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Guzik David

2 John 1

1. The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

2. For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

3. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

4. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

5. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

8. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

9. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:

11. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

12. Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

13. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

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2 John 1

2 JOHN - WALKING IN THE TRUTH “This epistle is more remarkable for the spirit of Christian love which it breathes than for anything else. It contains scarcely anything that is not found in the preceding; and out of the thirteen verses there are at least eight which are found, either in so many words or in sentiment, precisely the same with those of the first epistle.” (Adam Clarke) A. Greeting. 1. (2Jn 1:1-2) To the elect lady and her children. THE ELDER, To the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth, because of the truth which abides in us and will be with us forever. a. The Elder: The writer of this book identifies himself as the Elder. Presumably, his first readers knew exactly who he was, and from the earliest times, Christians have understood this was the apostle John writing. i. “John the apostle, who was now a very old man, generally supposed to be about ninety, and therefore uses the term presbyter or elder, not as the name of an office, but as designated his advanced age. He is allowed to have been the oldest of all the apostles, and to have been the only one who died a natural death.” (Clarke) b. To the elect lady and her children: Perhaps this was an individual Christian woman John wanted to warn and encourage by this letter. Or, the term might be a symbolic way of addressing this particular congregation. i. “The phrase is, however, more likely to be a personification than a person - not the church at large but some local church over which the elder’s jurisdiction was recognized, her children being the church’s individual members.” (Stott) ii. “This appears to have been some noted person, whom both her singular piety, and rank in the world, made eminent, and capable of having great influence for the support of the Christian interest.” (Poole) iii. John probably did not name himself, the elect lady or her children by name because this was written during a time of persecution. Perhaps John didn’t want to implicate anyone by name in a written letter. If the letter was intercepted and the authorities knew who it was written to by name, it might mean death for those persons. c. Whom I love in truth, and not only I: Whomever the elect lady was, she was loved by all who have known the truth. If we know and love the truth, we will love those who also know and love the truth - the truth which abides in us also lives in others who know the truth. i. We see John quite focused on the idea of truth, as he was in all of his writings. He used the word truth some thirty-seven times in his New Testament writings. ii. This shows that what binds Christians together is not social compatibility or political compatibility or class compatibility. What binds us together is a common truth. This is why truth is important to Christians. d. Will be with us forever: The truth does not change. The truth will be true forever, and we will have the truth forever in eternity. Many people today think that the truth changes from age to age and from generation to generation, but the Bible knows that the truth will be with us forever. 2. (2Jn 1:3) John’s salutation to his readers. Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. a. Grace, mercy, and peace: John presents a slightly expanded version of the standard greeting in New Testament letters. He didn’t just wish these for his readers; he confidently bestowed them by saying they will be with you from God the Father. b. In truth and love: John can hardly write a verse without mentioning these two of his favorite topics. The grace, mercy, and peace God has for us are all given in truth and love. Apart from God’s truth and love, we can never really have grace, mercy, and peace. i. “What deep, sweet rhythm of meaning there is in the first three verses of this letter! One reads them over and over again. Oh, that the grace, mercy, and peace, may be with us, from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and in love.” (Meyer) c. The Son of the Father: “The apostle still keeps in view the miraculous conception of Christ; a thing which the Gnostics absolutely denied; a doctrine which is at the ground work of our salvation.” B. How to walk. 1. (2Jn 1:4) John’s joy to find they are walking in truth. I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. a. I have rejoiced greatly: This is a pastor’s heart - to know that his people are walking in truth. While truth is not the only concern of a pastor, it is a great concern; and it is a great comfort for a pastor to see those he loves and cares for walking in truth. i. “The children mentioned here may either be her own children, or those members of the Church which were under her care, or some of both.” (Clarke) b. I have found some of your children walking in truth: John rejoiced because when God’s people are walking in truth they also abide in God. The same idea is expressed in 1Jn 2:24 : Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. Truth is not only important for its own sake, but also our walking in truth shows we are walking with the Lord. i. Trapp on the idea of walking in the truth: “Not taking a step or two, not breaking or leaping over the hedge to avoid a piece of foul way, but persisting in a Christian course, not starting aside to the right hand or the left.” 2. (2Jn 1:5) The commandment to love one another. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. a. I plead with you, lady: John was not too proud to beg on such an important matter; not when it came to something as vital in the Christian life as the commandment that we must love one another. b. Not as though I wrote a new commandment: John knew this was nothing new to his readers (he repeated the theme all through 1 John and his gospel). Yet because it was so essential, it had to be repeated and used as a reminder. c. That we love one another: The integrity of our Christian life can be measured by our love for one another (as in Joh 13:35 and 1Jn 4:20-21). 3. (2Jn 1:6) Showing the love of God. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. a. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments: If we love God, we will obey His commandments. We do this not because we think His commandments are heavy burdens, but because we see that they are best for us. They are guides and gifts to us from God. b. Walk according to His commandments: Real love will walk this way. Perhaps John warned against those who thought the only important thing in the Christian life was a vague love that had no heart for obedience. i. “Perhaps you fail to distinguish between love and the emotion of love. They are not the same. We may love without being directly conscious of love, or being able to estimate its strength and passion. Here is the solution to many of our questionings: They love who obey.” (Meyer) 4. (2Jn 1:7-9) A warning against the presence and dangers of false teachers. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. a. Many deceivers have gone out into the world: John was aware false teachers were a danger to the church in his day. i. “The immediate problem in [2 John] is that of traveling teachers or missionaries. According to Christian ethics all who thus traveled about were to be shown hospitality by Christians in the town to which they came.” (Boice) b. This is a deceiver: John mainly had in mind the danger in his own time, the danger of those who thought that the Jesus, being God, could have no real connection with the material world. They said that He only had an apparent connection with the material world. i. To combat this, John made a plain declaration: we must confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This means Jesus came as a real man in His first coming, but also means He will come as a human being - although glorified humanity, and that added to His eternal deity - a real flesh and blood Jesus will come again to the earth. c. This is a deceiver and an antichrist: Against this false idea of Jesus, John insists those who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh are the deceivers and in have the spirit of the antichrist. i. John warned us against these antichrists in his first letter (1Jn 2:18-23; 1Jn 4:3). They are those who not only oppose Jesus, but also offer a substitute “Christ.” ii. This spirit of antichrist will one day find its ultimate fulfillment in the Antichrist, who will lead humanity in an end-times rebellion against God. d. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God: There is nothing noble, sincere, courageous, or admirable in a false Jesus. To deny the Biblical Jesus is always to reject the Father and the Son both. John here draws a critical line of truth, over which it is heresy to transgress. i. In our own day, we must deal with modern denials of the Biblical Jesus with the same passion John did in his day. Today, with our “scholarly” denials of Jesus and the historical record of the gospels, it is more important than ever to know who the true Jesus is according to the Bible and to love and serve the true Jesus. ii. “To say no to God’s way of revealing himself is to say no to God himself, for he will not let himself be known by men except on his own terms.” (Marshall) e. Transgresses: The word transgresses has the idea of “going beyond a boundary.” We never go “beyond” the teaching of Jesus, of who He is and what He has done for us. Any one who thinks we have or should go beyond what the Bible plainly says about Jesus transgresses. i. “There is a true progress in the Christian life, but it is progress based upon a deeper knowledge of the historical, biblical Christ. Progress on any other ground may be called progress, but it is a progress that leaves God behind and is, therefore, not progress at all.” (Boice) ii. “When the teaching of the Bible needs to be supplemented by some ‘key’ to the Bible or by some new revelation, it is a sure sign that ‘advanced’ doctrine is being put forth.” (Marshall) f. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for: To depart from the true Jesus means you put yourself in jeopardy to lose the things the apostles and other faithful saints worked for. This shows us that it isn’t enough for us to start out right, we must finish in faith to receive a full reward. 5. (2Jn 1:10-11) Instructions for dealing with the false teachers. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. a. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine: If someone comes to us, denying the true doctrine of Jesus, and promoting a false doctrine of Jesus, John says we should give no hospitality, no aid, to the ones who promote their own false version of Jesus. To do so is to share in his evil deeds. i. “The words mean, according to the eastern use of them, ‘Have no religious connection with him, nor act towards him so as to induce others to believe you acknowledge him as a brother.’” (Clarke) ii. “Suppose the visiting teacher claimed to be a Christian missionary or even a prophet but taught what was clearly false doctrine. Hospitality would demand that he be provided for, but to do so would seem to be participation in the spread of his false teachings. Should he be received or not?” (Boice) b. He who greets him: John means greets in a much more involved context than our own. In that culture, it meant to show hospitality and give aid. Yet, for the weak or unskilled believer, it is best if they do not even greet (in the sense of speaking to) those who promote a false Jesus (like the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses). i. These words sound severe, but John has not lost his love. We must consider these three points: · John is not talking about all error, but only error which masquerades as true Christianity. · John is not talking about all who hold the error which masquerades as true Christianity, but about those who teach those errors which masquerade as true Christianity. · John is not talking about all teachers who err, but those who err in the most fundamental truths, and those who are active in spreading those fundamental errors. ii. This does not mean that we should have nothing to do with those who are caught by the cults. As John indicates, we should make a distinction between those who teach these Christ-denying doctrines (those who bring this doctrine) and those who merely believe the doctrines without trying to spread them. c. Do not receive him into your house nor greet him: This may also be translated do not receive him into the house. John may be referring most specifically to not allowing these heretical teachers to come into the house where Christians met together. i. “Perhaps, therefore, it is not private hospitality which John is forbidding so much as an official welcome into the congregation, with the opportunity this would afford to the false teacher to propagate his errors.” (Stott) ii. “We see how such [false] teachers were treated in the apostolic Church. They held no communion with them; afforded them no support, as teachers; but did not persecute them.” (Clarke) d. Shares in his evil deeds: We are defined by what we reject as much as by what we accept. In this, some are so open minded that they are empty headed. It is wise to keep an open mind on many things; but one would never keep an open mind about which poisons a person might try. You may say yes to all the right things; but one must also say no to what is false and evil. We need to become good at rejecting what should be rejected. i. “They were persons who claimed to be leaders; they were advanced thinkers, they were progressive. The Gnostic teachers of the time were claiming that while the gospel of the historic Jesus might be all very well for unenlightened people, they had a profounder knowledge. Such were to receive no hospitality.” (Morgan) ii. In the late 19th Century, the rise of theological liberalism brought forth generations of Christian pastors, leaders, and theologians who denied many of the fundamentals of Biblical Christianity. Though it was a broad and varied movement, at its root theological liberalism thought that Christianity had to re-evaluate all its doctrines in the light of modern science, philosophy, and thinking. They rejected the idea that a doctrine was true simply because the Bible taught it; it also had to be proved true by reason and experience. They believed that the Bible was not an inspired message from a real God, but the work of men who were limited by the ignorance and superstitions of their time. For them, the Bible was not either inspired or supernatural. The importance of the Bible and its message was not in its literal or historical truth, but in its changing spiritual message. iii. Sadly, Germany took the lead in theological liberalism and German philosophers and theologians had a profound impact on British and American Christians. Men like Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schleiermacher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and the Tübingen School of Theology, and Adolf Harnack. To promote or support these men or those who believe in or advance their Bible-denying theology is to share in their evil deeds. C. Conclusion. 1. (2Jn 1:12) John anticipates a future visit. Having many things to write to you, I did not wish to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. a. I hope to come to you and speak face to face: We must generally sympathize with John’s preference for personal, face to face communication rather than the writing of letters - though we are thankful for this letter. 2. (2Jn 1:13) Conclusion. The children of your elect sister greet you. Amen. a. The children of your elect sister: Telling us that the elect lady (2Jn 1:1) has an elect sister, and that they both have children does little to identify with certainty who John is writing to. Perhaps all it tells us is that if John used the term elect lady as a symbol for the church, he used it rather loosely (saying that she has a sister and children). The most likely idea is that the elect lady (a particular church) had an elect sister - other “sister” churches from which John brings a greeting. b. The children of your elect sister: This last reference to the elect sister and her children remind us that though we must be on guard against false teachers, the true followers of Jesus are more than just our group. If we allow our desire to defend the truth to make us unloving and intolerant, Satan has won a great victory.


