Friday, January 18, 2013

I Am the First and the Last

   And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 
   “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. 1:17-18.

I Am Alive Again  

   I fell at his feet as dead.  So would we, if we could see ourselves as we are in contrast to Him, the one who is altogether lovelySong of Solomon 5:16  At one point Jehovah, speaking to His chosen people, said, you worm, Jacob. Is. 41:14.  A worm is an extremely lowly creature, so exactly who do we think we are that we strut into God's presence thinking that we are something?  We need to fall at His feet in true humility as John did.

He laid his right hand on me in comfort.  Christ is always concerned with the well-being of his children.  Three times in 1:17-18 Christ says, I am.  What a sublime comfort it is for the Christian to know that Christ is.  Christ says I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.  Hallelujah, what a Savior, He is all we will ever need for our salvation.

I Have the Keys

Amen.…I have the keys of Hades and of Death.  This sounds like a postscript after the Amen.  Almost as if he is saying, oh, by the way, concerning eternal matters you have nothing to worry about, I also have the keys.  
The word, keys, is plural, inferring that hell and death are separate entities.  In 6:8 they are treated as two; So I looked, and behold, a pale horse.  And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.  In 20:14 we see that Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.  Wuest# writes that the proper translation of hell (as it is used here) is Hades which is made up of Greek words which mean, to see-not, or plainly, the unseen place.  

  There are good theological reasons to believe that "the unseen place", or "hell", simply means, "the grave", the place where departed people are placed at death.  The sea gave up the dead who were in it. 20:13.  Very literally, the sea, in this sentence, is the maritime counterpart of Hades, the unseen place, (the grave).  More about this later.

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, … by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 3:18-19.  Was it at that time, while He was in prison, that He got possession of the keys?  

  Here is a theory: By going into prison He entered Satan’s dominion, proved His superiority and demanded that which had been promised, namely, the keys of  Hades and of Death.  After he had proven His superiority over Satan, just to make sure the keys worked, He opened the graves of many, and their inhabitants came back to life. Mat. 27:52.

John's Commission

  Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.1:19.  These words are easier understood if we read them as "write the things you have seen, the things you are seeing and the things you will see later on”.

# An Expanded Translation, K.W. Wuest.