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«Commentary and Notes By Jim Wilsford, Ph.D. © 2005-2014 James A. Wilsford All rights reserved All scriptures are from the American Standard Version ...»

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“I Am the Alpha and

the Omega”

The Revelation to John

Commentary and Notes

By Jim Wilsford, Ph.D.

© 2005-2014 James A. Wilsford

All rights reserved

All scriptures are from the American Standard Version (ASV).

Some archaic constructions and words have been exchanged for the modern form of

the expressions; such as, thee, thine, ye, hast, verily, yea, etc. Otherwise the text of the

1901 AD version is unaltered. The author sought scriptures that were as true and literal a translation of the original as possible in order to eliminate ambiguity in regard to the metaphors and images of the Revelation.

Since the primary strategy was to let scripture explain scripture, know ing that the interpretation belongs to God, the Father, one will find a more liberal quoting of support passages than is usually the case.

The cover, which is the map showing the seven churches of Asia, is in the public domain, so placed there by its author Jonadab (see: en:Image:Seven-churches-of- asia.svg and en:User:Jonadab ) You may not reproduce this materials in any form, print or electronic without the expressed permission of the author. However, you may use portions for teaching and preaching efforts, following the standard copyright conventions and limitation s.

Inquires or comments on the notes and commentary should be addressed to James A. Wilsford jwilsford@sc.rr.com Dedication This work is dedicated to the members of the Orangeburg church of Christ adult Bible class, where the lessons were first taught. The class showed unmatched patience and kindness to me for the thirty seven years of my teaching there. They certainly taught me more than I ever taught them. May we all live with the words of the Lord

close to our hearts:

“Yes, I come quickly.” Table of Contents (Interactive) Introduction to the Revelation of Jesus Christ* The Theme: “I am the Alpha and the Omega” The Epicureans The Stoics Application Reading Figurative Language No Scriptures Are of Private Interpretation Revelation 1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ Message to the Seven Churches The Patmos Vision Revelation 2: Warnings against Immorality and False Teaching at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira To the Church in Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) To the Church in Smyrna To the Church in Pergamum To the Church in Thyatira Revelation 3: Warnings against Immorality and False Teaching at Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea To the Church in Sardis To the Church in Philadelphia To the Church in Laodicea Revelation 4: Heaven and the Throne of God The Vision of Heaven The Throne in Heaven The Four Living Creatures The Twenty-four Elders Revelation 5: The Lamb and the Scroll with Seven Seals The Scroll with the Seven Seals The Elders Sing a New Song All Creation Worships the Lamb Revelation 6: The Lamb Opens Six of Seven Seals The First Seal—Conqueror on White Horse The Second Seal—War The Third Seal—Famine The Fourth Seal—Death The Fifth Seal—Souls of Those Slain for the Word of God The Sixth Seal—Terror for the Evil Ones and Sealing for the Servants of God Revelation 7: The 144,000 Sealed and the Great Multitude in White Robes 144,000 Sealed

The Great Multitude from the Tribulation:

