Author: Ron Graham

Book of Revelation

Christ Speaks to John
—Revelation 1:17-20

The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >The Prologue >The Vision of Christ >His words

The first vision which John is given is, appropriately, a vision of the risen and glorified Christ who now lives in heaven (Revelation 1:8-20). Our previous lesson was about what the glorified Jesus looked like in the vision. Now we listen to what he said to John.

1 The Voice of Jesus

Saying to me... Before he appeared to John, Christ first spoke to him (Revelation 1:9-11). Christ’s voice sounded like a trumpet, and it was the very first sound among all that John hears in the visions that he experienced (Revelation 4:1). It was not a trumpet as such, but "a loud voice as of a trumpet" (Revelation 1:10).. The voice of Jesus, was also "like the sound of many waters" (Revelation 1:15). These descriptions of the voice of Jesus show it to be a voice of power yet of grace, mighty yet lovely.

2 Be Not Afraid

Don't be afraid... John was understandably very afraid, but Jesus does not want him to be terrified. There is a fear that is terror. That sort of fear is not appropriate in the presence of our dear Saviour. However there is a fear that is godly awe and respect. It is appropriate, even necessary, that Christ be the object of that sort of fear. When Jesus said, "Be not afraid" he was referring to the first kind of fear, that of terror.

One day we are all going to see Jesus. No doubt the actual appearance of Jesus will be far more awesome than what John saw in the vision. John says, "And now little children, abide in him, that when he appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame in his presence." (1John 2:28). The nature of Christ is perfect love and "perfect love casts out fear" (1John 4:18). No doubt we will be struck with awe at the glory and majesty of his coming. However we will have no cause to be terrified if we remain in his love.

3 The Keys of Christ

The first and last... You will recall the form of words at the end of Revelation, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13). When Christ says (Revelation 1:18), "I am the first and the last" he is claiming the title of God. We discussed this earlier in this lesson when we looked at verse 8.

Keys of Hades... Christ has "the keys of death and of Hades" because he is "the firstborn of the dead" (Revelation 1:5 1Corinthians 15:20). He is the first human being to excape death forever. Death and Hades (the hidden world of the dead) could not hold on to Jesus (Acts 2:25-36). In a vision near the end of Revelation John records that "death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:12-15). Jesus has power over death, and he will rescue us from death and Hades at his coming.

Write... Christ commands John to write down...

We do recognise in the language of this command, an echo of the title of God, "him who is and who was and who is to come" (Revelation 1:4,8).

4 The Mystery of Christ

Mystery... Various objects in the visions are mysteries, not in the sense that we cannot understand them, but in the sense that we need to exercise spiritual insight so as to link these objects with what we have been learning and experiencing in the gospel and our Christian lives whatever time and place we live in.

A great many people are interpreting the book of Revelation as though John were getting a preview of specific future world events as we with our own eyes shall shortly see them come to pass. Attempts at applying this approach, in spite of an enthusiastic following, always turn out to be inconsistent, anachronistic, and at times even somewhat silly.