Revelation of Jesus

The first paragraph presents the purpose, key themes, main characters, means of communication, and chronological outlook of the Book of Revelation. It is “THE prophecy,” singular, sent to the Assemblies of Asia to “show them what things must come to pass,” a declaration that provides the timeframe of the Book's expectations - “Soon!” Above all, it is a revelation about “Jesus Christ.”

He is portrayed in unexpected and paradoxical ways. Though he is the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth,” he is also the sacrificial Lamb who “shepherds the nations,” the “King of kings” who redeems men by shedding his blood rather than the blood of his enemies.

Beach sunburst - Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash
[Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash]

The Book communicates with symbols (“
he signified”), and the opening paragraph provides the first of many examples of how it applies passages from the Hebrew Bible (“What things must come to pass soon”).

It is a single document that is addressed in its entirety to the same audience, the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.” It includes a prologue, a series of visions, and an epilogue.

It is the “Revelation” or apokalypsis of “Jesus Christ.” The Greek noun Apokalypsis means a “revelation, disclosure, an unveiling” (Strong’s Concordance - #G602).

  • (Revelation 1:1-3) – “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants the things which must come to pass soon, and he signified, sending through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever things he saw. Blessed is he that reads, and they who hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written in it, for the season is near.”

The term “revelation” is not the title of the Book, but the designation of what it is. The word is singular. It is not a collection of loosely connected visions but a focused and well-organized disclosure to the Church about coming events.

The genitive construction of the clause may mean it is an unveiling about Jesus, one that belongs to him, or both (“of Jesus Christ”). Since the Book reveals information about the identity and role of Jesus, both senses are intended. He certainly is the center and most pivotal character of Revelation.

God “gave” this “revelation” or disclosure to Jesus, who. in turn, “gave” it to his angel to “show his servants” imminent events. The stress is on his possession of the “revelation.” Events in the visions unfold as he unveils them to “his servant,” John, but it also includes information about Jesus and HOW he reigns over the kings and nations of the Earth.

The contents are labeled the “Word of God” and the “Testimony of Jesus.” The latter term is repeated several times to stress the faithful “testimony” given by Jesus in his death, as well as the “testimony” of his saints who persevere in tribulation and persecution - (Revelation 1:4, 1:11, 1:20, 12:11, 13:7-10).


The purpose is “to show” God’s servants “what things must come to pass soon.” This phrase summarizes the Book’s contents and echoes a passage from the Book of Daniel that Revelation modifies and folds into its narrative. Events that for Daniel were in a remote future (“In later days”), become imminent for the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” (“Soon”).

When John does allude to the Old Testament, he uses the Greek Septuagint version. Note the first verse of Revelation compared to the passage in the Greek version of Daniel:

  • (Revelation 1:1) - “Revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what things must come to pass (ha dei genesthai) soon.”
  • (Daniel 2:28) - “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and made known to king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass (ha dei genesthai) in later days.”

The unveiling of imminent events is necessary because the “season is near,” and imminence is reiterated in the Book’s conclusion. The phrase is another echo of Daniel:

  • (Revelation 1:3) - “Blessed is he that reads, and they who hear the words of the prophecy… for the season (kairos) is at hand.”
  • (Daniel 12:4) - “Shut up the words and seal the Book, even until the season (kairosof the end.”

Daniel was told to “seal the book until the season of the end.” In contrast, all those who read and heed Revelation are “blessed” because the “season is at hand.” This understanding is confirmed in the Epilogue - “Seal not the words of the prophecy, for the season is at hand” - (Revelation 22:7. Compare Daniel 12:4).

Jesus “signified” to his servants. This translates the Greek verb sémainō, which is related to the noun used elsewhere for “sign” or semeion (Strong’s Concordance - #G4591). It means to “indicate, show by sign, to signify or signal.” In ancient warfare, it referred to visual and audible “signals” used for ordering advances, retreats, and attacks. It points to the symbolic nature of the Book’s visions - It communicates through symbols.

The recipients of the Book are the “servants” of Jesus (doulos, “slave, servant”), a term applied to his followers elsewhere, including the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” - (Revelation 2:20, 7:3, 12:17, 13:7).

Mountain Sunshine - Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash
[Photo by Armand Khoury on Unsplash]

Revelation discloses how the Kingdom of God achieves victory, the role of God’s “servants” in the process, and what this means for the marginalized congregations of Asia. What Daniel anticipated in a remote future in a veiled form is revealed openly and put into motion by Jesus.

The time of fulfillment began following the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the “Faithful Witness and the Firstborn of the Dead… Who is the Living One, and he became dead. And behold, he is living unto the ages of ages, and he has the keys of Death and of Hades.” Not even the realm of the Dead is beyond his authority.

  • The Recipients - (In its entirety, Revelation is addressed to seven churches located in the Roman province of Asia in the first century A.D.)
  • Call to Action - (Through a series of seven beatitudes, Revelation summons believers to faithfulness despite hostility and persecution)
  • Unsealing the Scroll - (Daniel was commanded to seal the scroll, but the angel sent by Jesus commanded John NOT to do so since the season is here - Revelation 22:10)


Destruction of Babylon

The Little Horn