Revelation chapter 1 verses 4 to 5 - God Sovereign Eternal All Sufficient Triune:
We have seen so far in our series of bible studies in the book of Revelation:
- Significance of the author – John
- Source of the Revelation – Jesus Christ
- Subject of the book – Jesus Christ
- Structure of the Book
Significance of the author – John
For John the book of Revelation is the 5th and final of John’s New Testament books. This interestingly is comparable to Moses who is the human author of the first 5 of the Old Testament books of the Bible. The closest parallels between these two authors exists between Moses first book; that of Genesis and John's final book that of Revelation.
Consider the parallels in particular between Genesis and Revelation:
Satan comes in as the serpent
Satan the serpent and dragon removed
Sin and the fall
Redemption and eternal salvation
Sin, sorrow and suffering begin
Sin, sorrow and suffering ended
Tree of life guarded
Tree off life freely available
Plagues of Egypt
Plagues on whole world
Mark of Cain
Mark of the beast
Sun and moon created to give light
Sun and moon no longer needed for light
Babel its origins
Babylon its fulfilment
Manna for the Israelites
Manna for Pergamos
Subject of the book of Revelation is Jesus Christ
Consider the following as suggested outlines of the book of Revelation:
- Plan of Salvation (chp 1)
- Presence of Christ amidst His people (chp 2 to 3)
- Power over the world (chps 4 to 19)
- Purpose for Universe (chps 20 to 21)
- Pre-eminence in all things
Structure of the Book
- Lord in the midst of His people
- Lamb in the midst of the throne
- Lion over the world
- Lover of the Church
- Light in eternity
Or we can divide the book of Revelation according to the locations in which the parts of the revelation were given:
- In Patmos (1:9)
- In Heaven (4:1,2)
- By sand of the sea (13:1)
- In wilderness (17:3)
- Great and high mountain (21:10)
Consider the Setting in which this great book of Revelation was given to John. John was imprisoned on the prison fortress of Patmos. A penal colony and possibly also a quarry, to which prisoners were put for forced hard labour. John’s circumstances are greatly constrained, movements restricted, imprisoned and held on an island; possibly even set to work in a limestone quarry. These are not circumstances of his choosing by any manner of means! Yet this island of Patmos was also conveniently situated just across the water from the port of Ephesus and this close to the 7 churches of Asia, addressed in the opening chapters of the book of Revelation. Whilst it may well be true that of all the places we might choose to be Patmos would not be one of them! It is also true that our disappointments can be Gods appointments! If life gives you lemons! John could either live according to circumstances he would like to be in and proceed to hit his head against a brick wall or he could live according to the circumstances that he was actually in!
This is not just about making the best of a bad situation of course but rather making the most of a God given situation and opportunity! If we understand that God is in control, as we can certainly see here in Revelation then that injects purpose and infuses meaning into every part of human life and experience! If we understand that truth from anywhere in the scriptures that God is in control, it is surely from the book of Revelation!
The 7 churches are in a geographical loop and sequence; interconnected by the Roman roads and each a postal town in the old Roman administration. Ironically the the infrastructure of hostile Rome provided for free movement and facilitated the distribution of the Gospel! John grasps the opportunity that presents itself to him and ministers within the new sphere of service given to him by the sovereign hand of God!
John discerns the hand of God in his circumstances and goes through the door that has been opened to him rather than trying to navigate around about the door.
John is placed here in Patmos by GPS:
- Global Positioning System?
- God’s Providential Sovereignty!
So far as God is concerned John's imprisonment in Patmos is:
- The Perfect Person in
- The Perfect Place for
- The Perfect Purpose
This may not follow our plan or the normal pattern of life either; let’s not get irritated nor frustrated by Gods sovereignty.
Note that John is thought to be around 90 years of age here! His greatest contribution to the scriptures and to the church and God’s people waited till he was 90 years of age!
Normally we may be used with the secular pattern for life, a progression through:
- Adulthood and service
- Old age and retirement
Christian life and service doesn’t necessarily comply with that pattern! Moses was aged 80 before God started to use him properly. Esther was present in the palace for one single crises in the 4000 year history of the nation of Israel.
Are we willing to be so used?
Are we only willing to be who and what we wish to be, where and when we want to be?
Like Naaman the leper (2 Kings 5:12) “are not Abana and Pharpar rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Israel?” Are we only willing to do what we want to do or are we willing to be obedient and humble ourselves to do what God instructs us to do? Are we willing to confess with Christ; "not my will but thine be done"?
This ministry from John is no mere rhetoric or platitudes but is backed up by: God “which is, which was, which is to come.” This is the New Testament parallel to JeHoVaH. In the Old Testament Hebrew title for God, often translated as Jehovah or Yahweh or simply as The LORD, the consonants from the Hebrew word, are derived from the 3 parts of the Hebrew verb ‘to be’; signifying in one title:
- He who will be
- Who is
- Who has been
We note that the order of tenses is different here between the Hebrew title and the New Testament order here in Revelation chapter 1!
