II. Vs. 9-16 What John heard and saw
III. Vs. 17-20 Let’s meet the author
In the first eight verses John introduced us to 7 specific things about the book:
- Keys to understanding it
In most textbooks this is what is called the preface! In the rest of chapter one we will see more things about the book as well as get introduced to the author Himself.
II. Vs. 9-16 What John heard & saw
Vs. 9 John gives us the specifics as to when this unveiling of Jesus took place. We know by church history that John was around 96 years old and had walked with Jesus some 65 years. Apparently, the Roman Emperor Domision had tried to boil John in oil but seeing that it had no effect he decided to exile John to a small Island South West of Ephesus called Patmos. John gives two reason for his imprisonment:
- “For the word of God”: John was placed on the Island for insisting on the claims and promises of the Bible.
- “For the testimony of Jesus Christ”: He was also placed there for the life changing relationship that he had with Jesus whose life was manifested in his.
Vs. 10 As The purpose of this book is the unveiling of Jesus Christ and John sees this unveiling in three distinct places:
- In heaven
- In His Church
- On the earth
Before John let’s us know what he saw and heard he first tells what happened to him when the unveiling of Jesus took place saying, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet”. There are two possibilities with this phrase:
- That on the first day of the week John went into some kind of trance.
- That God brought John into a new and greater state by which he saw the Lord’s day.
Kenneth Wuest in his Greek translation of this verse interprets this phrase as, “I entered into a different experience in the sphere of the Spirit, (His absolute control) unto the Lord’s day.” John says that the Holy Spirit took complete control of him by which he was brought into seeing the Lord in His glory. In Acts 6:15 we are told that Stephen was before the Sanhedrin and that “his face was as the face of an angel.” Then in 7:55-56 at his death we are told that he was “full of the Holy Spirit” just before he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” It would seem that John is describing a possession of the Holy Spirit by which he was carried into the presence of the Lord. Paul describes a similar experience in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 where he says that he was, “caught up to the third heaven” though he was not sure if he was in his body or in his spirit but while in “Paradise he heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” In 1 John 1:1 the apostle John makes his initial statement in his letter saying, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life”. The words in the Greek are literally, “which we have heard and is still ringing in our ears”. Sixty years had passed since John had last heard the voice of Jesus, yet he says that Jesus voice was still ringing in his ears. John had heard Jesus say tell him this in John 10:27 when Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Vs. 11 In verse 8 the Alpha and Omega refer to God the Father here based upon the words of verse 18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore”, they must be applied to Jesus and offer proof of his deity. These seven Church have three significance’s:
- To the churched in that time frame
- To the Church throughout history
- To each and every individual Christian who has these same characteristics at times
The Lord tells John first to write what he saw, which was the glorified Jesus in heaven. Above everything else, no matter what my circumstance and failure in life as a believer all can be transformed with a fresh glimpse of Jesus in His glory. Paul wrote in Romans 12 of our need to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Oh, that we would regularly receive a fresh dose and vision of our glorified Lord!
Vs. 12 Notice that John turns towards the voice, that is to say that he turned toward the Word of God to see who spoke to him. I think that is what we ought to always be doing, turn to the Word, as it is He who speaks to us! There is never any attempt to describe the earthly physical appearance of Jesus; the only scriptural reference concerning Him is a prophetic one in Isa. 53:2 where we are told that “He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
The first thing that caught John’s eye was what surrounded the voice of who spoke to him, “having turned I saw seven golden lampstands”. In Verse 20 of this chapter, we are given the interpretation of what the “seven golden lampstands” as Jesus tells John those are the “seven churches”. In the 2nd and 3rd chapters the Lord will speak of how His light shone through those churches. Notice that they are “golden” because they are Jesus’ lampstands, and He is in their midst. Jesus declared two very important things in the gospels about His Church:
- John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” The key here is following the source of light, Jesus!
- Matt. 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Speaking to the Church Jesus declares that we are the light of the world and it is because He is in our midst that we reflect His light!
Vs. 13 The descriptive phrase “Son of man” is used 194 times in the Bible and 87 times of those are in the N.T. and 85 of those 87 times Jesus use them to describe Himself. The only other two people that use this phrase are Steven at his stoning and twice in this unveiling as John describes Jesus. This is Jesus favorite way of describing himself in scripture for two reasons:
- Prophetic Isa. 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel literally means “God with us”, Jesus wanted all to know that He was the One whom this verse was speaking of.
