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Ranko Stefanovic on the Editorial Changes in the Main Lesson for This Week (Rev 2-3)

In Lesson #3 of January 12-19, some editorial changes were made. In particular, the person who implemented the late modifications was eager to specify the exact years marking the beginning and ending of different periods in the historical application of the churches. Also, some modifications were made in the lesson on Friday that diminished the application of the promises given to the overcomers.

God’s People in Cities

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. 1:10-11; 2:8-3:22; 22:16-17.
Memory Verse: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3: 22, NKJV).
From the barren island of Patmos, Jesus sent via John a letter with seven messages to His people as a token of His care for them (Rev. 1:11). While those messages originally concerned the churches in Asia of John’s day, they were also written for all Christians throughout history, including our day.
A side-by-side comparison of these messages shows that they follow the same six-fold structure. Each message opens with an address in which Jesus addresses each church by name. The second part begins with the phrase: “These things says He who . . . ” in which Jesus introduces Himself to each church by mentioning some of the descriptive features found in chapter 1. Those descriptions of Jesus were suited to the specific situations and needs of those churches. In such a way, Jesus pointed to His ability to meet their different needs and situations. This brings to mind the four Gospels. The Gospels present four distinctive portraits of Jesus to four different groups of people.
Next, Jesus gives an appraisal of the church and then counsels the church how to get out of their situation. Finally, each message concludes with an appeal to hear the Spirit and with promises to the overcomers.
As we saw in last week’s lesson in our analysis of the message to the first church in Ephesus, and as we will see this week in our study of the remaining six messages. We invite you to list the features of Jesus mentioned in each of the seven messages. Then, locate those features in the description of Jesus in chapter 1. As we briefly analyze the message, we will try to see how the features of Jesus in each message suited the situation of the Christians of John’s day and what they mean for God’s people today.

*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 20.
Sunday January 13
Christ’s Messages to Smyrna and Philadelphia
Jesus’ second and sixth messages originally addressed the churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia. These two churches did not receive rebukes from Jesus.
Smyrna was a beautiful and wealthy city, next to Ephesus in its importance. It was reputed for its science and medicine industries as well as for its famous stadium, library, and the largest public theater in the province. The city was a center of emperor worship, which was compulsory for all citizens. The immediate consequences for refusing to comply with this mandate were the loss of legal status, persecution, and martyrdom.
Read Revelation 2:8-11. How does the way Jesus presents Himself to this church relate to the church’s situation? What was the situation of the church? What warning does Jesus give to the church of what was coming in the future? What promise did He give to this church?
The message to the church in Smyrna also speaks to the church in the postapostolic era, when Christians were viciously persecuted by the Roman Empire. The “ten days” mentioned in 2:10 pointed to the severe imperial persecution that started in A.D. 303 by Diocletian and continued until A.D. 313, when Constantine the Great issued the Edict of Milan granting Christians religious freedom.
Can you think of Christians around the world who are suffering persecution? Would you keep them in your prayers?
The next church addressed by Jesus was located in Philadelphia (“brotherly love”). It was founded in the second century B.C. by the king of Pergamum, Attalus II Philadelphus, in honor of his brother. The city stood on the imperial trade road connecting all parts east with all parts west of the province. It was founded as a center for promoting the Greek language and culture in the area of Lydia and Phrygia.
Read Revelation 3:7-13. How does the way Jesus presents Himself in this message relate to the situation of this church? What does Jesus’ statement, “you have a little strength” say about the condition of the church? What promises does Jesus give to this church?
The message to this church aptly applies to the great revival of Protestantism during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The church of this period was driven by a genuine desire to carry the gospel to the whole world. As a result, there was a great explosion of the gospel that had not been experienced since the time of Pentecost.
Do you feel spiritually weak in your relationship with Christ? In what way does Christ’s promise to the Philadelphians apply to you?

Monday January 14
Christ’s Message to Pergamum
Pergamos or Pergamum was the center of intellectual life in the Hellenistic world. It was famous for it’s library of nearly 200,000 volumes. It was also famous for its magnificent temples, in particular, the grand altar of Zeus that dominated the city. The city was the center of the cult of Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, who was called “the Savior” and represented by a serpent. People from all over the world were coming to the shrine of Asclepius to be healed. Pergamum had a leading role in promoting the cult of emperor worship, which was, as in Smyrna, compulsory. In such a way, the Christians in Pergamum lived in the city “where Satan dwelt” and where his throne was located.
Read Revelation 2:12-15. How does Jesus present Himself to this church? What was His appraisal of the spiritual condition of this church?
Surrounded by paganism and its grand temples, the Christians in Pergamum faced temptations from both outside and inside the church. While most of them remained unwavering in their faithfulness to Christ, there were some in the church who advocated compromise with paganism in order to avoid persecution and martyrdom. They were called Nicolaitans, most likely the followers of Nicolas, one of the seven deacons in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5) who later turned to heresy. They are linked to another heretical group named after Balaam who seduced the Israelites on the way to the Promised Land (Num. 31:16). These two groups advocated conformity to pagan practices in order to avoid the discomfort of persecution. While the church in Ephesus did not tolerate such teaching (Rev. 2:6), these heretical teachers were able to seduce some in the church in Pergamum.
Read Revelation 2:16-17. What does Jesus urge the church to do in order to help them improve their spiritual condition? What promises does Jesus give to this church?
The message to the church in Pergamum also aptly describes the situation of the church in the period after A.D. 313. As Christianity won its struggle with paganism, many in the church went the way of compromise. Although many remained unwavering and faithful to the gospel, the fourth and fifth centuries witnessed spiritual decline and apostasy, during which the church wrestled with the temptation of compromise.
How does the message to the church in Pergamum apply to the situation of the church today? Do you see any parallels between the spiritual condition of church that you are a part of and the church in Pergamum?

Tuesday January 15
Christ’s Message to Thyatira
In comparison with other cities, Thyatira had no political or cultural significance. It was rather known for trade. The population consisted mainly of laborers and tradesmen who belonged to different trade guilds. Lydia, the purple fabrics dealer in Philippi, was originally from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). In order to run a business or have a job, people had to belong to trade guilds. Members had to attend the guild festivals and participate in temple rituals that included eating meat sacrificed to the patron god and immoral activities. Those who did not comply experienced exclusion from the guilds and economic sanctions. The Christians in this city had to choose between compromise and remaining faithful to the gospel.
Read Revelation 2:18-23. How does Jesus present Himself to this church? What were the qualities that Jesus commended the church for? What was the problem that troubled the church?
Like the church in Pergamum, the threat to the church in Thyatira was compromise with the pagan environment. They tolerated in their midst a female member who claimed to be a prophetess. Jesus names her Jezebel, after the wife of King Ahab, who led Israel into apostasy (1 Kings 16:31-33). Jezebel in Thyatira taught that it was okay for Christians to compromise with pagan practices in order to avoid the hardships. Jesus portrays her as a spiritual harlot. Those who condoned her teaching were committing spiritual adultery with her.
Read Revelation 2:24-29. While many in the church turned to apostasy, there was a remnant of those who remained faithful. What do you think are “the deep things of Satan” that this remnant did not come to know? Deliberate on the counsel and promise that Jesus gave to this faithful remnant?
The situation in the church in Thyatira applies to the condition of the church at large during the period of the Middle Ages. The danger to the church did not come from outside but from those who claimed to receive their authority from God. During that period, tradition replaced the Bible, a human priesthood and sacred relics replaced Christ’s priesthood, and works were regarded as the means of salvation. Those who did not condone the corrupting influences of the institutional church experienced persecution and even death.
How does Jesus’ message to the church of Thyatira apply to the congregation you are a part of? What kind of compromise are you tempted with in your life? Do you feel that you are a part of the remnant that has chosen to remain faithful and obedient to God?

