4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 7 Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. 8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Summary— John addresses this letter—an account of his vision—to the seven Asian churches. These were seven real churches, as chapters 2 and 3 make clear, but in a letter so full of numeric significance, there can be no question that the seven churches also stood for the fullness of the catholic Church. John greets them with grace and peace from the Trinity: him who is and who was and who is to come (the Father), and from the seven spirits who are before his throne (the Spirit),and from Jesus Christ. John lists these Persons in a liturgical rather than theological order: he has just been ushered into the heavenly Sanctuary (after which the earthly sanctuary was pattered), and so his eyes move outward from the ark of the Holiest Place (by which he recognizes the Father) toward the lamp stand (by which He recognizes the Spirit, who pours Himself into the Church in seven-fold fullness; Zech. 4), and then further outward still, toward the sacrificial altar in the courtyard (by which he recognizes Jesus, Priest and Sacrifice). Recognizing Jesus—the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth—John can’t contain his praise (5-6)! Finally, John breaks into his vision’s main point, in v.7: Jesus is coming soon—in “judgment clouds,” as it were (see Nah. 1:2-8)—for the very ones “who pierced Him,” so that all the tribes of the earth (or “Land,” so, tribes of Israel) will wail. This was fulfilled through the Roman sacking of Jerusalem, in AD 70.
Insight— The Spirit is “before the throne” (4b) on the Lord’s Day (v.10), meaning that all this is happening in the official worship service. This in turn means that Jesus Christ is revealed (1:1) in the liturgy.
Q: What is the point of the Revelation?
A: That Jesus was soon coming to judge Israel.
Discussion— What are the “grace” and “peace” which John extends to his readers from the Trinity?
Prayer— O God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, came in the clouds, and His judgment was seen by those who pierced Him, and on His account all the tribes of Israel wailed. He is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth! He loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving You, His God and Father; so, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. AMEN.
Contributed by Scott Cline