Kingdom of priests to God and His Father
(4) "John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be upon you, and peace, from Him who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne; (5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. And has made us a kingdom of priests to God and His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever. Amen." Revelation 1: 4 - 6.
Initially the apostle John was writing to the seven churches in Asia Minor. What John wrote did reach a few hundred Christians but God intended the book of Revelation to be read by multitudes of individuals throughout church history and after the rapture of the church. Once again chapter one starts out with a blessed greeting. John writes grace and peace from the Triune Godhead. This greeting was given so many times in the first century that it would be our way of saying in modern times how are you; however, their greeting was loaded with careful Godly intent for the other person.
Nero ordered a brutal persecution of Christians in Rome. The book of Revelation was written a little after this time frame. Remember I said initially this book was directly written to the seven churches. Some people experience the peace of the world but most people had no clue what this particular comfort was all about because they did not live luxury lives if you know what I mean. I am sure tension was very high that they would be next.
I have seen this many times but unfortunately when John and Paul died legalistic Judaizers infiltrated many of the thriving churches. The apostles founded and guided the believers to become disciples for Jesus Christ. God has called every believer to be disciples but these people tried to force the new Christians back under the Mosaic Law as a way of life. This is the main reason why the greeting of grace and peace was rich with meaning for these churches that were struggling with the issues of the Christian life.
John explains the source of the Revelation describing it's three givers. This is deep because the description is regarding the Triune Godhead. He describes God the Father as Him who is and who was and who is to come. This describes the continuous existence of being. He is our All Powerful God which John describes in the gospels. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1.
A description is also given of the Holy Spirit. The apostle writes ... "And from the seven Spirits who are before His throne" in verse four. These seven Spirits are speaking of God the Father and God the Son as being the source of the revelations so the seven Spirits refer to the third member of the Godhead which is the Holy Spirit. Since the number seven stands for completeness in context of this particular passage the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit ministers to us believers in Christ. The Spirit is before the throne of God. He has the function to obey and fulfill the purpose of the One who sits on the throne because this is also His will (Holy Spirit). Remember God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are equal and one.
If I were to go back to the original greeting (grace and peace) this is Jesus Christ Himself giving this type of love to the brothers and sisters in the faith. There are titles given to Him. He is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and the prince of the kings of the earth.
Jesus Christ was the faithful witness because a true prophet reveals God to men. The Son of God is distinct in that He did not just reveal God by what he said as the other prophets had done but He was a perfect revelation and witness of God the Father. When Jesus Christ was living He showed us the perfect portrait of God. He is also the perfect photograph of God. Some People desire to know God. "Who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" Hebrews 1:3. "Je'sus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Phil'ip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?" John 14:9.
The reference to Christ as the firstborn of the dead corresponds with what the apostle Paul writes in the epistles. "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature." Colossians 1:15. The theme of this statement is that Jesus Christ was the first Person to be permanently resurrected from the dead. The resurrection of Lazarus was only temporary because he died again but the Son of God defeated death by never dying again to be seated at the right hand throne of God. The term firstborn means that Jesus Christ is the first who will be resurrected with a glorified immortal body. We will be getting an immortal body at the rapture of the church.
The world that we live in now is a complete mess so when this passage says ... "Prince of the kings of the earth" ... it is difficult to comprehend this being true. Jesus Christ has the right to rule but He is not exercising His authority over kings and kingdoms at this point but He will be ruling for one thousand years after the seven year tribulation period. Unfortunately Satan won a temporary legal right to rule the kingdoms of this world when Adam relinquished his God given authority in the garden of Eden when he took a bite of the apple. This is so ridicules but Satan actually took Jesus Christ to a high mountain when He (Jesus Christ) was fasting for a very long period of time. The devil showed the Son of God the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Jesus in exchange for worship. Remember Lucifer was kicked out of heaven because he wanted worship. What Satan tries to do is truly amazing but obviously Jesus Christ said no but never disputed the temporary legal claim that Satan has to these kingdoms.
Jesus Christ knew that when He died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day Satan would be finished. "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out." John 12:31. Because the Son of God rose from the dead on the third day it is only a matter of time until He comes back to earth and claim His role as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all rulers of this world.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross He reached out to people in all their ugliness and sins but when He comes back to rule we will be with Him as redeemed saints washed from their sins and clothed with Christ's robes of righteousness. If we accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts we have been cleansed from our sins and their eternal judgment. He wants us to live in His love now by abiding in Him. If people that do not believe in Jesus Christ accept the pardon which God is eager to give anyone he or she can also have His ever present love and one day be with Him when He rules and reigns over the earth.
When the apostle John writes in verse six and has made us a kingdom of priests to God and His Father we should remember that we are just pilgrims and strangers passing through this world. When we meet fellow believers in Christ often times we have mutual concerns about issues in life and solutions through Jesus Christ. Most of all we know our kingdom is not of this world. If you are a true Christian you have been ordained as priests of God through and by Jesus Christ Himself.
The spiritual function of a priest is to represent people before the throne of God. We can speak to God for other people or we can talk to individuals on the behalf of God. As believers in Christ we have free access to engage in this practice. Every Christian has the privilege of priesthood through Jesus Christ. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: 1 Peter 2:9. "
In light of this wonderful news if you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord now would probably be a good time to repent of all your sins and invite the Son of God into your life. If you just made that decision you can start claiming the promises of God for your life in context because He has such great love for you. Your part is to abide in Jesus Christ and do the will of God.
God bless you,