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Revelation – Week One

Chapters 1-3

“…what you have seen and what is now…”

Revelation Week 1 PDF

  • Background
    • Written circa 95 AD, most likely by John the Evangelist.
      • One of the 12 Apostles. Was the ‘Beloved Disciple’.
      • Son of Zebedee, brother of James. Traditionally, his mother was Mary’s sister, making him and James first cousins to Jesus.
      • Same writer as Gospel of John and books John I, II and III.
      • Died in Ephesus of old age. Only apostle (except Judas) to not be martyred. Brother James was first to martyred.
      • Known for temper and with James, was called the ‘sons of thunder’ by Jesus (Mark 3:17, Luke 9:51-56).
      • John was exiled on island of Patmos for preaching the Word of God.
    • Roman society at the time.
      • Banishment was a common form of Roman punishment.
      • Romans were enforcing emperor worship.
      • For Romans, it was a simple matter to add yet another god for them to worship.
      • By preaching in only one God, and giving testimony of Christ, John’s words could have easily been viewed as slanderous to Domitian (the current Roman emperor).
      • Patmos is a very small Greek island, just over 13 square miles area. It is 10 miles long and six miles at it widest point. Was used as a Roman penal colony.
  • Unique attributes of Revelation
    • Apocalyptic literature.
      • Prophetic and highly symbolic style.
      • ‘Apocalypse’ literally means ‘revelation’.
      • The Old Testament has 17 books of prophecy. The New Testament has one: Revelation.
      • The number seven is very prominent in Revelation. Seven represents completeness/perfection.
    • Why study Revelation?
      • It’s the end of the story! Why watch a movie and turn off the TV with 15 minutes left???
      • It is the only book of the Bible that has an explicit blessing for those who study it (Revelation 1:3).
  • Four approaches to Revelation
    • Symbolic (Idealist)
      • Revelation does not refer to actual people, places and things, but is entirely symbolic.
    • Historical
      • Revelation has been/is being fulfilled by various people and events throughout history.
    • Preterist
      • Revelation was fulfilled during the time of the early church.
    • Futurist
      • Revelation, beginning with chapter four, describes future events.
      • Chapter One: “what is past”
      • Chapters 2-3: “what is now”
      • Chapters 4-22: “what is to come”
      • For this study, we will take the futurist view.
  • Chapter One
    • Was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and heard a voice like a trumpet.
    • He turned to see seven lampstands (a Jewish Menorah).
    • Jesus was standing among the lampstands, dressed in a robe down to His feet and a gold sash.
      • Dressed as Jewish priest, Jesus is our High Priest.
      • Hair white like wool, white as snow.
      • Eyes like a blazing fire.
      • Feet like bronze in a furnace.
      • Voice like rushing waters.
      • Face like sun.
      • Sharp, double-edged sword from His mouth.
        • For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12. NIV
      • In His right hand were seven stars.
      • Seven stars are the angels or messengers of the seven churches.
      • Seven lampstands are the seven churches.
  • Chapters 2-3
    • Ephesus
      • Problem: Return to your first love.
      • Reward: “eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7b)
      • Nicolaitans appear to have been a sect who believed in Antinomianism, which is a belief in the mercy of God as way to salvation, but that man can freely partake in sin because the Law of God is no longer binding.
    • Smyrna
      • No problem, but an admonition: Don’t be afraid; you will be tested and persecuted.
      • Reward: Crown, and “The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death” (Revelation 2:11b)
    • Pergamum – Repent
      • Problem: Balaam and Nicolaitans.
      • Nicolaitans mentioned again.
      • Balaam was a sorcerer (Deuteronomy 23:4), who was hired by Balak, King of Moab, to place a curse on the Israelites while they were in the wilderness. God warned Balaam not do it, but he still counseled Balak how to tempt the Israelites into disobeying God (“ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” – Revelation 1:14b).
      • Reward: hidden manna and white stone with a new name.
    • Thyatira – Hold on to what you have.
      • Problem: False prophet Jezebel.
      • For second time, “sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” are mentioned (Revelation 1:20b).
      • Reward: Faithful will share authority over nations.
    • Sardis
      • Problem: Wake up!
      • Reward: Dressed in white and name in Lamb’s Book of Life.
    • Philadelphia
      • No problem, but admonition to persevere.
      • Reward: Crown, and will be spared from the hour of trial. Be a pillar in the temple of God.
    • Laodicea
      • Problem: Neither hot nor cold.
      • Reward: Sit with Christ on His throne.
  • Discussion
    • Why John?
    • Were the letters only to specific churches? Or were they to us as well?
    • A crown is mentioned twice in the letters: Smyrna and Philadelphia. These are the only two churches without a problem. See also 1 Corinthians 9:25, 2 Timothy 2:5, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4.
    • Revelation 1:3 promises a blessing- what might that blessing be?
    • Why is “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” repeated for each of the letters?
    • Why use symbolism, rather than just saying exactly what would happen?

Next week:
The Throne, the Scroll, the Lamb and Seals 1-6.
Chapters 4- 6