Revelation 1

1The preface. 4John's salutation to the seven churches of Asia. 7The coming of Christ; 8his eternal majesty. 9John relateth his vision of the Son of man with the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks.

1THE 1Revelation of Jesus Christ, which 2God gave unto 3him, 4to shew unto his servants 5things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

*That is, one who speaks of God and Divine things. According to the opinion of many ancient teachers,John is called here as such, because he speaks very clearly and abundantly of the Godhead of Christ in the beginning of his Gospel, in his first epistle, and also in this revelation, being entirely full of Divine visions and mysteries. They, who conclude from this that another John, rather than the apostle of Christ, could have written this book, are very much in the wrong, since the oldest teachers in Christendom, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origen, Hieronymus, and many others have settled this beyond any doubt, and the entire christian church has always maintained this, over against the opinion of a very few. Also his exile to the isle of Patmos, and his name which he expresses here several times without any title, this is abundantly shown according to the example of the prophets. Likewise the apostle John mentions Christ the Word of God, chapter 19, which is peculiar to him in his writing. Its own divineness of this book and the fulfillment of many prophecies, which are now readily seen throughout the entire world, do prove adequately that no person but only an apostle of Christ, and inspired by His Spirit, could have written this book.

1 Gr. apocalypsis, which word is retained both in the Vulgar Latin, and several other translations, signifying a revelation or discovery of secret things, as this word is generally taken of the Gospel, Mat. 11:25; Eph. 3:5. Yet here it is taken for a revelation of things to come afterwards in time, as is expressed in this verse. Also this word revelation is used here as the title of the book; in the manner as the prophets were accustomed to prefix their prophesies with the same superscription. See Isa. 1:1; Hosea 1:1; Joel 1:1; Micah 1:1.

2 Namely, the Father, as appears by the sequel.

3 Namely, to Jesus Christ, as Mediator, and in respect of His human nature. For, as the eternal God He is of one and the same Essence and omniscient with the Father; but as Mediator, He receives order and command from the Father, and according to His human nature, the knowledge of those things themselves, which were required for the execution of His Mediatorship, and for the salvation of His congregation. See John 1:16; 3:31, 32, etc.

4 Namely, not only by words, but also by visions and representations.

5 This is said in regard of the beginning of these histories, upon which would follow the continuance till the last day, 2 Peter 3:8, 9.

26Who bare record 7of the word of God, and of 8the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

6 Namely, John.

7 Some take this from the following revelation; but, since John seems to wish to strengthen his reputation with these words in order that the following prophesy is more readily received, it is taken by others from his foregoing apostolic sermons and writings, in which he has testified that which he had seen and heard of Christ, as he speaks also in his Gospel, John 19:35; 21:24, and in his first epistle, 1 John 1:1, and as it is said of the apostles in general, Luke 1:2; yet it may well be understood here both ways.

8 That is, which he has given of Jesus Christ His Person, of His sermons, miracles, suffering, dying and of His glorification. See the like also in Peter, 2 Peter 1:16, etc.

3Blessedais he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: forb9the time is at hand.

a Rev. 22:7.

b Rev. 22:10.

9 Namely, that these things shall begin to come to pass and that the faithful shall therefore have cause to take comfort in the judgments of God against their oppressors, and in the happy deliverance of their tribulations (which are the two main things, set forth throughout this book). Otherwise the very last hour and day are also said to be near at hand, because it shall befall men unexpectedly. See Mat. 24:43, etc.; 1 Thes. 5:2, 4; 2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 3:3.

4John 10to the seven churches 11which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, 12from him whichc is, and which was, and which is to come; and from 13the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

10 Namely, which are particularly mentioned in verse 11, which were first instituted by Paul, and by John, as one of all the apostles who lived the longest, afterwards further built up, and more and more confirmed, as all the old ecclesiastical histories testify, and that he died at Ephesus. Yet under these seven churches all the rest of the churches of Christ are likewise to be understood, seeing that some of those churches perished or were dispersed not very long after the time of the apostle John, which also is the reason, why in the conclusion of every one of the letters, this is added, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

11 He understands Asia Minor, called Anatolia now, or Natolia, wherein all those cities were located.

12 Hereby is understood the eternal, unchangeable Godhead of the Father, and the apostle expresses thereby the Name of Eheje, that is, I am, which God does give unto Himself, Exod. 3:14, and the Name of Jehovah, whereby the self-subsisting, unchangeable God is called throughout the Old Testament.

c verse 8; Exod. 3:14; Rev. 4:8; 11:17; 16:5.

