Old Testament Allusions and the Apocalypse of John (Revelation) 1:6

As we stuck our feet in the seemingly shallow waters of John’s doxology (1:5b-6) last time, we found that the waters were not so shallow. No, they were deep with the love and freeing power of Christ’s sacrifice for his people. Not only did I argue that this shapes the whole letter, it is a reminder to suffering Christians that the Suffering Servant himself experienced tribulation for them. In short, his love assures us that we are not alone.

As we conclude the doxology, we look at Revelation 1:6. It reads, “and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” A cursory reading of this might raise the question for a newer believer unfamiliar with the Old Testament. I would bet that the idea of being a kingdom and priests could raise a host of questions because of presuppositions if one does not do the diligence of surveying the Old Testament allusion here.


The first century Jew or Christian would have picked up the allusion here, especially with verse 5 in mind. In verse 5 we have the mention of Jesus loving and freeing his people, which leads to a kingdom of priests in verse 6. The book of Exodus contains the greatest redemptive event prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection. In the Exodus account, the blood of an innocent lamb sets free the people of Israel. The Apostle John, like other New Testament writers, is showing that Christ’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God was that which freed God’s people from slavery to sin and into the loving care of the Trinity.

In regards to Revelation 1:6, look with me at Exodus 19:6a. Moses writes just after the redemption of Israel from slavery, “and you shall to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Israel and the church today are both a kingdom under the rule of the King that is sovereign over the kings of earth (Rev. 1:5). The Word that became flesh rules this kingdom by his living and active word (Hebrews 4:12). Also, priests of this nature are to bear witness to the glory of God in the world. Israel was meant to go out into the world declaring the grace of their God and his redemption, likewise, we today are called to proclaim the same message to those around us. We are a kingdom of priests.


The reality is that not many of us know what it is like to be enslaved to another country and forced to produce hard labor under excruciating consequences like Israel was. Yet, the truth is that we have all been enslaved to our own sinful passions and desires. In Christ alone we are not just set free by his blood, we are loved and given the mission to be a light to the nations by spreading his glory (Matt. 28:18-20). The natural and God-given result of being a part of his kingdom is that you let him rule through his Word and live for the values of his heavenly kingdom (Phil. 3:20). Is your current lifestyle that bears witness to the glory of God with your time, talents, and affections? Daily we are to be a people that meditate on the good news that we have been loved and freed by the blood of another and sent on a mission to declare who he is and what he has accomplished. This is the priesthood of believers.


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