- Identification: Phil. 2:5-8 “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus wanted all to understand that for the purpose of redemption He identified in appearance with us sinners.
Notice that Jesus is in the midst of His Church. In Matt. 18:20 we read that, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Jesus is with us and for us in every practical since we can imagine His desire is to let His glory shine through to light up a world that is dead in their darkness! In this glorified description John describes Jesus as “clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters”. We can see four things:
- Vs. 13 “Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” This description of the clothing is characteristic of clothing that would be worn by a priest or a judge. This tells us that Jesus in His glory is dressed in His righteousness and holiness. The fact that John declares that He is girded about the chest and not the waste speaks to the fact that He is ready for action not service. Furthermore, that which is girding Him is Gold reveals that He is God.
- Vs. 14 “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire”. These next two verses John describes the glorified Lord from head to toe. In Daniel in his account in 7:9 saw the same vision when he wrote “the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool.” John’s description speaks to Jesus’ eternal nature, He is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present. John specifically notices His eyes which are a flame of fire, bright and piercing. In 2 Chron 16:19 where we read that “the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” In 1 John 1:5 John described God as being “light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Then in 1 Tim 6:15-16 Paul tells us “Jesus Christ’s is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” There is no place to hide from those eyes and why should we want too as it is in those eyes that we have experienced His never-ending love!
- Vs. 15 “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters”. It will be at these feet that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confesses that He is Lord. These are the feet that have bruised the head of satan. The fact that they are of brass speaks of judgement and notice that they have been refined in a furnace. Jesus walked as a man yet without sin, His is a life a victory thus non can say, “Jesus you just don’t understand what temptation I had to endure.” His voice is as the sound of many waters so as to hear nothing else. Jesus words are the only words that matters all other voices and opinions will be silenced by His majesty and glory. This is the same voice of the shepherd that we, His sheep, come the moment He calls.
- Vs. 16 “He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” Finally, in verse 20 we read what the seven stars are “the seven angels or messengers of the seven churches”. Some see this as the pastors of the churches which is interesting seeing that they are in His right hand. In the Psalms it mentions things being attributed to being in God’s right hand. In Ps. 16:11 we are told that in His “right hand are pleasures forevermore.” In John 10:28-29 Jesus spoke of those that belonged to Him as being secure as no one would be able to “snatch them out of His or His Father’s hand.” What a comfort it is to know that whatever may come our way it will not dislodge me from Him. Out of His mouth is a “sharp two-edged sword”, not just the dagger of Heb. 4:12 where we are told that the Word of God “is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” No, this is a sword not a dagger. In John 14:10 Jesus said that, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” There are no wasted Word’s in Jesus mouth, it always the truth in love! His countenance is the “sun in its strength” which is to remind all that He can bless as well as burn!
III. Vs. 17-20 Let’s meet the author
Vs. 17-18 John described his time with the Lord on earth as “leaning on Jesus’ bosom”, yet here seeing Jesus unveiled he falls “at His feet as dead.” Because of Jesus work on the cross on our behalf we need not be afraid as He has according to Col. 2:14 “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” We are in the hand of grace from Him who is the First and the Last. He alone is the One who has always been and always will be, He showed Himself to be this by overcoming death on our behalf and now He alone holds the keys of Hades and Death. It is great to realize that Jesus holds our future in His hand and our being there has nothing to do with our works only His!
Vs. 19-20 Finally we are given the outline of the book:
- “Write the things which you have seen”: 1:11-18 The vision of Jesus in Heaven.
- “And the things which are”: Chapters 2-3 The vision of Jesus through His church.
- “And the things which will take place after this”: Chapters 4-22 The vision of Jesus as seen in the events after the things of the Church.
One eighth of the book deals with the vision of Jesus through His Church yet there is always the tendency to become preoccupied with the things that will take place after the Church to the exclusion of the vision of Jesus through His church. The Word of God is the key to the interpretation of the book as we can see in verse 20. A “mystery” in scripture is that which was once hidden but now in Christ Jesus has been made known!