KALEO Notes on Revelation 1:9-20

Here are my teaching notes from KALEO last night as we covered the opening vision in the book of Revelation.

  • 1:9:  John the Apostle was exiled 40 miles off the Turkish coast on the island of Patmos. He was the elder statesman of Christianity, the last surviving member of the apostolic band. The Roman government wanted to minimize his influence so they banished him to this island; but God used the forced exile to give us the book of Revelation.
  • 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Some interpret this as “I was caught by the Spirit into the Day of the Lord to see coming events.” But the simplest understanding is that as John was worshipping and Spirit-filled on Sunday, he began receiving this series of visions and revelations.
  • 1:11: This book is addressed to seven churches in western Turkey (ancient Asia Minor). As Bishop of Ephesus, John probably kept an itinerary and preached regularly in these seven churches. The order given in this verse follows the common postal route of that day.
  • 1:12-16: This is the first time John had seen his Friend since Jesus ascended into the sky on Ascension Sunday 60 years before. Now he again saw Jesus, enthroned, resplendent in glory. This is a literal view of Christ, although some symbolism is overlaid across it. It reminds us of how Jesus appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration. The most wonderful thing about this vision is that the risen, glorified Christ is seen walking among the seven golden candlesticks, which represent the churches. Jesus is walking among His churches during the church age. At TDF, He is walking through the Celebration Center, through the Life Group areas, through the offices, through the nursery, up on the catwalks. He is present as we gather together.
  • 1:17-18: His first comment to John was: “Do not be afraid.” Why should be be unafraid at the onset of the End Times? Because Jesus is the First and the Last, Alive, One who was dead, but is now alive. He is the living one. He is in charge.
  • 1:19: This verse gives us the outline to the book of Revelation. Write:
  1. The Things You Have Seen (chapter 1)
  2.  The Things that are Now (chapters 2-3), which describes the present condition of the churches.
  3. The Things that will take place later (chapters 4-22)

There is an alternate way of looking at this verse. It depends on whether you put a comma or a colon after the word “seen” in verse 19. It could be Write the things you have seen:

  1. The things that are now (chapters 1-3)
  2. The things that will take place later (Chapters 4-22).  This is not a big difference in interpretation. While most Greek experts prefer the latter, most English students of the Bible (including me) prefer the former, giving the book of Revelation a three-fold division.
  • 1:20: This is a good example of how the book of Revelation interprets itself. The seven candlesticks are symbolic of the church, and the seven stars are the seven “angels” or “messengers” to the church. This could refer to literal angels (meaning that every church would have an angel assigned to it); or to the messengers who would take this book to the seven churches; or to seven leaders of these seven churches.