Friday, January 31, 2014


Vs 5-8 (Doxology and the Lord’s return)

5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 
7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”(NASB)
In Vs 5a, Jesus is presented as the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the Kings of the earth. What does “Faithful witness” Osborn notes, “The idea of witness in Revelation is linked to themes of persecution and perseverance where it comes close to the later meaning of “martyr”. Jesus is the archetype and paradigm for the believer, who also must stand against evil and idolatry even it may mean one’s life.”[1]
What does the firstborn from the dead mean? The Greek word Prototokos comes from two words, from Protos means first and tikto means “to bear, bring forth” Here the firstborn applies to Christ in respect of His being the firstborn of the virgin without excluding; however the following higher sense in which He was eminently the firstborn. In other words before all things.  Jesus is called the first begotten or the firstborn of the whole creation Col 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”
Not only because he is before all things and all things both in heaven and earth were created by Him, but also because He was foreordained to inherit all things and in all things to have the preeminence, because all things were created for Him as well as by Him. Christ is also called “the firstborn from the dead in regard to His being the first who rose from the dead, no more to die; being the first to arise to an immortal and incorruptible life. The ‘firstborn from the dead’ implies that Jesus was the first person who was faithful unto death, and also the first one who rose from the dead by doing that he conquered death and grave.
In Judaism the firstborn was the next head of the family, the one who controlled the inheritance and become the successor of the throne.  In Psalm 89:27, we read And I will appoint him to be my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.” As the firstborn, Jesus is the exalted Messiah, and the ruler of the kings of the earth
Doxology Vs 5 b- 6: “To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins by His blood, 6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 
Attributing glory and dominion (power) to Jesus forever and ever. As Aune, brings out “this is the first doxology in the NT addressed only to Christ.”[2] Jesus is worthy of our praise for three aspects of his redemptive work, firstly he loved us by dying on the cross Rom 8:37, secondly he has released us from our sins by his blood (Rev 5:9) and thirdly he has made us to be a kingdom of priests.  Just as God has delivered the Israelites and made them a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6) He also has delivered us to become a kingdom of priests. Peter picks up this language “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a Holy nation” (1Pet 2:9).

7 “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Vs 7-8, highlight the imminent return of the Lord and the nature of his return and its impact on the world. The whole world will notice when the Lord returns. Osborn notes, “Here the Danielic” coming with the clouds of heaven” has precedence followed by Zechariahs “They will look on me, the one they have pierced and they will mourn for him.” The Danielic passage tells of the “one like a son of man who will come to establish and everlasting dominion in “glory and sovereign power (Dan 7:13-14, Zech 12:10-14).[3]
The return of the Lord and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth is certain and true avmh,n because he is the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Lord God Almighty.
Vs 9 Translation: I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance, which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 

This verse indicates that John is the author of Revelation. By these words, “brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation,” John identifies himself as the member of God’s family and also fellow partaker in the tribulation. Osborne notes “John uses words such as “fellow sharers or partners” in order to emphasize the Koinonia concept which is found throughout NT literature. Everywhere the word group appears it connotes the idea of community, togetherness and mutual participation in the family of God and Christ.”[4]
We are not certain on what exactly brought John to the Island of Patmos. Different views on how John got to Patmos: “Some have argued that John isolated himself there as part of his visionary quest, others contend that John was banished there. Eusebius said, John was banished to Patmos during the reign of Domitian (A.D 95)”[5] However by reading into the text we can draw to a conclusion, that he was there because of the preaching of the Word of God or as directed by God. We will see next week what he has heard and seen regarding the seven Churches in Asia Minor.

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2002), 62.
[2] Ibid., 63.
[3] Ibid., 68.
[4] Ibid.,79
[5] Ibid.,81.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Revelation 1:1-2 The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Translation: 1.The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His Bond-servants the things that, must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel (messenger) to His Bond-servant John 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things, which are written, in it; for the time is near.

