The Apocalypse of Jesus Apocalypse, the title of this book in the original Greek, means "unveiling" or "disclosure" of hidden things known only to God. Other examples of apocalyptic literature can be found in the Old Testament in Daniel (chaps. 7-12), Isaiah (24-27), Ezekiel (chaps. 37-41), and Zechariah (chaps. 9-12). Author: John, the son of Zebedee, the brother of James, a Disciple and an Apostle Date: Around A.D. 95 during the rule and persecution of Domitian, emperor of Rome. Place: Patmos, an island for political and religious prisoners. Audience: Christians of the Roman province of Asia who were undergoing intense persecution. Each church mentioned in Chapters 2 and 3 were between 30-50 miles apart. Type of Literature: Apocalyptic—prophetic—using symbolism—especial y in Revelation because John was a prisoner and his letters probably were being censured by the Romans so that he could not instigate a revolution since he was the last living, original Disciple. Theme: While in the midst of persecutions, Christians can hold to the fact that Jesus has come in the past, is present with them in their struggles, and wil come again to take them victoriously and gloriously to their eternal home. Five current views of interpreting the Book of Revelation: Postmillennialism: A. The Tribulation was the Jewish war of A.D. 6670. B. From that time on, the society would be gradually changed into a Christian one. C. The Millennium would be a golden age of peace. D. After the Millennium, Jesus would return and bring the final Judgment of the World. When World War I happened, most people abandoned this view. Historic Premillennialism A. This age is evil and will continue to worsen until the final persecution of Christians by the Anti-Christ. (The Tribulation) B. Many Christians will die for their beliefs—martyrs. C. Christ will come and judge the Anti-Christ and establish the golden age of the millennium. D. Armageddon will happen when Satan is loosed and then the final judgment. E. The new heaven and earth will be established. This interpretation takes the entire book of Revelation literally. This view is held widely today. One question must be explained though: “Why the need for a thousand years of peace and then a final battle?” Dispensational Premillennialism: A. This view divides history into different dispensations—there is disagreement over how many—either 3 or 7. Each dispensation contains a different revelation from God. B. A rapture will take place before the world becomes completely wicked. C. God will deal with the nation of Israel during the 7 years of tribulation. D. The Anti-Christ will persecute the Israelites, but many will turn to Christ. E. Israel will be re-established as a righteous nation by Christ and He will rule the world as the King of Israel. F. Armageddon will take place and then the final judgment. G. God will establish a new heaven and a new earth. Though most people do not understand the dispensational aspect, this view is probably the mostly widely held in Southern Baptist churches. Like Historic Premillennialism, this view does not answer the question mentioned above. Amillennialism A. Christians have continued to be persecuted from the time of Christ and will be until His return—this is the tribulation. B. The souls of believers go to heaven at death and reign with Christ there—the Millennium. C. When Christ returns gloriously and bodily, those Christians still alive will be caught up—the rapture— and the dead in Christ will be resurrected. D. The judgment will occur immediately after Christ’s return. This view is held by many today and is widely understood as the simplest view. Promillennialism A. Martyrs will be honored in a first resurrection and given their reward as a thousand year reign. B. Satan’s temporary release means that God is so great and so good that He can allow evil to be loose on the earth. C. Once Christ’s rule is begun, there is no interruption. D. At the final judgment, Christ will cause all humans to appear before Him and be judged. There are other points, but each basically deals with the millennium as the period of the martyrs. This is a recent view and is a conglomeration of the others. Revelation Basics to Keep in Mind 1) Revelation is a book of prophecy—the forth-telling of Jesus’ second coming and a fore-telling of the events that will take place before and after that happens (1:19); 2) Revelation is not to be interpreted literally—it is an apocalypse—a revelation of four visions that John was given— apocalyptic literature is symbolic in nature, therefore, there are many symbols in the book of which we must be aware; 3) Revelation had a specific meaning to its original readers that must not be overlooked—in other words, the people of John’s day would have understood what John was writing about; 4) Scripture never contradicts itself. Therefore the interpretation of Revelation must be done in a manner that complements the whole of Scripture ; 5) One’s interpretation of the Revelation should not be used as a measuring stick of one’s salvation; Matthew 24-25 Matt 24:1-2 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 2 And He said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down." Matthew 24:2 Jerusalem was taken by the Roman armies, under the command of Titus, 70 A.D. Matthew 24:2 Josephus says that Titus "gave orders that they should now "demolish the whole city and temple," except three towers, which he reserved standing. The Abomination of Desolation as prophesied by Daniel has many different possible meanings. Antioches Epiphanes sacrificed a pig in 165 B.C. on the altar in the Temple. Some see it as what the Romans did in A.D. 70 when the Temple was being destroyed. Some see it as the Muslim Temple sitting on the place where the original Jewish Temple sat. Others see it as yet to occur. Matt 24:34-35 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. Some interpret this word as meaning “race” while others see it as “mankind” in general. It’s best translated as it is…a generation. Who was the last of Jesus’ generation to die? Matt 