Text: Revelation 1:4-8
The Apostle John desired his readers to understand that he did not send himself by his own authority. He was commissioned by the triune God to write the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is not a concoction of John’s imaginations and fantasies, but the very Word of God! Thus, the readers must consider the contents of this book seriously, for what is written is perfect and will surely come to pass.

Each of the three persons in the Holy Trinity was deeply involved in the commissioning of John:

Sent by the Father (v.4a)
Firstly, the Apostle John was commissioned by God the Father. In this verse, He is described as the one “which is, and which was, and which is to come”. The focus here is on the eternality of the Father. He is the one living and true God, past, present and future. As one who is timeless and exists even before the foundation of the world, all things are always under His control. There is nothing that happens by chance.

Amid intense persecution, it was easy for the early Christians to be disheartened and discouraged. Why do the ungodly always seem to get their way? Similarly, there may be some of us who are dejected by the tribulations of the times. On such occasions, the doctrine of the eternality of God can comfort and encourage our hearts. Christians of all ages need not fret. God is forever omnipotent, omni-present and omniscient. He is never caught off-guard. Nothing shall be able to stand in the way of God.

Sent by the Spirit (v.4b)
Secondly, John was sent by the “seven Spirits” which are before God’s throne. Some believe that the seven spirits refer to angels sent from heaven to address the seven churches. However, in Revelation 2:10, the angel of the Church of Smyrna is asked to be faithful unto death, but angels do not die. Moreover, in Revelation 5:6; the seven Spirits were said to be the eyes of the Lamb of God. Therefore, we conclude that the “seven Spirits” are not seven angels that were sent from heaven.

The “seven spirits” of verse 4 is none other than the Holy Spirit. The number “seven” depicts the perfection and fullness of the Spirit. The plural in the term “spirits” is a plural of majesty, pointing to the infinite majesty of the third person of the trinity. The description of the sevenfold majesty of the Holy Spirit is found in Isaiah 11:2 – “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;”

Sent by the Son (v.5-8)
Thirdly, John was commissioned by the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is given substantive treatment in the opening greetings for He is the one who is the Head of the Church, and He will be the one who will judge the local churches of Asia. He is described in the following ways:

1. Faithful witness (v.5). As the faithful witness, we know that all His words are true, and He will keep every promise which He has made. His Word is forever inerrant and infallible. Christians of all generations can be absolutely sure that everything written in the more sure word of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19) will come to pass. Thus, the saints can fully trust the Bible. It is our guide and comfort in these perilous times.

In contrast, Satan is known as the father of lies (John 8:44). We must be ever watchful of his deceptions and machinations!

2. The first begotten of the dead (v.5). This speaks of the supremacy of Christ over all those who have died in Christ. Those who believe in Christ are His adopted children. However, Christ is the uniquely begotten Son of God, and thus pre-eminent over the whole heavenly family. He is also the first to be risen from the dead with a glorified body. If He had not risen from the dead, there would be no salvation for us.

3. The prince of the kings of the earth (v.5). This refers to Christ’s sovereignty over the nations of the world. He is higher than all the rulers of the earth. The Roman Empire may seem invincible in the eyes of many, but one day it will fall. Yea, all the kingdoms of the world will rise and fall, but only Christ’s kingdom will last forever.

4. The one who loved us (v.5-6). This points to the special love which Christ has for His own. His love is manifested in the redemption of the saints through His blood that was shed on Calvary. As a result, the saints will one day rule together with Christ on the earth. We are also priests together with Him. As priests, we have direct access to the throne of grace through prayer in the name of Christ. How wonderful it is that Christians of all ages can always cast their cares upon the Lord, knowing that He cares for them, and will answer all their prayers according to His will (1 Peter 5:7)! “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

As priests, we can also intercede for others in the name of Christ. Firstly, we can pray for fellow believers that God’s grace may be with them as they serve Him in this world. Secondly, we can intercede for those who do not know Christ that God may be merciful and save them from their sins.

The coming one (v.7). John assures us that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning eminently. The exclamation, “Behold”, exhorts all believers to look forward to His coming. These may be trouble-filled times for the Christian, but he may rest assured that Christ will come and put things to an end. Paradise will be restored. Thus, the believer must continue to watch and be sober, fervent in the service of Christ till He returns.

Verse 7 adds that Christ is coming “with the clouds”. This is the fulfilment of the words of the angels in the Book of Acts. “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

The coming of Christ will be witnessed globally by “every eye”. It will be seen by the ones who pierced Christ. The ones who pierced Christ cannot refer to the generation which crucified Christ on the cross, for they are long gone. Rather, it refers to the whole of mankind present during Christ’s return for it was for the sins of mankind that Christ was nailed on the cross. The people of the nations will wail as they realise that it is too late for salvation. Christ has now come as the Lion of Judah to judge them (Revelation 19:11-21). Justice and peace will now prevail over the earth.

The section ends with God’s authoritative declaration that He is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” (v.8) The Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. It is an expression of totality and points to how God is in absolute control from the very beginning of history and will be in control even unto eternity. He is all powerful, and will continue to be so forever. All things will be done according to His Sovereign Will. What an assurance to all of us as we continue to wade through this sin-sick world! God is the beginning and the end of power. He is forever on His Throne.

In life’s dark and bitter hour
Love will still prevail;
Trust His everlasting pow’r,
Jesus will not fail.
Jesus never fails,
Jesus never fails;
Heav’n and earth may pass away,
But Jesus never fails.

Yours affectionately,
Rev C. Chew