Verse 1, reveals the true author of this revelation, God. The revelation was given to Jesus, and then it was sent through His angel to His Bond servant John. In return John was told to write down and send it to seven churches in Asia Minor.
The process of Revelation: God       Jesus       Angel        John         Seven Churches. Osborn attempts to explain the connotation of “apocalypses” In the NT the word group occurs 44 times (Verb 26; noun 18) nearly always with the basic thrust “to uncover what has formerly been hidden.”[1]
The words “to show” seemed to explain that the medium of communication was not only words but also signs and symbols. John was to write down whatever he was going to hear and observe. (Bible Works). This sort of symbolism was not new to the Jewish readers; some O.T books such as Ezekiel, Ezra, and Daniel contain symbols: Ezekiel 12:3, here God communicates through a sign about the imminent exile of the Israelites.

The purpose of this revelation was to show His servants the things that were going to take place shortly. The expression “must shortly take place” essentially do not mean “at once” or “shortly” but mean with speed, swiftness or quickness.
Verse 3, explains a special blessing on the one who reads and on those who hears and even more so on those who keeps the words of the prophecy. Osborne states, The Greek word for blessing is followed by both singular (the reader) and plural (the hearers) subjects. As Ruiz(1992:663) states, “the emphasis on reading/hearing in Vs 3 and Vs10 shows that John intended the book for oral reading in ritual setting, namely Christian worship.” There are seven blessings spread out throughout the book of Revelation: (1:3; 9:9; 14:13; 16:15; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14)”[2]

The time is near therefore we are called not only to read, hear but also to heed the words of the prophecy. Osborne notes, “In Revelation  the word (Near) appears only twice here in 1:3 and 22:10, indicating the “nearness” of the Lord’s return, this phrase is frequently used in the NT to call believers to live responsibly toward God (Rom 13:12; Heb 10:25; James 5:8; 1 Pet 4:7)”[3]

Revelation 1: 4 Greetings

Vs 4. “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne;”
John’s message to all the seven churches begins with a greeting, “Grace and Peace.” According to Osborn, this form of greeting is common in the NT letters. Grace, was the common Hellenistic greeting and ‘Peace’ the common Hebrew greeting. In the NT, however, these terms carry more significance, with each one being also an eschatological promise of spiritual blessings sent from God.”[4]

John’s greeting to the churches has some unusual pattern of verbs “the one who is, and was and is to come” Here we see some parallelism to the OT encounter of Moses with God. When asked, God revealed his name, as “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14)

Indicating God is always in the present. Padilla notes, “John begins in his greeting starting with “who is, instead of who was” perhaps to assure the believers who were undergoing severe persecution for their faith, that God is present in their circumstances.”[5] Osborne notes, “God is given the unique titular formula. The formula occurs four other times in the Apocalypse (Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 16:5).  In Rev 1:4 it is out of chronological order, with the present (who is) placed before the past (was). This is probably to assure the persecuted believers that God is in control of the past, present and future even though for now it may not seem like it.”[6]

What are the seven Spirits who are before His throne? The seven spirits are before his (God’s) throne is also debated.  In the light of Isaiah we might understand what these seven spirits are. Isaiah 11:2 “And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. Where is the seventh spirit? In some ancient Hebrew Bible adds a seventh virtue, godliness

The word seven appears several times throughout the book, in the first chapter alone it occurs eleven times describing, the fullness of God’s spirit, angels/messengers of the churches and Churches in general. The word seven indicates “completeness.” Beale notes, “Seven as a number of completeness is also apparent from the seven days of creation in Genesis 1. The OT uses ‘seven’ repeatedly for the figurative notion of completeness. (Gen 4:15, 24; Ps 79:12). For our study when we read about the seven spirits before His throne we can safely conclude that this is the sevenfold Spirit of God which has all the seven virtues mentioned above.

 Let’s keep applying what we are learning than to seek for complete understanding as we may not fully understand certain mysteries of God with our finite mind.  