24:21-22 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Concerning the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, Josephus wrote: The whole city ran with blood, insomuch that many things which were burning were extinguished by the blood." - "Jewish Wars," b. 6 chapter 8 , section 5; chapter 9 , section 2,3. He adds that in the siege of Jerusalem not fewer than "eleven hundred thousand" perished (Jewish Wars, b. 6 chapter 9 , section 3) Many hundreds," says Josephus ("Jewish Wars," b. v. chapter 11 , section 1), "were first whipped, then tormented with various kinds of tortures, and finally crucified; the Roman soldiers nailing them (out of the wrath and hatred they bore to the Jews), one after one way and another after another, to crosses, "by way of jest," until at length the multitude became so great that room was lacking for crosses, and crosses for the bodies." So terribly was their imprecation fulfilled - "his blood be on us and on our children," Matt 27:25. If it be asked how it was possible for so many people to be slain in a single city, it is to be remembered that the siege of Jerusalem commenced during the time of the Passover, when all the males of the Jews were required to be there, and when it is estimated that more than "three million" were usually assembled. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, b. 6 chapter 9 , section 3,4. Revelation Chapter 1 I do not believe that this is a detailed history, but a representation of the great periods and powers in developing the kingdom of God in relation to the world. The Church-historical view goes counter to the great principle, that Scripture interprets itself. Revelation is to teach us to understand the times, not the times to interpret the Apocalypse. The book is in a series of parallel groups, not in chronological succession. John said that these things are soon to occur. The Gentile church needs to be roused from her tendency to make this world her home, by the nearness of Christ's advent. Many things must occur before His return, but it is imminent. The early church expected Him to come soon. Though it has been nearly two thousand years, Christ’s return could still happen in our lifetime. Verse 2 John was an eyewitness of the life of Jesus and also these events he is going to describe. John wanted his readers to know that his testimony was trustworthy and true. He has left nothing out. Everything he has seen—note the Gospels and the Epistles—John has testified to and given an account of for this readers. Verse 4 Seven churches--there were more churches in that region, but seven expresses totality. These seven represent the universal Church of all times and places. It is the number signifying God's covenant relation to mankind, especially to the Church. Here in the Revelation where the covenant reaches its consummation, appropriately seven recurs more frequently than elsewhere. Verse 5 The faithful Witness-- of the truth concerning Himself and His mission as Prophet, Priest, and King of kings. This description of Jesus is threefold. Jesus was a faithful witness even to death. He was and is the high priest whose sacrifice made atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus is the ruler of all kings. He appoints kings and rulers and all will one day be in subject under His feet and declare Him Lord. Verse 7 The overriding theme of the Book is the return of Jesus. The apostles saw Jesus leave in the clouds and the angel said that he would return just as they saw him leave Acts 1:11. Every eye will see him. This is going to be his public return for all to see, fear and know that the end has come. This is going to be a dreadful event for those who pierced him which is not reference to the Roman soldiers at the Cross. Verse 8 I am the Alpha and the Omega-- the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. God in Christ comprises all between, as well as first and last. In Christ, Genesis, the Alpha of Scripture, and Revelation, the Omega, meet; the last presenting man and God reconciled in Paradise, as the first presented man at the beginning innocent and in God's favor in Paradise. Accomplishing finally what He had begun. Verse 9 John needs no other explanation of who he is other than their brother and fellow partaker in tribulation—persecution— kingdom—the reign of Jesus in the life of the saints—and perseverance—the ability to overcome till the end. Jesus suffered the Cross and endured—we must follow His example. Verse 10 In the Spirit-- in a state of ecstasy: the outer world shut out: the inner spirit, being taken possession of by God's Spirit, establishing an immediate connection with the invisible world. This happened on a Sunday while John was worshipping or focusing his thoughts on God. Write in a book—John is commanded to write what he hears. He is not given an option. The book was to contain a message intended for these seven churches. It was a message that included the visions that we were to see. These seven are representative churches; as a complex whole, ideally complete, embodying the spiritual characteristics of the Church, whether as faithful or unfaithful, in all ages. Those selected are not taken at random, but have a many-sided completeness. Verse 12 Instead, he saw seven golden lampstands. Here the seven are separate, typifying the entire Church. The several churches are mutually independent as to external ceremonies and government, yet one in the unity of the Spirit and the Headship of Christ. The candlestick is not light, but bears light, holding forth light around. The light the Church bears is the Lord's, not her own--Phil. 2:15-16. His glory is the end of her light--Matt. 5:16. The Lord is the Church's only light; the light of grace, not nature. “Golden” symbolizes the greatest preciousness and sacredness. Verse 13 In the middle of the lampstands-- implying Christ's presence and ceaseless activity in the midst of His people—the church. The garment and sash are emblems of His priesthood. His being in the midst of the candlesticks (only seen in the temple), shows it is as king-priest. He is so attired. This priesthood He has exercised since His ascension; and therefore wears its emblems. He has the seven stars in his hand—probably the angels of the seven churches in verse 20. Jesus has the power over the churches and they exist by and through Him. From his mouth proceeds a sharp two-edged sword. It is a war-like image which shows the power of Jesus’ words. They have the power to cut asunder the soul and spirit. Jesus does not need any other weapon. He defeated the devil’s temptations by his word. His dazzling face points to the glory of God and Christ which is not only brilliant, but blinding like the sun at full strength—noonday. Verse 20 (the mystery) That is, the explanation of the seven stars is the seven angels or ministers of the churches; and the meaning of the seven golden lamps is the seven churches themselves. 