Revelation 1:4-8 Part 3

Last Lord’s Day we were treated to some insights into the greeting to the Churches from God the Father and God the Spirit.  As you can see, the greeting of “Grace” and “Peace” from Jesus Christ is with far more extensive treatment.  After all, this is Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let’s read the five verses again:


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.


We observed that the greeting from God the Father, IS, WAS, and COMING is not an eschatological greeting (as in was, is and shall be), but it is a “coventantal” greeting, identifying the sovereign God Who is always instrumentally involved in the whole of His creation.

God the Spirit greets the Churches as “The Seven” spirits, indicating that He is the source of never-ceasing flow of blessing for the whole Church through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Now we will see the source of Grace and Peace in the Person of the risen and ascended Son of God/Son of Man, Jesus the Christ.

Verse five begins, “…..and from Jesus Christ the Witness, the Faithful.”  We’ll get to it in a while, but while we’re here, let’s also look at what John the apostle says at Revelation 3:14:  And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”  “…….the faithful and true Witness” is a continuing theme of John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.

This very apostle, in his Gospel of Jesus Christ, recorded the words of Jesus on many occasions.  Numbers of those occasions have to do with The Witness.  For example, John 18:37:

Pilate therefore said unto him, ‘Art thou a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.’

Out of the (literally) hundreds of Biblical usages of this term, one of the more compelling occurs in the third chapter of the prophecy of Malachi.  It says, in verse three:

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 the fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner from his right, and fear not me, says Yahveh of Hosts.’ 

This is a clear prophecy of the Witness coming in judgment against Israel and the judaizers who have broken God’s covenant.

And while we’re considering those things, it is a weighty endeavor to consider the Greek word – witness - and what it entails.  It is martur, and it is the word from which comes our English word “martyr”.  We have two words now, in English.  We have “witness” (which, most of the time is used incorrectly anyway), and we have “martyr” (which is used to describe one who has been persecuted for almost anything!).

Our term here in the text – witness – is followed by an adjective with an article.  Rather than writing it “the faithful witness” (as many translations have), I’ve used the article that’s in the text (because it’s there, and) in order to emphasize the word “faithful”.  Jesus is the Faithful Witness rather than an unfaithful one.  The “Faithful” is emphasized by the fact that it is separated out by an article.

We may observe here that the paramount image in all of Scripture of the Faithful Witness (martyr) is Jesus Christ being put to death at the hands of false witnesses!  His witness-bearing is as a martyr!  His faithful witness was all the way to the cross at the hands of false witnesses; and false witnesses are the ones to whom He will come as a Faithful Witness in judgment!

Today it seems that the infinitive “to witness” has to do with talking to somebody about the Lord.  So they’re “witnessing”  (a verb) to the one to whom they’re talking.  But the Scripture never uses the word that way.  A witness, in the Scripture (a noun), is one who, by word and deed, speaks and lives the Truth as revealed by God.  It is a witness to God – Father, Spirit and Son.  It is not witnessing to people.

There are two distinct ways in which Jesus Christ is the Faithful Witness.  As the express image of the Father (since He is God the Son), He speaks (Logos) only the Truth of God.  And, secondly, Yeshua, Jahveh, Jesus, is a witness in His judgment against those who revolt in treasonous disregard of the Truth of God.  His judgmental Presence is a Faithful witness to God’s Covenant.

So Jesus’ Parousia, His Presence in judgment against Israel, was a “witness”, a Faithful Witness to the revealed, covenantal purpose of God in His creation.

Now.  Since judgment is a true and faithful witness to God’s covenantal purposes, I think it would be valuable for us to begin exploring some of the older prophecies with regard to these things.  This will be the case on so many occasions as we make our way through Revelation of Jesus Christ, because there’s nothing in the Revelation that’s not explicitly prophesied or foreshadowed or pre-figured in the older Scripture!  So listen now to the prophet Hosea in chapter six:


“Come, and let us return unto Jahveh; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.  After two days will he revive us: on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live before Him.  And let us know, let us follow on to know Jahveh: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth.  O Ephraim, what shall I do unto you? O Judah, what shall I do unto you? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the dew that goes early away.  Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets (cut them down); I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goes forth.  For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.  But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.  Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity; it is stained with blood.  And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way toward Shechem; yea, they have committed lewdness.  In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing: there whoredom is found in Ephraim, Israel is defiled.  Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I bring back the captivity of my people.’”


Hosea’s prophecy includes the pre-fall covenant, which Adam broke; and it’s the same covenant which Israel broke.  And the “light” – the Witness – comes in judgment upon Israel, as surely as He came in judgment against Adam.  But there is healing for God’s people through the resurrection on the third day.

The next thing that John writes concerning the Person of the Son of God/Son of Man is “firstborn from death” (verse five).

The apostle wrote “since Adam all men die”.  It is the curse of God on Adam and all his posterity.  We are doomed to sin and deterioration and death through the covenantal curse of God upon all human flesh.  The very image of God in man revolted against the Creator of humanity and His covenant.  And we received the “just” reward of our treasonous rebellion.  (As Hosea said in chapter six, “having dealt treacherously against God and His covenant”.)

However, One Man born of the flesh arose out of death victorious over the curse.  And He did that in order that the image of God in man might be rescued from that covenantal curse.

