Search Bible Outlines and commentaries




Richard Phillips: The book of Revelation, which takes the form of a historical letter, can also be better appreciated if we keep in mind the people who were involved. In the salutation found in Revelation 1:4–5, we meet the main participants. Included in this greeting are John the apostle, the seven churches of the Roman province of Asia, and the triune God of grace and peace. In the background, but very much present, was the diabolical Roman emperor Domitian, whose looming persecution supplied the setting in which the book of Revelation was given.

Grant Osborne: The prescript, or greeting, is found throughout NT epistles. Following ancient convention, it contains three elements: the sender (John), the recipients (the seven churches in Asia), and the greeting (grace and peace). However, it differs from convention in two ways: an extensive prophetic introduction (1:1–3) precedes the normal beginning, and the greeting itself goes beyond the norm: in 1:4–5a there is a trinitarian formula, and in the doxology of 1:5b–6 John goes beyond custom to build a case for the soteriological (v. 5b) and ecclesiological (v. 6) core of the book.

Craig Keener: If 1:1–3 PROVIDES an appropriate title for and introduction to an apocalyptic revelation, 1:4–8 provides an epistolary introduction, specifying the audience (from “servants” in 1:1 to the “seven churches … of Asia” in 1:4). Most important, it expounds the identity of the God who sends the revelation and in so doing encourages suffering Christians that God is greater than their tests. . .

The preface, or exordium, of a work sets the tone for a work (Quintilian, Inst. Or. 6.1.5); expansions on any part of the traditional letter introduction, including the blessings, often provide clues to themes in the rest of a letter.  That John expounds so fully on Jesus’ roles in 1:5–6 suggests the central place that Christology will play in this book. That God “is, and … was, and … is to come” frames the source of the blessing (1:4, 8), hence is a point that John certainly wishes to underline. Some pagans understood the concept of a supreme deity’s self-existence, but the language here appears to have been a more common ancient Jewish interpretation of God’s claim in Exodus 3:14: “I AM WHO I AM.”

G. K. Beale: greets the churches on behalf of the Father, Spirit, and Son, whose redemptive work results in the Christians’ new status, all to the glory of God (1:4-6). . .

The Son’s kingship and the Father’s sovereignty over history are the basis of the church’s grace and peace and the Father’s glory (1:7-8).

Rick Griffith: John addresses seven churches in Asia and worships the triune God, especially Christ as the soon-to-come sovereign Ruler, to exhort his readers to watch for His return.


A.  Channel of Revelation


Richard Phillips: compelling evidence that the “John” who wrote Revelation was the apostle John. John is a major figure of the New Testament, having been one of Jesus’ three closest disciples, “the disciple whom he loved” (John 19:26), as well as the author of the Gospel of John and three epistles that bear his name. Revelation 1:1 identifies him as the “servant” of Jesus Christ. John MacArthur describes him further as “the elder statesman of the church near the end of the first century, . . . universally beloved and respected for his devotion to Christ and his great love for the saints worldwide.”

In these late days of his life, John is revealed as a faithful servant of Jesus. If Revelation was written around the year A.D. 95, John would have been over eighty years old. He is considered the youngest of the original twelve disciples, perhaps just a teenager when he watched Jesus die on the cross and then raced with Peter to gaze inside the empty tomb. Few people today pursue any calling single-mindedly over the entire length of their adult lives. But from the time when Jesus came to John and his brother James and pledged to make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17–20) until the dying moments of his elderly years, a span of over sixty years, John had served as a witness of the gospel, an apostle of Jesus, and a pastor to the church. John’s faithful service was extraordinarily valuable in the first century.

Early church tradition holds that in these late years of his life, John had been leading the church in the strategically important city of Ephesus. This fits the book of Revelation, since John writes this letter to churches in the province of which Ephesus was the leading city. This indicates that John was also a humble servant of Christ. The church in Ephesus was founded by the apostle Paul (see Acts 19). The elders of that church had been converted by Paul and had a profound loyalty to that fiery apostle (see Acts 20:37–38). Moreover, Paul had placed his protégé, Timothy, in charge of the Ephesian church (1 Tim. 1:3). So John would have accepted this charge in order to complete someone else’s work and as the successor to a lesser figure in the church. Many strong leaders today would refuse such a calling, putting a priority on their own career aspirations, but John humbled himself to serve where he was most needed.

