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The 7 Churches of Revelation - Pergamos and the Virus of Compromise - Revelation chp 2 vs 12 to 17 - JS Gillespie  

The seven churches of Revelation - Pergamos and the Virus of Compromise:

The 3rd of 7 churches in Revelation chps 2 + 3 

The tactics so far from Satan have been: 

1 - Drive a wedge between the believer and Christ – Ephesus. 

Satan sought to distance from a person rather than simply from the intensity of a passion! The attack at Ephesus was not really about quantity / quality but rather about reality. The reality of the churches relationship with Christ! It’s the old error back again – substitution and distraction (v7). The same error as Eden; Satan presents something better than God! This is distraction from the true centre which at Eden was the tree of life rather than the attractive centre of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 


2 - Persecution and attack – Smyrna 


3 - Compromise – probably the most successful tactic so far! 


Pergamos – can be translated as marriage, although some maintain that it ought not to be translated as marriage but rather as citadel. 

‘per’ – mixed 

‘gamos’ – marriage 


The fact that it could be translated as marriage is nonetheless interesting since that would fit very well with what appears to have been happening at this church; union between church and the pagan world around it! 

Pergamos would relate to that period of the church prophetically beginning with the professed conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan 313 AD 

With the conversion of Constantine, this created a massive problem. Constantine was himself regarded as a god and headed up the whole Roman cultic system! 

What do you do with paganism when the man at the top of the system gets converted? 

The old paganism was adopted into Christianity. 

Old pagan priests, places, practices were all Christianised. 

  • Christian buildings with altars and idols 
  • Altars 
  • Priests 
  • Holy water 
  • Rosary 
  • Mother and child cult 
  • The mysteries, sacramentum, sacraments – mystery of the mass and baptism 
  • Symbolism of saints 
  • Purgatory 

Pergamos is one of the 7 churches with serious problems, although not necessarily with a terminal prognosis. 

A serious illness but not a terminal prognosis. 

For the first time and the only time to these 7 churches Christ presents Himself as the one with the “sharp sword with two edges.” 

The sharp sword proceeding from His mouth (1:16) – the Word of God (Heb 4:12) 

Here is the sword of discernment 

Christ decides 

Christ discerns 

Christ divides 

He is able to discern and divide even when they are not. 

Here is the need of the moment met by Christ. 

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not…” (James 1:5ff) 

This is a sword that will not only bring judgment but will also bring salvation by separation! 

Vs 13 – The setting, circumstances and Satan 

Sometimes Christians struggle and fail where we haven’t but perhaps they have fallen and failed in circumstances and under pressures and trials through which we have never passed! 


Perhaps we have not fallen like them 

Perhaps we have not been tested like them! 

Their circumstances, intricately linked with Satan; ‘where Satan’s seat is’ (v13) 

‘seat’ : throne: ‘θρόνος’ 

Is it a specific place at Pergamos? 

There are certainly plenty of contenders for that title: 

1 - The altar of Zeus and Athena – the great altar of Pergamon; a massive altar on the hillside. 

Zeus – the head of the Greek Pantheon of gods; the ‘god of gods’ in paganism according to Plato Paul taught the Corinthians that behind the idol are devils (1 Co 10:20); Clement made the conceptual leap that since Zeus is the head of the false gods, he must be Satan! 

The Pergamon altar was excavated by a German archaeologist and transported to Berlin in the early 1900’s. The exhibition opened in the Pergamon museum in 1930. This became the inspiration behind the design for Alberts Speir’s Nuremberg stadium from which Hitler made his first public declaration of the ‘final solution.’ 

2 - Temple of Asclepius 

This represented the second largest temple in the Asian world to the cult of Asclepius and symbolised by the serpent on the pole. A symbol of course highly suggestive of Satan. Treatment at the temple involved lying on the floor under the influence of hypnotics and allowing snakes from the temple to crawl over you. Not that hugely effective I would think, but a great way of keeping the waiting lists down. 

3 - Temples to the Emperor cult – Augustus, Roma 

This was for the Christians of Pergamos very dangerous and ominous. A pinch of incense was required to be offered on the altar to Caesar. This was a dangerous place for a Christian to be who refused to deny his faith and blaspheme the God of heaven by worshipping false gods. Some later writers suggest that it was this that Antipas fell foul of. 

Plenty of options – which one? It is impossible to say. Surely the atmosphere of the entire city is that of idolatry however, of demonism and satanic influence. Pergamon is the Asiatic stronghold of Satan; perhaps in a similar way to Jerusalem being the city of the Lord! 


Little in the way of details given of his martyrdom, but interestingly referenced externally in other Christian literature. 

Simon Metaphrastes, a Byzantine writer in the 10th century makes reference to the tradition that Antipas refused to offer a sacrifice to false gods, and refused to recant, that he was put inside a hollow brass bull and roasted alive and that he died under the persecution of Domitian. 

Antipas is also referenced by Tertullian in the 2nd century and Andrea’s of Caeserea in the 6th century 

There is also a later tradition that Antipas was challenged by his persecutors with; ‘behold the whole world is against you.’ Unphased by this Antipas is reputed to have replied ‘well that must mean that I am against the whole world!’ 

V14 – great pressure to compromise. 

The doctrine of Balaam – a doctrine of corruption and compromise 

Notice the power to overcome compromise: 


  1. Doctrine 
  2. Diet 
  3. Desires 

Of the world around you 

If it arises from a world foreign to God then its ideas, philosophies, appetite and entertainments are immediately suspect. 

Almost by definition if it is good in the eyes of the world, it is probably bad! 

The Nicolaitans appear to promote exactly this: 

Iranaeus of Lyon; in his book ‘Against the Heresis’ comments that the Nicolaitans were a group who “lead lives of unrestrained indulgence.” 

Nicolaitans could also be literally translated as ‘nico’ – over and ‘laitanes’ – people – probably a double meaning here in the name – both literal and symbolic in the context of the prophetic meaning of the church. 

The encouragement and consolation: 

Hidden manna: the manna of the Holy of Holies: 

Hidden in the sanctuary 
Hidden under the mercy seat 
Hidden in the golden pot 

Here is the Divine provision for those excluded and uncompromising – feeding on the bread of life, the bread of God, the bread that came down form heaven. 

A distant experience of the world equates with a deeper experience of Christ. 

A ‘white stone’ and a ‘new name’ 

Is this a white stone for: 

Voting – white for innocent / black for guilty? 
Invitation – to a social gathering 
Reward for running well and winning – an entitlement to be kept at the publics cost for the rest of your life? 

Such interpretations are very dependant upon the serendipitous bequests of ancient history; not too struck on that idea. 

