Christology Credentials


Shelterglen University
School of Theology

The book of Revelation is usually considered to be a very unique and often difficult book of the Bible to interpret. The imagery and graphic depictions of creatures and events are quick to baffle the reader. The title of the book comes from Latin word “revelatio” which literally means "an unveiling". The transliteration of that word into the Greek is the word “apokalypsis”, which being defined means "the removing of a veil." One can through these various definitions perceive that there will be an understanding of the book as it is written. The book has been incorrectly called the Revelation of the apostle John. In reality it is nothing shy of the revelation of Jesus Christ. Most people however unknowingly neglect this core and most important section of the book. It is contained in the first three chapters of this writing.

            Revelation starts in the situation of a vision. The author John, experiences this emotionally and spiritually powerful vision firsthand. To truly understand the foundational definitions of a vision, it is important to know the Biblical pattern and definition of a vision. The Bible never actually records the written definition of what a vision is, but it does show through the continuous flow of illustration in circumstance why a vision is given to someone. A vision is always given to illustrate a spiritual truth. It is never given to predict a physical reality of the present or future. That type of physical visual experience would be called a premonition. A Biblical vision is always given to man in the form of physical pictures that illustrate a spiritual reality or truth. Knowing this very simple fact helps us understand the depth and importance of a vision much easier. Interpreting a vision may not be any easier in some situations, but understanding that it is important and that we should be aware and alert to its potential effect in our lives may be all we need to go on.

                  Revelation 1:1-6 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw-- that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.(NIV)

                 John makes a very important statement in verse three of chapter one “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” (NIV) This is a statement that places value on what he has experienced and written. First of all he speaks a blessing to all the readers of this prophecy. This specific type of blessing is never issued anywhere else in prophetic scriptures in the Bible. John specifically calls the book a prophetic writing. Our English connection with words like “prophecy” or “prophetic” usually make us think of someone predicting the future. The core definitions of this word “prophecy” in the original Greek simple mean that John was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write this book, and to some extent refer to John as a poet rather than a predictor. Knowing that takes some of the pressure off to be able to interpret the book as something other than an instrument of futuristic knowledge. While there is no doubt in the reader’s mind that there is some element of futuristic prophetic content (especially in the nineteenth chapter and on till the end of the book), one could very easily eliminate chapters four through eighteen and still have a very inspiring and fulfilling, edifying and congruent book in the Bible. This is in no way suggestive of what the book should be in content, but it is indicative of where most of the doctrinal interpretations and perceptions of the book make their doctrinal nest of indifference to one another.   

            Verse three also states that we are to “take to heart” or the New American Standard says to “heed” what is written. Again, this places the value of this writing in high esteem and indicates literally in the original text that we are to guard it intensely and keep a watchful eye on it throughout our lives. This would not be a command of necessity if this were not a highly valuable book.

             Then verse three closes by saying “the time is near”. The book of Revelation was probably written somewhere around 95 AD, however some theologians will date it as early as 68 AD when John was supposedly traveling between these seven churches of Asia minor as a prototype circuit preacher. However, the Roman Emperor Domitian was known to banish enemies of the state to the island of Patmos during the later years of his reign. Since he ruled from 81-96 AD this would confer a much later date of writing, if indeed the book was written while John was on the island of Patmos. Irregardless of these two dates, the phrase “the time is near” is obviously not relevant to tangible physical time, and does not allow the book is to be interpreted literally or strictly prophetically in the ‘futuristic’ sense of the word in its entirety. If that were to be the only way to receive the book, it would obviously be regarded as a lie. It has been close to two thousand years since the book of Revelation was written. That time frame gives no literal validity to the phrase “the time is near”.

