Greetings to the Churches (Revelation 1:4-8)

churches

Just like any good book, John gives a dedication and an introduction for the book of Revelation. In looking at John’s greetings to the churches, we find some relevant Biblical principles that we should follow.

The Recipients. Verse four reads, John, to the seven churches which 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…”[1] John is bringing this revelation to the seven churches of Asia. There are a few things that we need to understand concerning these seven churches. 1. They are individual local church bodies. This writing was not given to the church in a general sense. It was not specifically given to the universal church. This writing was given to individual local churches. The principle that we see here is the fact that God works through the local church. Every local church is unique and every local church is used by God in a special unique way. The message of Jesus Christ is conveyed to the world through the local churches with its members, ministries, and activities. Unfortunately, commitment to the local church has dwindled over the years. Many believers see no need for committing themselves to a certain church and involving themselves in the work of the ministry. Too many believers have a consumption attitude rather than a giving heart. They go from church to church seeking what satisfies them rather than faithfully involving themselves in the work of one church. If all believers had such an attitude and lack of commitment, there would be no local churches to attend. Think about it. God ordained the local church as means through which Christians are encouraged, disciples are made, and the world evangelized. It is no surprise that the Revelation of Jesus Christ is given to local churches. 2. They are literal churches.  These seven churches seen in the book of Revelation were, in fact, literal local churches of that day. You can actually go on tours to visit the ruins of these ancient churches. 3. They represent churches of today. As you study the seven churches seen in the Revelation, you will find that each church had a set of certain problems and issues. These problems and issues are found in local churches all across the world today. We should take heed to the message given to these churches, for they are no different than local churches of today. 4. They depict the change and development of churches throughout the centuries. The order of the address to the churches is interesting. There is certainly some similarity between these churches and the stages of churches down through the years. The book of Revelation is a prophetic book, therefore, the message to the churches were also prophetic in nature, dealing with the type of churches that would be seen in the future. Four of the churches are said to exist until Christ returns. (Revelation 2:25 ; 3:3 ; 3:11 ; 3:20) Since this is the case, their existence can only be fulfilled by representing stages of church development which persist until the end of the age.

The Dedication. The book of Revelation is dedicated to the Trinity with Jesus as the emphasis. Notice what it says in verses 4-6: John, to the seven churches which 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, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”[2] It mentions one ‘who is and who was and is to come.’ This refers to God the Father. The ‘seven spirits’ mentioned are referring to the Holy Spirit. The seven spirits are the attributes of the Holy Spirit. These attributes may be listed in Isaiah 11:2. In verse 5-6 we see the focus of the dedication of the book of Revelation and that is Jesus Christ. Notice what John says concerning Jesus: 1. Faithful witness. The term ‘witness’ here has to do with a martyr. Jesus was obedient and faithful to the death of the cross. 2. The first-born from the dead. Jesus is first and above all in power and might due to the fact that He had power to lay down His life and the power to raise it up again. He is the one who died for our sins and three days later, rose again from the grave. Jesus has the power of death, hell, and the grave! 3. Ruler of all. Jesus is the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. He reigns supreme. He is perfectly sovereign. He is in control of all things including the universe for ‘by Him all things consist.’ 4. Lover of sinners. It is important to note here that Jesus does not love the things we do, but He loves who we are. His love for us is so great that He washes are sins away with His blood. The scripture says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down His life for His friends.” Jesus willingly lay down His life for the sins of the whole world on the cross of Calvary. Don’t ever forget that Jesus loves you, no matter who you are. 5. Redeemer. Jesus is our great redeemer. He set us free from the bondage of sin and raised us up as priests of God and one day we will rule with Him. Before we met Christ, we were slaves to sin. We were bound to the ways of Satan. However, when we came to Jesus through faith, He set us free from the chains of sin. We are free from the penalty of sin, we are free from the power of sin, and one day we will be forever free from the very presence of sin!

The Theme. Verses 7-8 says, “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” [3] The theme of the book of Revelation is the fact that Jesus is coming again! The very one that John described in the previous verses, will come again to set up His kingdom. Jesus is the ‘alpha and omega.’ He is the first letter to the last letter of all language itself. He is everything and He is coming again!

When we think of Jesus and who He is and what He did for us and the fact that He will come again, there is one question that comes to mind: Are you ready to meet Him? If Jesus came back today, would you be ready to see Him? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

 

 


[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:4–6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] The New King James Version. (1982). (Re 1:7–8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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