Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
II. Churches Addressed (1:9-3:22) pp. 77-217.
- Inaugural Vision (1:9-20). p. 78-103.
John is introduced in Revelation 1:9-20 as both prophet and seer (Osborne 2002, 78). Osbone notes a similarity to the call narratives of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. He also observes that John’s commission is to write what he sees as part of the revelation. Here we see Christ both as the one who commissions and as the main topic of the book. Rather than identifying himself as an apostle, the author identifies as a “brother” and “partner.” Osborne does not take this as an indicator of a non-apostolic author, but as a mark of his commitment to community (Osborne 2002, 79).
The areas of community focused on are tribulation, kingdom, and endurance (1:9), which Osborne considers to show “conceptual unity” (Osborne 2002, 80). Osborne finds the placement of “kingdom” in the center between “tribulation” and “endurance” to signify where patient endurance would function. The term “kingdom” is used in various ways throughout Scripture, including in Revelation, as Osborne treats briefly.
John’s context for sharing in affliction is that of Patmos (Osborne 2002, 81). Osborne observes that Patmos was not a penal colony, but would serve as a place of banishment. The island was populated and considered civilized. It is likely that John’s banishment ended with an amnesty under Nerva in 96, at which time John apparently settled in Ephesus (Osborne 2002, 81).
In Revelation 1:10 John is said to be “in the Spirit.” While the term is used at times of an ecstatic experience, Osborne thinks that is not the case here, since John seems quite aware of himself throughout (Osborne 2002, 83). The reference made to “the Lord’s day” appears nowhere else in the New Testament. Osborne thinks it is simply a reference to Sunday as the day of resurrection.
The first event in the revelation is that John hears a loud voice, which is a typical sign of important information to come (Osborne 2002, 84). John is told to write, and is told whom to address. Osborne discusses the recipients in brief as being cities in important places for natural communication around Asia Minor (Osborne 2002, 85).
Osborne observes that the vision of the Christ beginning at Revelation 1:12 actually continues through the end of chapter three, including the writing of the letters to the churches (Osborne 2002, 85). In verse 12, John turns to see the voice. Osborne notes the use of a verb for “turning” twice as possibly symbolic of a literary or historical transition. He also thinks the turn to “see the voice” may be a reinforcement of the call narrative from the start of Revelation 1 (Osborne 2002, 86). The lampstands John sees have been variously interpreted. In any estimation, though, they strongly indicate the idea that the seven churches shine God’s light into the world (Osborne 2002, 87). However, the focus is not on the lampstands but on the Christ in the midst of them. His presence is central to Revelation. Osborne finds numerous parallels to the visions of Daniel chapter 7 and 10 (Osborne 2002, 87). The one “like the Son of Man” (Revelation 1:13) very likely points to Jesus’ role as Messiah. His identity as the God/Man will be restated several times in Revelation (Osborne 2002, 88).
In Revelation 1:13b-16 Osborne identifies a series of eight Old Testament images which introduce themes which carry throughout Revelation (Osborne 2002, 88). The images all describe God the Son in his glory. His robe and sash suggest priestly or kingly dignity (Osborne 2002, 89). His white head shows dignity and wisdom (Osborne 2002, 90). The blazing eyes show his penetrating insight. The bronze feet may well refer to strength, stability, and purity (Osborne 2002, 91). The voice is a sign of power. Likewise, the stars in his hand indicate his power and authority. The sword in his mouth indicates authority and judgment (Osborne 2002, 92). His radiant face sums up God’s presence as shown by Moses coming down from Sinai (Osborne 2002, 93).
Revelation 1:17-20 shows John’s reaction and a restatement of the divine commission given to John. The natural reaction to God’s presence is to fall down before Him (Osborne 2002, 93). It is a sign of worship and submission. At this, the Christ lays his right hand on John and encourages him (Osborne 2002, 94). Osborne notes the right hand held the stars and was also used as a sign of blessing and peace. Jesus as the “First and Last” (v. 17) is the one who created and sustains everything (Osborne 2002, 95). The image of his eternal life indicates that he possesses and can distribute life, as shown in the resurrection (v. 19). His possession of the keys of death indicates his sovereign power over it (Osborne 2002, 96).
Osborne notes that the statement of Revelation 1:19 has often been seen as the organizational statement of all of Revelation (Osborne 2002, 97). John is to write what he has seen, which is his initial vision, what is now, which is the content of his seven letters, and what is yet to come, the remainder of the text. The specifics may be open to debate, but the overall framework does make sense. All the book seems to have past, present, and future elements. Verse 20 strongly suggests that the text as a whole speaks specifically to the churches (Osborne 2002, 98).
Osborne concludes his comments on chapter one by observing that Revelation depicts a world fully under God’s control (Osborne 2002, 100). As Christians periodically endure persecution we can still realize that God is not absent. Holding firmly to Christian teaching may spur on persecution, but that is not the destruction of Christ’s kingdom. The exalted Christ is present as the true God who is both in control and appointed as the final judge (Osborne 2002, 101).