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It is written:
1 John 5:7-For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
The Apostle John writes a great deal about the Holy Trinity throughout His Gospel and Epistles. Many are not aware that he also does the same throughout the Book of Revelation. In this brief study, we will study some of the passages which show us the Trinity in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 1:4-6-John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Right at the beginning of the Book of Revelation, John draws attention to the Trinity. He refers to the God and Father of Jesus, the Lord Jesus Himself, and the Holy Spirit. Consider the way the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the seven spirits” throughout Revelation.
Revelation 3:1-And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Revelation 4:5-And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
Revelation 5:6-And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.
The description of the Holy Spirit as “seven spirits” may be a reference to the Book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 11:1-2-There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
Another possibility is that this imagery of the Holy Spirit is taken from Zechariah 4:1-10.
“The most satisfactory explanation for the title “the seven spirits” traces its origin to Zech. 4: 1-10.41 Zechariah 4: 2, 10 speaks of the seven lamps (cf. Rev. 4: 5) that are “the eyes of the Lord, which range throughout the whole earth.” This has a close similarity to John’s “sent out into all the earth” in Rev. 5: 6 (Mounce). Because Revelation 4 and 5 carry the same symbolism as Zechariah 4 and the title used in the opening of this book must relate to themes occurring later on, the tracing of the title to this OT passage is an obvious solution (Beckwith). The prominence of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the world in Zech. 4: 2-10 is established by the words “not by might or power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4: 6). John’s use of Zechariah 4 furnishes an example of his kaleidoscopic variations on OT imagery (Caird). In deriving the title, John identifies the seven eyes of Zechariah with the seven spirits that belong to the Lord (Zech. 4: 10; cf. Rev. 5: 6). 42 The seven lamps of Zechariah (Zech. 4: 2) are also synonymous with the seven spirits (Rev. 4: 5).” (Robert L. Thomas, Revelation Exegetical Commentary – 2 volume set (Wycliffe Exegetical Commentary), 136-137 (Kindle Edition): Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers)
Later, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit are again shown to be Divine Persons in the Godhead:
Revelation 1:10-11-I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
The phrases “Alpha and Omega, First and the Last” are borrowed from the Old Testament, and are used to refer to Deity:
Isaiah 44:6-Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
What is especially interesting to notice here is the reference to the First and the Last later in the Book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 48:12-16-Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. 13 Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, And My right hand has stretched out the heavens; When I call to them, They stand up together. 14 “All of you, assemble yourselves, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? The LORD loves him; He shall do His pleasure on Babylon, And His arm shall be against the Chaldeans. 15 I, even I, have spoken; Yes, I have called him, I have brought him, and his way will prosper. 16 “Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.”
Please observe that the One speaking in this passage is identified as the First and the Last (Isaiah 48:12), as well as the One Who created the Heavens and the Earth (Isaiah 48:13). The New Testament affirms that this is a reference to Jesus (John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-18). Yet what is especially astonishing here is the statement of the Messiah in Isaiah 48:16… “and now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me.”
Isaiah refers us here to the Trinity, and it is connected with the “First and the Last.”
There are two references in Revelation 2:23 that identity Jesus as being God (yet separate from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit).
Revelation 2:23-I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
Compare this with what Jeremiah the Prophet records the LORD saying:
Jeremiah 17:10-I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
Furthermore, there are links here with the LORD in the Greek Old Testament translation of the Book of Ezekiel:
“First, Jesus tells the church that he will “strike dead” or “kill” Jezebel’s children. The Greek phrase άποκτενῶ ἐν θανάτῳ compares to Ezekiel 33: 27 (LXX), which is followed by the phrase “and they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezek 33: 29 LXX). As Beale notes, “And they will know that I am the Lord” is used approximately fifty times in the LXX of Ezekiel, mostly referring to “God being known as a result of judgment, as in Revelation 2: 23, which also highlights further the divine nature of Jesus’ judicial function.” 167 This probable allusion reinforces the idea that he is the righteous, divine judge who “searches mind and heart” and “gives to each according to his deeds” (2: 23). This formula of omniscience is startlingly parallel to the Lord’s words in Jeremiah 17: 10 as well. 168 In Jeremiah 17: 10 (“ I examine the mind”) and here, God on the one hand declares his ability to know their hearts and minds, and on the other hand he promises to reward or punish based on this knowledge. While angels throughout Jewish literature exercised varying roles as agents in God’s judgment of the world, Jesus here appears to be taking the actual judging upon himself while claiming in some sense the identity of YHWH, a role that angels never undertake in the MT.” (Brandon D. Smith, The Trinity in the Book of Revelation: Seeing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in John’s Apocalypse (Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture), 106-107 (Kindle Edition): Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic)
We see yet another indication of the Trinity in the Lord’s letter to the church of Sardis:
Revelation 3:5-He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
The Bible here speaks of the Book of Life being in the possession of Jesus. Consider the promise that the faithful will not have their name removed from the Book, and compare this with what Yahweh said to Moses:
Exodus 32:32-33-Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” 33 And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.
