Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 1

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Apocalypse 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Prologue  1, 1-8

The Prologue indicates the source of the Apocalypse, its contents, and the happiness of those who receive and observe it.  John salutes the seven churches of the Roman province of Asia which he addresses and calls down upon them grace and peace from God.  The salutation is Trinitarian in form; for the seven spirits refer to the person of the Holy Spirit.  Of the three Persons he speaks more definitely of Christ in 5-7, and of God the Father in 8.  Christ is the faithful witness, etc.  To him belong glory and dominion: i.e., to Christ; because in His love He has redeemed us, He has endowed us with the offices of kingship and priesthood, and He will come again in the clouds.  Of God the Father John does not speak in the third person, but introduces Him as declaring: I am the Alpha and the Omega, i.e., the beginning and the end.  These explanatory words are probably interpolated from 22, 13 where Christ speaks.  Through the triumph of Christ, all things shall be consummated in Him, the beginning and end of all things, the all-powerful Lord of the past, present and future.

I.  THE SEVEN LETTERS  1, 9 -- 3, 22

1.  Preparatory Vision  1, 9-20

1, 9-11:  John Told to Write His Visions.  John first sets forth his call and commission.  Because of the word of God: i.e., because of his loyalty to the gospel.  In the spirit: wrapt in ecstasy.  The Lord's day: i.e., Sunday.

1, 12-20:  Vision  of the Son of Man.  Nearly every phrase of this description (13-16) and of His words (17-20) occurs again in 2 and 3.  See Dan. 7, 9-14; 10, 5 f.  The description is symbolical.  The long garment signifies a priest; the girdle, a king; the whiteness of wool, His purity and maturity and solid wisdom; the eyes as a flame, the power to penetrate and behold everything; the feet like brass; stability; the voice of many waters, a voice grave and majestic amid the sounds of the earth.  The two-edged sword is a symbol of judicial authority; the Son of Man is the supreme judge.  In 17 f the Son of Man declares who He is: the First and the Last, etc.  In 19 f He bids John to write and explains the mystery of the seven lamp-stands which symbolize the churches, and the seven stars which symbolize their angels.  These angels are the guardian angels of the churches, or the chief pastors or bishops, or the churches themselves.

Confraternity Bible:

The Book---Its Source and Contents  1 The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him, to make known to his servants the things that must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified them through his angel to his servant John; 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to whatever he saw.  3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein; for the time is at hand.

Greetings  4* John to the seven churches that are in Asia: grace be to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.  To him who has loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 and made us to be a kingdom, and priests to God his Father---to him belong glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

Christ's Coming  7 Behold, he comes with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him.  And all the tribes of the earth shall wail over him.  Even so.  Amen.  8* "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty."

John Told to Write His Visions  9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and kingdom and patience that are in Jesus, was on the island which is called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  10 I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, "What thou seest write in a book, and send to the seven churches, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamum, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."

Vision of the Son of Man  12 And I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me.  And having turned, I saw seven golden lamp-stands; 13 and in the midst of the seven lamp-stands One like a son of man, clothed with a garment reaching to the ankles, and girt about the breasts with a golden girdle.  14 But his head and his hair were white as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15* his feet were like fine brass, as in a glowing furnace, and his voice like the voice of many waters.  16 And he had in his right hand seven stars.  And out of his mouth came forth a sharp two-edged sword; and his countenance was like the sun shining in its power.

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead.  And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, 18 and he who lives; I was dead, and behold, I am living forevermore; and I have the keys of death and of hell.  19 Write therefore the things that are to come hereafter.  20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden lamp-stands---the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches."


4: Asia: the Roman Province of Asia, the western part of what is now know as Asia Minor.  The seven spirits: the Holy Spirit, whose seven gifts are diffused among all the churches; or the phrase may refer to the seven angels.

8: The Alpha and the Omega: the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.  God is the first beginning and the last end.

15: The image is that of brass glowing in the refiner's furnace.