John’s Salutation

JOHN’S SALUTATIONGrace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:4b – 8)

The salutation is given in the name of the Father, the Spirit, and the Son.(1)

Father – The eternal nature of God is referenced as “Him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” This is a paraphrase of the unspeakable name of God (Exodus 3:14), the absolute and unchangeable IAM.(2) The immutability of God, “the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), is also to be expressed in this particular reference to God. “I am the Lord; I change not” (Malachi 3:6).(3) The phrase also indicates that God not only exists now but always has and always will.(4) God stands before, above, and beyond history. He is not limited by time as we are.(5)

Holy Spirit – The “seven spirits before the throne” is likely a symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit, a conclusion borne out by the symbolic use of the seven spirits in Revelation 3:1; 4:5; 5:6 (see also Zechariah 4:2–10). There is, of course, only one Holy Spirit but with seven manifestations; “the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”(6) Seven is also the number of completion and stands for the fullness of the Spirit.(7)

Some commentators disagree that this is a reference to the Holy Spirit and see this as more likely a reference to the seven holy archangels recognized by Judaism.(8) Jewish apocalyptic literature of the postexilic period describes seven archangels who are said to stand in the presence of God. They are Suruel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Gabriel, Remiel, and Uriel (Tobit 12:15; 1 Enoch 20:1–7; 9:1; 40:9). Only one archangel is specifically named in the canon, though it is possible that there are others that are not specifically named. In Jude’s letter the archangel Michael is depicted as disputing with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 9, see also Assumption of Moses). In the tenth chapter of the book of Daniel, this same Michael is described as one of the chief princes. This may imply that other chief princes (archangels) exist.(9) Gabriel is also named in Scripture, but he is not specifically named as an archangel.

Son – Christ is presented in His three-fold Person as Prophet (“faithful witness”), Priest (“firstborn from the dead”), and King (“ruler of the kings of the earth”). John goes on to praise God for the three-fold work that Christ accomplished on the cross: He loved us, washed us (or freed us) from our sins, and made us a kingdom of priests. The dominion we lost in Adam we have regained in Christ.(10)

Following the salutation, a couple pertinent facts concerning Christ’s return are announced.

Coming in the Clouds – “Look, he is coming with the clouds” will be the literal fulfillment of a prophecy (Daniel 7:13) solemnly repeated by Jesus in His discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:30), and again to the High Priest, before the Sanhedrin at His trial (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). It is also spoken of by the angels at the ascension (Acts 1:9).(11)

While this will be fulfilled literally, the symbolism should not be overlooked. For example, God was manifest in the clouds at Sinai, in the cloudy pillar the guided the Hebrew Exodus out of Egypt, and in the Shekinah glory at the transfiguration of Jesus.(12)

Every Eye Will See Him – Christ’s second coming (the Parousia) will somehow be visible to the entire world including unbelievers. This is in contrast with His first coming (His obscure birth in Bethlehem).(13) This is also in contrast to His return in the air to catch away (the Rapture) His people (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:51), when He will come “as a thief” (Revelation 3:3; 16:15) and only those who are born again will see Him (1 John 3:1–3).(14)

Though the literal executioners of Christ are now dead and will not be resurrected until after the Millennium, the Godly remnant of Israel “will look on [Him], the One they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).(15) However, the expression “those who pierced Him,” refers not only to the Jews, but to all who reject the Son of Man, for “He was pierced for our transgressions.” In truth we all crucified Him,(16) and are just as guilty as if we have driven the nails ourselves. The mourning is often understood as the response of those for whom it is too late to be saved.(17) But even the Godly, while longing for the His glorious appearing, will likely feel penitential sorrow at their sins.(18)

Bookends – In Christ, Genesis (the Alpha of the Old Testament) and Revelation (the Omega of the New Testament) come together. The last book presents man reconciled to God and readmitted to Paradise, as the first book presented man losing his innocence, separated from God and expelled from Paradise (Figure 3.4).(19)

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Up Next – Background and Purpose of Revelation.

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  1. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 412). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  2. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 412). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  3. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 91). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  4. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1887). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 795). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  6. Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Re 1:4). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
  7. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 795). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  8. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Re 1:4). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. Laing, J. (2003). Archangel. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 105–106). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  10. Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (pp. 795–796). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  11. Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moore, E., Craven, E. R., & Woods, J. H. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Revelation (p. 93). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
  12. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 418). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  13. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 929). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  14. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 568). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  15. Walvoord, John F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 929). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  16. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament (Vol. 2, p. 419). New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  17. Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1888). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
  18. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 552). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  19. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 552). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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