The book of Revelation focuses on the glory of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and coming King. So, after the opening benediction in Revelation 1:4–5a, John expresses praise to the Savior. His worship, like his blessing, has much to teach us.
John outlines three aspects of the work of Christ that inspire his worship. First, Jesus “loves us” (v. 5b). Our triune God set His love on His people, choosing them in Christ for salvation and for the gift of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:1–14). All three persons of the Trinity were active in this election, but John emphasizes the Son’s choice in Revelation 1:5b. The Son of God loves each of His people individually and died for each of them personally (Gal. 2:20).
Motivated by His love for us, Jesus “freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5b). Of course, John here refers to our Savior’s atonement. Jesus, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, is the Lamb of God slain for His people to free them from the guilt and power of sin (Mark 10:45; Rev. 5). By this atonement, Jesus accomplished the third aspect of His work described by John—making us a kingdom of priests unto God the Father (Rev. 1:6). The Lord has always intended to make His people a kingdom of priests with full access to His throne, but only the death of Christ achieves this (Ex. 19:1–6; Heb. 10:1–22).
Revelation 1:6 succinctly describes “the things that must soon take place” according to 1:1. Soon, John says, Jesus is coming on the clouds, and every eye will see Him and every tribe will wail (v. 7). The Lord’s coming on the clouds can metaphorically depict God’s judging people through earthly means (e.g., Jer. 4, especially v. 13). So, if John wrote in the mid-60s, Revelation 1:7 could refer to God’s judgment on Jerusalem for rejecting Jesus, which occurred soon after John’s vision when Rome destroyed the city in AD 70. But the word “soon” in Revelation 1:1 can also refer not to a short period of time measured in years but to immediacy in the sense that we are living in the final era of history and there is nothing left to occur except the consummation of the kingdom. From God’s perspective, Jesus’ coming is soon because that is the only thing left to accomplish in His plan of redemption. Revelation 1:7 refers to the coming of Christ at the end of history, then, if John wrote in the mid-90s AD. Yet, the two interpretations are reconcilable: the judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70 could be in view as foreshadowing Christ’s greater judgment of the world at the end of time.