Probably a reference to the stones on the breast plate of the high priest. 

Not only are we guaranteed an appreciation of Christ but we are brought into communion in the sanctuary. 

A new name in recognition of our faithfulness to Christ? 

Was that not the case too for Simon Peter? 

Or Cephas? (Syriac) 

Or Psephos : 5586 : stone 

He was the stone with a new name! 

This ministry from Pergamos has enormous practical implications for us: 

It is possible to live for Christ even when circumstances appear impossible! It is possible but costly. 
Contrast this with Laodicea – it is not always easy to live for Christ when circumstances are easy! 
The danger to the church in difficult circumstances when oppression and persecution is present comes primarily from compromise rather than conflict; compare verse 14. The great enemy of compromise” 

Cf Israel and idols 
Cf. Demas and the world 
Cf. Priesthood and foreign brides in the days of Ezra 
Cf. Israel and Baal Peor 

Here is proof if you need it, of the words of Jesus: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” 

Living out Christ in intense adversity 

Christ is able to discern and distinguish His people, all is not lost! He has the sharp two edged sword! 
Beware of Compromise in a society which is antithetical to the Word of God; the template for the Christian is that of “Antipas” – ‘against all’ ! 
Compromise is more dangerous than conflict! We are responsible for preserving the truth not for preserving ourselves! 
We must identify, define and reject: 

Doctrine from society 
Diet of that world 
Desires of that world 

Be confident that the Saviours words can be trusted; “I will build my church....” 2000 years later at Bergama – Zeus has gone, Aesclepius is but a symbol, the cult of Caesar regarded as a bizarre historical curiosity but still today there is a small Christian community in that city!

From a series of bible teaching messages preached on the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

Yours by Grace in Christ 


Dr J Stewart Gillespie

The 7 churches of Revelation - The Bitter taste of Fragrance - Smyrna (Revelation chp 2 vs 8 to 11) - JS Gillespie  

The seven churches of Revelation - Smyrna 

Much could be said of Smyrna 

Smyrna comes from the Greek word Myrrh, which derives from the Hebrew word  ‘mor’ the word for bitterness. 

What was a fragrant perfume: 

Psalm 45:8 
Prov 7:17 
Song of Solomon 1:13; 5:5 

was also a bitter resin. 

Myrrh was a bitter tasting perfume, both bitter and fragrant, herein is the paradox of Smyrna! 

Smyrna is a faithful church that suffers! 

  • Tribulation (v9) 
  • Poverty (v9) 
  • Suffer (v10) 
  • Trial (v10) 
  • Tribulation (v10) 
  • Death (v10) 

One aspect of Smyrna perhaps not so often considered is the importance or value of understanding, insight, ‘philosophy,’ the importance of a right outlook on life, the right perspective on life. 

The power of the mind 

‘Man’s search for meaning’ – Viktor Frankyl 

Survival not only dependant on physical strength or endurance but also dependant on the mindset of the person; eg Christmas 1944 – many died. 

“everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to chose one’s own way.” 

“Ever more people today have the means to live but no meaning to live for” 

“Those who have a why to live can bear with almost any how” (Nietzsche) 

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer” 

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances but only by lack of meaning and purpose” 

“If there is meaning in life at all then there must be meaning in suffering” 

“we who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” 

The ministry to Smyrna, highlights the importance of ministry. 

The importance of right thinking and of Bible teaching. 

The importance of looking behind the immediate set of circumstances and experiences. 

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances but only by lack of meaning and purpose” 

“If there is meaning in life at all then there must be meaning in suffering” (V Frankyl) 

One of the great issues to which Smyrna introduces us is that subject of suffering; the problem of pain. 

Herein lies one of the great arguments against God, a problem that discourages men from faith in God and discourages the faith of those who trust in God. 

An argument formulated by Greek philosopher Epicurus: 

“Is God willing to prevent evil but not able – He is not omnipotent. 

If He is able but not willing then He is malevolent 

If He is both able and willing then whence cometh evil? 

If He is neither able nor willing then why call Him God?” 

 although perhaps most succinctly put by CS Lewis: 

If God is good He ought to desire His people to be happy. 

If God is all powerful He ought to be able to make His people happy 

If His people are not happy then: 

               God is not good 

               God is not all powerful 

               God is not 

On the surface a fairly straightforward and robust argument but one which suffers from at least 5 failings: 

It is a moral argument – if there is no God as the argument suggests you are going to have a difficult time in shoring up your idea of morality! You are going to flounder to prove that unhappiness is bad, bad for you but maybe good for me. Cutting lives short for example may well reduce the sum total suffering of that life and the effect of that life on others. 

It is a logical argument – what makes you think that a random universe can throw together a brain of atoms, undesigned and unchecked against any standard that results in being able to draw any reasonable conclusion about anything? 
The solution lies in the argument that happiness is dependent on goodness – herein is the simplest point! The argument presumes that a good God desires happiness, ie happiness is dependant on goodness; thus absolute happiness is dependent on absolute goodness; a condition we do not have. We cannot have a square circle! A square circle remains absurd even if we prefix it with the term ‘God’ or not. A fallen world is the consequence of free choice, to have no fall is to have no choice, to have no choice is to have no humanity. You cannot have it both ways. 

It limits the sovereignty of God restricting God to act in a way and using means which only ever act to result in happiness, immediate pleasure. What makes you assume that God is so small that He cannot work all things according to His own will, even the rebellion of men? 


It is these later 2 points that we see at Smyrna. 

That God is able to use the trials and the tears, the suffering and pain, sorrow and the sadness for our good and His Glory and that from the deep and difficult experiences of life there does and can emerge meaning and purpose and Glory. 


The view of God that others have of Him is at times way too small; your trials and afflictions are ordered, defined and determined cf Daniel 9:24-27 

They are all bookended within the purposes and plans of He who is the first and the last. 

The idea that suggests that if evil happens then God is not in control is wrong on so many levels; one of which is that God is so omnipotent, so in control that He is able to work the purposes of men into the fabric of sovereign purposes to bring about the fulfilment of His will! 

They have the ministry of a Person 

Their Suffering is Defined 

‘first and last’ – setting the boundaries 

There is nothing so difficult to cope with than a trial which seems to: 

Have no real meaning / origin, no definite course / beginning, no purpose, pointless. 
No prospect of an end in view 

Christ sets the limits 

There is purpose 

There is a prospect 

Time and experience are defined by the boundary conditions I set for it! 

A Person, pre-eminent and in control 

Purpose and Presidency 

A ministry of empathy 

He understands 

He ‘was dead and is alive’ 

He has been there! 

