A Threefold Description of Christ
Revelation 1:4-9
John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…

First, from His prophetical; secondly, from His priestly; thirdly, from His regal. We begin with the prophetical office of Christ, expressed in these words, wherein Jesus Christ is said to be the faithful witness. First, it is the witness. Christ is a witness, and He is a special and singular witness, so as there is none else besides that in this particular is like unto Him (Isaiah 4:4). First, by way of discovery and revelation, as making known to us the will of His Father (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18). There were two ways wherein Christ did make known unto us the gospel, and the will of His Father. First, in His own person (Isaiah 61:1, etc.) Second, He did it also, and still does in His servants, who were sent and appointed by Him (1 Peter 1:10, 11). Third, by way of assurance and confirmation, not only so far forth as He reveals to us those things which we knew not; but also as He does further settle us in these things which we know; He is a witness in this respect likewise. And that by virtue of His Spirit that dwelleth in us (2 Corinthians 2:10). Now there are two things which Christ by His Spirit doth thus witness to all those that are members of Him. First, the truths and doctrines of Christianity; and second, their own spiritual condition and state in grace, as having such truths belonging to them. The second is, the faithful. Christ is not only a witness but a faithful witness, which is the chief commendation of a witness. This faithfulness of Christ in point of testimony may be explained in three particulars. First, in the veracity of it. Christ is a faithful witness, because He witnesses nothing but that which is indeed truth. Second, from the universality of it. Christ's faithfulness is seen, not only in delivering the truth, but the whole truth. And as without reservation, so without addition likewise; that which the Father commits unto Him to be declared, that alone does Christ declare. Third, His faithfulness is seen in His sincerity in all this, in that herein He seeks not His own glory, but the glory of Him that sent Him (John 7:18). The consideration of this point thus explained may have a suitable influence upon ourselves in a way of application. First, as a special argument to us to believe what is propounded by Christ. Faithfulness on Christ's part calls for faith on ours; and His witnessing, it calls for our assent. Let us hold upon Christ's faithfulness by trusting perfectly to the grace which is revealed. Second, as for promises, so for threatenings; He is the faithful witness here likewise. A second use of this point may be to acquaint us with the blessed estate of the servants of God. Those that are true members of Christ are happy persons, because He is a faithful witness. Whatever they have at present here below they have much in reversion and expectation; and that because they have an interest in Christ, who will be sure not to fail them. Third, seeing Christ is a faithful witness it should teach us also conformity to Christ in this particular, whether ministers or other Christians. The second is taken from His priestly, in these, "And the first begotten of the dead." The principal actions of Christ's priesthood consist in two particulars — the one is in dying for us, and the other in rising again from the dead, and making intercession for us. First, Christ was once dead. This is one thing which is here implied (1 Corinthians 15:3). The death of Christ is a special article of our Christian faith. Second, He rose again from the dead; He was begotten among the dead, that is, He was raised from death to life. And this the Scripture also mentions to be profitable to us, both in point of justification, and in point of sanctification likewise (Romans 4:25; the latter in Romans 6:4). Third, Christ was the first begotten of the dead (Colossians 1:18). Christ was said to be the first begotten of the dead, in point of order, as being first in the glorious Resurrection. Therefore He is called the first-fruits of them that sleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Christ is before any other in this particular. And this again in a twofold respect. First, as to the principle of His resurrection; and secondly, as to the terms of it. Though Lazarus and some others rose from the dead before Christ, yet they rose from natural death to natural life, and so as to die again; but Christ so rose as never more to die (Romans 6:9). Thus now Christ is the first begotten of the dead, in point of order. The second is in point of influence; so far forth as Christ's resurrection was operative and efficacious to ours; by way of merit, by way of efficiency, and by way of pattern or example. Again, He is said to be the first begotten of the dead, in regard of that authority which He has over the dead, obtained by His rising again (Romans 14:9). Christ was Lord of us before He rose again; but His resurrection put Him into the actual possession of this lordship, and was a clearer manifestation of it. This is a point of singular encouragement to God's children; and that especially against the fear of death, and the horror of the grave. There is an inseparable union betwixt Christ and every believer; and that not only in regard of their souls, but also of their bodies (1 Corinthians 6:15). And God has made a gracious covenant with them likewise in Christ, to be their God, even for ever and ever, and in death itself, which they shall at last be also raised up from, upon the account of Christ's resurrection (1 Peter 1:3, 4). His regal, or kingly office. "And the Prince of kings of the earth." Christ is not only a prophet and a priest, but likewise a king (Acts 5:31). This Christ is said to be upon a twofold consideration. First, in reference to His nature. Second, in reference to His office. Thus He hath all power in heaven and earth committed unto Him (Matthew 28:18). Now here He is said not only to be a prince absolutely, but relatively, the Prince of the kings of the earth, as showing both His influence upon them, and likewise their dependence upon Him. The consideration of this point is useful both to princes and people. First, it is useful to princes to teach them to look up to this great and mighty Prince of all, whom they thus stand in subjection unto. And second, it is useful to people in sundry regards likewise. First, to infer their obedience; and second, to regulate it.

(T. Horton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

WEB: John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from God, who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne;

A Ministerial Salutation and a Sublime Doxology
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