First let us look at the correct name for the book. We find the true name in verse one of chapter one. It is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is not revelations plural, but revelation singular. It is one continuous revelation or unveiling of events that must shortly come to pass. Foremost it is the unveiling or revealing of Jesus Christ. Through Him and His power alone these events will take place.
Now I want to point out six things:
- The revelation was given by Jesus Christ Himself, verse 1.
- It concerns things which must shortly come to pass, verse 1.
- It was delivered by His angel to the Apostle John who was then to deliver it to His servants, verse 1.
- In verses 4 and 11 we see the places that the message was being sent.
- It is given to proclaim the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, verses 7 and 8.
- The location of John when he was told to write the book, verses 9-10.
We will see Jesus in all of His glory here in the book of Revelation. Can you think of another time when the glory of Jesus was revealed? If we look in Matthew Chapter 17 we will see His glory revealed.
Matthew 17:1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
Matthew 17:2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
Matthew 17:3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Matthew 17:4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
Matthew 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Matthew 17:6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.
Revelation 1:1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
We have talked about how God the Father delivered the message to God the Son (Jesus) and that it is a book of prophecy. It is a book relating to the end times. It is apocalyptic in nature, meaning that it is an unveiling of the person of Jesus Christ.
Jesus sent the message to the Apostle John by way of an angel. It is a message of things that must shortly (quickly) come to pass.
Revelation 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
John is an eye witness to the events recorded in this book. John saw with his eyes, heard with his ears, and had conversations with the elders and angels. We will see this throughout the book of Revelation as John is continually witnessing events and receiving and recording the prophecy.
Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
This is the first blessing of the book of which there are seven. This blessing is specific because it is to those who read and hear, but also to those who keep the things that are written in the book. This blessing is conditional, just reading and hearing the words is not enough. They must be bound in the heart, held fast so that they become deep-rooted in the believer. Reference Psalms 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Revelation 1:4-5 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,
We also looked at who the book was written to. The book was written to the seven Churches: sent from God the Father to God the Son delivered by an angel to the Apostle John to be delivered to the churches. Note that it is to the ‘Churches’ not just to a Church. It is a message for every Church of John’s day and a message to every Church of our day. It is a message that can be understood by all people who desire to know the plan and will of God. It will remain a mystery to those who think they have no need of God.
1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
We will deal more with the seven Churches and their locations and circumstances when we get into Chapters 2 and 3.
There are various views on this verse because of the mention of the ‘seven Spirits’ which are before his throne. So in this verse we have our first controversy. I believe what we are looking at in verses 4 and 5 is the triune nature of God. Normally in scripture when we see the three persons of the Godhead mentioned together it is always Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Ghost).
However, here we see the Father (from him which is, and which was, and which is to come Revelation 1:4b), we see the Holy Spirit (and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; Revelation 1:4c) and lastly we see Jesus Christ the Son (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. Revelation 1:5a).
This would be the only time in scripture that we will find this order of the Godhead.
Therefore, we have two problems here. Do you see what they are?
- If the seven spirits before the throne collectively are the Holy Spirit, then the order is a bit strange and the mention of Jesus last must refer to His humanity.
- We see there are seven spirits before his throne. Is this the seven fold manifestation of the Holy Spirit?
- Are these His seven attributes that we find listed in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.Isaiah 11:2 (And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;)?
- Are these the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne Revelation 4:5 (And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.)?
- Or, are the seven spirits before His throne actually angels?
Dr. David Hocking believes that they are angels and that viewing the seven spirits as angels will be seen (made clear) when we view the seven angels that deliver the wrath of God during the tribulation. I believe this view has a lot going for it.
Dr. David Jeremiah believes that the seven spirits are the seven fold manifestation of the Holy Spirit or the seven attributes of the Spirit found in Isaiah 11:2. Contradicting this view Dr. Hocking states that there are three couplets or categories in the text noted by the words (the spirit of) indicating ‘six’ characteristics, not seven. And in my view this is also correct. There are only six attributes listed here not seven.
