Tag Archives: Christ

Revelation: Unveiling of the Master’s Love for His Servants

During World War II many soldiers became casualties of a simple letter from home. They had endured unimaginable psychological trauma from the horrors of the battle field. They had survived physical hardships and deprivation, but found themselves permanently wounded by a letter from their wife or fiancé saying they no longer loved them. These letters became known as “Dear John” letters.

John the beloved writes a distinctly different type of letter when he penned the book of Revelation. Instead of the message of a jilted lover, spurned by the one he had given everything he had to win; the letter is notification to those God loves that righteous judgment is coming and he will provide them with safety and shelter.   God reveals the depth of his love by describing  the horrors of the judgment from which he will deliver them.

John, in his introduction, states that God is showing ‘his servants’ things which must shortly come to pass.  The term servant is the Greek word doulois. The root is doulos commonly used in the New Testament to identify a bond slave. A bond slave was much different that the Roman slave. The Roman slave had been claimed as a spoil of battle. They had no rights and were strictly at the mercy of those who owned them. They were relegated to menial servitude and lives of hardship and poverty.

The bond slave was often an Israelite who had been taken into servitude by a wealthier Israelite due to bad debts. Their service was to be rendered for a set period of time. When that time had expired they were to be freed having worked off the unpaid debt, but they could choose to continue to serve their master. Many did so by becoming a bond slave. This choice was often made because they had married as a servant and their spouse, as well as any children born during this time, was still deemed the property of the master and was not set free. So out of love for their family they would surrender their freedom and become a bond slave. To verify this decision they would place their ear against the door post and it would be pierced with an awl.  They would then run a ring through the hole in their ear symbolizing that they had forever relinquishing their freedom.

Those who are redeemed have become bond slaves to Christ. Because of his love and sacrifice for us we surrender our freedom, our rights and privileges in order to serve him. In Revelation John writes to these bond slaves, the doulois, and unveils a more complete picture of their master.

God wants all those in his kingdom to know about Christ. He wants them to know about his great work of redemption, his righteous judgment and his glorious kingdom. Robertson in his commentary New Testament Word Pictures indicates that these are the redeemed in general. God did not design the writings of the book of Revelation for a few special people, endowed with mystical powers, to interpret secret divine codes and discover some hidden ancient mystery. As Paul instructed his apprentice in the faith young Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Revelation is written for all to read and understand as they properly divide these words of truth.

Who are these servants? They are those who have received the gift of God, those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of the Lamb. They are those who have become heirs and joint heirs with this Jesus the Christ. This letter is not a letter of separation or divorcement, decreeing doom and damnation. This is a letter warning those who believe that judgment is coming, and that the one they love and serve will preserve them from the pending perils. This is not a divine Dear John letter, but John’s Letter to God’s dearly beloved, his servants.


Leave a comment

Filed under Bible commentary

What is in a Name?

Revelation: Expanded Introduction – part 2.  

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” In Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet pleads with Romeo to look in his heart and see the truth about who he really is. Her plea convinces him that his name is not important, what is important is their love for each other.

 Every name has meaning. I did a search on my name to see what interesting information might be gained and found a rather diverse array of definitions. I am interpreting that to mean that I can choose the ones I like the best. The definitions ranged from someone who lived in the valley, to head or leader, to chief or ecclesiastical supervisor. I liked the head or leader, or ecclesiastical supervisor best, so if asked I will probably go with those.

As we look at John’s unveiling of the central character in the book of Revelation, we find he uses two names to identify the one to whom he directs our attention. He calls him Jesus Christ. Not just Jesus and not just Christ, but Jesus Christ. This is a significant combination of identifying titles. Unlike the diverse definitions of my name, which offered me the privilege of defining my name as I pleased, or at least pick the ones I preferred, these titles are very precise in what they mean and what John wants us to understand. In this name we see the perfect blend of man and God. In this title we discover the union of human flesh and divine essence, the incarnate deity.  Paul describes this union for us in Philippians 2:6-11 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  

The name Jesus comes from the Old Testament name Jeshua, or Joshua. The name means deliverer, savior, or Jehovah saves. This name is the most frequently used name for the Son of God during his time on earth. It appears to be his human identity. It describes his purpose for coming to earth.

The name Jesus identifies him as the humble servant, the suffering savior. Scriptures clearly define Jesus’ ministry as that of one who came to suffer and die that he might provide salvation for his lost creation. 1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Acts 13:22-23  he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:

Because of his humble earthly origin he was rejected by those he came to deliver, the seed of Abraham. John in his gospel states in chapter 1 verse 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. The religious elite saw him as just another man. In spite of the miracles he performed, and the depth of his knowledge of the Torah, the religious leaders could only see his humanity. They would only acknowledge that he was the son of a poor carpenter from the blue collar town of Nazareth. He was not of the intellectually superior, socially accepted Judean privileged and therefore could not be anything more than a self appointed prophet.

The Old Testament foretold that the Messiah must first come and suffer to redeem his fallen creation.

