SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW)

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Revelation

Chapter 1

1, 2 (2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1). The Trustee of Divine Revelation—[Revelation 1:1, 2 quoted.] The whole Bible is a revelation; for all revelation to men comes through Christ, and all centers in Him. God has spoken unto us by His Son, whose we are by creation and by redemption. Christ came to John exiled on the Isle of Patmos to give him the truth for these last days, to show him that which must shortly come to pass. Jesus Christ is the great trustee of divine revelation. It is through Him that we have a knowledge of what we are to look for in the closing scenes of this earth's history. God gave this revelation to Christ, and Christ communicated the same to John. 7BC 953.7

John, the beloved disciple, was the one chosen to receive this revelation. He was the last survivor of the first chosen disciples. Under the New Testament dispensation he was honored as the prophet Daniel was honored under the Old Testament dispensation. 7BC 953.8

The instruction to be communicated to John was so important that Christ came from heaven to give it to His servant, telling him to send it to the churches. This instruction is to be the object of our careful and prayerful study; for we are living in a time when men who are not under the teaching of the Holy Spirit will bring in false theories. These men have been standing in high places, and they have ambitious projects to carry out. They seek to exalt themselves, and to revolutionize the whole showing of things. God has given us special instruction to guard us against such ones. He bade John write in a book that which should take place in the closing scenes of this earth's history (Manuscript 129, 1905). 7BC 953.9

1-3. Revelation an Open Book—Many have entertained the idea that the book of Revelation is a sealed book, and they will not devote time and study to its mysteries. They say that they are to keep looking to the glories of salvation, and that the mysteries revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos are worthy of less consideration than these. But God does not so regard this book.... 7BC 954.1

The book of Revelation opens to the world what has been, what is, and what is to come; it is for our instruction upon whom the ends of the world are come. It should be studied with reverential awe. We are privileged in knowing what is for our learning.... 7BC 954.2

The Lord Himself revealed to His servant John the mysteries of the book of Revelation, and He designs that they shall be open to the study of all. In this book are depicted scenes that are now in the past, and some of eternal interest that are taking place around us; other of its prophecies will not receive their complete fulfillment until the close of time, when the last great conflict between the powers of darkness and the Prince of heaven will take place (The Review and Herald, August 31, 1897). 7BC 954.3

8. See EGW comment on 1 Corinthians 15:22, 45. 7BC 954.4

9. Companions of John on Patmos—John was sent to the Isle of Patmos, where, separated from his companions in the faith, his enemies supposed he would die from hardship and neglect. But John made friends and converts even there. They thought that they had at last placed the faithful witness where he could no longer trouble Israel or the wicked rulers of the world. 7BC 954.5

But all the heavenly universe saw the result of the conflict with the aged disciple and his separation from his companions in the faith. God and Christ and the heavenly host were John's companions on the Isle of Patmos. From them he received instruction which he imparted to those separated with him from the world. There he wrote out the visions and revelations he received from God, telling of the things which would take place in the closing period of this earth's history. When his voice would no longer witness for the truth, when he could no longer testify of the One he loved and served, the messages given to him on that rocky, barren coast were to go forth as a lamp that burneth (Manuscript 150, 1899). 7BC 954.6

(1 John 1:1-10.) Glorious Truths Entrusted to John—Often the very best men, those whom God uses to His name's glory, are unrecognized by human wisdom, but not for one moment are they forgotten by God. When John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos, there were many who thought him to be past service, an old and broken reed ready to fall at any time. But the Lord saw fit to use him in that lonely island home where His servant was imprisoned. The world and the bigoted priests and rulers rejoiced that they were at last rid of his ever fresh testimony. [1 John 1:1-3 quoted.] 7BC 954.7

This whole chapter is full of brave courage, of hope and faith and assurance. It was because of this testimony, so amazing to those who wished to forget Christ, who hated the crucified Redeemer, whom they had rejected, that they wished to get that voice beyond their hearing, that his testimony might no more be a witness against their wicked deeds in crucifying the Lord of glory. But they could not put him in any place where his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ could not find him. 7BC 954.8

