The Book of Revelation

Revelation Outline

Chapters & Genres

REVELATION
Introduction:
The Book of Revelation is beyond doubt the most fascinating, the most difficult to interpret, and
the most poetical of all the books in the Bible. All the lines of biblical prophecy seem to converge in it,
bringing the whole of the Old Testament to an apotheosis of divine purpose.
C. S. Lewis once spoke on the subject: “Is Theology Poetry?” His answer is found in his collection
The Weight of Glory. The Book of Revelation answers the question in the positive, if we understand
correctly what is meant by poetry. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “poetry,” rather incompletely,
as: “metrical writing.” When we say that Revelation is a book of poetry, we do not suggest that it draws
away from reality into a realm of illusions. To the contrary! If we characterize poetry as the taking of
pictures in the color of reality, we may conclude that theology is, in fact, poetry of the highest order and the
Book of Revelation is a prime example of it. Revelation depicts the reality of God, the reality of the
existence of man, and the reality of the flow of history more precisely in its use of poetic illustrations than
human realism could ever achieve. The seals of God’s book, the breaking of which call up the horsemen and
their horses, the trumpets sounded by the angels, and the bowls of God’s wrath, represent more clearly the
essence of events to come than any objective analysis could. In a sense, poetry is more realistic and is reality
itself.
The essence of the Book of Revelation is a picture of the struggle between good and evil, between
God and Satan, resulting in the ultimate victory of Jesus Christ.
Although the greater part of the book deals with a period in world history, which the Lord Jesus
calls the “great tribulation,1
the theme of the book is not the revelation of the Antichrist. It is, as the opening
words of the first chapter state: “The revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The section that deals with “the great tribulation” can easily be divided into three sections, each of
which is subdivided into seven parts. We read about seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls of God’s
wrath. In my considered opinion, we are not dealing with three consecutive periods in world history, but
with one that is pictured three times. It is as if John points his camera three times at the same scene, each
time using a different filter. Admittedly, the figure of speech “camera” is an anachronism in this context. The
appearance of the Antichrist upon the world scene and the years of the great tribulation, as represented under
the pictures of the seals of a book that are opened, depict the acts of men. The Antichrist is a human being,
who pretends to be the savior of the world. The retake of the same scene, depicted as the sounding of seven
trumpets, describe the activities of demons during that period. The Antichrist called upon the devil and his
horde to help him establish his reign over the earth. The demons come to his help but they do not leave when
they are no longer needed. The third take, depicted as the pouring out of seven bowls of God’s wrath,
indicates that God’s rage over human depravity is demonstrated in this great tribulation. In brief, Man does
it; Satan inspires it; and God allows it as a punishment for man’s sin.
Authorship:
Scholars have debated who the author, who calls himself John, may have been. Some believe him to
be an elder of a church in Asia Minor, but the oldest testimony of the church fathers points to John, the
apostle. The Pulpit Commentary states: “Clear external testimony begins with Justin Martyr about the
middle of the second century; he refers to ‘John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied in a
Revelation made to him that the believers in our Christ should spend a thousand years in Jerusalem’ …
Irenaeus, in the latter half of the second century, knew the book well, quoted it largely, and plainly attributed
it to the John who leaned on Jesus’ breast …; he also appeals to genuine and ancient copies, as well as to
others in which the text had already become corrupt … Explicit statements that the Apostle John wrote the
Apocalypse are also found in Tertullian, Hippolytus, Origen, and many later Fathers.”
Outline of the Book:
The major lines of the book are clearly visible: there are three main divisions. After an introduction
of eight verses, there are seven letters, which the Lord of glory dictates to John for the seven churches in
Asia Minor. This covers Ch. 1:9 – Ch. 3:22. The greater part of the book, from Ch. 4:1 – Ch. 19:21 deals
with a description of the struggle between God and Satan. This is the part most difficult to interpret. But the
1


1 Matt. 24:21 (NKJV)
lines that depict the development of the struggle are easily discerned. We see three series of seven: seven
seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls of God’s wrath. The last three chapters, Ch. 20:1 – Ch. 22:20,
describe the renewal of all things after the war is over. We will follow this outline:
I. Introduction - Ch. 1:1-8
II. The Seven Letters - Ch. 1:9-3:22
III. The Struggle Between God and Satan - Ch. 4:1-19:21
1. The Seven Seals - Ch. 4:1-8:15
2. The Seven Trumpets - Ch. 8:16- 15:4
3. The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath - Ch. 15:5-19:21
IV. The Renewal of All Things - Ch. 20:1-22:21
I. Introduction - Ch. 1:1-8
We distinguish here between the heading and the opening.
A. The Heading - Ch. 1:1-3
The message of Revelation cannot be understood if we do not give serious consideration to the
meaning of the opening words. It has been said about the books of the Bible that the key for each of them
hangs at the door. The revelation of this book is “The revelation of Jesus Christ.” It is not, as some assume,
merely a description of the end times. It is not a revelation of events but of a person, Jesus Christ. This is the
theme of the book and the meaning of all the events described in it. Jesus did not write the book but the book
is about Him.
The second part of the opening sentence seems to contradict this. It sounds as if God, the Father,
merely allowed His Son to take a peek at future events in order to know what was going to happen. What is
meant, however, is that the Father gave the Son the gift to reveal Himself in the events of the future. This is
confirmed by the whole composition of the book.
The intriguing feature in all this is that it emphasizes Jesus’ humanity. It evinces the same principle
as in Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only
what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
2
The revelation is the
Father’s gift to the Son, who became man in order to save mankind. The future events have, of course, their
bearing upon the revelation. The book is meant “to show his servants what must soon take place.” This refers
to political, social, and economic events. These events are not the content of the reality; they are merely the
vehicles. This is the reason the events are expressed in images. The events the people experience on earth,
that which we call “the facts,” are actually images, expression of another reality.
The word “revelation,” therefore, has a much deeper meaning than only of showing what will
happen. The Bible uses the word to describe God’s intervention in man’s thinking, logic, and understanding.
It means a supernatural transfer of data to our understanding, not contrary to logic but circumventing logic.
God’s revelation projects the actual content and meaning of events to the screen of our brain, without the
means of images and symbols. The Holy Spirit used this principle in causing the pregnancy of the Virgin
Mary. God impregnates our intelligence and understanding outside the common means of communication.
We find this illustrated in various ways in Scripture. When the leaders of Israel refused to accept
Jesus’ message, we read: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because
you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.’ ”
3
Upon Peter’s confession of faith, “Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was
not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.’ ”
4
And in His last prayer for His disciples, hours before going to the cross, Jesus stated: “I have
revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they
2


4 Matt. 16:17
3 Matt. 11:25
2
John 5:19
have obeyed your word.”
