Revelation 1:4-8 Part 2

The temple complex, on the dome of the rock, in Jerusalem, in Israel (and the tabernacle in the desert before it), was a man-made representation of a higher reality.  That reality that it represented is revealed in glory in Revelation of Jesus Christ.

That which John saw (and wrote down to send to Jesus’ other servants) comes directly from God to the God-man, Jesus Christ, to show to His servants that which is necessary to be done in quickness.

Revelation of Jesus Christ is “revelation”.  It is unveiling.  It is from God.   Therefore it is objective reality; His perspective is from the One Who has called all things into being.  The revelation that John saw is revelation from divine prescience; it is “from” Him – “to” us (the direction).  It is an “exposure” – an “opening up”, a “disclosure” of the heavenlies and the very “presence” of Almighty God. 

John saw the reality that was represented by the tabernacle and the temple.  He received, and viewed, the presence of God and heard the words that were directly from God.  He didn’t “interpret” it from his own perspective ……. he “received” it from God’s perspective.

The very presence of God in all His radiance and majesty and splendor was “witnessed” by John as he wrote Revelation of Jesus Christ and sent it to the other of Jesus’ servants.  It is an awesome unveiling; a perspicuous unveiling not unlike the view that Moses had inside the Shekinah glory-cloud.  He “saw” the very Presence of God; and the tabernacle that he was to build was the earthly representation of that heavenly sanctuary.

The unveiling of Revelation of Jesus Christ is also not at all unlike the vision given to Ezekiel of the very Presence of God.  The detail of that revelation is almost identical to John’s Revelation.  And the same is true of the transformed glory of our Lord Jesus Christ on the high mountain, witnessed by this apostle and two others.

The reason I’m spending time on this right here is because it is essential.  The nucleus of the matter is the glorious Presence of God.  The meeting place is before that Presence.  It’s why we “congregate”.  All revelation, all truth goes forth from His Presence in the heavenlies.  And praise and honor and thanksgiving redound to His glory from us congregants as we meet in the Name of Jesus.

As we continue in Revelation, our attention mustn’t stray from these things.   It is the throneroom/judgment seat of Almighty God – His glorious Presence - that is being unveiled to Jesus’ servants, and to us.  We can see Him in the man-made replica in the pictures of the tabernacle that I gave you; but this is the Word of God, witnessed by John and sent to all Jesus’ other servants.  We have a new tabernacle now – made without hands.  It is the Ecclesia – the gathering – the Helper and Comforter proceeding from the Throne – (the gathering) worshipping before His Presence in the Name of Christ.

This is God’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It has to do with the things that are necessary that He do in quickness.  If we retain our focus, and not stray, we’re more likely to get it right – all to the praise and honor and glory of God.  That’s what Jesus said, isn’t it?  All that He has done, and will do, will all redound to the glory of the Father.

Let’s read the five verses again now:


4) John to the seven Churches, the ones in Asia; grace to you and peace from the Is and the Was and the Coming, and from the seven spirits that are before His throne,

5) and from Jesus Christ the Witness, the Faithful, the Firstborn from death and the Ruler of the kingdoms of the earth  --- To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins in His blood

6) and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him the glory and the dominion into the age.  Amen.

7) LO!  He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, all who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.  YES!  Amen.

8) I Am the Alpha and the Omega, says Kurios God, the Is and the Was and the Coming, The Almighty.


The three prepositional phrases (apo phrases) in verses four and five compose the clearest statement in all of Scripture regarding our triune God.  But instead of the “formula” that we usually hear, which is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, this sequence is from God’s holy Sanctuary as reflected in the man-made temple.  It is God the Father, God the Spirit, and God the Son.

Just outside the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle representation of the Presence of God, is the Holy Place wherein sits the seven golden lampstands.  With one base, and seven lamps, it is a seven-branched lampstand; and it represents God the Spirit.

Then the man-made representation of the Presence of God proceeds from the Holy of Holies to the Holy Place, and then to the outer court where the altar of whole burnt offering is.  That’s where God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, was sacrificed.

