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In the Book of Revelation we have the following opening statement:

1:1 Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἣν ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ θεός δεῖξαι τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐν τάχει καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας διὰ τοῦ ἀγγέλου αὐτοῦ τῷ δούλῳ αὐτοῦ Ἰωάννῃ

It looks like John is the recipient of the Revelation (Apocalypse) of Yeshua the Messiah given to Yeshua indirectly via an Angel or Messenger. My opinion is that the Revelation of Yeshua is given to John by way of a Messenger who is later mentioned in the text (ref. Rev. 7:14, 19:10, & 22:9) and that on occasion, Yeshua speaks directly portions of this revelation.

The NLT offers this translation:

This is a revelation from [of] Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon [suddenly or quickly] take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John...

Can anyone offer a more concise explanation of Revelation 1:1?

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  • What reason do you have for doubting that it is given to John? What other options are there?
    – curiousdannii
    Aug 27 at 6:44
  • @Abraham Leanos Hi there´and welcome to BH-Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please be sure to take the site tour and read our code of conduct. Thanks! Aug 27 at 10:21
  • @curiousdannii, I'm not doubting to whom it was given, or that it was given. My question is to seek clarity from someone else's perspective. I posted my observation so you know where I am coming from. Aug 28 at 0:09
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You ask as to who this Revelation (the last book of the Christian Greek scriptures) is given. Then you make the comment that this Apocalypse of Yeshua the Messiah is given to Yeshua indirectly via an Angel or Messenger. But if that is so, then the answer to your question must be that this Revelation is given by an angel to the risen Christ Jesus! That is not what the text states. Let me quote from the A.V.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John; who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw". (Revelation 1:1,2)

The Revelation is given by God, to Jesus Christ. It could not be clearer. Then Jesus Christ sends his angel to signify this Revelation to his servant John. From the start, and intermittently thereafter, John sees visions of Jesus Christ in his risen glory, and hears his Lord speak directly to him. He also sees visions and hears explanations via this angel. The whole record is a prophecy of the activity of various angels from the time of John till the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. Just as the book of Acts could rightly be considered The Acts of the Holy Spirit, so the book of Revelation could rightly be considered The Acts of Angels.

Now let me quote the significance of this in the book referred to below:

"Observe that the book is a revelation of Jesus Christ. If so, it discloses that about him not unveiled before, but now revealed in this book. The Revelation is what John actually saw. In consequence he described the vision in writing... Note that it was not given directly by Jesus Christ. Rather, 'he sent and signified it by his angel.' This is of the greatest importance.

"Again, notice that by his angel the revelation was sent and signified to the servant of Jesus Christ called John, that by his pen it was to be sent to all the people of God: 'to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass', Rev. 1:1.

Given of God to Jesus Christ, sent by the angel of Jesus Christ, signified to the apostolic ministry, by this means it was to be shown to all those who serve God, and Jesus Christ his Son.

"...There is no question to the spiritual but that this refers to the apostle John, the writer of the fourth gospel, and of three further epistles. This is the more remarkable in view of the long obscurity of John between his initial prominence in the gospels, and his conspicuous reappearance at the very end.

"In the gospels 'Jesus saith unto him' - that is, to Peter - 'If I will that he' - John - 'tarry till I come, what is that to thee?', John 21:22. 'Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?' John 21:23.

"At that time John was about thirty to thirty-five years of age. From that moment until the writing of the fourth gospel and the three epistles, but above all until the setting down of this book, John tarried. Then Jesus came, appearing by his angel to give the Revelation of Jesus Christ to his slave John. John tarried: but the reason was that he was constrained by a spiritual discipline virtually unknown in church history and certainly unknown at the present time.

"...John had survived the first generation, and seen the passing away of the second generation as that in turn aged and departed. John had endured the persecutions of Nero. He had seen the end of the apostles, Paul included, long, long ago. But now storm clouds began to gather again. Under the Roman Emperor Dominitan the fires of persecution were rekindled.

