The next section of this first chapter deals with the general introduction of the book. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” As with any letter or book the basic dimensions need to be known; who wrote the letter, why they wrote the letter, what is the context in which they wrote, and to whom is the letter written? This first chapter is devoted to these questions. The main topic in this section is the recipients of this letter from John. In this section we will see the following: the ones who received this letter, the grace which is commended to those who receive it, the special attention of the heavenly Father on those who receive it, the operations of the Holy Spirit on those who receive it, and lastly the blessings of Christ on those who receive it.
First, who are the recipients of this letter? This is explained to us in these words: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia….” John here is very personal with those to whom he wrote. He refers to himself merely as John. He does not flaunt his position as an apostle or as an original disciple. He is known as the apostle of love and in the personal way that he introduces himself in this letter he shows his love to his audience. No pastor or man in authority among God’s children should ever see himself as being above the people that he ministers to. The minister of God does not lord over the heritage of God but humbles himself under the mighty hand of God. John is writing specifically to the seven churches that were in Asia. This may be a source of embarrassment to the Roman Catholic for the final book of the Bible which was written at least twenty years after the destruction of Jerusalem states that the center of Christianity was not in Rome but in Asia Minor. Paul did indeed correspond with Christians in Rome but Christianity thrived and found its first century home in Asia. Rome did not replace Jerusalem in any theological way (the local New Testament church did in some semblance). And when we study history we will not find the full expression of Christianity in Rome even though there they were martyred in masses. And you will not in your study of history find the full expression of Christianity in the Gnosticism and mysticism of Africa as so many would have us believe today. The manuscripts and traditions found in Asia Minor in earlier Christian history will prove to be closer to apostolic Christianity than Rome or Alexandria. But passing on from that point we find that the main recipients of this book were churches; real, visible, local churches. There were seven churches that Christ particularly directed John to write to. These were all real local churches of that first century. This is not written to a universal invisible church that has no impact on the real world but rather to real visible churches that affect the real world. Some say that since there are seven churches that these seven churches represent what they call “the real Church” in its totality (whether they believe that they represent the universal church in differing of periods of the so called “church age” or they represent different manifestations that the so called “true church” may take). I reject that idea simply because it denies the nature of the churches that John wrote to and changes them into something completely different. Instead we should look at the number seven as giving a complete picture of all circumstances and natures which local churches may take. Combs said this: “[These are] seven local congregations, especially selected as illustrative of conditions in contemporary churches of those times….” This will be explored at length in the second and third chapter when we deal with these seven churches in particular. But the point is this. Christ was ever a lover of local churches as seen by this book. And the apostles were as well as seen by the writings of John and Paul. And this therefore puts the message of this book write in our lap tonight. These things are intended and relevant to local church members.
The next thing that we note is the grace which is commended to those who receive it. John said this: “Grace be unto you, and peace….” This is indeed a popular benediction of the apostles as seen by the New Testament books. But let us not over look this benediction because it is so often used. The main reason that this book and the Bible as a whole exist is to impart grace to believers and to give them peace. The book of Revelation is not written to condemn men but to impart grace to men. It is not written to cause us anxiety but to give us peace. It also tells as what should be the main desire of all ministers of Christ to impart grace from God to the hearer and to impart peace from God to the believer. But, the most important point which is seen in the rest of these select verses is the source of grace and peace which is the Trinity, the Godhead. We see that both grace and peace come from all three; the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. There is no other source from which they come. Let us consider each person of the Godhead one by one.