Suffering destroyed by victory! Destiny - In this there is the promise of victory! 

Death is not the end 

Suffering is not final 

“was dead and is alive” 

Suffering Discerned : “I Know” 

Define, redefine, reframe what you mean by ‘rich’ by success, don’t just judge your life by the material. 

Discouragement – don’t get discouraged by the opinion of others, take a step back and consider God’s opinion of them; what does God think about those who think about you (v9)? 
This trial is defined and limited to 10 days – 10 years of intense persecution? 10 persecuting emperors? 10 specific days for Smyrna? 
Results – from affliction comes fruitfulness (v10); from faithfulness, a crown of life, 
Do not fear the suffering (v10) – the fear can be greater than the reality! 
The story is not over until it is over (v11); “should not be hurt of the 2nd death”   

There is the prospect and promise of victory. 

Here is the antedote to despair – a correct perspective 

‘good things happen to good people’ 

What’s the point – I’ve done everything correct and now look at the mess that I’m in! 

The perspective that difficult circumstances are evidence of Divine displeasure brings despair and defeat. 

That perspective is of course not necessarily correct as is evidenced in the life of Christ. 

Let’s look a little deeper, take a glimpse behind the veil, looking behind the appearance to reality. 

This is the path the Saviour trod (v8) 
There is material poverty (v9) but spiritual wealth (v9). Behind the appearance of the material lies the eternal and the spiritual! It is a great error to conflate the two! 
Might is not right (v9) just because they are powerful does not mean that they are right. 
Satan is behind the attack (v10) 



From an expository bible teaching series on Revelation and the seven churches preached at New Cumnock.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie

Revelation chp 1 vs 12 to 17 - Facing The Face of God - JS Gillespie - 03082021  



We did note the interesting connection between Revelation chapter 1 and Mt Sinai; that on both occasions: 

The trumpet sounded 
In the midst of a kingdom of priests 
Announcing a revelation 
From the presence of God 

There was one great prohibition in Exodus chapter 19 + 20 that of drawing close to God, that of seeing the God who spoke! 

“And he said, I beseech thee, show me -- thy glory. 
19 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious -- to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy -- on whom I will show mercy. 
20 And he said, Thou canst not see -- my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. 
21 And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: 
22 And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: 
23 And I will take away -- mine hand, and thou shalt see -- my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:18-23 

But here we ‘see that voice’ 

Consistent with the priestly / high priestly / great high priestly appearance of Jesus!! 

“no man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten who is in the bosom of the father He has declared Him…” 

Here then is something hid from Sinai (v12); a glimpse of the glory of God! 

It is finally here in Revelation chapter 1 that we are able to catch a glimpse of God, a glimpse of Glory, a glimpse of Christ! 

Appearance – Priest 
Activity – Prophet 
Attributes – King 

His identity is as that at Sinai: ‘behold your God’ 

“9 I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” Daniel 7:9 

Appearance – that of the Priest: 

In the midst of the 7 lampstands 

With the girdle (v13) – the use of the girdle associated with the office of priest (Exodus 28) and prophet (eg Elijah and John the Baptist). 

Golden girdle, cf Isaiah 11:5 – ‘righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins and faithfulness the girdle of His reins’ 

‘Gold’ is linked in the OT with righteousness, and holiness (Mal 3:2; Ex 28:36) 

The garment ‘down to the foot’ (v13) – same word is used of the High Priest in Exodus 28:4 (LXX) 

As we progress through His ministry to the 7 churches and in the remainder of the book, the priestly ministry of Christ emerges in its completeness: 

He is the one who “liveth and was dead” (1:18; 2:8) – the qualification par excellence for our High Priest (Heb 2:14ff; Rev 2:8) 
He is able to meet our needs (Rev 2:7) 
Marked by an intercessory ministry (3:5,10) 
We see the care and protection of His own in chps 7 and 14. 
He Succours, Sympathises and Saves as He does in the Hebrew epistle 


“eyes as a flame of fire” (v14) 

The perception of Jesus – He knows, He knows all 

Cf the man of Daniel 10:5ff 

To see 



“out of His mouth a sharp two edged sword” (v16) 

Discernment – To discern 



“feet like fine brass” (v15) 

Judgment – to judge 

Brass is: 

Known for its strength and resilience, used for the structure of the tabernacle – the sockets of brass for the boards of the altar 
Used for armour and protection 

The material of choice and often found in connection with sacrifice and offering: 

Resistant to fire and flame 
Used for the altar and the instruments attached to the altar 
Used for laver for washing 
It is the vehicle, the container of Divine judgment 

Here is a 2nd great distinction with Sinai, a distinction between the old and New testaments. 

Old – static – law 

New – dynamic – Spirit 

The scriptures speak of the deadness which flows from the law (Rom 7:6; 8:3); or the powerlessness of the law to make alive. 

The OT – static – at Sinai the law is given 

Here Christ is encountered and the reality of the Divine standard encountered dynamically in a living relationship and experience of Christ. 

@ Sinai Moses encountered the law 

@ Sinai the nation encountered the law 

Here in Revelation we encounter the law giver 

This is not a set of dry, dead rules for you to keep, this is a relationship for you to experience. 

You become sensitive to the Divine standard, feel the pain, the distance, the sorrow in your heart because of that vital relationship with Christ cf. Romans 8:2-4 

“2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:2-4 

The Divine standard is worked out in the Christian life by the Spirit of God! 

Practically here is one of the ways by which this happens; the reality of relationship, of a daily encounter with Jesus Christ! 

The reality of a relationship maintained / disturbed / disrupted. 

The description here in Rev 1:14-15 is reminiscent of the man of Daniel 10:5-6. 

An encounter with Christ will result in a 3 fold experience: 

Perception (v14) – eyes as a flame of fire – knowledge and understanding 

1 Kings 15:5; 16:25 
2 Chron 16:9 “for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth” 
2 Chron 29:6 

He knows 

He knows all 


He is not passive in His knowledge 
He is not agreeable with all I do and say 
Everything is not ‘ok’ 
What He knows He discerns 
Cf Heb 4:12 

From His mouth comes the 2 edged sword: 

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 

Cf Rev 19:15 

Cf Isaiah 49:2 

The 2 edged sword ‘distomos’ is used in Rev 1:16; 2:12 and Heb 4:12 and in the LXX in Ps 149:6; Prov 5:4; Isa 49:2 


“fine brass in a furnace” 

His feet – His means of moving 

As He walks and moves His feet are like burning brass; fine brass or copper (Rev 1:15; 2:18) same word as Dan 10:6; Ezek 1:4,7; 1:27 

It is used to describe the man in the Sapphire throne (Ezek 1:27) 

Brass in the OT: 

Structural – noted for its strength and resilience; used in the sockets of the tabernacle (Ex 26; 27; 36; 38) and for the hooks and the tacks (Ex 26) 
Strength – Lev 26:19; Judges 16:21; 2 Kings 25:7; Job 40:18; Isa 48:4 
Sacrifice – those parts of the tabernacle pertaining to the sacrifice and to the work of expiation – the satisfaction of the flames of judgment on the sacrifice of the altar of burnt offering; the items pertaining to it – fire resistant – the pans and shovels and grate (Ex 27; 28; 39) 
Satisfaction – to check on the purity of the priest, the laver was made of brass (Ex 30)

Revelation chp 1 vs 10 to 13 - The Voice I Saw - JS Gillespie - 27072021  



John now shares with us what he saw (v12) – the voice I saw! 