1. In the seven stars there may be an allusion to the seals of different offices under potentates, each of which had its own particular seal, which verified all instruments from that office; and as these seals were frequently set in rings which were worn on the fingers, there may be an allusion to those brilliants set in rings, and worn on the right hand. In (Jer. 22:24), Coniah is represented as a signet on the right hand of the Lord; and that such signets were in rings see (Gen. 38:18,25; Exo. 28: 11; Dan. 6:17; Hag. 2:23). On close examination we shall find that all the symbols in this book have their foundation either in nature, fact, custom, or general opinion. 2. The churches are represented by these lamps; they hold the oil and the fire, and dispense the light. A lamp is not light in itself, it is only the instrument of dispensing light, and it must receive both oil and fire before it can dispense any; so no church has in itself either grace or glory, it must receive all from Christ its head, else it can dispense neither light nor life. 3. The ministers of the Gospel are signets or seals of Jesus Christ; he uses them to stamp his truth, to accredit it, and give it currency. But as a seal can mark nothing of itself unless applied by a proper hand, so the ministers of Christ can do no good, seal no truth, impress no soul, unless the great owner decide to use them. 4. How careful should the church be that it have the oil and the light, that it continue to burn and send forth divine knowledge! In vain does any church pretend to be a church of Christ if it gives forth no light; if souls are not enlightened, quickened, and converted in it. If Jesus walks in it, its light will shine both clearly and strongly, and sinners will be converted unto him; and the members of that church will be children of the light, and walk as children of the light and of the day, and there will be no occasion of stumbling in them. Application from Chapter 1: 1. Those who read and those who hear and those who heed the words of this prophecy will be full of joy—verse 3. 2. The idea of a second coming of Jesus is a fact and will take place for all to see—verses 4-8— please note in verse 7 that the second coming will be with the clouds—there is no mention of Jesus having to set his feet upon the earth for it to be His second coming—see also Acts 1:11. 3. John was a prisoner on the penal colony at Patmos suffering in the tribulation, but on the day of worship, he was doing what he should have been doing, worshipping (9). 4. Not only was John doing what he should, he found Jesus being where He promised: right there with him. 5. The first vision reveals Jesus in all of his glorious splendor and is truly worthy of worship and praise—verses 12-16. 6. The image of Jesus in the middle of the lampstands symbolizes Jesus’ presence among His people and His watch-care over the churches and their leaders—verses 12, 13, 16a, 20. 7. In contrast to Jesus’ watch-care over the churches, He holds the future of those who have died and are in Hades (18) which refers to their judgment which will take place at His coming. This means that there is no second chance or opportunity for those who have died without faith. Chapter 2:1 I consider the churches as real, and that their spiritual state is here really and literally pointed out, and that they have reference to the state of the church of Christ in all ages of the world. The angel of the church is signifying the messenger, the pastor, sent by Christ and his apostles to teach and edify that church. Consider what is spoken to this angel as spoken to the whole church; and that it is not his particular state that is described, but the states of the people in general under his care. Dagon Baal Asherah Ra Golden Calf Church Ephesus Jesus’ Self-Description The One who holds the seven stars And the One who walks among the Seven golden lampstands “I Know” Deeds, toil, perseverance, Detested false teachers Problem Lost first love Solution Do deeds you once performed Reward Tree of life Smyrna The First and the Last, Who was dead But has come to life Tribulation and poverty None Don’t fear, be faithful Crown of Life Pergamum The One who has the sharp two-edged Sword Where you live Faithful Teaching of Balaam, Nicolaitans Repent Hidden Manna and a White Stone and New Name Thyatira The Son of God with eyes like a Flame and feet of bronze Deeds, love, faith, service Greater now Tolerate Jezebel immorality and idolatry Repent, hold fast until His Return Authority and the Morning Star Sardis He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars Deeds and Name Church is dead Wake up, Strengthen the Remaining, Repent Clothed in White, Not Erase name From Book Life PhilaDelphia Holy and True, who has the key of David, opens doors Deeds, given an open door, little Power, faithful None Hold fast Pillar in Temple God’s name Laodicea The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of Creation Deeds are neither hot or Cold Indifference Complacent Buy from Christ Sit down with Jesus on Throne Revelation 2:1-3:22 Applications for daily living: 1. From Ephesus we learn that activity and doctrinal soundness cannot replace a heart and attitude of love. 2. From Smyrna we learn that faithfulness unto death—death to self—allows us to escape the second death—death unto God. 3. From Pergamum we learn that false teachings must not be tolerated. 