5
Paul testifies about his understanding of the Gospel: “I did not receive it from any
man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”
6
Every one of these instances
concerns an act of God. None of this came about by human initiative or was achieved by human means. That
is why these experiences are always accompanied by a blessing for man. We will never be able to understand
the Book of Revelation without God’s revelation to us and without a personal fellowship with the Lord. We
will only recognize Jesus Christ in this book if we know Him already.
It is “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him.” As was stated, this emphasizes the
human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. This statement could hardly be formulated this way if it pertained to
a manifestation of the Second Person of the Trinity. This emphasis throws a new light on the content of the
book. In a way, it is an answer to David’s question: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of
man that you care for him?”
7
In the Book of Revelation, we see him: “crowned … with glory and honor,”
and “everything under his feet.”
8
It had been God’s plan from the very beginning that man would bear on his shoulder the
government of creation. It is only a man who can open the seals of the scroll of God’s ordinances. A man is
seated on the throne of heaven, because this man healed the break with God by dying for the sins of His
fellowmen.
We must look at facts that are described in this book in that light. The important part is not the
manifestation of the Antichrist, or a report on what the devil does on the earth, but the acts of Jesus Christ
on, what Isaiah calls “the day of vengeance of our God.”
9
For us, who live in “the year of the LORD’s
favor,”
10 it is often difficult to imagine what life would be under the different circumstances of another
dispensation. Also, the fact that the devil is named as the executor of many of the acts described in this book,
complicates matters. The question arises: Who is responsible for all the horror of the events. We must hold
to the truth that God is not the author of evil. The fact that seven angels pour the bowls of God’s wrath out
over the earth does not mean that God creates evil. The basic elements of God’s wrath are intrinsically good.
Those who have turned themselves against God and all that tries to separate God’s creation from the
Creator, experience this wrath as harmful. Our planet, for instance, could not exist without the law of
gravity, but to the person who falls, that same law becomes his enemy. So it is with the laws that govern
God’s righteousness. The full responsibility for all evil lies with those who have broken the bond with God.
The purpose of the revelation of Jesus Christ is “to show his servants what must soon take place.”
Although this allows man to take a peek into the future, we maintain that the primary purpose of this
revelation is not the satisfaction of man’s curiosity but the disclosure of the glory of our Lord.
It is hard for us to imagine what it must have meant for John to become a partaker in the glory of
his Lord. His reaction at the end of this chapter explains some of this. In a preface to his translation of the
Book of Revelation, J. B. Phillips writes that he was under the impression that John actually wrote while in
a Holy Spirit induced “a trance.” It must have been an awesome experience for the apostle. There is an angel
who plays a role in the transmission of the message, but he seldom comes to the foreground. At the end of
the book, he declines the worship John wants to give to him, saying: “I am a fellow servant with you and
with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book.”
11
B. The Greeting – Ch. 1:4-8
3


11 Rev. 22:8,9
10 Isa. 61:2
9
Isa. 61:2
8
Ps. 8:5,6
7
Ps. 8:4
6
Gal. 1:12
5
John 17:6
We who are the recipients of this book, who hear the Word of God and obey it, may also partake in
this glory. John pronounces blessed those who hear the words of this prophecy and take them to heart. The
word he uses is makarios, which is the same word used in Christ’s Beatitudes.12 We should actually read
the words “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy” as “O, the blessedness of him who
reads…!” John’s blessing is more than a benign wish that has no practical effect. It is a triumphant shout that
opens this book for us. The same kind of shout Jesus utter when He said: “Blessed rather are those who hear
the word of God and obey it.”
13
This reminds us what our attitude toward the Word of God ought to be. We must take it very
seriously. We must realize that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the
mouth of the LORD.”
14 The opposite reaction to God’s Word is illustrated in the acts of King Jehoiakim
who burned the scroll with the prophecies of Jeremiah that were read to him. We read: “Whenever Jehudi
had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into
the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire.”
15
It sounds strange to us, who live about 2000 years after John wrote, to read: “take to heart what is
written in it, because the time is near.” If we understand this to mean that John thought that Christ’s physical
return to earth was about to occur, we can only conclude that the apostle was wrong. Then we can hardly
maintain that this book is part of the inspired Word of God that is infallible. On the other hand, it is difficult
to assume that John would have spoken of a time 2000 years in the future, as a time that was near. We may
find an answer to this impasse if we consider Jesus’ words to the Jews of His day: “Your father Abraham
rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
16 Since our Lord used the past tense, we cannot
understand this to mean that Abraham witnessed Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection, looking down
from heaven. During his life on earth, Abraham experienced these greatest of all events in world history in
the birth, death, and resurrection of his son Isaac. These events in Abraham’s life were pictures of the facts of
salvation, from which they derived their content and meaning. Because Abraham’s experiences would have
had no meaning in themselves if Jesus Christ had not became man, and had not died, and risen from the dead.
But because the events in Abraham’s life were pointers to what God was going to do in this world, Jesus
could say: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day.” So it is with the Lord’s return and the revelation
of His glory which will take place on our planet. Christians have anticipated this event for almost 2000
years. But in every century, there have been occurrences in the lives of individuals that derived their meaning
from the expectation of the revelation of Jesus Christ. As Abraham saw Christ’s day 2000 years before He
came, so is the time near for us. It is important for us to understand the meaning of our experiences.
If we interpret the book of Revelation as having meaning only for the end of the world, we put
severe limitations on its contents. John, undoubtedly, took his own time, the reign of the emperors Nero and
Domitian, as a point of reference when he wrote. For those who lived through the Nazi regime of Hitler, or
Stalin’s Gulags, or the cultural revolution of Mao Dze Dung, the contents of this book has been of great
relevance. They understood that “the time is near.”
On the other hand, we are also wrong if we believe that Revelation only means to offer comfort in a
subjective way in times of persecution. The book deals with facts that will take place on earth, concrete facts
in world history. The millennium is not merely a symbolic concept to convey to us the thought that God is
still on the throne. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were, undoubtedly types of the Antichrist, as were Antiochus
Epiphanes, Nero, and Domitian. But if no real Antichrist would ever appear upon the world scene, there
could not be a type of him either. There would have been no day of Christ for Abraham, if Christ had not
come. At every time in world history “the time is near” for every person alive. The shadows will only fade
away on the world’s last night, when the light appears and reality dawns upon us. One day will be the last
day. When that will be, I do not know.