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2002), 52.
[2] Ibid., 57.
[3] Ibid., 59.
[4] Ibid., 60.
[5] Class notes.                                                                                                                                            
[6] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 2002), 61.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Many years ago while I was working with Youth With A Mission in India one young man, 25 years old, wanted to learn how to ride a motor bike in the hilly region where our base was located. Off he went with another staff early in the morning for his motor bike experience. A few hours later I got the news saying this young man had fallen off a cliff 30 feet below and sustained a head injury. I rushed to the spot as I picked him up I realized he was not wearing a helmet. He died after being in coma for seven days. If only he had he worn a helmet his life might have been saved not only that several Muslims would have come to know Jesus as he was about to launch his ministry team among Muslims. Another promising young YWAM leader also was killed in an automobile accident and he too was not wearing a helmet.
After these incidents we made it mandatory for all staff to wear helmets while driving motor bikes. Needless to say wearing a helmet while riding two wheelers is a precautionary measure but countless of people have lost their lives by ignoring this simple preventive advice for the sake of comfort and wanting to appear cool.
Wearing helmets in combat situations is also considered as an important protective and defensive measure. If anyone ignores such advice they only do it to their own detriment. In Spiritual battles also wearing a helmet is paramount; the Apostle Paul describes it as “the helmet of Salvation.”  Ephesians 6:17
Let me refresh our memory. We have embarked on a journey to find out what are   the defensive, offensive and neutral weapons of warfare against the evil one.  So far we have learned about the Belt of Truth which holds the whole armor in place. The truth is not a thing he is the person of Jesus Christ. When we put him on, the one who said I am the Truth, we will learn to discern the error and false doctrines when they come on our way. 
We learned that putting on the breast plate of righteousness means that we put away our self righteous attitudes and proud behaviors and actually develop the attitude of Christ which is one of humility, letting go, and servant hood and giving up of our rights.
We talked about the shoes of the gospel of peace with which we can tread upon our enemy. We can actually walk into dark places, sin ridden areas by preaching the message of peace. We learrned that Christ is our peace he came to this world; lived, died and rose again after three days and went up to heaven and he is coming back to take all those who believed in the message of peace.. That is the good news. We are commanded to share that news with others.
In our combat with the enemy we learned that it is not just enough to have these three weapons but to have three more weapons. Last week we learned the importance of taking up the shield of faith to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy. Remember I said how by having faith and trust in God we can extinguish the darts of fear, pride, insecurity and unbelief; on the same evening I came under tremendous attack by the enemy. I was afflicted with a ridiculously, miserable pain in my body for almost a week.
I wanted to practice what I preached so I prayed the word, spoke the word, believed that pain would go away, rebuked the devil and the pain but after having done all that the pain only remained and it seemed only getting worse. One thing I did not do was rushing to the hospital.
I did not understand why God has not answered my prayer and taken that pain away. But the situation demanded me to ask some soul searching questions. Did I lack faith? Absolutely not; may be I should have more faith; well if so how much more; was there a sin problem? I checked my heart and confessed every possible sin I thought I had committed; is God not able to heal me? I have no doubt in my mind over his ability to heal.
The pain has got worse on Friday; all night I tossed back and forth in bed, knelt down and prayed, sat up whatever I did pain did not go away. My wife chastised me for not listening to her advice to go to the hospital on Thursday itself. It was six o clock in the morning my wife and I once again took our faith stand rebuked the devil and the pain and began to thank God for his healing. All of a sudden there was relief and I could fall of to sleep. A little later I woke up pain free and everything was normal again. I thank God for his healing.
As I was preparing the message for this week; pondering on the full armor of God and the order in which the weapons were mentioned, it became clear for me to why. Interestingly Paul after encouraging the believers to take up the shield of faith and extinguish all the flaming arrows of the enemy says; “having put on the helmet of salvation” Why did Paul say put on the helmet of salvation? What is its significance in the spiritual warfare?
When everything goes according to our wish and will. When whatever we do turns out to be gold. When we climb the peak of success it is easy to maintain our faith isn't it? We can sing praises to God and say Hallelujah. But when we face hardships, trails; disappointments or are faced with pain, grief; incurable sickness and when we feel like there is no hope for our situation that is when it is very difficult for anyone to maintain faith.  For me that was last week’s situation; for others may be some thing else. We tend to doubt God; his promises and even our very own salvation.
In the verse we read Paul urged the Ephesian believers to not to loose hope even when they go through trials and tribulations. In describing the metaphorical armor with which the Christian is to fortify himself, one of the items listed by Paul is the “helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17).
The term “helmet” is derived from a compound Greek term conveying the idea of “around the head.” The imagery appears to be borrowed from Isaiah 59:17, “He put on righteousness like a breast plate, and a helmet of salvation around His head.” This is applied to Jehovah, our divine warrior. In that context it seems to suggest the power of God to defeat his enemies and save his people. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, it speaks of the Christian’s need to remember that he has been saved by believing in Christ through baptism according to Mark 16:16 which says, “Whoever believes and baptized will be saved, but whoever doesn’t believe will be condemned.” He needs put that as a helmet on his head in order to protect himself against the accusations and doubts that the enemy brings to his mind regarding his salvation.
            For example; what did Job’s wife suggest to Jjob when he was going through excruciating agony and bodily pain? She said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die! (Job 2:9) None of us haven been as severely tested as Job was, even then the tempter can whisper in our ears; why don’t you give up your faith in God; there is no use to believe him anymore; Curse God and die!  Unfortunately; there are a whole lot of people out there who are falling to that temptation; they curse God going into their grave. Where as Job did not curse God, instead he said, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble? In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. (Job 2:9-10) He went on to say “till I die I will not deny my integrity” Job27:5, what made Job not to give up his faith in the midst of suffering? Most likely, he put on the helmet of salvation around his head.
Let me share a few thoughts about how I understand salvation of mankind works. Salvation has three tenses the past, present and future. The past, “we have been saved.” “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephe 2:8)
This scripture tells us that salvation is the work and the gift of God. No one can earn it, but all can receive it by grace and through faith in Christ. This is also called the work of regeneration & justification. The moment we accept Christ as our savior God saves us from all our past sins and gives us a fresh start to follow and serve Him. That is just the beginning. Life must go on. Hence the present tense; “we are being saved” “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,  unless you believed in vain.” I Cor 15:1-2 (ESV). “Therefore we do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away outwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16)
This concept of being saved and renewed daily is called; “Sanctification” This is the work of God purging, removing the impurities from our lives so that we may be more like his son Jesus. God uses trials and discipline to sanctify his children. This work of cleansing will continue throughout our lives hence the future; “we will be saved.” Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!.. how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (Romans 5:9-10) “The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11).
            These scriptures indicate a time where we will be finally saved from the corruption of this world which is called glorification. Reading through these scriptures we can conclude that Salvation is a process. We have been saved; we are being sanctified daily and in the end we will be glorified. Let’s bear one thing in mind; all this is the work of God and none of our doing. All we have to do is to believe in the saving, sanctifying and glorifying work of God.
           When you are plagued with doubts by the enemy whether you are saved or not, especially when you are going through hardship and painful moments remember to put on the helmet of salvation and tell the adversary; I am secured in Christ’s forgiveness. May salvation is taken care of. Jesus who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it.
            Let me conclude with these assuring words from Romans 8:37-39, No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As urged by Paul to the Thessalonians, But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” I Thessalonians 5:8 Amen

