I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and - This whole clause is wanting in ABC, thirty-one others; some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text.
Saying - What thou seest, write in a book - Carefully note down every thing that is represented to thee. John had the visions from heaven; but he described them in his own language and manner.
Send it unto the seven Churches - The names of which immediately follow. In Asia. This is wanting in the principal MSS. and versions. Griesbach has left it out of the text.
Ephesus - This was a city of Ionia, in Asia Minor, situated at the mouth of the river Cayster, on the shore of the Aegean Sea, about fifty miles south of Smyrna. See preface to the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Smyrna - Now called also Ismir, is the largest and richest city of Asia Minor. It is situated about one hundred and eighty-three miles west by south of Constantinople, on the shore of the Aegean Sea. It is supposed to contain about one hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, of whom there are from fifteen to twenty thousand Greeks, six thousand Armenians, five thousand Roman Catholics, one hundred and forty Protestants, eleven thousand Jews, and fifteen thousand Turks. It is a beautiful city, but often ravaged by the plague, and seldom two years together free from earthquakes. In 1758 the city was nearly desolated by the plague; scarcely a sufficient number of the inhabitants survived to gather in the fruits of the earth. In 1688 there was a terrible earthquake here, which overthrew a great number of houses; in one of the shocks, the rock on which the castle stood opened, swallowed up the castle and five thousand persons! On these accounts, nothing but the love of gain, so natural to man, could induce any person to make it his residence; though, in other respects, it can boast of many advantages. In this city the Turks have nineteen mosques; the Greeks, two churches; the Armenians, one; and the Jews, eight synagogues; and the English and Dutch factories have each a chaplain. Smyrna is one hundred miles north of the island of Rhodes, long. 27° 25' E., lat. 38° 28' N.
Pergamos - A town of Mysia, situated on the river Caicus. It was the royal residence of Eumenes, and the kings of the race of the Attali. It was anciently famous for its library, which contained, according to Plutarch, two hundred thousand volumes. It was here that the membranae Pergameniae, Pergamenian skins, were invented; from which we derive our word parchment. Pergamos was the birthplace of Galen; and in it P. Scipio died. It is now called Pergamo and Bergamo, and is situated in long. 27° 0' E., lat. 39° 13' N.
Thyatira - Now called Akissat and Ak-kissar, a city of Natolia, in Asia Minor, seated on the river Hermus, in a plain eighteen miles broad, and is about fifty miles from Pergamos; long. 27° 49' E., lat. 38° 16' N. The houses are chiefly built of earth, but the mosques are all of marble. Many remarkable ancient inscriptions have been discovered in this place.
Sardis - Now called Sardo and Sart, a town of Asia, in Natolia, about forty miles east from Smyrna. It is seated on the side of mount Tmolus, and was once the capital of the Lydian kings, and here Croesus reigned. It is now a poor, inconsiderable village. Long. 28° 5' E., lat. 37° 51' N.
Philadelphia - A city of Natolia, seated at the foot of mount Tmolus, by the river Cogamus. It was founded by Attalus Philadelphus, brother of Eumenes, from whom it derived its name. It is now called Alah-sheker, and is about forty miles ESE. of Smyrna. Long. 28° 15' E., lat. 38° 28' N.
Laodicea - A town of Phrygia, on the river Lycus; first called Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter. It was built by Antiochus Theos, and named after his consort Laodice. See the note on Colossians 2:1. And, for a very recent account of these seven Churches, see a letter from the Rev. Henry Lindsay, inserted at the end of Revelation 3.
Saying - That is, literally, “the trumpet saying.” It was, however, manifestly the voice that addressed these words to John, though they seemed to come through a trumpet, and hence the trumpet is represented as uttering them.
I am Alpha and Omega - Revelation 1:8.
The first and the last - An explanation of the terms Alpha and Omega. See the notes on Revelation 1:8.
And, What thou seest - The voice, in addition to the declaration, “I am Alpha and Omega,” gave this direction that he should record what he saw. The phrase, “what thou seest,” refers to what would pass before him in vision, what he there saw, and what he would see in the extraordinary manifestations which were to be made to him.
