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. . . . 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. (Revelation 1:8, 10–11).
proceeding with this text, I want to cover something about John’s encounter
with Christ we did not have time to discuss in the previous lecture. Jesus
identified Himself in verse 8 as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the
End. While I did touch on this in that lecture, there is more to discover that
is essential to know about the glorified Christ.
I AM Statements of Christ
the Book of Revelation there are ten I AM statements made by Jesus. Some of them
are repetitions but in all they are quite important for us to consider.
first is in Revelation 1:8, “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”.
This is certainly an attestation to the divinity of Christ. He is the Almighty,
there is no power greater than He and all powers that exist must and will be
subject to His power. The alpha and omega of the Greek alphabet are its first
and last letters, they also represent the alphabet in its entirety and include
all letters in-between. The beginning and the end are also inclusive of all
between, as Jesus says He IS, WAS, and IS TO COME. He is eternal and
second is found just a few verses later in Revelation 1:11, “I am the Alpha
and the Omega, the First and the Last”. Here is a restatement of what He said
in verse 8 as is verse 17, “I am the First and the Last”.
fourth is found in the next verse, Revelation 1:18, “I am He who lives, and
was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore”. While the meaning is consistent
with verse 8, Christ here refers to His Incarnation in that He lived and died as
man; was resurrected and is alive forevermore. This truth is first stated in
Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who
come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”.
Christ reminds John and the readers of the Revelation that He is not a dead
Christ, but a living Christ who always intercedes for the welfare of His people.
next is found in Revelation 2:23, “I am He who searches the minds and
hearts”. While this statement was addressed to the angel of the church in
Thyatira, it is a reference to the omniscience of Christ. He personally knows
everything everyone thinks and believes. While people think their intentions are
what count in any action or lack of action, Christ only looks at what is really
in their minds and hearts. It is not possible for people to deceive Jesus as it
was for the people of the church in Thyatira to be deceived.
21:6 is again a repeat of His divinity and eternal person as first revealed in
chapter 1, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”.
immediate concern to us is His I AM statement found in Revelation 22:7, “I am
coming quickly”. Not only is a reference to His Second Advent, it is a
statement concerning His continuing work among men. Notice the verb tense:
present progressive. The progressive tense shows that an action is in progress.
We are to understand that at the end of the Book of Revelation He is the Christ
who is in the process of coming. It is not that He began the physical process of
coming, as if He was getting off His throne and began taking steps. It is more
along the lines that He is in the process of making things ready for His coming
which of course involves gathering into the Kingdom as many souls as possible.
Only the omniscience of God knows when that task is complete. As far as we know,
that task is ongoing and it is the responsibility of the church to work with
Christ to gather in those souls.
gospels give us some insight to a present aspect of Christ’s coming in the
sense of gathering souls into the Kingdom of God. Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man
has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Jesus is actively seeking to bring salvation to all people”. John 14:23,
“Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and
My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him”.
We tend to think of the coming of Christ only in the context of His Second
Advent. However, a greater experience is the coming of Christ and the Father
through the agency of the Holy Spirit in salvation to each and every soul that
repents and reaches out for forgiveness through faith.
ninth I AM statement is found in Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the
Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last”. This
is one more repeat about the fact of His divinity.
Revelation 22:16, “I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and
Morning Star”. The Offspring of David reminds us that Jesus is the promised
Messiah as prophesied in Isaiah 11:1. In 2 Peter 1:19 Christ is referred to as
the morning star that rises in the hearts of those that hear and obey the voice
of God as was experienced by the disciples on the mount of transfiguration. This
same thought is conveyed to the angel of the church in Thyatira in Revelation
Connection of the Glorified Christ of Revelation to the Lamb of God in the
are seven I AM statements made by Jesus in the gospel of John. We will look at
them in their brevity without further comment as they are well known to readers
of the gospels.
6:35–48, I am the bread of life.
8:12, 9:5, I am the light of the world.
10:7, I am the door of the sheep.
10:11–14, I am the good shepherd.
11:25, I am the resurrection and the life.
14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life.
15:1–5, I am the true vine.
coincidence of the I AM statements in Revelation and in John’s gospel serve to
link the glorified Christ of the Revelation to the Lamb of God of the gospels.
They are one-and-the-same.
heard a voice behind him. The voice first appears in verse 10 and identifies
itself as the glorified Christ. We will take just a few moments to look at this
as Jesus comes in clouds, it is only appropriate that His voice would be the
sound of a trumpet thereby completing the comparison of the revelation of God to
the Israelites on Mount Sinai with the revelation of Christ here in the Book of
Revelation. The clouds indicate the deity of Christ therefore His voice must
also be the voice of God. It was a loud voice, as of a trumpet, or as loud as a
trumpet is a common brass wind instrument characterized by the clarity of its
sound. No one mistakes the sound of a trumpet for that of any other instrument.
