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  • As the last book of the Bible, Revelation is the conclusion, completion, and consummation of the entire divine revelation, the whole Bible. The seeds of most of the truths of the divine revelation were sown in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. The growth of all these seeds is progressively developed in the succeeding books, especially in the books of the New Testament, and the harvest is reaped in the book of Revelation. Hence, most of the things covered in this book are not absolutely new but are in the preceding books and are perfected in this book, the focus of which is the unique, ultimate revelation of Christ, the particular, consummate testimony of Jesus, and the universal, eternal economy of God.

    This book is a book of prophecy — not prophecy merely in words but in visions revealed to the seer. In the eyes of God, all the things prophesied in this book have already taken place. Thus, all were shown to the seer, vision after vision. Therefore, most of the verbs used in this book are in the past tense.

    The whole Bible reveals Christ; the book of Revelation especially, as the conclusion, completion, and consummation of the whole Bible, is "the revelation of Jesus Christ." Although this book also reveals many other things, the focus of its revelation is Christ. Several aspects concerning Christ, such as the vision of Christ as the High Priest in the midst of the churches, caring for them in love yet with a judging attitude (vv. 13-16), the vision of Him as the Lion-Lamb in the midst of God's throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the twenty-four elders of the universe, opening the seven seals of God's universal administration (Rev. 5:1-14; 6:1), and the vision of Him as "another strong Angel" coming down out of heaven to take possession of the earth (Rev. 10:1-8; 18:1), etc., were never unveiled as they are in this book.

  • The revelation of this book is composed mainly of signs, i.e., symbols with spiritual significance, such as the seven lampstands, signifying the churches; the seven stars, signifying the messengers of the churches (v. 20), etc. Even the New Jerusalem is a sign, signifying the ultimate consummation of God's economy (chs. 21—22). This book, then, is a book of signs through which the revelation is made known to us.

    John's Gospel is a book of signs signifying how Christ came to be our life to produce the church, His bride. John's Revelation is a book of signs showing how Christ is now caring for the church and how He is coming to judge and possess the earth and bring the church, His bride, into God's full economy.

  • On one hand, this book gives us the revelation of Christ, and on the other hand, it shows us the testimony of Jesus, which is the church. It presents to us the revealed Christ and the testifying church. The lampstands in ch. 1, the great multitude of the redeemed in ch. 7, the bright woman with her man-child in ch. 12, the harvest with its firstfruits in ch. 14, the overcomers on the sea of glass in ch. 15, the bride ready for marriage in ch. 19, and the New Jerusalem in chs. 21 and 22 are all the testimony of Jesus. This testimony of Jesus is the spirit — the substance, the disposition, and the characteristic — of the prophecy (Rev. 19:10).

    Christ is the Witness of God (Rev. 1:5), the testimony and the expression of God. The church is the testimony and the expression of Christ. As such, the church is the reproduction of the testimony and the expression of God in Christ.

  • The revelation in this book is in the nature of prophecy. Most of the visions refer to things to come. Even the seven epistles to the seven churches in chs. 2 and 3, in the sense of their being signs, are prophecies concerning the church on earth in the period until the Lord's coming back.

  • Seven is the number for completion in God's operation — e.g., the seven days for God's creation (Gen. 1:31; 2:1-3) and the seven seals (Rev. 5:5), seven trumpets (Rev. 8:2), and seven bowls (Rev. 15:7) for God's move on the earth. Hence, the seven churches are for God's move in completion.

  • Asia was a province of the ancient Roman Empire, and in that province were the seven cities mentioned in v. 11. The seven churches were in those seven cities, respectively; they were not all in one city. This book does not deal with the one universal church but with the local churches in many cities. First, in Matt. 16:18 the church is revealed as universal, and then in Matt. 18:17 it is revealed as local. In Acts the church was practiced in the way of local churches, such as the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1), the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1), the church in Ephesus (Acts 20:17), and the churches in the provinces of Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:41). The Epistles were written to the local churches, except for a few written to individuals. Not one was written to the universal church. Without the local churches, the universal church has no practicality or actuality. The universal church is realized in the local churches. Knowing the church in its universal aspect must be consummated in knowing the church in its local aspect. It is a great advance for us to know and practice the local churches. Concerning the church, the book of Revelation is in the advanced stage. To know this book, we must advance from the understanding of the universal church to the realization and practice of the local churches, because this book is written to the local churches. Only those who are in the local churches are positioned rightly, with the right angle and the proper perspective, to see the visions in this book.