Revelation 8: Opening of the Seventh Seal and Seven Angels with Seve n Trumpets Another Angel with a Golden Censer Seven Angels and Seven Trumpets (Revelation 8:6-13) The First Angel Sounded His Trumpet The Second Angel Sounded His Trumpet The Third Angel Sounded His Trumpet The Fourth Angel Sounded His Trumpet An Eagle Calls Out in a Loud Voice Revelation 9: The Fifth and Sixth Angel Sound Their Trumpets and Two Woes Pass The Fifth Angel Sounded His Trumpet (Revelation 9:1 -11) The Sixth Angel Sounded His Trumpet The Release of the Four Angels Who Are Bound at the Great River Euphrates The Army of Death, Injury, and Plagues Failure to Repent Revelation10: The Angel and the Little Scroll A Mighty Angel The Mystery of God to Be Accomplished The Eating of the Book John’s Work Is Not Done Revelation 11: The Two Witnesses and the Seventh Trumpet Measuring the Temple of God and the Altar The Two Witnesses The Beast Overpowers and Kills the Witnesses Summary of the Sounding of the Sixth Trumpet and the Second Woe The Seventh Angel Sounded His Trumpet Revelation 12: The Woman and the Dragon Great and Wondrous Sign—the Radiant Woman Another Sign—the Red Dragon War in Heaven A Loud Voice from Heaven The Enraged Dragon Revelation 13: Warriors of the Dragon—The Beast out of the Sea and the Beast out of the Earth The Beast out of the Sea The Beast out of the Earth Revelation 14: The Lamb, the Three Angels, and the Harvest The Lamb and the First Fruits Purchased from among Men Three Angels Forecasting the Events about to Transpire in the Revelation The Lord Overseeing the Reapers Revelation 15: God’s Wrath Completed with the Seven Last Plagues Seven Angels with Seven Last Plagues The Triumphant God The Tabernacle of the Testimony Bowls Filled with God’s Wrath Revelation 16: The Seven Bowls of God’s Wrath The First Bowl of God’s Wrath The Second Bowl of God’s Wrath The Third Bowl of God’s Wrath The Fourth Bowl of God’s Wrath The Fifth Bowl of God’s Wrath The Sixth Bowl of God’s Wrath The Seventh Bowl of God’s Wrath Revelation 17: The Woman on the Beast The Punishment of the Great Prostitute The Prostitute and the Scarlet Beast The Mystery of the Woman and the Beast (Revelation 17:6 -8) The Beast upon Whom the Woman Rides The Angel Explains the Vision of the Beast The Beast and the Ten Horns Turn against the Prostitute Revelation 18: The Fall of Babylon Fallen! Fallen! Is Babylon the Great The Fate of Babylon Is Announced to the People of God The First Lament: the Kings of the Earth The Second Lament: The Merchants of the Earth The Third Lament: All Who Earn Their Living from the Sea Babylon Thrown Down Revelation 19: Four-fold Hallelujah and the Rider on the White Horse Four-fold Hallelujah The first hallelujah The second hallelujah The third hallelujah The fourth hallelujah John Directed by the Angel A Majestic Christ Appears The End of Flesh The Fate of the Beast and the False Prophet Revelation 20: Judgment: The End of Satan, Death, and Hades The Binding of the Dragon The First Resurrection and Reigning with Christ The Devil’s Doom The Judgment of the Dead Revelation 21: The Completion of the Revelation of God The Holy City, the New Jerusalem The New Order The Bride, the Wife of the Lamb Measuring the City The Temple: the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb Revelation 22: The Invitation of the Lamb The Coming of Jesus The Invitation and Warning Appendices Appendix I: Glossary as Scriptures Define Scriptures in the Revelation Appendix II: What about the Rapture Appendix IV: Jesus Christ: Priest upon His Throne Appendix V: The Church the Bride of Christ Appendix VI: The New Earth Appendix VII: The Church, Christ’s Kingdom Appendix VIII: Millennial Theories and Matthew 24 Jesus Foretells the Destruction of the Temple: Matthew 24:1 -2

The Disciples Ask Three Questions: Matthew 24:3

The Throwing Down of the Stones of the Temple and Jerusalem: Matthew 24:4-8 The Gospel Will Be Preached to Whole World until the End: Matthew 24:9 -19 The Abomination of Desolation Is Not the Coming of the Lord: Matthew 24:15-25 The Coming of the Lord Will Be the Very Next Event Christ Returns to the Discussion of the Destruction of Temple and Jerusalem Christ Returns to the Discussion of the Coming of Christ and the End of Time Introduction to the Revelation of Jesus Christ* The Theme: “I am the Alpha and the Omega” The key to understanding the theme of Revelation is in God’s statement in

Revelation 1:8:

8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

God repeated this theme at the end of Revelation in Revelation 21:6:

6 And he said unto me, “They are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” In Rev 22:13-15, Jesus, the Lord, takes the Alpha and Omega characteristic unto himself, promising the tree of life and entrance through the heaven ly city to the truly

blessed. The evil and pleasure-seekers remain outside. He said in Revelation 22:13-14:

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14 Blessed are they that wash their robes that they may have the right (to come) to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.