That sounds immediately strange and so it is! 

You don’t see a voice, but there is a significance attached to this, as we will see. 

John is “in the Spirit” (v10) – there are many times in the scriptures when unusual things are seen and heard, and at times few hear and see: 

Paul on the road to Damascus 
Paul in the third heaven 
John in Revelation 
Balaam’s ass! 

That vision only comes because: 

They listen when others only hear 
They perceive when others only see 


John hears a “great voice as of a trumpet” 

That small detail ties this event into a whole series of significant events in the OT scriptures. 

The trumpet is so often in scripture an alarm: 

To wake 
To watch 
To warn – Exodus 19; Neh 4; Jer 6; Ezek 33 
To war – Judges 7; Josh 6; Jer 4; Jer 42; Ezek 7 
To worship – Exodus 19; 20 
To warning – Exodus 19; Neh 4; Jer 6; Ezek 33 
To assemble 


The first time we hear the trumpet sound is back in Exodus chapter 19 at Mount Sinai; where the new nation of Israel received her first and foundational revelation from God; the only one written by the hand of God: 

Here in Exodus 20; Deut 9:10 
In the days of Belshazzer (Dan 5) 
In John 8:6 with the woman caught in the act of adultery! 

In Exodus chp 19 + 20; the trumpet announces a revelation from the presence of God in the midst of a Kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6). 

Why would we hear such a trumpet here in Revelation chapter 1? For exactly the same reason! 

Here in Revelation chp 1 we have not only the: 

Son of man 
Son of Mary 
Son of Abraham 
Son of David 
Son of Joseph so called 
Son of the Blessed 
Son of the Highest 

But we have also the eternal Son of God – the God of Sinai and so the trumpet sounds! 

At Sinai there was at least one great distinction as the trumpet sounded in the midst of a Kingdom of priests – that Kingdom of priests was expressly prohibited from looking on; “lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze and many of them perish” (Ex 19:21). 

Here we see ‘the voice I saw’ 

You will find also that the trumpet sounds at the end of the OT, in a series of final references in the minor prophets; announcing not: 

Presence of God 
Revelation of God 


Day of the Lord 

And the conclusion of all things is anticipated; Joel 2:1; Zeph 1:14ff; Zech 9:14ff 

The trumpet is also presented by God to be sounded on the day of Jubilee in acknowledgement that the earth and the rules governing this earth are the Lords and not mans (Lev 25:23) and that both man and the land enter into a Sabbath of rest; perhaps that too may be relevant here as ultimately this book will conclude with an eternal rest. 

The content of that voice: 

“Alpha and omega the first and the last” 

Cf verse 8: 

“I AM alpha and omega the beginning and the ending” 

The title “I AM” is of significance 

V8 – beginning “arche” 

V8 – ending “telos” – an end, termination, a completion 

V11 – first – ‘protos’ 

V11 – last – ‘eschatos’ 

As the first and the last we glimpse the character / the nature of Christ; at the dawn of time and at the conclusion of time He was and shall be there, as such, as a consequence of such, as preceding all and succeeding all He gives rise to and concludes all. 

He is the cause and conclusion of all! 

The book of Revelation then whilst it is the Revelation from Christ grammatically (1:1) is also the Revelation concerning Christ thematically (1:8). 

This book which deals with the conclusion of all things brought into being by Christ as the cause is dependent upon Him for its conclusion! All is directed from His throne! 

Interestingly the bulk of Revelation is book ended by 2 great thrones: 

The Sapphire throne of Revelation chp 4 + 5 
The Great White throne of Revelation chp 19 + 20 

That is: 

The Throne that governs, instructs, ordains, determines 
The Throne that judges, concludes and completes all things 

Between these 2 great thrones lies the bulk of the book of Revelation and the entirety of human history! 

What is especially of interest to us is the identity of the one who sits upon that throne : 

The Lamb 
Alpha and Omega (Rev 21:6) 

That is it is Christ – He is the beginning and the end of all things. 

When John turns to see the voice, first he sees the 7 lampstands! Where else would we expect to find Christ but in the midst of His people? Where would people find the voice of Christ today in this dark world?? 

The first glimpse of Christ in this book is very interesting (v13) – a garment down to the foot and a girdle about the chest. 

The girdle is associated with the priestly office and the prophetic office (eg Elijah and John the Baptist) 

The garment down to the feet is the same Greek word used for the priestly garment in the LXX . 

Righteousness is the girdle of His loins (Isa 11:5) 

His Appearance is that of the Priest 

His Attributes are that of the King (1:13, 18; 3:7; 1:16; 19:15-16) 

His Activities are that of the prophet in chapters 2 to 3 

All together He is the God of heaven (Dan 7:9; Rev 1:14) 

He is: 


Revelation chp 1 vs 9 - I John - JS Gillespie - 20072021  

Revelation chapter 1 verse 9 : "I John"

Consider the apostle John: 

The difference one man can make in adversity and how he can make it! He is :

  • The right person (v9) 
  • The right place (v9) – Patmos 
  • The right preparation (v9) 

               Same kin 

               Same Kingdom 

               Same kind of conditions 

  • In the right condition (v10) 

Then John was a right help to the people of God! 

It took him until he was about 90 to be: 

  • That person 
  • In that place 
  • In that condition 

God was not in any hurry with the life and ministry of the apostle John, even if I am in a hurry for God to do something with my life, my gifts and my talents!

‘I John’ - consider the significance of this simple, humble statement in verse 9 of chapter 1 of Revelation. This greatest of biblical, prophetic revelations was given to a humble fisherman: to John! This was the John who leaned on the breast of Jesus. From that past experience of John, that proximity to the person of Jesus Christ, extends that reality of Jesus to these Christians now. This is of course the pattern for all true Christian ministry; to draw others into the proximity and experience of Christ, as I too have enjoyed it!