Wednesday January 16
Christ’s Message to Sardis
The city of Sardis had a glorious history. A few centuries prior to Revelation, it was one of the greatest cities in the ancient world and the capital of Lydia, ruled by the wealthy Croesus. By the Roman period, the city had lost its prestige. While still enjoying prosperity and wealth, its glory was rooted in its past history rather than in present reality. The city was built on top of a steep hill and, as such, inaccessible. The citizens felt so secure that the city walls were carelessly guarded. The city was twice captured by surprise by soldiers who climbed the cliff and found that the overconfident citizens failed to post a guard on the walls.
Read Revelation 3:1. How does Jesus present Himself to this church and how does it relate to the church’s needs? What was His appraisal of the spiritual condition of this church?
While Jesus recognizes a few Christians in the church in Sardis as faithful, most of them only have a name, but are in reality spiritually dead. The church is not charged for any open sin or apostasy like those in Pergamum and Thyatira but with spiritual lethargy.
Read Revelation 3:2-6 along with Matthew 24:42-44; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-8. What three things does Jesus urge the Christians in Sardis to do as a cure for their spiritual condition? What did the church have to remember? How did Jesus’ warning to “watch” correspond to the historical background of the city? What promise did Jesus give to those who remained faithful?
The message to the church in Sardis aptly applies also to the spiritual situation of the Protestants in the post-Reformation period, as the church gradually degenerated into lifeless formalism and a state of spiritual complacency. Under the impact of the rising tide of rationalism and secularism, focus on the saving grace of the gospel and commitment to Christ waned, giving place to rationalism and theological arguments. The church at this period, although appearing to be alive, was in reality spiritually dead.
The letter also applies to every generation of Christians. There are Christians who always talk in glorious terms of their past faithfulness to Christ. Unfortunately, the same do not have much to share about their present experience with Christ. Their religion is nominal, lacking the true religion of the heart and genuine commitment to the gospel.
Do you see symptoms of complacency in your own life? How can Jesus’ counsel to the church in Sardis help you personally in curing such a spiritual situation?

Thursday January 17
Christians in Laodicea
The last church addressed by Jesus was located in Laodicea, a wealthy commercial, industrial, and financial city situated on the major trade road. It was famous for a woolen manufacturing industry, its banks, which held a vast quantity of gold, and a medical school producing eye salve. The prosperity filled the citizens with self-sufficiency. Around AD 60, when an earthquake destroyed the city, the citizens declined an offer of assistance from Rome, claiming to have all they needed. Since the city lacked water, it was supplied through an aqueduct from hot springs from Hierapolis, which, as it reached Laodicea, became lukewarm.
Read Revelation 3:14-17 along with Hosea 12:8. Draw parallels between the historical characteristics of the city and Christ’s appraisal of this church. How did the self-sufficient spirit of the city pervade the Laodicean Christians?
Jesus did not rebuke the Christians in Laodicea for some serious sin, heresy, or apostasy. Their problem was rather complacency leading to spiritual lethargy. Like the water that reached the city, they were neither refreshingly cold nor hot, but lukewarm. They claimed to be rich and in need of nothing; yet, they were extremely poor, naked, and blind to their spiritual condition.
The church in Laodicea aptly represents the spiritual condition of the church at the close of this earth’s history. This is shown by strong verbal links with Revelation 16:15 in connection with the preparation for the final crisis, which shows that the church in Laodicea was set to be the model for the end-time church. The last church will exist in times of great political, religious, and secular upheavals and will face challenges like no previous generation. Yet, this church is self-sufficient and struggling with its authenticity. Christ’s warning to her has a far-reaching implication for all who are a part of that church.
Jesus assures the Laodiceans that He loves them and he will not give up on them (3:19). He concludes His appeal by picturing Himself as the lover in Song of Songs 5:2-6 standing at the door and knocking and pleading to be let in (3:20). Everyone who opens the door and lets Him in is promised an intimate dinner with Him. This call is not to be missed.
Read Revelation 3:18-22. What counsel did Jesus give to the Laodiceans as a cure for their self-sufficiency? What do gold, white garment, and eye salve symbolize (see 1 Pet. 1:7; Isa. 61:10; Eph. 1:17-18)? Jesus offered the Laodiceans “to buy” from Him these things. What did they have to trade in exchange for these riches?

Friday October 18
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Revelation,” pp. 578-592, in The Acts of the Apostles.
The seven messages to the churches show spiritual decline in the seven churches. The church in Ephesus was still faithful, although it had lost its first love. The churches in Smyrna and Pergamum were faithful, only a small number of wayward members were unfaithful. Thyatira was a divided church with two phases of her faithfulness to Christ. The churches in Sardis and Philadelphia were in a very serious condition. The majority in these churches was out of harmony with the gospel, while the remnant represented the faithful few. The church in Laodicea was in such a condition that there was nothing good to be said about that church.
In concluding each message, Jesus makes promises to those who accept his counsel. One might observe, however, that along with the evident spiritual decline in the churches, there is a proportionate increase in promises given. Starting with Ephesus, which receives only one promise, as each church follows the downward spiritual trend, each receives more promises than the previous one. Finally, the church in Laodicea, while given only one promise, receives the greatest: to share Jesus’ throne (3:20). This promise encompasses all the other promises given to the churches.
Discussion Questions:
How does this increase in promises along with the spiritual decline in the churches reflect the statement that when sin increases, grace abounds even more (Rom. 5:20)? Think of that in light of the statement that, “the church, enfeebled and defective though it be, is the only object on earth on which Christ bestows his supreme regard. He is constantly watching it with solicitude, and is strengthening it by his Holy Spirit.”—Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, 2:396.
Often Christians say that it is hard to be a Christian in industrial, commercial, and metropolitan cities. What can be learned from the fact that in the prosperous cities in Asia there were Christians who remained loyal to the gospel and unswerving in the midst of all the pressure of the pagan environment?
Think of those Christians in Asia in light of Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15-19? How does the concept of being in the world but not of the world apply to Christians today, in particular those living in metropolitan cities?