We see now the special attention of the heavenly Father on the churches. John said this: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come….” Grace and peace flow from the Godhead and the first person of the Godhead is here seen. He is the I AM that includes all possible tenses of speech. He is immutable and changes not. He is self existent; He is the God that is there. He is the one that first and foremost “is.” The Bible simply tells us that “he that cometh to God must believe that he is… (Heb. 11:6). There is no other way to describe the one that is beyond time and space; the first cause of all time and space. Not only does it say that He is but that He was. No matter how far into the past you go you find God. “The portion of Jacob is not like them; for he is the former of all things… (Jer. 51:19). Before there was anything there was God and this is the clear teaching of the most famous words of the Scripture: “In the beginning God….” Not only does it describe God as one that is, and was, but also that He is to come. Fools may shout that God is dead and declare that we have outgrown the idea of God but no matter how much time we traverse God will always be there. He is not the disappearing “god of the gaps” but He is the God over all. There will be a time (if you will forgive the phrase) when there will be no time but there will never be a time when God is not there. So this phrase is a description of the eternal nature of the Godhead of which the Father in particular reveals. It is a description that belongs to the Father who is the first person of the Godhead; not first in order of importance or nature, for all three share the same nature and are all important, but first in order of Revelation. He is the God nature which is above all and the God of the law which must judge sin, and He is the God of the gospel where God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. It is the Father that is understood in the second most famous words of the Scripture when it says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son….” John Gill agreed in this commentary: “…this is to be understood of the first Person, of God the Father; and the phrases are expressive both of his eternity, he being God from everlasting to everlasting; and of his immutability, he being now what he always was, and will be what he now is, and ever was, without any variableness, or shadow of turning: they are a periphrasis, and an explanation of the word “Jehovah,” which includes all tenses, past, present, and to come.” In almost every benediction given by the apostles in the New Testament we find the same thing that we find here, grace and peace flowing from the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ first (see Eph. 1:2, Titus 1:4, Phil. 1:3, etc.). The words of Peter are good to ponder on at this point: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (I Pet. 1:3). The grace and peace which is extended to us comes first from the Father. We are recipients of that which comes from the eternal God. “Praise God from who all blessings flow….”
Next, we see that this grace and peace flow from us from the operations of the Holy Spirit. “Grace be unto you, and peace…, from the seven Spirits which are before his throne….” We find all three persons of the Trinity in this section of Scripture all of which are seen as equally involved in administering grace and peace to the people of God. Here it is the Spirit that is highlighted. The Geneva Bible notes that “he is placed between the Father and the Son, as set in the same degree of dignity and operation with them…, he is before the throne, as of the same substance with the Father and the Son….” There are indeed “three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one” (I John 5:7). And all three persons of the Trinity are involved in the blessing of the church as seen by the words of Paul: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” II Cor. 13:14). That is part of the reason that we baptize in the name (one name) of all three (Matt. 28:19). There are two specific points of interest in the description of the Holy Spirit of God as to His relationship to the churches. First, it is interesting that He is spoken of in a plurality; seven Spirits. Many mystics in the past have taken this to mean that the seven Spirits are actually seven chief angels that guarded the throne of God. They even gave these angels names in some of the Apocryphal literature; names such as Raphael. They do not mind doing violence to the picture of the Godhead in our text nor do they care to blasphemously attribute angels as being direct sources of grace and peace, a role that belongs only to divinity (This is usually the same crowd that wishes to put Mary and the saints in such a role along side of God).
