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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Rev 1:4-6 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before His throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

The churches of Christ, referred to here by John, are identified by the cities in which they are found, and are listed in verse eleven as Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Here they are grouped together as the seven churches which are in Asia. On today's map, Asia is a vast continent lying between the European nations and the Pacific Ocean. At the time of this writing, Asia was a mere province of the Roman Empire having Ephesus as its capital city. All seven cities, where these churches existed, were within the province of Asia, also known as Asia Minor. There were other churches of Christ located in Asia, which were not mentioned. We know that there was a church established in the city of Colosse, and, according to Acts 20:17 and Colossians 4:13, churches also existed in the cities of Miletus and Hierapolis, all of which were located in the province of Asia. Symbolically, the number seven often represented completeness. Scripturally, it was considered to be the perfect number. Since much symbolism is used in the book of Revelation, these seven churches listed here, could very well represent all of the churches of Christ throughout the world, both then as well as in today's modern era. If this were so, the Revelation was addressed directly to these seven churches and indirectly to churches of all ages.

Grace be unto you, and peace. This benediction, given to Christians, came from God, Himself. He existed before the writing of this letter, He existed at that time, and He will exist for all ages; indeed He is the great I AM (Ex. 3:14). Also represented as extending this benediction to the seven churches of Asia, were the seven Spirits of God, that is, the Holy Spirit. Here we find seven churches of Christ, seven Holy Spirits, and later, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven vials, all of which demonstrates the fullness, perfectness, and completeness represented in the Book of Revelation by the number seven. Certainly, just as there is but one God, one Savior, there is only one Holy Spirit. However, to demonstrate the guiding watchfulness of the Holy Spirit over all churches of Christ, it is noted here that each faithful congregation of God's children is guided individually by the Holy Spirit of God.

In verse five, we also note that this benediction also comes from Jesus Christ. He is described as the faithful witness; one whose testimony is true, infallible, and can not be refuted, disproved, or denied. Jesus was sent by His Heavenly Father, and through Him we were given God's plan of eternal salvation. All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him (Matt. 11:27). That which He taught, came from God, and He confirmed His teaching with compassionate, undeniable miracles.

Jesus is further described as the first begotten of the dead. We have record of Jesus miraculously returning life to some that had died: the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17), the daughter of Jairus (Matt 9:18-19; 23-26; Mark 5:22-24; 35-43; Luke 8:41-42; 49-56), and Lazarus (John 11:1-46). Although these were raised from death, yet they later had to submit to physical death once again. Only Jesus arose from death never to die again, shedding light on the truth that all shall one day be raised from death (See Acts 26:23).

He was the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20); the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18). He was the Prince of the kings of the earth, that is, He holds preeminence, and total dominion, over all earthly rulers of all ages. His love for all mankind was demonstrated by His atoning death on the cross of Calvary, where He shed His own blood so that we, through baptism into His body, might have the remission of our sins, and enjoy the hope of eternal salvation of our souls.

Jesus' kingdom on earth, His church, is made up of Christians that have been baptized into His body. To Him, His followers are a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, ...a royal priesthood, an holy nation (See 1 Pet. 2:5; 2-9). As we reside in His kingdom, we are to glorify God through His Son, Christ Jesus.