The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass…
I. Its ORIGINAL SOURCE is expressed in the title which the author gives to his book: It is a revelation of Jesus Christ, and not the revelation; as though it were the only one which He has given, or the only one which He gave to His servant John. There may be a reference in this term to the special design of this book to reveal the time and manner of the Saviour's coming. It was an exciting topic then, as it is now; and many were the conflicting sentiments that were entertained concerning the apocalypse, or revelation of Jesus Christ. It is styled "a Revelation of Jesus Christ," because in His mediatorial person, as Immanuel, or God-man, and in His official capacity as the great Prophet and Teacher of His Church, He was the principal party in making it known. Yet in this, as in every other part of His work, He acts by delegated authority from the Father, and in subserviency to His will. Not less in heaven than on earth, in His glorification than in the scenes of His humiliation, is He the medium of communication between God and His redeemed. This revelation was given to Jesus Christ "to show unto His servants." It was given to Christ to reveal to others. He knew them before. The revelation was not made for Him, but for Him to make known. The persons to whom He is empowered to reveal them are "His servants." The servants of Christ, or of God, are the redeemed. This He is ready to do by His Word, and the teaching of His Spirit.
II. Of the GENERAL CHARACTER of these contents we are thus informed: they are "things which must shortly come to pass." It is not a history of the past, nor a record of the present, but a prophecy of the future. It is not a mass of conjecture, but of certainties. Though pending upon the fickleness of human passions, the whole future course of events is as unalterably fixed as the past.
III. We are informed TO WHOM this revelation, in the first instance, was made known. "He sent and signified it... unto His servant John." He teaches one, that this one may teach many. Ministers should look for their teaching immediately from Christ. John had borne a faithful testimony of the things which had been, and now he is to bear record of the things that should be hereafter. Those who have evinced a sound judgment, and given a faithful record of things which are, and have been, are best qualified to treat of things to come.
IV. We are informed of THE MANNER in which this revelation was communicated by Jesus Christ to His servant John: "He sent and signified it by His angel." God gives the revelation to Jesus Christ, and He to an angel, and the angel to John. The word "angel," which simply signifies a messenger, is not applied in Scripture exclusively to that particular order of beings of which it is the generic term. What more natural to conclude than that saints carry with them their prevailing disposition to heaven; and that the saint whose heart was most interested in the events here recorded should have been selected by Christ as His messenger to John? We have Moses and Elias appearing in angelic forms to our Lord upon the mount. Why not Isaiah or Jeremiah, or Daniel, to John in the isle of Patmos?
V. We are informed of THE PURPOSE for which this revelation was recorded. It was for our study and observance; "Blessed is he that readeth," etc. Whoever undertakes to read the Divine Word to ethers, shall be blessed in his deed. While he is reading new light will burst upon the sacred page, and his own mind will be instructed. The hearers too will be blessed. Few, if any methods, are better adapted to ascertain the meaning of Scripture, and to impress it upon the mind, than its being read by one and afterwards made the subject of mutual inquiry and observation. The multiplication of copies ought not to have superseded this wholesome practice. Let the reading and familiar discussion of all parts of the sacred volume once become general, and a blessing, as the dew of Hermon, will descend upon the mountains of Zion. h particular reason for the blessedness which would accompany the study of this book is given in the concluding observation: "for the time is at hand." This had a special application to the Churches to which it is first addressed. It was an intimation to them that the first events of the series in which they were principally concerned would speedily occur. It was needful, therefore, that they should take them at once into serious consideration. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Let them avail themselves of these preadmonitions, and they would experience the blessedness of those who are prepared for the conflict and sure of final victory. Conclusion:
1. The Church is entrusted with the observation and improvement of events as they rise.
2. It must adapt itself to external changes in the use of appointed means.
3. Prophecy is intended to point out the direction in which its energies should be employed.
Parallel VersesKJV: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: