“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:17). Isaiah recognized his sinfulness, and Ezekiel and John fall on their face when they see the glorified Jesus Christ (Isaiah 6:5, Ezekiel 1:28). John, Isaiah, and Ezekiel recognized the nothingness within themselves when in the presence of almighty God. When Jesus says to John, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last” He is affirming His deity, that He is God. In Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12 Gods says, “I am the First and the Last.” Jesus said, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (Revelation 22:12-13). God dwells outside of time and space; and He controls all the past, present, and future of this world for His eternal purposes and glory.

“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.” (Revelation 1:18a). Jesus said, “I lay down My life that I may take it again…I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18). Jesus Christ was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit…according to the power of an endless life (1 Peter 3:18, Hebrews 7:16). Jesus Christ, the One who transcends time and space, died for our sins and conquered death for us. Jesus Christ, the One who gives eternal life to all who trust in Him and controls all life and death, says to all Christians to stop living a life of fear, worry, and doubt, and live our life to please God (Luke 12:7, 32). It doesn’t matter what kind of judgment we might feel we deserve, our Lord and Savior is telling us not to fear. Why? Because Jesus Christ paid the price for all our sins, and we are children of God (Romans 8:16-17), and He controls our eternal destiny.

“And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18b). Hades is the same as the Old Testament Sheol; it’s the place where unbelievers go when their earthly body dies a physical death (Luke 16:19-30). Hades is not the final place for unbelievers. At the great White Throne Judgment the works of all unbelievers will be judged, and the unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire with the antichrist, the false prophet, and Satan (Revelation 20:11-15). Speaking of Christians, Paul wrote, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ…We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus Christ controls when all believers and unbelievers die a physical death, and He controls the eternal destiny of every Human!

“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19). The things John has seen (Revelation 1:1-20, John’s vision of the glorified Jesus Christ). Write the things which are; that’s the present (Revelation 2:1-3:22, the church age). Write the things which will take place after this (Revelation 4:1-22:21, the future). This is the three part outline of Revelation; the failure to recognize this three part division will cause confusion in the understanding of John’s visions that follow in Revelation 4-18. The Bible is like a mirror, the glory of God is reflected to us by the Word of God. We can see the glory of the Lord coming through the Scriptures. Paul wrote, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). As we read and study Revelation we will see Jesus Christ in all His glory and power.  

“The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20). The seven stars are the pastors over the seven churches. There was the Galatian church, the Corinthian church, and the church at Rome, and probably other churches when these letters were written to the seven churches. The seven letters were written to the seven churches that represent every church that existed at the time they were written. The seven letters are also written to every church that will exist throughout church history. Each of these seven churches is a little different from the other churches, with some different characteristics, problems, and difficulties than the others. These seven churches are not only historical churches; but these seven churches also represent the types of churches that will exist throughout the church age.

All of these seven churches have problems and difficulties that have existed within Jesus’ church throughout church history. There are churches today like the Ephesian church that had grown cold in their love for Jesus Christ. And churches today like the poor and persecuted church in Smyrna. And churches today like the compromising church in Pergamos. And churches today like the corrupt church in Thyatira. And churches today like the spiritually dead church in Sardis. And churches today like the faithful church in Philadelphia. And churches today like the lukewarm church in Laodicea. There has never been a perfect church on earth. Why? Because Jesus Christ’s church is filled with born again sinners like you and me (John 3:3-16). But even with all of our failures, Jesus Christ’s church will be everything He wants it to be. Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Carlin Lawrence