13 Some understand hereby the seven angels, of whom several times have been mentioned in this book, and would be placed here with God, in this wish of grace and peace, as instruments of God and the means whereby God does protect His church, and often imparts His grace, as Paul, 1 Tim. 5:21, (says to) Timothy: I charge thee before God, ... and the elect angels. Yet forasmuch as in this wish for grace and peace, the same thing is prayed in the same words from the seven Spirits, as it is prayed from God, and afterwards from Christ, and which no mere creature is able to give, Isa. 42:8; James 1:17, therefore by these seven Spirits here it must be understood the Holy Spirit, Who is also Himself a Giver of this evangelical grace and peace, 2 Cor. 13:13, and is therefore called seven Spirits, seeing He has poured out His gifts in these seven churches so completely, as if He were so many Spirits. This exposition is evident also by this, that these seven Spirits are nowhere reckoned among those who worship God or the Lamb, as is done here by the four beasts, and twenty-four elders, with all the hosts of the holy blessed angels. As also from this that these seven Spirits, Rev. 4:5, are expressly called seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, that is, the manifold wisdom and gifts of the Holy Spirit, which in a singular manner illuminate and adorn the throne of God; as also Rev. 5:6, horns and eyes, that is, the power and wisdom of the Lamb; and that they are put here in one and the same degree between God and between Christ. Yet here the Holy Spirit with His gifts is put between the Father and Christ, because the apostle wants to speak in more detail in the sequel about the benefits and attributes of Christ.

5And from Jesus Christ, whod is 14the faithful witness, and thee first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins 15inf his own blood,

d Isa. 55:4; Rev. 3:14.

14 Namely, He, Who has brought the Gospel unto us out of the bosom of the Father, and sealed it by His death, John 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:13.

e 1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18.

15 That is, by His bloody death and sacrifice, Heb. 9:14.

f Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:12, 14; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 5:9.

6And hath made us 16kingsg and priestsh unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

16 Namely, to wield spiritual dominion over sin and the world, and to bring unto God spiritual sacrifices of thankfulness for our redemption. See 1 Peter 2:5, 9.

g 1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 5:10.

h Rom. 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5.

7Behold, hei17cometh with clouds; and 18every eye shall see him, and they also whichj19pierced him: and 20all kindreds of the earth shall wail because 21of him. 22Even so, Amen.

i Dan. 7:13; Mat. 24:30; 25:31; Acts 1:11; 1 Thes. 1:10; 2 Thes. 1:10; Jude verse 14.

17 That is, He shall come, namely, at the last day in His glory, to judge all people, sitting in the clouds as in His judgment seat, as Dan. 7:13. Wherewith He shall conclude the fulfillment of this book.

18 That is, not only the believers, but the unbelievers also, as appears by the sequel.

j Zech. 12:10; John 19:37.

19 That is, have crucified and slain, as the Jews and Gentiles have done to Him in His person and still do this daily in His congregation and members. This passage is taken out of Zech. 12:10, where the same words are prophetically spoken of God, which here are pointed to the Son of God, namely, unto Christ, as the same God.

20 These words in Zechariah seem to be only pronounced of the tribes and families of Israel; but it is well known that among them are generally to be comprehended also the Gentiles, who would be called unto the church of Christ at the time of the New Testament. Therefore this place may well be understood of all nations, both Jews and Gentiles, whereof some, having converted themselves with grief and sorrow for their former transgressions against Christ and His church, shall also prove their conversion at the coming of Christ; and the other obstinate ones shall come to see their Judge with terrors against themselves; as the words of Zechariah may also be well understood of both.

21 Or, for him.

22 That is, even so be it. By the reduplication of these two words there is expressed the earnest desire of the prophet and others of the faithful, and by the change of the language in Greek and Hebrew, there is suitably intimated that the foregoing wish does appertain in common to all the believers both the Greeks or Gentiles with the Hebrews or Jews. See further in Rev. 22:20

8 Ik am 23Alpha and Omega, 24the beginning and the ending, saith 25the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

k Isa. 41:4; 44:6; Rev. 21:6; 22:13.

