Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age – Jesus the Messiah!

The last book of the New Testament is not a revelation of the anti-Christ (anti-Messiah), the Mark of the Beast, the False Prophet, the Rapture, the Tribulation, the meaning of 666, the New World Order, strange creatures, etc. While those things are mentioned, they are not the focus of this book.

It is the Revelation of the glorified Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah)!

Revelation Chapter 1

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24 NET)

It is human nature to spend our time studying and arguing about that which is less critical. Perhaps this is because the subjects mentioned above are somewhat sensational, and people love to talk about sensational topics. While knowing about these lesser subjects is essential, it is more important to understand what John says about Jesus. As believers, there is no subject more sensational and exciting than Jesus Himself! (2)


The revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1 a NET)

The word “revelation” in Greek is translated as “apocalypse,” which means to reveal, disclose, and make fully known. (3) That is, this book is the Revelation, the disclosure, the unveiling of Jesus, the son of man, Son of God, and Son of Man:

I was watching in the night visions, “And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14 NET)
“Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29–31 NET)
But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63–64 NET)

The Hebrew Scriptures speak of a personal deliverer God would send to rule Israel and the nations with justice and righteousness. He would usher in the golden age of peace and prosperity spoken of by the prophets. The Lord desired that the Jewish people would recognize the Messiah when He appeared. Consequently, God gave many details about the Messiah to the prophets, who passed this information on to the people. These prophecies (1) provided salient information about the Messiah’s birth, life, death, and rule to enable the Jewish people to recognize Him. (2)

However, as the Jewish sages studied these prophecies, they became confused over what seemed to be a contradiction. Some prophecies spoke about the Messiah as a great King and Deliverer, a political-military Messiah who would destroy the enemies and establish Israel as the head nation of the earth. However, other prophecies spoke of the Messiah as a humble and gentle teacher, a religious Messiah who would suffer greatly and be put to death, bearing the people’s sins and making atonement for them before God. (2)

The two portraits of the Messiah were evident; however, how could both be speaking about the same person? The greatest scholars could not reconcile these two seemingly contradictory portraits of the Messiah. The sages could not understand that both images of the Messiah would be fulfilled in one person, but not simultaneously. There would be a time gap between the Messiah’s roles, requiring Him to appear on the earth at two different times. (2)

“We are descendants of Abraham,” they replied, “and have never been anyone’s slaves! How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” (John 8:33 NET)

Contrary to what the Jewish people told Jesus, they found themselves subjected to one Gentile power after another: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and finally, Rome. For centuries, the Jewish people have looked for the coming of the Messiah to set them free from foreign domination. They naturally focused their attention on the prophecies that spoke about the Messiah as the Great Deliverer. They wanted a political-military Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and restore the sovereignty of Israel as a nation. (2)

In desperation, the Jewish people naturally tended to overlook the prophecies of the Messiah as a religious leader. Furthermore, the rabbis downplayed the role of the Messiah, telling the people what they wanted to hear. (2)

For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things. And they will turn away from hearing the truth, but on the other hand they will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3,4)

Over time several generations of this emphasis, young Jews only knew the political-military portrait of the Messiah. This was the situation during the time of Jesus of Nazareth. (2)

Now when the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus performed, they began to say to one another, “This is certainly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”Then Jesus, because he knew they were going to come and seize him by force to make him king, withdrew again up the mountainside alone. (John 6:14–15 NET)

The first time, the Messiah would come as the religious Messiah to bring atonement for sin and establish the spiritual realm of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of mankind. He would come as the Lamb of God to take away the world’s sins (1). (2)

They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24 NET)
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:25–27 NET)

Then, after the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled, Jesus will come again as the political-military Messiah to establish the physical Kingdom of God over all the earth and the physical kingdom of David to Israel. (2)

This return of Jesus (Yeshua) as the political-military Messiah is the subject of the Book of Revelation. (2)

Here is the message about Judah and Jerusalem that was revealed to Isaiah son of Amoz. In the future the mountain of the Lord’s temple will endure as the most important of mountains, and will be the most prominent of hills. All the nations will stream to it, many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the Lord’s mountain, to the temple of the God of Jacob, so he can teach us his requirements, and we can follow his standards.” For Zion will be the center for moral instruction; the Lord will issue edicts from Jerusalem. He will judge disputes between nations; he will settle cases for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nations will not take up the sword against other nations, and they will no longer train for war. O descendants of Jacob, come, let us walk in the Lord’s guiding light. Indeed, O Lord, you have abandoned your people, the descendants of Jacob. For diviners from the east are everywhere; they consult omen readers like the Philistines do. Plenty of foreigners are around. (Isaiah 2:1–6 NET)
His dominion will be vast, and he will bring immeasurable prosperity. He will rule on David’s throne and over David’s kingdom, establishing it and strengthening it by promoting justice and fairness from this time forward and forever. The Lord’s intense devotion to his people will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7 NET)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John, who then testified to everything that he saw concerning the word of God and the testimony about Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1,2 NET)

God, our Father in Heaven, gave Jesus His unique Son this Revelation to give to His slaves (Gr. doulos). Realize we are not simply servants of the Lord; we are indeed His bondslaves.

Listen to the words of Charles Spurgeon—the great British preacher of the nineteenth century:

Where our Authorized [King James] Version softly puts it “servant” it really is “bond-slave.” The early saints delighted to count themselves Christ’s absolute property, bought by him, owned by him, and wholly at his disposal. Paul even went so far as to rejoice that he had the marks of his Master’s brand on him, and he cries, “Let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” There was the end of all debate: he was the Lord’s, and the marks of the scourges, the rods, and the stones were the broad-arrow of the King which marked Paul’s body as the property of Jesus the Lord. Now if the saints of old time gloried in obeying Christ, I pray that you and I … may feel that our first object in life is to obey our Lord.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star!” (Revelation 22:16 NET)

Jesus sent His angel (1) (i.e., the Angel of the Lord) to John to deliver this message to the churches (i.e., congregations) for the things that must happen very soon. Realize angels are very active in the Book of Revelation, mentioned 83 times in the NET version. Interestingly, God used angels to announce the first coming of Jesus in Luke 1:8-14 and will use them again to tell His second coming in Revelation 11:15. In these Scriptures, we learn that angels were the first beings to preach the Gospel.

The purpose of giving this Revelation is to know the future. God is the only One who knows the future because He transcends time. That is, He has already lived the future! (2)

Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ (Isaiah 46:9,10 NET).

The phrase “happen very soon” implies that they will happen quickly whenever God puts these events into motion.

Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3 NET)

When a woman is pregnant, life usually goes on in the new normal, with some obvious physical signs and discomforts indicating what will eventually occur.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these things are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6–8 NET)

However, once actual labor starts, it will come suddenly, and there is no time to attend classes on how to birth a baby! Once these events begin, people will not have time to prepare because they will unfold too fast.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of the virgins were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take extra olive oil with them. But the wise ones took flasks of olive oil with their lamps. When the bridegroom was delayed a long time, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is here! Come out to meet him.’Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied. ‘There won’t be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they had gone to buy it, the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding banquet. Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!’ Therefore stay alert, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:1–13 NET)

So, God’s people had better already be prepared! In addition, since God is outside of time, in His mind, the future is now (1).

Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8–9 NET)

In reality, some of these events took place in John’s time, while others will happen at the end of the age before the return of Jesus. As we see the signs of the times, we certainly seem to be living in the latter days.

Seven Blessings

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near! (Revelation 1:3 NET)

John testifies that he saw all the things which he recorded and revealed about Jesus. As a result, he pronounces a blessing on those who take heed to his words. It is important to note that the blessing promises required the readers and hearers to obey the Lord’s instructions. The promise to the overcomer was and still is, only to those who obey the Word of God by faith.

For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:3–5 NET)

Knowing God’s Word is not the same as doing God’s Word.

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because it had been founded on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed; it was utterly destroyed!” (Matthew 7:24–27 NET) 

It is a sin to know God’s Word but not to obey it.

So whoever knows what is good to do and does not do it is guilty of sin. (James 4:17 NET)

If we know God’s Word but do not obey it, we would be better off without knowing it.

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:21 NET)

This is because God holds us accountable for the Revelation He gives us. As we begin our study of this incredible vision, I encourage you to be an overcomer by obeying what the Lord shows you.

But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. For if someone merely listens to the message and does not live it out, he is like someone who gazes at his own face in a mirror. For he gazes at himself and then goes out and immediately forgets what sort of person he was. But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out—he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:22–25 NET)

Furthermore, there are seven blessings in the Book of Revelation. (2)

1. God blesses those who read, hear, and obey the prophecy. He especially mentions those who hear the words of the prophecy because scholars tell us that less than 20 percent of the people of that time could read.

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy aloud, and blessed are those who hear and obey the things written in it, because the time is near! (Revelation 1:3 NET)

2. God blesses those who die in the Lord.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 NET)

3. God blesses the watchman.

(Look! I will come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked and his shameful condition be seen.) (Revelation 16:15 NET)

4. God blesses those invited to the Lamb’s wedding feast.

Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 19:9 NET)

5. God blesses those who share in the first resurrection.

Blessed and holy is the one who takes part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6 NET)

6. God blesses those who obey the prophecy in the Book of Revelation.

(Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.) (Revelation 22:7 NET)

7. God blesses those who do His commandments.

Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can have access to the tree of life and can enter into the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:14 NET)

Seven Churches

From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4 NET)

John begins the letter with the standard greeting of his day, “grace and peace,” which was also used by Paul in his letters to the seven congregations. Through this greeting, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son were extending to them the grace and peace of God and from God, which they sorely needed considering their difficult circumstances. They were all experiencing a measure of persecution because of the emperor worship, which Domitian (1) had enforced in the late ’90s of the first century.

These are seven literal congregations located in the Western Roman province of Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. In the Bible, the number seven often represents completeness or completion (e.g., seven days of creation (1)). So even though other local congregations were in the area, these seven likely represented the others. Furthermore, John may have chosen to write to these particular congregations because they were conveniently located on the main Roman road in the area. This letter of Revelation most likely was circulated clockwise beginning at Ephesus and then to Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and finally to Laodicea, roughly forming the shape of the Greek lowercase letter Omega. The Revelation was originally written in Koine (i.e., common, juxtaposed to classical) Greek, with Omega being the LAST letter of this alphabet.

Again, John began his writing in an apocalyptic (1) style describing his heavenly vision while in a spiritual state. He received a word from the Lord through this supernatural, mystical Revelation and saw things that explained earthly realities from a heavenly perspective. He then communicated his visions in symbolic language that the people of his day would understand. (2)

The common theme in apocalyptic writings was that God knew of the sufferings of His people and would, in His own time, judge evil and reward the righteous. Consequently, God’s people should find the faith to overcome their trials, remain faithful and endure to the end. In God’s time, He would reveal the heavenly perspective of their suffering and reward them accordingly. (2)

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus communicated this by giving John prophetic messages for the seven congregations in Asia Minor. Since the number seven in the Bible often symbolizes completion, we are to understand that the seven congregations represented typical challenges of other congregations in the general area. Many scholars believe they also represent congregations throughout history until the end of the age when the Messiah returns to judge the nations and honor His faithful servants. (2)

As we study the Lord’s letter to the seven congregations in this series, we will certainly see challenges common to all of us no matter when or where we live. We will recognize many of the same issues in our modern congregations and personal lives. These letters are just as relevant for us today. Again, the Lord may have chosen the seven particular congregations because they were leading congregations in the area on the main Roman road. John gave his written Revelation to a courier who left Patmos and arrived first at Ephesus. (2)

John’s prophetic message was a circular document that would be read publicly to all seven congregations. Scholars believe that less than 20 percent of the public is literate. As a result, John’s entire Revelation would be read aloud to each congregation. This is one of the reasons why a special blessing was promised to those who read and hear the prophecy. (2)

The courier would give the prophecy to the congregation’s leader at Ephesus, who read the entire prophecy to that congregation. The courier continued up the coast to Smyrna and north to Pergamos. At Pergamos, he turned southeast to Thyatira and continued south to Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. (2)

This is the exact order in which the Lord gave the messages to John. Since the whole prophecy was read to each of the seven congregations, they all got to hear, for better or for worse, what the Lord said to each of them. How would we feel if others read what the Lord said to us personally? (2)

As we study the prophetic messages to the seven congregations in this series, we will quickly see that they follow the same well-defined structure. The Lord begins each message with a greeting that relates back to John’s vision of Jesus, the Son of Man, in the heavenly scene in the first chapter. In other words, Jesus greets each congregation with an aspect of His person or title that relates who He is to their particular circumstance. For example, Jesus reminds those in Smyrna, who were persecuted and martyred, that He was the First and the Last and conquered death. (2)

Jesus then commends the congregation for the good things He can say to them. Regrettably, Jesus did not have anything good to say to the congregations at Sardis and Laodicea. These were the dead and lukewarm congregations. Jesus then gave a warning or rebuke to each congregation for their shortcomings. The Lord did not find any shortcomings with which to rebuke the congregations at Smyrna and Philadelphia. These were the persecuted and faithful congregations. Jesus then exhorted the congregations to take the appropriate action with a promise of blessings for obedience. We certainly should learn a lesson here. (2)

What the believers were to overcome must be understood within the context of each congregation’s struggles and temptations. Furthermore, the Lord connects the congregation’s spiritual condition with the city’s character and reputation in each letter. (2)

Greetings from God the Father

John includes God the Father in his greeting.

