Revelation of Jesus Christ

The first paragraph of the Book of Revelation presents its purpose, key themes, main characters, how it communicates, and its chronological perspective. The Book’s purpose is to reveal. Its protagonists are GodJesus, and the “his servants.” It is “THE prophecy,” singular, and its source is God. The contents concern “What things must come to pass,” and this last clause provides the timeframe of these events, namely, “soon.

The paragraph also tells the Book’s method of communication (“he signified”), and it provides the first of many examples of how it applies passages from the Old Testament (“What things must come to pass soon”).

Beach Sun Burst - Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash
[Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash]

The Book is a 
single document. In its entirety, it is addressed to the same audience. It consists of a prologue, a series of visions, and an epilogue. It is the “Revelation” or apokalypsis of “Jesus Christ.” Apokalypsis means “revelation, disclosure, an unveiling” (Strong’s - #G602). Thus, the Book’s purpose is to unveil, NOT to veil or mystify.

  • (Revelation 1:1-3) – “Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show his servants the things which must come to pass soon, and he showed them by signssending through his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatsoever things he saw. Happy is he that reads, and they who hear, the words of the prophecy, and keep the things written in it, for the season is near.”

The term “revelation” is not the title of the Book, but the designation of what it is, and the word is singular. It is not a collection of loosely connected visions but a singular disclosure. It is the revelation “of Jesus Christ.”

The genitive construction of the clause can mean it is an unveiling about Jesus, one that belongs to him, or both. The Book does reveal information about the identity and role of Jesus, so both senses are likely intended. Jesus of Nazareth certainly is the center of Revelation and its pivotal character.

God “gave” this “revelation” to Jesus, who, in turn, “gave” it to his angel to “show his servants” imminent events. The stress is on his possession of the “revelation.” Events in the subsequent visions unfold as he unveils them to “his servant,” John. However, it includes a great deal of information about Jesus and HOW he reigns over the Earth in the present age.

The contents of the Book are labeled the “Word of God” and the “Testimony of Jesus.” The latter term is repeated several times in Revelation, stressing the faithful “testimony” given by Jesus, especially in his sacrificial death.

Likewise, the term “testimony” is applied to the “saints” who faithfully testify in tribulation and persecution, even when violent death becomes inevitable for doing so - (Revelation 1:4, 1:11, 1:20, 12:11, 13:7-10).


The purpose of this “revelation” is “to show” God’s servants “WHAT THINGS MUST COME TO PASS soon.” The phrase summarizes the Book’s contents. It is found in the Book of Daniel and provides the first example of how Revelation applies Old Testament passages to the current situation of the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.” It does not use citation formulas. Instead, it employs verbal allusions to fold Old Testament words and phrases into its narrative.

When John does allude to the Old Testament, he uses the Greek Septuagint version. Note the first verse of Revelation compared to the passage from the Greek version of Daniel from which it is derived:

  • (Revelation 1:1) - “REVELATION (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants WHAT THINGS MUST COME TO PASS (ha dei genesthai) soon.”
  • (Daniel 2:28) - “There is a God in heaven that REVEALS mysteries and made known to king Nebuchadnezzar WHAT THINGS MUST COME TO PASS (ha dei genesthai) in later days.”

The Book is called “the prophecy,” once again, applying a singular noun to the entire document. In the epilogue, it is also called “the prophecy of this book - (Revelation 22:7). The unveiling of imminent events is necessary because the “season is near.” Imminence is reiterated in the Book’s concluding section. The phrase is another allusion to Daniel:

  • (Revelation 1:3) - “Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written in it, for the SEASON (kairos) IS AT HAND.”
  • (Daniel 12:4) - “Shut up the words and seal the Book, even until the SEASON (kairosOF THE END.”

Again, what for Daniel was “in later days” is imminent for the audience of Revelation, the “servants of God.” Daniel was told to “seal the Book until the season of the end.”

In contrast, all those who read and heed the Book of Revelation are “blessed” because the “season is at hand.” This understanding is confirmed in the Epilogue - “SEAL NOT the words of the prophecy of this book, FOR THE SEASON IS AT HAND” - (Revelation 22:7. Compare Daniel 12:4).


In the Book, Jesus “signified” to his servants. This rendering translates the Greek verb sémainō, which is related to the noun used for “sign” or semeion (Strong’s - #G4591). It means to “indicate, show by sign, to signify or signal.”

In warfare, sémainō referred to visual and audible “signals” used to order advances, retreats, and attacks. Here, it points to the symbolic nature of the visions and their images. The visions communicate by means of symbols.

The target audience consists of the “servants” of Jesus (doulos, “slave, servant”), a term applied to the followers of Jesus elsewhere in the Book- (Revelation 2:20, 7:3, 12:17, 13:7).

Blessed is the one who reads, and they who hear the words of the prophecy.” This clause reflects the real-life situation of the Book’s audience. In the first century, books were expensive, and commoners were often illiterate. The practice was to have a document read aloud to an assembly by a designated reader, and thus also here - “One who reads” and “they who hear.”

Thus, the Book of Revelation discloses how the Kingdom of God will achieve the final victory of the Earth, the role of the “servants” of Jesus in the process, and what all this will mean for the marginalized congregations of Asia. What Daniel anticipated in a remote future, and in a veiled form, is now being disclosed openly and put into motion by Jesus on behalf of his saints. The time of fulfillment has arrived!



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