4. From Thyatira we learn that false teachers mix truth with error and lead unsuspecting Christians away and into eventual punishment. 5. From Sardis we learn that a body may look as if it is alive, and it may even act as if it is alive, but at its heart, it is stone-cold dead. 6. From Philadelphia we learn that the vitality of a church is a direct indication of its missionary zeal. 7. From Laodicea we learn that indifference in a church about its spiritual condition and toward its commissionary fulfillment is sickening to Jesus. From all seven churches we learn that Jesus is fully aware of both the spiritual condition of the church and its attitude toward fulfilling the Great Commission, and that He fully expects His churches to be fulfilling its discipling and missionary directives. What Happened to the Ark of the Covenant? It is a traditional teaching of the Jews that the ark of the covenant, the tables of stone, Aaron's rod, the holy anointing oil, and the pot of manna, were hidden by King Josiah when Jerusalem was taken by the Babylonians, and that these will all be restored in the days of the Messiah. Others say it is under the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock—a Muslim Mosque—is located. Revelation 4:1-11:19 The Second Vision of John 24 Elders—probably 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles—symbolic of the people of God. 7—completeness; 3—symbolic for God—the Trinity; 4—symbolic of the whole creation 12—3 x 4 = 12—Completeness or total; 144,000—12 squared times 10 cubed—a complete number—all totaled (And one sitting on the throne) It is remarkable that John gives no description of him who sat on the throne, nor does he indicate who he was by name. Neither do Isaiah or Ezekiel attempt to describe the appearance of the God, nor are there any intimations of that appearance given from which a picture or an image could be formed. So much do their representations accord with what is demanded by God in His commandments that they have guarded against any encouragement of idolatry. He does not describe his form, but his splendor. (And there was a rainbow around the throne) This is a beautiful image, and was probably designed to be emblematic as well as beautiful. It reminds us of the “covenant” when God did “set his bow in the cloud,” and solemnly promised that the earth should no more be destroyed by a flood, (Gen. 9:916). The appearance of the rainbow, therefore, around the throne, was a beautiful emblem of the mercy of God, and of the peace that was to pervade the world as the result of the events that were to be disclosed to the vision of John. True, there were lightning and thundering and voices, but there the bow stood calmly above them all, assuring him that there was to be mercy and peace. We will see the “bow” again in this book. The 24 Thrones and Elders (around the throne were twenty-four thrones) Perhaps this is in reference to the smaller Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, which was composed of twenty-three elders; or to the princes of the twenty-four courses of the Jewish priests which ministered at the tabernacle and the temple, at first appointed by David. (1) These elders have a regal character, or are of a kingly order. This is apparent: (a) because they are represented as sitting on “thrones,” and (b) because they have on their heads “crowns of gold.” (2) they are emblematic. They are designed to symbolize or represent some class of persons. This is clear: (a) because it cannot be supposed that so small a number would compose the whole of those who are in fact around the throne of God, and (b) because there are other symbols there designed to represent something pertaining to the homage rendered to God, as the four living creatures and the angels, and this supposition is necessary in order to complete the symmetry and harmony of the representation. (3) they are human beings, and are designed to have some relation to the race of man, and somehow to connect the human race with the worship of heaven. The four living creatures have another design; the angels--Rev. 5--have another; but these are manifestly of our race-- persons from this world before the throne. (4) they are designed in some way to be symbolic of the church as redeemed. Thus, they say in Rev. 5:9, “You have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” (5) they are designed to represent the whole church in every land and every age of the world. This shows, further, that the whole representation is emblematic; for otherwise in so small a number-twenty-four-- there could not be a representation out of every nation. (6) they represent the church triumphant-- the church victorious. Thus, they have crowns on their heads; they have harps in their hands (Rev. 5:8); they say that they are “kings and priests,” and that they will “reign on the earth,” (Rev. 5:10). (7) the design, therefore, is to represent the church triumphant-- redeemed-- saved-- as rendering praise and honor to God; as uniting with the hosts of heaven in adoring him for his perfection and for the wonders of his grace; As representatives of the church, they are admitted near him; they encircle his throne; they appear victorious over every foe; and they come, in unison with the living creatures, and the angels, and the whole universe to ascribe power and dominion to God. (8) as to the reason why the number “twentyfour” is mentioned, perhaps nothing certain can be determined. Ezekiel, in his vision (Ezek. 8:16; 11:1), saw twenty-five men between the porch and the altar, with their backs toward the temple, and their faces toward the earth-- supposed to be representations of the twenty-four “courses” into which the body of priests was divided (1 Chr. 24:3-19), with the high priest among them, making up the number twenty-five. It is possible that John in this vision may have designed to refer to the church as a priesthood, and to have alluded to the fact that the priesthood under the Jewish economy was divided into twenty-four courses, each with a presiding officer, and who was a representative of that portion of the priesthood over which he presided. In Chapter 4, John sees basically the same 4 creatures Ezekiel saw in his vision—Ezk. 1:5 These creatures had 4 wings, while these in Revelation 4:6-8 had 6 wings like the Seraphim of Isaiah 6. As the 24 Elders cast their crowns down before the throne, so too will we do the same. 24 and 4 living creatures represent: All of God’s creation All of God’s People—both Covenants 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Disciples (Which are the seven Spirits of God)Which represent, or are emblematic of, the seven Spirits of God. If these refer to the Holy Spirit, then perhaps their being placed here before the throne, in the midst of thunder and lightning, may be designed to represent the idea that-- amidst all the scenes of magnificence and grandeur; all the storms and tempests on the earth; all the political changes; all the convulsions of empires under the providence of God; and all the disturbances in the soul of man, produced by the thunders of the law-- the Spirit of God beams calmly and serenely, shedding a steady influence over all, like lamps burning in the very midst of lightning, and thundering, and voices. In all the scenes of majesty and excitement that occur on the earth, the Spirit of God is present, shedding a constant light, and undisturbed in his influence by all the confusions that abound. Verse 6 (And before the throne there was something like a sea of glass) An expanse spread out like a sea composed of glass: that is, that was crystal-clear and transparent like glass. It is not uncommon to compare the sea with glass. The point of the comparison here seems to be its transparent appearance. It was perfectly clear-- apparently stretching out in a wide expanse, as if it were a sea. So the kingdom of God is as far as the eye can see. A sea went over the horizon, so it seemed to extend on forever. (Were four living creatures) The word “beasts” by no means conveys a correct idea of the original word. The Greek word-- () -- means properly “a living thing”; and it is thus indeed applied to animals, or to the living creation, but the notion of their being living things, or living creatures, should be retained in the translation. Ezekiel, whom John more nearly resembles in his description, saw four “living creatures”(Ezek. 1:5)- that is, living, animated, moving beings. The words “living beings” would better convey the idea than any other which could be employed. They are evidently, like those which Ezekiel saw, symbolical beings; but the nature and purpose of the symbol is not perfectly apparent. The vision of the “living beings,” therefore, is not, as I suppose, a representation of the attributes of God as such, but an emblematic representation of the divine government-- of the throne of God resting upon, or sustained by, those things of which these living beings are symbols denoting intelligence, vigilance, the quickness and directness with which the divine commands are executed, and the energy and firmness with which the government of God is administered. (Full of eyes) Denoting omniscience. The Greek mythological being Argus as having 100 eyes, or as having the power of seeing in any direction. The emblem here would denote an all-seeing God. And, in accordance with the explanation proposed above, it means that, in the administration of the divine government, everything is distinctly contemplated; nothing escapes observation; nothing can be concealed. It is obvious that the divine government could not be administered unless this were so; and it is the perfection of the government of God that all things are seen just as they are. In the vision seen by Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:18), the “rings” of the wheels on which the living creatures moved are represented as “full of eyes round about them,” symbolizing the same thing. (In front) As one looked on their faces, from whatever quarter the throne was approached, he could see a multitude of eyes looking upon him. (And behind) On the parts of their bodies which were under the throne. The meaning is, that there is universal vigilance in the government of God. Whatever is the form of the divine administration; whatever part is contemplated; however it is manifested-- whether as activity, energy, power, or intelligence-- it is based on the fact that all things are seen from every direction. There is nothing that is the result of blind fate or of chance. The first living creature was like a lion; this was, say the rabbis, the standard of JUDAH on the east, with the two tribes of Issachar and Zebulon. The second, like a calf or ox which was the emblem of EPHRAIM who pitched on the west, with the two tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin. The third, with the face of a man, which, according to the rabbis, was the standard of REUBEN who pitched on the south, with the two tribes of Simeon and Gad. The fourth, which was like a flying eagle, was, according to the same writers, the emblem on the ensign of DAN who pitched on the north, with the two tribes of Asher and Naphtali. This traditional description agrees with the four faces of the cherub in Ezekiel's vision. Christian tradition has given these creatures as emblems of the four evangelists. To John is attributed the EAGLE; to Luke the OX, to Mark the LION, and to Matthew the MAN, or angel in human form. As the former represented the whole Jewish church or congregation, so the latter is intended to represent the whole Christian church. (Cast their crowns before the throne) Acknowledge the infinite supremacy of God, and that they have derived their being and their blessings from Him alone. This is an allusion to the custom of prostration in the east of the worshippers of God, and to the homage of petty kings acknowledging the supremacy of the emperor. Verse 11 (Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive) Thus