Ranko Stefanovic on the Editorial Changes in the Main Lesson for this Week (Rev 1:1-8)

The paragraph that follows is a summary of the changes made in this week’s main lesson (by Ranko Stefanovic). What follows is the original text that Stefanovic turned in, before the editing process, for those who would like to know that he originally intended. Please ignore the daily dates, they were put in just to fill space.

I (Ranko Stefanovic) share here the pre-edited original manuscript of the Lesson #1 (Dec. 31 to Jan. 5) of Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for those who want to compare it with the edited version. In this week’s lesson, not too many changes were introduced. Two paragraphs were completely changed: the last paragraph in the Monday’s lesson and the second Discussion Question in the Friday’s lesson. I fully concur with the observations and comments shared by my friend Jon Paulien who authored the Adult Teacher’s Edition of the Sabbath School Quarterly.

Lesson 1 *December 31-January 5

The Gospel from Patmos

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Rev. 1:1-8; 22:16-19; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; Amos 3:7; Deut. 29:29.
Memory Verse: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3, NKJV).
The prophecies of Revelation were revealed in vision to the apostle John more than nineteen centuries ago during his exile on a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea known as Patmos (Rev. 1:9). Revelation intimates that it was to be read aloud in the church. Revelation 1:3 promises a blessing for the person who reads it aloud and for the ones listening to the reading. The listeners mentioned are the congregation assembled in the church to hear the messages of Revelation. However, they are not blessed because they simply read or listen, but because they heed the words of prophecy (see also 22:7).
The prophecies of Revelation are an expression of God’s care for his people. God wanted to reveal to us the things that would shortly take place in the future to make us realize the fragility and uncertainty of this life. He also wanted to inspire us to take seriously our eternal destiny and to reach people around the world with the gospel message of the kingdom.
Biblical prophecies are like a lamp shining in a dark place (1 Pet. 1:19) showing us where we are now and where we are going. They are intended to provide guidance for our life today and hope for our future. We will need this prophetic guide until the Coming of Christ and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 6.

Sunday September 30
The Title of the Book
Read Revelation 1:1-2. What is the complete title of the book of Revelation? Who is the ultimate author of the book? What was John’s role as the human author?
Revelation 1:1 states the title of the book as the “Revelation of Jesus Christ.” The word “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis (“apocalypse”), which means, “uncovering” or “unveiling.” The Apocalypse is thus an unveiling of Jesus Christ; it is both from Jesus and about Him. While it came from God through Jesus Christ (see Rev. 22:16), the book testifies that Jesus is also the focus of its contents. The Apocalypse is thus His self-revelation to His people and an expression of His care for them.
The title of any book states in a nutshell the book’s content. What does the title of Revelation reveal to us about Jesus and His activities on behalf of His people?
Jesus is the central figure of Revelation. The book begins with Him (Rev. 1:5-8) and concludes with Him (Rev. 22:12-16). Also, the Jesus of the Apocalypse is the Jesus of the four gospels. Revelation continues the description of Jesus and His work of salvation on behalf of His people described in the gospels, but focuses on different aspects of his existence and ministry. Essentially, it begins where the gospels end-with his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Together with the epistle to the Hebrews, Revelation emphasizes Jesus’ heavenly ministry since his ascension. It shows that after his ascension Jesus was inaugurated into His royal and priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. Without Revelation our knowledge of Christ’s ministry in heaven on behalf of his people would be very limited and shrouded in mystery. Thus, the last book of the Bible provides a unique portrayal of Christ not found anywhere else in the Bible.
Read Matthew 28:20 and John 14:1-3. What two major promises did Jesus leave with His people before His ascension into heaven? How does Revelation show Jesus fulfilling these promises? How will Jesus fulfill His final promise to come back to take His people to their eternal home?
Consider the following statement: “Let Daniel speak, let the Revelation speak, and tell what is truth. But whatever phase of the subject is presented, uplift Jesus as the center of all hope, ‘the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star’”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 118.