J. Hampton Keathley, III: The Hebrew idioms in the book, the authority of the author in relation to the churches, the use of distinctively Johannine terms like logosand “Lamb of God,” and the corroboration of Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian and Clement all affirm that the Apostle John was the author of this book.  Every New Testament book was written by an apostle or by one who was closely associated with an apostle, i.e., like Luke who was a companion of the Apostle Paul. This was one of the marks of inspiration and necessary for recognition of a book into the canon of Scripture.

B.  Churches Targeted

to the seven churches that are in Asia:

William Barclay: The seven churches are named in verse 11 – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. These were by no means the only churches in Asia. There were churches at Colosse (Colossians 1:2), Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13), Troas (2 Corinthians 2:12; Acts 20:5), Miletus (Acts 20:17), Magnesia and Tralles, as the letters of Ignatius, the Bishop of Antioch, show. Why did John single out only these seven? There can be more than one reason for his selection.

(1) These churches might be regarded as the centres of seven postal districts, being all on a kind of ring road, or gyratory system, which circled the interior of the province. Troas was off the beaten track. But Hierapolis and Colosse were within walking distance of Laodicea; and Tralles, Magnesia and Miletus were close to Ephesus. Letters delivered to these seven cities would easily circulate in the surrounding areas; and, since every letter had to be handwritten, each letter would need to be sent where it would reach most easily the greatest number of people.

(2) Any reading of Revelation will show John’s preference for the number seven. It occurs fifty-four times. There are seven candlesticks (1:12), seven stars (1:16), seven lamps (4:5), seven seals (5:1), seven horns and seven eyes (5:6), seven thunders (10:3), seven angels, plagues and bowls (15:6–8). The ancient peoples regarded seven as the perfect number, and it runs all through Revelation.

From this, certain of the early commentators drew an interesting conclusion. Seven is the perfect number because it stands for completeness. It is, therefore, suggested that, when John wrote to seven churches, he was, in fact, writing to the whole Church. The first list of New Testament books, called the Muratorian Canon, says of Revelation: ‘For John also, though he wrote in the Revelation to seven churches, nevertheless speaks to them all.’ This is all the more likely when we remember how often John says: ‘Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches’ (2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:29, 3:6, 3:13, 3:22).

(3) Although the reasons we have offered for the choice of these seven churches may be valid, it may be still more valid that John chose them because in them he had a special authority. They were in a special sense his churches – and by speaking to them he sent a message first to those who knew and loved him best, and then through them to every church in every generation.

C.  Customary Greeting

Grace to you and peace,

John Walvoord: John’s greeting of “grace … peace” is also common to Paul’s letters. These two words capture the richness of the Christian faith. Grace is God’s attitude toward believers, coupled with His loving gifts—which will never change. Peace refers to our relationship with God—which includes both the peace made with God at salvation and our ongoing relationship with Him, which we can enjoy, or fail to enjoy, as we walk or fail to walk in obedience to God.

Van Parunak: We must cling tightly to this greeting. A pervasive theme of the book is the persecution that unbelievers bring upon believers, which had become institutionalized at the national level during the time that John writes. Yet he greets his readers with the promise of “peace.” We are not assured of peaceful lives in our daily experience, but we have peace with God, and secure in his love, we can deal with the difficulties of life in the world.


A.  God the Father – The Eternal, Self-Existent One

from Him who is and who was and who is to come;

Kendell Easley: Although the Greek grammar is awkward here, this is a development of God’s Old Testament name, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exod. 3:14). In changing, perilous times, Christians take heart that the God they serve transcends time.

Charles Swindoll: As an allusion to the divine name “I AM” in Exodus 3:14, it indicates God’s complete transcendence over all history —past, present, and future.  God is just as much in control of our unknown future and unnerving present as He is of our unpleasant past!

Buist Fanning: God’s proclamation of himself as the self-existent one in Exodus 3:14 naturally implies his ongoing existence as the eternal one, and this is the sense John has captured in his three-part title. In this as in other ways he portrays God as the awesome, almighty Lord who controls history from beginning to end.

B.  God the Spirit – In a Supporting Role

and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne;

John Walvoord: Joining the Father in salutation are “the seven spirits who are before his throne.” Some consider the term an allusion to the Holy Spirit (cf. Isa. 11:2–3). Others believe these were seven angels in places of high privilege before the throne of God (cf. Rev. 3:1; 4:5; 5:6). The word spirit is commonly used of evil spirits, that is, demons or fallen angels; of the human spirit (cf. Mark 8:12); and occasionally of holy angels (cf. Heb. 1:7, 14). Those who favor the seven spirits as referring to the Holy Spirit find justification in Isaiah 11. The message originates in God the Father and the Spirit.