              God is not bound by time. He does not have a calendar and does not wear a wristwatch. He is a spirit that exists outside the boundaries of time. He can control time and can experience time at will, but He is not bound by it or to it. The psalmist tries to elude to this timeless of the omniscient, omnipotent God we serve in Psalm 90:4  For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.(NIV) Peter refers to the same timeless aspect of God’s existence in 2 Peter 3:8          But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.(NIV)  John also refers to the timelessness of God in the personality of Jesus Christ quoting Him five verses later in Revelation 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."(NIV) One translation uses the words “the beginning and the ending” for the phrase “Alpha and the Omega”. This literally places Jesus Christ outside the confines of time. An example of this would be a wedding band or ring. When looking at the ring, one cannot see where the ring begins or ends. It is seamless and perfect in its circumference. So this exemplifies the existence of the almighty God we serve.

              So if the author of Revelation makes the statement that the “time is near”, it is more a statement regarding the understanding and/or the application of the forthcoming scriptures, and not at all a chronological reference to the supposed events that have been interpreted from Revelation. There is this urgency expressed so that we might promptly apply the truths and receive the understanding of what is written in this book into our lives. 

              In verses five of the first chapter John gives us a strong redemptive and spiritual description of the Christ Jesus. He provides five basic truths about how we as Christians know and experience our Lord and Savior. Biblical numerology is very important to the student of the Word. Numbers mean things. When there are five things listed or there are five people used by God in situational occurrences, it is generally perceived to be priestly or spiritually ministering in its nature and presentation to our faith.

              In the book of Exodus there were five main Levitical priests established to oversee the sacrificial systems and procedures of worship conducted in the tabernacle built by Moses in the wilderness.  They were Aaron and his four sons. In Ephesians chapter 4, we find five primary types of “gift ministries” given for leadership in the body of Christ. They are the apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher.

              In this two verse there are the five attributes or credentials of Jesus that set a foundation of understanding and quite possibly a basis for unveiling the message of this book. They credential the high priesthood of Jesus Christ as He is referred to in Hebrews 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.(NIV). A credential is defined as “that which identifies the authority in one and gives confidence.” And so we see this foundation of credentials illustrated in Revelation 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,(NIV).  

             The first credential proclaims Christ to be the faithful witness. In the original Greek this phrase literally translates as the “completely trustworthy martyr.” This leaves no doubt as to the Lord’s reliability because He was indeed a true martyr. To be or become a martyr simply defines someone as giving up everything (in this case, mortal life) for the sake of the cause (the plan of redemption for sinful humanity). Jesus Christ has proven Himself to be that “trustworthy martyr” because was willing to lay down His life to pay the price of sin for all mankind, so that we could all have life eternally in Him.    

              The second credential, the firstborn from the dead, refers to the uniqueness and the power involved in the experience of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth as well as eternally. When Jesus walked through the hillsides of Judea and even Samaria ministering to the sick and needy of Israel, He was not really a very notorious figure. There were basically “Christs” on every corner. The word Christ is actually a transliterated word into Greek (christos) from the parallel word in the Hebrew we know as “messiah”. Both words are defined by the phrase ‘the anointed one”. There were self proclaimed messiahs wandering all over Israel at the time of Jesus continually stirring up political insurrections and raising the militant fever of the general population against the ruling Roman Empire. Each one of them had a core of devoted followers called disciples, because they adhered to the disciplines taught by their leader.

             Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry He slowly emerged from the crowd of messiahs or christs of His day for three unique characteristics. The first and most acknowledged were the miraculous works He performed by the power of God in Him. Second, was the fact that they couldn’t find anything wrong or incorrect about Him. They would watch Him closely, and ask Him loaded questions about His theology, spiritual and political values. Each time His reply would be completely transparent and correct. His integrity could not be challenged or penetrated.           

             But the third and final characteristic of His existence and ministry that set Him apart from his closest competitors was His resurrection from the mortal dead. Not only was He raised from the dead in complete harmony with His own predictions of such an event, but His resurrected state was witnessed by hundreds of people in the Jerusalem community. Acts 2:32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.(NIV) 1 Corinthians 15:4-6 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.(NIV).

             This undeniable fact becomes the illustration of God’s power in these five priestly credentials given to Jesus the Christ in this passage of scripture. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is vitally important and must be included as a foundational principal in which we live in and relate to Jesus Christ personally and corporately throughout the universal body of Christianity.

