Revelation 1:1-3 Part 2

Last Lord’s Day we spent a little bit of time defining the word “apocalypse”. And we learned that the word has no relationship at all to the concept of “doomsday”, or to “holocaust”, or to the “end of the world”, or to “conflagration”.

It means, simply, revelation. The verb (apocalypto) means “to reveal”, “to uncover”, “to disclose” (i.e. that which is hidden).

It seems rather simplistic to point out that the Word of God is filled with Revelation. There are innumerable instances. In fact we can make the case that the entire Bible is Revelation. Further, we can state clearly that God’s creation is Revelation of the Creator – for His Glory.

And we’ve already seen, in the introductory sermons, that God revealed Himself, in history, in various ways: in visions and dreams, by word messengers (angels), by inspiration of prophets and apostles…… and lastly by the Word of God made flesh. And we saw that this is God’s history; and that He is imminently involved in all of His history; and that all of His Revelation agrees.

I might just give you a few (obvious) instances of God’s revelatory activity in history while we’re here:


1) God’s revelation to Abraham was the atonement for the sin of mankind. And for Abraham’s faithfulness, he would be the father of many nations.

2) God revealed Himself in His glory cloud/throne room/judgment seat to Moses at Sinai. And the inspired Moses later writes (in Deuteronomy) the entire Law-word of God. And that Law-word included a very detailed description of the Atonement to come for the sin of the world. And He requires Israel, at the risk of terrible sanctions, to keep God’s covenant. The sanctions for revolt against God’s revealed covenant included termination of the covenant with Israel.

3) Skipping over many obvious examples, Isaiah, at the direct Revelation of God, chides Israel for its rebellion against God. They’ve left God’s people destitute, sick, blind, dumb, deaf, crooked and demon-possessed. But there would be a Good Shepherd Who would reverse the evil perpetrated on God’s people by judaistic ravenous wolves. And His name would be Immanuel – God With Us.

4) Two hundred years later, as Israel is captive in Babylon, Daniel receives direct Revelation from God; the “hidden things” about the coming of a great King – the fifth great Kingdom of history; one which would rule forever.

5) Mary, the wife of Joseph, receives a direct Word from the mouth of God…… the angel speaks that word to the young virgin that she is withchild of the Holy Spirit. And she would give birth to Jesus (Yeshua, ‘Iesus), for He would save His people from their sin.


These, among countless others, are events of “revelation”. We could fill many sermons with examples. God, making His will known to men (and women) in history.

And remember Jesus’ apostles asking Jesus the reason He spoke to people in parables. And He answered them that it wasn’t given them to know the hidden things. The parables are all “Kingdom” parables; and only those given to know would know; the rest were blinded. And these things that He said to His apostles were taken directly from the Revelation to Isaiah.

And that is the nature of what we find before us now. It is Revelation. It is unveiling of that which is hidden. It’s for the purpose of “uncovering” glorious and wondrous things concerning the Christ and His Kingdom (it is a Kingdom Revelation)! All of this isn’t “revealed” to John in order to cover up things in mysterious language; it’s revealed! It’s to UN-cover, for those to whom it is given to know; to uncover the things of God as He works through his covenant in history; to uncover the work of the King of Kings and His rule among the nations. 

And it has to do with The Son. All of this has to do with the Son, Who has ascended the throne and has received all the nations as their King. The Son; the One Who, in absolute faithfulness to the covenant, has submitted to the Father’s will all the way to the cross.

And it is for the purpose of comforting the Churches and exhorting them to perseverance in faithfulness; for otherwise the immediate future would be extremely disturbing.

As we now go further in verse one, John writes “Revelation of Jesus Christ”. It is Jesus Christ’s Revelation (the language is possessive, but it’s not merely possessive). It belongs to Him; it is of Him; it is about Him; and it is by Him.

I want you to do something for me. I made a mistake in translation. So I want you who have saved the first copies that were passed out to get a pen and strike out the “article” at the beginning of verse one. (It’s pretty bad when you have to change the very first thing you wrote!) But the article “A” does not appear in the text. It should read, simply: “Revelation of Jesus Christ”. (See how easy it is, when you’re just thinking things through in English, to just “put in” a word or an article to help the progression of thought? Whether it’s deliberative or by oversight, it happens all the time!)