From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4 NET) (cf Revelation 1:8)

John references the Father with the phrase, “who is and who was and who is to come.”

Similar wording was used by God the Father when He, the One True God, called Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead the people out of Egypt.

When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called to him from within the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.” God said, “Do not approach any closer! Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” He added, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:4–6 NET)

God first says to Moses, I’m (Hb. anoki) the God (Hb. Elohim (1)) of the patriarchs.

Moses said to God, “If I go to the Israelites and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’—what should I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13)  

Moses wanted to know which God (Hb. Elohim) was speaking to him from within the burning bush and whose name he would speak to Pharaoh. Realize, in the time of the Bible, to know the name of a deity was to know their nature and character. (2)

God said to Moses, “I AM that I AM.” And he said, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Exodus 3:14 NET)

God then said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM” (Hb. ʾehyeh ʾašer ʾehyeh). The clause comprises the first person singular imperfect of the verb hayah (“to be”) plus the relative pronoun ʾašer plus the repeated verb. (5) He is Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, the One who was, who is, and who is to come! God is not giving Moses His name by this statement but rather describing Himself as the “I AM” that the patriarchs knew, the self-existing, uncaused One who transcends time and space. He is who He will be forever in time and space. He is all-sufficient for whatever He needs to be and for whatever we need Him to be. (2)

God also said to Moes, “You must say this to the Israelites, ‘The LORD [Yahweh]—the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from generation to generation.’ (Exodus 3:15 NET)

Lastly, God gives Moses His name, Yahweh, the name made known to the patriarchs in the past but may have been forgotten over the centuries. It is God’s name forever! Realize both “Yahweh” (YHWH) and “I am” (ʾehyeh) are apparently derived from the same root, “to be” (hyh). (5) The One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, revealed Himself by His name to Moses as the One who always was, always is, and always will be. In Hebrew, He is the Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (YHVH), the self-existing, uncaused One who transcends time and space. (2)

He is the Almighty One who declares the end from the beginning:

Remember what I accomplished in antiquity! Truly I am God, I have no peer; I am God, and there is none like me, who announces the end from the beginning and reveals beforehand what has not yet occurred, who says, ‘My plan will be realized, I will accomplish what I desire,’ (Isaiah 46:9,10 NET)

God the Father is Yahweh, the “I AM.” John greets the congregations with grace and peace from the “I AM.” (2)

Greetings from God the Holy Spirit

John also includes the Holy Spirit in his greeting.


From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4 NET)(cf. Revelation 5:6)

He refers to the Holy Spirit as the “seven Spirits who are before His [God’s] throne.” Once again, seven is the number of completion or fullness. This instance refers to the perfect Holy Spirit who receives God’s Words and gives them to God’s people.

You might be saying – I thought the Holy Spirit (1) was one Spirit?   This verse in the apocalyptic book of Revelation points out that while there is one Holy Spirit, He has seven facets, characteristic manifestations, or ministries.  These characteristic ministries are stated in the Old Testament prophesy about the then-future time during Jesus’ Earthly ministry when the Holy Spirit would come upon Him in His fullness (Luke 3:21-23. Luke 4:1. John 3:34).

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD (Isaiah 11:2 KJV)

In the Bible, a person’s characteristics are revealed through their name.  Therefore, studying these seven names of the Holy Spirit will help us to understand Him and what He desires to accomplish in our lives.

1. Spirit of the Lord

The word Lord here is Yahweh which is often translated as Jehovah.  This name reveals that the Holy Spirit is not just God but the covenant-keeping God.  He will see to it that all the promises in the Bible are fulfilled (Exodus 34:6,7). He watches over the covenant to enforce it, explaining why the warning not to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is given (Luke 12:10). That is, to reject the Holy Spirit’s offer of being born again or saved (1) leaves nothing after death but God’s wrath in Hell (1) (John 16:7-15). Furthermore, He is the One that communicates the will of God from the Lord Jesus, the head of the church in Heaven, to the church on Earth (Acts 1:2. Acts 13:4. Acts 20:28. Romans 8:9. Colossians 1:18-20). 

2. Spirit of Wisdom

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom to those that receive Him.  This is evident in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8. Mark 13:11. Luke 12:11,12). A great definition of wisdom is the ability to use knowledge.

3. Spirit of Understanding

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart understanding to those that receive Him (1 John 5:20. Acts 1:16. Acts 4:25. Acts 28:25. 2 Peter 1:21 ). 

4. Spirit of Counsel

The Holy Spirit is the One that gives us God’s counsel in all our plans (Proverbs 3:5,6. John 14:26. Acts 13:2. Acts 15:28. Acts 16:6. Acts 20:23. Acts 21:11. 2 Corinthians 13:13).

5. Spirit of Might, Strength, or Power

The Holy Spirit is the One that gives strength or power to do the work of Jesus (Isaiah 40:31. Acts 1:8. Acts 4:8. Acts 4:31. Acts 10:38. 1 Thessalonians 1:5,6. Hebrews 2:4).

Therefore he told me, “These signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all.” (Zechariah 4:6 NET)

6. Spirit of Knowledge

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to impart knowledge to those that receive Him.  This is evident in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:8. Luke 2:25-30).

7. Spirit of the Fear of the Lord

The Holy Spirit teaches us to fear the Lord (Acts 9:31).  To fear the Lord is not to be afraid of God but rather have infinite respect and reverence for His holiness (Exodus 20:20). This holiness is so powerful that its proclamation shook the temple in Heaven (Isaiah 6:3,4). The love of God draws us to salvation (Romans 2:4); however, the fear of God must be added to this love for holiness to be perfected in our lives (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Greetings from God the Son, Jesus the Messiah!

John lastly includes a greeting from Jesus.

and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5,6 NET)

Moses is considered the greatest of all the prophets, but He failed. He disobeyed God. God told Moses to speak to the rock, but instead, Moses struck the rock (Numbers 20:11). That little act of disobedience cost Moses the Promised Land. He got to look over but did not get to go into the Land until after his death when He appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matthew 17:3. Mark 9:4. Luke 9:30) (2)

Aaron is considered the greatest of all the High Priests but he failed. When Moses was on the mountaintop seeking God, Aaron was down below, (1) making a golden calf for the people to worship. When Moses confronted Him, Aaron made an excuse. He said he just threw the gold into the fire, and out came a calf. (2)

David is considered the greatest of all the kings, but he, too, failed. In his lust for Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:1-4), he had her husband killed (2 Samuel 11:14-25) and then took her as his wife (2 Samuel 11:26). God was displeased and took the life of their first child. David was forgiven but suffered the consequences for his sin for the rest of his life through the rebellion of his children, etc. (2)

Surely, God must have someone waiting in the wings greater than Moses, Aaron, and David. Surely there must be a perfect prophet, a perfect priest, and a perfect king. Yes, there is One greater. (2)

Moses spoke of a prophet who would come after him.