Write in a book - Make a fair record of it all; evidently meaning that he should describe things as they occurred, and implying that the vision would be held so long before the eye of his mind that he would be able to transfer it to the “book.” The fair and obvious interpretation of this is, that he was to make the record in the island of Patmos, and then send it to the churches. Though Patmos was a lonely and barren place, and though probably here were few or no inhabitants there, yet there is no improbability in supposing that John could have found writing materials there, nor even that he may have been permitted to take such materials with him. He seems to have been banished for “preaching,” not for “writing”; and there is no evidence that the materials for writing would be withheld from him. John Bunyan, in Bedford jail, found materials for writing the “Pilgrim‘s Progress,” and there is no evidence that the apostle John was denied the means of recording his thoughts when in the island of Patmos. The word “book” here ( βιβλίον biblion), would more properly mean a roll or scroll, that being the form in which books were anciently made. See the notes on Luke 4:17. And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia - The churches which are immediately designated, not implying that there were no other churches in Asia, but that there were particular reasons for sending it to these. He was to send all that he should “see”; to wit, all that is recorded in this volume or book of “Revelation.” Part of this Revelation 2; Revelation 3 would pertain particularly to them; the remainder Revelation 422 would pertain to them no more than to others, but still they would have the common interest in it which all the church would have, and, in their circumstances of trial, there might be important reasons why they should see the assurance that the church would ultimately triumph over all its enemies. They were to derive from it themselves the consolation which it was suited to impart in time of trial, and to transmit it to future times, for the welfare of the church at large. Unto Ephesus - Perhaps mentioned first as being the capital of that portion of Asia Minor; the most important city of the seven; the place where John had preached, and whence he had been banished. For a particular description of these seven churches, see the notes on the epistles addressed to them in Revelation 23.
And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia - The churches which are immediately designated, not implying that there were no other churches in Asia, but that there were particular reasons for sending it to these. He was to send all that he should “see”; to wit, all that is recorded in this volume or book of “Revelation.” Part of this Revelation 2; Revelation 3 would pertain particularly to them; the remainder Revelation 422 would pertain to them no more than to others, but still they would have the common interest in it which all the church would have, and, in their circumstances of trial, there might be important reasons why they should see the assurance that the church would ultimately triumph over all its enemies. They were to derive from it themselves the consolation which it was suited to impart in time of trial, and to transmit it to future times, for the welfare of the church at large.
Unto Ephesus - Perhaps mentioned first as being the capital of that portion of Asia Minor; the most important city of the seven; the place where John had preached, and whence he had been banished. For a particular description of these seven churches, see the notes on the epistles addressed to them in Revelation 23.
On this verse Dr. A. Clarke remarks, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and] — this whole clause is wanting in ABC; thirty-one others; some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text.” He also states that the phrase “in Asia” is wanting in the principal MSS. and versions, and that Griesbach omits this too from the text. Bloomfield also marks the clause, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and” — as without doubt an interpolation, and also the words “in Asia.” It would then read, “Saying, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches; unto Ephesus,” etc. (See translations of Whiting, Wesley, American Bible Union, and others. Compare remarks on verse 4.)DAR 341.3
Abraham could not explain the leadings of Providence; he had not realized his expectations; but he held fast the promise, “I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” With earnest prayer he considered how to preserve the life of his people and his flocks, but he would not allow circumstances to shake his faith in God's word. To escape the famine he went down into Egypt. He did not forsake Canaan, or in his extremity turn back to the Chaldean land from which he came, where there was no scarcity of bread; but he sought a temporary refuge as near as possible to the Land of Promise, intending shortly to return where God had placed him. PP 129.1
The Lord in His providence had brought this trial upon Abraham to teach him lessons of submission, patience, and faith—lessons that were to be placed on record for the benefit of all who should afterward be called to endure affliction. God leads His children by a way that they know not, but He does not forget or cast off those who put their trust in Him. He permitted affliction to come upon Job, but He did not forsake him. He allowed the beloved John to be exiled to lonely Patmos, but the Son of God met him there, and his vision was filled with scenes of immortal glory. God permits trials to assail His people, that by their constancy and obedience they themselves may be spiritually enriched, and that their example may be a source of strength to others. “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil.” Jeremiah 29:11. The very trials that task our faith most severely and make it seem that God has forsaken us, are to lead us closer to Christ, that we may lay all our burdens at His feet and experience the peace which He will give us in exchange. PP 129.2
