The title of the last book of the Bible comes from the very first line in its text. It says, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.” Commentators make much of the phrase “of Jesus Christ.” They ask is this a “subjective genitive or an objective genitive?” In plain language, they are asking if Jesus is the subject of the revelation or is He the object. Is it about Jesus or is it from Jesus? Charles says, “The genitive here is subjective. The revelation is given by Jesus Christ to John.”[1] Others will say it is an objective genitive and it is about Jesus. Why the discussion? Isn’t it both?  I agree with Trail, “It means both that Jesus Christ is the one who is revealed and that it comes from him.”[2] Arnold is with us, “It also declares that this divine revelation is from Jesus (its source) and about him (its content).”[3] Some see it as a fifth Gospel. “Most of us read the four Gospel books to hear the recorded words and deeds of Christ. Yet few of us think about reading Revelation for the same reason. That is a mistake. Revelation is an epistle from Jesus Christ that not only records his words but also his deeds throughout. In this sense, it is like a fifth Gospel book.”[4]

This is the “Apocalypse!” That’s the first word in the Greek text that is usually translated as “revelation.” It is all about an unveiling of something that has been hidden but is now being revealed. What is it uncovering? Brown says, “The Apocalypse is of His (Jesus’) second advent, and the preliminary events.”[5] John says it is about things that are to take place soon. It is about the future. We see the chain of the delivery of this revelation is from God to Jesus, to an angel, to John who is now passing it on to us. Wilcock says, “The Title tells us that this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ given by God to his servants. If I am one of those who serve him, then this book is for me, however irrelevant its contents may seem when I first glance through it.”[6] The chain of delivery continues throughout history and reaches us.

About 2000 years have passed since the Revelation of and about Jesus was given to us through the angel and John and passed on from generation to generation. It is hard to grasp how it will all “take place soon” as John says. Many ignore the book to some extent because they fear since so much time has passed the Bible is not reliable. In my life, it feels like the days just crawl by sometimes, but the years fly by. At 76 I can vouch for the fact that it is coming soon. After my heart attack not long ago, I’m more conscious of my mortality than ever. Michaels has some good things to say about this, “Anyone who has faced the prospect of imminent death, whether from illness or accident, and then recovered knows how precious life then seems. The colors of the world are brighter and its contrasts sharper. Everything around us is etched more deeply than before in our senses and in our memories. When we assume that life will go on forever, one day often blurs into another, but when we are reminded that it has an end, every moment and every perception can come alive.”[7] This is what the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” can do for us all. In verse 3, God promises a special blessing to all those who read this book. That might be what He means.

[1] Charles, R.H. 1920. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St John. Vol. 1. International Critical Commentary. Edinburgh: T&T Clark International.

[2] Trail, Ronald. 2008. An Exegetical Summary of Revelation 1–11. 2nd ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International.

[3] Arnold, Clinton E. 2002. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Hebrews to Revelation. Vol. 4. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


[5] Brown, David, A. R. Fausset, and Robert Jamieson. n.d. A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments: Acts–Revelation. Vol. VI. London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Company, Limited.

[6] Wilcock, Michael. 1986. The Message of Revelation: I Saw Heaven Opened. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Michaels, J. Ramsey. 1997. Revelation. Vol. 20. The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.