There is no doubt in my mind that this is speaking the Holy Spirit. I believe there are several key Scriptural thoughts that give us a clue as to the reason for the plurality of the Holy Spirit. First, the number connected with the Spirit here is directly related to the number of churches that He is related to in the text. Seven is the number of perfection and completion and the seven here represents the fullness of the manifestation of the Spirit to the churches. Gill commented this: “but by these seven spirits are intended the Holy Spirit of God, who is one in his person, but his gifts and graces are various; and therefore he is signified by this number, because of the fulness and perfection of them, and with respect to the seven churches, over whom he presided, whom he influenced, and sanctified, and filled, and enriched with his gifts and graces.”Secondly, we find that one Spirit according to the apostle Paul that “… there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (I Cor. 12:4-6, note again the full representation of the Trinity in these verses). The Holy Spirit does not do the same work in every individual nor does He in every church. The way He manifests Himself in one church may be slightly different than the way that He is manifest in another. That is why we should be careful not to make ourselves mirror images of other churches but to be sensitive to the way the Spirit is dealing with us. We can only be sure of this concerning the Spirit’s dealings; He will always deal with us according to the Scripture and He will always glorify Christ. Thirdly, the prophet Isaiah specifically outlined distinct manifestations of the Spirit. “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD…” (Isa. 11:2). The Spirit will supply the particular need whether that need is wisdom, might, or fear. This lastly brings to our mind the picture of the Spirit found in ceremonial law. The golden candlestick in the temple and tabernacle is a picture of the illuminating nature of the Spirit in mans worship of God. “And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same” (Ex. 25:31, please note the personal masculine pronouns that are used in the King James to speak of the candlestick). The candlestick with its seven burning lamps is a perfect picture of the unity of the Spirit and is a perfect description of both our text and the text in Isaiah. There is one lamp stand known as the Spirit of the Lord and six distinct branches in various manifestations. And this picture of the candlestick is the exact picture of the temple in heaven, of which the pattern of the earthly tabernacle was taken, given here in Revelation: “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God” (Rev. 4:5). And the Seven Spirits of God find their fullness in the person of Christ of whom all fullness dwells (Rev. 3:1, 5:6). So whatever spiritual need we have as a church we may have in the distinct operations of the Holy Spirit. Again we note with the Geneva Bible notes: “This Spirit is one in person according to his subsistence: but in communication of his power, and in demonstration of his divine works in those seven churches, perfectly manifests himself as if there were many spirits, every one perfectly working in his own church.”
But even more important than the operations of the Spirit is the position of the Spirit. The Spirit is before the throne for the churches. Not only is salvation a work shared by all three persons of the Trinity but so is the strengthening and helping of the church. We pray to the Father in the name of the Son through the intercessory work of the Spirit. We may indeed go boldly before the throne of God knowing that the Father will receive us through Christ and that the Spirit is there to help us. O! How much help is there for the churches of our Lord! We have a vast supply! To this we may quote the words of Paul: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26, 27).
Finally we see the blessings of Christ thatbelongtothechurch. So the picture of the work of the persons of the Trinity is completed with the second person of God, God the Son. “[Grace and peace unto you from the Father and the Spirit] and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindred’s of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” He is in fact the focal point of all the work of the Trinity and that is why the most is said about Him. The blessings of the Father and the Spirit could not come to us but through the Son who is the revealer of God and who is the only mediator between God and Man. We see all through this the deity of Jesus Christ. John Philips mentioned that through Christ as God we have triumph and we see the attributes of His deity here: His omniscience in being the Alpha and Omega, His omnipresence in being the beginning and the end, and His omnipotence in being the Almighty. We saw already that the fullness of the Spirit (the seven Spirits of God) find their fullness in Him. And Christ said to Philip that he that had seen Him had seen the Father. All fullness of the Godhead bodily is in Christ, as Paul has said. So we see all, we as a church and we as Christians, really need in Christ. He is according to His name Jesus, our Savior from sin, and Christ, the God sent King of kings. Consider then the following points of John concerning what we have in Christ.