God has always tried His people in the furnace of affliction. It is in the heat of the furnace that the dross is separated from the true gold of the Christian character. Jesus watches the test; He knows what is needed to purify the precious metal, that it may reflect the radiance of His love. It is by close, testing trials that God disciplines His servants. He sees that some have powers which may be used in the advancement of His work, and He puts these persons upon trial; in His providence He brings them into positions that test their character and reveal defects and weaknesses that have been hidden from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. He shows them their own weakness, and teaches them to lean upon Him; for He is their only help and safeguard. Thus His object is attained. They are educated, trained, and disciplined, prepared to fulfill the grand purpose for which their powers were given them. When God calls them to action, they are ready, and heavenly angels can unite with them in the work to be accomplished on the earth. PP 129.3Read in context »
When John was old and gray-headed, he was given a message to bear to the persecuted churches. The Jews made several attempts to take his life, but the Lord said: “Let him live. I who created him will be with him and will guard him.” Constantly this aged disciple bore testimony for the Master. In beautiful language, with a musical voice, speaking in a way that impressed the hearts of all who heard him, he told of the words and works of Christ. He was sent as an exile to Patmos, but Christ visited him in his exile, and communicated to him the grand truths found in the Revelation. 7T 288.1
As those who have spent their lives in the service of God draw near the close of their earthly history, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences they have had in connection with His work. The record of His wonderful dealings with His people, of His great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. The trials also that have been brought on the servants of God by the apostasy of some once united with them in labor, and the working of the Holy Spirit to make of none effect the falsehoods told against those who were holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end, should be related. 7T 288.2
The old standard-bearers who are still living should not be put in hard places. Those who served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty and remained faithful to the truth when our numbers were small, are ever to be honored and respected. I am instructed to say: Let every believer respect the aged pioneers who have borne trials and hardships and many privations. They are God's workmen and have acted a prominent part in the building up of His Work. 7T 289.1Read in context »
To us also the promise of Christ's abiding presence is given. The lapse of time has wrought no change in His parting promise. He is with us today as truly as He was with the disciples, and He will be with us “even unto the end.” 8T 17.1
“Go forth preaching the gospel to all nations,” the Saviour says to us, “that they may become children of God. I am with you in this work, teaching, guiding, comforting, strengthening you, giving you success in your work of self-denial and sacrifice. I will move upon hearts, convincing them of sin, and turning them from darkness to light, from disobedience to righteousness. In My light they shall see light. You will meet the opposition of satanic agencies, but put your trust in Me. I will never fail you.” 8T 17.2
Think you not that Christ values those who live wholly for Him? Think you not that He visits those who, like the beloved John, are for His sake in hard and trying places? He finds His faithful ones, and holds communion with them, encouraging and strengthening them. And angels of God, that excel in strength, are sent forth by God to minister to His human workers who are speaking the truth to those who know it not. 8T 17.3Read in context »
Satan is not dead or palsied, and he prepares minds by degrees to become imbued with his spirit, and to work after the same manner as he works against those who bear responsibilities in the work of God for these last days. In the future Satan's last exploits will be carried out with more power than ever before. He has learned much, and he is full of scientific scheming to make of no effect the work that is under the supervision of the One who came to the Isle of Patmos to educate John, and to give him instruction to be given to the churches.... TDG 312.2Read in context »
It was at this critical time in the history of the church that John was sentenced to banishment. Never had his voice been needed by the church as now. Nearly all his former associates in the ministry had suffered martyrdom. The remnant of believers was facing fierce opposition. To all outward appearance the day was not far distant when the enemies of the church of Christ would triumph. AA 581.1
But the Lord's hand was moving unseen in the darkness. In the providence of God, John was placed where Christ could give him a wonderful revelation of Himself and of divine truth for the enlightenment of the churches. AA 581.2
In exiling John, the enemies of truth had hoped to silence forever the voice of God's faithful witness; but on Patmos the disciple received a message, the influence of which was to continue to strengthen the church till the end of time. Though not released from the responsibility of their wrong act, those who banished John became instruments in the hands of God to carry out Heaven's purpose; and the very effort to extinguish the light placed the truth in bold relief. AA 581.3Read in context »
