The Book of Revelation with commentary by Dr. Henry M. Morris and paintings by Ramona Lowe
The paintings are a work in progress and the finished pieces are highlighted in red on Page 2

Page 10

John’s Salutation

Revelation 1:4.   John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.

     Here is the first of the “sevens” with which Revelation abounds (see discussion in previous chapter), and it is John’s salutation to “the seven churches.”  It is obvious that the message is really to all chuches of all the centuries and it is thus very significant that John does not address his message to “the Church” – not even to “the Church of Asia,” but to “the churches.”  Christ’s message is to be conveyed to and through local churches, with real, visible members and activities, not to an invisible illusory body called “the church universal.”  Even though all churches are in mind here, Christ through John selects seven representative churches in Asia Minor to stand for all churches everywhere.

     John opens with the salutation of grace and peace, common to the epistles of Paul (Paul also wrote inspired epistles to just seven churches: Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica).  Paul, however, always expressed grace and peace as coming from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  John here invokes the entire Trinity!

     First, grace and peace are from “him which is, and which was, and which is to come” – God in His eternal omnipotence, “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness” (James 1:17), the “everlasting Father” (Isaiah 9:6), the “high and lofty one who inhabiteth eternity” (Isaish 57:15).

     Then, they come through the “seven Spirits” before the throne.  In view of the placement of this unique name between the names of the eternal one and of Jesus Christ, this is necessarily a reference to the Holy Spirit, rather than to seven great angelic spirits, as might otherwise be thought.  Furthermore, grace and peace are not mediated through angels, but through the Holy Spirit.

     But why is He called the “seven Spirits?”  It has been suggested that the reference in Isaiah 11:2 to “the spirit of the Lord . . . the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” may be the key.  The Holy Spirit is sevenfold in His gracious character and imputation of spiritual attributes.  The phrase may also, by its symbolic seven-ness, emphasize that, while the Spirit is indeed “before the throne,” He is also omnipresent.

Revelation 1:5.   And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.  Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.

     The salutation also includes an invocation of grace and peace from Jesus Christ, thus incorporating the entire Trinity.  John also ascribes to Him three marvelous titles.  These titles, respectively, testify to His sinless suffering unto death, His victorious resurrection from the grave, and His imminent triumphant return.  The word “witness’ (Greek martus) is the source of our word “martyr.”  Jesus Christ, like many other “witnesses” to God’s truth before and since, was faithful unto death, a martyr.  He, unlike other martyrs, however, had power to lay down His life and power to take it again (John 10:18), and thus became the firstborn from the dead (see also Acts 13:33; Colossians 1:18).  Although most kings and other great men of the earth continually try to rebel against Him (Psalm 2:1-3), He is “prince” (Greek archon  =  “chief,” “first”) and must soon be acknowledged “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

     As John rehearses this thrilling testimony from the Lord, he is impelled to present a doxology to His Lord.  He is the one who loved us lost sinners so much as to offer up His sinless blood to free us from our sins.

 Revelation 1:6.   And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.  Amen.

     Having been cleansed of sin’s guilt and power, we are no longer bond slaves of sin (Romans 6:20-22).  But to the One who loved us, that is only the beginning.  Those who were slaves became kings and priests, (or “a kingdom of priests”) seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and serving as a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Peter 2:5).  In the coming kingdom, He promises that we shall actually “reign with him” (Revelation 20:6; 2 Timothy 2:12).  But though we shall reign with Him, we are still His servants (Revelation 22:3) and it will be our joy to acknow-ledge His glory and dominion forever.

Revelation 1:7.   Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.  Even so, Amen.

     John needed no new revelation for this information, since it had previously been recorded in Scripture.  That Christ is coming with clouds had already been told the disciples (Matthew 24:30) by the Lord Himself, together with the fact that all men would see Him and mourn (same word as “wail”).  John himself had seen Him “pierced” with the Roman’s spear (John 19:34), marveling at the mingled blood and water which emerged from His side.  It had recalled to him the great prophecy in Zechariah 12:10, where the Lord promised that the inhabitants of Jerusalem who through their ancestors had called for His death, would one day look upon Him whom they had pierced and mourn for Him (John 19:37).  Here he again recalls the prophecy, as well as those made by the Lord on Olivet, recognizing that he is now about to witness in vision their final accomplishment, and then a great Amen issues from his heart and pen.

Revelation 1:8.   I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

     Here are the first words actually heard by John from heaven, calling him to the work at hand.  These first words had come from Christ Himself, the Son of man (verse 13), yet John describes Him in the same terms used in verse 4 for the Father (“is . . . was . . . is to come”).  Also, these first words constitute the first of the seven great “I am’s” of Revelation, and a more glorious and comprehensive claim to self-existing deity cannot be imagined.  “Alpha and Omega!”  He who is the Word, from the first letter to the last letter of all language itself, comprises all there is, to know and be.  In Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

     Further, He is the Almighty.  The word is the Greek pantokrator, meaning “the One of all power.”  He is omnipotent, as well as eternal and omniscient.  And this is Jesus Christ – the one who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.  No wonder the Book of Revelation both begins (verse 4) and ends (Revelation 22:21) with grace!

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