This is an interpretation of John’s Revelation using the best Greek manuscripts available to see, as best as we can, what John was trying to say and convey. As we journey through this book, we look to the Holy Spirit to guide us, to teach us, and to bless us in this undertaking.
It is the only book which pronounces a blessing on all those who read and hear the words contained in these verses. Be so blessed. Here we are reminded that God has a plan, He is in control, and we are on the winning side.
It is our prayer that the Lord uses this effort for His glory and our edification.
1 The revelation1 of Jesus Christ2 which God gave to him to show his slaves3 what must4 come5 soon6, and he signified7 it, sending it by8 his angel9 to his slave John10, 2 who testified the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, as much as he saw11. 3 Blessed be the one who reads and the ones who hear the words of the prophecy12 and keeps the things that have been written in it; for the appointed time is near13.
4 John, to the seven14 churches15 which are in Asia16, grace to you and peace from17 “the One who is”, and “the One who was”, and “the One who is coming”18, and from the seven Spirits19 who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ: the witness, the faithful one20, the first- born from the dead21, and the ruler of the kings of the earth22.
6 To the one who loves23 us and released24 us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom25, priests26 to God and his father, to him27 be the glory and the power forever28, Amen!
7 Behold, he comes with the clouds, and every eye will see him
even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him.29
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega30”31 , says the Lord God32, “the One who is, and the One who was, and the One who is coming: The Almighty.”
1 Ἀποκάλυψις (The Revelation)
or “the Apocalypse”.
It is an unveiling, for the veil has been torn. Through His wounds we have been healed and gain entry into the Holy of Holies.
Jesus revealed God’s word through His incarnation. Now God reveals Jesus again, but in a different way. This Jesus no longer walks on the earth, wrapped in the frailty of our humanity, but now stands in heaven’s throne room as the first fruits of a great and wonderful harvest. He is the head of a new body, the bride which is the Church, of those who have believed in His name and placed their faith in Him. He is the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS.
2 Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (of Jesus Christ)
Osborne*** (Pg. 52) says that Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ is a subjective genitive making Jesus the subject of the Apocalypse, thus he renders this “from Jesus Christ. It could also be objective which would render the passage “about Jesus Christ”. Since it could be both, I have left the passage a generic genitive rendering it “of Jesus Christ”. See Wallace+ (Pgs. 120-121).
Christ also means “the anointed one” or “the Messiah (Hebrew)”.
3 τοῖς δούλοις (slaves)
or “servants”. In most contexts in the New Testament (NT), the term
should be defined as “slaves”.
John uses this metaphor to describe his relationship with Jesus Christ. As John the Baptist said long ago, “I am not the one”. Jesus is before all things. It is a relationship that can only be entered willingly. It is a gift so offered to us and one we choose to accept.
4 δεῖ (must)
or “is necessary”.
5 γενέσθαι (come)
Greek: “to become” or “to come to pass”.
6 ἐν τάχει (soon)
Greek: “in quickness”. Idiomatically: “quickly”. Mounce** says that in
may mean “imminent”. (Pg. 65).
ἐν “en” a preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state) and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively), that is, a relation of rest (intermediate between).
Perhaps this carries more of a meaning of certainty in that it will come to pass, than a reference to our normal understanding of time. We can rest and have no fear that His promises are true.
7 ἐσήμανεν (signified)
or “to communicate with symbols”. It certainly fits the imagery portrayed in the Apocalypse. Beale* says that this verb explains that the whole book should be taken as being figurative (Pg. 52). Mounce** also portrays the book as being figurative and don’t expect the book to be literal. (Pg. 65).
This word is used three times in the Gospel of John to describe Jesus speaking of His coming death.
Jesus said He was given the words to speak by His Father. Revelation by God continues in this manner. He speaks to us through the prism of our ability and understanding.
Anything we think of God might be considered figurative, for it is necessarily constrained by what we think. God is much bigger than that.
8 διὰ (by)
He chooses to reveal Himself through creation and the created. This must be the best way we can relate to Him, and that is why Jesus came.
9 τοῦ ἀγγέλου (angel)
10 Beale* states that verse 1 is based on Daniel 2:28-29, 45. Instead of δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει (must come soon) here, Daniel has δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐπ ̓ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν (must come in the last days) LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament). In other words, John has replaced “in the last days” with “soon”. Since “the appointed time is near” (verse 3), the prophecy in now starting to be fulfilled.
11 The visions that John saw. The visions of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
12 Note the singular “the one who reads” and the plural “the ones who hear”. Since less than 10% of the Roman Empire could read, the letter would have been read aloud in the Churches by someone who could read. Mounce** says that this is the first of seven beatitudes that appear in the Apocalypse. The others six appear in 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; and 22:14. (Pg. 66).
13 ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς (for the appointed time is near)
Basically meaning that the time has come. It is also a close parallel to Mark 1:15: πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ (the appointed time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has drawn near).