Joseph bore the test of character in adversity, and the gold was undimmed by prosperity. He showed the same lofty regard for God's will when he stood next the throne as when in a prisoner's cell. Joseph carried his religion everywhere, and this was the secret of his unwavering fidelity. As representative men, you must have the all-pervading power of true godliness. I tell you, in the fear of God, your path is beset by dangers which you do not see and do not sense. You must hide in Jesus. You are unsafe unless you hold the hand of Christ. You must guard against everything like presumption, and cherish that spirit that would suffer rather than sin. No victory you can gain will be half so precious as that gained over self.—Special Testimonies to Physicians and Helpers, pages 7-27. MM 37.1
The Redeemer expects our physicians to make the saving of souls their first work. If they will walk and work with God, in His love and fear, they will receive leaves from the tree of life to give to the suffering. His peace will go with them, making them messengers of peace. MM 37.2Read in context »
Daniel talked with God. Heaven was opened before him. But the high honors granted him were the result of humiliation and earnest seeking. All who believe with the heart the word of God will hunger and thirst for a knowledge of His will. God is the author of truth. He enlightens the darkened understanding and gives to the human mind power to grasp and comprehend the truths which He has revealed. SL 49.1
Upon the occasion just described, the angel Gabriel imparted to Daniel all the instruction which he was then able to receive. A few years afterward, however, the prophet desired to learn more of subjects not yet fully explained, and again set himself to seek light and wisdom from God. “In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all.... Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz. His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude” (Daniel 10:2-6). SL 49.2Read in context »
John calls to remembrance the wonderful incidents that he has witnessed in the life of Christ. In imagination he again enjoys the precious opportunities with which he was once favored, and is greatly comforted. Suddenly his meditation is broken in upon; he is addressed in tones distinct and clear. He turns to see from whence the voice proceeds, and, lo! he beholds his Lord, whom he has loved, with whom he has walked and talked, and whose sufferings upon the cross he has witnessed. But how changed is the Saviour's appearance! He is no longer “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He bears no marks of His humiliation. His eyes are like a flame of fire; His feet like fine brass, as it glows in a furnace. The tones of His voice are like the musical sound of many waters. His countenance shines like the sun in its meridian glory. In His hand are seven stars, representing the ministers of the churches. Out of His mouth issues a sharp, two-edged sword, an emblem of the power of His word. SL 77.1
John, who has so loved his Lord, and who has steadfastly adhered to the truth in the face of imprisonment, stripes, and threatened death, cannot endure the excellent glory of Christ's presence, and falls to the earth as one stricken dead. Jesus then lays His hand upon the prostrate form of His servant, saying, “Fear not; ... I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:17, 18). John was strengthened to live in the presence of his glorified Lord, and then were presented before him in holy vision the purposes of God for future ages. The glorious attractions of the heavenly home were made known to him. He was permitted to look upon the throne of God, and to behold the white-robed throng of redeemed ones. He heard the music of heavenly angels, and the songs of triumph from those who had overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. SL 78.1Read in context »
The False Claims of Satan—Satan, the rebel and apostate, works by every possible device to defeat the purpose of God. Because men have sinned, he claims that they have come under his dominion, and that the heavenly agencies, angels that excel in strength, should not take his subjects from under his control. Should men receive divine power, he knows that he cannot prevail against them, and work his will in cruelty upon body and mind; therefore he accuses them before God, and claims that the power of God shall not be imparted to them (The Review and Herald, June 20, 1893). 7BC 953.1
15 (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; see EGW on Genesis 6:3; Romans 3:19). Every Action Weighed in the Scales—[Jude 14, 15; Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 quoted in part.] God places every action in the scale. What a scene it will be! What impressions will be made regarding the holy character of God and the terrible enormity of sin, when the judgment, based on the law, is carried forward in the presence of all the worlds. Then before the mind of the unrepentant sinner there will be opened all the sins that he has committed, and he will see and understand the aggregate of sin and his own guilt. 7BC 953.2
When the loyal overcomers are crowned, God would have present all who have transgressed His law and broken their covenant with Him. And not one of the righteous will be absent. They see in the Judge, Christ Jesus, the One whom every sinner has crucified. The Son of man shall come in His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations. The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son (Manuscript 77, 1906). 7BC 953.3Read in context »
This vision was given to Ezekiel at a time when his mind was filled with gloomy forebodings. He saw the land of his fathers lying desolate. The city that was once full of people was no longer inhabited. The voice of mirth and the song of praise were no more heard within her walls. The prophet himself was a stranger in a strange land, where boundless ambition and savage cruelty reigned supreme. That which he saw and heard of human tyranny and wrong distressed his soul, and he mourned bitterly day and night. But the wonderful symbols presented before him beside the river Chebar revealed an overruling power mightier than that of earthly rulers. Above the proud and cruel monarchs of Assyria and Babylon the God of mercy and truth was enthroned. 5T 752.1