So, from God’s perspective, as reflected in the tabernacle and the temple, it is God the Father, God the Spirit and God the Son.  John the apostle is allowed to see (and to hear) the heavenly sanctuary (as represented by the temple before it became obsolete).

It isn’t our purpose here to go through an extended theological treatise on the Trinity, but we do have to say something about it here.  And I think the Biblical data has been hammered out sufficiently by our forefathers.  But there are three distinct Persons, each wholly God.  And John’s doxological greeting to the Churches is a clear expression of that Trinitarian Faith, directly from the Person of God Himself. 

Some call it “tri-unity”.  And the creedal expressions of the faith are read often in the worship services in this Church.  They are the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Te Deum Laudamus, and the Formula of Chalcedon.  Sometimes we read the longer, and more difficult, Athanasian creed, which also is distinctly Trinitarian.

In modern times the best explanation probably comes from the writing and teaching of Cornelius Van Til, the late professor of apologetics at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.  He wrote:


“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are each a personality and together constitute the exhaustively personal God.  There is an eternal, internal self-conscious interaction between the three persons of the Godhead.  They are co-substantial.  Each is as much God as are the other two.  The Son and the Spirit do not derive their being from the Father.  The diversity and the unity in the Godhead are therefore equally ultimate; they are exhaustively correlative to one another and not correlative to anything else.”


“Equal Ultimacy” is the key here in Dr. Van Til’s explanation.  What it means is that God isn’t basically One; neither is He basically three.  Neither “oneness” nor “threeness” is prior to the other.  He is both oneness and threeness at the same time.  As R. J. Rushdooney put it, God is both “one and many”.

Some theologians have used other descriptive terms for the Trinity, such as the “economic Trinity”.  God’s creative and covenanting and salvific purposes in history are accomplished according to the sovereign Will of God, and each of the Persons of the Godhead participates in that Will in different work.  For example the work of God the Son is different from that of God the Spirit.  That’s what is meant by the “economic Trinity”.

But “grace” and “peace” are extended to the Churches in John’s Revelation from the three Persons of the Godhead: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and God the Son.  This is the liturgical, heavenly sanctuary greeting.  And the entire work of the Triune God is aptly summed up in the greeting.  “Grace” and “Peace” from Father, from Spirit, and from Son……a very comforting greeting directly from the mouth of God.

First, grace and peace from the IS, the WAS, and the COMING (verse four).  Should we apply language rules here, this would be terrible Greek because all three (IS, WAS, COMING) are indeclinable.  However, this is the language of God; and nobody better assault the language that God uses to identify Himself.  There would be no refuge from an enterprise such as that.

Let me say to you that this language is used only in Revelation of Jesus Christ.  Not to Abraham; not to Moses; not to David; not to Isaiah; not to Israel……… only to the Church for which Jesus Christ made atonement.

The three words (indeclinable, ineffable, undefinable words) are far more profound than is my capacity to explain them.  If I pretended to know what to do with them, you could see through that hypocrisy rather easily.

Through public and private worship, through prayer, through adoration and obedience, through contemplation of His Word, God the Spirit will teach you these things, and many other things, and comfort you in your life and your walk.  I can’t do those things for you.

I can only give you the bare essentials.  The sanctifying Presence of God’s Spirit, praying in you, and for you; pointing you always to the Christ of God, always for the glory of God; there is your Teacher, your Advocate, your Comforter – The Paraclete.

The IS, WAS and COMING (the self-identification of God the Father) should be seen as one, indeclinable nominative.  It should not be understood as “three periods of time”, or “three stages of salvation”, or “three divisions of history or eschatology”.  It is ONE self-identifying nominative.

God has not revealed Himself as being at the mercy of any environment.  After all, time, space, creation – all were “called into being by the Word of His Power”.  IS, WAS and COMING, as one independent, indeclinable nominative, has little to do with disclosing the past, the present and the future.  Those are “created environments”.  “Is”, “Was” and “Coming” is a Revelation of the self-identifying God.

I think that one of the older Scripture passages might give us some assistance, although, as I said, Revelation of Jesus Christ is the only place in Scripture in which this language appears.  But here is Malachi chapter three (as one of many):


1) Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me:  and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jahveh of hosts.