    The Triune God is expressed in Christ (John 1:1, 14; 1 Tim. 3:16; Col. 2:9); Christ is realized and experienced as the Spirit (John 14:16-18; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17; Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19) and is expressed in His Body, the universal church (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 4:4); and the universal church is expressed in the local churches. Therefore, to know and experience God, we need to know and experience Christ; to know and experience Christ, we need to participate in the universal church through the Spirit; and to participate in the universal church, we need to participate in the local churches.

  • He who is and who was and who is coming is God the eternal Father. The seven Spirits who are before God's throne are the operating Spirit of God, God the Spirit. Jesus Christ, to God the faithful Witness, to the church the Firstborn of the dead, and to the world the Ruler of the kings of the earth (v. 5), is God the Son. This is the Triune God. As God the eternal Father, He was in the past, He is in the present, and He is coming in the future. As God the Spirit, He is the sevenfold intensified Spirit for God's operation (see note Rev. 1:45f). As God the Son, He is
    1) the Witness, the testimony, the expression of God;
    2) the Firstborn of the dead for the church, the new creation;
    3) the Ruler of the kings of the earth for the world. From such a Triune God, grace and peace are imparted to the churches.

  • Him...who is coming may imply Christ's coming again, indicating that to His creatures, especially His redeemed, what the Triune God is will be more real at that time than in the past or in the present.

  • The seven Spirits are undoubtedly the Spirit of God because They are ranked among the Triune God in vv. 4-5. As seven is the number for completion in God's operation, so the seven Spirits must be for God's move on the earth. In essence and existence, God's Spirit is one; in the intensified function and work of God's operation, God's Spirit is sevenfold. This is similar to the lampstand in Zech. 4:2. In its existence it is one lampstand, but in its function it is seven lamps. At the time this book was written, the church had become degraded; the age was dark. Therefore, the sevenfold intensified Spirit of God was needed for God's move and work on the earth.

    In Matt. 28:19 the sequence of the Triune God is: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Here the sequence is changed. The seven Spirits of God are listed in the second place instead of the third. This reveals the importance of the intensified function of the sevenfold Spirit of God. This point is confirmed by the repeated emphasis on the Spirit's speaking in Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 14:13; 22:17.

    At the opening of the other Epistles, only the Father and the Son are mentioned; from Them grace and peace are given to the receivers. Here, however, the Spirit is included; from Him grace and peace are imparted to the churches. This too indicates the crucial need of the Spirit to counteract the degradation of the church for God's move.

  • To be released from sins is more significant than to be washed from sins.

  • Lit., in.

  • The believers, redeemed by the blood of Christ, not only have been born of God into His kingdom (John 3:5) but also have been made a kingdom for God's economy. This kingdom is the church (Matt. 16:18-19). John, the writer of the book, was in this kingdom (v. 9), and all redeemed and reborn believers also are a part of this kingdom (Rom. 14:17).

    One of the main aspects of this book is that God is recovering His right over the earth in order to make the whole earth His kingdom (Rev. 11:15). When Christ came, He brought the kingdom of God with Him (Luke 17:21; Matt. 12:28). This kingdom has been enlarged into the church (Matt. 16:18-19), which will accomplish the establishing of the kingdom of God on the whole earth. On one hand, the kingdom of God today is in the church, but on the other hand, the kingdom of God is coming through the overcoming believers (Rev. 12:10). Then Christ and the overcoming believers will reign over all the nations in the millennial kingdom (Rev. 2:26-27; 12:5; 20:4, 6).

  • The redemption accomplished through Christ's blood made us not only a kingdom to God but also priests to God (1 Pet. 2:5). The kingdom is for God's dominion, whereas priests are for the expression of God's image. This is the kingly, royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9), which is for the fulfillment of God's original purpose in creating man (Gen. 1:26-28). This kingly priesthood is being exercised in today's church life (Rev. 5:10). It will be practiced intensively in the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:6) and will be ultimately consummated in the New Jerusalem (Rev. 22:3, 5).

  • In this book, Christ's coming back is revealed in two aspects. In one aspect Christ will come secretly as a thief (Rev. 3:3; 16:15), and in another aspect He will come openly on the cloud (v. 7; 14:14). This corresponds with 30, Matt. 24:43. The day and hour of His coming in the first aspect are unknown (Matt. 24:36), whereas the day of His coming in the second aspect is clearly revealed — it will be at the last trumpet (the seventh trumpet), at the end of the great tribulation (1 Thes. 4:16; 1 Cor. 15:52; 2 Thes. 2:1-3).