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you—from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him. This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our God any more or see this great fire any more lest we die.” The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name. (Deuteronomy 18:15–19 NET) 

Every time God would raise up a new prophet, the people would wonder, “Is this the prophet?” They were waiting for that One greater than Moses. But time went by, and none proved worthy. (2)

God told King David that he would have a son sitting on David’s throne forever. David’s house, David’s kingdom, and David’s throne would be established forever (2 Samuel 7:16). Every time God would raise up a new king, the people would wonder, “Is this the Greater Son of David?” But time went by, and none proved worthy. (2)

God appointed Aaron and his family to be the priestly clan. The priesthood had to be passed to the next generation. But they all died. They all made mistakes. Time went by, and none proved worthy. (2)

When Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:13–18 NET)

Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah. He was the prophet greater than Moses. He was the priest greater than Aaron and the king greater than David.

Or, again, as John said:

and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood (Revelation 1:5 NET)

By referring to Jesus in this way, John acknowledges that Jesus is the Messiah who functions as the perfect Prophet, High Priest, King of kings, and Lord of lords. In Bible times, when a prophet, priest, or king began his ministry, he was anointed with oil to set him apart for his work. As such, prophets, priests, and kings were considered a type of Messiah or anointed one because they spoke God’s Words, interceded with God for the people, and ruled over the people. (2)

When Jesus came the first time, He came in the role of The Prophet (1)—the Word of God in human flesh. Jesus is presently interceding for us in Heaven as our Great High Priest (1) who lives to make intercession for us. He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords (1).

That is, the Roman emperor is not the Lord God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the Lord God. And His Son Jesus is the Messiah. John could not hold back his praise when he finished writing these words. (2)

and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5,6 NET)

God loves us and sent His only uniquely born Son to die for our sins so that we can be forgiven and have fellowship with the Father. So that we can serve God and people as His priests and so that we can rule and reign with Him on the earth. And one day, in God’s time, He will return to judge the nations and establish His Messianic Kingdom on earth. His coming will be personal and visible to the whole world. Every eye will see Him, including His Jewish brethren who rejected Him. All will mourn when they realize the One they have been waiting for is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. (2)

(Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen.) (Revelation 1:7 NET)

Zechariah says:

“I will pour out on the kingship of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NET)

Jesus said:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30 NET)

When Jesus ascended to Heaven from the Mount of Olives, two angels appeared to the people as they stared into the sky:

As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10,11 NET)

Now, just to make sure everyone understands that God is in charge, He finishes up where John left off and again says,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God—the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come—the All-Powerful! (Revelation 1:8 NET)

Five times in the Book of Revelation, the Lord identifies Himself as the One who transcends time and space. (Revelation 1:8,11,17; 21:6; 22:13). He is the Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. This is a continuation of what the Lord has said about Himself in the Hebrew Scriptures. (Isaiah 41:4; 44:6; 48:12.) (2)

The Revelation

In ancient apocalyptic literature, it was common for the writer to put someone else’s name on his writing. This was usually a deceased famous person to whom the writer wanted to attribute his ideas. This type of writing was called pseudepigrapha, a Greek word meaning “falsely inscribed or attributed.” A large body of Jewish pseudepigrapha was written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 200. The anonymous writer attributed his work to one of the ancient patriarchs or prophets. In their work, the writer attempted to record his own ideas as if they were the ideas and writings of a well-known biblical character written in an apocalyptic manner. These works include the Apocalypse of Abraham, the Apocalypse of Adam, the books of Adam and Eve, the book of Enoch, the book of the Secrets of Enoch, the Testament of Moses, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and many others. There were also several New Testament pseudepigrapha written when John received his Revelation. These were spurious works attributed to New Testament personalities, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of Judas, the Gospel of Phillip, the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Peter, the Epistle of Clement, etc. When it was decided which books were genuine and included in the New Testament, these books were rejected. The movie The Da Vinci Code was based on the pseudepigrapha of the Gospel of Thomas. (2)

The point in providing this background information is that John put his own name on his Revelation. This was not some spurious document where John tried to convince his audience that some other biblical personality received this Revelation. He received it himself from the Lord, as anyone could confirm, as he was still alive. It was a real revelation received by a real, living person from the real living Lord for real people in John’s time plus future generations. To John’s readers, this was very important. (2)

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must happen very soon. He made it clear by sending his angel to his servant John, (Revelation 1:1 NET)
From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, (Revelation 1:4 NET)
I, John, your brother and the one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus. (Revelation 1:9 NET)

John states where he was when he received his Revelation to add validity to his writing. He was on the island of Patmos. Patmos is a small, rocky island about ten miles long and six miles wide, located in the Aegean Sea, about 40 miles from the coast of Turkey. (2)


Like Alcatraz, the Romans used Patmos as an island prison for troublemakers and criminals. And John was considered a troublemaker because he preached the Word of God and said that Jesus, not Domitian, was Lord. Amazingly, evil rulers are so afraid of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Today, Patmos has a population of approximately 50,000, including the massive monastery dedicated to John. (2)

Again, John is writing to believers suffering persecution for their faith. They would not bow to the statue of Domitian and acknowledge him as Lord and God. Christian tradition is that John had lived in Ephesus, from which he was exiled to Patmos. The Christian historian, Eusebius, wrote that John was exiled from Ephesus to Patmos in A.D. 95 and was released 18 months later. Because John was persecuted along with the others, he wrote that he was their brother and companion in the tribulation, kingdom, and patience of Jesus Christ [Yeshua the Messiah]. (2)

The Gospel of the Kingdom

John mentioned the Kingdom of Jesus and did not mention Christianity or “Churchianity.” Realize the New Testament emphasis is not on the Gospel of salvation but on the Gospel of the Kingdom. John would certainly give this emphasis because he was writing to people living under the rule of an emperor in an anti-God empire. They were Kingdom-minded. God wants to save us from our sins; however, more than that, He desires to rule as Lord and King in our lives. If Domitian presents himself as lord and god, how much more does the One True God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, have a rightful claim on our lives? John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, and now John emphasize the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of salvation. In Christian terms, we would say that Jesus is not just our Savior, but He is also the Lord of our lives. This has largely not been the Western Christianity Gospel emphasis, but it is the emphasis in the Bible. Could one of the reasons Christianity in America has not seen signs and wonders as the norm is because signs and wonders accompany the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of salvation? (2)

Jesus said to His followers:

As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near!’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:7–8 NET)
Then Jesus went throughout all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness. (Matthew 9:35 NET)

Jesus said that preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom is one of the signs of the end times.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14 NET)