In Isaiah 42:1-7 the prophet declared, Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.  He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

And again in Isaiah 53:2-7 the prophet describes in great detail the suffering of Messiah at his first appearing;  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

But the pride of the self righteous religious leaders blinded them to the Messiah coming, which opened the door of redemption to the gentiles. In the first part of Revelation John shows Jesus lovingly instructing those he has redeemed, preparing them for their performance evaluation and reward.

The name Christ means anointed one and refers to the Messiah, the one who would rule and reign on the throne of David. We see this Jesus the once humble servant now the Righteous Judge, the Glorified Lord and King. Paul in Romans 14:11 says, For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. The Psalmist proclaims the same message in Psalms 72:11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. And Paul instructs the believers at Philippi in Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; this humble suffering savior is also the Messiah. He is the one who will judge the world and rule his eternal kingdom.

Charles B. Wycuff penned these words in a beautiful song he composed titled What A Lovely Name. “There’s a name above all others, Wonderful to hear, bringing hope and cheer: It’s the lovely name of Jesus, Evermore the same, what a lovely name. He’ll return in clouds of glory, Saints of every race, shall behold his face; With him enter heaven’s city, Ever to acclaim, what a lovely name. What a lovely name the name of Jesus, Reaching higher far than the brightest star; Sweeter than the songs they song in heaven, Let the world proclaim what a lovely name.”

John summarizes his theme in the first few words of his opening paragraph when he wrote the name Jesus Christ. Jesus is identified as the Merciful Redeemer that is seen ministering to the church in chapters 1-5 and Christ is identified as the Righteous Judge pouring out holy judgment in chapters 6-20, and the Glorious King ruling over his eternal kingdom in chapters 21, 22.

Repost to your page

Leave your thoughts and comments

Tweet or Facebook the link

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible commentary

Revelation: Expanded Introduction

When a master artist paints a masterpiece they work hard to establish a focal point. This is the area of the painting where the painter wants the observer to focus. The artist will often place this point at a strategic location on the canvas and make the strongest contrast between light and dark part of this space. The artist will also create other composition features to direct the eye of the onlooker to the focal point of the painting. The focal point is the artist’s purpose for creating the painting.

Rembrandt had a special way of lighting his portraits in order to create a dramatic feel and enhance the features of the person he was painting. Cecil B. DeMille in his movie, The Warren’s of Virginia filmed in 1915, experimented with lighting in order to make the shadows in his movies appear as they would in nature. When one of his partners saw that only half of the actor’s face was able to be seen he protested that the patrons would only pay half of the admission cost. DeMille told him it was “Rembrandt lighting” and his partner became ecstatic believing now they would pay double to see the movie.

For a writer the introduction casts a guiding light that will define his purpose and create the desired focus point. As God led the hand of John the Beloved, through the work of the Holy Spirit, he directs our attention to the revelation he desired to make, the unveiling of the Messiah. His purpose is summarized in the first few words of the opening sentence, “The revelation of Jesus Christ,” Revelation as defined by Webster’s Dictionary: “The act of disclosing or discovering to others what was before unknown to them; appropriately, the disclosure or communication of truth to men by God himself, or by his authorized agents, the prophets and apostles.” Christ is being unveiled, revealed, made manifest more completely.

In verse two we find Christ referenced twice, once with the title John used to introduce him in his gospel, the Word of God, John 1:1. Paul expands this truth about Christ as the Word with his instruction in Hebrews 1:1-2  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Hebrews 2:3-4  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Christ communicates to us today as a merciful loving savior. He is shown in the gospels to be the light, the bread of life, the way, the living water. He is the one who came as a humble servant, as the sacrificial lamb to communicate salvation to his lost love destined for certain destruction. Paul tells us that if the message of the prophets and the angels were validated by God how much more certain is the message of his son, the Word of God, going to be validated by its fulfillment?

Christ is God’s communication to man, to his loved, but disobedient, fallen, lost creation. In the gospels Jesus told those who followed him that he was the manifestation or communication of the heavenly Father to man. John 1:18  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 14:9-10  Jesus saith unto him, … he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. John 8:19  Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

Beginning in verse five and running through verse eight we see an in-depth description of Jesus the Christ. He is presented as: the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, the prince of the kings of the earth, (who loved us and washed us, from our sins, in his own blood), and the one who commissioned us as priests in his kingdom (a kingdom of priests), the one who comes in the clouds, the one who all the tribes of the earth will bewail, the Alpha and the Omega, the almighty.

Helen Howarth Lemmel in a hymn she composed titled Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, reflects Johns focal point when she penned the chorus. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.” 

John shines a light on Jesus to illuminate his features and direct our attention to him. All he presents in the book is meant to define him and reveal the fullness of his being to those who read it. The focal point, whether reflected on the churches of Asia minor, or diffused through the judgment of the tribulation, or gloriously radiated from his eternal throne, is Jesus the Christ.


Filed under Bible commentary