Notes on Revelation 1:4-5c | Notes on the Apocalypse of John
The writer of this book was so well known that simply “John” was sufficient to establish his identity. This lends support to the tradition that the Apostle John wrote the book.
This is the first verse to introduce the reader to the number seven (the number seven occurs 54 times in the Revelation). There were more than seven churches in Asia Minor. Seven stands for a complete number—These churches were chosen because they completely represented congregations possessing these attributes.
“Grace and peace” was the typical way New Testament letters began. Some scholars believe that this (and other New Testament epistolary greetings) was similar to the way early Christian worship services began: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
“From him who is and who was and who is to come” clearly points to the eternal Father. This phrase comes from Exodus 3:14-15. The phrase “the One who is” was a common name for God among Greek-speaking Jews. John seems to be using this divine name to show that his message came from God. This phrase shows that God has authority over all time.
The seven spirits points to the perfection, completeness of the Holy Spirit.
“And from Jesus Christ” completes the three-fold distinction of the Triune God. The description of Jesus found here seems to come from Psalm 89:37. Jesus is the faithful witness—This refers to his faithfully bearing witness to the Father during his earthly ministry. The term witness is used three other times in Revelation and always in context of someone who died for the faith. This may, therefore, have reference to Jesus’s faithfully fulfilling his mission even in death.
“Firstborn from the dead” refers to Jesus’s resurrection. “Firstborn” implies that although Jesus is the first to conquer death he is not the last to do so.
“Ruler of the kings of the earth” shows that Jesus has all authority. He is sovereign over even the kings (cf. Ps 89:27).