A Study in the Word: Revelation 1:1-8


The first three verses summarize the book. John’s title is “Apocalypse,” something hidden now being revealed. The book is “of” Jesus, about Him and made known by Him. The letter is intended for instruction, encouragement, and assurance for the faithful.

The theme of the book can be stated as “God is now working out His plan for all humankind in Jesus Christ.” Thus, its message calls for allegiance to Jesus in the present as well as in the future. “Must” means the events prophesied are inevitable. “Soon” is according to God’s timing, not our schedule. John’s word “communicated” (NAU) is “signs” in the Gospels, so Christ’s message is communicated by picturesque symbols. “Mere metaphor” does not apply, for symbolic language does not lessen the impact of the message; it picturesquely intensifies its meaning (1:1-2).

Individuals read portions of God’s Word in worship (Luke 4:14-21), so its blessings were for those who would hear and obey its words, blessings of calm assurance and deepened trust of God (1:3). “Time” (Kairos, as compared to chronological time) here refers to “time for something to occur within God’s plan of salvation.” “Near” emphasizes the certainty of this time, calling for a decision either for or against Christ.

Verse 4 begins the letter that closes in 22:21. Revelation is one complete letter to seven churches, and thus to all churches. In a context that specifically lists God and Christ, it is best to take the “seven Spirits” as referring to the Holy Spirit. John dedicates the letter to Jesus, his former companion and now Lord (1:5b-7). Note the progression: witness – death – resurrection - Lord. John relates the new status of those who ascribe honor to Christ – priestly servants in a royal house (1:6).

Verse 7 combines messianic prophecies of Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10-14. Christ’s coming is imminent and will be visible to all. God is revealed through Jesus’ self-revelation of Him. If 1:7 declares Christ coming to fulfill God’s divine plan for the last days, then 1:8 declares that God stands above all history and all creation as the author of that plan. Self-descriptions of God focus upon His eternal nature, ultimate authority, and power to accomplish His will. He is beyond the capacity of language to describe Him fully. He transcends the ability of time to confine Him. His power exceeds other powers to surpass Him. Consequently, God is worthy of complete trust.

Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: dm5867se@outlook.com