all creation acknowledges the supremacy of God. We learn from this song that he made all things for his pleasure, and through the same motive he preserves. Hence it is most evident, that he hates nothing that he has made, and could have made no intelligent creature with the design to make it eternally miserable. It is man’s choice and his actions which separate him eternally from God’s presence. Verse 1 (A book written inside and on the back) That is, the book was full of solemn contents within, but it was sealed; and on the back side was a superscription indicating its contents. It was a labeled book, or one written on each side of the skin, which was not usual. The book or roll seems to have been so held in his hand that John could see its shape, and see distinctly how it was written and sealed. The book or roll referred to here was what contained the revelation in the subsequent chapters, to the end of the description of the opening of the seventh seal-- for the communication that was to be made was all included in the seven seals. Verse 5 (The Lion that is from the tribe of Judah) Jesus Christ, who sprang from this tribe, as his genealogy proves; see (Matt. 1) and (Luke 3). There is an allusion here to (Gen. 49:9), Judah is a lion's cub; the lion was the emblem of this tribe, and was supposed to have been embroidered on its ensigns. (The Root of David) See (Isa. 11:1). CHRIST WAS THE ROOT OF DAVID AS TO HIS DIVINE NATURE; HE WAS A BRANCH OUT OF THE STEM OF JESSE AS TO HIS HUMAN NATURE. (Has overcome) By the merit of his incarnation, passion, and death. (To open the book) To explain and execute all the purposes and decrees of God, in relation to the government of the world and the church. (a Lamb) Christ, so called because he was a sacrificial offering. The word “lamb” signifies a little or delicate lamb. (As if slain) As if now in the act of being offered. This is very remarkable; so important is the sacrificial offering of Christ in the sight of God that he is still represented as being in the very act of pouring out his blood for the offenses of man. This gives great advantage to faith; when any soul comes to the throne of grace, he finds a sacrifice there provided for him to offer to God. Thus all succeeding generations find they have the continual sacrifice ready, and the newly-shed blood to offer. (Seven horns) As horn is the emblem of power, and seven the number of perfection, the seven horns may denote the all-prevailing and infinite might of Jesus Christ. He can support all his friends; he can destroy all his enemies; and he can save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him. (Seven eyes) To denote his infinite knowledge and wisdom: but as these seven eyes are said to be the seven Spirits of God, they seem to denote rather his providence, in which he often employs the ministry of angels; therefore, these are said to be sent forth into all the earth. Verse 9 (A new song) Composed on the matters and blessings of the Gospel, which was just now opened on earth. But new song may signify a most excellent song, and by this the Gospel and its blessings are probably signified. The Gospel is called a new song, (Psa. 96:1). And perhaps there is an allusion in the harps here to (Psa. 144:9). (Worthy are you to take the book, and to break its seals; for you were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation) It appears, therefore, that the living creatures and the elders represent the combined followers of God; or the Christian church in all nations, and among all kinds of people, and perhaps through the whole compass of time: and all these are said to be redeemed by Christ's blood, plainly showing that his life was a sacrificial offering for the sins of mankind. In Chapter 5, John saw a book with seven seals, and no one except the Lamb of God was found worthy to open the book. Application—a question for the literalist translators—does the Lamb of God—Jesus—have 7 horns and 7 eyes? 7 horns are symbolic of Complete Power and the 7 eyes are symbolic of Complete Vision. In Chapter 6, John saw the first 6 seals of the book opened. Here comes the beginning of the problem of interpretation for many scholars. Most of you have learned differing points of view and now you are being offered another. If Scripture doesn’t contradict itself, then the proper interpretation of Revelation must beginning with a comparison of Jesus’ words about the end times and His Second Coming. Revelation 6:1ff 1st seal—white horse—conquer and conquering 2nd seal—red horse—war 3rd seal—black horse—famine 4th seal—ashen horse—Death and Hades 5th seal—Martyrs 6th seal—Earthquake—read vv. 12-13 Matthew 24:1ff What is the sign of your coming? Wars and rumors of wars Famine will take place You will be killed For my name After great tribulation—v. 29 Many of your translations will have sub-titles listed before each rider—these sub-titles do not appear in the Greek. These things have been added by translators who follow their own interpretation— every translation contains a certain amount of biased interpretation. For example—one of my translations in the NASU states that the first rider is the antichrist, while another NASU has nothing for the first seal. Those who believe that the first rider is the antichrist do so because the rider had a bow and a stephanos—a victor’s crown instead of a diadem or kingly crown and a sword. However, let me ask you one question: What does the “bow” symbolize? Now I know that the Greek word used here literally means an archer’s bow, but considering John’s use of symbolism, does not the “bow” represent a covenant God made with man? Did not the first coming of Jesus usher in a New Covenant with man, not only to not destroy him by a flood, but to offer to him eternal life? Just think about it. Application—the vision that John sees is almost a word for word description of what Jesus had taught them just before His death. To this point, we have a history of the Church to John’s time. All of these occurrences had happened in his day—which Jesus prophesied would happen. (Matthew 