Blessed is he that readeth - This is to be understood of the happiness or security of the persons who, reading and hearing the prophecies of those things which were to come to pass shortly, took proper measures to escape from the impending evils.
The time is at hand - Either in which they shall be all fulfilled, or begin to be fulfilled. See the note on Revelation 1:1.
These three verses contain the introduction; now the dedication to the seven Churches commences.
Blessed is he that readeth - That is, it is to be regarded as a privilege attended with many blessings, to be permitted to mark the disclosures to be made in this book; the important revelations respecting future times. Prof. Stuart supposes that this refers to a public reading, and that the phrase “those who hear the words of this prophecy,” refers to those who listened to the public reader, and that both the reader and hearer should regard themselves as highly favored. It is, however, more in accordance with the usual meaning of the word rendered “read,” to suppose that it refers to the act of one‘s reading for himself; to learn by reading. So Robinson (Lexicon) understands it. The Greek word, indeed, would bear the other interpretation (see Luke 4:16; Acts 13:27; Acts 15:21; 2 Corinthians 3:15); but as this book was sent abroad to be read by Christians, and not merely to be in the hands of the ministers of religion to be read by them to others, it is more natural to interpret the word in the usual sense.
And hear the words of this prophecy - As they shall be declared or repeated by others; or perhaps the word “hear” is used in a sense that is not uncommon, that of giving attention to; taking heed to. The general sense is, that they were to be regarded as highly favored who became acquainted in any way with what is here communicated. The writer does not say that they were blessed who understood it, or that they who read or heard it would fully understand it; but it is clearly implied, that there would be so far an understanding of its meaning as to make it a felicitous condition to have been made acquainted with it. An author could not be supposed to say that one should regard his condition as a favored one who merely heard words that he could not understand, or who had placed before him magnificent symbols that had to him no meaning. The word “prophecy” is used here in its more strict sense as denoting the disclosure of future events - a large portion of the book being of this nature. It is here synonymous with “Revelation” in Revelation 1:1.
And keep those things which are written therein - Keep in mind those things which relate to the future; and obey those things which arc required as truth and duty. The blessing which results from having in possession the revealed truth of God is not merely in reading it, or in hearing it: it results from the fact that the truth is properly regarded, and exerts a suitable influence over our lives. Compare Psalm 19:11; “And in keeping of them there is great reward.”
For the time is at hand - See Revelation 1:1. The word used here - ἐγγύς engus- has the same signification substantially as the word “shortly” in Revelation 1:1. It would apply to any event whose beginning was soon to occur, though the end might be remote, for the series of events might stretch far into the future. It cannot be doubted, however, that the writer meant to press upon them the importance of attending to these things, from the fact that either entirely or in part these things were soon to happen. It may be inferred from this verse, that it is possible so to “understand” this book, as that it may convey useful instruction. This is the only book in the Bible of which a special blessing is pronounced on him who reads it; but assuredly a blessing would not be pronounced on the perusal of a book which is entirely unintelligible. While, therefore, there may be many obscurities in this book, it is also to be assumed that it may be so far understood as to be useful to Christians, in supporting their faith, and giving them elevated views of the final triumph of religion, and of the glory of the world to come. Anything is a blessing which enables us with well-founded hope and joy to look forward to the heavenly world.
Consider the circumstances of the Jewish nation when the prophecies of Daniel were given. TM 113.1
Let us give more time to the study of the Bible. We do not understand the word as we should. The book of Revelation opens with an injunction to us to understand the instruction that it contains. “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy,” God declares, “and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” When we as a people understand what this book means to us, there will be seen among us a great revival. We do not understand fully the lessons that it teaches, notwithstanding the injunction given us to search and study it. TM 113.2
In the past teachers have declared Daniel and the Revelation to be sealed books, and the people have turned from them. The veil whose apparent mystery has kept many from lifting it, God's own hand has withdrawn from these portions of His word. The very name “Revelation” contradicts the statement that it is a sealed book. “Revelation” means that something of importance is revealed. The truths of this book are addressed to those living in these last days. We are standing with the veil removed in the holy place of sacred things. We are not to stand without. We are to enter, not with careless, irreverent thoughts, not with impetuous footsteps, but with reverence and godly fear. We are nearing the time when the prophecies of the book of Revelation are to be fulfilled.... TM 113.3Read in context »
This revelation was given for the guidance and comfort of the church throughout the Christian dispensation. Yet religious teachers have declared that it is a sealed book and its secrets cannot be explained. Therefore many have turned from the prophetic record, refusing to devote time and study to its mysteries. But God does not wish His people to regard the book thus. It is “the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass.” “Blessed is he that readeth,” the Lord declares, “and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Verses 1, 3. “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” Revelation 22:18-20. AA 583.1
In the Revelation are portrayed the deep things of God. The very name given to its inspired pages, “the Revelation,” contradicts the statement that this is a sealed book. A revelation is something revealed. The Lord Himself revealed to His servant the mysteries contained in this book, and He designs that they shall be open to the study of all. Its truths are addressed to those living in the last days of this earth's history, as well as to those living in the days of John. Some of the scenes depicted in this prophecy are in the past, some are now taking place; some bring to view the close of the great conflict between the powers of darkness and the Prince of heaven, and some reveal the triumphs and joys of the redeemed in the earth made new. AA 584.1
Let none think, because they cannot explain the meaning of every symbol in the Revelation, that it is useless for them to search this book in an effort to know the meaning of the truth it contains. The One who revealed these mysteries to John will give to the diligent searcher for truth a foretaste of heavenly things. Those whose hearts are open to the reception of truth will be enabled to understand its teachings, and will be granted the blessing promised to those who “hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.” AA 584.2Read in context »