Revelation 1:4
"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: from the seven Spirits which are before His throne;"
Research Material

"John..."

  • The fact the writer feels no need of further identifying himself is evidence the he was well known in the church "in Asia." It testifies also to the authenticity of the letter, for any other writer than the one whom the believers "in Asia" would recognize as "John" might be expected to lay claim to authority and position. The simplicity with which the writer refers to himself comports with the self-effacing procedure followed by the writer of the Gospel of John. (7BC 731)

"...to the seven churches..."

  • From this point to the close of Revelation 3 is framed somewhat in the form somewhat in the form of an ancient letter, or rather, a series of letters. This epistolary section is introductory to the remainder of the book, which is characterized by a succession of dramatic visions. (7BC 731)
  • "The seven churches," therefore, are easily understood to mean not merely the seven literal churches of Asia which went by the names mentioned, but seven periods of the Christian church. from the days of the apostles to the close of probation. (Revelation 2:1). (US 344)
    • The Seven Churches - Revelation 1:4, 11, 20
    • The Seven Spirits - Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6
    • Seven golden candlesticks - Revelation 1:12, 13, 20; 2:1
    • Seven stars - Revelation 1:16, 20; 2:1
    • Seven lamps of fire - Revelation 4:5
    • Seven seals - Revelation 5:1; 5
    • Seven horns - Revelation 5:6
    • Seven eyes - Revelation 5:6
    • Seven angels - Revelation 8:2, 6; 15:1, 6, 7, 8; 16:1; 17:1; 21:9
    • Seven trumpets - Revelation 8:2, 6
    • Seven thunders - Revelation 10:3, 4
    • Red Dragon having seven heads - Revelation 12:3
    • Beast having seven heads - Revelation 13:1; 17:3, 7, 9
    • Seven crowns - Revelation 13:1
    • Seven last plagues - Revelation 15:1, 6, 8; 21:9
    • Seven golden vials - Revelation 15:7; 17:1; 21:9
    • Seven mountains - Revelation 17:9
    • Seven kings - Revelation 17:10, 11 (2MM 68)

"...which are in Asia..." (Acts 20:17-38)

  • That is, the Roman province of Asia, a region some 300 miles from east to west and 260 miles from north to south, in the western part of what is known as Asia Minor, in the present republic of Turkey. In Hellenistic times this area had developed into the important kingdom of Pergamum, a leading center of Hellenistic culture.... In [New Testament] times Asia remained an important center of Graeco-Roman culture. Paul spent many months there (Acts 18:19-21; Acts 19:1; Acts 19:10), and the success of his labors in the area is attested by three of his epistles to Christians living there (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon). His first epistle to Timothy, who was then in charge of the church at Ephesus, and perhaps of the churches throughout the province, testifies to a well-established Christian community there. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, and it is probable that the members of these churches in the Roman province of Asia were mostly Gentiles.... After the removal of the parent Christian congregation from Jerusalem, shortly before A.D. 70, Asia seems to have taken on increased significance as a Christian center. This was doubtless due to the presence and leadership of the apostle John. According to tradition he resided at Ephesus and traveled about in the surrounding area, "here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit" (Clement of Alexandria Who Is the Rich Man That Shall be Saved? xlii; ANF, vol. 2, p.603). Such an intimate connection between the apostle and the churches of Asia seems to be reflected here. (7BC 731)
  • There were more churches in Asia than seven. We may confine ourselves to that western fraction of Asia known as Asia Minor, or we may include still less territory than that. Even in that small part of Asia Minor where the seven churches were located, and right in their very midst, there were other important churches. Colosse, to the Christians of which place Paul addressed his epistle to the Colossians, was but a short distance from Laodicea. Miletus was nearer than any of the seven to Patmos, where John had his vision. It was an important center of Christianity, as we may judge from the fact that during one of his stays there Paul sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him at that place. (Acts 20:17-38). At the same place he also left in good Christian hands, his disciple Trophimus, sick. (2 Timothy 4:20). Troas, where Paul spent a season with the disciples, and whence after waiting until Sabbath was past he started upon his journey, was not far removed from Pergamos, named among the seven. (US 342-343)
  • It becomes therefore an interesting question to determine why seven of the churches of Asia Minor were selected as the ones to which the Revelation should be dedicated. Does the salutation to the seven churches in Revelation 1, and the admonitions to them in Revelation 2 and 3, have reference solely to the seven literal churches named? Are things described only as they then existed, and portrayed as they were to come to them alone? We cannot so conclude, for good and substantial reasons:
    • The entire book of Revelation was dedicated to the seven churches. (Revelation 1:3, 11, 19; 22:18, 19). The book was no more applicable to them than to other Christians in Asia Minor - those, for instance, who dwelt in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, who were addressed in Peter's epistle (1 Peter 1:1); or the Christians of Colosse, Troas, and Miletus, in the very midst of the churches named.
    • Only a small part of the book could have individually concerned the seven churches, or any of the Christians of John's day, for most of the events it brings to view were so far in the future as to lie far beyond the lifetime of the generation then living, or even the time during which those churches would continue. Consequently those churches could have no direct connection with them. (US 343)
  • The seven stars which the Son of man held in His right hand are declared to be the angels of the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20). The angels of the churches, doubtless all will agree, are the ministers of the churches. Their being held in the right hand of the Son of man denotes the sustaining power, guidance, and protection vouchsafed to them. But there were only seven of them in His right hand. Are there only seven thus cared for by the great Master of assemblies? May not all the true ministers of the entire gospel age derive from this representation the consolation of knowing that they are upheld and guided by the right hand of the great Head of the church? Such would seem to be the only consistent conclusion to be reached.... Again, John, looking into the Christian Era, saw only seven candlesticks, representing seven churches, in the midst of which stood the Son of man. The position of the Son of man among them must denote His presence with them, His watchcare over them, and His searching scrutiny of all their works. But does He thus take cognizance of only seven individual churches? May we not rather conclude that this scene represents His position in reference to all His churches during the gospel age? Then why were only seven mentioned? Seven, as used in the Scriptures, is a number denoting fullness and completeness. Therefore the seven candlesticks denote the entire gospel church in seven periods, and the seven churches may be applied in the same manner.... Why, then, were the seven particular churches chosen that are mentioned? For the reason, doubtless, that in the names of these churches, according to the definitions of the words, are brought out the religious features of those periods of the gospel age which they respectively were to represent. (US 344)

"...grace be unto you..." (Romans 1:7; II Corinthians 1:2)

  • It has been suggested that this greeting came about from a combination of the ordinary Greek salutation "greeting" (James 1:1) and the Hebrew greeting "salom." The two words "grace" and "peace" appear commonly in the salutations of the early Christian epistles, and together apparently constitute a characteristic form of greeting in the apostolic church (Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:3; II Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; II Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3; 1 Peter 1:2; II Peter 1:2; II John 3). (7BC 731-732)
  • We all need to sow a crop of patience, compassion, and love. We shall reap the harvest we are sowing. Our characters are now forming for eternity. Here on earth we are training for heaven. We owe everything to grace, free grace, sovereign grace. Grace in the covenant ordained our adoption. Grace in the Saviour effected our redemption, our regeneration, and our adoption to heirship with Christ. Let this grace be revealed to others. (6T 268)
  • By disobeying the commands of God, man fell under the condemnation of his law. This fall called for the grace of God to appear in behalf of sinners. We should never have learned the meaning of this word “grace” had we not fallen. God loves the sinless angels, who do his service, and are obedient to all his commands; but he does not give them grace. These heavenly beings know naught of grace; they have never needed it; for they have never sinned. Grace is an attribute of God shown to undeserving human beings. We did not seek after it, but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow this grace upon every one who hungers for it. To every one he presents terms of mercy, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our need is the qualification which gives us the assurance that we shall receive this gift. (The Review and Herald article "The Keeping Power of God's Love" September 15, 1896)
  • It is no real evidence that one is a Christian because his emotions are stirred, or his spirit aroused, by the presentation of truth. The question is, Are you growing up into Christ, your living head? Is the grace of Christ manifested in your life? God gives his grace to men, that they may desire more of his grace. God's grace is ever working upon the human heart; and when it is received, the evidence of its reception will appear in the life and character of the recipient, for spiritual life will be seen developing from within. The grace of Christ in the heart will always promote spiritual life, and spiritual advancement will be made. We each need a personal Saviour, or we shall perish in our sins. Let the question be asked of our souls, Am I growing up into Christ, my living head? Am I gaining advanced knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent? We do not see the plants grow in the field, and yet we are assured that they do grow; and may we not know of our own spiritual strength and growth? Growth in grace does not come without much earnest prayer, without the humbling of self at every step. (Bible Echo April 15, 1892)
  • He who does not climb the ladder of progress and add grace to grace “is blind, and cannot see afar off” (2 Peter 2:9), He fails to discern that without taking these successive steps in ascending the ladder round after round, in growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is not placing himself in a position where the light of God above the ladder is reflected upon him. As he does not add grace to grace, he has forgotten the claims of God upon him, and that he was to receive the forgiveness of sins through obedience to the requirements of God. He is in the position of a sinner before God. If he has the graces of Christ he will exercise and increase them, but if he does not bear fruit in good works to the glory of God he remains in a state of blindness and ignorance, self-indulgence, and sin. He “cannot see afar off” (2 Peter 2:9). His eyes are fastened upon the earth, not on God above the ladder. (19 MR 350-351)
  • Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation. Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ's perfect obedience instead of the sinner's transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness. (The Review and Herald article “Christ the Way of Life.”, November 4, 1890)
  • Without the grace of Christ every soul would have been bankrupt for eternity; therefore we can rightfully claim nothing. But while we can claim nothing, yet when we are faithful stewards, the Lord rewards us as if the merit were all our own. He says, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). (TM 167)

"...and peace..."

  • This is the will of God” concerning you, “even your sanctification.”(1 Thessalonians 4:3). Is it your will also? Your sins may be as mountains before you; but if you humble your heart and confess your sins, trusting in the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour, He will forgive and will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. God demands of you entire conformity to His law. This law is the echo of His voice saying to you, Holier, yes, holier still. Desire the fullness of the grace of Christ. Let your heart be filled with an intense longing for His righteousness, the work of which God's word declares is peace, and its effect quietness and assurance forever. (AA 566)

  • Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9). The peace of Christ is born of truth. It is harmony with God. The world is at enmity with the law of God; sinners are at enmity with their Maker; and as a result they are at enmity with one another. But the psalmist declares, “Great peace have they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). Men cannot manufacture peace. Human plans for the purification and uplifting of individuals or of society will fail of producing peace, because they do not reach the heart. The only power that can create or perpetuate true peace is the grace of Christ. When this is implanted in the heart, it will cast out the evil passions that cause strife and dissension. “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;” and life's desert “shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 55:13; 35:1). (DA 302-305)

  • The peace of Christ, the peace of Christ—money cannot buy it, brilliant talent cannot command it, intellect cannot secure it; it is the gift of God. The religion of Christ—how shall I make all understand their great loss if they fail to carry its holy principles into the daily life? The meekness and lowliness of Christ is the Christian's power. It is indeed more precious than all things which genius can create or wealth can buy. Of all things that are sought, cherished, and cultivated, there is nothing so valuable in the sight of God as a pure heart, a disposition imbued with thankfulness and peace... If the divine harmony of truth and love exists in the heart, it will shine forth in words and actions. The most careful cultivation of the outward proprieties and courtesies of life has not sufficient power to shut out all fretfulness, harsh judgment, and unbecoming speech. The spirit of genuine benevolence must dwell in the heart. Love imparts to its possessor grace, propriety, and comeliness of deportment. Love illuminates the countenance and subdues the voice; it refines and elevates the entire man. It brings him into harmony with God, for it is a heavenly attribute. (CH 403)
  • How, then, can the gospel be called a message of peace? When Isaiah foretold the birth of the Messiah, he ascribed to Him the title, “Prince of Peace.” When angels announced to the shepherds that Christ was born, they sang above the plains of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14. There is a seeming contradiction between these prophetic declarations and the words of Christ: “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34. But, rightly understood, the two are in perfect harmony. The gospel is a message of peace. Christianity is a system which, received and obeyed, would spread peace, harmony, and happiness throughout the earth. The religion of Christ will unite in close brotherhood all who accept its teachings. It was the mission of Jesus to reconcile men to God, and thus to one another. But the world at large are under the control of Satan, Christ's bitterest foe. The gospel presents to them principles of life which are wholly at variance with their habits and desires, and they rise in rebellion against it. They hate the purity which reveals and condemns their sins, and they persecute and destroy those who would urge upon them its just and holy claims. It is in this sense—because the exalted truths it brings occasion hatred and strife—that the gospel is called a sword. (GC 46-47)
  • Shortly before His crucifixion Christ had bequeathed to His disciples a legacy of peace. “Peace I leave with you,” He said, “My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27. This peace is not the peace that comes through conformity to the world. Christ never purchased peace by compromise with evil. The peace that Christ left His disciples is internal rather than external and was ever to remain with His witnesses through strife and contention. (AA 84)
  • Peace comes with dependence on divine power. As fast as the soul resolves to act in accordance with the light given, the Holy Spirit gives more light and strength. The grace of the Spirit is supplied to cooperate with the soul's resolve, but it is not a substitute for the individual exercise of faith. Success in the Christian life depends upon the appropriation of the light that God has given. It is not an abundance of light and evidence that makes the soul free in Christ; it is the rising of the powers and the will and the energies of the soul to cry out sincerely, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) (TM 518)

"...Him, which is..."

  • Like the Hebrew, this expression implies the eternal, the timeless self-existence of God. The Greek reads literally, "from He who is," a phrase no more grammatical in Greek than in English. This, however, is not evidence of John's ignorance of grammar; his refusal to inflect the words representing the Divine Being was probably a subtle means of emphasizing the utter unchangeableness of God. From the context of Revelation 1:4-5 it is clear that this phrase refers to the Father. (7BC 732)
  • ...an expression which in this connection refers to God the Father, since the Holy Spirit and Christ are mentioned separately in the immediate context. (US 345)

"...Him... which was..."

  • God has existed from all eternity (Psalm 90:2). (7BC 732)

"Him... which is to come..."

  • The reference here to the Father sets forth His eternity and states that the same One now continually exists has always existed and will always exist. God's personal existence transcends time, but a timeless eternity can be expressed in human words only by finite, temporal terms such as John employs here. (7BC 732)
  • In the word, God is spoken of as “the everlasting God.” This name embraces past, present, and future. God is from everlasting to everlasting. He is the Eternal One. (8T 270)

"...from the seven Spirits..." (Revelation 1:11)

  • Elsewhere in the Revelation these seven Spirits are portrayed as seven lamps of fire (Revelation 4:5) and the seven eyes of the Lamb (Revelation 5:6). The association here of the "seven Spirits" with the Father and with Christ, as equally the source of the Christian's grace and peace, implies that they represent the Holy Spirit. The designation "seven" is probably a symbolic expression of His perfection, and may also imply the variety of the gifts by which He works through man (I Corinthians 12:4-11; Revelation 3:1) (7BC 732)
  • This expression probably has no reference to angels, but to the Spirit of God. It is one of the sources from which grace and peace are invoked for the church. On the interesting subject of the seven spirits, Thompson remarks: "That is, from the Holy Spirit, denominated 'the seven spirits,' because seven is a sacred and perfect number; not thus named ...as denoting interior plurality, but the fullness and perfection of His gifts and operations." Albert Barnes says, "The number seven, therefore, may have been given to the Holy Spirit with reference to the diversity or the fullness of His operations on the souls of men, and to His manifold agency on the affairs of the world, as further developed in this book." (Albert Barnes, Notes on Revelation, page 62, comment on Revelation 1:4 and S.T. Bloomfield, D.D., The Greek Testament With English Notes, Vol. II, p.565, comment on Revelation 1:4) (US 345)

"....which are before His throne."

  • That is, before the throne of "Him which is, and which was, and which is to come." The position perhaps implies readiness for instant service (Daniel 4:2-5). (4BC 732)
  • This refers to the throne of God the Father, for Christ has not yet taken His own throne. The seven spirits being before the throne "May be intended to designate the fact that the Divine Spirit was, as it were, prepared to go forth, or to be sent forth, in accordance with a common representation in the Scriptures, to accomplish important purposes in human affairs." (US 345)