So how did we go from the biblical presentation of the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of salvation? When anything in Christianity changed from what it was in the Bible, we usually go back to Constantine. When Constantine embraced Christianity as the Roman Empire’s official religion, he merged the political and the religious to become synonymous with the Roman Empire. The organized Church and the state became one under the rule of Constantine. Later, Augustine wrote that the Roman State Church was the embodiment of the Kingdom of God on earth. As a result, Europeans were born (at birth) into the Roman State Church, which was presented as the earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God. Christian “Churchianity” in the form of the Roman State Church replaced Israel, the Jews, and the Kingdom of God to the people. So their allegiance was to the Roman State Church, not to the Kingdom of God. (2)

In the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, the organized Protestant churches replaced the Roman Catholic Church, and loyalty to the Protestant version of Christianity continued. The reformer replaced the Pope, and the particular reform group replaced the Catholic Church, which had replaced the Kingdom of God. However, the Protestant denominations have continued the concept of “Churchianity” to this day but are becoming irrelevant to younger people who rightly see them as antiquated relics of the past. (2)

A recent Gallup poll found that the number of Americans who say they belong to a house of worship (overwhelmingly meaning a church) fell below the 50% mark – for the first time since the polling was taken. The number was 47%. Just two years earlier, the number was 50%. A 3% decline in two years. In 1999, a little over 20 years earlier, the number was 70%. Further, in 1937, the percentage was 73%. Thus, it held steady around the 70% mark for over 60 years, from the days when America was coming out of the Great Depression through the Second World War, the 1950s, the social upheavals of the 1960s, the Nixon years, the Reagan years, and the Clinton years. And then came an unprecedented and precipitous plunge. (7)

The numbers are even more revealing when one looks at the same phenomenon related to age. Of the pre-baby boom generation born before 1946, 66% belong to a house of worship. Of the baby boomer generation (born 1946-1964), the number is 58%. Of those in Generation X, the number is 50%. As far as millennials, the number drops to 36% – around half the number of the pre-baby boom generation. Generation Z was not measured – but if so, we can presume the numbers would be no better – if not worse. (7)

The polls reveal two dynamics at work. The first is generational. That means that the process of one generation aging out and the other replacing it – will continue this decline. But it’s not only that. The numbers within each age group have also declined. In 1998 the oldest generation’s membership in houses of worship was not at 66% but 77%. For baby boomers, it wasn’t 58% but 67%. And for Generation X, it wasn’t 50% but 62%. Every age group suffered a double-digit decline. Thus, without the hand of God and revival, we can expect the decline to increase and accelerate. (7)

While all of God’s ministers that have faithfully proclaimed the Gospel of salvation throughout Christian history are certainly appreciated, the end-time Gospel will not be about “getting saved and joining the church.” It will be the Gospel of the Kingdom. (2)

We see this model described in the Revelation:

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”!” (Revelation 11:15 NET).

As we awaken to this shift of emphasis from the Gospel of salvation to the Gospel of the Kingdom, from “Churchianity” to Kingdom life, we will see biblical kinds of miracles as commonplace for believers who are willing to submit themselves to Jesus as Lord. (2)

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins. No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’ ” (Luke 5:37–39 NET)

The greatest outpouring of God’s supernatural manifestations is at hand. While evil will increase, the glory of God’s Spirit will anoint His faithful people with His presence and His power, as we see in the New Testament because we will have a New Testament Gospel. (2)

Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 NET)

The Voice

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10 NET)

Now that John has identified himself as the true writer of his Revelation and sharing in the fellowship of their suffering, he makes his apocalyptic statement. He says three things:

  • I was in the Spirit,
  • it was on the Lord’s Day, and
  • I heard a loud voice, like the sound of the trumpet or shofar.

By saying he was in the Spirit, the readers would understand that John had a mystical apocalyptic vision. He would reveal things happening in Heaven that they could not see but would explain what was happening to them on earth. We cannot see the spiritual battles in Heaven, but we can have some knowledge of them by seeing them manifested on earth. For example, we can know a great battle is happening in Heaven for Jerusalem as we see the nations gather against Israel. (2)(8)

Furthermore, John seems to be detailing, for his readers, a description of how the Holy Spirit inspired God’s servants to write the Holy Scriptures.

As the Apostle Peter declares:

Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:20–21 NET)

John says he has this apocalyptic vision on Sunday (1), the Lord’s Day. Being a Jew, John was used to the voice of the Lord sounding like a trumpet or shofar. When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, the Lord spoke to them through the sound of the trumpet (shofar) (1). The people were so frightened by the whole experience that they asked Moses for the Lord not to speak to them again directly. So one way the Lord continued to speak to them was through trumpets and shofars. (Numbers 10:1-10.) When John heard the voice of the Lord, he heard it as the sound of a trumpet or shofar. This was part of the history and heritage of his people in hearing the Word of the Lord. He knew what it meant, and it certainly got his attention. (2)

The shofar became the most important trumpet or horn the Lord used to communicate with His people. It is mentioned 69 times in the Hebrew Bible and numerous times in the New Testament. The shofar was and still is made from a kosher animal’s horn, such as a goat, antelope, or gazelle. The ram’s horn is primarily used because it was a ram that the Lord provided for Abraham as a sacrifice in place of Isaac (1). (2)

The Commission

saying: “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches—to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11 NET)

Since God is outside of time and space, He alone knows the future and shows part of it to John. His purpose is for John to write what he sees in a book and send it to the seven congregations. (2) This is the first of 12 times in Revelation that John is told by divine command to write (Revelation 1:11,19; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 4, 14; 14:13; 19:9; 21:5). (9)

The voice, like a trumpet, instructs John to commit to writing what he is about to see. The completed scroll is then to be sent to the seven churches. The cities were roughly thirty to fifty miles apart along a circular road that went north to Pergamum, turned southeast to Laodicea, and returned full circle to Ephesus through the valley of the Maeander. The seven letters written to the seven churches should not be taken as a group of covering letters, each read only at the appropriate location. The entire scroll, including all seven letters, was to be read at each church. That there were seven letters (rather than six or eight) may stem from the fact that that was the number of postal districts on the circular route. At the same time, however, seven is a decidedly symbolic number. It stands for completeness and is especially appropriate for the Apocalypse. The order in which the churches are addressed is strictly geographical. (9)

If you embrace a premillennial rapture view, you believe in the theory of imminence. In its simplest form, this theory states Christ could come for the church at any moment, with no prophecy requiring fulfillment beforehand. For this theory to be scripturally true, it must have been true from the very beginning of the church. Most pre-tribs believe that even claiming Jesus taught an any-moment coming to His disciples. By suggesting these letters represent stages of church history, they contradict not only themselves but also make Jesus contradict his own supposed predictions of imminency. How could the early church have held to an any-moment rapture if Revelation taught seven complete church periods? (11)

So, what was the purpose of these letters? Actually, they have a dual purpose. The first was to address issues with some of the churches in John’s day. In tandem, they give warnings to the church throughout this age by which we all should examine ourselves. (11)