When the Lamb addressed the church in Philadelphia, we are told:
Revelation 3:7-And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “HE WHO HAS THE KEY OF DAVID, HE WHO OPENS AND NO ONE SHUTS, AND SHUTS AND NO ONE OPENS”:
The Scripture identifies Jesus here as He Who is “holy and true.” This is borrowed from the Old Testament descriptions of Jehovah God:
Isaiah 1:4-Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.
Isaiah 5:19-That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it.”
Notice also the sign of the key of David, a reference to the Divine authority of the Messiah from Isaiah’s prophecy:
Isaiah 22:22-The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
It is also worth noting that the only other Person in Revelation called “holy and true” is God Himself:
Revelation 6:10-And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Later, Jesus is described as the Faithful and True Witness:
Revelation 3:14-And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
This is a direct quotation from the Book of Jeremiah, and refers to the LORD Himself:
Jeremiah 42:5-So they said to Jeremiah, “Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the LORD your God sends us by you.
What shall we make of Jesus’ description of Himself as “the beginning of the creation of God?” Some believe that this is an allusion to Jesus being the first created Being. However, that is not the case. Indeed, these words are another example of Jesus being identified as God.
“In responding to the Watchtower’s interpretation of Revelation 3: 14, it is critical to note that there is a wide range of meanings for the Greek word arche, which is translated “beginning” in the New World Translation. Though arche can mean “beginning,” the word is truly unique and also carries the important active meaning of “one who begins,” “origin,” “source,” “creator,” or “first cause.” Evangelical scholars agree that this is the intended meaning of the word in Revelation 3: 14.4 The authoritative Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature by William Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich says the meaning of arche in Revelation 3: 14 is “first cause.” 5 Indeed, in Revelation 3: 14, arche is used to refer to “the active beginning of the creation, the One who caused the creation, referring to Jesus Christ not as a created being, but the One who created all things (John 1: 3).” 6 A brief perusal of some of today’s translations reflects this meaning of the word: • The New English Bible translates arche in Revelation 3: 14 as “the prime source” of God’s creation. • The Holman Christian Standard Bible renders arche as “the Originator” of God’s creation. • The Contemporary English Version translates arche as “the source” of God’s creation. • The Amplified Bible renders arche as “the Beginning and Author” of God’s creation. • Barclay’s translation renders arche as “the moving cause” of God’s creation. • Knox’s version translates arche as “the source” of God’s creation. • Both Williams’s and Goodspeed’s translations render arche as “the beginner” of God’s creation. It is worth noting that the English word architect is derived from arche. We might say that Jesus is the architect of all creation (John 1: 3; Colossians 1: 16; Hebrews 1: 2). Commenting on this verse, Greek exegete Henry Alford states that in Christ “the whole creation of God is begun and conditioned; He is its source and primary fountainhead.” 7 It is also noteworthy that the only other times arche is used in the book of Revelation, it is used of God as “the beginning and the end” (Revelation 1: 8; 21: 6; 22: 13). 8 Certainly the use of arche with God Almighty does not mean that He had a created beginning. Instead, these verses communicate that God is both the beginner and the consummation of creation. He is the first cause of creation; He is its final goal. 9 The Greek word arche is used in the same sense in Revelation 3: 14: Christ is the beginner of God’s creation (compare with John 1: 3; Colossians 1: 16; Hebrews 1: 2). Ask… Since the use of arche with God Almighty does not mean that He had a created beginning (Revelation 1: 8; 21: 6; 22: 13), why go against John’s usage in Revelation and insist that when used of Christ the word arche must indicate a created beginning? Another possible meaning of arche is “ruler” or “magistrate.” In support of this interpretation is the fact that when arche is used of a person in Scripture, it is almost always used of a ruler (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 15: 24; Ephesians 1: 21; Colossians 2: 10). 10 The plural form of this word is typically translated “principalities” (or something similar) in the New Testament (see Romans 8: 38; Ephesians 3: 10; Colossians 2: 15). 11 David Reed notes that the Watchtower Bible translates the plural of this word as “government officials” in Luke 12: 11.12 Elsewhere in the New Testament, the word carries the idea of “rule” or “domain” (Luke 20: 20; Jude 6). 13 The English word archbishop is related to this sense of the Greek word arche. An archbishop is one who is in authority over other bishops. He rules over other bishops. If “ruler” is the correct meaning for arche in Revelation 3: 14, then it means that Christ has authority over all creation. This meaning is reflected in the New International Version, where we read that Christ is the “ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3: 14). In the New Century Version we read that Christ is “the ruler of all God has made.” In Young’s Literal Translation we read that Christ is the “chief of the creation of God.” While I believe arche in Revelation 3: 14 carries the primary meaning of “beginner,” “first cause,” or “originator” of God’s creation, a plausible secondary meaning is that Christ is the “ruler” over God’s creation. In fact, it may be that in the case of Christ, both senses are intended inasmuch as Christ is elsewhere portrayed in Scripture as both the Creator (Hebrews 1: 2) and Ruler (Revelation 19: 16) of all things. The interpretation that Christ is the “beginner” of God’s creation harmonizes well with other New Testament passages about Christ as Creator—whereas the Watchtower interpretation goes against the whole of Scripture. For example: • “For by him [Christ] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1: 16-17). • “In these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Hebrews 1: 2, insert added). • “All things were made through him [Christ], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1: 3,). 