Revelation's Greetings II
Revelation Series V, 1:6-7
♰ 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
“And hath made us kings and priests.” ～ The ransomed and blood washed ones (i.e. the Saints) are themselves made kings and also priests. By this designation the Church is shown to have inherited the prerogatives of Israel. Yahweh told Israel that they would be to Him “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). Using near to the same words, the Holy Spirit, speaking through the apostle Paul, tells the Church, “… ye are ... a royal priesthood, an holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). The prerogatives of the nation of Israel passed to the Church (the New Israel – see Galatians 6:16) on the day of Pentecost A.D. 30. If we skipped forward to 5:10 and took a preview of that passage we would see the redeemed represented by the twenty-four elders and the four beasts (living creatures) who claimed the title of “kings and priests” for themselves. (Concerning these elders and living creatures I will have more to say upon arrival at that place.)
The combination of the two offices of kings and priests onto one person is not normative to holy Scripture before the Messianic Kingdom was established. The one noted king/priest personality in the Old Testament was Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20). This Melchizedek, was the King of Salem (peace) and also the “priest of the most high God.” In natural Israel the same person could not be both, because each must derive from a particular tribe in which one was diverse from the other. However, Jesus is declared a priest after the order of Melchizedek in that He (Jesus) was both king and priest. But, more-so, because He is a priest eternally as is the Melchizedek priesthood (Hebrews 7:21). Therefore, in that the saints are said to be kings and priest it is obviously the Melchizedek priesthood that is in view (Hebrews chapter 7 cf Genesis 14:18-20). Those who are born again into the body of Christ become priests after His order. Jesus promised, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, ... .” (3:21). Therefore, Jesus, the Melchizedek priest, is also the King.
The claim by John, here, that the saints are both kings and priest is a strong indication that the believers are even now ruling and reigning with Christ.
The idea of king/priest is projected for the messianic kingdom by the prophet Zachariah. In that prophet’s writings (chapter 3 and 6:11-13) the high priest Joshua, and the king Zerubbabel (he was actually the governor) are viewed as one. Both of them prefigure the “Branch” (Zachariah 3:8; 6:12) who is the Messiah.
That the title of “king/priest,” used for the saints of the present Church, is strong evidence that the Messianic Kingdom and the Church are one and the same entity.
The glory and dominion that is forever and ever belongs to the “ruler of the kings of the earth” (verses 5 NKJV); but also to the saints who are ruling with Him (5:10; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12). And to the saints to whom He gave instructions to pray for His Kingdom to come in the earth.
“Unto God and his Father.” ～ Here the conjunction between God and Father is the Grk “kai.” Kai is translated: and, even, also, and namely. Here the meaning is obviously “even.” This Grk conjunction is used many times in Scripture to connect the name of Jesus with that of the Father and Holy Spirit. Whereas the English “and” means: another in conjunction to, the Grk “kai” has other meanings that must be considered. Thus, the word can not be relied on the prove a distinction of persons in the Godhead.
“To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.” ～ When armed with this knowledge, Christians will cease running and cowering before the enemy. It is high time to posture ourselves like the kings and priests we are. For our King reigns (Matthew 28:18) and has empowered His saints (Luke 10:19) to take the kingdom (Daniel 7:18, 21-28). To which end we are to pray (Matthew 6-:9-13) and proclaim: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”
“Amen.” ～ At the end of verse 6 is an “Amen.” This word is an affirmation that places an exclamation mark after the verse. Literally, “I have said it, now, let it be so!”