3 JOHN - FOLLOWING GOOD EXAMPLES “But it has been the lot both of the minor prophets and the minor epistles to be generally neglected; for with many readers bulk is every thing; and, no magnitude, no goodness.” (Adam Clarke, on the shorter books of the Bible) A. Greeting and introduction. 1. (3Jn 1:1) The writer and the reader. THE ELDER, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. a. The Elder: The writer of this book identifies himself simply as the Elder. Presumably, the first readers knew who this was, and from the earliest times, Christians have understood that this was the Apostle John writing, the same John who wrote the Gospel of Joh 1:1-51 and 2 John, and the Book of Revelation. i. Perhaps he does not directly refer to himself for the same reason he does not directly refer to his readers in 2 John - the threat of persecution may be making direct reference unwise; and of course, unnecessary. b. To the beloved Gaius: We don’t know if this specific Gaius is connected with the other men by this name mentioned in the New Testament (Act 19:19; Act 20:4; 1Co 1:14; Rom 16:23). i. The identification is difficult because Gaius was a very common name in the Roman Empire. 2. (3Jn 1:2-4) A blessing for faithful Gaius. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. a. Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things: The word for prosper literally means “to have a good journey.” It metaphorically means to succeed or prosper. It is like saying, “I hope things go well for you.” i. “Both verbs [for prosper and be in health] belonged to the everyday language of letter writing” (Stott). This phrase as so common that sometimes it was condensed into only initials, and everyone knew what the writer meant just from the initials. ii. The abbreviation used in Latin was SVBEEV, meaning Si vales, bene est; ego valeo - “If you are well, it is good; I am well.” b. I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers: John used this common phrase in his sending of best wishes and blessings to Gaius. Some have wrongly taken this as a guarantee of perpetual wealth and perfect health for the Christian. i. Of course, we should always remember that God wants our best and plans only good for us. Often present material prosperity and physical health are part of that good He has for us - and this prosperity and health are absolutely promised as the ultimate destiny of all believers. ii. Yet, for the present time, God may - according to His all-wise plan - use a lack of material prosperity and physical health to promote greater prosperity and health in the scale of eternity. iii. Nevertheless, some live in poverty and disease simply because they do not seek God’s best, follow God’s principles, and walk in faith. As well, there are some others who say we should use God’s general promises of blessing as a way to indulge a carnal desire for ease, comfort, and luxury. c. Just as your soul prospers: John here made an analogy between the condition of our health and the condition of our soul. Many Christians would be desperately ill if their physical health was instantly in the same state as their spiritual health. d. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth: John’s goodwill towards Gaius came from his understanding that he walked in the truth. Nothing pleased John more than to know that his children walk in truth. i. John knew that Gaius walked in truth because brethren came and testified of the truth that was in Gaius. His walk of truth was noticed by others, and they could talk about it because they saw it. e. That my children walk in truth: This means more than living with correct doctrine. “What is it to ‘walk in truth’? It is not walking in the truth, or else some would suppose it meant that John was overjoyed because they were sound in doctrine, and cared little for anything else. His joyous survey did include their orthodoxy in creed, but it reached far beyond.” (Spurgeon) i. To walk in truth means to walk consistent with the truth you believe. If you believe that you are fallen, then walk wary of your fallenness. If you believe you are a child of God, then walk like a child of heaven. If you believe you are forgiven, the walk like a forgiven person. ii. To walk in truth means to walk in a way that is real and genuine, without any phoniness or concealment. B. Learning from good and bad examples. 1. (3Jn 1:5-8) Gaius: A good example. Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth. a. You do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers: John praised Gaius for his hospitality. This may seem somewhat trivial to us, but it is not to God. This is a practical outworking of the essential command to love one another; it is love in action. i. This was a great compliment: you do faithfully whatever you do. Whatever God gives us to do, we should do it faithfully. Jesus said that when we see Him face to face some will hear the words, well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Mat 25:21) Of the good servant, it is said he was faithful. b. Send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God: In that day, Christian travelers in general and itinerant ministers in particular were greatly dependent upon the hospitality of other Christians. John knew that when Christians assist those who contend for the truth, they become fellow workers for the truth. i. The reward for these support people is the same as those who are out on the front lines. 1Sa 30:21-25 shows this principle, where the spoils are distributed equally among those who fought and those who supported. King David understood that the supply lines were just as vital as the soldiers, and God would reward both soldiers and supporters properly and generously. ii. Jesus promised that even the help offered in a cup of cold water to one of His children would not be forgotten when God brings His reward (Mat 10:42). iii. This also explains why John would pray for the prosperity of Gaius: he used his resources in a godly way, being a blessing to others. If God blessed him with more, others would be blessed more also. c. Taking nothing from the Gentiles: The ancient world of the early church was filled with the missionaries and preachers of various religions, and they often supported themselves by taking offerings from the general public. But John said that these Christian missionaries should take nothing from the Gentiles (non-Christians). Instead of soliciting funds from the general public they were to look to the support of fellow Christians. d. In a manner worthy of God: Christians are not only called to help, but to help in a manner worthy of God. We are to do our best to help others excellently. i. Christians must first see that they are doing something to help the spread of the gospel. Then they must see that they do it in a manner worthy of God. God calls every one of us to have a part in the great commission, the command of Mat 28:19 : Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. One can have a part by going or have a part by helping, but everyone has a part and should do it well. ii. Jesus said, He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. (Mat 10:40-41) This should make us consider how we receive and help those who are preach the gospel. 2. (3Jn 1:9-11) Diotrephes: A bad example. I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God. a. But Diotrephes: John publicly rebuked a man named Diotrephes, and he rebuked him by name. In rebuking an individual by name, the apostle of love did not act outside of love. Instead, he followed the clear command of the Scriptures (Rom 16:17) and the example of other apostles (2Ti 4:14-15). i. However, any such public rebuke must be made only when necessary, and we must be careful to not judge a brother against any standard that we ourselves would not be judged (Mat 7:1-2). iii. By presenting himself as a “prominent Christian leader” (at least in his own mind), Diotrephes knew that he was open to public criticism - just as much as he would publicly criticize the apostle John and his associates (prating against us with malicious words). b. Who loves to have the preeminence among them: Simply, the problem for Diotrephes was pride. In his pride, he did not receive the apostles such as John. This was in contrast to the humble hospitality of Gaius, who walked in the truth. i. We can imagine a man like Diotrephes, a leader in the church in some city, looking at John and saying to himself, “Why should these big shot apostles get all the attention and honor? Look at my ministry! Isn’t it just as good?” And pride would lead him, like many others, to destruction. ii. Boice on who loves to have the preeminence among them: “This is the original and greatest of all sins. It is the sin of Satan, who was unwilling to be what God had created him to be and who desired rather to be ‘like the Most High’ (Isa 14:14). It is the opposite of the nature of Christ ‘who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant’.” c. Prating against us with malicious words: Diotrephes not only failed to receive John and the other apostles, but he also spoke against them. His malicious gossip against the apostles showed what kind of man he really was. i. “The Greek verb which is here translated ‘gossiping’ comes from a root which was used of the action of water in boiling up and throwing off bubbles. Since bubbles are empty and useless, the verb eventually came to mean indulgence in empty or useless talk. This was the nature of Diotrephes’ slander, though, of course, the words were no less evil in that they were groundless.” (Boice) ii. “The word signifieth . . . to talk big bubbles of words . . . it is a metaphor taken from over-seething pots, that send forth a foam; or . . . from overcharged stomachs, that must needs belch.” (Trapp) d. Putting them out of the church: Diotrephes not only used his influence to forbid others from showing hospitality to John or his associates; he even tried to excommunicate those who tried to show such hospitality. i. “To begin with, a man named Diotrephes had assumed an unwarranted and pernicious authority in the church, so much so that by the time of the writing of this letter John’s own authority had been challenged and those who had been sympathetic to John had been excommunicated from the local assembly. Moreover, due to this struggle, traveling missionaries had been rudely treated, including probably an official delegation from John.” (Boice) ii. The example of Diotrephes shows that those who love to have the preeminence also love to use whatever power they think they have as a sword against others. e. Do not imitate what is evil, but what is good: John gave us two clear examples, one good (Gaius) and one bad (Diotrephes), and he now applies the point - follow the good, for we serve a good God and those who follow Him will likewise do good. i. John did not excommunicate Diotrephes, though as an apostle he had the authority to do so. Instead, he simply exposed him - and he trusted that discerning Christians would avoid Diotrephes as they should. 3. (3Jn 1:12) Demetrius: A good example. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true. a. Demetrius has a good testimony from all: John recommended this man to Gaius. Perhaps he was the one who carried the letter from John to Gaius, and John wanted Gaius to know that he was worthy of Christian hospitality. b. Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself: Demetrius was so faithful to the truth that even the truth was a witness on his behalf. C. Conclusion. 1. (3Jn 1:13-14 a) John explains such a short letter to Gaius. I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face. a. I had many things to write: We can sympathize with John’s preference for personal, face to face communication rather than the writing of letters. Yet we are thankful that John was forced to write, so that we have the record of this letter of 3 John. 2. (3Jn 1:14 b) Final blessings. Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name. a. Our friends greet you: In addition to a familiar blessing of peace upon Gaius, John also reminded him (and us) of the common ties of Christians - even if they are separated by miles, they are still friends in Jesus, and appropriately they should greet one another. b. Peace to you: This is a letter about contention and conflict; yet John appropriately ends the letter with a desire and expectation for peace. As Christians, we can and should have a sense of peace even in the midst of difficult times. Christians have the resources in Jesus Christ to have peace even in unsettled seasons.