According to Dr. Gill, the six attributes or characteristics listed in Isaiah 11:2 of the Holy Spirit are:
- The spirit of wisdom and understanding, we see this in Jesus’s contending with the doctors in the temple, we see this in His answers to the ensnaring questions from the Pharisees and Scribes, we see this in the total ministry of Jesus Christ through His teachings, perfect lifestyle, arrest, trial, crucifixion and death, we also see it in His understanding, knowledge and wisdom that He imparted to His followers and all people.
- The spirit of counsel and might, the Holy Spirit in Jesus Christ enabled Him to be the wonderful counselor, teaching God’s truth with great power and authority (Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.),
- The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord we see in Jesus Christ in that He had the knowledge of God the Father, of His mind and will, of the scriptures, and the things contained therein; of the law and gospel; and “of the fear of the Lord”, and so had a reverence of Him, as strict regard to His will, and always did the things which pleased Him.Hebrews 5:7-9 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God and high priest after the order of Melchisedec. This verse is applied to the Messiah by both ancient and modern Jews.
Now it could be what we are looking at here is angels. They are called by various things:
- Seven stars Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
- Seven eyes Revelation 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
- Seven angels Revelation 8:2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets. (The ones previously mentioned.).
But, Dr. Gill also writes, “but by these seven spirits are intended the Holy Spirit of God, who is one in His person, but His gifts and graces are various, and therefore He is signified by this number, because of the fullness and perfection of them, and with respect to the seven churches, over whom He presided, whom He influenced, and sanctified, and filled, and enriched with His gifts and graces.”
I could take this view because it does not mention Isaiah 11:2, and because this represents the fullness of the Holy Spirit signified by the number seven. We are told in scripture that we are not to worship angels, and if the seven spirits around the throne are in fact the Holy Spirit in all of His fullness, then it all makes sense, except for the Lord Jesus being mentioned last.
Let’s continue with Revelation 1:4-5 …….
The message comes from the eternal God, delivered by the angels or Holy Spirit, depending on which view you take, and from Jesus Christ. The message is reliable as it comes from the “faithful witness” Reference John 3:14, John 8:14, John 18:37 and 1 John 1:9= “faithful”. Compare with Psalms 89:24-29.
The following scriptures deal with His resurrection:
- Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
- I Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
- Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
And then look at Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. If Jesus Christ was a created being then we could not worship Him, as stated in Revelation 22:8-9 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
Revelation 1:5b Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
The complete cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ (atonement) washed us in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Jesus Christ flows over the Christian and purifies every believer.
Has the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ been applied to your life? Let me ask you these two questions:
- If you died this very day, do you know for sure, without any doubt, that you would be with God in Heaven?
- If you were to stand before God and He were to ask you “Why should I let you into my Heaven?”, what would you say.
- Would you say I have always been a good person?
- Would you say I have never done anything really bad?
- Would you say I think my good will out way the bad that I have done?
- Would you say I have always tried to keep the ten commandments?
- Would you say that I don’t believe a loving God would condemn me to Hell?
What would you say to a loving God to convince Him to let you spend eternity in His Heaven?
Well, I have bad news and good news! First the bad news:
- In the book of Romans 3:10-12 the Apostle Paul says: As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. And Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;From these scriptures we see that not one of us has been or could be ‘good’ enough to win God’s favor. We are all sinners deserving the wrath of God. In Romans 6:23a we are told the penalty for our sin is death (For the wages of sin is death;). Now that’s the bad news! Summed up not one of us is worthy and all deserve to spend an eternity in Hell.
- Now we have some good news, better great news! Romans 3:23b but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. According to this scripture Jesus Christ has a free gift for you, and it is called eternal life. Let me give you an illustration. If someone were to hand you a check for $1,000.00 with no conditions attached, would you receive it from them? All you had to do was say yes I want it and reach out and take the check. Jesus Christ has offered you more than a $1,000.00 check that would only satisfy for a short period. Jesus offers you an eternity in Heaven with Him. But, you need to reach out and accept His gift.
