Text: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)
Tweet: According to verse 1 of the book of Revelation, it was given to John by Christ “to show” Christ’s “servants things which must shortly come to pass.” Two words should be employed to understand these important words in Revelation’s opening verse.
The first word is inevitable. Notice, the things predicted in the book of Revelation “must… come to pass.” There are no “ifs,” “ands” or “buts” about it. All that Revelation predicts has been preordained and predestined by God. It will come to pass and be fulfilled. No angel in heaven, no man or power on earth, nor any devil in hell can keep God’s predetermined and predicted plans and purposes from being carried out and completed. As Jesus taught in John 10:35, “…the scripture cannot be broken.”
The second word is expeditious. In modern-day eschatology, which is simply the study of last things or the last days, there is a growing school of eschatology that teaches all the prophecies of the book Revelation were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus the Roman in 70 AD. This school, known as Preterism, is predicated on these words in Revelation 1:1. According to the Preterist, the words “must shortly come to pass,” found here and in Revelation 22:6, necessitate a soon fulfillment of Revelation’s prophecies shortly after the Apostle John penned them, which is believed by the Preterist to have been in the year 68 AD.
A close examination of the Greek word translated “shortly” in this verse by the King James translators will reveal to the reader that this Greek word can also be translated “swiftly” or “suddenly.” For instance, the same Greek word is found in Luke 18:8, where our Lord teaches that His elect will be “speedily” avenged at the time of His return.
The Apostle Peter teaches us that in the eyes of our eternal God “one day” is like “a thousand years” and “a thousand years” is like “one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, what is to “shortly” or soon come to pass in the eyes of an infinite and immortal God is not necessarily something that will be seen as “shortly” or soon coming to pass in the eyes of finite and mortal men.
In light of all of this, we may safely conclude that the best translation of these important words in Revelation 1:1, as well as in Revelation 22:6, is “things which must swiftly come to pass.” The idea being relayed to us here is that once these sure and certain prophecies begin to come to pass, they will happen and be fulfilled expeditiously!