I recently had to do an exegesis paper on the Revelation Chapter 1. I learned a bunch and I really have fallen in love with the entire book of Revelation. So this is my paper. I had to ask a question as the basis for my research, so my question was what is the message to the churches and why do they need this message.
All the information that I found points to the fact that these churches were undergoing major persecution (if the book was written in the 90’s). Emperor worship and polytheism ruled the day, and Christians were at the least bad citizens and at the worst trying to tear about the moral fiber of their culture-thus it was ok to persecute these peoples.
The belief was that if the gods were appeased then the people would be blessed, and if the emperors were pleased they would look upon their region with favor, as he had in many occasions. By the end of the first century this was one of the most prosperous regions the empire, and they did not want to endanger that. For this reason the area was highly motivated to persecute the church.
We see that when Paul brought the message of the Gospel to Ephesus that because of the temples losing money, the people were stirred to rioting. These people were dedicated to their gods and did not appreciate one bit the Christian’s message. This is the atmosphere of the region.
The imagery of Revelation 1 is two folded. The first image is the image of Christ as a sufferer. He is described as having been pierced, and the firstborn of the dead. This image of Christ shows the example that the people should follow, as Christ is not only a sufferer but also he is the first born of all sufferers. To be persecuted for Christ is following his example.
The second image is the image of Christ as glorified. This is seen later in the Chapter as John is describing what Jesus looked like. Jesus is described in powerful ways-fire in his eyes, a sword coming from his mouth, feet like burnished bronze, the keys of death in his hands. This is not a Jesus who is powerful and glorious.
This Jesus is standing amongst the candlestands the represent the churches. This Jesus is not right in the middle of his people. They are suffering and Jesus is there, powerful and mighty. He is alive and the Living One, and he is standing in the middle of his people.
The message of this chapter is to be faithful. Follow Christ’s lead, as he is standing amongst your congregation. He is the Living One, he is the slain one, and he now holds the keys of death