4


16 John 8:56 (NKJV)
15 Jer. 36:23
14 Deut. 8:3
13 Luke 11:28
12 Matt. 5:3 ff.
The second part of the introduction consists in John’s greetings to the reader. Verses 4-7 are the
words of a human being, of a man to his fellowmen, of a brother to brothers. No one was so well suited to
describe the revelation of Jesus Christ as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
17 Part of the doctrine of
Inspiration of the Bible is the fact that the Holy Spirit prepares the writer of a particular book for the task of
writing down the Word of God. The apostle John is a convincing proof of this doctrine.
We may interpret the seven churches in the province of Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum,
Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea to be symbolic for the whole of the body of Christ on earth. The
number seven is, clearly, an image of divine perfection. Although I always feel some hesitation toward
interpretation of Scripture that focuses on numerals, there is no denying the spiritual meaning of these
figures. What Jesus said to these seven churches, He says to the whole church throughout the ages.
The content of the blessing is representative of the content of the whole book. The revelation of
Jesus Christ is the revelation of Him, “who is, and who was, and who is to come.” These words are a
projection of eternity upon time. Eternity is, of course, more than the past, present, and future. But this is the
way we, who are bound by time and space, would imagine eternity to be.
The words are also a reference to and an elaboration upon the name YHWH, “I AM WHO I AM.”
What is so amazing to us is not so much the three phases of time: past, present, and future but the
immutability of God’s character as it is being projected upon time. For us, time is the indicator of change,
which cannot be reconciled with immutability. Past, present, and future are, for us, pointers to growth and
change. Yet, according to the author of Hebrews: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and
forever.”
18 This part of John’s greeting, therefore, emphasizes the divine character of our Lord.
“Grace and peace” are the Greek and Hebrew forms of greeting, expressed as charis and shalom.
They express in an international fashion the blessing God gives to all who seek fellowship with Him.
The Holy Spirit is presented here as a seven-fold unity. This does not mean, of course, that there
would be seven individual Spirits in God. But the figure seven is used to express divine perfection.
Next, the human nature of Jesus Christ is emphasized in the words: “the faithful witness,” who
reveals to us the secrets of the invisible God. In his first epistle, the apostle John calls the Holy Spirit a
witness to God’s truth. We read: “And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.”
19 What is
probably meant in that context is the Spirit’s testimony in the heart of the believer. It is the witness of the
Spirit that makes us aware of the truth. When Jesus is called “the faithful witness,” the term is used as a
complement to the “I am” statements in John’s Gospel. He is the objective source of truth, which the Holy
Spirit applies subjectively in our life. This testimony is at the core of the Gospel. It became flesh and blood
in the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. Those facts are a testimony to God’s acting in this
world.
The three things John states about Jesus give us a complete picture of the purpose and content of
the incarnation. The testimony of Jesus Christ stands for the whole of God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus.
He is the Word that became flesh, who pitched His tent among us, as is revealed in His character, His acts,
and His words. He is God’s intervention in fallen creation. He is the man whom the Father called to bring
back under the authority of the throne everything that had fallen away from God. His is the essence of
humanity. God always intended man to have this position of restoring what Satan had dragged away from
God in his fall. I am convinced that this was God’s prime purpose in the creation of Adam. Adam should
have restored to God’s authority what Satan had embezzled. Jesus Christ accomplished that which Adam had
failed to achieve. We rarely understand how deeply man fell when he committed his first sin. Instead of
dedicating his life to the service of God, Adam not only did not take upon himself the responsibility of
restoring what Satan had taken, but he joined the enemy in his rebellion. Jesus’ position as “the ruler of the
kings of the earth” is not a reign over like-minded ones but it is a putting down of an insurrection.
At the same time, this is a prophecy about the rehabilitation of man. The key to this understanding is
in the words: “the firstborn from the dead.” I do not know how the resurrection rates in God’s overall plan
for His creation, but as a human being who is born in this sinful world, and who lives in the shadow of
5


19 I John 5:6
18 Heb. 13:8
17 John 13:23
death, the resurrection is the most glorious event I can imagine. It is almost too good to be true. That is why
the disciples, on the day of Jesus’ resurrection, shouted to one another: “It is true! The Lord has risen!”
20
The hymn “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”
represents one of the most wonderful songs of adoration that can be found in all of Scripture. I remember
how this was sung in the revival meetings I attended in Wuppertal, Germany, shortly after the end of World
War II. The hymn demonstrates in an incomparable way what our Lord has done for us and what the contents
of our worship ought to be. It is regrettable that the older reading of the verse is lost in more modern
translations. I strongly prefer the reading: “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own
blood…”
21
Both spiritually and grammatically the emphasis is upon the last part of the hymn: “to him be glory
and power for ever and ever! Amen.” These words are akin to the doxology of Psalm One Hundred Fifty, the
ultimate hymn of praise. We do well to pay attention to these rules of grammar. For us, however, the
emotional emphasis is upon the first part of this verse, upon the love, redemption, and restoration. Thus
heaven and earth are united in this verse. The adoration belongs to heaven; the redemption and rehabilitation
belong to earth. Love forms the bridge between the two. Love is the source and the reason for what happens.
Redemption is the way that shows how it happens. The kingdom and the priesthood are the result. This is the
victory that was intended. But the ultimate goal, the “raison d’être,” that which gives meaning and purpose
to all is the eternal glory and power of God. God’s glory and power would have existed immutably, even if
the universe were wrapped in darkness. The fact that adoration wells up from our souls does not add or
detract any from the absolute character of God, but it makes us more human. No one will ever be able to
look at this mystery without being changed and renewed by it.
Verse seven expresses in one sentence the whole content of the book. But, in a way, we can say the
same about the 6th verse. This verse shows the way in which Jesus’ revelation comes to us. “He is coming
with the clouds,” says it all. There is also a sharp contrast between both verses. The first speaks of the
blessedness of those who worship Him, the second of the despair of those who reject Him. It is, of course,
true that “every eye will see Him,” including both the saved and the lost, but the emphasis seems to be on
“those who pierced him.” Those are, first of all, the ones who were responsible for His physical death, the
Jews and the Romans, but also all who reject Him as Lord over their lives. The Second Coming will awaken
in every human being a sense of reality regarding sin and the rejection of Jesus Christ.
This verse is the first of a series of paraphrases of Old Testament prophecies. This is an adaptation
of Zechariah’s prophecy about the one they have pierced: “And I will pour out on the house of David and the
inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced,
and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a
firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the
plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the
house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of
Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.”