First, we have grace and peace in Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness for His church. Solomon rightly asked this: “a faithful man who can find?” Christ is the answer! The Bible says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend” and those words are no truer than they are in Christ. He is wholly faithful in that which He was sent to do. He was sent to reveal God to men and He did. He was sent to show mankind salvation, and He did. But our text is not so much about what Christ had did but what He presently is. He is the faithful witness right now. To understand this we must consider what Christ is presently and bodily. He has forever taken upon Himself the nature of man. He was born a man. He lived a man. He died a man. He was raised and ascended a man. And now as a man has forever set down at the right hand of God. There He is the Intercessor, Mediator, and Advocate for the people of God. Consider the prophecy of the Son of David, the promised seed. “His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah” (Ps. 89:36, 37). So here when we speak of Christ being the faithful witness He is the faithful witness in heaven before the eyes of the Father before whom He intercedes for us. Just as the rainbow was a faithful witness before the eyes of God that He would not again destroy the world with water so Christ is before the eyes of God for us to forever secure our salvation. He is a witness for us that the law has been removed and that grace has been secured. We may never be lost again for Christ has taken up our case. But it is also a sign for us to see, again as the rainbow reminds us of the covenant of God. We can see Christ through the eyes of faith and know that His witness is true. Christ is the proof of God’s grace to us. He is shown to us, the church, in this very book as He that is faithful and true (Rev. 3:14, 19:11). And we have found Him to be true in all aspects of grace (I John 1:9). Henry said this: “he was from eternity a witness to all the counsels of God (Jn. 1:18), and he was in time a faithful witness to the revealed will of God, who has now spoken to us by his Son; upon his testimony we may safely depend, for he is a faithful witness, cannot be deceived and cannot deceive us.” But in the context of this book His faithfulness concerns the things that are written in this book. Going back to the preface we see that this Revelation was given to Him to give to us. We, as we have already seen, can be assured that things written in this book are true because Christ the faithful witness told us. Christ is known as faithful and true and therefore the words that are written in this book are called faithful and true as well (Rev. 21:5, 22:6). What is written will come to pass. He speaks to the church as the one that is faithful and true and brings a message of grace (Rev. 3:14). He comes in judgment upon the lost world as he that is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11).
The next thing that we have in Christ is the fact that we have the one who led the way from the grave. He is the first begotten of the dead. As the faithful witness He is the truth; here He is the way and the life. He said to the sister of Lazarus that He is the resurrection and the life and that if we will believe on Him we shall never die (John 11). In His resurrection we are justified and therefore have been raised from spiritual death. Now though Him we live unto God and are no more dead in our sins. But the resurrection of Christ did more than give us spiritual life; He secured for us our own resurrection. Because He lives we shall live also. The Old Testament looked forward to God providing a pattern for the resurrection of the just. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Ps. 17:15). There were many that were raised from the dead but returned again to the grave for there was no change. Christ therefore become this patter of being raised again to die no more (Rom. 6:1-8). Christ was the first to be raised beyond the dominion of death. And there will be many that will do the same through Him. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). Paul agreed with John as Christ being the pattern of the resurrection when he said this: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20, 21). He is according to Paul “the firstborn from the dead…” by which we will all follow who live and believe in Him (Col. 1:18). Christ is the second man, the last Adam, for He is the beginning of a new race of men (I Cor. 15). And when we awake we will awake in the pattern of this Man. So not only is Christ the sure witness but He is also a blessed hope for the church.
Thirdly the church has in Christ the one who rules over this earth. He is “the prince of the kings of the earth.” The church worships and believes on the one that rules over all. As Solomon surpassed the kings of the earth in his wisdom in glory, so much more does our Lord surpass them (I Kings 10:23)! This phrase in that light tells us of the glory of Christ. Jesus said that He was greater than Solomon and therefore we should seek Him. But this phrase is also very exlcusive. He is not a prince among the kings of the earth but He is the prince of the kings. He is the singular authority among the nations of men. Many nations and many kings have set themselves up as the ultimate authority in their striving against God. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:2, 3). But God has laughed at them and set up His king. The sway of power belongs to God who holds in His hand the destiny of the nations and to Christ before whom all nations must stand. These words also are the result of the promise to the seed of David. “Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27). And I would say that the one of the main messages of the book of Revelation is to show how this world will come to see Christ as the prince of the kings of the earth (Rev. 6:15, 16:14, 19:19, 21:24). The world needs the events of Revelation to come to the place where every knee shall bow to Christ. But the good news is that we as the people God can bow before the prince now. We can give ourselves to His authority and rest in the fact that He is ultimately in control even if the kings of this earth have yet to recognize it.