Since Adam (nor any of his posterity) could do nothing about his cursed deadness, there had to be a second one.  There had to be another “beginning” of humanity…..a “second Adam” Who kept God’s covenant.   And the second Adam had to die the death of the curse, and defeat it, in order for mankind in Him to be rescued.  He is the “Firstborn” from death.  He is the “Head” of a new humanity.  And, in Him, we have a new Covenantal Head.  Those in the Firstborn from death do not suffer the eternal, judgmental wrath of Almighty God for humanity’s revolt against its Creator.

The term that the apostle Paul uses is “propitiation”.  What it means is that the wrath of God against all His rebellious creatures is “satisfied” by the curse against humanity being poured out upon the Son of God/Son of man.  And that man, Jesus the Christ, suffered all of it and arose out of death the Firstborn among many!

And there will be many.  He was the first; many have followed, and many will follow.  Abraham was promised an innumerable multitude because he believed God and anticipated the coming of the anointed Son.  They would number as the grains of sand and the stars in the heavens.  And they would be raised out of death as surely as Jesus Christ arose as the Firstborn.

John continues, verse five: “……the Firstborn from death and Ruler of the kingdoms of the earth”.

Note, please, that John writes that Jesus Christ is presently Firstborn and Ruler of the kingdoms of the earth!  Does this statement  not refute, by itself, any assumption that our resurrected and ascended Savior has not yet been crowned King of all the nations?

Since Darby and Scofield and Dwight L. Moody, many of the Churches of this kingdom of King Jesus assert with certainty that Jesus is still in Heaven, and He won’t be crowned King until He returns.  That’s another result of the “scheme” of dispensationalism that’s been superimposed on the text of Scripture.

But let’s go now to the prophetic Word of God in Scripture, and look at (at least) one passage that prophesies the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The most prominent is one that we read and sing often in this Church.  It is Psalm two.  Let me read verses eight through twelve for you:


“Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.  Now therefore be wise, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth.  Serve Jahveh with fear, And rejoice with trembling.”  Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish in the way, For his wrath will soon be kindled. Blessed are all they that take refuge in him.”


The Psalmist is quoting God in this Psalm; and all nations have been given to Him as an inheritance.  And all the magistrates on earth are under court order to submit.  That is – everybody in authoritative positions in civil government!  Whether it be kings, or presidents, or judges, or legislators, or governors, or mayors, or city council members!

The sovereignty and dominion of King Jesus has truly been asserted!  And it’s over all nations!  It is non-negotiable.  Rulers are in a predicament here, aren’t they?  They can 1) submit to His government and law, accepting the non-negotiable terms of peace with God, or 2) they can go their own way and be subject to the Rod of His Anger!

The non-negotiable terms in Psalm two (and many other places) are presumptuous, rude, and disrespectful of human dignity in the minds of many.  Civil magistrates are used to thinking of themselves as independent of the rule of Christ.  They are “as gods” in their own minds. The Law of the King being the rule of law in the land is a rather “audacious” idea to them; and the fact that it’s binding upon all magistrates (as well as all men) is too much for them.  It can’t be allowed.  And that’s the thought process for persecution of Christians and the Christian Church.

Some magistrates, such as some in our own country, will gladly allow Christian thought to the table to participate in “the marketplace of ideas”, as Rush Limbaugh likes to call it.  Christians can “come to the table” and present their positions like everybody else.  Many “Christian conservatives” take this position today.  But, to many more, even this is intolerable.  It’s an affront to the dignity of rational people to even let Christians in on the conversation!

Then, lastly, there are those in our post-modern Christian community who hold to a Jesus Who rules in our hearts.  Their “jesus” is interested in “spiritual” things (they say). And that “spiritual” rule shouldn’t be mixed with politics.  Let Jesus rule the heart; let the elected leaders rule in civil matters.

This view of the world is what we like to call “escapist”, or “retreatist”.  And it’s like money-in-the-bank for those who like for the state to take over all Messianic duties, because there is no competition.  The Church just “retreats” into the background while the state taxes its people for anything and everything, and takes over the education of the children, and proliferates law for its own benefit.

Impotent Christianity is priceless from the state’s point of view.  If the first Churches in the nations had exhibited this kind of religion, they would have blended in nicely with all the other “religions”, and Caesar would have had no problem with it.  It would have looked similar to all the others in the “pantheon” of gods, and Caesar could have maintained his position as THE god of the state and mediator between earth and heaven.

But, as is revealed in Revelation of Jesus Christ, the Church was unaware of any concessions with Caesar’s lordship.  There was no “retreatism” from culture and society, because apostolic doctrine taught the universal Lordship of Jesus Christ.  He is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and He is “Ruler of the kings of the earth”.

And it was this that guaranteed their persecution, torture and death……not only from Rome, but also from Jerusalem.  But at the same time that it guaranteed their persecution, it also guaranteed ultimate victory!

Because Jesus Christ was given “all authority in heaven and earth”, all opposition to His rule is anathematized, cursed and doomed!  Every authority that rises up against Him will be crushed, because God promised that all His enemies will be put under His feet.

God “laughs” at them when they rise up against His King.  And there’s nothing worse for a would-be god than to be the subject of laughter, scorn and derision from Almighty God.