 1:1-7)

Book of Revelation Chapter 1-2 (Bible Illustrations by Sweet Media)

Image: Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing

My notes on this sermon by Pastor Bill Mencarow, given on October 29, 2006.  What follows is not a full transcript but a summary/paraphrase of the salient points made regarding the interpretation of Revelation. Please listen to the entire sermon to get the full message as it was presented.


  • Revelation is a letter to the 7 churches in Asia
  • James Durham calls Revelation “The Lord’s last will and testament to his church”
  • An Old Testament book, full of OT imagery. Not everything is meant to be taken literally but much is figurative
  • The Bible is its own dictionary; Scripture interprets Scripture

[Reviews content of last sermon]

Revelation 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:

  • This is a revelation, something revealed from heaven, ie. not from the mind of man
  • Comes from Jesus Christ, who received it from God the Father
  • Written for God’s servants; given to John, who gives it to us
  • “Jesus is the fulness of all revelation which he receives from the Father”
  • Christ does the Father’s will, has authority over angels, is Wisdom, etc.
  • “shortly come to pass” = a time signifier; will happen for certain and no one can stop the events
    • “shortly” in the Bible is used elsewhere to mean anything within a year, within two years, within 50 years, to the entire time between the first and second advents. The same is true of the term “at hand”
    • great minds of the church s/a James Durham, Matthew Poole, Ernst Henstenberg, Albert Barnes, etc. say “shortly” means “ready to start soon, but not to finish soon;” “the time of the beginning of the performance”
    • events did not begin and end in the first century (preterism), nor were they to begin thousands of years in the future (futurism); phrase has no meaning in idealist view and neither does “time is at hand” (v3)

Revelation 1:2: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

  • John is bearing record of everything he saw
  • two witnesses: Jesus Christ and John

Revelation 1:3: Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

  • The Lord’s encouragement to use to read this book; a blessing to those who read and obey
  • possible that blessing is faith or more faith (faith comes by hearing…)

Revelation 1:4: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

  • vv. 4-6 are John’s benediction, his blessing in the name of God
  • churches are in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)
  • churches were a presbytery (one in faith, doctrine, and worship); “presbytery” comes from Greek word meaning “elder”
  • 7 = completeness, spiritual perfection; the Lord is writing to all churches throughout history
  • 7 spirits = one spirit, the perfect spirit, the Holy Spirit; refers to his operations, which are infinite and perfect

Revelation 1:5: And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

  • John gives us several truths about Jesus
  • “first begotten” = there will be others that follow, that are raised from the dead
  • “he loved us…” = this is the will of God to His own people, not to the whole world. He loved us before we did anything, either right or wrong. We don’t have to earn our salvation contra what Arminians teach (see Romans 9:10)

Revelation 1:6: And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

  • We serve God as kings by exercising dominion over all creation, bringing all under the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • Jesus will return bodily when all the nations have been brought to Christ, when the world is Christianized
  • priests = have access to the holy of holies; veil was ripped in two when Jesus died; we can come to God directly through Christ
  • we as priests offer our bodies as a living sacrifice

Revelation 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.

  • he’ll come on the last day just as he went
  • anybody who rejects Jesus as their Savior and Lord is piercing him, nailing him to the cross
  • those who reject Jesus will experience eternal suffering as a result of their rejection
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