23 This manner of speech is taken from the Greek alphabet, in which language John wrote this book, where A, is called by them Alpha, being their first letter, and their large O, the last letter, is called by them Omega, as is declared also in the text itself.

24 Namely, of all things, which is said of God, not only because He was before all creatures from eternity, even if creatures change or perish, He continues the Same still, Heb. 1:11, 12, but also because He is the Author and the End of all, since all things are of Him and for His glory, Prov. 16:4; Rom. 11:36. See also Isa. 41:4; 44:6.

25 Namely, Christ, Who reveals Himself here unto John, and of Whom being spoken of before in verse 7; unto Whom, as to the only God with the Father, these attributes are expressly also ascribed below in verses 11 and 17, and Rev. 22:13.

926I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called 27Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

26 Here Revelation actually begins; the apostle expresses his name first, after the manner of the prophets Jeremiah, Daniel and others, who were wont in such like predictions to set down their name sometimes, as also the places and occasions wherein such revelations were made unto them, for further confirmation of the things.

27 Situated in the Mediterranean and Ægean Sea, one of the islands called the Cyclades, into which island the apostle John was banished by the Emperor Domitian, as it is recorded by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. lib. 3, cap. 16 and Hieronymus in Catal. Ser. Eccl. for the Gospel’s sake, as follows in the text.

10I was 28inl the Spirit on 29the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, 30as of a trumpet,

28 That is, in an ecstasy or rapture of the senses by the Holy Spirit, such as happened to Peter, Acts 10:10, and to Paul as he testifies of himself in 2 Cor. 12:2, and also generally to the prophets.

l Rev. 4:2.

29 That is, on the first day of the week, thus called, because Christ arose on that day from the dead, and because the service of God was there already used among the Christians on that day instead of the Sabbath, as all the ancient teachers witness, and is also inferred from Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:2. Then upon this day, which was consecrated to the service of God, occurs unto John, being taken up with holy consideration since he was in a place where it seems there have been no congregations as yet, this revelation.

30 That is, as loud and clear, as the sound of a trumpet. For, that it was a speaking voice appears by the sequel.

11Saying, 31I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in 32a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto 33Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

31 See hereof the annotation on verse 8 above.

32 Or, little book.

33 This was the capital city in Asia Minor, situated towards the Ionian Sea, where Paul preached a long while, Acts 19:1, etc. and to the church to which he wrote that famous Epistle to the Ephesians. The other six cities were likewise situated in Asia Minor. There is no further mention made in Scripture of Smyrna and Pergamos, nor of Sardis and Philadelphia, but of Thyatira we read in Acts 16:14 concerning the conversion of Lydia, a seller of purple, and of Laodicea in the epistle of the Colossians, Col. 4:15, 16. Pliny reports that some of these cities, not very long after the time here treated of, perished by an earthquake.

12And I turned to see 34the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw 35seven golden candlesticks;

34 That is, Him of Whom was this voice.

35 Hereby are understood the seven aforesaid churches, which were as precious as gold to men in God’s sight, as is explained below in verse 20. This similitude is taken from the golden candlestick, that was in the Holy place of the tabernacle, and which the priests were to furnish night and day with oil in the lamps thereof, Lev. 24:2, the same similitude you find also, Zech. 4:2, and thereby are represented the gifts and enlightening of the Holy Spirit, and by the watchfulness and diligence of the priests in the dispensing of the Word and sacraments; whereof all the care and honor is ascribed here alone to Christ, as the only Priest of the New Testament.

13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto 36them Son of man, clothed with 37a garment down to the foot, andn38girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

36 That is, Christ Jesus, called as such generally in the Gospel, and here is said like unto the Son of man, because He appeared but in a vision, and not in His person; and that in such a form, which He does not have in His nature, but which He has in His operations and attributes, at which here are aimed; as elsewhere He is represented as a lamb, elsewhere as sitting on horseback, or is shown in a different manner in this revelation. And He is called the Son of man, not only because He is true Man, made of a woman, but also because He is, of Whom Daniel, under the selfsame title, has prophesied, Dan. 7:13, and Who appeared likewise unto Daniel in the same form. Or, one that was like to a son of man, i.e., to a man.

m Ezek. 1:26; Dan. 7:13; Rev. 14:14.

