The first three verses of the book of Revelation functioned as an
introduction to the whole book. The next 5 verses, verses 5 through 8,
are the letterhead. This letterhead is all about Jesus Christ and His
Glory and His work. This letterhead can also be divided into three
parts. First a greeting in verses 4 and 5a, then a praise or doxology to
Jesus Christ in verses 5b and 6, and finally, in verse 7, an
announcement of Christ's return and a self-declaration of God. Let’s
have a closer look at these verses.
In verse 4, John himself takes the floor and thus begins his actual
letter. As was the custom in those days, he begins his writing with a
greeting. In that greeting, there is a sender, the addressee, and the
greeting itself. The sender is "John." The addressee is called "the
seven churches in Asia Minor." Again, we hear the number seven. At
that time there were many more than seven churches in Asia Minor.
Yet this book is addressed to seven congregations. Again, seven
indicates fullness. These seven congregations represent the fullness
of the worldwide church of all times and places. Later in the epistle,
each of these seven congregations will be written about separately.
Time and again it will be seen that this scripture puts its finger
exactly on the sore spot, then and now. Finally, the greeting to the
letterhead follows. "Grace be unto you and peace." John wishes
grace and peace on behalf of God. Grace is a demonstration of God's
benevolence toward us. God's greatest beneficence is "forgiveness of
sins" (Psalm 103). Peace indicates harmony and quietness. Peace is
where we can surrender our lives into God's hands. What a wonderful
greeting this is, the church of all times and places is greeted with a
word of peace! We deserve God's wrath and anger but hear peace
instead. Peace in and through Christ Jesus. May the church live
knowing that her God is a God of peace, and may she live out this
peace in a world full of sin and turmoil. The secret of such a life is
abiding in Christ. And the secret of abiding in Christ is abiding in His
word. His words are the truth and bring peace.
Rev. J. Th. Pronk