It was that same disciple and apostle John who: 

  • Travelled with Him 
  • Talked with Him 
  • Listened to Him 
  • Watched Him 
  • Rested on Him 
  • Wrote the gospel all about Him 

John summarises His experience of Jesus in 1 John 1:1-2: 

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)" 1 John 1:1-2

The same John so close to Christ now draws close to Christians, that is his priestly ministry. 

This is the same ministry of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ who: 

  • Bore our griefs and carried our sorrows 
  • Who washed the disciples feet 
  • Who being in the form of God thought not Deity to consist of grasping after (Phil 2) 

John’s ministry was a priestly ministry 

All Christian service is priestly service 
The service of Christ was priestly service (Phil 2, John 13) 
The pattern of spiritual service is priestly; Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Daniel 

John’s service isn’t only about preaching to people but is about reaching people. John doesn’t just appear out of the blue and start preaching to everyone about Jesus! John has a history, from history experience, an ongoing experience of Jesus! That history began with the call of Jesus on his life (Matt 4:21) and the obedience of John to that call may have seemed to some a tiny step; let go of his fishing nets and stop mending nets and follow Jesus. That first small step and call of John to follow Jesus, and the subsequent series of tiny steps though have led us and John here to the greatest prophetic revelation of the Bible! 

For perhaps the bulk of the gospel narrative an intelligent onlooker may well be forgiven for questioning wither or not  all of this sacrifice of job, security, family and finance was really going anywhere? Perhaps especially when we see Christ crucified and the 2 on the road to Emmaus despondent and discouraged. Had John made a colossal error of judgment? Perhaps he even wondered this himself? Returning it would seem at one point to the fishing in John chapter 21? 

The first book of the NT records where John came from – humble beginnings, unpromising and unqualified, uninspiring, but listen it is left for the last book of the Bible for us to learn as to where John went to! Not just Patmos but somewhere way more glorious than that:

From the sea of Galilee 


The crystal sea (Rev 4) 


This journey from earth to heaven, to the eternal Glory of God is not uniquely John’s journey, this too is our journey! 

Is it not encouraging to see that the glory he gained was infinitely greater than the small steps of faithful obedience John took! This was a journey of many small steps of faithful obedience, to leave behind the mending of nets, to leave the fishing and boat and father and follow Jesus. Those many small steps of obedience and tiny steps of faithfulness brought John on a journey which concluded here with the statement: “I John” (1:9) 

I wonder if there will be many looking back from the edge of the crystal sea and wondering; seriously did I ever consider any of these passing and fleeting sacrifices of time of any real value and significance, past and now long forgotten; compared to the perspective that is now mine in eternity; on the edge of the crystal sea? 

“these light afflictions” – did I ever entertain the thought that such light afflictions, such tiny costs, such trivia might seriously be a hindrance or discouragement to me reaching this destination! Oh those light afflictions are so out of proportion to a far more eternal Weight of glory! 

Did I ever get: 



               Doubt the purpose 

For such trivial gains? 


Little did John anticipate where these individual steps of obedience would lead him to! A life filled with many small steps of obedience can lead somewhere glorious. 

God uses / calls a man of experience in the Apostle John! From experience comes revelation and exposition. How much of a help can you be John? That question is in essence synonymous with another question: "How close are you to Jesus?" 

John is serving Christ and the people of God in his suffering (verse 9). Serving as a "brother" and a "companion in tribulation" for the sake of the gospel. Serving opens the ear to the saving word of God, consider:

  • John 11 and the table set for Jesus with Lazarus 
  • Cf the miracles of healing 
  • Cf Naamans maid 
  • John chapter 13 and the washing of the disciples feet 
  • John chapters 8 + 9   

Serving demonstrates the sincerity of the concern and care of the Christian in testimony:

  • We are not a cult 
  • We care 
  • We care because God cares 
  • We serve because Christ serves 
  • We deal with people as people who have a will to be won over 

This is the ‘Kingdom’ (v9); not the earthly kingdom of Pilate; ‘art thou a King?’ A kingdom not of this world; entrance to this kingdom is by much tribulation. This is a kingdom foreign to this world, belonging to another world, to be part of this kingdom is to be foreign to the world. 



A message preached as part of our series of Bible studies on the teaching of the prophetic book of Revelation

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie 

Revelation chp 1 vs 4 to 6 - The Mystery of all Mysteries - From Tragedy to Triumph - JS Gillespie - 29062021  

The mystery of the Trinity in Revelation chapter 1: 

Note reference to the Trinity in verses 4 and 5 of Revelation chapter 1: 

  1. God the Father (verse 4) : "Him which is and which was and which is to come"
  2. Spirit of God (verse 4)
  3. Jesus Christ (verse 5)

This is a thoroughly Trinitarian section 

These opportunities are empowered by the 7 fold spirit of God (v4), able to meet the need of Gods people. 

V5 “and from Jesus Christ.” 

We note in these 2 verses reference to the doctrine often referred to as the ‘Trinity.’ 

Not a Biblical term admittedly but a soundly Biblical teaching and truth and pattern. 

God is 1 essential being with a 3 fold personality. 

Compare Human nature – not 3 persons but 3 aspects of the 1 individual:

  1. Body
  2. Soul
  3. Spirit


Not 1+1+1 but 1X1X1 

The truth of the Trinity is taught throughout scripture and especially in the NT: 

  1. God the Son – John 1:1,14 
  2. God the Father – John 6:27 
  3. God the Holy Spirit – Acts 5:34 

All 3 Persons 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 
  • Prayer 

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 a NT doctrine only? 

Consider Deuteronomy 6:4 :         

Elohyenu – plural title for God 
Echad – the Hebrew word for a composite unity compare the use of the same word in Genesis 1:5; 2:24; where it is also used for composite unity.

Yahid – by way of contrast, not used here in Deuteronomy is a word for singular unity – used in Gen 22:2 


Taken from a bible teaching series of studies in the book of Revelation.

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie


Revelation chp 1 vs 4 to 5 - God Sovereign Eternal All Sufficient Triune - JS Gillespie - 22062021  

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: 





New Creation  

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 

Cf 1:19 

  • 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: 

  • Childhood 
  • Maturity 
  • Education 
  • 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: 

  1. Is 
  2. Was 
  3. 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 :

  1. Body
  2. Soul
  3. Spirit

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 


  • Prayer 

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

Revelation chp 1 vs 1 - Revealing Reality Beyond - God Gravity and Glory - JS Gillespie - 15062021  


The closing book of the NT, bringing the entire Bible to a conclusion after more than 2000 years of inspiration! 