22
By changing the mourning of the different clans into the mourning of all the people of the earth,
John places the prophecy in its right light. The Holy Spirit convicts people of the sin of unbelief. The lament
is not so much about Jesus Christ as about themselves because they did not believe in Him as their Messiah.
Part of the revelation of Jesus Christ will be that the whole world will recognize that mankind as a whole is
responsible for the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. In the same way as the conviction of their crime came to
Joseph’s brothers when they stood before him, so will all human beings face reality on the day of Jesus’
coming. The prophecy Jesus spoke before the Sanhedrin laid the legal basis for His crucifixion.23 The
members of the Sanhedrin who pronounced the death sentence at that time must, meanwhile, have come to
the realization that they were wrong. The words: “I am the Alpha and the Omega” occur three times in the
6


23 See Matt. 26:64-66; Mark 14:62-64
22 Zech. 12:10-14
21 NKJV
20 Luke 24:34
Book of Revelation.24 In the KJV (and NKJV) the words also occur in 1:11, but they are not found in more
modern versions. The expression in this verse is generally understood as referring to God, the Father. It
seems, however, more logical to assume that the two Greek letters, Alpha and Omega, refer to the Second
Person of the Trinity, to the Word of God. In the context of other verses it seems that the expression refers to
the beginning and end of all things. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the beginning and end of all things
because He is the Creator of all. All things owe their existence to Him.
The apostle Paul expresses this beautifully in his Epistle to the Colossians: “He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on
earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him
and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the
church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the
supremacy.”
25
He is also the beginning of the new creation because He is “the firstborn from among the dead.”
The end points to the goal of creation and recreation. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians mentions
this, saying: “For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put
under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has
done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may
be all in all.”
26 This is the meaning of the letter O (Omega): Jesus is the glorification of God, the Father.
The words: “who is, and who was, and who is to come” are found twice in this introduction to the book. As
we saw above, they constitute a projection of eternity upon time; they are also a reference to the meaning of
the Name YHWH. When God revealed Himself to Moses, He called Himself “I AM WHO I AM.”
27 John
states in the prologue of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God.”
28
We could say that the content of the whole book of Revelation can be summed up in the statement:
“He comes!” This projection from eternity upon time is worked out in the events that mark the end of times.
The two characteristics of God that are emphasized in this verse are His eternity and His omnipotence. The
message of Revelation, therefore, is: “He has all power in heaven and on earth and He comes.”
C. The Vision of the Risen Lord – Ch. 1:9-20
This section, particularly verses 12-20, is to me one of the highlights in the Bible. I have committed
this portion to memory. We must understand that John was not taken out of reality into a dream world, but
that he was taken out of the illusion that sin has spun around us and awakened to a reality that is more real
than what we commonly call reality. The prophet Zechariah describes a similar experience as he received one
of his visions and said: “Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened
from his sleep.”
29 Entering into the presence of God is as a waking up out of a dream.
John describes his circumstances as a captive on the island of Patmos. Without uttering any
complaint about his condition, he identifies himself with others who suffer persecution because of their faith
in Christ. He knows that he is not alone and he feels a common bond with suffering fellow believers. Three
keywords are important: “suffering,” “kingdom,” and “patient endurance.” He shares these with other
believers. We do not know exactly what the word “suffering” stands for in this context. John wrote this
during the reign of the godless emperor Domitian, who was the one who demanded divine adulation for
himself. Over against this, John places the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which gives him the courage and
perseverance to hang on. Persecution stands for the circumstances, kingdom for the vision, and endurance
7


29 Zech. 4:1
28 John 1:1
27 Ex. 3:14
26 I Cor.15:27,28
25 Col. 1:15-18
24 See 21:6; 22:13. The words “I am the First and the Last” are also found in 1:17; 2:8 and 22:13.
for the result of the two preceding entities. All persecution is demonically inspired. Ever since the days of
Cain, those who refused to eat from the tree of life have persecuted those who ate from it. A human being,
created in the image of God, which allows him to freely choose to have fellowship with God, endeavors to
destroy that image in his fellowman by trying to force him to do what he does not want to do. In a way that is
beyond our comprehension, God uses this demonic plan to purify and complete His image in His children.
Jesus reserved His most precious beatitudes for those who are persecuted because of righteousness.
He said: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of
heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you
because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
30 Peter states that persecution forms the ideal soil for the
growth of God’s grace within us. We read: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you
may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than
gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and
honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” And: “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of
unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for
doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before
God.”
31 And Paul writes to the Romans: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we
know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
32
John acknowledges that he had received his share in suffering for Jesus’ sake. But he also states that
the Lord had given him grace to persevere. What matters in suffering is not our strength of character but the
measure of our surrender to Jesus Christ. Perseverance is His; we may dip in to that and draw from it as
much as we need.
In connection with John’s words, we think of the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, who saw the
statue that was crushed by a stone, which turned into a mountain that filled the whole earth.33 John must
have had this stone before his eyes in the period of persecution by the Roman Empire. He concluded from
this that it was not worth it to give in to this mixture of iron and clay to experience only temporary relief
from suffering. Those who await an eternal kingdom cannot take temporary kingdoms too seriously.
John describes his vision with the words “I was in the Spirit.” We don’t know what is exactly meant
by the expression, whether it means being in trance, or being filled with the Holy Spirit. John’s experience
probably differed from Ezekiel’s who states that he was physically transported and felt his visions as a
physical reality.34 The apostle Paul states about his vision that he didn’t know “whether it was in the body or
out of the body.”
35 John seems to say here that the experience was not a physical one. Whether his spirit left
the body or not is not clear.
What is meant with the expression “The Lord’s Day” cannot be determined clearly either. It may be
Sunday, the day on which the Lord’s resurrection is commemorated. It could also refer to the Sabbath as the
Old Testament day of rest. John may also point to the contents of his book, as the day on which God’s
judgments are put into effect.
John’s statement that he turned around to see the voice that was speaking to him seems to
constitute a physical act. This turning around is presented as a kind of conversion. Even though John was in
prison “on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus,” he had to change
his attitude before he could see what the Lord wanted to show him. If this is really what John experienced, it
shows that we can be in prison because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus and yet live with our
backs turned to God. We may have to look at John’s “death and resurrection,” as described in vs. 17, in this
light.
8


35 II Cor. 12:2,3
34 See Ezek. 2:2; 3:12,14
33 See Dan. 2:1-49
32 Rom. 5:3,4
31 I Peter 1:6-7; 2:19,20
30 Matt. 5:10-12
It is clear that the seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis,
Philadelphia and Laodicea, stand for more than seven local churches. These seven symbolize the body of
Christ on earth. It could be that John was particularly ordered to focus on these churches because he was
responsible for that district.