Monday October 31
The Purpose of the Book
Revelation 1:1 tells us further that the purpose of the book is to show us the things that will happen in the future. Anyone familiar with Revelation will notice that future events—whether those already fulfilled or those yet to take place—occupy most of the book’s content. While the first half of Revelation (chaps. 1–11) focuses on the events that occurred from the first century to the time of the end, its second half (chaps. 12–22) focuses on the events leading up to the Second Coming.
How do you understand that the book titled the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” shows us things that will take place in the future?
The primary purpose of biblical prophecies is to provide us with the assurance that, no matter what the future brings, God is in control. The entire Book of Revelation is structured in such a way as to assure us that Jesus Christ is with His people throughout this world’s history and its alarming final events.
Consequently, Revelation’s prophecies have two practical purposes: to teach us how to live today and to prepare us for the future. Studying them should make us better Christians for God’s glory, motivate us to take seriously our eternal destiny, and inspire us to reach others with the gospel message.
Read Deuteronomy 29:29. Revelation informs us of what will happen at the end-time. In your view, what two things that Revelation does not reveal to us about the end-time events?
Revelation’s end-time prophecies are not revealed to satisfy our obsessive curiosity about the future. The book only reveals those aspects of the future that are essential for our salvation and entry into the kingdom. They are disclosed to impress upon us the seriousness of what will happen so that we will realize our dependence on God. Anything else would go beyond God’s intention.
Much has been written and many predictions have been made regarding when and how end-time prophecies will be fulfilled. However, most of those predictions have been proven misleading, for they are drawn not from the Bible but rather from human imaginings or past or current events. The timing and manner of the unfolding of the final events will be clear to us only at the time of their fulfillment. The prophecies must not be a subject of speculation and sensationalism, but rather for strengthening our faith in the prophetic word. Their fulfillment will be a reminder to God’s people of Christ’s promise to be with them and to sustain them during those difficult times.

Tuesday October 2
The Symbolic Language of Revelation
Revelation 1:1 further states: “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.”
Here we find a very important word in the book. The word “signified” is a translation of the Greek word semainō meaning, “to show by symbolic signs.” This word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) where Daniel explained to King Nebuchadnezzar that with the statue made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron God signified to the king “what will take place in the future” (Dan. 2:45). By employing the same word, John tells us that the scenes and events of Revelation were shown to him in vision in symbolic presentations. Guided by the Holy Spirit, John faithfully recorded these symbolic presentations exactly as he had seen them in the visions (Rev. 1:2).
This shows that the language in which the Revelation’s prophecies were described must not be interpreted literally. As a rule, while the reading of the Bible in general presupposes a literal understanding of the text (unless the text points to intended symbolism), studying Revelation calls for a symbolic understanding of the scenes and events recorded unless the text points to a literal meaning. While the scenes and events predicted per se are real, they were expressed in symbolic language.
Keeping in mind the symbolic character of Revelation will safeguard us against distorting the prophetic message. In trying to determine the meaning of the symbols used in the book, we must be careful not to impose on the text a meaning that comes out of human imagination or current meanings of those symbols. Their meaning must be in agreement with God’s intention as well as with the meaning of those symbols at the time of the writing of Revelation.
In trying to unlock the meaning of those symbols, we must remember that most of them were drawn from the Old Testament. By portraying future in the language of the past, God wanted to impress upon our minds that his acts of salvation in the future will be very much like his acts of salvation in the past. What he did for his people in the past, he will do for them again in the future. In endeavoring to decode the symbols and images of Revelation, we must start by paying attention to the Old Testament.
Why did God give the prophecies of Revelation in symbolic rather than in literal, straightforward language? Also, why did He use images and scenes from His former acts of salvation to reveal future events?

