The Bible’s last book, called Revelation or Apocalypse, has awed Christians for two thousand years. Most consider the entire book of 22 chapters as the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” But, is that the case? A closer look may demonstrate that the true “revelation of Jesus Christ” begins with chapter 6. Why do we say this?
Revelation 1:1 opens the book by saying, according to the literal Greek, “A revelation of Jesus Christ, which The God gave to him to show his slaves those things bound to occur suddenly.” What was this apocalypsis? And, when did The God give it to Jesus?
The first few words are clearly not those of Jesus Christ, but rather the beloved apostle John writing to seven congregations in Asia Minor. [Revelation 1:1-7] Did Jesus direct or speak these words directly? Not according to the introduction to Revelation: “And [Jesus Christ] sent forth his angel to show his slave John in signs.” [Revelation 1:1] Through Revelation this Angel speaks for both The God and His Son Jesus Christ.
In Revelation 1:8 this apocalyptic Angel speaks for God Almighty. John then speaks and relates his hearing this Angel instruct him to write seven epistles regarding what he sees as a testimony to Jesus. [Revelation 1:9-11] John then describes what he sees in a vision of “a Son of Humankind” walking among seven lampstands with seven stars in his hand. The Angel speaks for Jesus Christ and John is told to record: a] those things which have already happened; and, b] those future things. [Revelation 1:12-20]
What follows is part of those things that are contemporary with John: seven letters written to seven stars. [Revelation chapters 2 and 3] These letters are not strictly directed to the congregations, but rather to the seven stars. Each begins with an address to this “star.” The Greek is in the singular “you,” meaning an individual star. It is most likely that, following the example of the Jewish synagogue, these “stars” were the presiding officers of those congregations. That is, each of the presbyters or church presidents of the Christian congregations.
The plural “YOU,” likely referring to the whole congregation only occurs in Revelation 2:10, 23 though the Christine epistles conclude with a common address: “Let the person who has an ear listen to what the Pneuma says to the [seven] congregations.” Therefore, the bulk of the Christine epistles is specifically directed to the Presiding Minister of the congregations. So, in the first case of the Presiding Minister of Ephesus, it is - not the congregation - but the “star” who has “left his first love.” [Revelation 2:4]
Likely John saw to it that these seven epistles were sent out to the seven congregations with their seven presiding Stars. It is also likely that the rest of Revelation - from chapters 4 to 22 - was copied seven times [or more] so that each of these congregations received the entire book of Revelation.
Revelation chapters 4 and 5 are not part of the “revelation of Jesus Christ which The God gave to him.” These relate the experience of the apostle John’s visionary exaltation to heaven itself. In this John sees the Throne and the One sitting on the Throne - God Almighty [the Alpha and Omega, or The One Who Was, The One Who Is, and, The One Who Is Coming]. [Revelation chapter 4] Chapter 5 is the most interesting for in it we can see when Jesus Christ first receives the actual “revelation which The God gave him.”
With a clear vision the elderly disciple beloved of the Nazarene describes what he sees:
RV 5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of the enthroned One
a Small Bible written on both sides of the pages.
It was sealed shut with 7 Seals.
RV 5:2 I saw a strong angel heralding in a great voice:
“Who is worthy to open
and read the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible
and to break its Seals?”
RV 5:3 And no one was able to open the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible
nor any able to look into it,
not in heaven or on earth or under the ground.
RV 5:4 I began to weep greatly
because no one worthy was found
who could open the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible
and examine it.
RV 5:5 And one of the Presbyters said to me:
“Weep not. Look! the Lion of the tribe of Judah,
the root of David,
has conquered to open the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible
and unlock its 7 Seals.”
RV 5:6 I saw in the middle of the Throne-room,
among 4 Living Creatures and the Presbyters,
a Lamb as though slaughtered stood.
The Lamb had 7 horns and 7 eyes.
The eyes are the 7 spirits of The God
which have been sent forth in all the earth.
RV 5:7 Then the Lamb immediately approached
and took the Small (Apocalyptic) Bible
out of the right hand of the enthroned One.
[For details on the verses above see Nazarene Apocalypse 2000 in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]
It seems fair and clear that it is here at this moment when The God gave to Jesus Christ the “revelation.” The vision is surely parallel to Daniel 7:13 when “someone like a Son of Humankind” arrived in heaven to gain entrance to the Celestial throne-room in order to receive his kingly throne. [Ephesians 1:19-22; Hebrews 2:8, 9; Revelation 3:21] This would be consistent with the picture of Jesus as a “slaughtered lamb.”
If we accept the above as a reasonable approach then the actual “revelation of Jesus Christ” begins when the glorified Nazarene first opens the “small Bible.” Thus the real Revelation beings with Revelation 6:1, “And when [the Lamb] opened the first Seal …” Thus, the Revelation is thereafter divided into three to four parts: a] the Seven Seals (chapters 6-9); b] the Seven Trumpets (chapters 10-13); and, c] the Seven Plagues (chapters 14-19). A fourth section involves the finale of the Messianic King’s millennial reign with his Bride. (chapters 20-22) [Compare the article “Seal not this Book!” in Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]
This Small [apocalyptic] Bible with its Seven Seals is the only Christine epistle we have from Jesus Christ, written and composed after his ascension to heaven in 33 CE when he first received what he had not possessed before - “a revelation of Jesus Christ which The God gave him.” [For more details see the complete work Nazarene Apocalypse 2000© in the Nazarene Commentary 2000©.]
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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