The Maker of the universe
As man to man was made a curse;
The claims of law which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid.
His holy fingers made the bough
That grew the thorns that pierced His brow;
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.
He made the forest whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung;
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.
The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years -
But a new crown adorns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow.
—F. W. Pitt, Maker of the Universe
Christ sets Himself forth here as the overcomer of death natural; which it must always be remembered is rather death unnatural; for man was made for immortality (Gen. 2:17), and death is the denial and reversal of the true law of his creation (Rom. 5:12).3The work of Jesus makes possible the wonderful promise set forth later in this book which describes the condition of those who place their trust in Him: “There shall be no death” (Rev. 21:4+). Jesus reiterates this fact to encourage the persecuted church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8+).When confronted with members of any non-Christian religion, here is the central issue at stake: Is Jesus God or is He not? Only orthodox Christianity will assert His full divinity. It is fruitless to engage in lengthy interaction with all such cults who deny His divinity because every other issue pales into insignificance compared to this central issue. This particular verse is of great benefit for it removes all “wiggle room” from those who would try to deny that Jesus Christ is the One here described as “the First and the Last” Who is “alive forevermore” for the same was also “dead!” Until the cult member can answer you, “When did God die?” there is little point in further discussion.
This purpose of revealing the deity of Christ is thus seen to permeate the whole book, and no unbiased reader of Revelation can reach any conclusion other than that Christ is God, with the full endorsement and approval of the Father. He has received His throne from the hand of God, unlike Satan who tried to usurp the office. Jesus Christ’s powers and attributes are all those of deity. Any doubt of His deity must be laid to rest. [emphasis added]4behold, I am alive forevermore
Then ὁ ζῶν [ho zōn] expresses not so much that he, the Speaker, “lived,” as that He was “the Living One,” the Life (John 1:4; 14:6), αὑτοζωή [hautozōē] , having life in Himself, and the fountain and source of life to others. . . . To Him belongs absolute being (ὄντως εἶναι [ontōs einai] ), as contrasted with the relative being of the creature, with the life which be no life, seeing that it inevitably falls under the dominion of corruption and death, so soon as it is separated from him, the source from which it was derived7Christ says, “behold,” emphasizing that His demonstration of life beyond the grave is of paramount importance, for Christ’s resurrection bears witness that those who trust in Him will likewise rise from the dead (John 14:19; Rom. 6:8-9). If it were not for the fact of the resurrection—without the “Living One”—Christianity would be meaningless (1Cor. 15:12-17).keys of Hades and of Death
What millions have gone down beneath [the power of death], and are now held by it! Every acre of the earth is full of them, and the bottom of every sea. I have seen their grim skeletons on mountain summits, eight thousand two hundred feet above the level of the sea; and I have walked upon their ashes more than a thousand feet below that level. And from far deeper depths to still more elevated heights, on all the slopes and hillsides, and in all the fields and valleys of the earth, death’s victims lie in fetters of darkness, silence and dust. Even on the life-powers of the Son of God were these manacles made fast. But by him they were also opened: for he hath the keys of death.11
1 Ex. 3:6; Deu. 5:26; Jos. 3:10; 1S. 17:26, 36; 2K. 19:4, 16; Ps. 42:2; 84:2; Isa. 37:4, 17; Jer. 10:10; 23:36; Dan. 6:20+, 26+; Hos. 1:10; Mat. 16:16; 22:32; 26:63; John 6:69; Acts 14:15; Rom. 9:26; 2Cor. 3:3; 6:16; 1Ti. 3:15; 4:10; 6:17; Heb. 3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22; Rev. 7:2+.
2 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 47.
3 Ibid., 48.
4 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 1:17.
5 “And the living, and I became dead, and behold, I am living for evermore.”—Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 47.
6 The resurrection is attributed to all three members of the Trinity. To Jesus: John 2:19; 10:17. To the Father: Acts 4:10; 10:41; Rom. 4:24; 6:4; 8:11. To the Holy Spirit: 1Pe. 3:18.
7 Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia, 42.
8 The word death probably refers to the location of the body, whereas Hades refers to the location of the immaterial part of man—his soul. Israel My Glory, July/August 2001, 22. The former describes the state of the dead whereas the latter describes the location of the dead. [Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 112] “Hades is the unseen world where all who die reside. It includes both Paradise (Luke 23:43) and Gehenna (Luke 12:5)—Abraham’s bosom and the state of torment and anguish (Luke 16:22-28).”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), 433.
9 “The Rabbinical proverb said: ‘There are four keys lodged in God’s hand, which He committeth neither to angel nor to seraph: the key of the rain, the key of food, the key of the tombs, and the key of a barren woman.’ ”—M. R. Vincent, Vincent’s Word Studies (Escondido, CA: Ephesians Four Group, 2002), Rev. 1:18.
10 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 48.
11 Ibid., 47.