Revelation 1:4, 5
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…
John to the seven Churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, etc. These words lead us to look on man as divinely dignified. Morally, men are degraded creatures; they have degraded themselves and they degrade one another. Man may and should honour his brother, but he cannot dignify him; if he is to be dignified at all he must dignify himself, and this he can only do as God wills and helps him. In these words he appears as divinely dignified in two respects.
I. MAN IS DIVINELY DIGNIFIED AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DIVINE. John is here employed to represent Divine things "to the seven Churches which are in Asia" (ver. 4). The men who are employed by worldly kings - though they may be in a moral sense contemptible beings - esteem it a great honour to be their representatives in foreign courts. But how infinite the honour of him who is employed by the King "eternal, immortal, invisible"!
1. He represents Divine good. "Grace be unto you, and peace." Divine favour and Divine bliss, the sum total these of the highest good in all worlds and times.
2. He represents the Divine Being. He represents him:
(1) In his absolute existence. "From him which is, and which was, and which is to come" (ver. 4). This is a periphrasis for the incommunicable name of Jehovah, the "I AM," the Unnamable and the Nameless, who is without beginning, without change, without succession, without end. Such a Being exists, and all men instinctively feel after him and forge for him names of great variety, but none appropriate - the Unknown and the Unknowable.
(2) In his spiritual influence. "From the seven Spirits which are before his throne" (ver. 4). Does the seven mean the totality, or variety in unity, the one essence multiform in influence? The One Eternal wields endless influences through every part of his universe - material, intellectual, and moral. The well has many streams, the sun unnumbered beams.
(3) In his transcendent Messiah. "And from Jesus Christ" - Christ the Anointed, the Messiah of God. This divinely anointed One is here set forth in three aspects.
(a) In relation to truth. "Who is the Faithful Witness." What is truth? Reality. Christ came to bear witness of the reality of realities. As a Witness of God, Christ was a competent Witness. He was intellectually competent. He knew God. "No man hath seen God at any time; the Only Begotten of the Father," he alone knew the Absolute. He was morally competent. He had no motive to misrepresent him. He alone had the moral qualifications fully to represent him. You must be pure to represent purity, just to represent justice, loving to represent love.
(b) In relation to immortality. The "First Begotten of the dead" (ver. 5). How was he the First Begotten of the dead; for did not Lazarus rise from the grave? Not in time, but in importance. He arose by his own power. No one else ever did. He arose as the Representative of risen saints. "Our vile body shall be fashioned and made like unto his glorious body."
(c) In relation to empire. "The Prince of the kings of the earth." All power is given unto him. "He is exalted far above all heavens." Thrones, principalities, dominions, all are subject to him.
II. MAN IS DIVINELY DIGNIFIED AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE DIVINE TO MAN. "John to the seven Churches which are in Asia" (ver. 4). "The enumeration which presently follows," says Dr. Vaughan, "of the Churches designed, shows that Asia is here used in its narrowest sense: not of the quarter of the globe so denominated, not even of Asia Minor, but of one province on the western side of that country, expressly distinguished in two well-known passages of the Acts of the Apostles, from Cappadocia and Pontus, from Phrygia and Pamphylia, from Galatia, Mysia, and Bithynia." Not only is he divinely dignified who is employed as the Messenger of the Divine, but he to whom the Divine is sent. The seven congregations in Asia Minor were highly honoured of God as the objects of his redemptive message. How dignified of God is the man who is made at once the Recipient and the Messenger of Divine thoughts! - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;