He Comes With Clouds
♰ 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye will see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds.” ～ The one who has been introduced with such glowing credentials in vv4-6 is seen here to be coming “with clouds.” John uses the imperative, “Behold,” as a command. One should read it with an exclamation mark. The expression is intended to alert the reader of an urgent and near event, “He cometh!” Erchetai, not parousia. Erchetai (erchomai) is always used in the present or imperfect tense (see Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible #G2064). Both tenses expresses incomplete action. Present tense is: now existing in a continuing process; while, imperfect tense: indicates an action initiated in the pass but continuing, especially in the past. Since “He is coming” is present tense, it is understood to mean “He is now coming and is continuing to come.” This does not have the physical return of Christ in view. The word “parousia” which means presence is used for the physical second coming of Christ. (For information on parousia see Strongs #3952 and Thayer) Parousia is opposite to apousia and an example of how they are used may be seen in Philippians 2: 12: “Wherefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence (apousia), work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
The parousia (“coming,” with presence implied) is spoken of in such passages as 2 Thessalonians 2:1; Matthew 24:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; James 5: 7ff; 2 Peter 3:4; 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2: 19; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; 2 Peter 3:4; 1 John 2:28; 2 Peter 3:12. But when “the coming of Christ” is expressed by erchomai, physical presence may not be intended. The idea of present tense would suggest the meaning: “He is presently coming and is continuing to come.”
Since erchomai does not have physical presence required, the word lends itself to metaphorical use. In fact, Thayer points this out when commenting on the invisible return of Christ from heaven. The word erchomai is used for Jesus’ “coming” as the Holy Spirit into the lives of His disciples. Again, erchomai is used of Jesus’ invisible advent at the death of believers, by which He takes them to Himself in heaven, (John 14:3). In both cases there has been a continuous indivisible “coming” (erchomai) of Jesus throughout the existence of His Church.
Therefore, the “coming” (“Behold! He is coming”) spoken of in our text should be understood in this way: “He is now coming and continues to come into the world.” It does not preclude the parousia (physical return). Indeed, all the comings (erchomai) of Jesus will be consummated at His parousia.
Moreover, it is more than interesting that the idea of “clouds” is only associated with the erchomai class comings. Where the word for “coming” is parousia, clouds are not seen as accompanying the coming. It is true that clouds are mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, but not as part of the parousia; here, clouds are simply associated with the air and are meant to indicate a rising from the terra firma.
Notice the “coming” passages which includes clouds (NKJV);
Matthew 24:30 “... and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” erchomenon epi tōn nephelōn
Matthew 26:64 “you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” erchomenon epi tōn nephelōn
Mark 13:26 “ ... see the Son of Man coming in the clouds.” erchomenon en nephelais
Luke 21:27 “ ... see the Son of Man coming in a cloud.” erchomenon en nephelai
Revelation 1:7 “ He is coming with clouds.” erchetai meta tōn nephelōn
All of the passages which include clouds as part of the “coming” are referencing the Lord’s coming in judgment upon national Israel. And they are words spoken by Jesus himself with the exception of our text were John is echoing the words of Christ. There is little or no doubt that the reference to clouds is a metaphor for glory and is intended by the Lord to draw attention to the prophecy of Daniel. In Daniel 7:13-14 the prophet introduces a “Son of Man” who receives the kingdoms of the world from the Ancient of Days. The “Son of Man” is portrayed by Daniel as transported by “the clouds of heaven.” From the very first Jesus claimed this prophecy for Himself by His self assumed title “Son of Man.” By the use of the metaphor of clouds Jesus is being consistent with the “kingdom of the Son of Man” motif. The “clouds” are a metaphor of His divine glory; the “coming” is a metaphor of His visitation of judgment upon national Israel. For this reason erchomai is used for “coming” instead of parousia.
“And every eye will see Him.” ～ Since we have before us a passage mixed with metaphor, the statement “and every eye will see Him,” should be considered in that light, as well. That, is to say, since there is not a parousia here, but an erchomai, there is not a physical person to see but rather the coming of His “personal” judicial power and glory.
This event was surely seen by all, if we are to limit the passage to refer to the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70. However, the text does not necessarily have to be so restricted. The Lord has had, and continues to have, such erchomai type comings; that, it can be said: “every eye,” i.e. all generations and races of people have seen His glory, His coming, and His continual coming in the earth.
