Chapter 1 of the book of Revelation gives us a beautiful picture of the glorified Christ, which sets the stage for each of the letter to the seven churches. This shows us something about how Christ has dealt with martyrdom and persecution as an example for them to follow. The word Revelation or “apokalypsis” in Greek, means unveiling or revealing. Obviously, it’s not something men could discover but something that God chose to reveal to them through His Son. John calls this book a prophecy (cf. Rev. 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18, and 19), and although it’s a certain literary genre the readers in Asia (western turkey) were used to in the 1st century, it is more connected to Old Testament prophecy than it does to Jewish apocalyptic literature. This prophecy was given to John by Jesus Christ, as these things must happen very soon. Does that mean John was wrong when what he thought would happen very quickly hadn’t happened for more than 2,000 years now? How can this happen soon and still be 2,000 years late? We must remember that John is speaking as an Old Testament prophet, and quite often Old Testament prophets, as a standard practice use current historical events – their existential experience of tragedy and failure usually to foreshadow end-time events. That’s exactly what John’s doing. It’s not a matter of time here, it’s a matter of God’s control of history. He’s going to bring it on his timetable. He has not been late, trust me. But this does say that the events of the book of Revelation had a word from God for the people of the 1st century, they also have a word from God for the people in every century since then, including our own, and have an open meaning for those in the last generation.
“…and He sent and communicated it…” (vs. 1b) – noteworthy is the word here for communicated is the word “signs”, which intimates to us another hint that the book is going to be given in symbolic form – a type of prophetic literature that uses a lot numbers, colors, animals, and visions that are mostly allusions to Old Testament imagery and symbols. Understanding the book of Revelation by a literal interpretive stance is simply inappropriate.