The wheellike complications that appeared to the prophet to be involved in such confusion were under the guidance of an infinite hand. The Spirit of God, revealed to him as moving and directing these wheels, brought harmony out of confusion; so the whole world was under His control. Myriads of glorified beings were ready at His word to overrule the power and policy of evil men, and bring good to His faithful ones. 5T 752.2
In like manner, when God was about to open to the beloved John the history of the church for future ages, He gave him an assurance of the Saviour's interest and care for His people by revealing to him “One like unto the Son of man,” walking among the candlesticks, which symbolized the seven churches. While John was shown the last great struggles of the church with earthly powers, he was also permitted to behold the final victory and deliverance of the faithful. He saw the church brought into deadly conflict with the beast and his image, and the worship of that beast enforced on pain of death. But looking beyond the smoke and din of the battle, he beheld a company upon Mount Zion with the Lamb, having, instead of the mark of the beast, the “Father's name written in their foreheads.” And again he saw “them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God” and singing the song of Moses and the Lamb. 5T 752.3Read in context »
In the Revelation all the books of the Bible meet and end. Here is the complement of the book of Daniel. One is a prophecy; the other a revelation. The book that was sealed is not the Revelation, but that portion of the prophecy of Daniel relating to the last days. The angel commanded, “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end.” Daniel 12:4. AA 585.1
It was Christ who bade the apostle record that which was to be opened before him. “What thou seest, write in a book,” He commanded, “and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.” “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.... Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:11, 18-20. AA 585.2
The names of the seven churches are symbolic of the church in different periods of the Christian Era. The number 7 indicates completeness, and is symbolic of the fact that the messages extend to the end of time, while the symbols used reveal the condition of the church at different periods in the history of the world. AA 585.3Read in context »
In His teachings while personally among men Jesus directed the minds of the people to the Old Testament. He said to the Jews, “Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of Me.” John 5:39, R.V. At this time the books of the Old Testament were the only part of the Bible in existence. Again the Son of God declared, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And He added, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:29, 31. PP 367.1
The ceremonial law was given by Christ. Even after it was no longer to be observed, Paul presented it before the Jews in its true position and value, showing its place in the plan of redemption and its relation to the work of Christ; and the great apostle pronounces this law glorious, worthy of its divine Originator. The solemn service of the sanctuary typified the grand truths that were to be revealed through successive generations. The cloud of incense ascending with the prayers of Israel represents His righteousness that alone can make the sinner's prayer acceptable to God; the bleeding victim on the altar of sacrifice testified of a Redeemer to come; and from the holy of holies the visible token of the divine Presence shone forth. Thus through age after age of darkness and apostasy faith was kept alive in the hearts of men until the time came for the advent of the promised Messiah. PP 367.2
Jesus was the light of His people—the Light of the world—before He came to earth in the form of humanity. The first gleam of light that pierced the gloom in which sin had wrapped the world, came from Christ. And from Him has come every ray of heaven's brightness that has fallen upon the inhabitants of the earth. In the plan of redemption Christ is the Alpha and the Omega—the First and the Last. PP 367.3
Since the Saviour shed His blood for the remission of sins, and ascended to heaven “to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), light has been streaming from the cross of Calvary and from the holy places of the sanctuary above. But the clearer light granted us should not cause us to despise that which in earlier times was received through the types pointing to the coming Saviour. The gospel of Christ sheds light upon the Jewish economy and gives significance to the ceremonial law. As new truths are revealed, and that which has been known from the beginning is brought into clearer light, the character and purposes of God are made manifest in His dealings with His chosen people. Every additional ray of light that we receive gives us a clearer understanding of the plan of redemption, which is the working out of the divine will in the salvation of man. We see new beauty and force in the inspired word, and we study its pages with a deeper and more absorbing interest. PP 367.4Read in context »
John, exiled upon the Isle of Patmos, ... hears a voice saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Revelation 1:11). At the sound of the voice John falls down in astonishment as if dead. He is unable to bear the sight of the divine glory. But a hand raises John up, and the voice he remembers as the voice of his Master. He is strengthened and can endure to talk with the Lord Jesus. TMK 360.2Read in context »