Some commentators see these churches as representing seven phases of church history. It is a
sobering thought that in the region where these churches flourished then, at present almost every trace of
Christianity is wiped out. It has been stated that in present-day Turkey one cannot find more than a few dozen
Christians.
John’s encounter with Christ must have been an indescribable experience for him. He had known
Jesus intimately as a human being on earth. But here he meets Him on a level and in a manner for which he
was not prepared physically or emotionally.
First of all, John sees Jesus standing among seven golden lampstands. We must ask the question
whether these lampstands are an image of the seven churches, or whether the churches are a picture of the
lampstands? Where do we find the reality, in heaven or on earth? It is a glorious discovery to understand that
reality belongs to Christ and that what we see on earth are merely shadows. We often distort matters by
turning them upside down and by believing that what we see with our mortal eyes is the ultimate reality. The
essence of every church on earth is the golden lampstand, that shining lamp that is kept burning by the Holy
Spirit in the presence of the Son of Man. Essential in every church is the testimony of the Holy Spirit in the
fellowship and love of people who are saved.
The clothing John describes reveals Jesus’ inner glory. As in Jesus’ transfiguration, His glory
became visible in the transformation of His clothes. Matthew describes this: “His face shone like the sun,
and his clothes became as white as the light.”
36 John does not give us a detailed description of the clothes
Jesus wore. He states the length and mentions the golden sash as an expression of simplicity and majesty. In
this case clothes do not make the man, but the man makes the clothes!
In saying these things we are speaking after an earthly fashion. We live in a world in which there is a
contrast between inner beauty and its outer manifestations. As a result of sin, content and form are often
each other’s opposites. In heaven, such is no longer the case. In the Incarnation, Jesus became in outward
appearance like sinful man, but inwardly He was perfect and without sin. In heaven form and content are
identical. John sees Jesus as He is. That is what overwhelmed him so much. He had known about Jesus’
glory, but He had never seen this glory manifested in this way. The glory he describes is definitely divine.
Yet, John also states clearly that he sees Jesus as a human being. It is impossible for us to sound the depth of
this mystery. In Jesus the goal of God’s creation has been reached. God and His creation have become one as
a pledge toward that day in which God will be “all in all.”
37 The glory of God John sees is human!
John describes Jesus in terms of absolute purity and holiness, as “white fire.” As in Isaiah’s vision,
God’s holiness and glory are identical.38 The voice of Jesus is like the sound of a mighty waterfall that
breaks through the sound barrier of human hearing. The Word He speaks is compared to a sharp
double-edged sword. The writer of Hebrews uses the same image for the Word of God: “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.39 The sword stands for the result of
God’s Word. The Word is both creative and curative; it dissects man’s motives. The image emphasizes the
majesty and the power of Jesus’ Word.
In between the images of the “rushing waters” and the “sharp double-edged sword” we find the
“seven stars,” representing the pastors or the “angels” of the seven churches. They are in the hollow of Jesus’
hand, surrounded by His Word in all its majesty and power. It is important to realize that God’s Word is both
creative and re-creative. If it is true what some theologians believe that there is a gap between the first two
verses of the Book of Genesis, that Satan’s fall into sin occurred between those two verses and that God
restored His creation by the agency of His Word, then we find this fact both at the beginning and at the end of
the Bible. The creation of heaven and earth was an act of God’s majesty; the creation of light and the
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39 Heb. 4:12
38 See Isa. 6:3
37 See I Cor. 15:28
36 Matt. 17:2
separation of land and water was an act of God’s holiness, brought about by the analytical penetration of the
two-edged sword of the Word. God created these “stars,” these righteous ones by His Word and He also
sanctifies and glorifies them by His Word. We read their description in the Book of Daniel: “Those who are
wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars
for ever and ever.”
40 Obviously, the criterion for a pastor of a church is his testimony that leads people to
repentance and to faith in Christ.
The most overwhelming feature in Jesus’ manifestation of Himself to John was the blinding light:
“like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” As it is impossible for a human being to stare into the sun without
damaging his eyesight, so it is impossible for us to behold God’s glory. Physically, emotionally, and
spiritually we are unfitted for this. John collapses completely and falls at Jesus’ feet “as though dead.” We
have little notion of what glory actually is.
John’s collapse reminds us of the reactions of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Daniel, particularly,
describes how the experience left him completely drained of all energy and how he only regained his
composure by a supernatural intervention: “So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength
left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell
into a deep sleep, my face to the ground. A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
He said, ‘Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and
stand up, for I have now been sent to you.’ And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.”
41
Evidently, the result of this kind of swoon is fear. For the inhabitants of heaven who have no
experience of the effect of the Fall, such a reaction must be incomprehensible. Even for us who know a
certain measure of intimacy with God, it may be difficult to understand that we might react to glory in this
manner. Even if we are not afraid in our spirit, like Adam was after he sinned, our body reacts in a way we
cannot control. We are physically unable to take what we accept spiritually.
Jesus puts His right hand upon the disciple He loves. This was a purposeful touch, otherwise John
could not have stated so specifically that it was Jesus’ right hand. For most people the right hand is the more
important of the two. Twice in this section, Jesus’ right hand is mentioned; first as the hand in which He
holds the seven stars and then as the hand which He puts on John’s shoulder. It is the hand that holds the stars
that touches John. Thus John is taken into that protective custody of which his Gospel speaks: “I give them
eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given
them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
42 “Nothing will be able to
separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. If God is for us, who can be against us?”
43
John must have been conscious of this as Jesus laid His hand on him. This imposition of the hand is
accompanied by words of Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead. Jesus places Himself next to His beloved
friend to tell him that He went through this same kind of death and came out victoriously. Thus, John’s
resurrection was linked to Jesus’, which made it real.
Jesus’ words express, first of all, His love. “Do not be afraid” fully satisfies John’s emotional
needs. As we saw, fear was the actual reason for John’s collapse. Healing begins when Jesus speaks to him
and touches him. God’s Word of love has healing power.
Then Jesus indicates that the legal basis for restoration is in His incarnation, His death, and His
resurrection. Because this occurred in our world and before God, man has the legal right to live. The apostle
Paul calls Jesus: “The last Adam” and “the second man.”
44 This may be the explanation of Jesus’ words: “I
am the First and the Last.” As the last Adam, He brought closure to the fall of man that began with the first
Adam. In His death “He had provided purification for sins.”
