Introduction to Revelation part 2
John was instructed to write what he saw and it was to be sent to the bond-servants of Christ. A bond-servant means a “slave out of love”. Christians got the name because the pagans heard them talk about someone called Christ and they kept saying that they belonged to Him exclusively, that they were His slaves, and so they nicknamed them the slaves of the Christ. Nothing less than a bond-servant mentality would be enough to remain faithful to Christ in the face of such torturous persecution.
There is nowhere in the Bible, certainly, no where in this book of Revelation where you can even smell the idea of being saved out of Hell. They did not even think in such terms. You did not become a Christian in order to be happy when you die. There was no such thing as an appeal of going to Heaven when you die. To become a Christian meant probable death.
John bore “witness” to the word of God and to “the testimony of Jesus Christ”. The word witness is linked to the word testimony. The original Greek word is ‘martyr’. They never separated the idea of martyr and witness. A witness was one who had a martyr mentality. It is one of the themes of Revelation and of our Christian heritage. If you are going to give witness or testimony to Jesus Christ then you have a martyr mentality.
If the authorities suddenly burst in on you and arrested you in order to martyr you, that would not be a surprise because you had faced up to that when you had walked into the waters of baptism. When you were baptized as a Christian, you were really saying, ‘I am exiting this world’ -and it could be you would be dead before sundown. The way we look at it today is I give testimony to Jesus, I witness about Jesus, but there are some people in the world who are martyrs. There is no difference in the text or the mindset of the early Christians – a martyr is a witness, a witness could well be a martyr – it is all tied in together.