John,Revelation 1:4-6 NIV
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.
The book of Revelation was written to a group of seven churches facing various challenges, including persecution. And this letter was written as an encouragement to remain faithful during their trials.
The Roman Empire was at the height of its power and proclaimed Caesar as Lord. Pagan and Jewish influence was strong and sometimes hard to resist. The opposition these churches faced was occasionally fierce. It might seem hopeless to try and remain faithful amid such tremendous pressure to conform.
But in John’s greeting to the churches, he reminds them of who they serve: the eternal God; his Spirit who works among them; and, most of all, Jesus Christ. Jesus is identified here as the faithful witness. The word witness can also be translated as martyr, which seems more appropriate. They are serving one who went through what they are facing. To the point of giving up his life.
But he is also the firstborn from the dead. And that holds out the promise for them that they also can look forward to their own resurrection.
And, finally, he is the ruler of the kings of the earth. They are ultimately answerable to him. And he will hold them accountable for what they do. The powers in this world that oppose Christ’s church are not sovereign. Jesus is.
Jesus loves us, has freed us from our sins, and has made us a part of his kingdom. A kingdom that will endure long after the trials in this life are over. No matter what you face in this life, remain faithful to the one who loves you, knowing that we are on the winning side.