  • Christ went to heaven on a cloud. He will come back to earth in the same way (Acts 1:9, 11; Matt. 26:64; Rev. 14:14).

  • Referring to the tribes of the land of Israel, those who had pierced Christ. See reference 7c.

  • Or, earth. The same Greek word as in Rev. 6:8, 10, and Rev. 8:13.

  • Lit., beat (the breasts).

  • The eternal and Almighty God is the Alpha, the beginning for the origination, and the Omega, the ending for the completion of God's eternal purpose. He was the Alpha in the book of Genesis. Now, in this book, He is the Omega. Whatever He originated He will complete. Governmentally, He continues His universal operation, which He originated from ancient times and will bring to completion (Rev. 21:6).

  • For the tribulation and kingdom, endurance is needed.

  • Jesus denotes the suffering and sorrowing Savior (Isa. 53:3).

  • The island of Patmos was the place where John had been exiled for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus when he received the revelation of this book.

  • This book stresses not only the Spirit of God as the sevenfold intensified Spirit for God's intensified move, but also our human spirit as the organ for us to realize and respond to God's move. Only spirit (our spirit) can respond to Spirit (God's Spirit). This book is composed of four major visions:
    1) the vision of the churches (chs. 1—3),
    2) the vision of the destiny of the world (chs. 4—16),
    3) the vision of Babylon the Great (chs. 17—20),
    4) the vision of the New Jerusalem (chs. 21—22). John was in his spirit when he saw these four visions (v. 10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10); that is, he received the revelation of the mystery of Christ in his spirit, according to what is mentioned in Eph. 3:5. We too need to be in our spirit to see the visions in this book. It is a matter not merely of mental understanding in our mind but of spiritual realization in our spirit.

  • Here the Lord's Day should be the first day of the week, the day the Lord was resurrected (John 20:1). The early church met regularly on this day (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). It was on this day that John was in spirit and saw the visions of God's economy.

  • This book's being sent to the seven churches equals its being sent to the seven cities. This shows clearly that the practice of the church life in the early days was the practice of having one church for one city, one city with only one church. In no city was there more than one church. This is the local church, with the city, not the street or the area, as the unit. The jurisdiction of a local church should cover the whole city in which the church is located; it should not be greater or lesser than the boundary of the city. All the believers within that boundary should constitute the one unique local church within that city.

  • To see anything requires the right position with the right angle. First, the apostle John heard the voice (v. 10), and then, when he turned to see the voice, he saw the golden lampstands. He was rightly positioned, but he still needed the right angle to see the vision concerning the churches; so he turned. It is the same with us today. Many Christians need to be adjusted in their position and to be turned that they may see the vision of the churches.

  • In figure, gold signifies the divine nature. Here the lampstands are golden, signifying that the churches are constituted with the divine nature.

  • In the Bible the lampstand is always related to God's building. The first time the lampstand was mentioned was in Exo. 25:31-40, when the tabernacle was built. The second instance was in regard to the building of the temple in 1 Kings 7:49. The third instance was closely related to the rebuilding of God's temple in Zech. 4:2-10. Here in Revelation the lampstand is related to the building of the churches. In Exo. 25 the emphasis is on Christ being the lampstand as the divine light, shining as seven lamps with the Spirit (the oil). In Zech. 4 the emphasis is on the Spirit (Zech. 4:6) as seven lamps shining, these seven lamps being the seven eyes of God (Zech. 4:2, 10). The seven eyes of God are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 5:6) for God's intensified move. This indicates that the lampstand in Zechariah is the reality of the lampstand in Exodus, and that the lampstands in Revelation are the reproduction of the lampstand in Zechariah. Christ is realized as the Spirit, and the Spirit is expressed as the churches. The shining Spirit is the reality of the shining Christ, and the shining churches are the reproduction and expression of the shining Spirit to accomplish God's eternal purpose that the New Jerusalem as the shining city may be consummated. Christ, the Spirit, and the churches are all of the same divine nature.

  • Christ today is in the midst of the churches. On one hand, as the High Priest, He is interceding in the heavens for the churches (Heb. 9:24; 7:25-26; Rom. 8:34), and on the other hand, He is walking in the midst of the churches to care for them. To participate in His move and enjoy His care, we must be in the churches.