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Being born and raised in a 4th generation Christian home I was exposed to Christian themes, literature and the language from early on. I vividly remember as a five year old child in the 70’s attending cottage prayer meetings where my grand parents along with other believers used to sing songs on the Rapture of the believers, the thousand years reign of Christ, the feast of the believers and the punishment on the unbelievers etc. While I was fascinated with the prospective of the thousand year feast I was also terrified about the trouble that was going to come on the unbelievers.
What more could you expect from a five year old? Not until 1982 when I picked up a book written by Don E. Stanton titled, “Now and the near Future Prophesied” and read it, then I clearly understood what was coming upon the earth. By the end of reading that book I surrendered my life to Christ purely because I wanted to escape the tribulation, possible punishment and the impending hell for all those who did not believe in Christ and his message of salvation. Since that time I became an avid reader of and the follower of the unfolding events that are paving the way surely but slowly for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ for the second time. Keeping that as a background I studied the book of Revelation with keen interest a number of times prior to my M.Div studies and even so during my studies.
I would be sharing with you some of the gleanings from my independent studies of the book as well as from a wide range of other books I read on the subject matter. I welcome your views as I humbly submit mine to you. Therefore in the end we all can learn from each other and develop a healthy, balanced view on one of the most important books of the Bible for our times. Let’s explore the great mysteries together with the help of the Holy Spirit.  

            A few things to keep in mind as we study the book of revelation, this is no absolute doctrine such as salvation, therefore there could be many interpretations.  We all, no matter however scholarly or spiritual we might be, are like the ones mentioned in I Cor 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror [a]dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” But if we stay close to the text and to the context and interpret the biblical languages and the imagery as accurately as possible with the help and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we may arrive at a balanced view on the subject matter. 
Let’s be quick to say I don’t know, rather than pretending to know it all. Make room for ambiguity and uncertainty as some of the scriptures we may never be able to fully understand. In all our study let’s remain humble, maintain a learner’s heart and keep an inquiring and researching mind set.