But the larger purpose was to provide instruction to the end-time church. Out of all the first-century churches, Jesus selected these seven for this prophecy for two reasons. First, the number seven often signifies completion in Scripture. This suggests that the entire church is represented. Second, these illustrate the major groupings of churches entering the seventieth week. The shared problems and strengths provided an excellent frame of reference to instruct the church at the end of the age. This is the only view consistent with the stated purpose of Revelation – to describe in considerable detail the events surrounding the apocalypse or uncovering of Jesus Christ from heaven (Revelation 1:1). (11)

Furthermore, Revelation is addressed to the church (Revelation 1:1-4) and promises a blessing to those who read and obey the things written in it, for the time is near for these things to be fulfilled. Pre-tribs object, insisting only the first five chapters are relevant for the church, while the remainder is instructions for those left behind after the rapture. Revelation 22:16 confirms, however, that the entire book is to testify to you these things in the churches. (11)

Jesus tells several churches He is coming soon. He warned Ephesus to repent lest He comes quickly and remove their lampstand from its place (those who really are saved be raptured). He advised Pergamos that if they did not repent, He would come quickly and fight against them with the sword of His mouth (Revelation 2:16; see Revelation 19:15; those who are compromising enter judgment). To the few in Thyatira who had not fallen into spiritual adultery, He encourages them to hold fast until He comes (Revelation 2:24, 25). And again, to Philadelphia, the faithful church, Jesus encourages to keep persevering and promises that He comes quickly (Revelation 3:10, 11). (11)

Outside of these letters, every single time Scripture says He is coming quickly, it is either a reference to the rapture or the Day of the Lord. It is logical and consistent with the purpose of Revelation to deduct the same in these letters. If these represent church ages primarily, then the Lord lied when He told them He was coming quickly, for each has long since passed. Now there are patterns often revealed in Scripture, so it is possible they also represent a general pattern for the history of the church. Also, certainly, various individual churches have had similar issues. (11)

I do not mean to exclude these wider applications completely. But clearly, the primary purpose is instructions for the end-time church. Thyatira was also given another warning which illustrates this more strongly. Jesus, eyes burning with anger, declares that those who committed spiritual adultery under the Jezebel teaching will be thrown into the great tribulation (Revelation 2:22). Every other time the term great tribulation appears in Scripture, it refers to the time of the Antichrist (Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Revelation 7:14). Revelation spends more space teaching about the last half of the seventieth week than any other topic. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that this refers to the great tribulation rather than just a severe, general tribulation. Remember, in this context, the few faithful were promised Christ’s quick return. While all believers will experience difficulties during the great tribulation, those of the Thyatiran-type church are especially going to suffer, for God is going to throw them into it. (11)

Every time the Bible says Jesus is coming as a thief, it refers to the Day of the Lord beginning with the sixth seal. Jesus warned Sardis that if they did not get their act together, He would come upon them as a thief (Revelation 3:1-6). Jesus previously gave this warning to those not watching and waiting for His second coming in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:32-51). Paul similarly admonished the Thessalonians; True believers are not in darkness that this Day should overtake them like a thief. We are of the day and are not appointed unto wrath, but unto deliverance (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). But do not spiritually sleep, for those who do will be overtaken or surprised by the Day of the Lord. The dead church of Sardis, then, is warned to wake up and repent, or else they will be overtaken by Christ’s coming and the Day of the Lord. (11)

Finally, each church is promised rewards for those who overcome. These promises are available to all believers who overcome, regardless of which church type. This is seen in that the Spirit specifically gives these promises to the churches, not just to the church addressed in each letter. In 1 John 5:1-5, we learn that the one who overcomes the world is he who truly believes Jesus Christ is the Son of God, demonstrated by seeking to keep His commandments.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him. By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1–5 NET)

This is how we overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Also, we must endure to the end even if the end is death (Matthew 10:21-24; 24:10, 13; and others). In this way, we checkmate the enemies of God. We can certainly be overcomers outside of the great tribulation and obtain these promises of God, so it applies to all believers throughout history. But in Revelation 12:11, we see overcomers in the context of the great tribulation. This lends support to the eschatological significance of these letters. In conclusion, these letters establish compelling testimony that the church will enter the great tribulation. While the intent of the letters is not to prove this, many allusions in them do prove it. (11)

The Vision

I turned to see whose voice was speaking to me, and when I did so, I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands was one like a son of man. He was dressed in a robe extending down to his feet and he wore a wide golden belt around his chest. (Revelation 1:12,13 NET)

When John turned to see who was talking to him, he had his vision of the Son of Man. Jesus is frequently called the “Son of Man” in the Gospels. Still, most of those designations refer to Him in his humanity as a descendant of the first Adam, not His Messianic nature and identification. Those references really should be in a lowercase designation, such as “son of man.” However, there is clearly one instance when Jesus refers to Himself by the Messianic title, “Son Man.” This is recorded in Matthew when the high priest was interrogating Jesus.

But Jesus was silent. The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:63–64 NET) 

Jesus answered by referring to Daniel’s prophecy of the exalted Son of Man, the Messiah establishing His Messianic Kingdom on the earth. Jewish scholars often refer to the Son of Man as the “Cloud Man” since Daniel says he is coming with the clouds of Heaven. (2)

Daniel had his own similar apocalyptic vision:

I was watching in the night visions, “And with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man was approaching. He went up to the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him. To him was given ruling authority, honor, and sovereignty. All peoples, nations, and language groups were serving him. His authority is eternal and will not pass away. His kingdom will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14 NET)

John demonstrates that he understood that Jesus was the same “Son of Man” Daniel saw in their visions. Using symbols, John describes the Son of Man. John sees Jesus as a Jewish Messiah and describes Him in Jewish terms. Jesus is surrounded by Jewish symbols, not Western Greco-Roman Christian symbols. Jesus was, is, and always will be Jewish in His humanity. He came as the Jewish Prophet for the first time and is now interceding as the Jewish High Priest and will return as the Jewish King. (2)

John sees Jesus standing amid seven golden lampstands (1), representing the seven congregations.