The trumpet first appears in the Old Testament and is instrumental in the
worship and life of the Israelites. The Hebrew word for trumpet is shophar,
which means bright and clear. The purpose of the shophar,
the trumpet, was to call together assemblies of the people and to assemble the
Israelite army for battle.
voice came unexpectedly and suddenly. This happened on the Lord’s Day and it
may be that John was in deep thought and meditation as he worshipped God. The
sound came loudly and brilliantly to attract his attention and focus his
thoughts on what he was about to see.
chapter 19 records the first meeting between God and the Israelites at Mount
Sinai. Verse 9, “And the LORD said to Moses, Behold, I come to you in the
thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you
forever”. God was to descend in a thick cloud and to speak to the people. He
did this so that the people would know and understand that this is really God
and not some mysticism worked by Moses.
11 and 13, “On the third day the LORD will come down upon Mount Sinai in the
sight of all the people. . . When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near
the mountain”. The sound of the trumpet is God’s call for His people to come
it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings
and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet
was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses
brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot
of the mountain. (Verses 16 and 17).
when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses
spoke, and God answered him by voice. (Verse 19).
revelation of God to the Israelites in the thick cloud and with the sound of the
trumpet is repeated in the Revelation; first of all to impress the Apostle John
that he was not dreaming but was actually encountering the great I AM in much
the same way as did his ancestors at Mount Sinai; and second, to assure John
that what he was about to experience and see was part of the divine will of God
that must be recorded, preserved and passed on to the church.
reveals Himself through His I AM statements and tells John His purpose in
meeting with him: “What you see, write in a book”. In studying the
definition of apokalupsis, we learned
that it means the uncovering of a mystery by means of highly figurative
language. The contents of this book were conveyed to John by way of mental
pictures. In this sense, Christ prepares John to see what He reveals to him in
the visions that follow. Albert Barnes explains for us in his commentary:
voice, in addition to the declaration “I am Alpha and Omega” gave this
direction that he should record what he saw. The phrase “what you see”
refers to what would pass before him in vision; what he there saw, and what he
would see in the extraordinary manifestations which were to be made to him.
visions were not for John’s entertainment but were for him to write in a book.
Barnes again explains:
a fair record of it all—evidently meaning that he should describe things as
they occurred, and implying that the vision would be held so long before the eye
of his mind that he would be able to transfer it to the “book.” The fair and
obvious interpretation of this is, that he was to make the record in the island
of Patmos, and then send it to the churches. Though Patmos was a lonely and
barren place, and though probably there were few or no inhabitants there, yet
there is no improbability in supposing that John could have found writing
materials there, nor even that he may have been permitted to take such materials
with him. He seems to have been banished for preaching, not for writing; and
there is no evidence that the materials for writing would be withheld from him.
John Bunyan in Bedford jail found materials for writing the Pilgrim’s
Progress; and there is no evidence that the apostle John was denied the means of
recording his thoughts when in the island of Patmos. The word book here—βιβλίον—would
more properly mean a roll or scroll, that being the form in which books were
Churches in Seven Cities
this book was complete, John was to send it to the seven churches in Asia. This
by no means suggests there were only seven churches in Asia Minor, or even in
the portion of Asia Minor in which these churches were located. It also does not
suggest that this book was not to be sent to other churches in Asia Minor, or
anywhere else in the world.
the book had to be hand-written, John could only produce a limited number of
copies—perhaps only one copy that had to be copied later by scribes. As the
seven copies went out to these churches, they undoubtedly would have been copied
and sent to other churches. This was a very common practice among the Christian
church of the time in reproducing and spreading apostolic writings.
lists the seven churches He wanted to receive copies of the book; the first
being Ephesus, which was the capitol city of the region in which the seven
churches were located. This was also the place where John had ministered and
from which he had been banished to Patmos.
seven churches form an irregular circle beginning with Ephesus at the bottom and
then heading north in order of their mention, first to Smyrna, north and east to
Pergamos, then south and east to Thyatira, south to Sardis, south and slightly
east to Philadelphia, and finally south and east to Laodicea. The circle would
be completed by turning west and slightly north back to Ephesus.
Clarke gives brief descriptions of the cities. They are located in SW Asia
Minor, which is now in the country of Turkey.
is located at the mouth of the Cayster River on the shore of the Aegean Sea,
about 50 miles south of Smyrna. It was the principal city in this region at the
time John received the Revelation.
now called Ismir, was the largest and richest city of Asia Minor at the time. It
is located about 180 miles SW of Instanbul.
is located on the Caicus River about 16 miles inland from the Aegean Sea. It is
the northern-most city of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation 1. It is now
called Bergama. The ancient city was known for the invention of Pergamenian
is located on the Hermus River about 50 miles from Pergamos. It is now known as
is located about 40 miles east from Smyna at the foot of Mount Tmolus. It was
once the capital city of the Lydian kings and one of the most important cities
in the Persian Empire. It is now known as Sart.
is located on the Cogamus River, also at the foot of Mount Tmolus and SE of
Sardis. It is now known as Alasehir.
is located on the Lycus River. The original name of the city was Diospolis (City
of Zeus), afterwards called Rhodas. It was built by Antiochus II (Theos) in
261–253 b.c. and later called Laodicea in honor of his wife, Laodice.
I AM God, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the glorified Christ has
announced Himself to John and given His instructions to record the visions he
will soon see in a book, a scroll, and send it to the churches in these seven