December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 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 almighty."
- 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 water.
- 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.
Table of Contents Introduction Next Chapter
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 and expressions.
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 1:1.
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; 44:6.
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; cf Introduction.
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 17:2.
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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