But the article doesn’t belong there. It changes the thought of the author, because this is what we call an “independent nominative”. It stands alone without an article. This is Revelation; not “a” revelation (an important distinction). (All of the new copies of the text already have the change.)

But in our present system of chapters and verses, it is a twenty-two chapter letter; Revelation of Jesus Christ which is twenty-two chapters long. The whole thing is His; and it is about Him and by Him. It is concerning Him and what He is doing and what He’s about to do.

And let me tell you about the Name here!

Where did He get the name? This is God the Son, second Person of the one-and-many triune Godhead. He is the Word of God and God’s mighty Right Arm. He is the One without Whom nothing was made that was made. He it is Who covenanted with the Father and the Spirit before the foundation of creation for the salvation of His people.

So where did the Name “Jesus Christ” come from? This letter is Revelation of Jesus Christ.

We’re told that the “Anointed One” would come from the loins of David, Who would be David’s greater son and David’s Lord. The word “Christ” means anointed. But He – The Christ - would come; not that He had already come.

And Mary, the wife of Joseph, named Him “Jesus” at the direction of an angelic Word from God. That’s the same as “Immanuel” – God-with-us, as revealed by God in Isaiah, for He would save His people from their sin.

So, God The Son was named Jesus at His birth as God-man. And He became “Anointed One” – Christ - in order to expiate the sin of His people and propitiate the wrath of the Father toward them.

And when He ascended to the Father – the triumphant God-man – He did so as the resurrected Jesus, The Christ (so named)! God the Son is now God-man, for He has entered the throne-room/judgment-seat in our flesh! Having defeated death in our flesh, He has been seated at the Right in our flesh! He has received His glory and His title; and He has been given all the nations as His reward…… all in our flesh! “All authority in the heavens and on the earth has been given to Me”, He told His disciples.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords; the Man – the God-man – Jesus Christ. A Man rules the entire creation; a Man rules all beings (including satanic creatures); a Man rules all other authorities as He wills; a Man is glorified with the glory which the Son of God had before with the Father. And a Man will finish the Covenant to save all of His people and cleanse the earth of sin and rebellion – all to the glory of the Father.

And it’s the resurrected, ascended and glorified God-man that we see in the pages of Revelation as he uncovers (unveils) His glory to John and to the Churches; and as He unveils to the Churches, for their comfort and steadfastness, the things that will take place all around them - and to them.

Let me just stop here for a minute and say to you that, although Revelation of Jesus Christ is the most imminent, the most explicit, the most intensive, and the most extraordinarily profound Revelation of the things that were about to take place, by no means is it the only Revelation of those things!

I think that I only have to remind you of the five or six month exegesis of Matthew chapters 24 and 25 where Jesus answers His disciples’ questions about when all of this will happen and what are the signs to look for.

And He explained it to them in no uncertain terms; and He told them that it would occur in “this generation”, and that many of them would still be alive to see it and experience it. And during this explanation, he referred over and over again to the older Scripture Revelation, because it, too, prophesied these things!

And then in the letters to the Churches, the apostles of Jesus and the writer to the Hebrews (whoever that was who wrote it) are all fully aware of these things that He told them; and they are unfailing in their exhortations to faithfulness and perseverance in the expectation of the awesome power and authority about to be exhibited by the ascended Jesus Christ.

So there is no shortage whatsoever, in the older Scripture or the newer, of Revelation of Jesus Christ. John’s letter is a further, and more imminent, continuation of the fullness of God’s covenant promises. As we noted in an introduction, there is no separation of the letter from all the rest of Scripture.

Now, as we continue in these three verses, let me point you to some very interesting things. This is “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him………” (verse one).

Remember, this is God-man Whose sole purpose is to do the will of the Father. It was the Father’s covenantal purpose to save His creation; it was the Father’s purpose to provide for Himself an atonement for the sin of His people; it was the Father’s purpose that that atonement would be the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of many. And it was the Father’s purpose that, having entered the heavenly holy-of-holies, the resurrected Jesus Christ would receive all authority in the heavens and on the earth; and that He would complete the work given to Him for the ultimate glory of God the Father.

