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).