The 22 chapters of The Revelation to John are unique in the New Testament. Jesus himself spoke of the end times, but only briefly. This last book of the Christian Bible has more in common with Daniel, Ezekiel, and other prophets than with the rest of the New Testament. None-the-less, it is fundamentally new.
The majority view is that the Apostle John is the author and that he wrote it very late in the first century, possibly as late as the nineties. There are solid arguments against John and the time, but I stand with the majority. In that case, John wrote while on the island of Patmos.
There is no way to know just how John received this revelation—be it a dream or an actual visitation to Heaven or some other method. We of the scientific West have a hard time accepting the metaphysics of such things. Whatever happened, for John it was in Surround Sound and Technicolor. He lived it.
You may read a translation or two of the first verse as the Apocalypse to John. The actual Greek word transliterates as apocalypse, but it means revelation in English.
I read all my different translations of today’s reading of Revelation, and there was only one difference worth mentioning; I’ll describe that below. All the scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version.
We begin with 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne. There are differing ideas on which cities are the 7, but that is minor. The issue of the seven spirits is more significant. Some believe them to be the seven traditional archangels of Judaism—Gabriel, Michael, Raguel, Raphael, Remiel, Soragael, and Uriel—more think they are the seven spirits of Isaiah 11:2. While only six appear in the text, the seventh would be life, which comes from the Holy Spirit of God. This verse also contains a common Jewish phrase for God based on Exodus 3:14.
5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. Here, Jesus is separate from God and not to be confused with God. He is, like God, a faithful witness. His uniqueness is being the first to defeat death. More importantly, Jesus defeated death as a human. It is too easy to get carried away with the Son of God motif. Jesus was born human, lived human, died human, and battled death as a human. His perfection as a human is crucial for us. It is as a human that Jesus can call us brothers and sisters.
6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Here is where some translations differ: hath made us kings and priests. KJV I think the meaning is best expressed by Phillips: has made us a kingdom of priests to his God and Father. That is very close to the Interlinear translation. The ancient role of priests was to help others come closer to God, or gods in the other religions. Our role is to help others come closer to God today.
7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. When Jesus returns, no one will wonder what is happening; all will be clear. Some will wail or moan because they did not believe. Now it is too late. In this verse, we are left with some confusion. It clearly says that all tribes will mourn which seems to include those who believe. The Interlinear reads: and will mourn for him all the tribes of the earth. That seems all inclusive. There are two basic ways to deal with this. The easy out is that believers are plucked from the earth before Jesus’ return. The other option is that the believers will be in mourning for all the lost around them.
8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” This is the first use of the phrase in the New Testament. It is God who is the beginning and the ending. It is God who is him who is and who was and who is to come, not Jesus. John uses this phrasing again in chapter 21:6 about God and in 22:13 to describe the Messiah. If anyone reads all the Bible to Revelation 22:12 and still wonders if Jesus is of God, verse 13 should clear up the issue. In the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Jesus the Messiah is declared to be the equal of God.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.