JUDE - CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH These shorter letters of the New Testament are often neglected, but the neglect of this important letter says more about us than it does about the Book of Jude. “Its neglect reflects more the superficiality of the generation that neglects it than the irrelevance of its burning message.” (Guthrie) A. The danger that prompted Jude to write this letter. 1. (Jud 1:1) The author and the readers. Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: a. Jude: The name is literally “Judas.” But to avoid connection with Judas Iscariot, the infamous man who betrayed Jesus, most English translators have used the name “Jude.” i. There are six people named “Judas” mentioned in the New Testament, but the best evidence identifies this as the one mentioned in Mat 13:55 and Mar 6:3 : Jude, the half-brother of Jesus. ii. Jude, like the other half-brothers of Jesus (including James), didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah until after the resurrection of Jesus (Joh 7:5 and Act 1:14). b. A bondservant of Jesus Christ: Jude was a blood relative of Jesus, but he considered himself only as a bondservant of Jesus Christ. The fact that he wanted himself to be known this way instead of introducing himself as “Jude, the half-brother of Jesus” tells us something of the humility of Jude and the relative unimportance of being connected to Jesus by human relationships. i. Jesus spoke of this relative unimportance in passage such as Mar 3:31-35 and Luk 11:27-28. ii. Without a doubt, Jude valued the fact that Jesus was his half-brother and that he grew up in the same household as Jesus. But even more valuable to him was his new relationship with Jesus. To Jude, the blood of the cross that saved him was more important than the family blood in his veins that related him to Jesus. Jude could say with Paul, “Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.” (2Co 5:16) c. And brother of James: James was an important leader of the church in Jerusalem and the author of the New Testament letter that bears his name. Both James and Jude were half-brothers of Jesus. d. To those who are called: Jude wrote to Christians. This is not an evangelistic tract and it deals with things that believers need to hear, but often don’t want to. i. Jude identified his readers as Christians in three specific ways: · They were called. A person is a Christian because God has called them. The important thing is to answer the call when it comes, just as we answer the telephone when it is ringing. · They were sanctified by God the Father. This means that they were set apart - set apart from the world and set apart unto God. · They were preserved in Jesus. Jesus Christ is our guardian and our protector. 3. (Jud 1:2) Jude gives a warm and typical greeting. Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. a. Mercy, peace, and love: This is not the same greeting as found in most of Paul’s letters (which usually begin with some variation of “Grace and peace unto you”). Yet it is substantially the same. b. Be multiplied to you: In the mind and heart of Jude, it wasn’t enough to have mercy, peace, and love added to the life of the Christian. He looked for multiplication instead of simple addition. 4. (Jud 1:3) The call to defend the faith. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. a. I was very diligent to write to you: Jude’s initial desire was to write about our common salvation. But something happened - Jude found it necessary to write a different letter. We might say that this was the letter that didn’t want to be written. i. The letter of Jude is essentially a sermon. In it, Jude preached against the dangerous practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ in peril. These were serious issues and Jude dealt with them seriously. ii. We should be happy that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit here. What might have only been a letter from a Christian leader to a particular church instead became a precious instrument inspired by the Holy Spirit and valuable as a warning in these last days. b. Concerning our common salvation: Our salvation isn’t common in the sense that it is cheap or that everyone has it. It is common in the sense that we are saved in common, in community. God doesn’t have one way for the rich and another way for the poor, or one way for the good and another way for the bad. We all come to God the same way. If it isn’t a common salvation, it isn’t God’s salvation - and it isn’t salvation at all. i. An individual Christian may not know it, understand it, or benefit by it, but to be a Christian is to be a part of community. To be a Christian means you stand shoulder to shoulder with millions of Christians who have gone before. We stand with strong Christians and weak Christians; brave Christians and cowardly Christians; old Christians and young Christians. We are part of an invisible, mighty army that spans back through the generations. ii. “Upon other matters there are distinctions among believers, but yet there is a common salvation enjoyed by the Arminian as well as by the Calvinist, possessed by the Presbyterian as well as by the Episcopalian, prized by the Quaker as well as by the Baptist. Those who are in Christ are more near of kin than they know of, and their intense unity in deep essential truth is a greater force than most of them imagine: only give it scope and it will work wonders.” (Spurgeon) iii. In the 1980’s a survey poll found that 70% of Americans who go to church say that you can be a good Christian without going to church. This doesn’t match with Jude’s idea of a common salvation. c. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith: This was the great need that Jude interrupted his intended letter to address. The ancient Greek word translated “contend” comes from the athletic world - from the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” Therefore “contend” speaks of hard and diligent work. i. The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous. ii. We contend earnestly for the faith because it is valuable. If you walk into an art gallery and there are no guards or no sort of security system, you must draw one conclusion: there is nothing very valuable in that art gallery. Valuables are protected; worthless things are not. d. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith: If we emphasize the word you, we see that this was something that Jude wanted each individual Christian to do. There are many ways that every Christian can contend earnestly for the faith. i. We contend for the faith in a positive sense when we give an unflinching witness, distribute tracts, make possible the training of faithful ambassadors for Jesus, or when we strengthen the hands of faithful pastors who honor the Word of God in their pulpits. These are a few among many ways that we can contend earnestly for the faith in a positive sense. ii. We contend for the faith in a negative way when we withhold support and encouragement from those who compromise the faith, when we speak out against the preaching of another gospel, or speak out against a manner of living that contradicts the message of the gospel. iii. We contend for the faith in a practical sense when we live uncompromising Christian lives and give credit to the Lord who changed us. iv. Obviously, faithful missionaries and evangelists contend earnestly for the faith. But so does the Sunday School teacher or home group leaders who is faithful to the Scriptures. People like this contend for the faith just as much as a front-line missionary does, and each one of us should contend for the gospel wherever God puts us. e. Contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints: Here, Jude tells us what we are contending for. There is a lot of earnest contention in the world but usually not for the right things. The faith once for all delivered to the saints is something worth contending for. i. “The faith” doesn’t mean our own personal belief, or faith in the sense of our trust in God. The phrase the faith means “The essential truths of the gospel that all true Christians hold in common.” The faith is used in this sense repeatedly in the New Testament (Act 6:7; Act 13:8; Act 14:22; Act 16:5; Act 24:24; Rom 1:5 and Rom 16:26; Col 2:7, and 1Ti 1:2 are just some of the examples). We must contend earnestly for the truth. “The faith is the body of truth that very early in the church’s history took on a definite form (cf. Act 2:42; Rom 6:17; Gal 1:23).” (Blum) ii. Once means that the faith was delivered one time, and doesn’t need to be delivered again. Of course, we distribute this truth again and again. But it was delivered by God to the world through the apostles and prophets once (Eph 2:2). God may speak today, but never in the authoritative way that He spoke through the first apostles and prophets as recorded in the New Testament. “There is no other gospel, there will be none. Its content will be more fully understood, its implications will be developed, its predictions will be fulfilled; but it will never be supplemented or succeeded or supplanted.” (Erdman) iii. For all means that this faith is for everybody. We don’t have the option to simply make up our own faith and still be true to God. This faith is for all, but today, it isn’t popular to really believe in the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Instead, most people want to believe in the faith they make up as they go along and decide is right for them. More people believe in “the faith that is in my heart” than the faith once for all delivered to the saints. iv. In the book Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his colleagues wrote about an interview with a young nurse named Sheila Larson, whom they described as representing many American’s experience and views on religion. Speaking about her own faith and how it operated in her life, she said: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It is ‘Sheilaism.’ Just my own little voice.” We might say that this highly individualistic faith is the most popular religion in the world, but the idea that we can or should put together our own faith is wrong. Christianity is based on one faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints. 5. (Jud 1:4) We need to contend for the faith because there are dangerous men among Christians. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. a. Certain men have crept in unnoticed: In part, this is what makes them so dangerous - they are unnoticed. No one noticed that they were dangerous. They didn’t wear a “Danger: False Teacher” name tag. These certain men probably claimed to be more Biblical than anybody else was. i. Crept in means, “To slip in secretly as if by a side door.” (Robertson) “Satan knows right well that one devil in the church can do far more than a thousand devils outside her bounds.” (Spurgeon) b. Who long ago were marked out for this condemnation: These certain men have a destiny - the destiny of every false teacher and leader. They are marked and destined for this condemnation, and it is enough to say that they are ungodly men. They are ungodly simply in the sense that they are not like God and no matter the outward appearances, they disregard God. i. They were unnoticed by men, but not by God. The Lord is not wringing His hands in heaven, worrying about those who deceive others through their teaching and through their lifestyles. They may be hidden to some believers but as far as God is concerned, their condemnation was marked out long ago. Their judgment is assured. The truth will win out; our responsibility is to be on the side with the truth. c. Who turn the grace of our God into lewdness: These certain men had received something of the grace of God. But when they received it, they turned it into an excuse for their lewdness. i. The idea behind the ancient word lewdness is sin that is practiced without shame, without any sense of conscience or decency. Usually the word is used in the sense of sensual sins, such as sexual immorality. But it can also be used in the sense of brazen anti-biblical teaching, when the truth is denied and lies are taught without shame. Jude probably had both ideas in mind here, because as the rest of the letter will develop, these certain men had both moral problems and doctrinal problems. ii. These words of Jude show that there is a danger in preaching grace. There are some who may take the truth of God’s grace and turn the grace of our God into lewdness. But this doesn’t mean there is anything wrong or dangerous about the message of God’s grace. It simply shows how corrupt the human heart is. d. Who deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ: These certain men deny the Lord Jesus Christ. They do this by refusing to recognize who Jesus said He was, and therefore they also deny who God the Father is also. i. We are not told specifically how these men deny the only Lord God. It may be that they denied Him with their ungodly living or it may be that they denied Him with their heretical doctrines. Probably both were true. B. Three examples that show the certainty of God’s judgment against the certain men. 1. (Jud 1:5) The example of the people of Israel. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. a. But I want to remind you, though you once knew this: Jude knew he wasn’t telling them anything new. They were already taught this example, but they needed to hear it again and to apply it to their present situation. i. Ideally, every Christian would read these allusions to the Old Testament and say, “Yes Jude, I know exactly what you are talking about.” If we don’t know what Jude wrote about, it shows we need to deepen our understanding of the Bible. ii. “As for the root facts, the fundamental doctrines, the primary truths of Scripture, we must from day to day insist upon them. We must never say of them, ‘Everybody knows them’; for, alas! everybody forgets them.” (Spurgeon) iii. “The use of God’s Word is not only to teach what we could not have otherwise known, but also to rouse us to a serious meditation of those things which we already understand, and not to suffer us to grow torpid in a cold knowledge.” (Calvin) b. The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt: Jude reminds us of what happened in Num 14:1-45. God delivered the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. They went out of Egypt and without unintended delays came to a place called Kadesh Barnea, on the threshold of the Promised Land. But at Kadesh Barnea, the people refused to trust God and go into the Promised Land of Canaan. Therefore almost none of the adult generation who left Egypt entered into the Promised Land. i. Think of what God did for the people of Israel in this situation, and then how they responded to Him. They experienced God’s miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea. They heard the very voice of God at Mount Sinai. They received His daily care and provision of manna in the wilderness. Yet they still lapsed into unbelief, and never entered into the place of blessing and rest God had for them. c. Afterward destroyed those who did not believe: Those who doubted and rejected God at Kadesh Barnea paid a bigger price than just not entering the Promised Land. They also received the judgment of God. Psa 95:1-11 describes how the Lord reacted to them: For forty years I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, and they do not know My ways. “So I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest”. (Psa 95:10-11) i. The warning through Jude is clear. The people of Israel started out from Egypt well enough. They had many blessings from God along the way. But they did not endure to the end, because they did not believe God’s promise of power and protection. ii. This example gives two lessons. First, it assures us that the certain men causing trouble will certainly be judged, even though they may have started out well in their walk with God. Jude says, “The certain men might have started out well. But so did the children of Israel, and God afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Second, it warns us that we also must follow Jesus to the end, and never be among those who did not believe. The final test of our Christianity is endurance. Some start the race but never finish it. 2. (Jud 1:6) The example of the angels who sinned. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; a. The angels who did not keep their proper domain: Jude’s letter is famous for bringing up obscure or controversial points, and this is one of them. Jude speaks of the angels who sinned, who are now imprisoned and awaiting a future day of judgment. i. “It is not too much to say that the New Testament no where else presents so many strange phenomenon, or raises so many curious questions within so narrow a space.” (Salmond, Pulpit Commentary) b. Angels who did not keep their proper domain: There is some measure of controversy about the identity of these particular angels. We only have two places in the Bible where it speaks of angels sinning. First, there was the original rebellion of some angels against God (Isa 14:12-14, Rev 12:4). Second, there was the sin of the sons of God described in Gen 6:1-2. i. Gen 6:1-2 is a controversial passage all on its own. It says, “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” There is a significant debate as to if the sons of God are angelic beings, or just another way of saying “followers of God” among humans. Jude helps us answer this question. c. Did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode: This offence was connected with some kind of sexual sin, such as the sexual union between rebellious angelic beings (the sons of God in Gen 6:2) and the human beings (the daughters of men in Gen 6:2). We know that there was some sexual aspect to this sin because Jude tells us in the following verse, Jud 1:7 : as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. The words in a similar manner to these refers back to the angels of Jud 1:6, and the words gone after strange flesh refers to their unnatural sexual union. i. We know some things about this unnatural sexual union from Gen 6:1-22. We know that this unnatural union produced unnatural offspring. The unnatural union corrupted the genetic pool of mankind, so God had to find Noah, a man perfect in his generations (Gen 6:9) - that is, “pure in his genetics.” This unnatural union prompted an incredibly drastic judgment of God - a global flood, wiping out all of mankind except for eight people. ii. We can add another piece of knowledge from Jud 1:6. This unnatural union prompted God to uniquely imprison the angels who sinned in this way. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. iii. As for the specific details of this unnatural union, it is useless to speculate. We don’t know how “fallen angel” genetic material could mix with human genetic material. Perhaps it happened through a unique form of demon possession and the fallen angel worked through a human host. We know that angels have the ability to assume human appearance at least temporarily, but we don’t know more than that. d. He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day: God judged these wicked angels, setting them in everlasting chains. Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active among mankind as demons. i. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains. Their sinful pursuit of freedom put them in bondage. In the same way, those who insist on the freedom to do whatever they want are like these angels - bound with everlasting chains. True freedom comes from obedience. ii. If angels cannot break the chains sin brought upon them, we are foolish to think that humans can break them. We can’t set ourselves free from these chains, but we can only be set free by Jesus. iii. This reminds us that these angels who sinned with an unnatural sexual union are no longer active. With His radical judgment back in the days of Noah, God put and end to this kind of unnatural sexual union. iv. This example gives two lessons. First, it assures us that the certain men causing trouble will be judged, no matter what their spiritual status had been. These angels at one time stood in the immediate, glorious presence of God - and now they are in everlasting chains. If God judged the angels who sinned, He will judge these certain men. Second, it warns us that we also must continue walking with Jesus. If the past spiritual experience of these angels didn’t guarantee their future spiritual state, then neither does ours. We must keep walking and be on guard. 3. (Jud 1:7) The example of Sodom and Gomorrah. As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. a. As Sodom and Gomorrah: These two cities (and the cities around them) also stand as examples of God’s judgment. Their sin - which was most conspicuously homosexuality, but included other sins as well - brought forth God’s judgment. i. Sodom and Gomorrah were blessed, privileged places. They were situated in a blessed area: it was well watered everywhere . . . like the garden of the LORD. (Gen 13:10) b. Having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh: Jude refers to the account in Gen 19:1-38, where the homosexual conduct of the men of Sodom is described. Eze 16:49 tells us of other sins of Sodom: Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. Sexual depravity was not their only sin, but it was certainly among their sins, and Jude makes this plain. i. The sins described in Eze 16:49 show that Sodom and Gomorrah were indeed prosperous, blessed areas. You don’t have fullness of food, and abundance of idleness if you don’t have material blessings. But despite their great blessing from God and material prosperity, they sinned and were judged. c. Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire: In Gen 19:1-38, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire from heaven. But that wasn’t the end of their judgment by fire. Far worse than what happened in Gen 19:1-38, they suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. i. This example gives two lessons. First, it assures us that the certain men causing trouble will be judged, no matter how much they had been blessed in the past. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah were once wonderfully blessed but eventually suffered the vengeance of eternal fire, so will it be with these certain men. Second, it warns us that we also must continue walking with Jesus. If the blessings of the past didn’t guarantee their future spiritual state, then neither does ours. C. More sins of the certain men. 1. (Jud 1:8) The character of these dangerous certain men. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. a. Likewise also: Jude connected the certain men with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah in their sensuality (defile the flesh) and in their rejection of God’s authority (reject authority). i. When Jude pointed out that these certain men reject authority, it meant that they wanted to be in authority. Therefore they rejected the authority of God and they rejected those God put in authority. ii. Today, our culture encourages us to reject authority and to recognize self as the only real authority in our lives. We can do this with the Bible, by choosing to only believe certain passages. We can do it with our beliefs, by choosing at the “salad bar” of religion. Or we can do it with our lifestyle, by making our own rules and not recognizing the proper authorities God has established. iii. In the darkest days of Israel, society was characterized by a term: every man did what was right in his own eyes. (Jdg 21:25) Today, this is the pattern of all the world and especially Western civilization. b. These dreamers: It is possible that Jude meant that the certain men were out of touch with reality. It is more likely that he meant they claimed to have prophetic dreams which were really deceptions. c. Speak evil of dignitaries: Probably these dignitaries were the apostles or other leaders in the church. Their rejection of authority was connected with their speaking evil of dignitaries. 2. (Jud 1:9) Michael the archangel as an example of someone who would not speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” a. Michael the archangel . . . the devil: Jude mentioned two kinds of angelic beings. Michael is among the angelic beings faithful to God, who are the servants of God and man. The devil is among the angelic beings rebelling against God, who are the enemies of man. i. There are invisible, angelic beings all around us. There are ministering spirits sent by God to assist us, and demonic spirits who want to defeat us. The devil can’t unsave a saved person; but through his deceptions he can corrupt and defile a Christian who is supposed to walk in purity and freedom. To the devil, we are time bombs, ready to wreck his work - bombs that he would liked to defuse and make ineffective. ii. Many people today don’t believe the devil exists, but the Bible says he does. Or, if they believe he exists, they think of him in funny images from the Middle Ages. Back then, miracle plays were a chief form of entertainment. They were sort of a pageant where religious stories were acted out on stage. The audience learned to look for one character that was always dressed in red, wore horns on his head, and had a tail dangling behind him. His shoes looked like cloven hoofs, and he had a pitchfork in his hand. The audience was amused by this silly characterization of Satan, and got the idea that he was sort of a comical character. The devil doesn’t mind being thought of this way. b. Michael the archangel: This angelic being is mentioned by name in four passages of the Bible: Dan 10:1-21, Dan 12:1-13, Rev 12:1-17 and here in Jude. Every time Michael appears, it is in the context of battle or readiness to fight. He is an archangel, which simply means a “leading angel.” i. If the devil has an opposite, it certainly isn’t God. It is Michael the archangel - another high ranking angelic being. ii. “Let it be observed that the word archangel is never found in the plural number in the sacred writings. There can be properly only one archangel, one chief or head of all the angelic host. Nor is the word devil, as applied to the great enemy of mankind, ever found in the plural; there can be but one monarch of all fallen spirits.” (Clarke) c. When he disputed about the body of Moses: This is another obscure reference by Jude. The last we read about the body of Moses is in Deu 34:5-6 : So Moses, the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows the grave to this day. i. We don’t know where Jude received his information about this dispute. He may have received a unique revelation from God. But according to teachers in the early church, Jude referred to an apocryphal book known as the Assumption of Moses, of which only small portions survive. ii. We don’t even exactly know why there was a dispute about the body of Moses. Some have said that the devil wanted to use Moses’ body as an object of worship to lead Israel astray into idolatry. Others have thought that Satan wanted to desecrate the body of Moses, and claimed a right to it because Moses had murdered an Egyptian. iii. It is more likely consider that the devil anticipated a purpose God had for Moses’ body, and he tried to defeat that plan. We know that after his death, Moses appeared in bodily form at the Transfiguration (Mat 17:1-3) with Elijah (whose body was caught up to heaven in 2Ki 2:1-25). Perhaps also Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Rev 11:1-19, and God needed Moses’ body for that future plan. iv. But for Jude, the main point isn’t why Michael was disputed, but how he disputed with the devil. d. Dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” The manner of Michael’s fight is a model for spiritual warfare. First, we see that Michael was in a battle. Second, we see that he battled with the Lord’s authority. i. This proves to us that Michael is not Jesus, as some heretical groups have thought. Jesus rebuked the devil in His own authority, but Michael did not. “The point of contrast is that Michael could not reject the devil’s accusation on his own authority.” (Bauckham) ii. Significantly, Michael dared not bring against him a reviling accusation. Michael did not mock or accuse the devil. God hasn’t called us to judge the devil, to condemn the devil, to mock him or accuse him, but to battle against him in the name of the Lord. iii. This relates to the certain men by a “how much more” line of thinking. If Michael dared not bring against him a reviling accusation against the devil, how much more should these certain men not speak evil of dignitaries. 3. (Jud 1:10) More of the bad character of the certain men. But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. a. But these speak evil: In contrast to Michael, who would not even speak evil of the devil, these certain men spoke evil, especially when they rejected authority and spoke against dignitaries. b. Of whatever they do not know: The certain men didn’t even know the things or the people they spoke evil about. Their evil speech was made worse by their ignorance. i. Since they also spoke against dignitaries and rejected authority, these certain men did not know about true spiritual leadership and authority - so they found it easy to speak evil against it. b. Whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves: These certain men pretended to be spiritual, but their only knowledge was really natural. Even what they knew naturally, they still used to corrupt themselves with an unspiritual mind. i. Brute beasts can be smart or clever in an instinctive way, but they obviously do not have spiritual knowledge. It was the same way with these certain men. ii. “How ironical that when men should claim to be knowledgeable, they should actually be ignorant; when they think themselves superior to the common man they should actually be on the same level as animals, and be corrupted by the very practices in which they seek liberty and self-expression.” (Green) D. Three examples of the certain men. 1. (Jud 1:11 a) The certain men have gone in the way of Cain. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, a. The way of Cain: Cain’s story is found in Gen 4:1-26. Each of the sons of Adam and Eve brought an offering to the Lord. Cain (being a farmer) brought an offering from his harvest. Abel (being a shepherd) brought an offering from his flocks. God accepted Abel’s offering, but He rejected Cain’s sacrifice. i. Many people assume that because Abel brought a blood sacrifice and Cain brought a grain sacrifice, that the difference between the two offerings was sacrificial blood. But the real difference was between faith and unbelief. Heb 11:4 makes this plain: By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. ii. Cain’s sacrifice was probably more pleasing to the senses than the carcass of a dead lamb. But his sacrifice was offered without faith, and therefore it was unacceptable to God. You can give to God whatever you have or whatever you are, but you must offer it in faith. b. The way of Cain: Gen 4:5 says that after God rejected his sacrifice, Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. He became angry because he knew he was rejected by God. In a fit of anger Cain murdered Abel, and then he lied about it to God. i. 1Jn 3:12 tells us that Cain murdered his brother because Abel’s works were righteous (by faith), while Cain’s own were wicked. Cain’s lack was not in works, but in faith. c. The way of Cain: Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the certain men follow in. It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, which leads to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger. i. There is no greater curse on the earth than empty, vain religion; those who have a form of godliness but denying its power. (2Ti 3:5) No wonder Paul added, and from such people turn away! ii. Many Christians are afraid of secular humanism or atheism or the world. But dead religion is far more dangerous, and sends more people to hell than anything else. These certain men were in the way of Cain, they way of dead religion. 2. (Jud 1:11 b) The certain men are in the error of Balaam. Have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, a. The error of Balaam: Balaam’s story is in Num 22:1-41; Num 23:1-30; Num 24:1-25; Num 25:1-18; Num 31:1-54. During the time of the Exodus, Israel advanced to the land of Moab, after defeating the Amorites. When the Israelites came near, King Balak of Moab sought the help of a prophet named Balaam. i. The first delegation from King Balak arrived and God told Balaam to have nothing to do with them. God’s initial words to Balaam were, “You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Num 22:12). ii. After the first visit another, more prestigious delegation came with great riches. Balaam wanted to go with them and God allowed him to go. Balaam lusted after the riches and prestige offered to him and God gave him over to his own sin. iii. God warned Balaam to turn back when he was on the way to see Balak. Yet his heart was set on the rich reward King Balak promised and he continued on. Balaam even ignored a talking donkey, sent to warn him to turn back. iv. Balaam knew that he has done wrong. In Num 22:34, he said to God I have sinned . . . Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back. But he didn’t turn back. He continued on, refusing to see that when God says no, we must take it as a no. Instead, God gave Balaam what his sinful heart desired. v. After meeting with King Balak of Moab, Balaam prophesied over Israel four times. But as he spoke forth God’s word, he did not curse Israel - instead he blessed them each time. When he was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, Balaam advised Balak on how to bring Israel under a curse. Instead of trying to have a prophet curse them, he should lead them into fornication and idolatry and then God would curse a disobedient Israel. vi. Balak did just that, sending his young women into the camp of Israel to lead Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. Because of their sin, God did curse Israel - He brought a plague of judgment upon Israel that killed 24,000. Therefore Balaam was guilty of the greatest of sins: deliberately leading others into sin. Worse yet, he did it for money. b. Greedily in the error of Balaam for profit: The greedy error of Balaam was that he was willing to compromise everything for money. The certain men Jude warned about had the same heart. i. Many Christians would never deny Jesus under persecution, but might deny Him if offered a large sum of money. There is not a single sin that corrupt man will not commit for the sake of money. Covetousness is such a dangerous sin that it killed Jesus - 30 pieces of silver helped put Jesus on the cross. ii. Have run greedily is literally “they were poured out” (Robertson). This is a strong picture of excessive indulgence. But Paul also uses the same term for the extravagant way God loves us: the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. (Rom 5:5) 3. (Jud 1:11 c) The certain men live out the rebellion of Korah. And perished in the rebellion of Korah. a. The rebellion of Korah: Korah’s story is found in Num 16:1-50. He was a prominent man in Israel, and one day came to Moses, saying, You take too much upon yourself, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourself about the congregation of the LORD? (Num 16:3) Korah and his followers resented the authority God gave to Moses and Aaron. i. When Korah said this, Moses fell on his face, knowing God’s judgment would soon come. Moses then proposed a test: each group took censers (for burning incense) and came before the Lord. The Lord Himself would choose which man He wanted to represent Him: Moses or Korah. ii. When they both came before God, the Lord told Moses to step away. The, the ground opened up and swallowed Korah and his followers. After that, fire came down from heaven and burned up all of his supporters. They all perished. b. Rebellion: Korah was a Levite, but not of the priestly family of Aaron. As a Levite, he had had his own God-appointed sphere of ministry, yet he was not content with it. He wanted the ministry and the authority of Moses. i. Korah needed to learn this essential lesson: we should work hard to fulfill everything God has called us to be. At the same time, we should never try to be what God has not called us to be. c. The rebellion of Korah: This was also a rejection of God’s appointed leaders, especially God’s appointed Mediator. When the certain men rejected authority and spoke evil against dignitaries, they walked in the rebellion of Korah. i. The rebellion of Korah “lies in the broader idea of a contemptuous and determined assertion of self against divinely appointed ordinances.” (Salmond, The Pulpit Commentary) ii. These three men came from quite different backgrounds: Cain was a farmer, Balaam was a prophet, and Korah was a leader in Israel. Apostasy is never confined to one group of people. “There are apostates in the pulpit, in the palace, and in the poorhouse.” (Coder) E. What the future holds for these certain men. 1. (Jud 1:12-13) A vivid description of the depravity of these certain men. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. a. Spots in your love feasts: The early Christians often met for a common meal, something like a potluck dinner. They called these meals love feats, or “Agape Feasts.” When these certain men came, they were serving only themselves. They ate greedily at the love feasts while others went hungry. i. At the Agape Feast, everybody brought what they could - some a little, some a lot; but they all shared it together. For some slaves who were Christians it might have been the only decent meal they regularly ate. The selfishness of these certain men spoiled the fellowship. 1Co 11:17-34 describes a similar problem in the Corinthian church. ii. It always spoils fellowship when we come to church with a selfish “bless me” attitude. Many who would never eat selfishly at a church meal still come to church concerned with serving only themselves. iii. Spots: Some Greek scholars think this word should be translated “hidden rocks” instead of spots. One way or another, it doesn’t make much real difference to the meaning of the passage. iv. Serving only themselves: Literally in the ancient Greek this is “shepherding themselves” (Robertson). They were shepherds of a sort - but only shepherding themselves. b. Clouds without water, carried by the winds: Clouds without water are good for nothing. They bring no life-giving rain and they only block out the sun. They exist just for themselves. The certain men were like these clouds. i. Once while driving by a factory, my daughter Aan-Sofie looked at the billows of white smoke coming from the smoke stacks. She said, “That’s where they make clouds!” These certain men were like those empty clouds - good for nothing, carried by the winds, floating on the breeze from one fad to another. c. Late autumn trees without fruit: By late autumn, trees should have fruit. But these certain men did not bear fruit even when they should. They were like trees that only take instead of give. d. Raging waves of the sea: For modern man, the sea is often a thing of beauty. But to ancient man, especially in Biblical cultures, the sea was an unmanageable terror. Isa 57:20 expresses this idea: But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. These certain men were busy and active like the raging waves of the sea, but all it brought was foaming up their own shame. i. Busyness is no mark of correctness. The fruit of these men was like the foam or scum at the seashore. Jude has in mind the ugly shoreline after a storm has washed up all sorts of driftwood, seaweed and debris. e. Wandering stars: Like comets streaking through the sky, these certain men astonished the world for a time, and then vanished into darkness. An unpredictable star was no good for guidance and navigation. Even so these deceivers were useless and untrustworthy. f. Blackness of darkness forever: This described their destiny. Unless they repent, they would end up in hell - and be there forever. i. The punishment of hell is forever because a mere man is paying for his own sins, offering an imperfect sacrifice which must be repeated over and over again for eternity. A perfect man can offer a single sacrifice; but an imperfect man must continually offer a sacrifice. ii. Our obligations to God are infinite and can therefore only be satisfied in Jesus, an infinite person 2. (Jud 1:14-15) The certainty of judgment upon these certain men. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” a. Now Enoch: Here Jude quoted from Enoch, who is described in Gen 5:1-32 and mentioned in Heb 11:1-40. The ancient book of Enoch was not received as Scripture, but it was highly respected among both the Jews and early Christians. i. “Tertullian tells us that the book of Enoch’s prophecies were preserved by Noah in the ark, and that they continued and were read until the times of the apostles. But because they contained many famous testimonies concerning Jesus Christ, the Jews out of malice suppressed and abolished the whole book.” (Trapp) ii. Jude did not quote from Enoch to tell us anything new, but to give a vivid description of what the Bible already teaches. The Apostle Paul also quoted non-Biblical sources on at least three different occasions (Act 17:28, 1Co 15:33 and Tit 1:12). This wasn’t to proclaim a new truth, but to support an already established Biblical principle. iii. Jude’s quoting of the book of Enoch doesn’t mean that the whole book of Enoch inspired Scripture - only the portion Jude quotes. In the same way, when Paul quoted a pagan poet, he didn’t mean that the entire work of the poet was inspired by God. b. To convict all who are ungodly: In this quotation from the book of Enoch Jude emphasized the words all and ungodly. God is coming to judge all of the ungodly. c. To execute judgment on all: Many people take the judgment of God lightly. But the most important question in the world is “Will God judge me? Am I accountable to Him?” If we are truly accountable to God, they we are fools if we do not prepare to face that judgment. i. Think of someone arrested for a crime, with a date to appear in court - but made absolutely no preparation for their appearance before the judge. That person would be a fool. We shouldn’t be so foolish, and instead take advantage of our court-appointed advocate - Jesus Christ (1Jn 2:1). 3. (Jud 1:16-18) The methods of the certain men. These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. a. Grumblers, complainers . . . they mouth great swelling words, flattering people: Jude noticed that their methods all revolved around words. On top of their questionable lives, they were essentially a people of deception, departing from the foundation of Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets. b. These are grumblers, complainers: These people were complainers. It has rightly been observed that whenever a man gets out of touch with God he is likely to begin complaining about something. i. Grumbling “is to insult the God who gives us all things; it is to forget that whatever befalls us, nothing can separate us from His love, nor deprive us of that most priceless of all treasures, the Lord’s presence in our lives.” (Green) ii. “You know the sort of people alluded to here, nothing ever satisfies them. They are discontented even with the gospel. The bread of heaven must be cut into three pieces, and served on dainty napkins, or else they cannot eat it; and very soon their soul hates even this light bread. There is no way by which a Christian man can serve God so as to please them. They will pick holes in every preacher’s coat; and if the great High Priest himself were here, they would find fault with the color of the stones of his breastplate.” (Spurgeon) c. Flattering people: These certain men knew how to use smooth, flattering words to get an advantage over other people. They would say anything - good or bad - to get an advantage. d. But you, beloved, remember: We are to be different. We are to remember what Jesus and the apostles said, which were spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word of God is always the answer to dangers in or out of the church. i. The apostles had warned that just these things would happen; and even more so as the day approaches: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2Ti 4:3-4) e. There would be mockers in the last time: Perhaps Jude had in mind those who mock the idea of Jesus’ return. Or he may mean the kind of men who mock those who don’t go along the same path of destruction they travel on. i. Mockers . . . who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts: Those who live according to their own ungodly lusts love to mock those who want to please God. Jude wants Christians to expect this kind of mocking, so they won’t be surprised by it. 4. (Jud 1:19) The spiritual status of these certain men. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. a. These are sensual persons: Essentially, these men were not spiritual; they were carnal and insensitive to the Holy Spirit. i. Sensual in this context has nothing to do with sexual attractiveness. It describes the person who lives only by and for what they can get through their physical senses, and they live this way selfishly. Their motto is, “If it feels good, do it” or, “How can it be wrong if it feels so right?” b. Who cause divisions: These certain men had an instinct to separate themselves and make divisions. “The word, found only once in the Bible, denotes those superior people who keep themselves to themselves - Christian Pharisees.” (Green) c. Not having the Spirit: This same description could be written over many churches, or church projects, or evangelism campaigns, or home groups, or even individual Christian lives. The church and the world truly need genuinely spiritual men and women today. F. What to do about the danger of the certain men. Significantly, Jude does not tell us to attack the certain men who are a danger to the church. Instead, he tells us to focus on our walk with the Lord, help others affected by the certain men, and to focus on God. We simply are to pay the certain men no attention, except for what is necessary for our warning. God will take care of them. 1. (Jud 1:20-21) Take a look inward. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. a. Keep yourselves in the love of God: We know that God loves even the ungodly (Rom 5:6). Therefore Jude doesn’t mean, “Live in such a way to make yourself lovable to God.” Instead, to keep yourselves in the love of God means to keep yourself in harmony with God’s ever-present love. i. But we should understand what it means when the Bible says that God loves the ungodly. The significance of the idea that God loves us all has been twisted considerably. Consider the sinner who defends his sinful practice by saying “God loves me just the way I am.” His implication is that “God loves me; I must be pretty good.” Actually, the fact that God loves him is a reflection on God’s goodness, not his own. The perspective isn’t, “I’m so great that even God loves me,” but “God is so great that He loves even me.” ii. God’s love extends everywhere, and nothing can separate us from it. But we can deny ourselves the benefits of God’s love. People who don’t keep themselves in the love of God end up living as if they are on the dark side of the moon. The sun is always out there, always shining, but they are never in a position to receive its light or warmth. An example of this is the Prodigal Son of Luk 15:1-32, who was always loved by the father, but for a time he did not benefit from it. b. Building yourselves up on your most holy faith: This is one way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God. It means to keep growing spiritually, and to keep building up. Jude tells us, “build yourselves up on your most holy faith.” This means that we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, or expect others to make us grow. i. Jude has shown us the frailty of men and how deceivers even infiltrated the church. If you entrust your spiritual growth to someone else, it will not only hurt your spiritual growth, but it may also lead you astray. ii. Others can help provide an environment conducive for spiritual growth. But no one can make another person grow in their relationship with the Lord. iii. On your most holy faith: The most holy faith is the same as the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jud 1:3). Jude wasn’t talking about growing in the most holy faith (though that is a valid idea). Jude is talking about growing on your most holy faith. We grow on the foundation of the truth. d. Praying in the Holy Spirit: This is another way to keep ourselves in the love of God. The battle against wrong living and wrong teaching is a spiritual battle, requiring prayer in the Holy Spirit. i. Many of our prayers are directed by our own needs, by our own intellects, or by our own wishes and desires. But there is a higher level of prayer: Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us. (Rom 8:26) ii. The Holy Spirit may help us pray by giving us the right words to say when we pray. He may speak through groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom 8:26) Or the Holy Spirit may do it through the gift of tongues, a gift God gives to seeking hearts, which want to communicate with Him on a deeper level than normal conversation. iii. “Such is our sloth, and that such is the coldness of our flesh, that no one can pray aright except he be roused by the Spirit of God . . . no one can pray as he ought without having the Spirit as his guide.” (Calvin) e. Looking for the mercy of Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life: This is a third way that we can keep ourselves in the love of God. As we keep the blessed hope of Jesus’ soon return alive in our hearts, this effectively keeps us in the love of God, and helps us to not give away our faith. 2. (Jud 1:22-23) Take a look outward, to those around you. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. a. On some have compassion: Jude begins here to tell us what we must do with those who have been influenced by these certain men. We need to make a distinction, based on where they are coming from. Certainly, on some have compassion. i. Using wisdom we approach different people in different manners. By being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we can know when we should comfort, and when we should rebuke. Christians should not abandon a friend flirting with false teaching. They should help him through it in love. ii. The means we continue to love them. No matter how bad a person is, or how misleading and terrible their doctrine, we are not allowed to hate them - or to be unconcerned for their salvation. iii. Compassion often means watching over someone, helping them with accountability. “Meantime watch over others as well as yourselves; and give them such help as their various needs require.” (Wesley) b. Others save with fear: This second group must be confronted more strongly - but in fear, not in a sanctimonious superiority. You may need to pull them out of the fire, but never do it in pride. i. This outward look is important. It demonstrates that we are not only concerned for our own spiritual welfare. It proves that we genuinely care about other Christians who are edging towards significant error. 3. (Jud 1:24-25) Take a look upward to the God of all glory Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen. a. Now to Him: Jude closes the letter with a famous doxology (a brief declaration of praise to God). Jude’s doxology reminds us of God’s care and of our destiny. b. Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present faultless: Jude’s message of warning and doom might have depressed and discouraged his readers. Perhaps they thought that with so much false teaching and immorality around, very few Christians would ever reach heaven. Here he reminds them that the answer lies only in the power of God. He is able to keep you, and you aren’t able to keep yourself. i. In mountain climbing, the beginning hiker attaches himself to the expert so that if he loses his footing he won’t stumble and fall to his death. In the same manner, if we keep connected with God, we cannot fall. He keeps us safe. ii. By comparing passages of Scripture, we also find out who is really responsible for our safe keeping. Jude began the letter by addressing those who are preserved in Jesus (Jud 1:1). Then he exhorted Christians to avoid dangerous men and to keep themselves in the love of God (Jud 1:21) Here at the end he concluded with the recognition that it is ultimately God who keeps us from stumbling and falling. Paul put the same idea in Php 2:12-13 : Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. iii. Keeping us spiritually safe is God’s work. But you can always tell the people He is working in, because they are working also. God doesn’t call us to simply let the Christian life happen to us and He doesn’t command us to save ourselves. He calls us to a partnership with Him. c. Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy: As God is faithful, we won’t have to slink shamefacedly into the presence of God. We can be presented before Him with exceeding joy. d. Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever: This all reminds us of God’s wisdom, glory, and power. Jude isn’t trying to say that we can or should give these things to God. When we acknowledge and declare the truth about God, it glorifies Him. We aren’t giving God more majesty or power than He had before; we are just recognizing and declaring it. i. Both now and forever: This could also be translated “unto all the ages.” This is “as complete a statement of eternity as can be made in human language.” (Robertson) Our victory, our triumph in God, is forever. ii. There is serious deception in the world and often among those called Christians. There are enemies of the gospel who have infiltrated the church. Yet despite the greatness of the threat, God is greater still. He wins, and if we will only stay with Him, we are guaranteed victory also. iii. Jude is a book full of warning, but it closes with supreme confidence in God. Dangerous times should make us trust in a mighty God.


