Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Who is Jesus (Rev. 19:11-21)?


The description of Jesus mentions, among other important details, four names that he has. In this post we will consider those names. The first one is ‘Faithful and True’ and this name reveals his character. He is also called Faithful and True in the description of him in Revelation 3:14, in the message to the church in Laodicea, a church that he had threatened with judgement for their lukewarmness. Since he is called Faithful and True, we need to ask to what or whom he is faithful and true. The answer is that he is faithful and true to his Father and his will, which means that he is also faithful to his people, because their deliverance is his cause. The war in which he engages follows the Father’s plan for their salvation, which involves the defeat of his enemies. His character is revealed in his righteous actions. We should note the order of his actions – first, he judges and, second, he deals with the enemies. Therefore, those whom he punishes deserve it.

What is his second name? Connected to his authority is a special name that he possesses. His name is a secret of some kind. John cannot mean that the Father and the Holy Spirit don’t know what the name means. Instead he must mean that no creature knows about it. Moreover, what is meant by knowing here? Does it mean lack of information about the name or does it mean a lack of understanding of the name? Maybe it is the name ‘Son of God’, and no creature knows the full meaning of that divine name. Perhaps the name is Lord, and who apart from God can fully grasp what that name means for Jesus? If it is the name Lord, then we are reminded also of the place Jesus was given at his ascension when he was enthroned at the Father’s right hand. Whatever this second name is, it reminds us of the supremacy of Jesus because there are aspects to his person that are beyond human discovery.

What is his third name? John is also told that Jesus is The Word of God. This could be a reminder of who Jesus is as the eternal God. In John 1:1-14, Jesus is called by this name. As the Word, Jesus spoke the universe into existence and as the Word he maintains everything in existence. And he did not cease to be the Word when he became a man. He is the almighty God. This is a reminder of the incredible power that he possesses, and later on in this passage we will see that he can defeat his opponents by the power of what he says. All he will have to do to ensure judgement will be to announce it.

What is his fourth name? Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Here we are reminded of a truth about Jesus that was once prominent in our outlook, which is that he is King of the nations as well as the King of his church. So from this position or power he executes judgments on those who disobey his will.

It is important that we have this reality before our minds when we see all the injustices taking place on the earth, whether in the past or in the present. We are not to imagine that the only activity that Jesus supervises as King is the spread of the gospel. In addition, he functions as a Judge, and sometimes before the final day of judgement he brings strong judgements to bear on governments and others that oppose him. This would have been a powerful message for the persecuted Christians of the first century as they faced the might of the Roman Empire. It would have been hard for them to believe that one day the powerful empire would be gone. But it did, and so will all forms of opposition to the King. He does it at his own timing and when he does nothing can stop him because he rules with a rod of iron.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Called to the marriage of the ages (Revelation 19:6-10)

The angel who has been speaking to John about the wonderful topic of the wedding of the Lamb states a benediction. He says that those who are invited to the marriage supper are blessed. This is not a reference to the general call of the gospel in which everyone is invited to believe in Jesus. Instead the invitations to the marriage feast are sent to those who, in line with the illustration of a Jewish marriage, have already signed the agreement and are now in the meantime waiting for the feast to begin. In a mixing of metaphors, the members of the Bride are now the guests.

Those who would have read this statement from this book for the first time would have been going through difficult circumstances connected to persecution and other problems connected to their profession of faith in Jesus. We could say that their making of the wedding garments was bringing them great trouble. They needed to hear divine consolation and comfort. And they are reminded that, despite their circumstances, they are truly blessed.

Most believers have had their embarrassing moments. Sometimes they have them when they have been listening to amazing news. John here has one when he attempts to worship the angel. Maybe he was so caught up in the glorious description that he forgot the messenger was not the subject of his message. Yet even the rebuke he received was a statement of assurance because John was told that he was still a servant of God and a member of his family, and because he was such he had an invitation to the wedding. We can learn from the method of the angel how we are to correct one another.