John MacArthur: Obviously, there is only one Holy Spirit; the number seven depicts Him in His fullness (cf. 5:6; Isa. 11:2; Zech. 4:1–10).

Robert Thomas: The most satisfactory explanation for the title “the seven spirits” traces its origin to Zech. 4:1-10.  Zechariah 4:2, 10 speaks of the seven lamps (cf. Rev. 4:5) that are “the eyes of the Lord, which range throughout the whole earth.” This has a close similarity to John’s “sent out into all the earth” in Rev. 5:6 (Mounce). Because Revelation 4 and 5 carry the same symbolism as Zechariah 4 and the title used in the opening of this book must relate to themes occurring later on, the tracing of the title to this OT passage is an obvious solution (Beckwith). The prominence of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the world in Zech. 4:2-10 is established by the words “not by might or power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). John’s use of Zechariah 4 furnishes an example of his kaleidoscopic variations on OT imagery (Caird). In deriving the title, John identifies the seven eyes of Zechariah with the seven spirits that belong to the Lord (Zech. 4:10; cf. Rev. 5:6).  The seven lamps of Zechariah (Zech. 4:2) are also synonymous with the seven spirits (Rev. 4:5).

Daniel Akin: The Holy Spirit of God, John tells us, is in front of God’s throne. The Spirit who energizes and equips the churches for service is the Spirit who proceeds from the very throne of God. We are indeed made sufficient for every assignment, every challenge, for the God who lives in us (1 Cor 6:19) is the God who is before the throne!

Buist Fanning: Referring to the Spirit as “the seven spirits” is a metaphor of fullness drawn from Isaiah 11:2, which sees the Lord’s Spirit, described by seven attributes, as resting on the ideal king from David’s line to guide and empower his future rule. John seems to have drawn insight also from Zechariah 4:1–6, where a vision of seven lamps is explained as representing not might nor power but God’s Spirit at work in the world (also apparently associated with seven “eyes of the LORD that range through all the earth,” Zech 4:10.  The Spirit positioned “before his [God’s] throne” pictures God’s heavenly presence as a throne room from which he rules the world (this image will be filled out in detail in the vision of chs. 4–5) as well as the Spirit’s readiness to carry out God’s royal decrees in all the earth.

Van Parunak: Clues that point to the Holy Spirit as the intended interpretation:

  • The threefold greeting leads us to expect a reference to the Holy Spirit.
  • The reference in Rev 5:6 emphasizes the Spirit’s omnipresence and omniscience in the world.
  • Seven” emphasizes the completeness and thoroughness of the Spirit’s work.

C.  God the Son – His Preeminence and Sovereign Dominion

and from Jesus Christ,

Warren Wiersbe: Jesus Christ is seen in His threefold office as Prophet (faithful Witness), Priest (First-begotten from the dead), and King (Prince of the kings of the earth). First-begotten does not mean “the first one raised from the dead,” but “the highest of those raised from the dead.” Firstborn is a title of honor (see Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18).

  1. Preeminent in Revelation

the faithful witness,

William Barclay: He is the witness on whom we can rely. It is a favourite idea of the Fourth Gospel that Jesus is a witness of the truth of God. Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen” (John 3:11). Jesus said to Pilate: “For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 18:37). A witness is essentially a person who speaks from first-hand knowledge. That is why Jesus is God’s witness. He is uniquely the person with first-hand knowledge about God.

Daniel Akin: Jesus is “the faithful witness,” the trustworthy revealer of the Father (John 14:9). By His perfect, sinless life and by His words and works, He showed us the character of God. By His present ministry among the churches (Rev 2–3) He reveals the continuing interest and concern of the Father. Gordon Fee makes the interesting observation that in Psalm 89:37 “‘the moon’ is called ‘a faithful witness in the sky,’” and “that language is now transferred to Christ.”

Robert Mounce: This designation applies in the first place to his role in mediating the revelation he received from God (Rev 1:1; the “testimony for the churches” referred to in 22:16). But it also refers to the larger purpose of his life as the one who bore witness to the truth from God (John 3:32–33; 18:37) with special emphasis on his death that followed as a result. The Greek word for witness (martys) has come over into English as “martyr,” one who suffers death for allegiance to a cause. Throughout Revelation the word is associated with the penalty of death that results from a firm and constant witness (cf. 2:13; 11:3; 17:6).  To the Asian Christians about to enter into a time of persecution, Jesus is presented as the faithful witness. He is the model of how to stand firm and never compromise the truth of God (cf. 1 Tim 6:13).