The book of Revelation is a symbolic book, but that does not mean the symbols do not depict literal events like the great tribulation (7:14) as well as the various depictions of  the “three and a half” years in chapters 11-13 as symbols for the final period of history or the “beast” for the Antichrist.” Some of the events mentioned in the book may happen literally, many will not. So while interpreting the symbols we need to realize we “see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror.” ( I Cor 13:8 NLT). We are to center on the purpose of the text and note the theological thrust, leaving what will actually happen with God.
            There are four popular methods to interpret the book of Revelation.  First is the Preterist method. This approach argues that the details of the book relate to the present situation in which John lived rather than to a future period. Therefore the symbols refer to events in the first-century world as experienced by the original readers, and John is telling them how God would deliver them from their oppressors.
People holding to this view believe that the main purpose of this writing was to encourage the believers regarding God’s ultimate intervention in the affairs of men. Second is the historicist method. They maintain what we have in Revelation is a panoramic view of history from the first century to the Second coming of Christ. This is the view of most of the protestant reformers. The third is the symbolist method. This view holds that Revelation portrays the continuing conflict between the forces of good and evil throughout the entire span of human history. The book according to this view is designed to give encouragement since at the end the good will triumph.
The fourth is the futurist method. This view which maintains that from 4th chapter on revelation deals with events at the end time. According to this view, Revelation is not concerning events of John’s own day as much as later historical events, and particularly those happenings that will take place in connection with the Second coming of the Lord. This view takes seriously the predictive element in the Book (Rev 1:19; 4:1)
What would be your view? Whatever your view may be, our focus should not be so much on the rapture, tribulation and the doom of Satan but must be on the doctrine of our Triune God. It seems clear that the primary theme of this book is the sovereignty of God. Statements like, “The one who is was and is to come.”(1:4), The Alpha and the Omega, (1:8), the LORD God Almighty occurs nine times; and the image of God on his throne which occurs 46 times signify the sovereignty of God. Christ is the focus of the book in many ways. The major title of Christ in Revelation is “ The Lamb” which appears 29 times not so much as a sacrificial lamb but as the conquering Lamb. 
Although not as frequently emphasized as God and Christ, the Spirit is still an essential component of the book. In several instances in the book the Holy Spirit is the source of inspiration and prophecy. Now let’s look at a few background elements of the Book.

THE AUTHOR:  There have been several suggestions regarding the author: 1. John the apostle 2. The elder John 3. John Mark 4. John the Baptist 5. Another John 6. Cerinthus and 7 someone using the name of John the apostle. However if we look at the internal evidence, the author of the book indentifies himself as, “John, the slave of (Jesus/God).. exiled on the island of Patmos( 1:1, 4, 9 and 22:8). The external Evidence: Justin Martyr in the mid-second century wrote that the apostle John was the author, and this became the accepted view.

THE DATE:  Again there were four dates proposed by the early Christian writers. This book was written at a time when the church was undergoing persecution and difficulty. The two most important such periods were during the reigns of Nero in A.D 37-68 and Domitian in A.D 51-96. Taking the context into consideration we can safely conclude that it was written somewhere in the first century AD.
THE GENRE: (the style and form) Revelation is composed of two styles: Apocalyptic and Prophetic.  It is impossible to distinguish ultimately between prophecy and apocalyptic, for the latter is the extension of the former.  Certain differences do in part distinguish the two forms: Prophecy tends to be oral and apocalyptic visionary, and prophecy has a certain optimistic overtone while apocalyptic tends to be pessimistic ( the only hope lies in the future rather than the present). However they both center on salvation for the faithful and judgment for the unfaithful.

THE PURPOSE:  As we know the context when this book was written, Christians were experiencing tremendous persecution. This book was written to look forward to a better social reality in the midst of oppression, a world where God is supreme. However the real problem was not persecution but compromise. Too many Christians had gotten “cozy” with a pagan world, and so the book calls them to choose allegiance to Christ or to the emperor. So the real purpose of the book of revelation then and now is to encourage and warn Christians that they must stay strong under persecution and not to compromise with the pagan culture as their only allegiances are to Christ and Christ alone.