Good angels and converted humans share one purpose, which is to testify to Jesus. His glory is their common theme, and instead of bowing to an angel John should have joined him in bowing before God. This is our testimony too as we speak in a prophetic manner to the world as we wait for the wedding to take place.

Friday, 11 August 2017

The attire of the bride (Revelation 19:6-10)

It is helpful when thinking about the details of the marriage supper to realise that the process in view here is how betrothals occurred at that time. An agreement was made regarding the couple; this was followed by a period between then and the actual wedding in which the couple were regarded as husband and wife; and then there was the actual wedding. One of the activities of a Jewish bride during the period between the agreement and the actual wedding was for her to make her wedding dress.

It is not difficult to see the parallels between that and what John says here. Jesus and his people become one at conversion – that is like the agreement. As his people wait for the wedding day, they make their wedding garments – this activity has nothing to do with merit, but is an expression of devotion. Then when Jesus returns, there will be the actual wedding.

Instead, it looks as if at the wedding feast the members of the Bride will be allowed to wear as a garment the actions that expressed their love for Jesus when they were in this world. In a sense, this should not surprise us. Even although none of his actions were sinless, the apostle Paul expected to receive a crown of glory as a reward for his years of service of the Lord. And he said that the same blessing would be given to all who loved the appearing of Jesus.

Of course, if we will wear then what expressed our love for him in this life, there is a real challenge for us to meet. Regarding earthly marriages, a lot of care is taken with the bride’s dress. How much more care should be taken with the attire for the heavenly wedding!


It is amazing to think about the nature of the attire. Linen was the type of garment associated with kings and priests, and the mention of it is a reminder of who God’s people are. They were a royal priesthood even when they were on earth and frequently in the Bible they are addressed by those names. Moreover, the actions are now described as bright and pure. Often on earth those actions of obedience were a struggle and always they were marked by sin to some extent. Others were forgotten about long ago, yet here they are contributing to the beauty of the Bride. Although she is now glorified (bright), the glorification is connected to what they did for Jesus out of love. And although she is pure, she is so because they have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and can wear them on this notable day.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Anticipating the Wedding (Rev. 19:6-10)

This vision is connected to the previous one through the contributions of the heavenly choir who celebrated the events described in each. The connection is made by contrasting the prostitute Babylon with the true Bride. Both are described as cities in the Book of Revelation and the activities of each are summarised – the activities of the city of man is described as immorality and those of the Bride as righteous deeds.

The contrast is also shown in the outcome of the lives of the citizens of each city. Those who belong to Babylon are destroyed with her whereas those who belong to the heavenly city are going to a celebration. This celebration is endless. It is common in the Bible to describe the fullness of salvation through the illustration of a wedding feast. In those descriptions, details may differ because they are highlighting different features of the occasion.

There is also a possibility that readers are given another reminder of heaven before further descriptions are given of awful events that will take place in God’s judgement on his opponents. This has been a common feature of the Book of Revelation. John was given a description of glory before then being given descriptions of judgement.

We can see from the account that God gets the glory for the arrival of the wedding day. It has happened because he is the One with universal power. Down the centuries, there has been many attempts to resist his aims, but all those attempts were futile. No matter what the opponents did to his kingdom and his people, his cause has survived and will triumph in the end.

There is an important lesson for us here as we live in our situation which we often assume is more difficult than what was faced by previous generations. Of course, it all depends on where God’s people live. Life has been fairly comfortable for the church in our culture and we have assumed that was the norm. The reality is that the church survives because of who God is. And his plans will be achieved.


Who are those praising God in this vision? It could be angels, it could be the saints, it could be both. In favour of identifying them as angels is the fact that those praising are referring to the church as a distinct body which could be regarded as separate from the heavenly choir. Yet it could also be the expression of praise by the saints because at last the church is complete. One thing is certain – this is a greater Hallelujah chorus than Handel ever imagined.