Tony Garland: Among the unique titles of Jesus, He is “called Faithful and True” (Rev. 19:11+). Here, we see His character as God, Who cannot lie (Num. 23:19; Rom. 3:4; Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). Where God is involved, other witnesses are unnecessary, for God bears truthful and reliable witness of Himself (John 8:14). The witness of Christ was faithful in that He finished the work which the Father had given Him (John 17:4), manifesting the Father’s name to His disciples (John 17:6) and resisting the temptation to circumvent the cross (Luke 22:42-44). In His incarnation, Jesus provided a witness of God to man (Isa. 9:1-2; John 1:14, 18; 12:45; 14:8-9; Col. 1:15; 2:9; Heb. 1:2; 1Jn. 1:2).

  1. Preeminent in Resurrection

the first-born of the dead,

John MacArthur: The second description of Jesus, the firstborn of the dead, does not mean He was chronologically the first one to be raised from the dead. There were resurrections before His in the Old Testament (1 Kings 17:17–23; 2 Kings 4:32–36; 13:20–21), and He Himself raised others during His earthly ministry (Matt. 9:23–25; Luke 7:11–15; John 11:30–44). Prōtotokos does not mean firstborn in time sequence, but rather first in preeminence. Of all who have ever been or ever will be resurrected, He is the premier one. God declares of the Messiah in Psalm 89:27, “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” The book of Revelation records the unfolding of that promise.

Robert Mounce: This title is also found in Col 1:18, where Christ is declared sovereign over the church by virtue of his resurrection from the dead. Lightfoot points out that the two main ideas in the designation are priority and sovereignty and that in messianic contexts the latter predominates.  The messianic interpretation stems from Ps 89:27, which says of David (and extends to his descendants culminating in Jesus the Messiah), “I will also appoint him my firstborn.” If faithful witnessing should result in a martyr’s death, the believer is to remember that Jesus, the ideal martyr, is the firstborn from the dead. As the risen Christ now exercises sovereign control, so also will the faithful share in his reign (Rev 20:4–6).

Buist Fanning: The second title, “the firstborn from the dead” (ὁ πρωτότοκος τῶν νεκρῶν; v. 5c; see Col 1:18, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν) is a classic oxymoron referring to Jesus’s resurrection and what it means for Christians. His victory over death is prototypical because it guarantees resurrected life for those who are his followers (similar to “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” 1 Cor 15:20; cf. v. 23; see also Rom 8:29). Such a guarantee has deep significance for John’s addressees, some of whom faced the possibility of physical death because of following Christ. The title “firstborn” itself is rooted also in Psalm 89. In Psalm 89:27 (LXX 88:28) God declares that he will make the king in David’s line the “firstborn [πρωτότοκος], highest of the kings of the earth,” continuing the father-son imagery of 89:26 (found also in 2 Sam 7:14 and Ps 2:7). The human king in Jerusalem is pictured in close relation to God, as one who represents God’s rule in the way that a son would represent a father. In these terms the “firstborn” is the one who has the greatest claim to the privilege and authority that derives from the family relationship (similar to Col 1:15; Heb 1:6).  Jesus’s resurrection and exaltation demonstrates his ascension to kingly rule as well as his victory over death.

  1. Preeminent in Reigning

and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

Robert Thomas: The three titles taken together have been variously construed. One defines them as speaking of divine testimony, revelation of the risen Lord, and the forecast of the issues of history.  Another sees the past, present, and future works of Christ in the three (Tenney). The most precise explanation sees all three as referring to Jesus Christ’s future dominion over the earth (Bullinger). Some secondary reference may be acknowledged to the faithful witness He has borne in the past, to His present ministry as the resurrected Lord, and to His future role as King of kings, but the origination of all three expressions from Psalm 89 reflects a major authorial intent to direct attention to the fulfillment of the promises made to David regarding an eternal kingdom in 2 Samuel 7.

Richard Phillips: What a blessing it is to know that the true Sovereign reigning over history is Jesus, the Lord of grace and peace. Alexander Maclaren writes: “His dominion rests upon love and sacrifice. And so His Kingdom is a kingdom of blessing and of gentleness; and He is crowned with the crowns of the universe, because He was first crowned with the crown of thorns. His first regal title was written upon His Cross, and from the Cross His Royalty ever flows.”


