A Vision of Christ (Vision 1)

Introduction: Revelation 1:9-20 provides the backdrop for the messages to the seven churches in chapters two and three. Aspects of the glorious vision of Christ provide the unique setting for each of the seven messages. Jesus knows each of the seven churches and meets them where they are.

At least three important themes emerge from a careful look at this opening vision:
1. The Identity of the Lord’s Day in Revelation 1:10. The Sabbath is the most likely option for John’s understanding of the Lord’s Day.
2. Jesus Meets the Churches Where They Are. Jesus approaches each of the seven churches with different characteristics drawn from the introductory vision (Rev. 1:9-20).
3. John’s Basic Outline of Revelation (based on Revelation 1:19). In Revelation 1:19 John summarizes the whole vision as concerning the things which are and the things which will happen after these things. Revelation 4:1 shows that much of Revelation focuses on John’s future.

Looking at the vision as a whole, it is fascinating to see that Jesus is presented in 1:12-16 in a rather frightening manner. John reacts to this presentation in a predictable way, falling down in front of Jesus like a dead man (1:17). But Jesus offers a gracious and comforting response to John in 1:17-18. This vision fits a biblical pattern in which God sometimes “raises His voice” to get our attention or to impress on us His power and glorious being. But after we are suitably humbled by the presence of a powerful God, He can approach us in the way He truly wishes, with gracious kindness. God is infinitely powerful, but He is also infinitely gracious. That means He is powerful enough to accomplish His purpose and meet our need, yet we don’t need to be afraid of Him. He longs for us to receive Him as a friend (John 15:13).

6 thoughts on “A Vision of Christ (Vision 1)

  1. Matt McMearty

    Contrast John’s humility with prostrating before Jesus’ presence and Adam and Eve’s hiding from the presence of God in the garden. In John’s situation, Christ is gracious and showing loving-kindness in that John is in an attitude of humility and repentance, while in Eden God is gracious but pronounces consequences on the pair for disobedience, fear, and guilt. One initiates the revelation of God in response to sin and the fall, while the other initiates the revelation of Christ in response to remedying sin as the victorious sin-bearer.

    Reply
      1. Matt McMearty

        Hey Jon!

        I think the distinction I am trying to make is that though it is Jesus in both cases of Eden and the Revelation vision, Eden is showing God’s response at the beginning of man’s fall into sin, while Revelation is revealing Jesus in light of His victory as the Lamb and as One ruling in human events from the throne and how He will work out things in light of the cross. The distinction is not about the personhood of God, but in terms of what He is doing at different times in manifesting His principles of justice and mercy which are consistent in both. Sorry for the confusion and I hope this helps. I had not thought of comparing or contrasting the two until I read your post and thought it might be something you could run with as you might do the same from how you see it. I am not trying to make a case here for any particular position. Thus, your first sentence tells me you got the idea notwithstanding confusion on the details, which happens when one is trying to talk about a big subject in a simplified manner! I am really enjoying your overall approach to Revelation and how you do it. It has a definite ring of maturity of insight and thoughtfulness that comes from careful analysis of complexities and yet coming out in very balanced positions with amazing nuanced reasoning. And without, I might add, a dogmatic tone to it!

        Reply
        1. Jon Paulien Post author

          Matt,

          Thanks for the kind words and clarifications. I think we are on the same page.

          I’ve been thinking that there are four keys to an argument: 1) the logic of the argument, 2) an appeal to emotion or self-interest, 3) ridicule, and 4) intimidation. When the first two are weak, people naturally resort to the latter two. I try to keep that in mind as I write, but may not always succeed.

          Reply
  2. Matt McMearty

    Well, Jon, if there is any fault on 2-4 in our communications, it is most likely on my end, and unintended! On a separate note, I have something you may want to put to the test for me. I am thinking a writing an article with it. Several years ago, I picked up a subject I had worked on back in the 90s and worked on it till the end. I developed an outline of Revelation where every section is outlined in 7s. What got me on to this was a simple hunch. If the first half of Revelation is clearly organized on overt 7s, then is it possible that the latter half of Revelation, is based on the same organization principle of 7s, only implied. I have not done much with it, because I am not the kind to write about it, but I think I found something, not inspired per se, but something that will prove very practical for people to grasp a more simplified order of Revelation based on 7s throughout the book, evident and implied. I need to put it to the test, because there are two or three weaknesses or vulnerabilities that keep it from being near perfect so to speak. I have an explanation for them, but of course I need to submit it to a very astute and studied mind that can analyze it from a trained and experienced perspective. I can think of no one better than you to do this, because I have known you from the seminary and my views on Revelation track very closely with yours, only you have far greater evidence than I could ever hold a candle against. Let me know if this interests you, but I understand that you may be busy or in a position not to look at it. No worries here, as this is not something I am determined to do, but think I should do at some point, as far as writing an article on it. Let me know if you are interested, and send me your email, so that I can send it to you if you are interested. Thanks.

    Matt

    Reply
    1. Jon Paulien Post author

      Matt,

      You will want to compare with my own outline offered at the Armageddon web site and the outline by Bowman in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Your idea is a sound one, I think, but you are not the first to try. I’m curious how similar or different the outlines are to yours.

      Reply

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