  • Christ not only is depicted here as the High Priest, as shown by His garment, but also is unveiled as being like the Son of Man. He is both divine and human. As our High Priest, He is caring for the churches in His humanity.

    Christ as the Son of Man is not only for the accomplishing of redemption but also for the church life, because the church is composed of human beings. That the Lord is still the Son of Man after His ascension indicates that He has not put off His human nature after resurrection. His dealings here with the churches are based on His humanity. In His humanity He was altogether victorious and successful in bearing the testimony of God. The churches also, being in humanity, surely can be victorious and successful in bearing the testimony of God.

  • The garment reaching to the feet is the priestly robe (Exo. 28:33-35) and signifies the fullness of Christ's divine attributes and human virtues (cf. Isa. 6:1, 3).

  • The priests in the Old Testament were girded at the loins for their ministry (Exo. 28:4). In Dan. 10:5 Christ also is girded at His loins, with fine gold. But here Christ as our High Priest is girded about at the breasts. The breasts signify love. To be girded at the loins is to be strengthened for the work, whereas to be girded about at the breasts signifies care in love. Christ's work in producing the churches has been accomplished. He no longer needs to be girded at His loins for the work. What He is doing now in the midst of the churches is to care for them in love. This requires that He be girded about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The golden girdle signifies the divine strength. Christ is moving in the churches to care for them in His humanity and with His divine strength.

  • White hair signifies great age (Job 15:10). Here it indicates the ancientness of the Lord. In S.S. 5:11 He is depicted as having black hair, which signifies His unfading and everlasting strength.

  • White wool issues from the nature of life, and white snow comes from the sky, from heaven. Hence, white wool here and in Dan. 7:9 signifies that the ancientness of Christ is out of His nature, not out of His becoming old, while white snow signifies that His ancientness is heavenly, not earthly.

  • White wool issues from the nature of life, and white snow comes from the sky, from heaven. Hence, white wool here and in Dan. 7:9 signifies that the ancientness of Christ is out of His nature, not out of His becoming old, while white snow signifies that His ancientness is heavenly, not earthly.

  • In S.S. 5:12 the eyes of Christ are like doves. That is for the expression of His love. Here His eyes are like a flame of fire. This is for Him to observe and search that He may exercise judgment by enlightening. In this book His eyes are not two but seven (Rev. 5:6). Seven is the number of completion in God's move. Hence, Christ's eyes in this book are for God's operation. These seven eyes of His are the seven lamps of fire (cf. Dan. 10:6) burning before the throne, and the seven lamps are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. 4:5). The "fire burning" equals the "flame of fire" and is for observing and searching. The seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth (Rev. 5:6) also are for God's move on the earth. Thus, the eyes of Christ in this book are the seven Spirits of God for God's move and operation on earth today.

  • This book has a judging nature. Fire is for divine judgment (1 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 6:8; 10:27). "Our God is also a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29) His throne is a fiery flame and its wheels are burning fire, and a fiery stream issues and comes forth from before Him (Dan. 7:9-10). All this is for judgment. The Lord's eyes being like a flame of fire is mainly for His judgment (Rev. 2:18-23; 19:11-12). When He comes to take possession of the earth by exercising judgment over it, even His feet will be like pillars of fire (Rev. 10:1).

  • Feet signify the walk. In typology bronze signifies divine judgment (Exo. 27:1-6). The feet of Christ are like shining bronze, as mentioned also in Dan. 10:6, signifying that His perfect and bright walk qualifies Him to exercise divine judgment. Hence, when He comes to possess the earth by judging it, His feet will be like pillars of fire (Rev. 10:1).

  • Feet signify the walk. In typology bronze signifies divine judgment (Exo. 27:1-6). The feet of Christ are like shining bronze, as mentioned also in Dan. 10:6, signifying that His perfect and bright walk qualifies Him to exercise divine judgment. Hence, when He comes to possess the earth by judging it, His feet will be like pillars of fire (Rev. 10:1).

  • To be fired in a furnace is to be tried by being burned. Christ's walk was tried by His sufferings, even by His death on the cross. Hence, His walk is bright, like shining bronze, which qualifies Him to judge the unrighteous.

  • The sound of many waters, a tumultuous sound, is the sound of the voice of the Almighty God (Ezek. 1:24; 43:2). It signifies the seriousness and solemnity of His speaking (cf. Rev. 10:3).