              The third credential is found in the phrase and the ruler of the kings of the earth . This proclamation sets in place not only the position ship of Christ in the deity of the triune Godhead, but it also proclaims the ultimate authority He has in that position. There is none higher, more qualified or with more ability or authority than Jesus Christ. Peter eludes to this very same exact principal in the sermon on the day of Pentecost when he said, Acts 2:34-36 “For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."(NIV) To refer to Jesus Christ as both Lord and Christ, endows him with not only the anointing of God (Christ), but also gives Him ultimate and supreme authority (Lord) in not only position and title but also in ability. His enemies are below Him (a footstool for your feet).

              Jesus acknowledged before His disciples that all (complete) authority was his and that they (we) could live under that authority because we are His disciples. Matthew 28:18-20 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.""(NIV)

              John, the author of Revelation also makes reference to this same ultimate authority of Christ later in the book. Revelation 17:14 They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings-- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."

(NIV) 19:16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.(NIV) Again this reference is to the ultimate authority of Christ to reign supreme over every earthly power and principality that  exists.

             We find the fourth priestly credential of Jesus Christ in the phrase “To him who loves us”. This credential pours the foundation for our intimate personal relationship to Jesus Christ. The love of Jesus Christ for each one of us is completely fathomless and overwhelming. The gospels repeatedly illustrate the love of Christ for the people He ministered to during His earthly ministry. Many times that gospel writers state that Jesus was filled with compassion towards the people and circumstances around him on a daily basis. The display of His Father’s love was the core emphasis of Jesus’ purpose and ministry on earth.

              Jesus not only expressed this abundant love, but He also taught us that His love should be evident in our lives as believers and followers of Christ. John 15:9-12 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.(NIV)

             The Apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus regarding the non- existent boundaries of the love of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:17-18 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,(NIV) He also writes to the church in Rome about the magnetism and consistency of the love of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?(NIV)             This priestly credential of magnificent and faultless love bestowed on us by Jesus Christ is the essential lifestyle of our relationship in Him.

                The fifth credential issued here in regards to Christ is rooted in our redemption. It says “and has freed us from our sins by His blood”.  This refers to the price that Jesus Christ paid on our behalf to redeem us from our sinful nature and make us presentable to God the Father. It is by no effort of our own that we walk under the liberty and power of salvation in Christ. It is strictly by the shedding of His blood on Calvary. The Apostle Paul wrote of this to the Galations in chapter 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.(NIV)

               Paul also made this doctrine exceptionally clear when He wrote to the church at Ephesus chapter 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. (NIV)

               Paul even goes further to expound on the issues of freedom and reconciliation when he wrote to the Colossians in chapter 1;20-22 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.(NIV) in this text he encompasses the definitions of reconciliation with God, peace with God and the believer’s justification and freedom from sin before God. All of this, because of the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross at Calvary, for our benefit.

               When confronted with this matchless description and credentials of Jesus Christ, we must ask ourselves the following questions:


1). Are you willing to place our complete trust in Jesus Christ not only for eternal life with him but also for all of our mortal needs?

He is completely trustworthy.


2). Do you really believe in the power of Jesus Christ illustrated by His resurrection?

 He was raised from the dead by the power of God.


3). Are you willing to live completely submitted to the authority and will of Jesus Christ for your life?

He has been given ultimate authority over everything. 


4). Does your life reflect the fathomless and overwhelming love of Jesus Christ to others around us on a daily basis?

He has commanded us to live in His love.


5). Do you live in the freedom that we have because Jesus gave His life for us.


By His blood we are free from the bondage of sin and oppression.


           It is when we ask ourselves these questions and we answer them honestly that we begin to see the reality of verse six of chapter one of Revelation begin to become a reality.

           It says “and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.(NIV) When we respond to the excellent credentials of Jesus Christ’s High Priesthood, then we can become that kingdom of priests that are able to serve effectively and triumphantly  our great God and Father. Then the words of the Apostle Peter blaze forth in understanding and illumination.     1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)


Shelterglen University
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Dayton, Ohio    45475