Christ's servants who are true and faithful may be unrecognized and unhonored by men ..., but the Lord will honor them. They will not be forgotten by God. He will honor them by His presence because they have been found true and faithful. Those who have grown old in the cause and work of God have an experience of great value for the church. God honors His servants who have grown old in His service. The most glorious truths concerning the last chapters of this earth's history were given to the aged disciple whom Jesus loved (Manuscript 109, 1897). 7BC 954.9

9, 10 (Psalm 71:9; 92:14; Isaiah 46:4). John's Last Years—It was after John had grown old in the service of the Lord that he was exiled to Patmos. And on that lonely isle he received more communications from heaven than he had received during the rest of his lifetime (The Review and Herald, July 26, 1906). 7BC 955.1

Christ's aged representative was exiled that his testimony might no longer be heard; for it was a living power on the side of right. But though separated from his brethren, he was visited by Christ, whom he had not seen since the ascension (The Review and Herald, May 16, 1899). 7BC 955.2

9-15. God's Plan for Future Ages—The hand of persecution falls heavily on the apostle. He is banished to the Isle of Patmos “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” He writes, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.” He was filled with unspeakable joy; for heaven seemed open before him. In clear, distinct tones a voice spoke to him, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” Turning, he beheld his Master, with whom he had walked and talked in Judea, on whose breast he had leaned. 7BC 955.3

But Oh, how changed is His appearance! John had seen Him clothed in an old purple robe and crowned with thorns. Now He is clothed with a garment of heavenly brightness, and girt about with a golden girdle. Writing of His appearance, John says, “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” ... 7BC 955.4

God's plan for future ages was revealed to John. The glories of heaven were opened before his enraptured vision. He saw the throne of God, and heard the anthems of joy resounding through the heavenly courts. As we read his description of what he saw in his vision, we long to stand with the redeemed in the presence of God. 7BC 955.5

Half a century had passed since Jesus ascended to present His church before God, and to prepare mansions for His faithful ones. He still loved His people; for He came to His aged servant to reveal to Him God's plans for the future. 7BC 955.6

On the rugged, desolate island John was left alone with God and his faith. Here, among the rocks and cliffs, he held communion with his Maker. He reviewed his past life, and at the thought of the blessings he had received at the hand of God, peace filled his heart. He had lived the life of a Christian, and he could say in faith, “It is well with my soul.” Not so the emperor who had banished him. He could look back only on fields of warfare and carnage, on desolated homes and weeping widows and orphans—the result of his ambitious desire for pre-eminence (Manuscript 99, 1902). 7BC 955.7

10. Christ Appears on the Sabbath—The Sabbath, which God had instituted in Eden, was as precious to John on the lonely isle as when he was with his companions in the cities and towns. The precious promises that Christ had given regarding this day he repeated and claimed as his own. It was the sign to him that God was his.... On the Sabbath day the risen Saviour made His presence known to John. [Revelation 1:10-13, 17, 18 quoted.] 7BC 955.8

The persecution of John became a means of grace. Patmos was made resplendent with the glory of a risen Saviour. John had seen Christ in human form, with the marks of the nails, which will ever be His glory, in His hands and His feet. Now he was permitted again to behold his risen Lord, clothed with as much glory as a human being could behold, and live. What a Sabbath was that to the lonely exile, always precious in the sight of Christ, but now more than ever exalted! Never had he learned so much of Jesus. Never had he heard such exalted truth (The Youth's Instructor, April 5, 1900). 7BC 955.9

16, 20. See EGW comment on ch. 2:1, 1-5. 7BC 955.10

18-20 (John 1:1-3). The Self-existent, Unchangeable One—[Revelation 1:18-20 quoted.] These are wonderfully solemn and significant statements. It was the Source of all mercy and pardon, peace and grace, the self-existent, eternal, unchangeable One, who visited His exiled servant on the isle that is called Patmos (Manuscript 81, 1900). 7BC 955.11