Mystery envelopes many minds as to the book of Revelation, and the interpretation (understanding) of what is recorded there. This would be greatly dispelled by our seeing God's division of this book into three parts:
1. The things which thou hast seen.
2. The things which are.
3. The things which shall be after these.
These are God's divisions, and not of man (see Rev. 1:19), therefore are they worthy of all attention.
If John obeyed the instructions given him in this verse, the first matter he wrote of was what he alone had seen. Having thus written, he next proceeded to write of "the things which are," the Church, left on earth awhile to be the responsible light bearer for Christ. And lastly, we should expect to read of "the things which shall be after these." All this, in its exact order, we do find in what the apostle writes.
The second writing ends thus: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Note, therefore, "the things that are" can only refer to the Church on earth, and contemplates nothing save it; for whatever body of people may be taken up in grace by God after the Church has passed away from the earth, they are not under consideration here, and could form, therefore, no part of the "things that are" as it existed in John's day, for if they did they must of necessity be of the Church, and part of it. We must not transfer the Laodicean overcomers of chap. 3 into chap. 4, where alone we first read of what shall be "after these things."
It may be simply enquired, When did Laodicea and Laodicean overcomers cease to be a part of the things "that are," and pass into "the things that shall be hereafter," since they formed part of the "things that are" in John's day?
One other remark may help the simple.
The Laodicean overcomer shall "sit with me in my throne," says the Lord. Now, who shall share that throne with Him save the Church, "the Bride, the Lamb's wife "? Mark, it is not merely that they reign "with" Him, but they sit with Him "in" His own peculiar throne. If Rev. 20:4 is quoted, it is not a sufficient answer. Reigning "with" (meta) is not the same as "in (en) my throne." Those who pass through (or are martyred in) the great tribulation form no part of the Church, "the things that are," for they as yet are not. H. C. Anstey.