A.  Doxology of Praise

  1. Praise for Christ’s Love for Us

To Him who loves us,

Richard Phillips: When John praises Christ for his present work, he sums up the whole by speaking of Christ’s love for his people: “To him who loves us” (Rev. 1:5). This is the great fact that the Bible declares to Christians: not just that Christ loved us in the past but that he loves us now. James Boice describes the love of Christ as “so great, so giving, so winsome, so victorious, so infinite, that we can only marvel at it. It is a love that reaches from the heights of divine holiness to the pit of human depravity to save and keep us from sin.”  Perhaps this explains the popularity of one of our most enduring children’s songs: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

David Thompson: This is the only place in the N.T. where the love of Christ is presented in the present tense. Every other time it is presented in the past tense (John 3:16; Gal. 2:20). Jesus Christ wants His people in His church to know that He continually loves them. This is only for a believer. . .  The word “love” is agape, which means Jesus Christ continually loves believers at the highest level and always does the best for them. Jesus makes it clear that He loves His own “to the end” (John 13:1). If you are a believer, you can always know you are continually loved by Him.

  1. Praise for Christ’s Redemption of Us

and released us from our sins by His blood,

Richard Phillips: John’s statement that Jesus freed us “from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5) makes plain the primary meaning of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. Jesus freed us by paying the penalty for our sins, substituting himself to die in our place. This is the significance of “by his blood,” which means “by his sacrificial death.” Putting these ideas together brings us the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement. Jesus atoned for our sins by paying the penalty of our guilt as a Substitute who made a sacrifice in our place with his own blood. Barnhouse writes: “Ours were the sins; His was the blood. Let no man wonder hereafter if salvation is sufficient.”

  1. Praise for Christ’s Elevation of Us

a.  Elevated to Dominion

                                    “and He has made us to be a kingdom,

David Thompson: Jesus Christ is the One who elevates our status from sinner to priestly saint. We are a kingdom group of priests to God by virtue of the fact that we have believed in Jesus Christ. In the O.T. the priests were in charge of all things that pertained to God including the Temple and the sacrifices and the offerings. Jesus Christ has elevated us to this position (I Pet. 2:2-9).

Robert Thomas: Basileia is the word used most often in the LXX, and the NT to speak of the messianic rule and kingdom, an emphasis that most vividly carries over into John’s Revelation. It reaches a climax in chapter 20 where the future share of the saints in Christ’s earthly rule is expressly stated (20:4; cf. 5:10; 11:15).

Kendell Easley: An important Old Testament designation for the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt, kingdom and priests (Exod. 19:6), is now transferred to “us.” If Jesus is King over earthly kings (v. 5), he is especially King over the kingdom of God. If he is the Priest now in heaven on behalf of his people, he has a multitude of priests on earth to serve his God and Father. These priests are not a specialized clergy class, but include all of “us.”

Richard Phillips: Not only are Christians Christ’s kingdom, but all through Revelation Jesus declares that believers enter into his kingship. He states that Christians who persevere in faith will receive “authority over the nations” (Rev. 2:26) and will “sit with me on my throne” (3:21). In Revelation 5:10, the worshipers in heaven praise Christ for making his people “a kingdom and priests to our God,” and John adds that “they shall reign on the earth.” Kings reign by conquering, and believers conquer in Christ’s name through the gospel. Kings establish their laws, and Christians enter into Jesus’ reign by teaching and obeying the commands of Scripture. The key earthly institutions of Christ’s kingdom are the church and the Christian family. In these realms, Christ’s name is to be worshiped, his Word is to be preached and obeyed, and his gospel is to be advanced. We pray, as Jesus taught us, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

b.  Elevated to the Priesthood

priests to His God and Father;

John MacArthur: Christ’s love also caused Him to make us to be a kingdom (not the millennial kingdom, but the sphere of God’s rule which believers enter at salvation; cf. Col. 1:13) in which we enjoy His loving, gracious rule and almighty, sovereign protection. Finally, He made us priests to His God and Father, granting us the privilege of direct access to the Father (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9–10).

William Barclay: Jesus made us a kingdom, priests to God. That is a quotation of Exodus 19:6: “You shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” Jesus has done two things for us.

