Jesus is directly quoted in only a few instances outside of the Gospels: early in Acts, mid-way through I Corinthians, and in the Revelation to John.
Though there are a few imperatives in the first chapter of Acts, they are directed to His followers (“…stay in Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high”).
The instruction in I Corinthians 11:24-25 parallels gospel accounts:
- “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” ,,, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
It’s an important instruction, addressing the selfishness of some of the believers in Corinth, eating before others arrived and not sharing; not keeping Christ as the focus of the celebration. It was causing division. It was not proclaiming Christ.
In the opening chapter of the Revelation, the One clothed with the sun echoes some of Christ’s earlier admonitions to the awestruck John:
- “Do not be afraid.”
… and also tells some of the seven churches:
- “Do not be afraid.”
- “Repent therefore!”
- “Only hold on to what you have until I come.”
- “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.”
- “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
- “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”
It’s interesting to me that He has messages that fit each of these churches, according to their faithfulness. They range from rebuke to recommendation to affirmation.
After many instructions to John – often through an angel or elder – the Revelation closes with this peculiar imperative:
- “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”
It sounds like there’s more than one degree of faithfulness spoken about here – just as there was more than one degree of faithful church at the beginning of the book.
It also sounds like it’s too late for some people to change. The prophecy should not be sealed up because its fulfillment is at hand; its words will judge those who have waited too long to repent. Biblical scholars may disagree with me – and they’re certainly entitled to – but this and many other internal evidences convince me that this book was written right at the threshhold of Rome’s destruction of the temple and Jerusalem; not twenty-some years later. The book is prophecy that foretells near-future events of judgment on Israel; foreshadowings of God’s judgment on all mankind.
And they echo the imperatives given so often in the Gospels when Jesus spoke of His return in judgment: “Watch.”
John of Patmos watched … and he witnessed.