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20 NET) 
The LORD reigns! He is robed in majesty, the LORD is robed, he wears strength around his waist. Indeed, the world is established, it cannot be moved. Your throne has been secure from ancient times; you have always been king. (Psalm 93:1–2 NET)

Jesus is dressed as our Great High Priest. This imagery is taken from the description of the Tabernacle of Moses (1) and the High Priest’s garments (1). John wants his readers to understand that Jesus is with them and interceding for them. He is the greater High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) than Aaron, whoever lives to make intercession for them. Plus, He has put His Spirit (1) (Ruach HaKodesh) in them as a down payment guarantee that He is not only with them but in them and that they will live forever with Him (2 Corinthians 1:22;5:5). (2)

His head and hair were as white as wool, even as white as snow, and his eyes were like a fiery flame. (Revelation 1:14 NET)

John not only sees Jesus as the great High Priest, but He also sees Him as the Judge of Rome and the nations. His white hair, white as the snow, pictures Jesus in the same light as Daniel does in the “Ancient of Days.” It symbolizes His wisdom and purity that transcends time and space. (2)

“While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His attire was white like snow; the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool. His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame. A river of fire was streaming forth and proceeding from his presence. Many thousands were ministering to him; Many tens of thousands stood ready to serve him. The court convened and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9,10 NET)

With eyes like a flame of fire, the Son of Man sees all that is evil, including the emperor cult worship in Rome and the evil of the nations of our time. He also sees the sins of the seven congregations and ours today. (2)

Like equipment that can see through our clothes and bodies and expose our hidden items and inner organs, the Lord not only sees our outward actions and words but also sees into our hearts with His heavenly X-ray vision.

But Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in men’s eyes, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly prized among men is utterly detestable in God’s sight. (Luke 16:15 NET)

He can expose our motives and any hidden things (Hebrews 4:12). In time, He will burn up all that is unholy and purify all that is holy (Luke 3:16). His blazing eyes of fire symbolize His righteousness, which must separate, purify, and cleanse His creation and His people from all that is impure. (2)

His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. (Revelation 1:15 NET) 

In the Bible, bronze (1) is a symbol of judgment. The altar where sacrifices were made at the Tabernacle (1) was made of bronze). John sees the Son of Man with feet of fine brass that have been refined in a furnace. Jesus has passed through judgment for our sin, but He had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) as indicated by the polished (burnished) bronze. Therefore He can administer a pure, righteous judgment.

In His first coming, the Son of Man came to save mankind from its sins through His death, burial, and resurrection. That is, He came as the Lamb of God. But in His second coming (1), He will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to judge the nations and the people of the earth. He is our Savior-Redeemer and our Judge and King. He is the Lamb and the Lion who will judge the nations and rule over them with a rod of iron (see Ps. 2).

Despite their suffering at the hands of the Romans and the suffering (1) of many in our world today, God’s pure and holy people will overcome our enemies and rule with the glorious Son of Man in a Kingdom characterized by righteousness and peace. God will judge the wicked and redeem those who are His. (2)

One deep stream calls out to another at the sound of your waterfalls; all your billows and waves overwhelm me. (Psalm 42:7 NET)

When John hears the voice of the Son of Man, he describes it as sounding like the roar of many waters. One of the most exciting natural sights and sounds is that of a beautiful waterfall. If you are hiking toward a waterfall, all you have to do is listen for the falls’ roar and follow the sound. If you have ever been to Niagara Falls, you can understand what John means. The roar of Niagara Falls is so loud you can hear it from a great distance. It is a deafening roar that literally drowns out any other noise as the water pours over the falls. Likewise, when the voice of the Son of Man speaks, it is the roar of the Lion of Judah. His voice is so awesome and majestic that the whole world will hear His Words roar with the voice of God. He will declare judgment on the nations, but guidance, encouragement, comfort, and hope for God’s people. His voice alone will be heard. (2)

He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp double-edged sword extended out of his mouth. His face shone like the sun shining at full strength. (Revelation 1:16 NET)

John sees Jesus holding seven stars in His right hand, which John says are the angels (1) watching over each of the seven congregations. Most probably, it refers to the heavenly guardian or representative of each church, just as there are of nations (Daniel 10:13, 20; 12:1) and individuals (Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:15) (12)

The fact that the Lord has them in His right hand indicates that He is protecting the congregation and empowering them with the grace, faith, and strength they need to endure their time of testing and persecution. He will never leave them nor forsake them but will enable them to face their challenges with His authority and refining fire working in them and through them to be a witness to the ungodly. (2)

Using apocalyptic symbols, John says that when the Son of Man speaks, His Words are like a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth. John is referring to the sword used by the Romans, which they developed for close hand-to-hand combat. (2)

Previous swords used in combat were long, heavy, difficult to handle, and sharp on only one side. They were wielded in a backing and hacking motion. The Roman sword was shorter, about two feet long, and was stronger and lighter, which allowed the Roman soldier to attack the enemy with a slicing motion from either side of the sword. The Roman sword was a revolutionary advance in warfare. It gave the Roman soldier a great advantage, as it was a superior weapon to the enemy. (2)

Spiritually speaking, when the Son of Man speaks, His words are even more powerful than a Roman sword. Whereas the Roman sword can only deal a blow to the body, the Word of God can deal a blow to the soul. God’s words can judge with one side, and with the other side, His words can heal. (2)

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NET)
From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod, and he stomps the winepress of the furious wrath of God, the All-Powerful. (Revelation 19:15 NET)

Unlike the countenance of Jesus on the cross, John says the blazing glory and dazzling splendor of the Son of Man were like the brightness of the sun in all its brilliance. We know we cannot look at the sun directly with our natural eyes as it is too bright to gaze at. Likewise, the Son of Man’s glory was so bright that John could not look upon Him directly. John was so overwhelmed at the glorious countenance of the exalted Son of Man that He fell at the Lord’s feet in a spiritual daze as if he were dead. (2)

Matthew recorded a similar experience when Jesus gave Peter, James, and John a glimpse of His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Matthew says that Jesus was transfigured before them, His face shone like the sun, and His clothes were as white as the light. When they saw Jesus in His blazing glory and heard God’s voice, they, too, fell on their faces and were afraid. Jesus touched them and told them not to be afraid. (2)

Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them privately up a high mountain. And he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Then Moses and Elijah also appeared before them, talking with him. So Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, I will make three shelters—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!”When the disciples heard this, they were overwhelmed with fear and threw themselves down with their faces to the ground.But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Do not be afraid.” When they looked up, all they saw was Jesus alone. (Matthew 17:1–8 NET)

The prophet Daniel saw this very same portrait of Jesus:

“While I was watching, thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His attire was white like snow; the hair of his head was like lamb’s wool. His throne was ablaze with fire and its wheels were all aflame. (Daniel 7:9 NET)

The Lord

When I saw him I fell down at his feet as though I were dead, but he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the one who lives! I was dead, but look, now I am alive—forever and ever—and I hold the keys of death and of Hades! (Revelation 1:17,18 NET)

Again, this is the second time in John’s life that he has seen Jesus glorified. And the second time, Jesus touched John with that same powerful, assuring right hand and told him not to be afraid. Jesus reassures John that no matter what he and his fellow believers are going through, He (Jesus) has transcended time and space (the First and the Last) and has conquered death and the abode of the dead. (2)