45 As the second man, He rose from the dead and
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45 Heb. 1:3
44 I Cor. 15:45,47
43 Rom. 8:39,31
42 John 10:28,29
41 Dan.10:8-11
40 Daniel 12:3
became the head of a new creation. Jesus had the right to say to John: “Do not be afraid.” He had paid for
these words. As always, His Word is creation; it creates in John the peace that is needed to live.
As with all human beings, John owed his resurrection to the fact that Jesus is who He is. We may
classify Jesus’ words under the category of “I AM” as we find it in John’s Gospel. “I AM” represents the
Name YHWH, with which God revealed Himself to Moses.46 Inasmuch as we exist because Jesus is who He
is, so we will be raised from the dead because He rose from the dead and is the Living One. Jesus’ revelation
of Himself is overwhelming: “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am
alive for ever and ever!” The way Jesus says this indicates that He Himself is still amazed about it. It is as if
the resurrection has never lost its surprise and glow for Him.
The NIV unfortunately omits the little word “behold,” or “see,” which is found in the Greek text.
This word is an invitation to John to confirm by sensory perception the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. In John’s
own words: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes,
which we have looked at and our hands have touched-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
47 “The
Lord is risen indeed.”
48 There is proof of it. It is the ultimate reality.
Jesus’ possession of the keys of death and Hades is the direct result of His resurrection. The writer
of the Epistle to the Hebrews states that the devil “holds the power of death.”
49 This evidently means that
Satan used to have the keys of Hades. When Jesus died and entered the realm of the dead, He took those keys
away from him. Satan must have thought that this Lamb of God, laden with the sins of the world, was an
easy prey for him, but the manifestation of Jesus’ own sinless nature must have been to him like a blinding
light. If Gehennah is the place where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched,”
50 then Jesus
Christ must have been the only person who could not be touched by the fire because in Him there was no
worm. What happened outside the tomb, that the guards fled and the stone was rolled away, happened in a
spiritual sense inside the kingdom of death. Satan dropped his keys and took to his heels. Jesus picked up the
keys, opened the gate, and walked out, taking others with Him. As David prophesied in one of the psalms:
“When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train.”
51
The command John receives to write what he sees covers in broad lines the contents of this book.
The Book of Revelation deals with the heavenly reality in the past, the present, and the future. It
demonstrates also the principle of inspiration of the Word of God. It is the Word that links things in heaven
with things on earth. What will take place only covers one third of the whole. If we approach the Book of
Revelation with the idea that it deals primarily with what will happen during the end time, we are on the
wrong track.
“What you have seen” is the glory of the risen Lord. “What is now” is the lampstands, the stars, and
the throne of God and Him that is seated on it. These are of vital importance to the church of the past and of
the present. It is indispensable for the members of the body of Christ to constantly keep their eyes fixed on
the glory of the body. The church will only be able to shine in this dark world if it sees itself as a burning
lampstand at the side of the Lord who holds her pastors as stars in His hand.
Jesus calls the existence of the lampstand and the stars a “mystery.” This corresponds with Paul’s
words in his Epistle to the Ephesians, where he states: “That is, the mystery made known to me by revelation,
as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the
mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the
Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs
together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
52
The mystery of the church is the born-again person, the new creation, in which all social differences and
11


52 Eph. 3:3-6
51 Ps. 68:18
50 Mark 9:48
49 Heb. 2:14
48 Luke 24:34 (KJV)
47 I John 1:1
46 See Ex. 3:14
gender differences have fallen away. As Paul writes to the Colossians: “Do not lie to each other, since you
have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in
knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
53 And to the Galatians he writes: “There is
neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
54 David states in
one of the psalms: “The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him.”
55 The prophet Zechariah saw this
mystery take shape in the vision of the gold lampstand and the two olive trees that fed their fuel organically
to the lamps.56 In Matthew’s Gospel, when Jesus used parables to teach about the church, He said to His
disciples: “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to
them.”
57
The person who has died with Christ and is raised again in His resurrection forms a vital part of the
Kingdom. In letting our light shine in fellowship with one another, we are instruments that are used to bring
this fallen world back under the authority of God, till God will be “all in all.” Our prayer is: “Your kingdom
come!”
58 When we think of the devil, we should never forget Paul’s words that “the God of peace will soon
crush Satan under [y]our feet.”
59
II. The Seven Letters - Ch. 1:9-3:22
A. To Ephesus 2:1-7
The apostle Paul planted the church of Ephesus, approximately thirty years before the Book of
Revelation was written. We find the record in Acts Chapter Nineteen. During his second missionary journey,
Paul went back and forth between Europe and Asia Minor and so he came to Ephesus, which at that time was
an important harbor. The church began with a dozen disciples of John the Baptist. After Paul’s prayer and
imposition of hands, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.60 This was followed by a great spiritual revival in
which the city was cleansed of demonic spirits. People came for deliverance of their bad conscience, for
forgiveness of sin, and to burn their magic books.61 Paul spent approximately two years and three months in
this celebration of a spiritual springtime. Luke records: “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.”
62
We are reminded of the festive beginning of the church when we read the letter that Jesus dictated to John, in
which He speaks of their “first love.”
Jesus presents Himself to the church of Ephesus as the One “who holds the seven stars in his right
hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands.” It is the Lord of the church who speaks to His church.
As we saw before, the stars and the lampstands represent a heavenly reality of which the conditions on earth
are a shadow. The copy on earth is here compared with the reality in heaven. The question that comes up in
this comparison is whether the church on earth is what she is supposed to be. Does the supernatural light of
the lampstand shine through the people on earth? Are the church leaders like shining stars? This comparison
between that which is on earth and what is in heaven does not only serve the purpose of providing a means of
moral and spiritual improvement, it is also the “umbilical cord,” the lifeline of the church. The body of
12


62 Acts 19:11
61 Acts 19:18,19
60 See Acts 19:1-7
59 Rom. 16:20
58 Matt. 6:10
57 Matt 13:11
56 See Zech. 4:1-6
55 Ps. 25:14 (NKJV)
54 Gal. 3:28
53 Col. 3:9-11
Christ on earth only functions well when it constantly compares itself to its original. The wind and the Holy
Spirit both always stream from a maximum to a minimum.
The full emphasis in this first letter is upon the essence of the church as a testimony to the light.
The church in Ephesus consisted of a human organization filled by the Holy Spirit. As such, the church
functions as two-in-one, as a combination of body and soul. Without the supernatural element the
organization on earth would be nothing but a dead body. This is what Jesus meant when He said: “You are
the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a
bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your
light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
63
Standing before the Lord there is always a form of judgment. This judgment is instantaneous and
we always initiate it. What I mean is, that, if we are placed as a copy next to the original, our own mouth will
condemn us. Thus Isaiah condemned himself when he saw the Lord and cried: “Woe to me! I am ruined! For
I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the
LORD Almighty.”