24:34) VERSE 1 (When the Lamb broke one of the seven seals) It is worthy of remark that the opening of the seals is not merely a declaration of what God will do, but is the exhibition of a purpose then accomplished; for whenever the seal is opened, the sentence appears to be executed. It is supposed that, in (Rev. 6--11), the calamities which should fall on the enemies of Christianity, and particularly the Jews, are pointed out under various images; as well as the preservation of the Christians under those calamities. The specifications under the first seal are four: (1) the general symbol of the horse-common to the first four seals; (2) the color of the horse; (3) the fact that he that sat on him had a bow; and (4) that a crown was given him by someone, as indicative of victory. The question now is, what these symbols would naturally denote: The Meaning of Horse 1. War, as this was probably one of the first uses to which the horse was applied. 2. As a consequence of this, and of the conquests achieved by the horse in war, he became the symbol of conquest-- of a people that could not be overcome. 3. The horse was an emblem of fleetness, and, consequently, of the rapidity of conquest. 4. The horse is an emblem of strength, and consequently of safety. (A white horse) May represent the Gospel system, and pointing out its excellence, swiftness, and purity. Now, the general notion attached to the mention of a white horse, according to ancient usage, would be that of state and triumph, derived from the fact that white horses were rode by conquerors on the days of their triumph; that they were used in the marriage cavalcade; that they were employed on coronation occasions, etc. In the triumphs granted by the Romans to their victorious generals, after a procession composed of musicians, captured princes, spoils of battle, etc., came the conqueror himself, seated on a high chariot drawn by four white horses, robed in purple, and wearing a wreath of laurel. (He that sat on him) I believe represents Jesus Christ. Others suppose this rider to be the Antichrist who is to come as a peacemaker and deceive the whole world. (A bow) The preaching of the Gospel, darting conviction into the hearts of sinners. The bow is a reminder also of the 1st Covenant and Jesus came to fulfill the law and not dissolve it. Christ is also seen armed with a two-edged sword in his mouth—the Word of God. (A crown) Jesus wore this victor’s crown and not the kingly crown wore by Him later. Now He was victorious over sin and death at the Cross—fulfillment of 1st Covenant. (Conquering, and to conquer.) Jesus conquered. Verses 3 and 4 (Another, a red horse) The emblem of war; perhaps also of severe persecution, and the martyrdom of the saints. War has been a part of man’s experience since Cain killed Abel. Man’s way of conquest ends in bloodshed. This symbol cannot be mistaken. As the white horse denoted prosperity, triumph, and happiness (the Good News), so this would denote carnage, discord, bloodshed. This is clear, not only from the nature of the emblem, but from the explanation immediately added. (to him who sat on him) Some say, Christ; others. Vespasian; others, the Roman armies; others, Artabanus, king of the Parthians. (Take peace from the earth) To deprive the Christians and possibly Judea of all tranquility. (They should slay one another) This was literally the case with the Jews, while besieged by the Romans. (A great sword.) Great influence and success, producing terrible carnage. The Great Revolt began in the year 66 a.d., originating in the Roman and Jewish religious tensions. The crisis escalated due to anti-taxation protests and attacks upon Roman citizens. The Romans responded by plundering the Jewish Temple and executing up to 6,000 Jews in Jerusalem, prompting a full-scale rebellion. The Roman military garrison of Judea was quickly overrun by rebels, while the pro-Roman king Agrippa II, together with Roman officials, fled Jerusalem. As it became clear the rebellion was getting out of control, Cestius Gallus, the legate of Syria, brought in the Syrian army, based on Legion XII Fulminata and reinforced by auxiliary troops, to restore order and quell the revolt. Despite initial advances and conquest of Jaffa, the Syrian Legion was ambushed and defeated by Jewish rebels at the Battle of Beth Horon with about 6,000 Romans massacred and the Legion's Eagle standard was lost - a result that shocked the Roman leadership. Following a seven-month siege, Titus Flavius, Emperor Vespasian's son, eventually used the collapse of several of the city walls to breach Jerusalem. By the summer of 70, the Romans had breached the walls of Jerusalem, ransacking and burning nearly the entire city. During the final stages of the Roman attack, Zealots under John of Giscala still held the Temple, while the Sicarii, led by Simon Bar Giora, held the upper city. The Second Temple (the renovated Herod's Temple), one of the last fortified bastions of the rebellion, was destroyed on July 29-30, 70). All three walls of Jerusalem were eventually destroyed as well as the Temple and the citadels; the city was then put to the torch, with most survivors taken into slavery; some of those overturned stones and their place of impact can still be seen. John of Giscala surrendered at Agrippa II's fortress of Jotapata and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The famous Arch of Titus in Rome depicts Roman legionaries carrying the Temple of Jerusalem's treasuries, including the Menorah, during Titus's triumphal procession in Rome. With the fall of Jerusalem, some insurrection still continued in isolated locations in Judea, lasting as long as 73. Masada Lucius Flavius Silva moved against the last Judean stronghold, Masada, in the autumn of 72. He used Legio X, auxiliary troops, and thousands of Jewish prisoners, for a total of 10,000 soldiers. After his orders for surrender were rejected, Silva established several base camps and circumvallated the fortress. According to Josephus, when the Romans finally broke through the walls of this citadel in 73, they