Rev 1:1-20 - INTRODUCTION; A VISION OF JESUS A. The introduction and prologue to the Book of Revelation. 1. (Rev 1:1-2) The writer of the Book of Revelation. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants; things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. a. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: The ancient Greek word translated Revelation is apokalupsis (apocalypse). The word simply means “a revealing, an unveiling.” What does the Book of Revelation reveal? It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This book is Jesus’ Revelation in the sense that it belongs to Him, He is the one doing the revealing. It is also Jesus’ Revelation in the sense that He is the object revealed; Jesus is the person revealed by the book. i. From the outset, we are given the most important truth about the Book of Revelation. This book does show us the Antichrist, it does show us God’s judgment, it does show us calamity on the earth, it does show us Mystery Babylon in vivid detail. But most of all, it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ to us. If we catch everything else, but miss Jesus in the book, we have missed the Book of Revelation. ii. How we need a Revelation of Jesus! “The great fault of many professors is that Christ is to them a character upon paper; certainly more than a myth, but yet a person of the dim past, an historical personage who lived many years ago, and did most admirable deeds, by the which we are saved, but who is far from being a living, present, bright reality.” (Spurgeon) b. Which God gave Him to show His servants: This is an important reason why God gave this Revelation of Jesus Christ. He gave it to show His servants. God gave this revelation that it might be shown, not hidden. This is an apocalypse - a revelation, not apocrypha (something hidden). c. Things which must shortly take place: This describes when the events of this book will take place - they will happen shortly, and they must happen shortly. This means that the Book of Revelation is a book of predictive prophecy. It speaks of things that will happen in the future - at least future from the time of its writing. i. Not all prophecy is predictive. But this prophetic book clearly is predictive. It describes things that must shortly take place. The time is near (Rev 1:3) for the fulfillment of these things, but the time was not present at the time of writing. ii. Some would say that we should not be concerned with prophecy; that it is a frivolous exercise - but if God was concerned enough to talk about it, we should be concerned enough to listen. “Some tell us that what is yet future ought not to be examined into till after it has come to pass. I can hardly realize that this is seriously meant.” (Seiss) d. Shortly take place: When John says these things must shortly take place, what does he mean? How short is short? How near is near? Short and near are relative terms, and this is God’s timetable, not man’s. Yet for 2000 years, history has been on the brink of the consummation of all things, running parallel to the edge, not running towards a distant brink. i. Shortly is the ancient Greek phrase en tachei, which means “‘quickly or suddenly coming to pass,’ indicating rapidity of execution after the beginning takes place. The idea is not that the event may occur soon, but that when it does, it will be sudden.” (Walvoord) e. He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John: This describes how the message is delivered in the Book of Revelation. It is a book of signs: the angel sign-ified this message to John. It is a book that communicates in signs. i. Why does God use so many signs in the Book of Revelation? After all, they have been the main cause of difficulty with the book. Is God playing a game of “guess this mystery?” in Revelation? Not at all. The signs are necessary because John expresses things of heaven, which Paul said he heard with inexpressible words (2Co 12:4). John describes things he has seen, so he can only use symbolic images to explain them. To us, this book is prophecy. But to John, he simply recorded history unfolding before him, as he saw it. “John had visions from heaven; but he described them in his own language and manner.” (Clarke) ii. The signs are also necessary because there is tremendous power in symbolic language. It is one thing to call someone or something “evil” or “bad.” But it is far more vivid to describe the image of a woman drunk with the blood of the saints (Rev 17:6). iii. Though it is filled with signs, the Book of Revelation is accessible to those who have an understanding of the first 65 books of the Bible, and especially an understanding of the first 39 books of the Bible, the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation is rooted in the Old Testament. It contains more than 500 allusions to the Old Testament, and 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation (that is almost 70%) make some reference to the Old Testament. f. By His angel to His servant John: This tells us who wrote the Book of Revelation. It was His servant John, and the best evidence points to this being the Apostle John, the same writer of the Gospel of John and the books of 1, 2, and 3 John. i. By His angel: Many of the signs and visions of the Book of Revelation came to John through the supervision of an angel (Rev 5:2; Rev 7:2, Rev 10:8 to Rev 11:1, Rev 17:7 are some examples). g. Who bore witness to the word of God: In this prologue, we see that John knew this book was Holy Scripture, the word of God. We often wonder if the apostles knew they were writing Holy Scripture. At least in this case, John knew. i. He knew it was Holy Scripture because he calls it a revelation from God. He knew it came from the Father through Jesus, and not from any mere human. ii. He knew it was the Holy Scripture because he calls it the word of God, as an Old Testament prophet would say. He also calls it the testimony of Jesus Christ. 2. (Rev 1:3) A blessing to the reader and “keeper” of this book. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. a. Blessed is he who reads . . . and keep those things which are written in it: The Book of Revelation offers a particular and unique blessing to those who read and keep the message of this book. This is the first of seven beatitudes of Revelation (Rev 1:3; Rev 14:13; Rev 16:15; Rev 19:9; Rev 20:6; Rev 22:7; Rev 22:14). i. Because they neglect the book Revelation, many people miss this blessing. For example, the Anglican Church virtually omits Revelation in its regular schedule of readings for both public worship and private devotions. This is a typical attitude towards the Book of Revelation. Many people believe that only fanatics want to dig deep into this book. But really, it is a book for anyone who wants to be blessed. ii. Fortunately, John didn’t say that we had to understand everything in the Book of Revelation to be blessed. There are some difficult things in this book, that may only be understood as we look back at fulfilled prophecy. But we can be blessed by reading and hearing even when we don’t understand. b. This promise gives more reasons to know John believed this book was Holy Scripture. First, the words he who reads and those who hear show that this book was intended to be read publicly, just as other accepted Scriptures. Second, the promise of blessing itself shows that John regard this book as Holy Scripture. In the Jewish world, such a blessing could never be pronounced on a merely human book. i. All of these things together show that beyond doubt, the Book of Revelation claims to be Holy Scripture. A critic can agree or disagree with that claim, but it can’t be denied that Revelation makes the claim. c. Keep those things which are written in it: The Book of Revelation gives us much more than information for prophetic speculation. It gives us things to keep. If we understand the Book of Revelation, it will change the way we live. d. He who reads is in the singular. It speaks of one person who reads. Those who hear is in the plural. It speaks of many people hearing. The idea is probably from custom of the early church, where attention was given to the public reading of Scripture, which would often be explained. In our modern way of speaking, John might say “Blessed is the pastor who teaches Revelation, and blessed is the congregation who hears it.” But most of all, pastor or congregation, blessed are those who keep those things which are written in it. i. “Neither must we only live up to the words of this prophecy, but die for it also, and be content to be burned with it, if called thereto; as that holy martyr, who when he saw the Revelation cast into the fire with him, cried out ‘O blessed Revelation, how happy am I to be burned in thy company!’” (Trapp) 3. Since so much controversy has risen over the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, it is helpful to understand the four basic approaches to understanding Revelation. Through the centuries, people have approached Revelation in basically one of these four ways: a. The Preterist View: This approach believes that Revelation deals only with the church in John’s day. In the Preterist approach, the Book of Revelation doesn’t predict anything. John simply describes events of his current day, but he puts them in symbolic “code” so those outside the Christian family couldn’t understand his criticism of the Roman government. In the Preterist view, the Book of Revelation was for then. b. The Historicist View: This approach believes that Revelation is a sweeping, disordered panorama of all church history. In the Historicist approach, Revelation predicts the future, but the future of the “church age” - not the future of end-time events. In the Historicist view, Revelation is full of symbols that describe now. i. For example, many have wanted to call someone the beast of Revelation chapter 13, such as the Reformers called the Pope. But they didn’t necessarily want to believe that the end was very near. So they believed that Revelation spoke of their time, without necessarily speaking to the end times. c. The Poetic View: This approach believes that Revelation is a book full of pictures and symbols intended to encourage and comfort persecuted Christians in John’s day. In the Poetic or allegorical view, the Book of Revelation isn’t literal or historic. Revelation is a book of personal meaning. d. The Futurist View: This approach believes that beginning with chapter four, Revelation deals with the end times, the period directly preceding Jesus’ return. In the Futurist view, Revelation is a book that mainly describes the end times. e. Which approach is correct? Each one is true in some regard. The Book of Revelation did speak to John’s day. It does say something to church history. And it does have meaning for our personal life. So while elements of the first three approaches have their place, we can’t deny the place of the futurist view. We can know the Book of Revelation speaks with clarity about the end times because of two central principles drawn from Rev 1:1-3. i. First, we believe that the Book of Revelation must mean something. This is a book that Jesus gave to show His servants something. It isn’t a book of meaningless nonsense. It has a promise of blessing, not a promise of confusion. ii. Secondly, we believe that the Book of Revelation definitely claims to contain predictive prophecy. John made it clear: things which must shortly take place . . . the time is near. John writes about events that were still future in his day. B. Greeting. 1. (Rev 1:4-5 a) A greeting of grace and peace. John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. a. To the seven churches which are in Asia: This letter was originally addressed to these seven selected churches of Asia. This was the Roman province of Asia, which is the western part of modern day Turkey. b. Grace to you and peace: “Grace represents standing; peace represents experience.” (Walvoord) c. From Him who is and who was and who is to come: John brings a greeting from God the Father, who is described with this title. Him who is and who was and who is to come speaks to the eternal nature of God. It has the idea of a timeless Being, and is connected with the name Yahweh found in the Old Testament (Exo 2:14). i. The Greek construction of who is, who was and who is to come is intentionally awkward in the Greek. It seems that John searched for a phrase to communicate the Old Testament idea of Yahweh. ii. It is never enough to just say that God is, or to just say that He was, or to just say that He is to come. As Lord over eternity, He rules the past, the present, and the future. iii. The description Him who is and who was and who is to come applies to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit as much as it does to God the Father. In fact, the title Yahweh describes the Triune God, the One God in Three Persons. Yet it seems that John focuses on God the Father with this title because he specifically mentions God the Son and God the Holy Spirit in the following words of this verse. d. From the seven Spirits who are before His throne: John brings a greeting from God the Holy Spirit, who is described with this title. The seven Spirits who are before His throne speaks to the perfection and completion of the Holy Spirit. John uses an Old Testament description of the Holy Spirit. i. The idea of the seven Spirits quotes from the Old Testament. Isa 11:2 describes seven aspects of the Holy Spirit: 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 fear of the Lord. It isn’t that there are seven different spirits of God, rather the Spirit of the LORD has these characteristics, and He has them all in fullness and perfection. e. From Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth: John brings a greeting from God the Son, who is described by who He is and by what He has done. i. Jesus is the faithful witness: This speaks to Jesus’ utter reliability and faithfulness to His Father and to His people, even unto death. The ancient Greek word translated witness is also the word for a martyr. ii. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead: This speaks to Jesus’ standing as pre-eminent among all beings, that He is first in priority. Firstborn from the dead means much more than that Jesus was the first person resurrected. It also means that He is pre-eminent among all those who are or will be resurrected. Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29). iii. The use of firstborn does not mean that Jesus had a “birth date” and is therefore a created being, and not God. The ancient Rabbis called Yahweh Himself “Firstborn of the World” (Rabbi Bechai cited in Lightfoot’s commentary on Colossians). Rabbis also used firstborn as a Messianic title. “God said, ‘As I made Jacob a first-born (Exo 4:22), so also will I make king Messiah a first-born’ (Psa 89:28).” (R. Nathan in Shemoth Rabba, cited by Lightfoot in his commentary on Colossians) iv. Jesus is the ruler over the kings. Before the Book of Revelation is over, Jesus will take dominion over every earthly king. At the present time, Jesus rules a kingdom, but it is a kingdom that is not yet of this world. f. In this greeting, with its systematic mention of each Person of the Trinity, we see how the New Testament presents the doctrine of the Trinity. It doesn’t present it in a carefully defined, systematic theology kind of way. It simply weaves the truth of the Trinity - that there is One God in Three Persons - throughout the fabric of the New Testament. 2. (Rev 1:5-6) A statement of praise to Jesus. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. a. To Him who loved us: What a beautiful title for Jesus! When loved is used, in the past tense, it points back to a particular time and place where Jesus loved us. It should be pointed out that many translations have loves us (such as NASB, NIV, and NLT), but there is something beautiful about loved us. It looks back to the cross. Every believer should be secure in God’s love, not based on their present circumstances (which may be difficult), but based on the ultimate demonstration of love at the cross. This is worth praising Jesus about! i. Paul put it like this in Rom 5:8 : But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The work of Jesus on the cross for us is God’s ultimate proof of His love for you. He may give additional proof, but He can give no greater proof. ii. No wonder many believers are not secure in knowing the love of Jesus towards them! They look to their present circumstances to measure His love. Instead, they need to look back to the cross, settle the issue once for all, and give praise to Jesus, to Him who loved us! iii. William Newell on loved us, in Rom 8:37 : “It is this past tense gospel the devil hates . . . Let a preacher be continually saying, ‘God loves you, Christ loves you,’ and he and his congregation will by and by be losing sight of both their sinnerhood and of the substitutionary atonement of the cross, where the love of God and of Christ was once for all and supremely set forth.” b. And washed us from our sins in His own blood: This is what happened when Jesus us loved us at the cross. He washed us - cleansed us from the deep stain of sin, so that we really are clean before Him. This is worth praising Jesus about! i. If we understand our own deep sinfulness, this seems almost too good to be true. We can stand clean before God - clean from the deepest of stains. No wonder the same Apostle John would write, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). ii. In His own blood: If there was any other way to wash us from our sins, God would have done it that other way. To wash us in His own blood meant the ultimate sacrifice of God the Son. It wouldn’t have been done unless it was the only way. “The priests could only cleanse with blood of bulls and goats; but he has washed us from our sins ‘in his own blood.’ Men are willing enough to shed the blood of others. How readily they will enter upon war! But Christ was willing to shed his own blood, to pour out his soul unto death, that we might be saved.” (Spurgeon) iii. Notice the order: first loved, then washed. It wasn’t that God washed us out of some sense of duty, and then loved us because were then clean. He loved us while we were dirty, but then He washed us. iv. In fact, washing proves love. If you had an old pair of pants, and got them covered in paint, you would only wash them and keep them for two reasons. First, you might wash them and keep them if you were poor. You can’t, or won’t, spend money on another pair of pants, so you wash them and keep them. Second, you might wash them and keep them if you really loved those old pants. Money isn’t the issue. You could go down and buy a new pair of pants any time. But you love that pair so much that you spend the time and the effort to clean them, and use them again. God loves us so much that He washed us. God certainly is not poor. With merely a thought, He could obliterate every sinner and start over with brand-new creatures. But He doesn’t. He loves us so much that He washed us. v. Some scholars believe that John wrote and loosed us from our sins. There is only one letter different between the words washed and loosed in the ancient Greek language. Both words are show up in ancient manuscripts, so it’s hard to say which one John wrote. But we know that both are true - we are both washed and loosed from our sins. c. And has made us kings and priests to His God and Father: This is status Jesus gives to those whom He loved at the cross and who are washed . . . in His own blood. It would have been enough just to love them and cleanse them. But He goes far beyond, and makes us kings and priests to His God and Father. This is more than Adam ever was. Even in the innocence of Eden we never read of Adam among the kings and priests of God. This is worth praising Jesus about. i. We are kings, so we are God’s royalty. This speaks of privilege, of status, of authority. We are priests, so we are God’s special servants. We represent God to man and man to God. We offer sacrifice unto Him (Heb 13:15). We have privileged access to the presence of God (Rom 5:1-2). ii. Kings and priests: In the Old Testament, it was forbidden to combine the offices of king and priest. King Uzziah of Judah is an example of a man who tried to combine the two offices, and paid the penalty for it (2Ch 26:16-23). But under the New Covenant, we can be like Jesus in the sense that He is both King and High Priest (Luk 1:31-33; Heb 4:14). d. To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever: In light of all that Jesus has done for us, shouldn’t we praise Him? Shouldn’t we honor Him will all glory and dominion forever and ever? When we say this, we aren’t giving Jesus glory and dominion. We are simply recognizing that He has it, and honoring Him for it. i. To recognize the glory of Jesus is come out-and-out for Him. “Some of you are very like a mouse behind the wainscot. You are in the Lord’s house, but you are not known as one of the family: sometimes you give a little squeak in your hiding-place, and sometimes come out at night, as the mouse does, to pick up a crumb or two, without being seen. Is this worthy of yourself? Is it worthy of your Lord and Master?” (Spurgeon) ii. To recognize the dominion of Jesus is to let Him rule over us. “Again, if we truly say, ‘To him be glory and dominion,’ then we must give him dominion over ourselves. Each man is a little empire of three kingdoms - body, soul, and spirit - and it should be a united kingdom. Make Christ king of it all. Do not allow any branch of those three kingdoms to set up for itself a distinct rule; put them all under the sway of your one King.” (Spurgeon) e. Amen: This word - in the ancient Greek language, brought over from the Hebrew of the Old Testament - simply means “Yes.” It isn’t a wish that it may be so, but it is an affirmation that, through God, it will be so. Jesus will be praised. i. Jesus has done all this and more for you. You have much to praise Him for - so praise Him! “Would you not wish to be in heaven when your life on earth is over? The time will come when you must die; would you not desire to have a good hope of entering then into the felicities of the perfected ones? I am sure you would; but if you are at last to be numbered amongst the redeemed host on high, you must here learn their song. You cannot be admitted into the choirs above without having practiced and rehearsed their music here below.” (Spurgeon) ii. “The Greek word amen is a transliteration of a Hebrew word of similar sound meaning ‘truth’ or ‘faithfulness,’ hence he meaning ‘be it true’ or ‘so be it.’” (Walvoord) 3. (Rev 1:7) An opening description of the return of Jesus. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. a. Behold, He is coming: This is a command to look - to check it out. John moves from praising Jesus to describing His return. He wants us to behold the coming of Jesus. Jesus said that we should watch and wait for His coming (Mat 24:42). It is something to keep before the eye of our mind, to behold. i. This wasn’t a supernatural vision of Jesus’ return. That supernatural vision will come later. This is description is based from John’s understanding of Old Testament promises of the Messiah’s return and Jesus’ own words about His return. For example, John knew that Jesus was coming because Jesus said He was coming. Jesus said, I will come again and receive you to Myself (Joh 14:3). ii. “Christ has not gone to heaven to say there. He has gone for the church’s benefit; and for his church’s benefit he will return again.” (Seiss) iii. The truth of Jesus’ coming is like a magnet; it draws us closer to Him. “It lifts the heart of the believer out of the world, and out of his low self, and enables him to stand with Moses on the mount, and transfigures him with the rays of blessed hope and promise which stream upon him in those sublime heights.” (Seiss) b. He is coming with clouds: When Jesus comes, He will be surrounded by clouds. This will be true literally, because when Jesus left this earth, He was taken up into a cloud, and God said that He would return in the same manner (Act 1:9-11). It will also be true figuratively, because multitudes believers are called clouds in a figurative manner (Heb 12:1). Clouds are commonly associated with God’s presence and glory (Exo 13:21-22; Exo 16:10; Exo 19:9; Exo 24:15-18), relating to the Old Testament cloud of glory called the Shekinah. i. Understanding this connection with the glory of God, it is fitting - and wonderful - that the multitude of believers is called a cloud. God’s people are His glory. They are His “cloud,” His Shekinah. ii. John didn’t need a special vision to know He is coming with clouds. He knew this from the Old Testament (Dan 7:13-14) and from Jesus’ own words: I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mat 26:64). c. And every eye will see Him: When Jesus comes, it won’t be a “secret” coming. Everyone will know. At His first coming, Jesus was somewhat obscure. During His earthly ministry, He never made front-page news in Rome. But when Jesus comes again, every eye will see Him. The whole world will know. i. John didn’t need a special vision to know every eye will see Him. John heard Jesus Himself say, Therefore if they say to you, “Look, He is in the desert!” do not go out; or “Look, He is in the inner rooms!” do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Mat 24:26-27) d. Even they who pierced Him: When Jesus comes, it will be a particularly meaningful revelation for the Jewish people. Of course, it was not the Jews alone who pierced Him. But we know John has in mind the revelation of Jesus to His own people because this is an allusion to Zec 12:10. i. When Jesus reveals Himself to His own people, the Jews, it will not be in anger. By that time, the Jewish nation will have turned to Jesus, trusting in Him as their Messiah (Mat 23:39, Rom 11:25-26). When they see Jesus, and His pierced hands and feet, it will be a painful reminder of their previous rejection of Him. It will fulfill the scene of Zec 12:10 : And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. ii. John didn’t need a special vision to know even they who pierced Him. He could read it in Zec 12:10. e. All the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him: When Jesus comes, it won’t be only the Jewish people who mourn because of their previous rejection of Jesus. Since there will be people saved from all the tribes of the earth (Rev 7:9), everyone will have a part in this mourning. We will all look at the scars on Jesus and say “We did this to Him.” i. John didn’t need a special revelation to know all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. He just needed to remember what Jesus said at Mat 24:30 : Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 4. (Rev 1:8) An introduction from Jesus Himself. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” a. I am the Alpha and the Omega: In many translations, and in “Red-Letter” editions, these words are in red. This shows that the translators believed that these were the words of Jesus. John is finished with his introduction, and now Jesus introduces Himself. After all, it is His revelation (the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 1:1), so it isn’t strange that He introduces it. i. Some have wondered if it is God the Father or God the Son speaking here. We suspect it is God the Son, Jesus Christ, and we believe this for many reasons. First, since it is Jesus’ Revelation, it seems appropriate that He introduces it. Second, the titles Alpha and Omega and the Beginning and the End are titles expressly claimed by Jesus (Rev 22:13). Third, though the title who is and who was and who is to come is used of God the Father in Rev 1:4, it is also true of God the Son, and seems to be directed to Jesus in Rev 11:17 and Rev 16:5. b. The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End: The idea behind these titles for Jesus is that He is before all things and will remain beyond all things. Alpha was the first letter of the ancient Greek alphabet, and Omega was the last letter. Jesus says, “I am the ‘A to Z,’ the Beginning and the End.” i. If Jesus both the Beginning and the End, then He also has authority over everything in-between. This means that Jesus does have a plan for history, and He directs the path of human events toward His designed fulfillment. Our lives are not given over to blind fate, to random meaninglessness, or to endless cycles with no resolution. Instead, Jesus Christ who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End directs all of human history and even our individual lives. c. Who is and was and who is to come: As shown in the comments on Rev 1:4, this phrase communicates the idea behind the great Old Testament name for the Triune God, Yahweh. It reflects His eternal nature, and His unchanging presence. Jesus has this eternal nature just as much as God the Father does. Mic 5:2 prophetically expressed it this way: Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. Heb 13:8 expressed it this way: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. d. The Almighty: This word Almighty translates the ancient Greek word pantokrater, which literally means “the one who has his hand on everything.” It speaks of the great sovereign control of Jesus over everything - past, present, and future. i. This great word Almighty is used ten times in the New Testament, and nine of the ten times are in the Book of Revelation. This book has a striking on God’s sovereignty, the understanding that He has His hand on everything. C. John is commanded to write. 1. (Rev 1:9) John on the Island of Patmos. I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. a. I, John . . . was on the island that is called Patmos: The island of Patmos was a like an Alcatraz Island in the Roman Empire. It was used as a prison island, and functioned as a prison without walls. The island was rich in marble, and most of the prisoners were forced laborers in marble quarries. Patmos was a rocky, desolate island about 10 miles long, and 6 miles wide. i. “John was at the time in exile, upon a lonely and desolate island. But neither seas, nor Alps, nor ages, can sever the bonds by which Christians are united to each other, or to Christ, their Lord. Less than a year ago I passed that island. It is a mere mass of barren rocks, dark in colour and cheerless in form. It lies out in the open sea, near the coast of Western Asian Minor. It has neither trees nor rivers, nor any land for cultivation, except some little nooks between the ledges of rocks. There is still a dingy grotto remaining, in which the aged Apostle is said to have lived, and in which he is said to have had this vision. A chapel covers it, hung with lamps kept burning by the monks.” (Seiss) ii. Barnes describes Patmos as “Lonely, desolate, barren, uninhabited, seldom visited, it had all the requisites which could be desired for a place of punishment; and banishment to that place would accomplish all that a persecutor could wish in silencing the apostle, without putting him to death.” Praise God that this exile didn’t silence the Apostle John! b. For the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ: Most scholars assume that John was on Patmos because he was arrested and imprisoned in persecution from the Romans. This is probably the case, especially because John says that he is your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ. However, it is also possible that John was on Patmos as a missionary to the prisoners there. i. The ancient Christian historian Eusebius says John was imprisoned at Patmos under the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. (Church History, III.18, 20 - from the Nicean and Post Nicean Fathers Series 2, Volume 1, pages 1480149) ii. “According to Victorinus, John, though aged, was forced to labor in the mines located at Patmos. Early sources also indicated that about A.D. 96, at Domitian’s death, John was allowed to return to Ephesus when the Emperor Nerva was in power.” (Walvoord) 2. (Rev 1:10-11) John is commanded to write. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” a. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day: What does John mean by saying he was in the Spirit? This seems to have more meaning than simply saying he was walking “in the Spirit” as opposed to being “in the flesh” in the sense Paul means in Gal 5:16. The idea isn’t simply that John was walking in the Spirit, but that he received unique revelation from the Holy Spirit. This was a unique spiritual experience for John, what some might call an out of body experience - though of course, without the occult or spiritism such experiences are associated with today. i. Walvoord defines in the Spirit like this: “Carried beyond normal sense into a state where God could reveal supernaturally the contents of this book.” ii. There are four references to John being in the Spirit in the Book of Revelation. First at Patmos (Rev 1:10), then in heaven (Rev 4:2), than in the wilderness (Rev 17:3), and finally on the mountain of God (Rev 21:10). b. On the Lord’s Day: When is the Lord’s Day? Among the pagans of the Roman Empire, the first day of each month was called “Emperors Day” in honor of the Roman Emperor. Perhaps Christians proclaimed their allegiance to Jesus by honoring the first day of the week as their own Lord’s Day. i. This is not the same term used for The Day of the LORD in the Old Testament, nor is it the same idea. The Book of Revelation will definitely deal with the idea of The Day of the LORD, but it doesn’t do it here. c. I heard behind me a loud voice: The loud voice John heard was clear and striking as the sound of a trumpet. The loud voice belongs to the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, who is the beginning and the end of all things. Since Jesus introduced Himself with these titles in Rev 1:8, we know this was the loud voice of Jesus. i. Clarke on the voice as of a trumpet: “This was calculated to call in every wandering thought, to fix his attention, and solemnize his whole frame.” ii. The First and the Last is a title that belongs to the LORD, Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel (Isa 41:4; Isa 44:6, and Isa 48:12). The title Alpha and the Omega has the same idea as First and the Last. This is one of the New Testament passages where Jesus clearly claims to be God. d. What you see, write in a book: Here, John is commanded to write what he sees. He will be commanded to write eleven more times in the Book of Revelation. We get the sense that unless John was commanded to write, he would have just kept it to himself. It’s always best to keep visions and revelations one’s self unless commanded otherwise. e. Send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: John is commanded to write to seven churches in seven cities. Each of these churches is in the region of the Roman province of Asia. But these were not the only cities with churches in this region. For example, there was a church in the city of Colosse (to which the Apostle Paul wrote the letter of Colossians), but the city of Colosse isn’t included in this list of seven churches. Why were these specific seven churches chosen? i. Some have suggested that it is because they are arranged in a roughly circular pattern. Others have thought it was because these were postal districts in the Roman province of Asia. Many believe seven churches were chosen because in the Bible, the number seven often represents completeness, and these letters - and all of the Book of Revelation - are written to the complete church, not only these seven churches. Seiss writes, “The churches of all time are comprehended in seven,” and quotes many modern and ancient commentators that agree with this perspective. ii. “It is the opinion of very learned writers upon this book, that our Lord, by these seven churches, signifies all the churches of Christ to the end of the world; and by what he saith to them, designs to show what shall be the state of churches in all ages, and what their duty is.” (Poole) iii. Interestingly, the Apostle Paul also wrote to seven churches: Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, and Thessalonika. D. John’s vision of Jesus. 1. (Rev 1:12-13) Jesus in the midst of the lampstands. Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. a. I turned to see the voice: We can only imagine what went through John’s mind as he turned. The voice he heard was probably not exactly the same sound as he remembered Jesus’ voice to be (John described it as of a trumpet, Rev 1:10). Yet he knew from the voice’s self-description (Alpha and Omega) that it was Jesus. This was John’s opportunity to see Jesus again, after knowing Him so well during the years of His earthly ministry. b. First, John didn’t see Jesus. He saw seven golden lampstands. These were not candlesticks, they were not menorahs, but they were free standing oil lamp stands. The lamps set on these lampstands. i. There were seven separate lampstands. This is an image that reminds us of the golden lampstand that stood in the tabernacle and the temple (Exo 25:31-37). Yet this is different. The Old Covenant lampstand was one lampstand with seven lamps on it. Here in the New Covenant, we see seven lampstands. “In the Jewish tabernacle there was on golden candlestick, and seven lamps, to give light . . . John here seeth seven. God had but one church of the Jews, but many among the Gentiles.” (Poole) ii. The light doesn’t come from the lampstands. The light comes from the oil lamps themselves. The stands merely make the light more visible. Therefore, the lampstands are a good picture of the church. We don’t produce the light, we simply display it. iii. “A lamp is not light in itself, it is only the instrument of dispensing light, and it must receive both oil and fire before it can dispense any; so no Church has in itself either grace or glory, it must receive all from Christ its head, else it can dispense neither light nor life.” (Clarke) c. And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man: Jesus is there in the midst of these lampstands, as the Son of Man, a figure of glory looking back to Dan 7:13-14. Though the title Son of Man sounds like a humble title, in light of the Daniel passage, it is not a “humble” title at all. d. Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band: The clothing of Jesus indicates that He is a person of great dignity and authority. Long garments were only worn by those who didn’t have to work much, so they were a picture of great status and authority. The golden band around the chest probably hints at the garments of the high priest (Exo 29:5). i. Exo 39:1-5 says that there were golden threads in the band that went around the chest of the high priest of Israel. Jesus’ band has more than a few golden threads. It is all gold! How much greater is the eternal, heavenly priesthood of Jesus! ii. One of the duties of the Old Testament priests was to tend the golden lampstand in the tabernacle. Every day they had to fill the oil, clean the soot, and trim the wicks. They had to closely inspect and care for the lamps so they would burn continually before the Lord. Here is Jesus, our High Priest, in the midst of the seven lampstands, carefully inspecting and caring for the lamps, helping them to always burn brightly before the Lord. 2. (Rev 1:14-16) John describes Jesus. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. a. His head and hair were white like wool: The white hair speaks of old age, and is therefore in that culture was connected with the idea of great wisdom and timelessness. The phrase white as snow also emphasizes the idea of purity (Isa 1:18). i. The white hair and head also connect Jesus with the Ancient of Days in Dan 7:9. “The term of Ancient of Days belongs to God the Father, yet it also agreeth to Christ, who is equal with the Father as to his Divine nature.” (Poole) ii. “When we see in the picture his head and his hair white as snow, we understand the antiquity of his reign.” (Spurgeon) iii. “This was not only an emblem of in antiquity, but it was evidence of his glory; for the whiteness of splendour of his head and hair doubtless proceeded from the rays of light and glory which encircled his head, and darted from it in all directions.” (Clarke) b. His eyes like a flame of fire: Fire is often associated with judgment in the Scriptures (Mat 5:22, 2Pe 3:7). Jesus’ eyes display the fire of searching, penetrating judgment. c. His feet were like fine brass: Since fire is connected with judgment, these feet like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace speak of someone who has been through the fires of judgment and has come forth with a refined purity. Jesus has been through the “Refiner’s Fire.” i. Brass is a metal connected with judgment and sacrifice. Israel’s altar of sacrifice was made of brass (Exo 27:1-6), and it was called the “brazen altar.” ii. Brass is also a strong metal, the strongest known in the ancient world. Therefore feet . . . like fine brass are “An emblem of his stability and permanence, brass being considered the most durable of all metallic substances or compounds.” (Clarke) d. His voice as the sound of many waters: This means that Jesus’ voice had the power and majesty of a mighty waterfall. e. He had in His right hand seven stars: The seven stars speak of the leaders or representatives of the seven churches mentioned in Rev 1:11 (Rev 1:20). The stars are securely in the hand of Jesus. Since seven is the number of completion, we can say that “He’s got the whole church in His hands.” f. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: This is a heavy sword (rhomphaia), used to kill and destroy. Sometimes the New Testament speaks of a smaller, more tactical sword known in the ancient Greek language as the machaira. Heb 4:12 uses the term for this smaller, more precise sword. i. The idea of it coming out of His mouth is not that Jesus carries a sword in His teeth. The idea is that this sword is His word. His weapon is the Word of God, and our weapon is Word of God (Eph 6:17). ii. Barnes says that John didn’t necessarily see a sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth. “He heard him speak; he felt the penetrating power of his words; and they were as if a sharp sword proceeded from his mouth.” iii. It is a sharp two-edged sword: “There is no handling this weapon without cutting yourself, for it has no back to it, it is all edge. The Word of Christ, somehow or other, is all edge.” (Spurgeon) g. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength: The glory of Jesus is so great, so shining, that it is hard to even look upon Him. Jesus has the same glory as in His transfiguration, when His face shone like the sun (Mat 17:2). i. “His face was like the disk of the sun in the brightest summer’s day, when there were no clouds to abate the splendour of his rays.” (Clarke) ii. “What do you see in Christ’s right hand? Seven stars; yet how insignificant they appear when you get a sight of his face! They are stars, and there are seven of them; but who can see seven stars, or, for the matter of that, seventy thousand stars, when the sun shineth in his strength? How sweet it is, when the Lord himself is so present in a congregation that the preacher, whoever he may be, is altogether forgotten! I pray you, dear friends, when you go to a place of worship, always try to see the Lord’s face rather than the stars in his hand; look at the sun, and you will forget the stars.” (Spurgeon) iii. Everything in this vision speaks of strength, majesty, authority and righteousness. There is an impressive difference between this vision of Jesus and the many weak, effeminate portrayals of Jesus seen today. But the Jesus that John saw is the real Jesus, the Jesus that lives and reigns in heaven today. iv. We should consider the fact that this is the only physical description of Jesus given to us in the Bible. The only other description that comes close is in Isa 53:2 : He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. v. In our modern pictures of Jesus, we like to think of Him as He was, not Jesus as He is. We prefer to see and know Jesus after the flesh. But Paul said Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. (2Co 5:16) 3. (Rev 1:17-18) John’s reaction and Jesus’ assurance. 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. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” a. When I saw Him, I feel at His feet as dead: John was overwhelmed by this awesome vision, even though he was an apostle who knew Jesus on this earth. Even the three years John spent with Jesus on this earth did not really prepare him to see Jesus in His heavenly glory. At this moment, John knew what a miracle it was that Jesus could shield His glory and authority while He walked this earth. i. “Blessed position! Does the death alarm you? We are never so much alive as when we are dead at his feet.” (Spurgeon) ii. “It matters not what aileth us if we lie at Jesus’ feet. Better be dead there than alive anywhere else.” (Spurgeon) b. He laid His right hand on me: First, Jesus comforted John with a compassionate touch. Perhaps the touch of Jesus felt more familiar than the appearance of Jesus. Then Jesus gave John a command: Do not be afraid. John didn’t need to be afraid because He was in the presence of Jesus. i. Jesus is the First and the Last, the God of all eternity, Lord of eternity past and eternity future. ii. Jesus is the one who lives, and was dead, and is alive forevermore. He has the credentials of resurrection, and lives to never die again. The victory that Jesus won over sin and death was a permanent victory. He didn’t rise from the dead just to die again. iii. Jesus is the one who has the keys of Hades and of Death. Some imagine that the devil is somehow the “lord of Hell.” Some imagine that the devil has authority or power to determine life or death. Clearly, they are wrong, for only Jesus holds the keys of Hades and of Death. We can trust that Jesus never lets the devil borrow the keys. 4. (Rev 1:19-20) Another command to write and an explanation. “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 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.” a. Write the things: This second command to write gives us a structure to understand the Book of Revelation. John is command to write regarding the past, present, and future (from John’s perspective). i. The things which you have seen: This means that Jesus wanted John to write the things he had just seen in his vision of the glorious, heavenly Jesus. ii. The things which are: This means that Jesus wanted John to write about the things of his present day, the things regarding the seven churches which are in Asia. iii. The things which will take place after this: This means that Jesus wanted John to write about the things that would happen after the things regarding the seven churches, the things of the last days. b. The Book of Revelation is arranged in this three-part structure. The things which you have seen: Revelation chapter 1 The things which are: Revelation chapters 2 and 3 The things which will take place after this: Revelation chapters 4 through 22 c. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches: Jesus kindly interprets His own images. The stars in His hand represent the angels of the seven churches. The lampstands represent the seven churches themselves. i. Why would each church have its own angel, and why does Jesus hold these angels in His hand? Some people believe that these angels are the pastors of these seven churches. This idea is based on a literal understanding of the ancient Greek word translated angel, aggelos. That word literally means “messenger,” and certainly pastors are “messengers” to churches. Others have thought that the angels might be “guardian angels” over each congregation. Some have suggested that the angels are not literal beings at all, but that they just represent the “prevailing spirit” of each church. There are strengths and weaknesses to any of these interpretations, but we do know that in some way, these angels are representatives of each congregation. ii. Adam Clarke believed the angel of each church was its pastor. “Angel of the Church here answers exactly to that officer of the synagogue among the Jews called . . . the messenger of the Church, whose business it was to read, pray, and teach in the synagogue.” (Clarke) iii. It is more important to notice where the angels are: the right hand of Jesus. This is a place of safety and strength. Even the “problem churches” that will be described in the next chapters are in the right hand of Jesus. d. This was a spectacular vision, and many people wish they could have a spectacular vision like John had. But we can know the very same Jesus John saw. We can know His purity, His eternal wisdom, His searching judgment, His victory, His authority and His majesty. Each of these aspects of His nature are ours to know intimately. i. When the think of John’s spectacular vision, we should remember where John is: imprisoned on Patmos. Jesus is often known most intimately in the midst of suffering and trials. Both John and Stephen (Act 7:54-60) saw Jesus most clearly and gloriously when in the context of suffering for the cause of Jesus. “The wrath of the wicked does but bring saints the nearer to the choice favours of God.” (Seiss)



King James Version

This is the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible (also known as the Authorized Version). "Public Domain"




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