Jesus comforts John by reminding him that He is the Resurrected One who once was dead (1) but now lives. The difference between Christianity and the other religions of the world is not necessarily the moral teachings of Christianity because most religions have a moral code for their followers. The difference is “the empty tomb.” The founders of the world’s other great religions all died and stayed dead, but not so with Jesus. When His followers went to His tomb, they were greeted by an angel. (2)

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised, just as he said. Come and see the place where he was lying. (Matthew 28:5–6 NET)

Yes, there is an empty tomb in Jerusalem. Because Jesus never sinned, death and Hades could not hold Him. He was resurrected from the dead (1) and appeared to many of His disciples, including John. All the emperors of Rome are dead. All the leaders of the great empires of the past are dead. All the leaders of the present world system will one day die. All the religious leaders, prophets, and kings past, present, and future have died or will die. And they will stay dead until the resurrection and judgment. But not Jesus of Nazareth. He lives forever to make intercession for His people, and He will return to judge the wicked and redeem His Covenant people. Let the people of God say, “Amen!” (2)

Jesus boldly proclaims that He has the keys of Hades and Death. Hades is the Greek word for the place of people’s souls who have died. It is the abode of the dead. The Hebrew Bible uses the word Sheol to identify the place of the dead. Keys are a symbol of authority. In speaking the way He did to John, Jesus comforts John and the seven congregations that He, not the Roman emperor, has authority over life and death. Therefore, “Don’t be afraid.” (2)

This is also a word of comfort for believers today. No matter what challenges we face, Jesus has faced them all and defeated them. He faced the Roman government in Israel and defeated it. He faced persecution from religious leaders and defeated them. He faced Satan and defeated him. He faced Hades and death and defeated it. And He promises us that same victory. We do not have to fear those who hate us and persecute us. We do not have to fear death and the grave because Jesus conquered it all for us. May His name be praised forever! Jesus spoke of these things when He walked the earth. (2)

“I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming—and is now here—when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. (John 5:24–29 NET) 

The voice of the Son of Man and Son of God is so loud and powerful that it will even awaken the dead. Those who have fought against the One True God will awaken to judgment, while God’s covenant people will awaken to glory. Daniel foresaw the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. (2)

Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake— some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence. But the wise will shine like the brightness of the heavenly expanse. And those bringing many to righteousness will be like the stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12:2 NET)

Paul encourages us with these words:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57–58 NET)
Therefore write what you saw, what is, and what will be after these things. (Revelation 1:19 NET)

Verse nineteen is extremely important because it gives us the outline of the book of Revelation. This division of this prophetic book is the most simple and natural way of understanding its contents.

This three-part division relates:

  • The past vision of the glorified Christ (Revelation 1:1-20) is described as “what you saw.”
  • The present condition of the churches of Asia Minor (Revelation Chapters 2-3) is described as “what is.”
  • The future events are about to begin (Revelation Chapters 4-22)(e.g., Revelation 4:2; 17:3; 21:10) as “what will be after these things.”

In the letters to the Seven Churches, Jesus commends them, rebukes them, instructs them, and promises them a blessing if they remain faithful in spite of their situation with the imperial cult. (2)


Human nature is such that it is difficult for us to empathize and demonstrate compassion for people who suffer unless we have shared their suffering.

I was livid with His apathy. Didn’t He know what His carelessness had done to us? [Allowing such pain and suffering in my life and the lives of others.] For the first time in my life, I dared to demand an explanation. When none came, I was angrier than I ever remember being. I turned my eyes on the plain wooden cross, and I remembered Calvary. I stood in the crowd which crucified him, hating and despising him. With my own hands, I drove the nails into his hands and his feet, and with bursting energy, I flogged him and reviled him and spat with nauseated loathing. Now He should know what it felt like—to live in the creation He had made. Every breath brought from me the words: “Now You know! Now You know!” And then I saw something which made my heart standstill. I saw His face, and on it twisted every familiar agony of my own soul. “Now You know” became an awed whisper as I, motionless, watched His agony. “Yes, now I know,” was the passionate and pain-filled reply. “Why else should I come?” Stunned, I watched His eyes search desperately for the tiniest flicker of love in mine, and as we faced one another in the bleak and the cold, forsaken by God, frightened and derelict, we loved one another, and our pain became silent in the calm. [From that moment, I was inseparably bound to Christ.] Nothing can bind us closer than common dereliction, for nowhere else is companionship so longed for.


This is not the case with John. He reminds them he has shared and continues to share in their tribulation. Again, that is why he was banished to Patmos in the first place. From the very beginning of Christianity, believers have suffered for their faith. The degree of persecution against Christians was greater in the 20th century than in all other centuries combined. It is estimated that approximately 100 million believers died for their faith in the 20th century. Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of believers, are martyred yearly in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Every believer should read Fox’s Book of Martyrs (6) to understand the price most martyrs have paid to follow Jesus. (2)

In modern times, Christians in Western Europe, particularly in America, have not been persecuted as government policy for their faith. Christians have not been persecuted overtly in America because America is the only nation birthed out of Judeo-Christian heritage. America is the one exception in the history of nations. That is rapidly changing as Marxist socialism has infiltrated the top levels of the American federal, state, and city governments, industry, the military, and the church.

We may all have to decide if we can “fix our sandals” (1) in front of the statute of the emperor. If faced with the choice, will we compromise our beliefs to be politically correct, keep the local government enforcers away from our door, and avoid persecution? Or will we be strong like the believers to whom John is writing? Our “cheap grace” Gospel of salvation will not be enough to help us stand against the forces of evil. We must embrace Jesus as the Lord and King of our lives! (2)

Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age:

Please see the following links for more information from Revelation Chapters 1-3 concerning the condition of churches during the Church Age:

(Security, Wholeness, Success)

Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. 
(3 John 1:2 NET)

(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) Booker, R. (2011). The overcomers: series– understanding the book of Revelation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.

(3) Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 338). New York: United Bible Societies.

(4)  MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2012). Slave: the hidden truth about your identity in christ. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

(5)  Enns, P. (2000). Exodus (p. 106). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

(6)  Foxe, J. (2000). Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

(7), The Decline of the Church, October 3, 2021

(8) There are four additional apocalyptic “in-the-Spirit” statements in the Revelation. They are:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10 NET)
Immediately I was in the Spirit, and a throne was standing in heaven with someone seated on it! (Revelation 4:2 NET)
So he carried me away in the Spirit to a wilderness, and there I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3 NET)(
So he took me away in the Spirit to a huge, majestic mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.  (Revelation 21:10 NET) 

These four statements refer to his visions and provide the basic structure of the Book of Revelation.

(9)  Mounce, R. H. (1997). The Book of Revelation (pp. 56–57). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

(10) Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 116, pp. 4,5,8). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.

(11) Prerdue, C. (2011). The Prewrath Rapture: Answering the Critics.

(12) Bratcher, R. G., & Hatton, H. (1993). A handbook on the Revelation to John (p. 35). United Bible Societies.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home. 

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