discovered that 960 of the 967 defenders had committed suicide. Verses 5 and 6 (A black horse) The emblem of famine. Some think that which took place under Claudius. See (Matt. 24:7); the same which was predicted by Agabus, (Acts 11:28) (A pair of scales) To show that the scarcity would be such, that every person must be put under an allowance. The balance could symbolize judgment and this case a famine. (A quart of wheat for a denarius) The quart here mentioned was a measure of dry things; and although the capacity is not exactly known, yet it is generally agreed that it contained as much as one man could consume in a day; and a denarius, the Roman denarius, was the ordinary pay of a laborer. So it appears that in this scarcity each might be able to obtain a bare subsistence by his daily labor; but a man could not, in such cases, provide for a family. (Three quarts of barley) This seems to have been the proportion of value between the wheat and the barley. Barley was generally for the poor, and was given to the Roman soldiers instead of wheat, by way of punishment. (do not harm the oil and the wine.) Be sparing of these: use them not as delicacies, but for necessity; because neither the vines nor the olives will be productive. Verses 7 and 8 (A ashen horse) The symbol of death, pale death, was a very usual poetic epithet; of this symbol there can be no doubt, because it is immediately said, His name that sat on him was DEATH. (And Hades was following with him.) The grave, or state of the dead, received the slain. This is a very elegant personification. Death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire (20:14). (Over a fourth of the earth) One fourth of mankind was to feel the desolating effects of this seal. (To kill with sword) WAR; with hunger-- FAMINE; with death-- PESTILENCE; and with the beasts of the earth-- lions, tigers, hyenas, etc., which would multiply in consequence of the devastation occasioned by war, famine, and pestilence. HADES In every one of these passages hades stands in a dark and-forbidding connection with death-very unlike that association with paradise and Abraham's bosom in which our Lord exhibited the receptacle of his own and his people's souls to the eye of faith; and not only so, but in one of them it is expressly as an ally of death in the execution of judgment that hades is represented, while in another it appears as an accursed thing, consigned to the lake of fire. Here ends the array of horses; and it is evidently intended by these four symbols to refer to a series of events that have a general resemblance-something that could be made to stand by themselves, and that could be grouped together. Domitian was paranoid about conspiracies. He developed new tortures and harassed philosophers and Jews. He had vestal virgins executed or buried alive on charges of immorality. After he impregnated his niece, he insisted she have an abortion and then, when she died as a result, he deified her. He executed officials who opposed his policies and confiscated their property. Verse 9 (The fifth seal) There is no animal nor any other being to introduce this seal, nor does there appear to be any new event predicted; but the whole is intended to comfort the followers of God under their persecutions, and to encourage them to bear up under their distresses. (I saw underneath the altar) A symbolical vision was exhibited, in which he saw an altar; and under it the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God-- martyred for their attachment to Christianity, are represented as being newly slain as victims to idolatry and superstition. This begins to give us a hint of what will happen to God’s people between Jesus’ first and second coming. John saw a heavenly altar which was symbolic of the altar in the temple used for sacrifices. It reflects the open line of communication between God and his people. Our prayers are heard at this altar. The souls underneath the altar show that from God’s perspective the death of Christians at the hands of persecutors are a special sacrifice. Verse 10 (And they cried out with a loud voice) That is, their blood, like that of Abel, cried for vengeance; for we are not to suppose that there was anything like a vindictive spirit in those happy and holy souls who had shed their blood for the testimony of Jesus. We sometimes say Blood cries for blood. (O Lord) Sovereign Lord, supreme Ruler; one having and exercising unlimited and uncontrolled authority. (Holy) In your own nature, hating iniquity; (And true) In all your promises and threatening; (Do you not judge) The persecutors; (And avenge our blood) Inflict outstanding punishment; (On them that dwell on the earth?) Probably meaning the persecuting Jews and Romans. God will judge the Unrighteous and will avenge the blood of the martyrs. They wanted vindication and not retribution. Verse 11 (White robe) The emblems of purity, innocence, and triumph and a badge of honor. Only these and the ones of the Great Tribulation multitude are given white robes. (They should rest for a little while longer) This is a declaration that, when the cup of the iniquity of the Jews should be full, they should then be punished in a mass. They were determined to proceed further, and God permits them so to do; reserving the fullness of their punishment until they had filled up the measure of their iniquity. This destruction is that which was to fall upon the Jews; and the little time or season was that which elapsed between their martyrdom, or the date of this book, and the final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, under Vespasian and his son Titus, in 70. What follows may refer to the destruction of the pagan Roman empire. God knows how many martyrs there will be and then the end will come. Truths from chapter six. 1. The history of the world includes conquest, war, famine, and death 2. The number of Christian martyrs will increase until Christ’s return. 3. God will avenge the death of martyrs and will honor them in His time. 4. The wrath of God against sin cannot be ignored or explained away.