In the previous post, we looked at several passages from the Book of Revelation that address the return of Jesus. In this post, we complete our study by examining passages from the last chapter of Revelation. In addition, we offer a brief summary of posts from November and December regarding the second coming of Jesus.
Revelation 22:7 – “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
Three times in the epilogue of Revelation, Jesus declares, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). This accentuates the urgency of Christ’s return and affirms his previous promises in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation. His repeated statement also validates what John has seen and heard on Patmos, and what the apostles have written about in their eyewitness accounts and epistles.
Jesus attaches a blessing to the promise of his imminent return: “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” This is the sixth of seven blessing statements, or beatitudes, in Revelation. [The seven beatitudes of Revelation may be found at Rev. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14.] While we wait expectantly for the Lord’s return, our lives should reflect the truth of Scripture. When we conduct ourselves in this way, we find ourselves happy.
We may not fully understand the details surrounding the Day of the Lord, but the New Testament writers make several truths plain: (1) Jesus is returning one day – physically, visibly, in power and great glory; (2) we do not know the day or the hour of his return; (3) we should live in view of his imminent return; (4) when he comes, all people will know it; (5) Jesus will judge all people personally, rewarding believers according to their faithfulness and punishing unbelievers in varying degrees according to their evil deeds; (6) he will create new heavens and a new earth, setting everything right; and (7) the glory of eternity with Christ will cause the “former things” of this world to fade away.
Eternity may seem far off to us. Yet if we keep the prophecies of Revelation in front of us, we learn to live more comfortably in the tension between the already and not-yet.Continue reading
In the visions the apostle John receives while exiled on the Isle of Patmos, he often records the words of Jesus foretelling his return. John may have recorded these visions as early as the AD 60s or as late as the AD 90s. In any case, Jesus assures his followers – and warns his opponents – that his return is certain.
Revelation 1:8 – “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
God the Father most likely makes this statement, although some English translations cast these words in red and ascribe them to Jesus. It seems best to understand this verse as the Father putting his divine signature on the prophecy of the second coming in verse 7: “Look, 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.”
Jesus repeats the Father’s self-description as “the Alpha and the Omega” and applies it to himself in Revelation 22:13. Further, Jesus refers to himself as “Lord” in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 12:8; John 13:13-14), and eyewitnesses of Jesus ascribe to him the same title (e.g., John 20:28; Acts 2:36). Jesus and the New Testament writers also affirm the deity of Christ, which includes his transcendence and omnipotence. Thus, both the Father and the Son may rightly lay claim to being “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
While this verse is not an explicit promise of Jesus’ return, it places the Father’s stamp of approval on Old Testament prophecies of the second coming. And it ties together the redemptive work of the triune Godhead to be completed when Jesus returns.Continue reading
Rev. 3:7-13 – To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: The Holy One, the True One, the One who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and closes and no one opens says: I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close. Take note! I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying – note this – I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown. The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God – the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God – and My new name. 13 Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. (HCSB)
Twenty-eight miles southeast of Sardis is Philadelphia, built by King Attalus Philadelphus of Pergamum. “Philadelphus” is similar to the Greek word philadelphia, meaning brotherly love, which occurs seven times in the New Testament. Known for its agricultural products, Philadelphia also is situated on a geological fault and therefore prone to earthquakes. In B.C. 17 a major earthquake destroys Philadelphia, Sardis and 10 other cities. Its location is crucial, however, as it sits on a main route from Rome to the East and therefore is called “the gateway to the East.” It also is known as “little Athens” because of its many pagan temples.
The city hosts one of only two churches – the other being Smyrna – for which Christ has nothing but unvarnished praise. While the city’s good name preceded the church, the believers in Philadelphia no doubt enhance its reputation because of their love of Christ and love for one another. “But it is not enough to love God and our fellow believers; we must also love a lost world and seek to reach unbelievers with the Good News of the Cross,” writes Warren Wiersbe. “This church had a vision to reach a lost world, and God set before them an open door.”
The apostle John is instructed to write to the “angels” of the seven churches in Asia, a Roman province that is now part of modern Turkey. Some interpreters believe the angels to be human messengers, perhaps the pastors of these churches, while others argue that the Greek word aggeloi in Revelation is used overwhelmingly of spirit beings and therefore in this context means guardian angels.
In any case, the “angel” of each church bears the responsibility of sharing an important message from Christ with the congregation.
There is little controversy among Bible interpreters concerning the letters to the seven churches, primarily because these letters do not predict future events. This does not mean, however, that the four major views of Revelation – preterist, historicist, futurist, and idealist – are in complete agreement.
For example, interpreters from the preterist and idealist schools, and some from the futurist school, “understand the letters to be addressed to the actual, historic churches named in them, and by extension to any churches that may find themselves in similar circumstances to theirs” (Steve Gregg, Revelation: Four Views, p. 62).
There are at least seven promises given to us in Revelation 22 that confirm Jesus’ victory over Satan, sin and death. These promises also assure us that all the effects of the Fall are reversed in Christ’s finished work and the salvation He has provided for us by grace through faith.
In the previous post, we looked at promises 1-4. We conclude our brief survey now.
Promise No. 5: Light (v. 5)
Before creation there was darkness (Gen. 1:2), but God, who is light, brought light into the universe. Just as darkness is the absence of light, so evil is depicted in Scripture as darkness because it is an absence – perhaps more accurately, a shunning – of God’s holy presence. Eternal separation from God is called “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12).
While Jesus suffered the wrath of God for the sins of the world there was darkness over the whole land (Mark 15:33). Unbelievers love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (John 3:19). Jesus came to deliver us from darkness (John 12:46). Darkness is associated with Satan and his kingdom (Acts 26:18; Rom. 13:12; Col. 1:13).
But in the New Jerusalem there is abundant light; in fact, there is no need of the sun, moon or stars, or of any artificial light, because God provides light for us. Why is this light promised to us? Because Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12).