  • Both lampstands and stars are for shining in the night. A lampstand, representing a local church, is a collective unit, whereas a star, representing a messenger of a local church, is an individual entity. In the dark night of the church's degradation, the shining of both the collective churches and the individual messengers is needed.

  • In S.S. 5:16, "His mouth is most sweet," and in the Gospels "words of grace [proceeded] out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22) but here, "out of His mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword." This is Christ's discerning, judging, and slaying word (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17). The words of grace are for His supply of grace to His favored ones, whereas the sharp two-edged sword is for His dealing with negative persons and things.

  • In S.S. 5:10, 13, Christ's face appears lovely for His seeker's appreciation of Him, and in the Epistles His face reflects God's glory (2 Cor. 4:6) for the imparting of life into His believers. Here, however, His face shone as the sun shines in its power (cf. Dan. 10:6); this shining is the judging enlightenment for bringing in the kingdom. When He was transfigured and His face shone like the sun, that was His coming in the kingdom (Matt. 16:28; 17:1-2). When He comes to take over the earth for the kingdom, His face will be like the sun (Rev. 10:1).

  • Christ's being the First and the Last implies that He will accomplish what He has begun. See note Rev. 22:132b.

  • The very Christ who walks in the midst of the churches, who is the Head of the churches and to whom the churches belong, is the living One. Hence, the churches also, as the expression of His Body, should be living, fresh, and strong.

  • Because of the fall and sin of man, death came in and is now working on earth to gather all the sinful people into Hades. Thus, death is a collector and Hades is a keeper. However, the keys of death and of Hades are in the hand of our Savior, who died and was resurrected.

  • When John saw the seven stars upon the right hand of Christ and the seven golden lampstands in the midst of which was Christ, it was a mystery to him. He did not realize the significance of the seven heavenly stars and the seven golden lampstands. Hence, the Lord unveiled the mystery to him, saying that "the seven stars are the messengers of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches." The significance of this not only was a mystery to John but also is a mystery to believers today. All believers need the unveiling of this mystery that they may see the churches and their messengers.

    The churches, signified by the seven golden lampstands, are the testimony of Jesus (vv. 2, 9) in the divine nature, shining in the dark night locally yet collectively. The churches should be of the divine nature — golden. They should be the stands, even the lampstands, that bear the lamp with the oil (Christ as the life-giving Spirit) and shine in the darkness individually and collectively. They are individual lampstands locally, yet at the same time they are a group, a collection, of lampstands universally. They not only are shining locally but also are bearing universally the same testimony both to the localities and to the universe. They are of the same nature and in the same shape. They bear the same lamp for the same purpose and are fully identified with one another, not having any individual distinctiveness. The differences among the seven churches recorded in chs. 2 and 3 are all of a negative nature, not a positive one. Negatively, in their failures, the churches are different and separate from one another; but positively, in their nature, shape, and purpose, they are absolutely identical and are connected to one another.

    It is easy for believers to see the universal church, but it is difficult for them to see the churches. The revelation of the local churches is the Lord's ultimate unveiling concerning the church, and it is recorded in the last book of the divine Word. To fully know the church, believers must follow the Lord from the Gospels through the Epistles to the book of Revelation until they are enabled to see the local churches as unveiled here. In Revelation the first vision is concerning the churches. The churches with Christ as their one center are the focus in the divine administration for the accomplishing of God's eternal purpose.

    The messengers are the spiritual ones in the churches, the ones who bear the responsibility for the testimony of Jesus. They should be of the heavenly nature and should be in a heavenly position like stars. In the Acts and the Epistles the elders were the leading ones in the managing of the local churches (Acts 14:23; 20:17; Titus 1:5). The eldership is somewhat official, and at the time this book was written the offices in the churches had deteriorated because of the degradation of the church. In this book the Lord calls our attention back to the spiritual reality. Hence, this book emphasizes the messengers of the churches rather than the elders. The office of the elders is easily perceived, but the believers need to see the importance of the spiritual and heavenly reality of the messengers for the proper church life to bear the testimony of Jesus in the darkness of the church's degradation. In the first vision of this book, the vision concerning the churches, both Christ and the messengers of the churches are unveiled with the churches as never before, and this in a most particular way. For this the believers need to see a particular vision in their spirits.

  • The same Greek word as for angels. The same word as in v. 1.

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