“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
The final book of the Bible is aptly called Revelation, for it is a compilation of things that were revealed to John while banished to the Island of Patmos. In it, we will be given key insights into the future, but before the future is described, John takes time to describe Jesus. Instead of seeing the humble carpenter, meek and mild, John describes King Jesus in all His splendor and glory and refers to Him as “the ruler of the kings of the earth.” As ruler, Jesus declares He holds in His hands the keys to hell and death. As I read this, I have to ask, why would Jesus unlock the door to hell?
We have all seen the images of satan as the king of Hell, ruling over the fiery underworld. That image is not found anywhere in the Bible, but is taken from Greek mythology where Hades, the brother of Zeus, rules as a tyrant over the dead. The Bible paints an entirely different picture. Satan is not the king of Hell, but will be the chief prisoner. After all the havoc he has caused upon the earth, he will one day be bound and cast into the lake of fire. There he will forever pay for his rebellion against God, and the destruction he has caused mankind. The key in the hand of Jesus is used to unlock the door of hell to imprison the devil and his cohorts.
There is another reason why Jesus holds this key. The Bible teaches that, prior to coming to Christ, we are held captive to sin. Like a prisoner of war held behind enemy lines, we are bound in our sin and have no way of escape. Jesus holds the key; the way of escape out of sin and it’s penalty. Whenever, whoever, and wherever we are, when we call upon Christ, we are set free from sin, death and judgment, and given the free gift of eternal life. Jesus is the one who unlocks the door and sets us free.
Whatever sin may have its grip on you, if you cry out to Christ, He will set you free.
Questions for Revelation 1
- Notice that in verse 1, that this book is not about revelations (plural), but rather is about a Revelation. Who is this revelation of?
- There is a special blessing attached to this book. Note in verse 3 what we must do to receive this blessing.
- John sends grace and peace from God the Father and from Jesus to the churches. What things do verses 4-6 teach us about Jesus and His Father? Notice especially the reason that Jesus washed us from our sin with his own shed blood.
- In verse 1 we read that the events in this book “must shortly take place”. In verse 3, John states that “the time is near”. In verse 7 we find out what this soon, near event is. What is it? Will this world in general be happy about it?
- Look at verse 9. John was on the isle of Patmos (a Roman prison island) when he received this revelation. Why was he in prison according to this verse?
- Note the phrase “the first and the last” in verses 8, 11, 17-18. Now look up Isaiah 44:6. This is clearly a phrase that is used of God Almighty. However, in verses 17-18 it is ascribed to one “who was dead but is alive forevermore.” This is one of the clear statements of Scripture that Jesus is God.
- John walked with Jesus and knew Him well. He was part of Jesus’ even inner circle of three (also including Peter and James). He even saw Jesus at the mount of transfiguration when He shone like the sun. However, look at verses 12-16 for a description of Jesus at His Revelation to John.
- How does John respond to this new understanding of Jesus as God Almighty? How does Jesus respond to him?
- There is a built in outline to the book of Revelation in verse 19. What are the three sections of this book?
- There is symbolism is this book, but much of the book is not symbolic and can simply be taken at face value. Additionally some of the symbolism of this book is explained and revealed to us. Look at verse 20. What is the meaning of the seven stars and the seven lampstands?