(a)  He has given us royalty. Through him we may become the true children of God; and, if we are children of the King of Kings, we are part of the most royal ancestry of all.

(b)  He made us priests. The point is this. Under the old way, only the priest had the right of access to God. When the Jews entered the Temple, they could pass through the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women and the Court of the Israelites – but there they must stop; into the Court of the Priests they could not go; they could come no nearer the Holy of Holies. In the vision of the great days to come, Isaiah said: “You shall be called priests of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:6). In that day, every one of the people would be a priest and have access to God. That is what John means; because of what Jesus Christ did, access to the presence of God is now open to everyone. There is a priesthood of all believers. We can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), because for us there is a new and living way into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19–22).

B.  Doxology of Majestic Sovereign Dominion

to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Robert Thomas: The doxology closes with the word άμήν (amēn), a common practice with doxologies in the NT (Rom. 1:25; 15:33; Gal. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:17). Among Jews and Christians this was the customary solemn response to show approval of the words of others, probably including a commitment to what is expressed in those words also. The Greek term comes from the Hebrew word (’āmēn, “be firm”).  That it was a regular part of Christian worship is the indication of 1 Cor. 14:16 where “amen” is the response to a prophetic utterance.  In the synagogue it was the response to the prayers of the leader of the meeting.  In this verse it marks the assent and commitment of the writer to the truthfulness of all the affirmations about Jesus Christ, His identity and accomplishments, but especially His worthiness to receive glory and strength, as expressed in the doxology of vv. 5b-6. Amēn is used this way six other times in this book (cf. 1:7; 5:14; 7:12 [twice]; 19:4; 22:20).

Buist Fanning: The doxology form is a way of acknowledging not only that Christ (in this case) possesses these attributes but that he is truly deserving of them and will exercise them “forever and ever.”

John Schultz: Both spiritually and grammatically the emphasis is upon the last part of the hymn: “to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” These words are akin to the doxology of Psalm One Hundred Fifty, the ultimate hymn of praise. We do well to pay attention to these rules of grammar. For us, however, the emotional emphasis is upon the first part of this verse, upon the love, redemption, and restoration. Thus heaven and earth are united in this verse. The adoration belongs to heaven; the redemption and rehabilitation belong to earth. Love forms the bridge between the two. Love is the source and the reason for what happens. Redemption is the way that shows how it happens. The kingdom and the priesthood are the result. This is the victory that was intended. But the ultimate goal, the “raison d’être,” that which gives meaning and purpose to all is the eternal glory and power of God. God’s glory and power would have existed immutably, even if the universe were wrapped in darkness. The fact that adoration wells up from our souls does not add or detract any from the absolute character of God, but it makes us more human. No one will ever be able to look at this mystery without being changed and renewed by it.


G.R. Beasley-Murray: This verse may be regarded as providing the motto of the book (Bousset).  Its theme is that of the whole prophecy.  The statement is formed by the conjunction of two Old Testament passages, which had already been fused in Christian tradition (Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10).

A.  Reality and Certainty of the Majestic Second Coming

Behold, He is coming with the clouds,

Robert Gundry: “Behold” calls special attention to the second coming, a climactic event. As the reference to piercing dictates, “he” who “is coming” is Jesus Christ, the dominant figure in 1:5–6. But “who is coming” described God the Father in 1:4. So because of their oneness, what is true of him is true also of Jesus. The present tense of “is coming” makes this future event as certain as a current event. Clouds accompany manifestations of deity (see the comments on Mark 13:26, for example), so that Jesus’ coming “with the clouds” signals his deity in union with God the Father.

Daniel Akin: He who is coming is literally, historically, and visibly “coming with the clouds,” which is also an a theological symbol for the presence of God (Exod 13:21; 16:10). He who is coming is Jesus Christ (Rev 1:5-6), “and every eye will see Him.” This is not the coming of God incognito, which was the case, to some degree, when He came the first time. No, His authority, deity, and sovereignty will be put on full display for all to see. The whole earth will see this!

Richard Phillips: John claims that Christ’s return will be visible to all people on the earth. This claim is contrary to the doctrine of Christ’s secret coming, which many Christians today believe, together with the rapture of believers from the world and Christ’s visible return on a second occasion. Notice that John makes no mention of two comings of Christ—one secret and one visible. In fact, the Bible consistently speaks of Christ’s coming to save his people and judge his enemies as a single event. Paul writes that Christ comes both “to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted . . . , when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven” (2 Thess. 1:6–8). First Thessalonians 4:16–17, the key text that teaches the rapture, or the taking up of believers from the earth, presents Christ’s return as anything but a secret event. Jesus comes “with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.” Not only will Christ be seen by all when he comes for his people, but he will be heard by everyone as well.

When John writes that Christ is “coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7), this agrees with the picture throughout Scripture of a cataclysmic, glorious event that decisively ends history as we have known it. Jesus said that “they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). “For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west,” Jesus added, “so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (24:27). These statements make clear that Jesus will be made visible to all the earth not by means of electronic technology, but in a decisive and sky-splitting display of divine glory.

B.  Response of the Jews and Gentiles

  1. Response of Jewish Nation

and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him;

Kendell Easley: The first coming of Christ was marked by lowliness. The Second Coming will be with the clouds—representing the majesty of the presence of God (Ps. 104:3). Not only that, every eye will see him. His ultimate victory will be open for all to observe. In contrast, hardly anyone noticed his birth except a few shepherds and magi. Only a few hundred witnessed his resurrection appearances.

Those who have rejected Christ in every age, beginning with those who pierced him, have thought they were superior to him. At last they will realize their terrible error. He will become their Judge. As the doom of all the peoples (unbelievers) sinks in, they will mourn because of him. Although such mourning is taken by some as grief and repentance, Revelation contains no indication that this will happen. Rather, they will realize that all is lost and that he is about to inflict judgment on them.

Robert Gundry: Up in the sky with the clouds as he comes, he’ll be visible to “every eye” (compare Matthew 24:23–30). “Even those . . . who pierced him” pluralizes the single soldier who pierced Jesus’ side in John 19:34. But since that solider was acting on behalf of the Jewish authorities to whom Pilate gave Jesus over for crucifixion (John 19:12–16), “those . . . who pierced him” refers to these Jews. “Even” and “as such” underscore Jesus’ victory over the ones most directly responsible for his death.

Richard Phillips: It is most likely, however, that in Revelation 1:7 John writes of Jesus’ second coming as an event that catches most people unprepared and unforgiven because of their unbelief. Every eye will see his return and will look upon the One whom they pierced in mockery and rejection, “and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him.” The scene is Christ’s judgment on unbelieving humanity, which experiences sorrow without repentance and mourning over the realization that there is no longer an opportunity to believe and be saved. Such mourners will no doubt lament the lives they led, and their seeing the grace of Christ for believers will make the anguish of judgment all the more keen. James Ramsey said: “Christ rejected, an offered salvation neglected, a day of grace wasted, this is the thing that will give the lost sinner his keenest anguish, and wring from him at the last a bitterer wail than devils ever uttered.”

  1. Response of Gentile Nations

and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.

James Hamilton: Many Jews no doubt rejected Jesus precisely because they believed that the crucifixion proved he was not the Messiah, but John quotes these two texts [Dan. 7:13; Zech 12:10] in order to prove that what happened with Jesus is exactly what was predicted in the Old Testament. John proclaims that those who rejected him “will wail on account of him,” but John announces this in the hope that some will repent in response to this announcement of Jesus’ coming. You can be sure that he will come. And you can be sure that if you are his enemy, you will wail. Repent and believe on the Lord Christ!

Robert Gundry: “All the tribes of the earth” corresponds to “every eye” and includes many more than those who pierced Jesus. The tribes “will beat themselves [on the chest]” to lament his having been pierced (compare 18:9 for a similar lament over the fall of Babylon). John isn’t concerned to say whether the tribes lament in repentance (probably not, since only certain Jews had him pierced) or in despair over their coming judgment. The focus rests on lament as such to emphasize the injustice done to Jesus. This injustice parallels the injustices perpetrated on his followers, but his coming with the clouds forecasts a vindication for them like his vindication. “Yes!” is Greek. “Amen!” is Hebrew. Together they provide a twofold affirmation of the truth that Jesus is indeed coming with the clouds.

Robert Mounce: The mourning of Zech 12:10–12 was that of repentance, but the mourning of Revelation is the remorse accompanying the disclosure of divine judgment at the coming of Christ (cf. 16:9, 11, 21).

C.  Our Response

Even so. Amen.

John Walvoord: This is a powerful statement of the certainty of Christ’s coming and the events surrounding it. The NET Bible seeks to capture this force with the rendering, “This will certainly come to pass! Amen.”  Jesus is called “the Amen” in Revelation 3:14.