37 Namely, which was properly a priestly garment, Exod. 28:4, 40; 39:27.

n Rev. 15:6.

38 Thereby is expressed His proficiency in the administration of His office, and His dignity by the golden girdle.

14His head and his hairs were 39whiteo like wool, as white as snow; andp40his eyes were as a flame of fire;

39 Thereby is typified the wisdom and eternity of Jesus Christ, as also these attributes of God the Father are thus represented, Dan. 7:9.

o Dan. 7:9.

p Rev. 19:12.

40 This and the following similitudes are mostly taken out of Dan. 10:6, where a vision, much like to this, appeared unto Daniel. The flame of fire is understood His omniscience and all penetrating eye, even into the hearts of men, as is to be derived from Rev. 2:18, 19, 23.

15And his feet like unto 41fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice asq the sound 42of many waters.

41 Gr. chaikolibano, that is, metal out of Lebanon, or, fine copper; the like is mentioned in the vision, Ezek. 1:7 and Dan. 10:6, whereby is set forth the steadfastness and invincible strength of Christ, which none can venture upon without hurt to himself, and whereby He is able to subdue all things to Himself.

q Rev. 14:2.

42 Namely, which run down from the rocks and cannot be stopped by anyone. A representation of the power of the voice of Christ, which has penetrated among all tongues and nations, according as this word waters is explained by the angel himself, Rev. 17:15.

16And he had 43in his right hand 44seven stars: and out of his mouth went ar45sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was 46as the sun shineth in his strength.

43 These stars are said to be in the right hand of Christ, forasmuch as He does send, govern and protect them, and is powerful by them in the hearts of men, and mighty also, in case they do not duly mind and attend their charge, to punish them; as may be seen in Rev. 2:1, 5.

44 These stars are explained in verse 20 to be the angels or overseers of the churches, likened unto stars, because they ought to shine before the churches with their doctrine and life, as the stars do before men in their travels by land and sea.

r Isa. 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:16; 19:15.

45 Namely, of His Word, as well by His promises, unto the comfort of those who are obedient, as by His threats, unto the punishment of the disobedient, as is declared in Rev. 2:16; 19:15. God’s Word is also called as such in Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12.

46 Hereby is set forth the glory of Christ, as also of the faithful hereafter in the life to come, Mat. 13:43, who nevertheless have no glory but from Christ and by Christ.

17And when I saw him, I 47fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; Is48am the first and the last:

47 Namely, partly out of reverence and partly being terrified, as happened similarly to Daniel in Dan. 8:18; 10:8, etc., and to others also.

s Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12.

48 See above on verses 8 and 11.

18I am 49he that liveth,t and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; andu have 50the keys of hell and of death.

49 Other: and I was the living (one) and was dead. For, Christ, being dead after the flesh, remained nevertheless alive after the spirit, that is to say, according to His Divine nature, as now He also lives forever according to both.

t Rom. 6:9.

u Job 12:14; Isa. 22:22; Rev. 3:7; 20:1.

50 That is, the power to deliver you from death and hell, and to cast therein the enemies. See Mat. 10:28.

19Write 51the things which thou hast seen, and 52the things which are, and 53the things which shall be hereafter;

51 Namely, in this vision. Others take it more at large for all that the apostle had seen in the church of Christ, until the time of Christ’s ascension into heaven. But the first verse of this chapter, as also the first verse in the fourth chapter, is in opposition to this opinion.

52 That is, the state of the seven churches, as it is presently, and that which I am now about to charge you to write unto them; which is performed in the two following chapters.

53 Namely, which is described from the beginning of the fourth chapter to the end of the book.

20The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars 54are 55thev angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

54 That is, signify, or represent before the eyes; as Gen. 41:27, and frequently in Holy Writ. However, of these seven stars and seven candlesticks, see the annotations on verses 12 and 16 above.

55That is, the teachers or overseers of the seven churches, as the priests and prophets are sometimes also called angels, since they have been sent forth by God to teach, to exhort, to warn and comfort the people on behalf of God. See Judges 2:1; Hag. 1:13; Mal. 2:7.

v Mal. 2:7.