We might expect a massive finale, and we get one! 

This is the conclusion to: 

  • The Bible 
  • History 
  • Israel 
  • World 
  • Satan 
  • Evil 
  • Death 
  • Suffering 
  • Sin 

This is quite a conclusion 

There is a lot in it 

Revelation addresses: 

  • The meaning and purpose of life 
  • The destiny of humanity 
  • The end of the world 
  • The plan for the universe 
  • The battle of good over ever 
  • The ultimate and final victory 
  • The mystery of suffering 
  • The perplexity of seemingly unanswered prayer 


Perhaps we may feel overwhelmed by this, discouraged from studying the book with so many symbols, demanding such a thorough knowledge of the rest of scripture and maybe even a good working knowledge of  Church history. 

Perhaps as CA Coates has observed this is the reason for the encouragement of 1:3; the Spirit of God well understanding that we may indeed by discouraged from grappling with the book! 

Revelation 1:3 encourages us to personally engage with the book. 

Not only engage with someone who has engaged with the book; which may indeed be very tempting. 

There needs to be on our part, a fresh appreciation and application of the text of Revelation: 


All this given to the Apostle John. 

The first book of the Bible – Genesis – written by Moses 

The final book of the Bible – Revelation – written by John 

Each are responsible for writing 5 books in the OT and the NT 

Much of what Moses set the scene for in the first 5 books of the Bible will find its completion here in the final book by John. 

The symmetry through the ages of inspiration is striking: 




Old world passed away 

Satan comes in 

Satan removed 

Sin and the fall 

Redemption and eternal salvation 

Tree of life guarded 

Tree off life freely available 

Plagues of Egypt 

Plagues on whole world 

Mark of Cain 

Mark of the beast 

Sin, sorrow and suffering begin 

Sin, sorrow and suffering ended 

Sun and moon created to give light 

Sun and moon no longer needed for light 

It would seem justified to open the pages of Revelation with a degree of trepidation and humility, it is after all the magnum opus of John, given to him in his 90s after a long and deep experience of Christ and the gospel! 

It took a man of deep spirituality to write it, the author of the deeply spiritual 1 + 2 + 3 John! 

The apostle who served his apprenticeship leaning on Jesus breast and who gave to us the epistles of love, life and light. 

To John is given the task of writing the only completely prophetic book of the NT! 

Many books of prophecy in the OT: 

Major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel 
12 minor prophets 
A significant proportion of the Psalms 

At least 16/39 OT books could be classified as prophetic books, yet only 1 completely prophetic book in the NT, although parts of other NT books would have a prophetic content; Matthew, 1 + 2 Thessalonians, 2 Peter, and 2 Timothy. 

Interesting perhaps to reflect on why we might have that pattern / disparity? 

The great burden of  OT prophecy is to point us forward, not so much to events nor even a programme but to a person, that is Christ. 

The bulk of the NT now looks back at the person; that is Christ. 

The NT Gospels take the place mainly of the OT prophets, both from their own perspectives bringing us to Christ prospectively and then retrospectively. 

What was prophetic for the OT authors is now historical for the NT. 

The prophetic burden is not that God’s people become sign watchers, nor experts in geopolitics but rather that the Lord’s people look off unto Jesus! 

It is surely a great challenge to read it and apply it! 

Back to the book of Revelation at 50! 

It has been an interesting 50 years 

The intervening 35 years have shed considerable light on the revelation not so much from a biblical perspective but from human history and the areas of: 


 infectious diseases 

mechanized warfare 

Global politics 

eg Rev 1:7 “every eye shall see Him,” and the two prophets of Revelation 11 

the general witness of the Nations to two dead in Jerusalem. 

In the first half of the twentieth century Christians were unable to explain how this could happen. In the second half of the twentieth century in my younger days some saw the possibility of this by means of the television 

Now at the beginning of the 21st century such a statement is completely compatible with current experience, there is no explanation needed. 

The mark of the Beast is likewise enabled by modern technology implantable microchips are already in place. 

Illust: Story told of Albert Einstein setting a university exam for his students. His assistant professor asked ‘but isn’t that the same exam you set for your final year students last year? Exactly the same exam? You can’t do that! To which Einstein famously replied ‘yes the questions are the same but the answers have changed.’ 


As we come to look afresh at Revelation, the questions, the text, the inspiration, the Spirit remains exactly the same but we come with a fresh perspective as to what some of these texts could potentially mean in the light of recent, very recent changes in the world in which we live. 

Perhaps we can see just how close these events have become, how easily and quickly our society has been and can be changed: Mass surveillance of the population; contact apps for ‘disease monitoring’ 
Control of financial transactions via electronic means 
Threatened and real abandonment of physical monetary transactions eg Wuhan province 
Attractiveness of implanted microchip technology 
Removal of civil liberties eg right to assemble and control of movement and monitoring of social media information feeds for ‘misinformation.’ 
Imposition of a closely policed state 
State interference in privacy 
Compromise of data and confidentiality –

How easily and quickly he Kingdom of the beast could emerge with: 

Financial control 
Restriction of personal freedoms and liberties 


Can’t go wrong with the one given: 


Thou hast seen (chp 1) 
Things which are (chp 2 to 4) 
Shall be hereafter (chps 5ff) 


Grace (chp 2+3) 
Government (chps 4 to 19) 
Glory (chps 20 to 24) 

Or thinking of Christ: 

  • Lord in the midst of the lampstands 
  • Lamb in the midst of the throne 
  • Lion over the nations 
  • Lover in the midst of the marriage supper 
  • Light in the midst of heaven 


Consider the differing perspectives we find here in Revelation: 

  • In the Isle called Patmos (1:9) 
  • In heaven before the throne (4:1ff) 
  • Upon the sand of the sea (13:1) 
  • Carried into the wilderness (17:3) 
  • On a great and High mountain (21:10) 


Perhaps my own 7 fold outline of the changing themes and scenes of Revelation: 

  1. Revelation of the Person and Character of Christ (chp 1) 
  2. Revival in the Church (ch 2 + 3) 
  3. Reigning and Ruling over the world (chp 4 – 19) 
  4. Response to the prayers of the saints 
  5. Retribution on the wicked 
  6. Removal of evil (chps 13 to 19) 
  7. Restoration of Righteousness 


The righteousness of God is seen in the person of Christ impacts: 

On the Church chps 2 + 3 
On the world chps 5 to 19 
Into eternity chps 20 to 22 

“the revelation of Jesus christ” (1:1) 

The whole of the Bible is the 'Revelation of Jesus Christ' 

In the sense that it is the revelation about Jesus Christ 

'Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.'(Joh 5:39) 

The scriptures are full of prophecies / patterns and parables of Christ 

Luk 24:27 'And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.' 