64
In this case, however, it is the Lord who speaks first. He begins by mentioning three positive
features in their character: 1. Their intolerance toward the wicked, 2. Their spiritual discernment, 3. Their
perseverance. Their zeal for truth is impressive. There has been, however, a change in motivation. Their zeal
used to be based upon their love for the Lord. That is no longer the case. How can a building remain standing
when that foundation shifts or is replaced with something else? Why do we sometimes keep on doing the
same thing but change the reason for doing it?
The words “first love” are often interpreted as an indicator of time. That interpretation suggests that
love between human beings, husband and wife for instance, is always of a better quality in the beginning than
in the end. It is true that love, which is fresh and spontaneous in the beginning, can, in some instances, turn
cold and sour. Both often love grows deeper and more precious as the years go by. If I must choose between
the puppy love of young people who hardly know whom they love and the mature love of the older ones, I
prefer the latter. This brings me to believe that Jesus does not mean here that the Ephesian Christians had to
return to “being in love” as they were before. Loving God is always a matter of priority. The law states:
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
65 Jesus
adds to this: “and with all your mind.”
66
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary states: “G. Campbell Morgan relates this passage to Paul’s words
of warning to the Corinthian church: ‘For I espoused you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure
virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds
should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ’… The elements of first love
then are simplicity and purity… The love of the Church to Christ is typified by the love of the wife for the
husband. What then is the love of Christ to the Church? Unselfish love, love in which there was no single
thought of self. What then is the Church’s love for Christ? The response of love to the mystery of love, the
submission of love to perfect love. First love is the love of espousal. Its notes are simplicity, and purity,
marital love, the response of love to love, the subjection of a great love to a great love, the submission of a
self-denying love to a love that denies self. First love is the abandonment of all for a love that has abandoned
all.”
God must occupy the first and overriding place in our love. This is the “first love” God demands
for Himself. The Ephesians demonstrated this love spontaneously when they came and confessed their sins
and burned their books of sorcery.67 They rejoiced in their newfound freedom and redemption. This kind of
love only cools down when the relationship with God becomes blocked because of a lack of spiritual purity
and confession of sin.
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67 See Acts 19:18,19
66 Mark 12:30
65 Deut. 6:5
64 Isa. 6:5
63 Matt. 5:14-16
We see the relationship between the shining testimony of the stars and the lampstand and this first
love. The Holy Spirit who caused the lampstand to burn is the Spirit of love. The lamps are not kept burning
by some impersonal kind of fuel but by the third Person of the Holy Trinity. The best proof that the Spirit of
God is a Person is in the fact that He is the Spirit of love. Love is the proof of personality “par excellence.”
We forsake our first love when the influence of the Holy Spirit over our life diminishes.
In connection with this “first love” there are two important words the Lord uses: “forsaken” and
“fallen.” The word “forsaking” implies that a certain amount of energy and time is needed to keep things
going. This concurs with the definition of love as given in Deuteronomy, requiring “all your heart and all
your soul and all your strength.”
68 Our love for God will diminish and deteriorate if we do not work on it.
In this respect also, the rule is: “Use it or lose it.” We need only to neglect God’s love in order to lose it. We
are in a position where we fall if we do not hang on. We only climb up to greater heights if we confess our
sins, ask for forgiveness on a daily basis, and deny Satan every inch of our life. If we do not do this, we fall.
We must, however, not simply write off the Ephesians as people who only routinely followed the
letter of the law and not the spirit of it. Jesus testifies about them: “You have not grown weary.” This proves
that they were not completely shut off from the source of life. A person who only leans on his own strength
will, eventually, grow weary. Only those who wait upon the Lord do not grow weary. We quote Isaiah’s
beautiful words: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow
tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
69
Ephesus’ problem was evidently not a simple matter. There is a fine line between the right and the wrong
motives. Yet, the difference between love and not-love is immense. It is the difference between a living
church and a dead one, between the presence of the Holy Spirit and His absence, between the light of the
lampstand and darkness. It is like the difference between the temple of King Jeroboam in Bethel and the
temple in Jerusalem. When the apostle Paul writes: “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached
is not something that man made up,”
70 he refers to the light of the lampstand: God’s revelation.
There are many churches from which the supernatural element has disappeared. The reason for the
removal of the lampstand is always the forsaking of the first love. One commentary on Revelation
understands the “first love” to refer to the relationship among the believers in the church in the early stages
of the life of the church. It is, of course, true that love for Jesus finds its expression in love for fellowmen
and especially fellow believers. Jesus said in Matthew’s Gospel: “Whatever you did for one of the least of
these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
71 But we know that the basis for all mutual love is the love of the
Lord. One can only love his neighbor as himself if he loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength.
We, therefore, stick to our interpretation that the “first love” is the love of priority, not of chronology. The
“first love” is the love that lets God come first.
Returning to the first love requires an act of repentance. In order to put God again in the center of
our life we must confess our lack of love as a sin, as well as all other sins that evolved as a result of the
broken relationship.
Jesus had used the words “He who has an ear, let him hear” in the Gospels in connection with the
parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.72 The words are based upon Isaiah’s prophecy, where God says: “Be
ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving … make their ears dull …
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be
healed.”
73 That whole prophecy is actually quoted in the same chapter of Matthew where the parables are
found.74 In Isaiah’s prophecy the connotation is negative but in the context in which Jesus uses them it is a
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74 See Matt. 13:14,15
73 Isa. 6:9,10
72 See Matt. 13:9,43
71 Matt. 25:40
70 Gal. 1:11
69 Isa. 40:29-31
68 See Deut. 6:5
positive exhortation. The ear meant here is not the organ on both sides of the human head; there we find two.
It is the single ear of the heart; the organ with which the soul listens. God gives us the ability to understand
spiritual matters. He gave us an organ and we must use it. We are responsible for our own spiritual insight.
Again, it is a matter of “use it or lose it.” The ear compliments the lampstand; the two go together and
function together.
