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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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Commentary on The Revelation of John

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1.1–3 : The foreword.

The opening declares the ultimate source of the revelation, its purpose (to show … what must soon take place), and the manner of its mediation to John (see 22.6, 16 ).

1 :

Servants (lit. slaves) is a recurrent way of speaking of God's agents (compare Amos 3.7 ). The delivery of the revelation by an angel reflects the motif in postexilic prophecy that God's distant majesty required mediating messengers (see Zech. 1.19 ).

2 :

Here the word of God means God's message; in 19.13 (see Jn. 1.1 ) Jesus is the Word of God.

3 :

Happy (or, blessed) introduces one of seven blessings in Rev.; here (as in 22.7 ) it blesses those who read and hear the revelation in public worship.

1.4–8 : Greeting, confession, and doxology.

4 :

The traditional greeting of grace and peace (see Rom. 1.7 n. ) is expanded into a confession of God's past, present, and future reign, as well as of the lordship of Jesus Christ; they, not Satan or Caesar, are the true rulers of history. The seven spirits (see 3.1; 4.5; 5.6 ) point to the fullness of God's reigning power (throne.)

5 :

Faithful witness (or, martyr) implies Jesus' faithfulness unto death. Firstborn from the dead: see Rom. 8.29; Col. 1.15, 18 ; compare Ps. 89.27 . Ruler of the kings: see 11.15–18; 19.16 .

6 :

Royal house and priests apply OT political and cultic designations of Israel to Christians; see Exod. 19.6; Isa. 61.6 ; compare Rev. 5.10; 1 Pet. 2.9 .

7 :

Coming with the clouds: see Dan. 7.13; Matt. 24.30 . Pierced, lament: Zech. 12.10 ; compare Jn. 19.37 . So it shall be translates the Heb. Amen.

8 :

Alpha and Omega (applied again to God in 21.6 and to Jesus in 22.13 ) are the first and last letters of the Gk. alphabet; compare “first” and “last” in 1.17; Isa. 44.6; 48.12 .

1.9–20 : John's vision and commission.

10 :

The Lord's day: Sunday. The Spirit came upon me reflects ecstatic experience; see Ezek. 3.12 . Trumpet: compare Exod. 19.16, 19 ; as related to the end-time see Matt. 24.37; 1 Cor. 15.52; 1 Thess. 4.16 .

11 :

Write down: compare Isa. 30.8 .

12 :

Seven … lampstands (see Exod. 25.37; Zech. 4.2 ) are identified in v. 20 as the seven churches. These churches, named in v. 11 , stood on a great road that circumscribed the west-central region of the province of Asia.

13–15 :

Like a man (lit. “Son of Man”; see 14.14 ): a figure in Dan. 7.13 ; here and especially in the Gospels it is applied to Jesus; the description of him (see Dan. 7.9–10, 12–13; 10.5–6; Ezek. 1.24–8; 43.2 ) expresses priesthood, kingship, eternity, omniscience, strength.

16 :

Right hand is a symbol of power; Christ, not Caesar, holds the seven stars (identified in v. 20 as the angels, perhaps guardian angels, of the churches); the stars are perhaps contrasted with the seven stars which appear on Roman coins as a symbol of imperial power. Sword suggests the power of his word; see Isa. 11.4; 49.2; Eph. 6.17; Heb. 4.12 . Shining face: compare Dan. 10.6; Matt. 13.43; 17.2 .

17 :

Fell at his feet: compare Dan. 10.9; Ezek. 1.28; Matt. 17.6; Lk. 5.8 .

17–18 :

The affirmation that Christ is first and last (see v. 8 n. ) here includes his victory over death.

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