14 Ask… Did you know that the same John who wrote Revelation 3: 14 wrote John 1: 3—“ All things were made through him [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made”? It is the consistent testimony of Scripture that Christ is not a created being but is rather the Creator of all things. It would be appropriate to remind the Jehovah’s Witness at this point of the scriptural teaching that only God is the Creator. God says in Isaiah 44: 24, “I am the LORD [Yahweh], who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself” (emphasis added). Clearly, this verse makes it impossible to argue that Christ was created first by Jehovah and then Jehovah created all other things through Christ. The fact that Jehovah is the One who “made all things” and stretched out the heavens “by myself” and spread out the earth “alone” (Isaiah 44: 24)—and the accompanying fact that Christ is the Creator of “all things” (John 1: 3; Colossians 1: 16; Hebrews 1: 2)—proves that Christ is God Almighty, just as the Father is.*” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 123-127 (Kindle Edition): Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers)
“To say that Jesus is the “beginning of God’s creation” is not merely to say he is the first created being; rather, he is the “origin” or “ruler” (άρχὴ), paralleling John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:15-17. As the άρχὴ, he is tied closely to the power and presence of God in the creation of all things and the one who has set in motion God’s plan for a new creation. Put another way, his presence and power at creation insinuate his power and presence over the events of new creation. We are reminded of the point made by the patristics, such as Origen: this “firstborn” language is not indicative of his own creation but rather his position as the “first principle” on whom creation is dependent and subordinate.181 He is able to exert divine power because he is a divine being. Moreover, this proper noun of “Amen” is used only here in the NT, echoing God’s name in Isaiah 65:16182 and “in the beginning” language in Genesis 1.” ((Brandon D. Smith, The Trinity in the Book of Revelation: Seeing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in John’s Apocalypse (Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture), 110-111 (Kindle Edition): Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic)
One of the great examples of the Trinity being seen in the Book of Revelation is found in the throne room scene:
Revelation 4:1-11-After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”
Here, we see references to the Lord Jesus (the One speaking in verse 1), the Father (2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11) and the Holy Spirit (2, 5). We see a similar scene in chapter five
Revelation 5:1-7-And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. 4 So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. 5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” 6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne.
Again, we have reference to God the Father (Revelation 5:1, 7), God the Son (Jesus-Revelation 5:5-7), and God the Holy Spirit (Revelation 5:6). Notice that the Bible here clearly distinguishes between the Father (Who is pictured here as sitting on the throne) and Jesus (taking the scroll from His hand), and that the Holy Spirit is intimately connected here as well (Revelation 5:6).
Yet another example of the Trinity in Revelation is seen in the Name Lord of lords and King of kings:
Revelation 17:14-These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
These names of Jesus are identified and connected in the Old Testament (and in several extrabiblical texts) with God.
“A further twist happens here in 17: 14. The saints overcome their oppressors because of their association with the lamb. John credits Jesus’ victory to his title as “Lord of lords and King of kings” (κύριος κυρίων ἐστὶν καὶ βασιλεὺς βασιλέων). This title has a storied history in YHWH’s relationship with Israel, as Deuteronomy 10: 17; Psalm 136: 3; and Daniel 2: 47; 4: 37 LXX use different versions of “Lord of Lords,” “Lord of kings,” and “God of gods.” “King of kings” is used as a title for God in other ancient Jewish literature, such as 2 Maccabees 13: 4, 3 Maccabees 5: 35, 1QM 14: 16, and m. Sanhedrin 4: 5. “King of kings” and “Lord of kings” were also used to speak of exalted kings in a multitude of ancient Near Eastern contexts. 248 In 1 Enoch 9: 4 we see a combination: “And they said to the Lord of the ages: ‘Lord of lords, God of gods, King of kings, < and God of the ages >.’” In the New Testament this title is given to God in 1 Timothy 6: 15: “He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and the Lord of lords,” and is likewise given to Jesus in Revelation 19: 16.” (Brandon D. Smith, The Trinity in the Book of Revelation: Seeing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in John’s Apocalypse (Studies in Christian Doctrine and Scripture), 128 (Kindle Edition): Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic)
Truly, the Book of Revelation bears amazing testimony to the Holy Trinity.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.