Wednesday October 3
The Trinity of the Godhead
Revelation begins with an epistolary greeting similar to the ones found in Paul’s letters. The book was originally sent as a letter to the seven churches in Asia Minor in John’s day (see Rev. 1:11). However, Revelation was not written only for them, but for all generations of Christians throughout history.
Revelation 1:4 offers an epistolary greeting: “Grace and peace to you” (cf. Rom. 1:7). This phrase consists of the Greek greeting charis (grace) and the Hebrew greeting shalom (“peace,” “well-being”). Why are these two words always written as “grace and peace” and never “peace and grace”?
The givers of grace and peace are the three persons of the Godhead. Like the rest of the book, these three persons of the Godhead are identified in symbolic language.
God the Father is identified as the One “who is and who was, and who is to come” (see Rev. 1:8; 4:8). This refers to the divine name Yahweh, “I am who I am” (Exod. 3:14) referring to God’s eternal existence.
The Holy Spirit is referred to in terms of “the seven Spirits” (cf. Rev. 4:5; 5:6). Seven is a number of fullness. “The seven Spirits” correspond to the seven churches in which the Spirit operates. This refers to the universality of the Holy Spirit’s work among God’s people enabling them to fulfill their calling.
Jesus Christ is identified by three titles: “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth (NKJV).” They refer to his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his reign in heaven. Then, John states what he does: He “loves us and released us from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father” (NASB).
He “loves us” in the original Greek refers to Christ’s ongoing love, which embraces the past, the present, and the future. The One who loves us has released us from our sins by His blood. In the Greek, this refers to a completed act in the past; Jesus died on the cross when he released us from our sins forever. Because of what He did on Calvary, we enjoy the status of being “kings and priest” to God (see Rev. 5:9–10).
Read Ephesians 2:6 and Philippians 3:20, which describe the redeemed as the ones who are raised and made to sit with Jesus in heavenly places. How do you think that though we presently enjoy this glorious status in Christ as “kings and priests,” we are still in this sin-cursed world?

Thursday October 4
The Keynote of Revelation
The conclusion of the prologue of Revelation points to what is the focus the whole book: the return of Jesus in power and glory. Christ’s promise to come again is reiterated three times in the conclusion of the book (22:7, 12, 20).
Read Revelation 1:7-8. The wording of this text is derived from several prophetic texts: Daniel 7:13; Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 24:30. What does this tell us of the certainty of the Second Coming?
In Revelation, the second coming of Christ is the point towards which history moves. The Second Coming will mark the conclusion of this world’s history and the beginning of God’s eternal kingdom, as well as freedom from all evil that causes anguish, pain, and death.
Like the rest of the New Testament, Revelation 1:7 points to the literal and personal coming of Christ in majesty and glory. Every human being, including “those who pierced him”, will witness his coming. These words point to a special resurrection of certain people right before the return of Christ, including those who crucified Christ on the cross of Calvary. While Jesus will, with His coming, bring deliverance to those waiting for Him, He will bring judgment to those who have spurned his mercy and love.

In the New Testament, Christ regularly refers to his coming as: “I am coming” never as “I will come.” The futuristic present tense points to the future event as already occurring. If you know that Jesus is indeed coming very soon, how would this affect your life today?

The certainty of Christ’s coming is affirmed with the words, “Yes, Amen.” The word “yes” translates the Greek word nai and amen is a Hebrew affirmative. These two words together express an absolute certainty. This affirmation also concludes the book (see also Rev. 22:20).
“Belief in the near coming of the Son of Man in the clouds of heaven will not cause the true Christian to become neglectful and careless of the ordinary business of life. . . . Their veracity, faithfulness, and integrity are tested and proved in temporal things.”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 309.
A well-known fact is that a given promise is only as strong as the integrity of the person giving it and his/her ability to fulfill it. How does the fact that the promise of the Second Coming has been given by God who has in the past kept all his promises, provide you with assurance that Christ will return as He has promised?

Friday October 5
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Study of the Books of Daniel and Revelation,” pp. 112-119, in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers.
“This revelation was given for the guidance and comfort of the church throughout the Christian dispensation. . . . . 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.
“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.’”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 583-584.
Discussion Questions:
If Revelation is the unveiling of Jesus Christ, why does the word “apocalypse” have a negative meaning today? What does this tell us about the popular perception of Revelation among Christians? Why is the word “fear” often associated with Revelation’s prophecies?
Ellen White stated that when the book of Revelation “is better understood, believers will have an entirely different religious experience” so that “heart and mind will be impressed with the character that all must develop”—Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 114. Do the people in your church who claim to study Revelation appear blessed to you? How do you feel being around such people? How does their study of the book’s prophecies reflect in their daily life and the way they relate to and treat other people, both inside and outside the church?