“John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Continuing in Revelation 1:4-6, John finishes his greeting with the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, Jesus Christ.
Jesus is described here in three ways. He is first called the faithful witness. A witness biblically is the one who assists in enforcing the law. Jesus is not a witness in the passive sense only. Jesus is the faithful witness who sees those at enmity with God and executes them accordingly. Jesus is and will be the faithful witness against all who set themselves up against the Triune God.
First Begotten of The Dead
Secondly, Jesus is given the title first begotten of the dead.
Jesus attained this supremacy over all things in his rising from the dead. God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:32-36), as demonstrated in his resurrection and ascension.
This was the fulfillment of Psalm 89:27 (Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth). Surely with the Psalm in mind, John continues by calling Jesus the prince of the kings of the earth.
The Prince of The Kings of The Earth
Jesus is also called the prince of the kings of the earth.
Jesus is not the soon-to-be-crowned king of the universe. Jesus is the right now, ruling and reigning Lord of all. Jesus has received all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28:18).
The Breadth of Christ’s Authority
It is important to note that Jesus has all authority over everything. We are not Gnostics. We do not seek to embrace the spiritual aspects of reality but divorce them from the physical. God, though Himself spirit, has made a physical world. Not only that, but He has taken on flesh and become a physical part of this world in the person of His Son Jesus Christ.
Therefore, when Jesus says he has all authority, He is not referring to some authority only over the spiritual realm of the universe. Jesus is king of all that is. He is king over every president, every king, every ruler.
Jesus demands submission from them all, and He does so from the place of supreme authority.
There are only two choices for every ruler and every nation; submit yourself unto Christ and His Lordship or be crushed by Him.
There is a sense in which we preach Christ inclusively. All who will turn from their sins and put faith in Christ will be saved, and we preach that freely for all men. But we also most certainly preach Christ exclusively. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by him.
The Inclusivity and Exclusivity of Jesus
True preaching of Christ does not leave room for the gods of the people to stand. It is this type of message that leads to the persecution we see Jesus go through, the very early church with the apostles, and through the ages up until now in places like China.
Christians should not preach that Jesus is king of the hearts of men divorced from Him being Lord over all. Jesus wants the hearts of each man, and he wants the submission of every nation. He is the prince of the kings of the earth, and as ruler over all kings he demands their submission.
The Threat of Christianity
The threat of Christianity to the powers now in place is not a separatist understanding of Christ’s role in the world at large over and against His rule in individual hearts. It is this type of Christianity, with fundamental divorces between church life and the rest of life, that is weak and impotent. This type of Christianity leaves the education of children to the public schools, and does not address the State as a State that is in rebellion in each area it is not submitted unto Jesus.
The threat of Christianity comes when Christians recognize Jesus as who He is, the prince of the kings of the earth. The threat is when Christians think consistently and do not act as if there are areas in their lives where Christ is not Lord.
Christians who educate their children in truth threaten the State. Christians who are thinking correctly and therefore questioning how their money is being taken from them and what it is being used for threaten the State. Christians who preach an exclusive gospel that calls all men to bow the knee to Christ while it is yet day threaten the State. And yes, true threats are bound to receive the truest and hardest persecution. But we see throughout history and especially through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ that God is pleased to bring about the greatest victories, to accomplish his conquest, through the suffering of His saints.
Jesus truly is Lord of all, and so all earthly rulers who set themselves against Him are sure to fail.