Osborne, Grant R. Revelation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002. Location: Ellis BS 2825.53.O73 2002
“I. Prologue (1:1-8)” pp. 50-76.
Osborne finds Revelation 1:1-8 to function as a prologue. In this prologue the author borrows both from prophetic materials (Hosea 1:1, Joel 1:1, Amos 1:1 etc.) and from epistolary style. In Osborne’s opinion this is a statement from the author that the material to follow is a Christian prophecy (Osborne 2002, 50).
The preface, in verses 1-3, introduces the author, the subject, and asks God’s blessing on those who read. Osborne finds a similarity to the introduction of 1 Peter (Osborne 2002, 51). The title is straightforward. It is a revelation of which Jesus is the subject. Osborne recognizes “Jesus Christ” as a subjective genitive, indicating the subject of the revelation (Osborne 2002, 52). The process of revelation is also laid out in this passage. “God gave it to Jesus; Jesus gave it to the angels; they mediated it to John; and John wrote it down for the churches” (Osborne 2002, 53). The revelation is of things which must come to pass swiftly. Osborne observes the language of imminence which is to come quickly (Osborne 2002, 54). He therefore asks what the author meant. After all, considerable time has passed with no second coming. Osborne notes the language may be used to increase a sense of expectancy (Osborne 2002, 55).
The result of the revelation is made clear in 1:2. It is to bear witness, to testify, about all the things seen by John (Osborne 2002, 56). All this is similarly called “the word of God” or “the testimony of Christ.”
Osborne notes the blessing upon the reader and the one who pays attention to the revelation, as stated in 1:3 (Osborne 2002, 57). The reader is given both exhortation and comfort here. The reader, a singular, would be the one who read the letter in a public meeting. The hearers, plural, would be all who listened (Osborne 2002, 58). There is a repeated emphasis in Revelation on hearing and living in light of God’s commands.
The text continues in verses 4-6 with a doxology. Osborne notes that the doxology is more developed than usual. This one serves to introduce some of Revelation’s themes as well as to express a high Christology (Osborne 2002, 59). The greeting, from “John,” also names seven churches to which the writing is addressed (Osborne 2002, 60). Osborne observes that the churches are in important communities, but that other prominent locations are omitted. The churches ae listed in an order in which a courier would likely travel through the region. The formula identifying God as the one “who was and is and is to come” appears five times in Revelation but nowhere else in the New Testament (Osborne 2002, 61). The idea of the Revelation given also by “seven spirits” has sparked debate. Osborne observes that many see these as angelic beings but he thinks it more likely to be a reference to the Septuagint version of Isaiah 11:2 and Zechariah 4:2, 1, where God surveys the whole world by means of his various virtues (Osborne 2002, 61). A third source of this revealed grace and peace is Jesus, identified in detail as the faithful witness (Osborne 2002, 62) and the firstborn from the dead (Osborne 2002, 63). In these descriptions the life on earth and the resurrection of the Christian are foreshadowed.
The doxology itself comes in Revelation 1:5b-6. This is “the first doxology in the NT addressed only to Christ” (Osborne 2002, 63). The praise is focused again on his past love, his present work, and the expectation of future judgment (Osborne 2002, 64). The future judgment is expected to favor Christ’s chosen people (Osborne 2002, 65).
Osborne further notes that God’s people, as a royal priestly group, in some way share in a mission of serving God and caring for the needs of others, a priestly work in service to God (Osborne 2002, 66). The doxology in chapter one verses five to six is addressed in terms of Christ’s glory and power (Osborne 2002, 67). This Lord is the one who will be seen in glory and come with power. Osborne notes very strong Old Testament roots fof these statements of God’s glory (Osborne 2002, 68). The mourning in the presence of God may be sorrow for Christ’s suffering, repentance for our sin, or a combination of both. Osborne finds no definitive conclusion to this question (Osborne 2002, 69). It is clear that Christ will be seen by all, and that all people are considered guilty for Christ’s death (Osborne 2002, 70). However, Osborne also finds commentators who assert the “all nations” to refer to the Abrahamic promise of blessing to all. In any case, God as the sovereign ruler of history is clearly the one present here (Osborne 2002, 71). The chapter concludes with a summary and some specific notes about each of the first eight verses in chapter one of Revelation.