So the newly-crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords is still at work, purposing to finish the task set before Him by the Father. You see, He’s not finished yet! He’s still got work to do. That’s why He was given authority over everything, and given the nations; and that’s why He was given a Name above all other names. He received from the Father all His purpose; and He will complete it…… putting all His enemies under His feet and cleansing the creation of sin and rebellion – all to the glory of the Father!

So, whatever He does, it has been given Him by the Father. This is God-man, Jesus Christ, doing all His Father’s will. That’s why John writes “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him…….”.

Let’s go a little further in the text: “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show to His servants…….”.

“To show” is an infinitive; and the form in which it occurs in the text indicates that John saw it all in one great showing! All that comprised it, John saw. And the infinitive denotes purpose.

In other words, the reason God gave Revelation to Jesus Christ was for Jesus to show it to His servants.

Now. Here’s another translation change for you if you’re keeping the original text that I handed out last week. It starts at the end of the second line of the first verse. That original one reads: “….and has made it known……”. That’s not wrong; but the better reading of the Greek text should read: “…….and He did make it known….” It’s a technical change, but one worth making; because it cleans up the literal translation into English.

So let’s see what we have now: “Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him to show His servants………. and He did make it known, having sent through His messenger to His servant John”. 

The line of transmission here is from the Father, to Jesus Christ, to Jesus’ servant John (through a messenger), to all the other servants of Jesus. In Revelation, an irrefutable knowledge of the source is essential, isn’t it? There is a great need of certainty with regard to the source.

False prophets have ever operated with fabricated communication. This apostle John Himself warns against them. In John’s first letter (1 John, chapter 4) He warns the Churches in the nations to “test out every spirit whether he is from God”.

But this Revelation of Jesus Christ is from God, to Jesus Christ, to show His servants. It is His servant John; it is His messenger; and it is ultimately to His servants (all of them) in the Churches. Christ’s servants; Christ’s messenger; Christ’s servant John.

The term “servant” may also be translated “slave”…… one who is bought with a price, and owned. I prefer the word “servant” here because it is more intimate. We are, indeed, bought with a price; a very high price. But we are also in union with Christ in His resurrected body. Not simply owned; but incorporated into the body of the second Adam. His body is the “new” humanity; and man has a new beginning – a new creation – in Him, which is no longer associated with Adamic humanity.

Although the word “slavery” adds much flavor to the requirements of our new humanity, I still prefer “servanthood” as a translation here of the Greek word (and its Hebrew equivalent).

But the word “servant” contains no reference to office here in our text. John is a servant the same as all the other servants. But the fact that Jesus did make Revelation known to John through His messenger, indicates John’s office of Apostle. John is a servant just like all others; but it is John the apostle through whom all of Jesus’ other servants receive Revelation.

All of us who are baptized, and who worship Jesus Christ, and who live in Him, are servants of His. And we’re all the same. We all have different gifts and offices, etc. But we are all the same. We’re servants. He is our Lord, and we are all precious to Him. We obey Him alone in delightful service. We follow Him alone; and we obey Him alone.

Listen to this very apostle as he writes of these things in his Gospel, chapter ten. This is Jesus’ parable of the Shepherd and His sheep:

“But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter opens and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he hath put forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

Jesus uses animal husbandry in this parabolic analogy. And John’s use of the term “servant” fits perfectly, doesn’t it? Servants hear the voice of their master. And they run away if they hear the voice of another telling them what to do and where to go and how to think. The Master leads the servants; and they follow Him, obeying Him in all that He says.

This is John’s place here in the text. He is one of the sheep; he is a fellow-servant of Jesus Christ – just like all the other servants. He hears his Master’s voice; and then, in his “office”, he transmits the message to all his fellow servants.

If the apostle John, he who Scripture calls ‘the one who Jesus loved”, calls himself a servant; and if John follows and obeys The Master as a fellow servant, then who might we be should we consider ourselves “better” than another servant?

And if the apostle John would not heed the voice of another (who was not his Master), then who might we be should we follow the direction of one who isn’t the Master?

Next Lord’s Day we’ll take up the issues with regard to the words “in quickness”, and “the time is near”.