This revelation is a little different 

This is not the Revelation 'concerning' Jesus Christ but rather the revelation from Jesus Christ. 

This revelation is very special: 

This is the revelation from the Revelation of scripture. 

This is the revelation within a revelation, to reveal the truth behind appearance, reality behind perception! 

Genitive of Origin? 

Notice the flow here: 

God gave the Revelation to Jesus 


               Jesus Christ "Him" 


                    By His angel 


"Unto His servants" / "unto His servant John" 


               To show unto His servants 

God gave the revelation to Jesus 

Jesus gave his revelation to us 

This is the revelation from Jesus Christ as we follow the flow of the revelation through these verses. 

It is hard to miss the significance however of the fact that the whole of the Word of God is a Revelation of Christ: 

OT – pictures, prophecies, pointers and parallels 
NT – Person and work of Christ 

And here crowning it all – the concluding Revelation of Jesus Christ! 

Here we see that out of the: 

Trial and Tragedy comes Triumph 
Disaster comes deliverance 

All has as its destiny the glory of Christ. 

As the alpha He is the origin 

As the omega He is the destiny 

With all things headed up in Christ in chapters 21 and 22: 

The bride is the bride of the Lamb 
The apostles are the apostles of the Lamb 
The temple is The Lord God and the Lamb 
The Light is the Lamb 
The book is the Lambs book of Life 
The throne is the throne of God and of the Lamb 
The river of life flows from the throne of the Lamb 

History is His Story! 

This is about to come as something of a shock to a world which has universally rejected Christ : 

“14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14 

“38 And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Luke 23:38 

And still so: 

‘By the world rejected and by the few enthroned.’ 

Therein lies the missing piece of the jigsaw of this world 

If only he were not so universally rejected there would be no: 

Gender confusion 
Broken marriages 
Murdered unborn 
Racial tensions 
War, famine, and man made disasters 

This is indeed a book all about Jesus Christ; charting His life from: 

Grave (1:5) to the Glory (Rev 22) 
Cross (1:5) to the Crown (Rev 19:12, 16) 

Yet all of the Bible is about Jesus Christ! 

In the OT: 


In the Gospels – biography – Person of Christ 

In the epistles – doctrine 

This is the ‘Revelation of Jesus Christ’ – the unveiling! 

This is a unique glimpse behind the fabric of space and time, behind and beyond what we can see, to what we can’t see. 

This book reveals that righteousness is not random. 

Here is what lies behind the veil of reality, what is behind the scenes! 

Not only do we see that righteousness is not random, but we also perceive that evil is not random: 

Christ and the Church 
Satan and Babylon 

As He is progressively unveiled; we perceive Christ and: 

His Plan of Salvation (chp 1) 
His Presence in the midst of the Church (chp 1 to 3) 
His Power from the throne, in judgement (chp 4 to 19) 
His Purpose for the universe (chp 20 to 22) 
His Person supreme and glorified over all and in all 

We peel away the layers of what we refer to as reality and behind the appearance of what we perceive to be transpiring we see that hand of Christ! 

We gain a glimpse into the deep mysteries of this universe, beyond the dimensions of space and time. 

The Bible is full of mysteries, 14 specific NT mysteries of which we find 3 in the book of Revelation itself: 

The NT mysteries: 

Mysteries of the Kingdom – Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; and Luke 8:10 
Mystery of blindness on Israel (Roms 11:25) 
Mystery of the Gospel to all peoples (Rom 16:25ff) 
Mystery of the Cross (1 Co 1+2:7ff) 
Mystery of the Rapture (1Co 15:51) 
Mystery of His will, of all things in Christ (Eph 1:9) 
Mystery of Jew and Gentile in 1 body (Eph 3:3ff) 
Mystery of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:32) 
Mystery of Christ in you (Col 1:25ff) 
Mystery of Iniquity (2 Thess 2:7) 
Mystery of Godliness (1 Tim 3:16) 
Mystery of the 7 churches (Rev 1:20) 
Mystery of Gods judgement (Rev 10:7) 
Mystery of Babylon the Great (Rev 17:5-7) 

What is a mystery? 

Perhaps we have often heard the memorable phrase: 

'Truth once concealed and now revealed' 

With the thought of 'mystery' often attribute to previous concealment, ie that they once were a mystery. 

Is it? 

Certainly this highlights one important aspect of the NT mysteries – that they are NT mysteries and that if anything can be discerned of them in the OT can only really be discerned in retrospect! 

But as definitions go its not the best: 

It's not very precise, that definition would apply to any NT revelation or doctrine not clearly revealed in the OT for example; the incarnation, life and ministry of Christ, justification by faith etc. It is not very informative. 

It tells us nothing about the subject or content of the mysteries, it’s a rather cryptic definition of mystery! Having heard the definition of the mysteries of scripture, if I were to then ask; 'what is a mystery?' we would really be none the wiser. 

It's not entirely accurate – there are some mysteries which are not yet revealed (eg 2 Thess chp 2 and 3 mysteries in Revelation). 

It demystifies mysteries! Mysteries seem to maintain the character of mysteries in the NT rather than surrendering that character now that they are 'revealed' eg 1 Tim 3:9. This definition almost dismisses / denies the mystery aspect of these truths. 

What are the NT mysteries? 

''μυστήριον'' : from 'mustes' – a person initiated into the sacred mysteries, from 'mueo' to initiate, learn a secret or esoteric knowledge. 

Linked to the sacred mysteries. 

At the heart of many of the ancient religions lay a secret, an answer, a hidden insight into the nature of reality, the meaning of life, the destiny of existence, the mysteries! 

This is still seen in some today: Mormonism, Free Masonry etc. 

There is a reason we come to a place of worship, to a gathering, a reason we read the Bible! 

One of those reasons is our search for answers, for meaning, for purpose. 

We seek answers to why we are here, where we are going, the meaning of life, the answers to the big questions of life. 

There are answers in the Bible. 

The Bible is exceedingly interesting! 

The Word of God contains God's answers to the reason why, who, what and how! 

God's answers to: 

Why I am here 
What in the world is happening 
How I can find God 
Who God is 

These are the NT mysteries! 

These are Gods answers to the question why? 

Gods hidden agenda. 

They are justification for the conspiracy theorists paranoia that there is an agenda behind the scenes. 

Gods hidden agenda, revealed not by time, not by a time delay switch but revealed to those that have ears to hear, those who have the Spirit of God! 