Each of these seven epistles finishes with the words: “To him who overcomes …” God places us in
this world for the purpose of gaining the victory, and so making it possible for the Kingdom of Heaven to
come. In the letter to the church of Laodicea, the Lord connects our victory with His own victory (“To him
who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my
Father on his throne”). The victory Jesus refers to is His own death and resurrection. The victory Jesus wants
us to achieve begins with our identification with His death. The final result is that the church on earth will be
conformed to the church in heaven. The image must again resemble the original. For us, this means,
primarily, a removal of all negative elements. Only by dying to self through identification with the death of
Jesus Christ in our stead can the resurrection power of our Lord be realized in our life. The Lord does not
demand that we raise ourselves from the dead by any superhuman effort, but that, by means of a constant and
complete surrender of ourselves, we allow the Holy Spirit to make His resurrection a reality in our lives.
The promise connected to this victory is wonderful and glorious. Jesus puts us back in paradise in
front of the tree of life. We may stretch out our hand, eat of its fruit and live eternally. History repeats itself
although not on the same level. This is not the Garden of Eden on earth but the paradise of God. The garden
in which Adam found himself was a shadow; this is the reality. If I understand this correctly, the conditions
in paradise were a picture of a sublime choice man could make. Adam stood between two trees: the tree of
life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eating from the tree of life would have meant an
unconditional, loving surrender to God. We all know what happened when the first two human beings ate
from the tree of knowledge. The fact that the tree of life is found in the paradise of God means that we will
be able to constantly surrender ourselves to God in love. Evidently, this surrender is not “once for all,” it
stands to be repeated. The first surrender may be a crisis experience for us more than the following ones, but
real love always keeps on surrendering. Jesus Himself gives us the example in that, when the last victory is
won, He will submit Himself to the Father. The apostle Paul writes: “When he has done this, then the Son
himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
75 The fact
that the tree of life that is found in the New Jerusalem bears fruit every month makes us understand that
eternal life is not an automatic process. We will live eternally because we eat eternally.
B. To Smyrna 2:8-11
This is th

Revelation 1
REVELATION CH. 1 ASV | REVELATION CH. 1 BBE | REVELATION CH. 1 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 1 KJV | REVELATION CH. 1 WEB | REVELATION CH. 1 YLT | 20
Revelation 2
REVELATION CH. 2 ASV | REVELATION CH. 2 BBE | REVELATION CH. 2 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 2 KJV | REVELATION CH. 2 WEB | REVELATION CH. 2 YLT | 29
Revelation 3
REVELATION CH. 3 ASV | REVELATION CH. 3 BBE | REVELATION CH. 3 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 3 KJV | REVELATION CH. 3 WEB | REVELATION CH. 3 YLT | 22
Revelation 4
REVELATION CH. 4 ASV | REVELATION CH. 4 BBE | REVELATION CH. 4 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 4 KJV | REVELATION CH. 4 WEB | REVELATION CH. 4 YLT | 11
Revelation 5
REVELATION CH. 5 ASV | REVELATION CH. 5 BBE | REVELATION CH. 5 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 5 KJV | REVELATION CH. 5 WEB | REVELATION CH. 5 YLT | 14
Revelation 6
REVELATION CH. 6 ASV | REVELATION CH. 6 BBE | REVELATION CH. 6 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 6 KJV | REVELATION CH. 6 WEB | REVELATION CH. 6 YLT | 17
Revelation 7
REVELATION CH. 7 ASV | REVELATION CH. 7 BBE | REVELATION CH. 7 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 7 KJV | REVELATION CH. 7 WEB | REVELATION CH. 7 YLT | 17
Revelation 8
REVELATION CH. 8 ASV | REVELATION CH. 8 BBE | REVELATION CH. 8 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 8 KJV | REVELATION CH. 8 WEB | REVELATION CH. 8 YLT | 13
Revelation 9
REVELATION CH. 9 ASV | REVELATION CH. 9 BBE | REVELATION CH. 9 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 9 KJV | REVELATION CH. 9 WEB | REVELATION CH. 9 YLT | 21
Revelation 10
REVELATION CH. 10 ASV | REVELATION CH. 10 BBE | REVELATION CH. 10 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 10 KJV | REVELATION CH. 10 WEB | REVELATION CH. 10 YLT | 11
Revelation 11
REVELATION CH. 11 ASV | REVELATION CH. 11 BBE | REVELATION CH. 11 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 11 KJV | REVELATION CH. 11 WEB | REVELATION CH. 11 YLT | 19
Revelation 12
REVELATION CH. 12 ASV | REVELATION CH. 12 BBE | REVELATION CH. 12 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 12 KJV | REVELATION CH. 12 WEB | REVELATION CH. 12 YLT | 17
Revelation 13
REVELATION CH. 13 ASV | REVELATION CH. 13 BBE | REVELATION CH. 13 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 13 KJV | REVELATION CH. 13 WEB | REVELATION CH. 13 YLT | 18
Revelation 14
REVELATION CH. 14 ASV | REVELATION CH. 14 BBE | REVELATION CH. 14 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 14 KJV | REVELATION CH. 14 WEB | REVELATION CH. 14 YLT | 20
Revelation 15
REVELATION CH. 15 ASV | REVELATION CH. 15 BBE | REVELATION CH. 15 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 15 KJV | REVELATION CH. 15 WEB | REVELATION CH. 15 YLT | 8
Revelation 16
REVELATION CH. 16 ASV | REVELATION CH. 16 BBE | REVELATION CH. 16 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 16 KJV | REVELATION CH. 16 WEB | REVELATION CH. 16 YLT | 21
Revelation 17
REVELATION CH. 17 ASV | REVELATION CH. 17 BBE | REVELATION CH. 17 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 17 KJV | REVELATION CH. 17 WEB | REVELATION CH. 17 YLT | 18
Revelation 18
REVELATION CH. 18 ASV | REVELATION CH. 18 BBE | REVELATION CH. 18 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 18 KJV | REVELATION CH. 18 WEB | REVELATION CH. 18 YLT | 24
Revelation 19
REVELATION CH. 19 ASV | REVELATION CH. 19 BBE | REVELATION CH. 19 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 19 KJV | REVELATION CH. 19 WEB | REVELATION CH. 19 YLT | 21
Revelation 20
REVELATION CH. 20 ASV | REVELATION CH. 20 BBE | REVELATION CH. 20 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 20 KJV | REVELATION CH. 20 WEB | REVELATION CH. 20 YLT | 15
Revelation 21
REVELATION CH. 21 ASV | REVELATION CH. 21 BBE | REVELATION CH. 21 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 21 KJV | REVELATION CH. 21 WEB | REVELATION CH. 21 YLT | 27
Revelation 22
REVELATION CH. 22 ASV | REVELATION CH. 22 BBE | REVELATION CH. 22 DARBY | REVELATION CH. 22 KJV | REVELATION CH. 22 WEB | REVELATION CH. 22 YLT | 21