This present order of tenses in Revelation chapter 1:
- Shall be
Consider also the presentation of a similar pattern in the life of the Lord Jesus in verse 5:
- “who is the faithful Witness” – In the present - He Is
- “first begotten of the dead” – An event in the past for Christ - Was
- “Prince of the kings of the earth” – Awaiting future fulfilment for its full revelation - Which is to come
Consider also the repetition of this theme in verse 8 and verse 18.
The pattern seems to be consistent.
As if we see God from the present extending back to the past and forward into the future; like an eternal light house casting His light into the whole of human history. It is not so much that God has a past and a present but rather it is that God is eternally present throughout history, providing a structure, order, plan and narrative to the whole of history. He is eternally present throughout history and over history; as Alpha and Omega (1:8) the originator and terminator of time and history; as the eternal “I AM” ever in the present! Recall the significance of “I AM the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” quoted by the Lord to establish the reality of life after death to the Sadducees in Mark chp 12:
“And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.” (Mark 12:26-27)
For this to establish the continued existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob there is an inherent assumption in this statement; that God Himself does not change! This statement presumes that the relationship of God to time is different from our relationship to time. For me to state that I am the friend of….. does not provide for them the assurance of their perpetual existence! Yet this statement regarding Abraham, Isaac and Jacob does! For God; what is, will always be because God does not simply have a past / present and future tense but He is the eternal being present in and over past, present and future.
The continued existence beyond death of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is established because they are connected by the perpetual “I AM” to an unchanging God, an eternal being, not simply a person subject to and passing through time. They are "fastened to the Rock which cannot move, Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour's love."
“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)
The God whom Abraham met is exactly the same God we meet today! He has not changed, He cannot change!
The eternal character of God orders and ordains not only events today but in the past and present and future.
This gives a coherence, order, plan and structure to all of time.
This brings all of history to an ordered conclusion and destiny!
We note in these 2 verses; verses 4 and 5 of Revelation chapter 1 there is reference to the doctrine often referred to as the ‘Trinity.’ Not a Biblical term admittedly but a soundly Biblical teaching, truth and pattern.
verse 4 : "from Him which is and was which was and which is to come" - God the Father
verse 4: "the seven Spirits" - God the Spirit
verse 5: "and from Jesus Christ" - God the Son
God is 1 essential being with a 3 fold personality.
Cf. Human nature :
Not 3 persons but 3 aspects of the 1 individual.
Not 1+1+1 but 1X1X1
The truth of the Trinity is taught throughout scripture and especially in the NT:
God the Son – John 1:1,14
God the Father – John 6:27
God the Holy Spirit – Acts 5:34
All 3 Persons of the Trinity involved with:
- Incarnation of Jesus – Matt 1:18, 20, 23; Luke 1:35; 1 John 4:14
- Miracles of Jesus
Performed by Jesus – John 2:11
In the name of His Father – John 10:25
By the power of the Holy Spirit – Matt12:28; Acts 10:38
- Baptism of Jesus – Matthew 3:16-17; Luke 3:22
- Resurrection of Jesus Christ
God – Psalm 16:5-10
Lord Jesus – John 10:17-18
Spirit of God – Rom 1:4
God the Father – Rom 6:4
- Salvation of the Christian
Spirit of God – 2 Thess 2:13; John 3:6 – the one who performs / is the executor of the work of saving a soul.
Lord Jesus – John 10:28 – whose work provides that salvation
God the Father – 1 John 4:14 – with whom the plan of salvation originates
- Indwelling if the believer
Spirit of God – John 14:17
Lord Jesus – John 14:18
God the Father – John 14:23
- Baptism – Matt 28:19
- Teaching of the Believer / Apostles – John 14:26
- Our relationship with God – Ephesians 2:18
In the name of Jesus – John 14:13,14; 16:23
To the Father – Luke 11:2; Matt 6:9
By the Spirit of God – Rom 8:26
- Fruitfulness in the Christian life:
Father – John 15:1-2
Son – John 15:1,4-5
Spirit of God – Gal 5:22
- Comfort and Consolation to the Christian
Father – 2 Co 1:3
Son – 2 Co 1:5; 1 John 2:1
Spirit – John 14:16-17
- Eternal security of the Christian:
Jesus – John 10:28
Father – John 10:29-30
Spirit of God – Ephesians 1:13
Testimony in the heavens (1 John 5:7)
Inspiration of Scripture
Is this doctrine of the Trinity a New Testament doctrine only?
Consider Deuteronomy 6:4 :
Elohyenu – is a plural title for God
Echad – is the Hebrew word for a composite unity compare the use of the same word in Genesis 1:5; 2:24
Yahid – by way of contrast is the word for a singular unity – used in Genesis 22:2 : "your only Isaac"
A sermon preached from our bible teaching series on the book of Revelation
Yours by Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie