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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave
to him, to show his servants what must happen soon. He made it known by sending
his angel to his servant John,
who gives witness to the word of God and to the
testimony of Jesus Christ by reporting what he saw.
Blessed is the one 2 who
reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed
what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.
3 John, to the seven churches in Asia: 4
grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from
the seven spirits before his throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves
us and has freed us 5 from our sins by his blood,
who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his
God and Father, to him be glory and power forever (and ever). Amen.
Behold, he is coming amid the clouds, and every
eye will see him, even those who pierced him. All the peoples of the earth will
lament him. Yes. Amen.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," 6
says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the
7 I, John, your brother, who share with you the
distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the
island called Patmos 8 because I proclaimed God's word and gave
testimony to Jesus.
I was caught up in spirit on the Lord's day 9
and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet,
which said, "Write on a scroll 10
what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum,
Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."
11 Then I turned to see whose voice it was that
spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands
and in the midst of the lampstands one like a
son of man, 12 wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold
sash around his chest.
The hair of his head was as white as white wool
or as snow, 13 and his eyes were like a fiery flame.
His feet were like polished brass refined in a
furnace, 14 and his voice was like the sound of rushing
In his right hand he held seven stars. 15
A sharp two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun
at its brightest.
When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his
feet as though dead. 16 He touched me with his right hand
and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last,
the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I
am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. 17
Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and
what is happening, and what will happen afterwards. 18
This is the secret meaning 19
of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold lampstands:
the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands
are the seven churches.
1 [1-3] This prologue describes the
source, contents, and audience of the book and forms an inclusion with the
epilogue (⇒ Rev 22:6-21), with its similar themes
2  Blessed is the one: this is the
first of seven beatitudes in this book; the others are in
⇒ Rev 14:13; ⇒ 16:15;
⇒ 19:9; ⇒ 20:6;
⇒ 22:7, ⇒ 14. This
prophetic message: literally, "the words of the prophecy"; so
⇒ Rev 22:7, ⇒ 10,
⇒ 18, ⇒ 19 by
inclusion. The appointed time: when Jesus will return in glory; cf ⇒ Rev
1:7; ⇒ 3:11;
⇒ 22:7, ⇒ 10,
⇒ 12, ⇒ 20.
3 [4-8] Although Revelation begins
and ends (⇒ Rev 22:21) with Christian epistolary
formulae, there is nothing between Rev 4; 22 resembling a letter. The author
here employs the standard word order for greetings in Greek letter writing:
"N. to N., greetings . . ."; see the note on ⇒ Romans
4  Seven churches in Asia: Asia
refers to the Roman province of that name in western Asia Minor (modern
Turkey); these representative churches are mentioned by name in
⇒ Rev 1:11, and each is the recipient of a message
(⇒ Rev 2:1-⇒ 3:22). Seven
is the biblical number suggesting fullness and completeness; thus the seer is
writing for the whole church.
5  Freed us: the majority of Greek
manuscripts and several early versions read "washed us"; but
"freed us" is supported by the best manuscripts and fits well with
Old Testament imagery, e.g., ⇒ Isaiah 40:2.
6  The Alpha and the Omega: the
first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In ⇒ Rev
22:13 the same words occur together with the expressions "the
First and the Last, the Beginning and the End"; cf ⇒ Rev
1:17; ⇒ 2:8;
⇒ 21:6; ⇒ Isaiah 41:4;
7 [9-20] In this first vision, the
seer is commanded to write what he sees to the seven churches (⇒ Rev
1:9-11). He sees Christ in glory, whom he depicts in stock
apocalyptic imagery (⇒ Rev 1:12-16), and hears him
describe himself in terms meant to encourage Christians by emphasizing his
victory over death (⇒ Rev 1:17-20).
8  Island called Patmos: one of
the Sporades islands in the Aegean Sea, some fifty miles south of Ephesus, used
by the Romans as a penal colony. Because I proclaimed God's word: literally,
"on account of God's word."
9  The Lord's day: Sunday. As
loud as a trumpet: the imagery is derived from the theophany at Sinai
(⇒ Exodus 19:16, ⇒ 19;
cf ⇒ Hebrews 12:19 and the trumpet in other
eschatological settings in ⇒ Isaiah 27:13;
⇒ Joel 2:1; ⇒ Matthew
24:31; ⇒ 1 Cor 15:52;
⇒ 1 Thes 4:16).
10  Scroll: a papyrus roll.
11 [12-16] A symbolic description of
Christ in glory. The metaphorical language is not to be understood literally;
12  Son of man: see the note on
⇒ Mark 8:31. Ankle-length robe: Christ is priest; cf
⇒ Exodus 28:4; ⇒ 29:5;
⇒ Wisdom 18:24; ⇒ Zechariah
3:4. Gold sash: Christ is king; cf ⇒ Exodus
28:4; ⇒ 1 Macc 10:89;
⇒ 11:58; ⇒ Daniel 10:5.
13  Hair . . . as white as white
wool or as snow: Christ is eternal, clothed with the dignity that belonged to
the "Ancient of Days"; cf ⇒ Rev 1:18;
⇒ Daniel 7:9. His eyes were like a fiery flame:
Christ is portrayed as all-knowing; cf ⇒ Rev 2:23;
⇒ Psalm 7:10; ⇒ Jeremiah
17:10; and similar expressions in ⇒ Rev
2:18; ⇒ 19:12; cf
⇒ Daniel 10:6.
14  His feet . . . furnace: Christ
is depicted as unchangeable; cf ⇒ Ezekiel 1:27;
⇒ Daniel 10:6. The Greek word translated
"refined" is unconnected grammatically with any other word in the
sentence. His voice . . . water: Christ speaks with divine authority; cf
⇒ Ezekiel 1:24.
15  Seven stars: in the pagan
world, Mithras and the Caesars were represented with seven stars in their right
hand, symbolizing their universal dominion. A sharp two-edged sword: this
refers to the word of God (cf ⇒ Eph 6:17;
⇒ Hebrews 4:12) that will destroy unrepentant
sinners; cf ⇒ Rev 2:16;
⇒ 19:15; ⇒ Wisdom
18:15; ⇒ Isaiah 11:4;
⇒ 49:2. His face . . . brightest: this symbolizes
the divine majesty of Christ; cf ⇒ Rev 10:1;
⇒ 21:23; ⇒ Judges 5:31;
⇒ Isaiah 60:19; ⇒ Matthew
16  It was an Old Testament belief
that for sinful human beings to see God was to die; cf
⇒ Exodus 19:21;
⇒ 33:20; ⇒ Judges
6:22-23; ⇒ Isaiah 6:5.
17  Netherworld: Greek Hades, Hebrew
Sheol, the abode of the dead; cf ⇒ Rev 20:13-14;
⇒ Numbers 16:33.
18  What you have seen, and what
is happening, and what will happen afterwards: the three parts of the Book of
Revelation, the vision (⇒ Rev 1:10-20), the
situation in the seven churches (Rev 2-3), and the events of Rev 6-22.
19  Secret meaning: literally,
"mystery." Angels: these are the presiding spirits of the seven
churches. Angels were thought to be in charge of the physical world (cf
⇒ Rev 7:1; ⇒ 14:18;
⇒ 16:5) and of nations (⇒ Daniel
10:13; ⇒ 12:1), communities (the seven
churches), and individuals (⇒ Matthew 18:10;
⇒ Acts 12:15). Some have seen in the
"angel" of each of the seven churches its pastor or a personification
of the spirit of the congregation.
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