"The Dominitan persecutions raged from the year 81 to 96. During this period the last apostle, John, was banished to the remote Island of Patmos. This was about the year 95. This approximated to the great age of the apostle. It was also about the time in which at long last there came the conclusion to John's seemingly endless 'tarrying'.

"Finally, in the Spirit, and by his angel, the Lord came for John, and came that he might render the last, the great, the consummate witness of the new testament, till time should be no more (Rev. 10:6).

"It was for this, the Revelation of Jesus Christ - above and beyond the fourth gospel and the three epistles - that the slave of Jesus Christ had been kept for longer than might be considered endurable or even possible. But by the grace of the Spirit he had been kept; by the grace of Christ he had endured; and by the grace of God he had submitted. Now at length he was called to render the most momentous, the most overwhelming testimony of all the sixty-six books of the Holy Bible, with which the whole was to be brought to its fitting conclusion.

"Although the Revelation is that of Jesus Christ, who, under various figurative symbols and graphic descriptions, appears frequently in the narrative, as does his own speech, nevertheless this revelation was not given directly from the Lord to John. 'He sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John'." (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, pages 1 to 4, John Metcalfe)

I trust that all your queries are answered by this lengthy quote.

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Let me begin by quoting the very literal translation provided by BLB of Rev 1:1-3

1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants what things it behooves to take place in quickness. And He signified it through having sent His angel to His servant, John, 2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, as much as he saw. 3 Blessed is the one reading, and those hearing the words of the prophecy, and keeping the things having been written in it; for the time is near.

This famous passage is known in Biblical circles as "The Chain of Revelation", and has a huge literature devoted to just these three verses. The best way to visualize it is by setting it out as the table below.

Rev 1:1 – 3 Technical Phrase Definition
God gave the message to Jesus The Revelation of Jesus The message God gave
Jesus gave the message via His angel to John The Testimony of Jesus What John saw (his prophetic visionary gift)
John gave the message to the church The words of the prophecy of this book What John wrote (ie, the book of Revelation)

Let us observe several things about this message contained in the book of Revelation.

  • The message was signified (V1), that is, written in signs and symbols. That is, it was written non-literally. [A glance at some of the fantastic chimeras in various places confirms this. Even the sword from the mouth of Jesus does the same.]
  • The message was design to be (V3) read by someone and heard by someone. This was the universal practice in the 1st century church because only a few could read; so, a literate person would read from the Bible or one of the letters of Paul, etc, while others would liten. Hence the first of the seven benediction in the book of Revelation.

Thus, in its complete form, the chain of revelation as described here goes something like this:

  1. God gives the message to Jesus
  2. Jesus gives the message to an angel
  3. The angel gives the message to John who writes it down
  4. John gives the message to others who make copies. This is the point where it is effectively communicated to "the church", ie, its people.
  5. The copies are taken to the leaders/elders of the church
  6. Such elders/leaders read the message to the listening members of each local church

The method by which the angel communicated the message to John varied - it was a combination of:

  • visionary scenes of Jesus in various tasks, fantastic beasts and other characters
  • Sometimes discussion with the angel (eg, Rev 7:13, 14, Rev 19:10, etc)
  • Sometimes by what John heard (eg, Rev 1:10, 17, 5:5, 10:3, 4, etc)

In all these scenes, John is an interacting, active participant. Having then recorded the visions and scenes conveyed to him by the angel, John then set about to communicate these messages to the church people, which has been going on ever since.

Genitive Construction

Let me offer some remarks about the opening three words in the Greek,

Ἀποκάλυψις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ = The revelation of Jesus Christ

Grammatically, this could mean any of the following:

  • The revelation about/concerning Jesus Christ
  • The revelation from Jesus Christ
  • The revelation belonging to Jesus Christ

Again, there is a large literature about which of these are implied in the Greek genitive. While I believe the first is the primary intent, given the large number of word picture about Jesus in the book, the other two are not excluded at all.

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