Reader Blessings
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3. Reader Blessings
Revelation 1.1b-3

"He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw, that is, God's word and Jesus Christ's testimony. Blessed is the one who reads aloud this prophecy's words. Blessed are those who hear and follow what is in it for the time is near." (Revelation 1.1b-3) ✞

Reading Aloud

Chinese for BlessedThe Book of Revelation is the only Bible book that promises special blessings to readers. John of Patmos, also known as the Apostle John, the Gospel and Epistles' writer, says, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud this prophecy's words." Interestingly, today's experts believe that silent reading is a modern development, hence the blessing of reading aloud, which was the norm in ancient times. John of Patmos affirms that God will favor those who listen to his words and do what he says.

Reader Blessings

Jesus Blessing ChildrenAs you read Christ's Revelation, God brings a special blessing upon you and unique insights into Jesus' nature and work. John of Patmos lifts his eyes to you and me and other Third Millennium readers and adds, "Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what God has written in it." God gives you Revelation's reader blessings because you are reading Jesus' unique book. The Book of Revelation was copied along with the four Gospels and letters and read aloud in first and second-century household churches. Revelation's message of special blessings would encourage Christians everywhere in the Roman Empire and especially those enduring persecution.

Revelation's Importance

John of PatmosThe Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, was a gathering of Church leaders from all around the Roman empire called together by Emperor Constantine the Great (c272-337 AD) in the city of Nicaea in the present day city of Izniz, Turkey. Constantine had invited 1,800 leaders of the Christian Church in the Roman Empire, though. Attendees reported smaller numbers between 250 and 318, and 318 is probably the closest estimate. Each leader brought with him two priests and three deacons so the total numbers may have been above 1,800. The bishops were given free travel and accommodation by Constantine.

Constantine's Council

Warren Carroll, (1933-2015), of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada reported in "The Building of Christendom," 324-1100 (Front Royal: Christendom College Press, (1 March 1987) ISBN 978-0-931888-24-3) "Resplendent in purple and gold, Constantine made a ceremonial entrance at the opening of the Council, probably in early June, but respectfully seated the bishops ahead of himself." Eusebius described, Constantine "himself proceeded through the midst of the assembly, like some heavenly messenger of God, clothed in raiment which glittered as it were with rays of light, reflecting the glowing radiance of a purple robe, and adorned with the brilliant splendor of gold and precious stones." This Council confirmed that John was the Revelation's author by including Revelation, the Gospel of John, and John's Epistles in the then worldwide church's approved Biblical canon. John of Patmos was also called John the Evangelist and the fourth of the Gospel evangelists with Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The letters' tone to the seven churches shows the author's high authority as a respected leader of the Ephesus Christian community in Asia in the Fourth Century AD.

John of Patmos

Blessing"Christ's servant John" was revered for his wisdom as one of Jesus' closest disciples. Today, as in every century, the Book of Revelation encourages Christians to stand firm in their faith. John of Patmos, Jesus' disciple, is described as "his servant John." Early Church leaders and those today also believe John of Patmos to have written his Gospel and the three Epistles bearing his name.

Eyewitness to Jesus

Justin Martyr in the second century AD, identified John of Patmos as the Apostle, Zebedee's son. Matthew 10.2 lists the names of the first four of the "the names of the twelve apostles, first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew, James son of Zebedee, and his brother John." John became an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry, a member of his inner circle, and Jesus' friend in Israel as a young man. As an elder statesman, he received a remarkable vision of the same Jesus but this time in heavenly glory. John urged his followers to read Christ's Revelation as a book of "prophecy." He said, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy." A "prophecy" means "a God-given vision of what lies ahead in both the immediate and long-term future."

God's Essential Characteristics

Trinity Sign Three CornersJohn of Patmos further emphasizes the need to read Christ's Revelation carefully and not reconstruct it according to our ideas. A prophecy is more than telling the future, for behind the predictions are God's essential characteristics. We can lose meaning if we omit certain words, phrases, sentences, or even whole chapters to suit our own devices. God frames prophecy in his characteristics, reflecting his qualities. Our lives and work should similarly be framed in God's characteristics, reflecting his qualities. As we read of Christ in Revelation, God intends us to get to know him personally, copy God's attributes, and receive Revelation's reader blessings.