14 “Seven”. The first of many times that this number will be used. In the OT, seven represents “completeness”. It is used in the OT both literal and figurative. For instance, in Leviticus 4-16, the “sprinkling blood seven times” is both literal and figurative. Sometimes it is completely figurative as in Leviticus 26:18-28 where God will punish Israel “seven times”. They will not be punished seven times, but the punishment will be “complete” or “in full”. See Beale* (Pg. 186). More than likely, the “seven churches” represent all of the churches in Asia and possibly all of the churches in existence at the time if “seven” is to be taken figuratively.
15 ἐκκλησίαις (churches)
16 Modern-day Turkey.
17 Typical Pauline salutation that these churches would have known as
Paul and his letters were probably well known among them.
18 ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος (from the One who is and the One who was and the One who is coming)
John has taken the Greek language and turned it on its head! The preposition ἀπὸ (from) normally takes the object of the preposition in the genitive case, but here, John has the objects in the nominative case. In other words, John has broken the Greek language on purpose. In this case, he wants the hearers to understand who he is writing about. The closest expression in the OT to this is found in Exodus 3:14 (LXX) Ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ὤν (I am the one who is) Note ὁ ὤν in both passages. Wallace+ sees this as well (Pgs. 62-64) as does Mounce** (Pg. 68).
ὁ ἐρχόμενος (the one who is coming) seems to carry a “future” feel, but it is actually in the present tense. This may show just how imminent that John thought Jesus’ coming was.
19 ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων (from the seven Spirits)
Osborne*** states that this is an allusion to Isaiah 11:2 (LXX), where the LXX adds “the spirit of godliness”. The seven-fold Spirit then is “the Spirit of God, of wisdom, of understanding, of council, of strength, of knowledge, and of godliness (piety)”.
Isaiah 11:2, καὶ ἀναπαύσεται ἐπ ̓ αὐτὸν πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ, πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ συνέσεως, πνεῦμα βουλῆς καὶ ἰσχύος, πνεῦμα γνώσεως καὶ εὐσεβείας· (LXX)
Isaiah 11:2, and Spirit of God, the Spirit wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of council and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and godliness will rest on him.
We must also note the “completeness” in the number seven.
Could the number of churches addressed in this letter (seven) possibly have something to do with the seven-fold Spirit before God and His fullness which embodies the Church?
20 ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός (the witness, the faithful one)
This could also be rendered “the faithful witness”.
21 An allusion to Colossians 1:18. Mounce** (Pg. 70).
22 An allusion to Psalms 89:27. John has turned the Greek language on its head again! ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς (the witness, the faithful one, the first-born from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth) should be in the genitive case, but it appears here in the nominative case. John continues to draw his readers’ and hearers’ attention with his breaking of the natural use of Greek in order to make a point.
Another nuance of the faithful witness is that He is trustworthy and true.
23 Τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς (To the one who loves us)
This is referring back to Jesus. This present participle carries a continual
aspect. In other words, Jesus loves us now and will continue to love us.
24 λύσαντι (released)
Greek: “having loosed”.
25 Jesus’ kingdom.
26 An allusion to Exodus 19:6. The priests serve God.
27 Referring back to Jesus: “To the one who loves us”.
28 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας [τῶν αἰώνων] (forever)
Greek: “into the ages [of ages]. [of ages] is in brackets as it may not be original to the letter.
29 John combines Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10 with a few changes. The passage in Zechariah refers to the repentance of Israel, but John has expanded this to all people by adding “every eye” and substituting “all the earth” for “all the tribes”. Beale* (Pgs. 196-197).
30 The first and last letter of the Greek Alphabet. Basically, God is the first of all things and the last of all things and according to Mounce**, “including all the letters in between”. (Pg. 73).
31 The Textus Receptus (TR) adds ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος (the beginning and the end)
32 The Textus Receptus (TR) removes ὁ θεός (God).
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
Ἀποκάλυψις 1·1 Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεὸς δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει, καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ, 2 ὃς ἐμαρτύρησεν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὅσα εἶδεν. 3 Μακάριος ὁ ἀναγινώσκων καὶ οἱ ἀκούοντες τοὺς λόγους τῆς προφητείας καὶ τηροῦντες τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ γεγραμμένα, ὁ γὰρ καιρὸς ἐγγύς.
Ἀποκάλυψις 1·4 Ἰωάννης ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις ταῖς ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ· χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος καὶ ἀπὸ τῶν ἑπτὰ πνευμάτων ἃ ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου αὐτοῦ 5 καὶ ἀπὸ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ μάρτυς, ὁ πιστός, ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν καὶ ὁ ἄρχων τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς. Τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς καὶ λύσαντι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ, 6 καὶ ἐποίησεν ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ, αὐτῷ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας [τῶν αἰώνων]· ἀμήν.
Ἀποκάλυψις 1·7 Ἰδοὺ ἔρχεται μετὰ τῶν νεφελῶν, καὶ ὄψεται αὐτὸν πᾶς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ οἵτινες αὐτὸν ἐξεκέντησαν, καὶ κόψονται ἐπ ̓ αὐτὸν πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς.
Ἀποκάλυψις 1·8 Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ὦ, λέγει κύριος ὁ θεός, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ.