Revelation 1-4 The Voice (VOICE)
1 This is the revelation of Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King: an account of visions and a heavenly journey. God granted this to Him so He would show His followers the realities that are already breaking into the world and soon will be fulfilled. Through His heavenly messenger, He revealed to His servant John signs and insight into these mysteries. 2 John, in turn, gave witness to the word of God and to the glorious truth revealed about Jesus, the Anointed One, the Chosen Ruler, by carefully describing everything he saw.
3 Blessings come to those who read and proclaim these words aloud; blessings come to those who listen closely and put the prophetic words recorded here into practice. The finale is approaching.
4 I, John, to the seven churches in Asia:
May you experience God’s favor and rest in the peace that comes from the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is coming; from the seven Spirits, the Perfect Spirit, constantly before God’s throne; 5 and from Jesus the Anointed, the Witness who is true and faithful, the first to emerge from death’s cold womb, the chosen Ruler over all the kings and rulers of the earth.
To the One who loves us and liberated us from the grip of our evil deeds through His very own blood 6 and who established us to be His kingdom and priests for God, His Father. May glory and power be His throughout all the ages. Amen.
7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, in glory.
Yes, may all this be done according to His plan. Amen.
Lord God: 8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, [the very beginning and the very end,][a] the One who is, the One who was, and the One who is coming: the All Powerful.
9 I, John, your brother who shares with you this journey in persecution and the establishment of the Kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the ministry of the word of God and my testimony about Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week), and I heard a voice behind me. It sounded like the blast of a trumpet.
A Voice: 11 [I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end.][b] Make a book of what you see, write it down, and send it to the seven churches [which are in Asia][c]: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
12 When I turned around to see what sort of voice this was that was addressing me, I saw seven golden lampstands. 13 And among the lampstands, I saw One like the Son of Man right in front of me dressed in a long robe. Across His chest was draped a golden sash. 14 His head and hair were pure white, white as wool and white as snow; His eyes blazed like a fiery flame; 15 His feet gleamed like brightly polished bronze, purified to perfection in a furnace; His voice filled the air and sounded like a roaring waterfall. 16 He held seven stars in His right hand, from His mouth darted a sharp double-edged sword, and His face shone a brilliant light, like the blinding sun.
The Son of Man is none other than the risen Jesus shining in glory, moving among the lampstands.
17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet. It was as though I were dead. But He reached down and placed His right hand on me.
The One: This is not the time for fear; I am the First and the Last, 18 and I am the living One. I entered the realm of the dead; but see, I am alive now and for all the ages—even ages to come. [Amen.][d] I possess the keys to open the prison of death and hades.
19 Now write down all you have seen—all that is and all that will be. 20 Regarding the mystery of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the heavenly messengers who preside over the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves.
As the story unfolds, we’re told that the lampstands signify the churches. During harsh times of persecution, the faithful often wonder where their Master is. Is He even aware of what they are experiencing? John’s vision confirms what the gospel already teaches: Jesus is present with them even in their suffering, moving among those who dare to bear the light. Lampstands, of course, are not the light. They only carry the light. The true Light that has come into the world is none other than Jesus, the Son of Man (John 8:28).
Letter to Ephesus
2 The One: Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. “These are the words of the One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks and moves among the golden lampstands:
2 “I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance. I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries,[e] and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false. 3 I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faint.
4 “However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love. 5 Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It’s time to rethink and change your ways;[f] go back to how you first acted. However, if you do not return,[g] I will come quickly[h] and personally remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you do have this to your credit: you despise the deeds of the Nicolaitans and how they concede to evil. I also hate what they do.
7 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. I will allow the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death to eat from the tree of life found in God’s lush paradise.”
Letter to Smyrna
8 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Smyrna. “These are the words of the First and the Last, the One who was dead and returned to life:
9 “I know [your deeds and][i] the difficult ordeal you are enduring and your poverty, although you are actually rich. I am aware of the offensive accusations preached by those who call themselves ‘Jews.’ But these people are not the Jews they pretend to be; they are actually the congregation of Satan. 10 In the face of suffering, do not fear. Watch; the devil will throw some of you into prison shortly so that you might be tested, and you will endure great affliction for 10 days. Be faithful throughout your life, until the day you die, and I will give you the victor’s wreath of life.
11 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will escape the second death.”
Letter to Pergamum
12 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Pergamum. “These are the words of the One with the sharp double-edged sword:
13 “I know [your deeds and][j] where you live. It is where Satan, the adversary, has established his throne. You have stayed true to My name, and you did not deny your trust in Me even in the eventful days of My faithful witness, Antipas. He was killed among you in that place where Satan dwells.
14 “However, I have a few matters against you: some who live among you hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to set up a stumbling block before the people of Israel.[k] As a result, some among you are eating food prepared for idol worship and committing immoral sexual acts. 15 You have others who are holding firm to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore, change your ways and turn to Me.[l] If you do not, I will quickly come to where you live and will battle them with the sword of My mouth.
17 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient.”
Letter to Thyatira
18 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Thyatira. “These are the words of the Son of God, the One whose eyes blaze like flames of fire and whose feet gleam like brightly polished bronze:
19 “I know your deeds, love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your labors greatly increase in quality as you travel along this journey.
20 “However, I have this against you: you have tolerated that woman Jezebel, who is a self-anointed prophetess and who misleads My followers to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat food prepared for idol worship. 21 I have provided her enough time to turn away[m] from her indecency, but she refuses to turn from these immoral acts. 22 Watch; I will throw her back into her sickbed with those who committed adultery with her, and I will make them a bed of great affliction if they do not abandon her indiscretions and turn[n] to follow Me. 23 I will punish her by striking her children dead. Through this all the churches will know I am the One who relentlessly explores the mind and heart, and I will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts.
24 “I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, those who have not held to the teachings of Jezebel and who remain ignorant of the real meaning of what is called the deep things of Satan, I will not burden you with anything more. 25 Just keep on task, and keep the faith until I return.
26 “And as for those who conquer through faithfulness even unto death and continue to labor with Me until the close of the final curtain,
I will give them authority over the nations.
As I received this authority from My Father, 28 I will bestow the morning star to the victor.
29 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”
For centuries many Jews had been scattered throughout the known world, exiled to the lands east of the Jordan River from the promised land by powerful invading nations. After Jerusalem fell in a.d. 70, even more Jews left Judea, this time crossing the Mediterranean looking for some place far from Roman cruelty. That’s why, as John writes these letters to churches in Asia Minor, he recalls some of the most infamous characters from Israel’s past—Balaam, Balak, and Jezebel. The ordeals facing John’s churches are not all that different from those Israel faced hundreds of years before. Many of the same struggles plague churches in the West to this day. The names may change, but the problems confronting God’s faithful do not.
Letter to Sardis
3 The One: Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Sardis. “These are the words of the One who has the seven Spirits of God, the Perfect Spirit, and the One who holds the seven stars:
“I know the things you do—you’ve claimed a reputation of life, but you are actually dead. 2 Wake up from your death-sleep, and strengthen what remains of the life you have been given that is in danger of death. I have judged your deeds as far from complete in the sight of My God. 3 Therefore, remember what you have received and heard; it’s time to keep these instructions and turn back from your ways.[p] If you do not wake up from this sleep, I will come in judgment. I will creep up on you like a thief—you will have no way of knowing when I will come. 4 But there are a few in Sardis who don’t have the stain of evil works on their clothes. They will walk alongside Me in white, spotless garments because they have been proven worthy.
5 “The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will be clothed in white garments, and I will certainly not erase that person’s name from the book of life. I will acknowledge this person’s name before My Father and before His heavenly messengers.
6 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”
Letter to Philadelphia
7 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia. “These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One who possesses the key of David, which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One who closes all options so that no one can open:
8 “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name. 9 Watch, and I will make those of the congregation of Satan—those who call themselves ‘Jews’ but are not because they lie—come before you penitent, falling at your feet. Then they will know how much I have loved you. 10 Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test. 11 I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor’s wreath.
12 “As for the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will plant that person as a pillar in the temple of My God, and that person will never have to leave the presence of God. Moreover, I will inscribe this person with the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem—which descends out of heaven from My God—and My own new name.
God’s intention for the world is this: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” This is fulfilled by those who are faithful to Him.
13 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”
Letter to Laodicea
14 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Laodicea. “These are the words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God’s creation:
15 “I know your works. You are neither cold with apathy nor hot with passion. It would be better if you were one or the other, but you are neither. 16 So because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 You claim, ‘I am rich, I have accumulated riches, and I need nothing’; but you do not realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked. 18 So here is what I suggest you do: buy true gold from Me (gold refined by fire so that you can be truly rich), white garments (to cover you so that you can keep the shame of your nakedness from showing), and eye ointment (to treat your eyes so that you may see clearly).
19 “Those I love I also correct and discipline. Therefore, be shamelessly committed to Me, and turn back.[q] 20 Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me.
21 “The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death I will place next to Me on My throne, just as I Myself conquered and took a place of honor with My Father on His throne.
22 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches.”
4 After I wrote down these messages, I saw a door standing open in heaven and heard again the first voice that sounded like a trumpet.
A Voice: Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.
John’s next vision begins when he sees an open door in heaven. What happens next would be impossible for John to imagine.
2 Immediately I was caught up in the Spirit, and I saw a throne that stood in heaven and One seated on the throne. 3 The One enthroned gleamed like jasper and carnelian, and a rainbow encircled the throne with an emerald glow. 4 Encircling that great throne were twenty-four smaller thrones with twenty-four elders clothed in white robes with wreaths fashioned of gold on their heads. 5 Out of the great throne came flashes of lightning, sounds of voices, and peals of thunder. In front of the great throne, seven torches were ablaze, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Also in front of the throne was a glassy sea of shimmering crystal.
In the midst of the throne and encircling the throne were four living creatures, covered all over with eyes, front to back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second creature was like an ox, the third creature had a face like the face of a human, and the fourth creature was like an eagle in full flight. 8 These four living creatures, each of which had six wings and was covered with eyes—eyes on the outside and on the inside—did not cease chanting. All day and night they were singing.
Four Living Creatures: Holy, holy, holy
9 And when the living creatures declared glory and honor and thanksgiving to the One seated on the throne, the One who lives throughout all the ages, 10 the twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the One seated on the throne, worshiped the One who lives throughout all the ages, cast their golden wreaths before the throne, and chanted to Him.
11 24 Elders: Worthy are You, O Lord; worthy are You, O God,
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