'he that hath ears to hear let him hear' (Matt11:15; Luke8:8) and also Matt 13:11; Luke 8:10. 

Not so much: 

Concealed in the past and revealed in the present but 
Concealed to the unregenerate and revealed by the Spirit of God 

The distinction between: 

concealment and revelation 
mystery and understanding 

lies not so much in time but in aptitude and ability. 

The mystery is unlocked not by time but with a key; and that key is Christ. 

Not so much a distinction between: 


But rather: 

without the Spirit 
with the Spirit 

It is not time that is the key but Christ who is the key (Matt 16:19; Rev 1:18; Rev 3:7) 

God's agenda in human history has not been hidden. 

God's desire is for a world saturated with the knowledge of God: 

Habakkuk 2:14: 'filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord' 

Isaiah 11:9: 'They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of -- the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' 

It is the insight into what is happening behind the scenes that is specific to Revelation. 

History is not chaotic 
Evil is not sporadic 
Righteousness is not random 

Revelation gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of this universe, into dimensions not apparent. 

It is interesting that science is perhaps catching up here! 

String theory – multiple dimensions beyond this world – possibly 11 
M-Theory – membrane / mystery / magic theory! 
Problem of the low value of gravity – cf. magnetic forces 
An attempt to identify the graviton via the SERN collider 
A hope to understand why the force of gravity is so low and the possibility of leakage into another dimension? 

Much is speculative of course but one thing is clear, that mainstream science and physicists are seriously entertaining the idea that there is more to this universe than appears on the surface, there are more dimensions to this universe than we have before appreciated! 

This is the “revelation of Jesus Christ” 

Not only is it all about Jesus Christ – which of course the rest of the Bible is too: 

  • Prophetically in OT 
  • Pictorially in the OT 
  • Parable in the OT 
  • Person in the Gospels 
  • Doctrinally in the epistles 

Here we see Christ hidden, cryptically, in secret and now unveiled: 

  • His Plan of Salvation (chp 1) 
  • His Presence in the Church (chps 1 to 3) 
  • His Power from the Throne (chps 4 to 19) 
  • His Purpose for the World (chp 19 to 20) 
  • His Pre-eminence Eternally (chp 20 and 21) 


Babylon, Satan, the Beast and false prophet are very much to the fore up until chapter 19; wickedness, death, destruction and chaos ensues, until reality is unveiled in chapter 20 and behind the scenes of the chaos of the apparent in the reality of one working all things according to the counsel of His own will; working all things for His Glory. Christ pulls the trigger on these judgements, from the very first seal which is opened till the final destiny is reached. He has been behind the whole of human history from the very beginning until the end. 

His Person sovereign supreme 

Righteousness is not Random 

Evil is not chaotic 

There is order, and organisation. 

Consider the coordinated and pan European attack on the Jews in WW2 and consider the ‘spontaneous’ almost world wide rise in woke culture, identity politics and the promotion of homosexuality and transgenderism. None of this is coincidental nor disco-ordinated. 

If the DESTINY of this world is headed to Christ so too is the 

DIRECTION of this world headed to Christ and by implication, the path too – the DETAILS as to how we arrive at that DESTINY. 

“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:10-12) 

Not only is the ultimate DESTINY of all things ultimately leading to the revelation of Christ (Rev 22), but the route there, the DETIALS of that journey likewise reveal Christ – His Grace in the church, His Government, power and judgment over the world and His Glory eternally. 


For there to be a definite destination there must be a definite direction. 

To reach this destination the direction of all of human history is ordered and ordained! 

The reason Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees 
The reason Israel sheltered in Egypt 
The reason behind the Exodus 
The reason Ruth accompanied Naomi out of Moab 
The reason for Daniels captivity in Babylon 
The reason for the census in the days of Herod 
The reason Elizabeth bore John 

Was that all might be brought to Christ! 

Here is a fitting conclusion to the whole of the Word of God. 

“to show unto us his servants” 

The object of the revelation is for His servants. 

If you serve the Lord, or if you desire to serve the Lord, you can claim a right to this revelation. 

Why is this relevant to those who serve the Lord? 

Because these revelations: 'must shortly come to pass' 

These Revelations: 

put service to the Lord into context 
condition the outlook of the believer 

This conditions the mind of the servant, the focus of the servant 

The mindset of the servant, to leave all and follow, to not take the eye off the goal, to not get distracted. 

Why? for curiosity? 

Why bother? 

What is the purpose? 

Is it sufficient that it is: 

The Word of God 
It is about Jesus? 
It is in the Bible? 

Is that enough? 

Yet so much of the Bible has a clear purpose: 

The Gospels: 'these things are written that you might believe and that believing you might have life through His name.' 

Romans: 'the Gospel of Christ, it is the power of God unto salvation' – presenting and defending the gospel. 


sanctification truth – 1 Corinthians 
Church truth: 1 Corinthians, pastoral epistles 
Work of Christ: Hebrews 

But what would I think of Revelation? 

What does it do? 

What is it for? 

Revelation is the 'apocalypse' of John 

That Greek word has come into the English language. 

The apocalypse, the unveiling. 

The unveiling of what? 

The clue is in the name 

It is the unveiling of what we see. 

It is the unveiling to what lies behind what I see! 

What lies behind the veil of reality! 

Revelation is the true nature of absolute reality. 

This is God's plan and purpose and agenda, not ours! 

When the veil of appearance is dropped we see the nature of realty beneath it. 

That reality is very different from the one we have come to know. 

No rather to show the sovereignty of God in all things! 

To give a future eternal perspective on life. 

This makes sense of life! 

“if in this life only we have hope only in Jesus we are of all men the most miserable” 

‘laying up for ourselves treasures on earth’ is hardly an option! 

Do you see what happens to earth? 

Taking the easy way out? 
compromise with the world? 
collusion with the enemy? 

These are doomed to failure 

reassurance despite the difficulties and confusion there is a plan new life 

it is imperative to live in the present for the future. 

'shortly come to pass' (v1) 


But was this not 2000 years ago? 

Shortly come to pass – possibly from the Divine perspective. 

The blessing is to (1:3) 


Surely blessing in all of the Word of God, but particular blessing here, why? 

Sense of perspective in life, seeing that all these things shall be dissolved. 
Thus a sense of priorities 
A sense of Divine purpose; seeing the underlying and hidden purpose of God in all things. How can I know my purpose in life if I don't know God's purpose for me? 
For the purpose of my life to be meaningful it must align with Divine purpose. 

The content of the book ought to influence our life practically

A sermon preached from our bible teaching series on the book of Revelation

Yours by Grace in Christ 

Dr J Stewart Gillespie