Revelation's Reader Blessings
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6. Revelation's 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, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy. And blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near." (Revelation 1.1b-3)✞

Jesus and Children

Blessed in Chinese lettersThe Book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises special blessings to its readers. John of Patmos, also known as the Apostle John, the writer of the Gospel and Epistles, writes, "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy." It is interesting to note that today's experts believe that reading quietly to oneself 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.

Blessings Today

Jesus Blessing ChildrenThen, as if John of Patmos lifts his eyes to you and I and other Third Millennium readers, he 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 Christians today, especially those enduring persecution.

Stand Firm

BibleToday, as in every century, the Book of Revelation encourages Christians to stand firm in their faith. John of Patmos, the disciple of Jesus, is described as "his servant John." The Early Church Fathers, who were eminent church leaders, and many named as saints from the time of Jesus up to 700 AD, affirmed the Revelation's writer as John of Patmos. They confirm that this same Apostle John is the writer of the book of Revelation. Early Church leaders and those today also believe him to have written the Gospel of John and the three Epistles bearing his name.

Nicaea Affirmation

John of PatmosThe First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, was a gathering of Church leaders from all around the Roman empire called together by Emperor Constantine and at his own cost. This Council confirms the truth again that John is the author of Revelation by including Revelation, the Gospel of John, and John's Epistles in the approved Biblical Canon of the then Worldwide Church. John of Patmos is 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 Christian community in Ephesus in Asia in the early part of the Second Century AD.

Read Christ's Revelation

BlessingAs you read the Revelation of Christ, God brings a special blessing upon you and unique insights into the nature and work of Jesus and the other Trinity members. "Christ's servant John" is revered for his wisdom as one of the closest disciples to Jesus himself. From as early as Justin Martyr in the second century AD, John of Patmos is the Apostle, Zebedee's son. Matthew 10.2 reads, "These are 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, the brother of James, is an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry and friend of Jesus in Israel as a young man and now in Revelation. As an elder statesman, he has a remarkable vision of the same Jesus but this time glorified in heaven. John urges his followers to read the Revelation of Christ as a book of "prophecy." He says, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy." A "prophecy" means "a vision given by God of what lies ahead in both the immediate and long-term future."

Know Jesus Personally

Trinity Sign Three CornersSaint John further emphasizes the need to read Christ's Revelation and not reconstruct it into our own human words. A prophecy is more than telling the future, for behind the predictions are essential principles about God's character. We can lose some meaning if we omit certain words, phrases, sentences, or even whole chapters to suit our own devices. As we read of Christ in Revelation, God intends that we will get to know him personally more and thus receive his Revelation's reader blessing.

Words of This Prophecy

Open BibleThe one who reads the words of this Biblical book is blessed. The reader mentioned here is not just the private reader, but primarily the person who publicly reads the Revelation scripture out loud in a congregation's presence. The Bible reading is the center of any worship service. Such an Early Church service is described in Acts 13.14b-15, "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 Saint Paul and his companions are asked to explain the Scriptures they have all heard together. In the Jewish synagogue, Scripture is read to the congregation by seven ordinary members, although if a Priest or Levite is present, he takes precedence. The later Christian Church took much of its order of service from the synagogue. The structure of services and the Scripture reading remains the essential central part of every worship in any Christian Community today.

Reading Apostles' Memoirs

ScripturesGod blesses whoever reads the revelation words of this prophecy aloud. Blessed are those who hear and take heart from it. Justin Martyr (100-160 AD) is an early Christian apologist who gives us the oldest known Christian worship service account. It includes reading "the memoirs of the apostles" or Gospels and the "writings of the prophets" from the Old Testaments." The "Reader" of these Scripture passages becomes 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 is a respected church leader, apologist, and famous for being the earliest writer to use the term "Trinity." He writes, "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."

Read Aloud

A small dog who is obedientJohn of Patmos writes that to "hear Revelation's words" is to be "blessed." It is a great privilege to hear the Book of Revelation, to read and study the whole Bible in our language. Men and women died at the stake, were tortured, and persecuted because they sought to hand on this beautiful Word of God, including the Book of Revelation. To this day, translating the Scriptures into other languages goes on sometimes in remote and dangerous places. I read the other day of a Bible translation underway into the Inuktitut language by the Canadian Diocese of the Arctic. The Bible Society produced a new Syllabic Cree Bible for Nunavut.

Blessed People

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

Read Revelation's Words

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 understand Revelation's words is to be "Blessed," which means "to be made holy or consecrated." "The Blessed" is defined as "those who live with God in heaven." This verse in Revelation 21.1b-3 is the first of seven blessings in Revelation, which are like the "beatitude" or as Robert Schuller (1926-2015) the pastor, author, and evangelist called them, the "Be-Happy Attitudes!"

Be Happy Attitudes

The blessings of Revelation are reminiscent of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount," which says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 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 they will be filled." Here a new set of seven blessings is drawn from different parts of the Book of Revelation.

Seven Revelation Blessings

1. "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart it's contents." Revelation 1.1b-3

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

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

4. "Blessed are those invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'" Revelation 19.9

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

6. "Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll." Revelation 22.7

7. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life." Revelation 22.14

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

"Revelation's Reader Blessings"
by Ron Meacock © 2020

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