This theme of Revelation is God’s emphatic declaration, supported by the all powerful images and figures of the book, that He and Jesus, the Lord, the only begotten son, are the Alpha and Omega, and no other. This A to Z imagery, which is the beginning and end and encompasses everything in between and which in a figure

describes a oneness explained in John 1:1-4, 14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Go d, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.

The book is not a symbolical assertion of the iniquities of the Romans as the oppressors of the early church, although that was bad, indeed. Nor is the book about the destruction of Jerusalem and a coming of the Lord at that time. Nor is it about the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the barbaric hordes, or the Muslims. The connection that institutions and governments have to the content of Revelation is one where the people who compose them are defiant, evil, immoral, and rebellious, or submissive, good, moral, and obedient, as the case may be.

This great theme—I am the Alpha and the Omega—centers on the power and eternal nature of an almighty God and His only begotten son as their power is arrayed against the heavenly hosts of wickedness—a theme so powerful that it dwarfs nations, philosophic arguments, and theological speculations. Since there are so many digressions and speculative interpretations from the real theme of Revelation, time, and space will not allow their refutation or, indeed, their reiteration. The text that follows may allude to some of these in passing, but the text claims no fairness or justice in the treatment of these many viewpoints. Instead, the text will make the case for an interpretation based on the theme that the Lord God and Jesus, the Lord, are the Alpha and the Omega. A consistency of treatment of the symbolism will emerge, clarifying what many efforts have obscured, as they force The Revelation into preconceived notions, ideas, and temporal events and happenings in the history of the past and the future of man. It is with an open mind that we now “hear the words of this prophecy.” Special and insightful clarifications come from paying close attention to the Apostle Paul’s interaction with the philosophies of the age, especially those that he confronted in Athens, recorded in Acts 17. Paul found Athens full of idols, which was very distressing to him. Paul reasoned with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue, but also took the gospel to the people in the marketplace. Here, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers challenged Paul, who was fulfilling the Great Commission by preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection to all men. Primarily Paul engaged two groups of philosophers--the Epicureans and Stoics.

The seed bed for the Epicurean and Stoic philosophies was Asia Minor — philosophies that confronted the seven churches of Asia as the members walked their daily lives. These pervasive philosophies confronted the Christians continuously with their persuasion to follow their sinful nature and acts of evil.

The Epicureans The Epicureans followed the philosophy of Epicurus who was born on the island of Samos in 341 BC, and who taught first in Asia Minor and afterward in Athens till his death in 270 BC. That the philosophy spread widely in Asia Minor makes it influential to the everyday lives of the churches of the seven cites of Asia. Je sus orders John to write to these seven churches in chapters Revelations 1 and 2. (Some notes are from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Epicurus taught:

“The aim and end of life for every man is his own happiness, and happiness is primarily defined as pleasure. ‘Wherefore we call pleasure the Alpha and Omega of a blessed life [Emphasis added]. Pleasure is our first and kindred good. It is the starting-point of every choice and of every aversion, and to it we come back, inasmuch as we make feeling the rule by which to judge every good thing’” (Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Database Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc.).

Epicurus used the phrases Alpha and Omega and blessed life to describe his pleasure-dominated philosophy. These same words become the thesis -setting words of Revelation. In chapter 1:3, John uses the word blessed of people very different from Epicurus’ pleasure seekers: “Blessed is he that reads, and they that hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein: for the time is at hand.” The comparison in language is so stunningly the same that there can be no coincidence. A similarly stunning comparison occurs in the thesis -setting words of Rev 1:8, which follow immediately: “8 I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” That is to say neither Epicurus and nor the central element of the Epicurean philosophy—pleasure—are the Alpha and Omega. Only the Almighty God and his son Jesus take these words and the preeminence and power that such words convey.

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