First Notes on Revelation: Revelation 1:1-4

The Revelation of St John: 2. St John's Vision...
Still no yarmulkes! What's up with that?

And here are the first of the notes to go with the Revelation series:

Chapter 1

1:1 This is the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, the apokalipsis or unveiling of the Messiah in all of His glory.  The Hebrew equivalent of this word is megilah, from the verb gelah, to unveil or uncover.  In Jewish tradition there are five Megillot (usually translated “scrolls”):

  1. Ecclesiastes – the emptiness and weariness of the world
  2. Lamentations – the judgment of Israel
  3. Esther – the intercession for Israel
  4. Ruth – the redemption of Israel
  5. Song of Solomon – the marriage of Israel

The title of the book also links it to the book of Joshua, Y’hoshua, the Hebrew name that Yeshua is equivalent to.

Revelation reveals, uncovers, unveils, and unseals the rest of the prophetic Scriptures.  What was sealed to Daniel, is unsealed in the Revelation:

Dan 12:4, 8-10 –  “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run back and forth, and knowledge shall be increased.” . . . .  I heard, but I didn’t understand: then I said, “My lord, what shall be the issue of these things?”   He said, “Go your way, Daniel; for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.  Many shall purify themselves, and make themselves white, and be refined; but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand.”

Rev 22:10-11 –  He said to me, “Don’t seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.  He who acts unjustly, let him act unjustly still. He who is filthy, let him be filthy still. He who is righteous, let him do righteousness still. He who is holy, let him be holy still.”

John continues: which God gave him, that is, gave Yeshua, to show to his servants the things which must happen soon, or rather, “quickly” (en takkai), which he sent and made known by his angel to his servant, Yochanan, whose name means “Hashem is Grace,” 1:2 who testified to God’s word, and of the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah, about everything that he saw.

1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand.  This is a book meant to be read in the assemblies, not hidden away for the “elite” or learned.

1:4 Yochanan, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia and through them to the whole Ekklesia: Grace to you and peace, from God, who is and who was and who is to come as the Targum renders Deu. 32:39, and as the Adon ‘Olam reads: ‘V’hu hayah v’hu hoveh v’hu yihyeh l’tif’arah’ (‘He was, and he is, and he will be, unto glorious eternity’); and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne.

The Spirit is here called “Seven” because of the sevenfold role described by both Isaiah and John:

Isaiah 11:2

John 16:7-14

The Spirit of HaShem Not speaking on His own initiative (or authority), but whatever He hears He speaks.
The Spirit of Wisdom Guding those who are in Messiah into all truth.
The Spirit of Understanding Convicting the world of sin.
The Spirit of Counsel Convicting the world of God’s righteousness
The Spirit of Might Convicting the world of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
The Spirit of Knowledge Telling those who are in Messiah of things to come.
The Spirit of the Fear of HaShem Glorifying the Lord Yeshua, declaring what is His.

1:5 and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness the Seed of David of whom the Eternal One swore, “His descendants shall endure forever and his throne as the sun before Me.  It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful” (Psa. 89:36f).  Jeremiah likewise prophesied, “Thus says Hashem: If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that day and night will not be at their appointed time”—in other words, if you can stop the rotation of the earth itself—“then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant so that he will not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levitical priests, My ministers (Jer. 33:20-21) so that they would lack a man before Me to offer burnt ovverings, to burn grain offerings, and to prepare sacrifices continually” (v.18).  Thus, the eternal kingship of the Messiah is bound to the eternal covenant of shalom that the Holy One made with Pinchas, because he was zealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel (Num. 25:13).  The Eternal One keeps His promises.

However, as the people of Judah said to Jeremiah, “May Hashem be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with the whole message with which Hashem your God will send you to us” (Jer. 42:5), and as it is written in the Torah, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, Moses (Deu. 18:18), who unlike other prophets did not know the Holy One only in a vision, nor spoke to Him only in a dream . . . “With him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of Hashem” (Num. 12:6, 8).  Yeshua claimed to be this very prophet when He said, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God—He has seen the Father” (John 6:46).  Of this Prophet—and more than a Prophet—the Torah declares, “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which He shall speak in My Name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deu. 18:19).

John continues, calling Yeshua the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and washed us from our sins by his blood even as He washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:10) and washes (i.e. prunes, the Greek word meaning both) the branches of the True Vine (John 15:2).  Of this firstborn of the dead, Paul writes,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by Him were all things created, in the Heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and to Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things are Held together.  He is the Head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence.  For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in Him; and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made shalom through the blood of his cross. Through Him, I say, whether things on the earth, or things in the Heavens. (Col. 1:15-20)

 1:6 And he made us to be a Kingdom, priests to his God and Father, John writes, speaking to the natural-born Israelites, of whom Hashem spoke, saying, “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exo. 19:6).[1]  And yet John speaks not only to the Jew, but also to the Gentiles who were fast becoming a majority in the Ekklesia when he penned the Revelation.  This is not Replacement Theology, for in truth the Gentiles replaced no one, but rather Adoptionalism:  The Father made His family bigger by adopting more sons and daughters, bringing them into His purpose, but without replacing those born into the family, the Jewish people.

Of the grafted-in Gentiles, Paul writes, So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones, and of the household of God, being built on the foundation of the emissaries and prophets, Messiah Yeshua himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19f).  But anticipating that many of the Gentile believers would begin to lord it over the Jewish remnant, let alone over unbelieving Israel, he also warned, “if God didn’t spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, kindness, if you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (Rom. 11:21f) from the olive tree, Israel.  And as we will see, many indeed failed to continue in kindness and were broken off themselves.

John concludes in the manner of a benediction: To him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. The “amen” shows that this book was meant to be read aloud in the assemblies, with a special blessing for both the reader and the hearers.


[1] Some manuscripts, including the Textus Receptus, read “kings and priests.”  This is not objectionable, given Yeshua’s promise to the overcomer to share His throne (Rev. 2:26, 3:21), but the clear allusion is to the title of Israel in Exodus, and we have so rendered it here.

Shalom!

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