The next thing that we note is that the church has the one who demonstrated His love to us. John said of Christ this: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood….” The word “unto” in our text points us to the glory which belongs to Christ at the end of this whole statement. We will get to that shortly. In these words we have the expression of love, the establishment of love, and the expenditure of love. The expression of love is vocal, it is expressed by words. Remember that it is Jesus Himself that revealed this truth to John. Christ in essence has told us here, “I love you!” It is important in human relationships for us to express our love in words. That is what Christ has done not only in this text but in the whole of Scriptures. Some have said that the Bible is a love letter from God to man and that is true. The love has a source which is “him.” The love has an object which is “us.” And the love which He has declared is permanent in that it is expressed in the past tense as being once and for all declared. He has told us that He loved us even though we were unworthy as seen by the picture of Hosea. The establishment of love is not heard in words but is seen and experienced in action. It is not enough for one to say “I love you” but they should demonstrate that love to you in the things that they do. “God commendeth [proves] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Christ did not just say that He loved us but He showed it in washing us from our sins. He girded Himself with the clothing of a servant and washed us, once and for all. Love covers a multitude of sin. Christ willingly demonstrated His love by washing us. He found us in our filth and loved us anyway. He did not leave us in our filth. He did not say to us that were so needy, “be warmed and filled” and then go His way. He in His holiness spotted Himself with our filth in order to make us clean. This is the grandest demonstration of love especially when we think of the condescension of the one that is holy, harmless, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens. The expenditure of love is the ultimate price that it cost. Love is giving of ourselves to the one you love and that was demonstrated by Christ. He was made of no reputation and was obedient to the death of the cross. The price of love was His blood. Love is stronger than death. Many grand love stories have tried to show us a love that was worth dying for but they have failed to see the greatest love story of all; God made flesh and dying on a cross for the ones that He loved. It was always blood that atoned for sin. But Christ would not redeem us with the blood of bulls and goats but with that which was His own. He gave us a salvation that He Himself paid for. That is who we have in Christ. And it is Christ that stands with the Spirit and the Father and gives us grace and peace.
The next point we see is that we have the one who exalts us with Him. John told us that Christ “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” We note that the fact that we are made kings and priests is in the context that all glory and all dominion belongs to Christ. Whatever glory we receive is borrowed glory and what dominion we have is borrowed dominion. They all belong to Him. He had all glory with God before the foundation of the world. And all power belongs to Him. And therefore when it says that that “to” Him be glory and dominion forever it means that from now to eternity we must and gladly will attribute all that we have to Him. And an Amen is gladly added here on behalf of the churches for there is no truer and firmer truth. This truth will be seen in a fuller extent later in this book. What grace then is in this statement! We who were separated from God through sin have in Christ been made priests and kings unto God. The grace of God through Christ has made something wonderful out of us. What does it mean to be made kings and priests? We are made kings that we may rule and reign with Him. We are made priests to offer up acceptable sacrifices unto God; to go though Christ unto God to offer sacrifices to God. It has been the desire of God to exalt humanity and to receive genuine worship from humanity. It has always been the desire of God to have a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6). Outside of the redemption of Christ this could not be. But now through Christ the words of Peter are found to be the reality. “ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (I Pet. 2:9). Just as Christ is the king and priest after the order of Melchesedic so we are to be conformed to His likeness (Ps. 110). We note that the royal priesthood of believers is the reality right now and will only be more fully manifest in ages to come. We do not need a priest for we are priests and we may boldly go ourselves before the throne of grace. Johnson pointed out this fact from these words: “No disciple needeth a priest to offer incense or sacrifice for him, for he can go directly to the Father through Jesus Christ.” As kings we are no longer under the dominion of sin. As kings we have power with God. As priests we do not need someone else to go before God for us for we may go ourselves. We may stand in the gap for others as well in prayer. And we may present sacrifices of praise unto God and the living sacrifices of our own selves. Matthew Henry summed it up like this: “As kings, they govern their own spirits, conquer Satan, have power and prevalence with God in prayer, and shall judge the world. He hath made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them to enter into the holiest and to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices, and has given them an unction suitable to this character; and for these high honors and favors they are bound to ascribe to him dominion and glory forever.”
