Jesus Christ

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In his brief introduction to the book, John first uses the name “Jesus Christ” (1:1) . This is a composite of the personal and official names of Jesus. By the end of the first century, this had become a common way to refer to the Lord. In a sense, it represented a synthesization of the New Testament. Jesus is the predominant name in the Gospels and Acts, whereas Christ is the predominant name in the Epistles, especially the Pauline epistles. We examined both of these names closely in earlier chapters. A Threefold Picture Of Jesus Christ John goes on to describe “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth” (1:5). This introduces in this book the three primary ideas concerning who Christ is. It is typical throughout the writings of John that although he writes in Greek, he thinks in Hebrew. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Revelation should focus on the threefold Messianic office of prophet, priest, and king. Jesus Christ is, first, the prophet, and John identifies Him so as “the faithful witness.” Jesus came to reveal the Father to mankind and did so perfectly (cf. Matthew 11:27). The Greek word translated “witness” here is martus, from which we get the English term “martyr.” Originally, martus meant “a witness” but came to refer to one who died because of his faithfulness in witnessing. It is interesting to note that Jesus Himself later applied this title to a believer in Pergamum named Antipas (Revelation 2:13). The implication is that just as Jesus is the faithful witness of the Father to us, so we need to be faithful witnesses of Him to the world. This title must have been very meaningful to John, who was himself exiled on Patmos because of his faithful witness of the things of God. The second of these three titles in Revelation 1:5 emphasizes Christ's role as a priest; He is “the first begotten of the dead. “ In the Epistle to the Hebrews, He who arose became the high priest. Jesus was the first to rise to eternal life. Others had been raised before but later died again. Theologians call these “resuscitations” as opposed to “resurrections.” Also unique concerning the resurrection of Jesus is the fact that He was raised not only to live forever but also to become “a quickening [or life-giving] spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45; Colossians 1:18). Thirdly, Revelation 1:5 calls Jesus “the prince of the kings of the earth.” Although not denying the sovereignty of Christ now as the authority by which kings rule (Romans 13: 1) and the “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36), this book emphasizes His coming dominion upon this earth. In this sense, it is right for John to refer to Jesus not only as “king” but also as “prince.” A man is a prince until he formally assumes office as king. The next monarch of the British Commonwealth is scheduled to be Prince Charles. Even though he is trained to be king and will someday assume the throne of his mother, until Queen Elizabeth dies or surrenders the throne to her son, Charles will remain a prince. At the beginning of the book of Revelation, Jesus is called a prince of kings, but when He comes to establish His kingdom on earth, He is called “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (19:16).

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