Words of Comfort to the Church (Rev. 1:4-8

In our last study, we noted that the church at the time of John’s writing was perplexed with trials from within and from without.  John writes to strengthen the faith of the church and to encourage them to press on. In his greeting, He reminds them of some marvelous truths to revive their hope and joy.

He begins his greeting with “grace and peace” from the Triune God.  This is to remind them of the favor that God has bestowed on them in choosing them and making them His own. He then refers to each person of the Trinity with a specific attribute to further encourage their hearts. The Father is “the One who was and who is, and who is to come.” This speaks of His eternity and immutability. He is the Great I AM, who will remain faithful to His covenant promises. Though our circumstances in life change, God remains the same.

Secondly, this grace and peace comes from the Holy Spirit, the gracious Comforter who is in the presence of God and yet dwells in us to comfort and sanctify us.

Thirdly, it comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings on earth.” This speaks of His life, His death, His resurrection, and His present reign. In His life, He was faithful unto death, but God raised Him and made Him to be the firstborn from the dead.  This is to remind them that should they suffer unto death, they too will be raised to newness of life; and as He currently reigns as the sovereign king, they can be assured that nothing can happen to them apart from His will. 

Upon the mention of Christ’s present reign, John breaks out into a doxology of praise to our king. “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

In this doxology, John reminds them that though they may be despised and rejected by their countrymen and treated as lawbreakers by the state, they are dearly loved by Christ and are precious in His sight. Both they and we can be assured of this, because He freed us from our sins by shedding His blood for us; and He made us a kingdom of priests to our God, that we may serve and praise Him forever and ever.

Having spoken of Christ’s life, death, and present reign, John naturally looks to His return.

“Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him…” Here he references two OT passages to indicate that his coming will be with glory and power, and visible to all. For us believers, it will be a day of joy and gladness, when our faith will be turned into sight, and we will forever be with the Lord; but for unbelievers, it will be a day of dread and sorrow (cf: Rev 6:15-16; 2 Thess 1:6-10).

In verse 8, the Lord closes the greeting with these comforting words: “I am the Alpha and Omega… the Almighty.” He is the author of history and will one day bring it to a close, when Christ returns.

Brethren, in the midst of much uncertainty in the world, we can be confident of these timeless truths. Let us keep our eyes on Him, “the author and perfecter of our faith.”