“And they also which pierced Him.” ～ Especially to see him will be “they also which pierced Him.” Just who “they” are is the big question, and is most likely a key to verify if this company is to be placed in the first century erchomai or at the parousia at the end of human history. As you might guess there are two understandings and in the spirit of evenhandedness I will mention both. Before I do, however, permit me to say, that depending on one’s view of the Revelation, i.e. Preterit, Historic, Futuristic, or Idealic, will determine which of these will be favored above the rest.
The first view is that the “they also which pierced Him” are the ones who actually, in fact, pierced Him. This view would require a fulfillment shortly after the crucifixion, i.e. within the lifetime of his murderers. This view will appeal to Matthew 26: 64 where Jesus tells Caiaphas, the high priest, that both he, the scribes and the elders (verse 57) would see “the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Also, there is a parallel passage of Mark 14:62 where the account does not differ. (The metaphorical nature of the “right-hand” reference shines much needed light on such texts as Hebrews 1:3; 8:1 concerning Jesus being on the right hand of God.) In this first view, our text would have been fulfilled in AD 70 when Rome took Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed. And many of those who had Jesus killed were still alive to witness it. The Jewish historian, Josephus reports that when the Roman engines released their stones, the watchers on the wall would sound the warning by crying, “The Son Cometh.”
(Josephus’ “Wars of the Jews” 5.6 "...Now, the stones that were cast [by the Roman catapults during the siege of Jerusalem] were of the weight of a talent (a Roman talent weighed 71 pounds), and were carried two furlongs and farther (a furlong is 220 yards). ...As for the Jews, they at first watched the coming of the stone, for it was of a white color, and could therefore not only be perceived by the great noise it made, but could be seen also before it came by its brightness; accordingly the watchmen that sat upon the towers gave them [the Jewish rebels] notice when the engine was let go, and the stone came from it, and cried aloud in their own country language, ‘THE SON COMETH:’ so those that were in its way stood off, and threw themselves down upon the ground: by which means, and by their thus guarding themselves, the stone fell down and did them no harm. But the Romans contrived how to prevent that by blacking the stone, [an effective action by the Romans] who then could aim at them with success, when the stone was not discerned beforehand, as it had been till then; and so they destroyed many of them at one blow.")
The second view is that the “they also which pierced him” references the Jewish race at the time of the parousia of Christ. By necessity this is the view that must be held by those who hold a futuristic interpretation of the Revelation. If these are consistent with their futuristic view, and the “they also which pierced him” are in fact the Jewish race at the time of His parousia, then, they must be prepared to accept, and actually believe in, the guilt of every generation of Jews, from the time of the crucifixion up to and especially including the generation of the parousia for the murder (piercing) of Christ. One might look to such passages as Matthew 23:35-36 and Luke 11:49-51 (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16) for support of such a view.
When John writes, “they also which pierced him,” of course, he had the piercing of Jesus in view. This is a reference to the Prophet’s prediction of the piercing of Yahweh (Zachariah 12:10). This is but another indication (in a long list) that Jesus of the New Testament is Yahweh of the Old Testament. By association, John is saying that Jesus is Yahweh pierced. This was a central theme with him; because, he also references the Zachariah prophecy in his gospel (John 19:37). In fact both in John’s Gospel and the Revelation he seems not to miss an opportunity to express the deity of Jesus,
The Fourth Gospel
John 1:1 “the Word was God;” 1:14 “dwelt among us;” 1:48 “before that Philip called thee,… I saw thee” (omniscience); 8:24, 58 “I Am;” 10:30 “I and my father are one;” 14:8-9 “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father;” 20:28 “My Lord and my God.”
Revelation 1:7 Yahweh pierced; 1:8 “Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, the Almighty;” 1:17 “First and the Last” 22:1-5 “throne of God and the Lamb,” one throne, one face, one name; 22:6, 16 the angel of the Lord God is the angel of Jesus.
The author of the Revelation adds strength to what has been written by adding a double affirm: nai amen - Literally, “Yes, and Amen.”
☩ J L Hayes