2) But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap:

3) and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jahveh offerings in righteousness.

4) Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jahveh, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years.

5) And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner from his right,

6) For I, Jahveh, change not….


He is IS; He is WAS; He is COMING – (if one wishes to make a verb from an independent nominative, He is always coming in judgment).  The IS, WAS and COMING has to do with His unceasing rule over His history, undefined as He is by any external conditions.

Also, Grace and Peace “from the seven spirits that are before His throne”.  Grace and Peace issue forth to the Churches from God the Spirit.  Remembering all that we heard with regard to our Triune God earlier, the seven lampstands that stood just outside the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle is a man-made representation of the heavenly sanctuary of God.  He is also revealed in the same terms in chapters three, four and five of John’s Revelation.

One of the clear testimonies in the older Scripture of God’s Spirit being revealed in this way comes from the prophecy of Zechariah chapter four:


1) And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep.

2) And he said unto me, What do you see?  And I said, I have seen, and, behold, a candlestick all of gold, with its bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are upon the top thereof;

3) and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

4) And I answered and spoke to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

5) Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Do you not know what these are?  And I said, No, my lord.

6) Then he answered and spoke unto me, saying, This is the word of Jahveh unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says Jahveh of Hosts.


The seven Churches are supplied with an unceasing supply of oil by seven spouts to the seven lamps, without any human agency.  God tells Zechariah, “not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit”!

So the work of The Spirit in the Churches is one of Grace and Peace and filling and empowerment through the Person of Jesus Christ; and it is a work unceasingly flowing from the Throneroom of God – His heavenly sanctuary.  The Throne of God – His heavenly sanctuary – is observed by John and cited forty six times in Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It is the Revelation of God’s rule over His creation, and Jesus Christ’s dominion through the Spirit of God.

The number “seven”, all through Scripture, is the number of “fullness”, “wholeness” and “completion”.  The sevenfold lampstands for the sevenfold Churches is a complete work, flowing directly from the Throne of Almighty God.

We’ll have to finish the threefold “Grace” and “Peace” next Lord’s Day; that will take far more time that we have this morning.  But I just want to restate some things that we’ve heard here a number of times previously (although not from this Scripture).

John was caused to witness the Throneroom/Sanctuary of God, and the worship and adoration there, on the first day of the week.  It’s a pattern.  The congregants congregate on the first day.  And it’s the Church!

The special ministry of The Spirit is continually before the Throne of God, ministering Grace and Peace to the Churches…..a full and complete ministry.  It is utterly foreign to Scripture that those unattached, unconnected and disengaged from the Church (and therefore autonomous) could expect to receive the Spirit’s ministry!  That is a pagan thought process.

The Church, in corporate worship, is the place of access to the Sanctuary of God through the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  And the Church – the corporate body – is that to which the Spirit ministers.  1) people who say they’re just not into organized religion cut themselves off from the “pattern” that God established for His creation; therefore they have no means to interpret the world they live in.  And they ignore the very source of Grace and Peace from God the Father, God the Spirit and God the Son. 2) those who say they believe in God, but estrange themselves from the pattern of weekly worship before the throne, usually think of the Church as something that competes for their attention and interferes with their daily lives.

But, you see, under those conditions the world becomes just a meaningless exercise in futility and despair.  It is God’s pattern; and only in that pattern is there Grace and Peace and Life.  Without it everything is incomprehensible and unmanageable.

Corporate worship and individual devotion can’t be separated.  One can’t be devoted to God and distance himself from the Church, for the “fullness” of the Spirit’s work is with the Church.  So we can say, without reservation, that men and women and children cannot have fellowship with God, through Jesus Christ, by the work of the Spirit, apart from public worship of God at Church.  If that’s been your practice, then you must re-examine yourself; you must mourn your sin; you must repent of that sin; and you must fit yourself into the pattern of worship and adoration of God in His holy Sanctuary.  Otherwise there is no God-prescribed pattern; and everything is chaotic and meaningless……. and will sooner or later disintegrate.