[Rev. 1:4] ¶ From John, to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is still to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, [Rev. 1:5] and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood [Rev. 1:6] and has appointed us as a kingdom, as priests serving his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power for ever and ever! Amen. [Rev. 1:7] (Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes on the earth will mourn because of him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen.) [Rev. 1:8] ¶ “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God—the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come—the All-powerful!
At a time when Christians were experiencing anything but grace and peace, the former Patmos apostle reminds his beloved Turkish churches that could enjoy both. And on the chessboard of Empire politics where these beleaguered Christ-followers felt like pawns in an un-winnable game, this Son of Thunder casually pulls out the only possible check-mate: Jesus Christ is King of Kings. It may look like Caesar is Lord, but let me show you what you may not be seeing…
This revelation through John reminds his intended audience that the opposition they faced from Jerusalem (and soon, Rome) would soon be dealt with. To the Romans who ruled the world John now presents Christ as the Ruler. To the Jews who stewarded the Covenant and the Priesthood, Jesus is presented as establishing a New Covenant and new Priesthood and a new Kingdom
If you belong to Christ you are not a second-class citizen but a New Covenant Priest. If you are under the domination of a foreign power, you are not powerless, rather you are kept by the One whose dominion will last forever.
Rome boasted about it’s glory. But Rome’s glory faded within a few centuries. Christ’s glory will have no end! The Jews boasted that they worshiped under an open heaven yet they had rejected the One whom Heaven opened up to send to them. Now, John reports, all the tribes of the Land will see the One they pierced coming in clouds of judgment (note how the Old Testament uses this expression in Isaiah 19:1).
If you read Revelation looking for predictions of the events of our times you will miss the beauty, the majesty, and the glory of the One it revealed to a Church on the brink of extinction and how it must have given them hope to hold on. Read it how they read it and you too will be filled with a similar hope.