Next we have in Christ the one who is coming again. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindred’s of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” We are told to behold this with expectation and with the eyes of faith, especially as we read about these events in this particular book. And we are to do so prayerfully adding our “even so” unto it. And we again add a wonderful Amen to these words as well. Christ is coming and we do indeed look for it. Now let us remind ourselves of the time in which this letter was written, A.D. 90 or later. This puts the death knell in the idea that the coming of the Lord was a spiritualized description of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or any other early spiritualization (such as the day of Pentecost). While many New Testament prophecies foretold the destruction of Jerusalem as a mountain peak over the full range of prophecy concerning the coming of Christ, the whole of Revelation still looks for a literal second coming as described by these words. There are four distinct points concerning His coming in these words. First, the manner of His coming is described. He is coming in the clouds. Daniel wrote this: “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him…” (Dan. 7:13). We may continually lift up our heads for redemption is coming. He is coming in the exact manner in which it was promised that He would come. The words of the angels again ring in our ears: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Secondly, He will come in a manner in which every eye shall see. It will be an obvious coming. Years ago this was mocked as impossibility but for us who can see events as they happen on the other side of the world it no longer seems impossible. It will also be a coming of grace, especially for the nation of Israel. They will look on the one that they pierced and they will be all saved that day. The coming of Christ will finish His purposes of grace. And lastly, it will be a coming of judgment upon lost mankind. I think it is amazing that the amoral supermen of Nietzsche were described as those who are faithful to the earth, or faithful only to the pleasures of the here and now. Here the kindred’s of the earth are made to wail or violently cry and gnash their teeth in pain because of the coming of Christ. This fact will be seen more fully later in this book. But, we see plainly that the coming of Christ will accompany a rod of iron and a throne of judgment. This is what we must tearfully warn this world of. The words of Christ agree here with the assessment of John. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).
And lastly the churches have in Christ a source of grace and peace because it is He who is the eternal God and one with the Father. Here Christ as the subject of all that has just been said speaks with this profound “I am” statement (to show His divinity and sameness with the I AM of the Old Testament): “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Show this statement to the next Unitarian or Jehovah’s Witness you see that wish to say that Christ never claimed to be God in the flesh. Who else could be speaking here but the one described above that loved us, washed us by His blood, and is coming again in the clouds? Compare Scripture with Scripture here and see that the God of the Old Testament is here described as the Christ in the New (Isa. 41:4). These are almost the exact words of that are used to describe the Father above. We have in Christ the one that is one with the Father. He said that He and the Father are one (John 10). In fact if you have seen Jesus you have seen the Father. And whoever wants to honor the Father must first honor the Son. The Geneva Bible notes these words as descriptive of the eternal nature of the Son. “I am he before whom there was nothing, indeed, by whom everything that is made, was made: and I shall remain though everything else should perish.” And He adds the unmistakable title of the Almighty here just to make it plain to us (one needs only do a simple concordance search of this word to find that it is a title for God alone). He has just said that He is God (John 1:1). Gill summed this up at length in the following quote: “So Christ, he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the chief, the whole of things; as of the covenant of grace, he is the first and last of it, he is the Mediator, surety, and messenger of it, and the ratifier and confirmer of it, he is the covenant itself, all its blessings and promises are in him; he is the sum and substance of the Scriptures, both of the law and of the Gospel; he is the fulfilling end of the law, and he is the subject matter of the Gospel; he stands in the first verse in Genesis, and in the last of the Revelation; he is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the whole and all in the business of salvation, in the affair of justification before God, in the sanctification of his people, in their adoption, and eternal glorification; he stands first and last in the book of God’s purposes and decrees, in the book of the covenant, in the book of the creatures, or creation, being the first cause, and last end of all things, in the book of Providence, and in the book of the Scriptures: likewise, as these two letters include all the rest, this phrase may be expressive of the perfection of Christ, who as God has the fulness of the Godhead, all the perfections of the divine nature in him; and, as man, is in all things made like unto his brethren; and, as Mediator, has all fulness of power, wisdom, grace, and righteousness in him, in whom all the saints are complete; and this may also denote his eternity, he having none before him, nor any after him.” To sum this up: Christ is all. This is the source of the grace and peace of the churches, from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.