Public Bible Reading

Open BibleThose who read this Biblical book's words are blessed. The readers mentioned here are primarily people who publicly read the scriptures out loud to a congregation. The Bible reading should be the center of any worship service. Acts 13.14b-15 describes an Early Church service, "On the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.'" Here they asked Saint Paul and his companions to explain the Scriptures they had heard. In the Jewish synagogue, seven ordinary members read the Scriptures to the congregation, although a Priest or Levite took precedence. Paul may have been regarded as a teacher and honored in this way. The later Christian Church took much of its order of service from the synagogue. The services' structure and the Scripture readings remain the essential center of every Christian worship service today.

The Apostles' Memoirs

ScripturesGod blesses whoever reads aloud the revelation words of this prophecy. Blessed are those who hear and take heart from it. Justin Martyr (100-160 AD), an early Christian apologist, gives us the oldest known Christian worship service account. It includes reading "the Apostles memoirs" or Gospels and the "prophets' writings" from the Old Testament." The "Reader" became in time a significant official office in the Early Church, higher than the Priest or Deacon! One of Tertullian's (160-220 AD) complaints against heretical sects in "On Prescription against Heretics 41" is how a man can speedily attain a Reader's office without training. Tertullian was a respected church leader, apologist, and famous for being the earliest writer to use the phrase "Trinity." He wrote, "And so it comes to pass that today one man is their bishop and tomorrow another. Today, he is a deacon who tomorrow is a reader." To be a reader was a vital and prominent role in the Early Church, unlike today when pretty much anyone reads the lessons. It reflects on how important the Bible is to us today.

Bible Reader blessing

Small Obedient DogJohn of Patmos writes that to "hear Revelation's words" is to be "blessed." It is a great privilege to read and study Revelation and the whole Bible in our language. Men and women died, were tortured, and persecuted because they sought to pass on this beautiful Word of God. To this day, translating the Scriptures into other languages goes on in remote and dangerous places. I recently read of a Bible translation into the Inuktitut language by the Canadian Diocese of the Arctic. The Bible Society also produced a new Syllabic Cree Bible for Nunavut.

Personal Blessing

BiblePeople who "hear the words" of Revelation in English, French, Cree, or whatever language and who keep them are "blessed." Reading is our blessing and duty, but to receive a personal gift for doing it is the icing on the cake. There can be no authentic Christianity or, indeed, any benefit for the one who hears and forgets or deliberately disregards Scripture's message. Some heretics today contend that the Scriptures are not God's Word but that only some parts like the sayings of Jesus. The Holy Scriptures' words themselves in 2 Timothy 3.16-17 reassure us, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that God may thoroughly equip his servant for every good work." "The servant" in this verse may mean "you, a man or a woman of God." Those who deny that the Bible is God's word will not receive God's blessing. We have God's word on that!

Route To Holiness

I'm BlessedRevelation's words urge Christians to read, hear, and take to heart the seven blessings there and be filled with holiness by Jesus Christ himself. To be "Blessed" means "to be made holy or consecrated." "The Blessed" are "those who live with God in heaven." This verse in Revelation 21.3 is the first of eight Revelation's reader blessings, which are like the "Beatitudes" or, as Robert Schuller (1926-2015), the prominent tele-evangelist called them, the "Be-Happy Attitudes!" In each beatitude blessing, Jesus names a group of people thought to be unfortunate and pronounces them blessed! ✞

Be-Happy Attitudes

HallelujahThe blessings of Revelation are reminiscent of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," of Matthew 5.3-12 which says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is heaven's kingdom. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for God will fill them." Each blessing begins with "beauti" which translates as "happy, rich or blessed." Here a new set of seven blessings to make us happy and enjoy God's richness in our lives. These new blessings are drawn from different parts of the Book of Revelation.

Eight Revelation Blessings

Praise1. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy." Revelation 1.3

2. "Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart its contents." Revelation 1.3

3. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." Revelation 14.12

4. "Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." Revelation 16.15

5. "Blessed are those invited to the Lamb's wedding supper!'" Revelation 19.9

6. "Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection." Revelation 20.6

7. "Blessed is the one who keeps the prophetic words written in this scroll." Revelation 22.7

8. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the Tree of Life." Revelation 22.14

CelticThese seven Revelation blessings also remind us of an old Celtic Benediction based on Psalm 103.1, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless his holy name." Blessed are those who read these words.

"Reader Blessings"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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