- And here is how you do it. The Bible says in Romans 10:9-10 that all we need to do is ask Jesus to come into our heart and believe that God raised Him from the dead and we will have eternal life. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.This is really quite simple, but we do need to acknowledge our sinful state and agree with God about our sin! If we but speak the words, God, I know I am a sinner, and I now confess my sins and ask that you would come into my life. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, that He paid the penalty for my sins on the cross of Calvary, and I receive the free gift of eternal life. Two very small conditions, repentance and belief! If you spoke these words, I have great news for you. When you asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart that is exactly what He did! The Son of God (Jesus Christ) did in fact enter your life and the book of 1John 5:12 states He that hath the Son hath life, and that is you! The next verse 1John 5:13 says These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.If you spoke the words Jesus Christ now lives within you because of the promise of God, who can not lie. If you have received Jesus Christ, the Son of God, please give us a response on our e-mail. We would like to send you a New Testament Bible that will help you start your walk with Jesus Christ. Our e-mail address is email@example.com.
Now continuing the study in Chapter One verse 5b of Revelation:
Revelation 1:5 and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
John now continues his opening statements to the seven Churches beginning in verse 4. John has told us the message was from God the Father and the Holy Spirit and now confirms that it is also from Jesus Christ who is the Prince of the kings of the earth.
Jesus Christ has the preeminence over everything and everyone. He is the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. The Christian is completely cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. The blood of Jesus Christ flows over and through the Christian and purifies every believer.
Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
This is a picture of the reward that Christ Jesus has in store for each believer and is now partially completed. We are priests each and everyone, because we can stand before Christ and offer praise.
Romans 15:11 And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.
As priests we can now come boldly before God’s throne and offer the sacrifice of praise and find grace and mercy.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
In Old Testament times the high priest had to confess his sin and offer sacrifices before he could offer sacrifices and confess the sins of the people. We no longer need the high priest to offer a sacrifice for our sin, because Jesus Christ has given the ultimate sacrifice when He gave His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
We now come directly to the Father confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness and cleansing.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We can bring our petitions to Him.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Our response to being made kings and priests is to give praise, glory and honor to God forever and forever.
Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
This is interesting. he cometh with clouds! Not a cloud, but multiple clouds, clouds plural. Every eye shall see, not just the believers on the earth at that time, but the unbelievers also. We who believe will rejoice at His coming because Jesus is returning to bring the very last days to pass.
But, the unbelieving world Jew or Gentile will tremble because, the One they blasphemed has returned bringing judgment. The One that they rejected has returned bringing judgment. The One that the Jews shouted ‘Crucify Him” has returned to judge their words. The One that the Romans crucified has returned to judge their evil deeds.
Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
John 19:37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.
The world will mourn when Christ returns because they will see that He is truly the God of the universe and the LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS.
Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
We have seen part of this statement before, have we not? Look at Revelation 1:4 one more time. 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. Now, the question is, who is speaking? If we look at Revelation 22:16 we see that it is Jesus Christ that is speaking. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the Churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. He says I Jesus so there can be no doubt!
Of course, it is Jesus the Christ who is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega which is, which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Look at Revelation 1:8 again, because Jesus is speaking and using the same words for Himself. Jesus is calling Himself the eternal God and there is no mistake about it!
Think back to the Gospels where the people tried to stone Jesus. Do you remember why they tried to stone Him? Look at the following verses.
John 10:30-33 Jesus said, I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them,Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.”
The Jews understood exactly what Jesus had said. He called Himself God when He said I and My Father are one.
Dr. Gill writes “Not in person, for the Father must be a distinct person from the Son, and the Son a distinct person from the Father; and which is further manifest, from the use of the verb plural, “I and my Father”, , “we are one”; that is, in nature and essence, and perfections, particularly in power;”.
Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John has been imprisoned on the isle called Patmos because of his missionary work proclaiming Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection. John now starts the narration and the beginning of the vision. He once again identifies himself (I, John) with all of the believers and companions that have labored with him and that he was on the isle Patmos (a prison colony) for preaching the word, for sharing the faith, and for lifting up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Emperor Domitian had banished John and probably thought that this movement would diminish if John’s influence was removed.
Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
The first thing to note here is that the personal pronoun (the) is not in the original Greek text. So, it reads, I was in Spirit, or better, I was in the realm of Spirit at the beginning of the Day of the Lord. Not Sunday, not Saturday, but the Lord’s Day here means the start of the end times, the start of the Great Tribulation. This is what is meant by the Lord’s Day. The Day of the Lord refers to the end times.
Here we see the first usage of “as”, “and heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet. What does this mean to you? Remember the symbolic language “as”, meaning similarity in action or quality. I believe what is being shared with us is that the voice John heard was loud. It was commanding, it was sudden, and demanded John’s full attention.
Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Jesus states exactly who He is.
- I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. Of this there can be no doubt, it is very clear, Jesus says He is the eternal God.
- We see the command to John. John is told to write in a book what he sees.
- Question, where is John when he is told to write what he sees? The answer is he is in the realm of Spirit. John has been taken into Heaven in Spirit to witness the things that will come to pass. John will see so much and hear so many things and he will not understand them all. John will hear and see things that will grab his attention in an instant, and he is commanded to write it all down in a book.
- Look at Revelation 1:19 again. This is where we have the outline of the book. John is told to write the things which he has seen (past tense) and the things which are (present tense) and the things which will be hereafter (future tense). John is told to write it all down. (Except what the seven thunders uttered in Revelation 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.)
- John is commanded to deliver this book to the seven Churches, that would be all of the seven Churches mentioned, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. It is a message for all churches of John’s day and our day.
- Finally, what John writes is the entire book of Revelation, meaning that he did not write just one or two chapters and then deliver it to the Churches. He wrote the entire book and then transmitted it to the seven Churches. We know that many times a single letter would be circulated among the early Churches. We do not know whether a single copy was sent and then circulated, or seven copies were sent, one to each Church.
Remember that John has identified himself and said that he was in the realm of spirit on the Lord’s Day. The Day of the Lord equaling the start of the tribulation leading to the end times.
John is in the spirit realm. Revelation 1:11 I was in spirit says John. What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia. Instantly we know that we are about to see the Lord dealing with His churches.
Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;or lampstands.
John hears a loud voice, a commanding voice. John knows that this is someone who he must see and he turns to see the One who has spoken with such authority.
The first thing that he sees is the seven golden candlesticks or lampstands. They are the first thing to come into his vision and they probably stand for fullness.
There are seven individual candlesticks and John is told to write to seven individual churches. Of the many churches that these letters could have been addressed to Christ singles out seven that are representative of all churches. At any rate the candlesticks produce light as our churches should produce the light of the gospel. The following verse shows that Jesus Christ is in the midst of His churches.
Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks:
And in the following verse we find that Jesus Christ has absolute sovereignty over the churches.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.
We are told that the seven golden lamp stands are the seven churches. How are they related to the seven churches?
The light of the church, light being equated with the influence of the church?
The brightness of the church, with brightness being equated with their witness?
Didn’t Jesus say that we, the church, are the light of the world!
Matthew 5: 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
Matthew 5:15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house.
Mathew 5:16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
We are the bearers of the Light of Jesus and this signifies the work of the church. How would the candlestick get moved out of its place and what would be the result of its removal?
Let’s look at what kind of light the Christian has.
I see reflected light, the reflected light of Jesus the Christ, the light of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is the radiance of God dwelling with and in each and every Christian.
So let me pose this question.
Where does our light shine, are we radiating the light of Jesus as we go about our daily lives?
If someone sees you on the street can they say, there goes a child of God?
If the Lord removes the candlestick from the church the influence of the church will no longer be felt in the community. The Christians in the church will no longer be a light to their neighbors lighting the path to Christ. Remember, who walks in the midst of the candlesticks, Jesus Christ!
If He removes the lamp then He leaves the building, and there is now the word ICHABOD on the door. God no longer blesses the activities of that church.
Carole and I visited a church in Eastern Washington that never prayed during the service, the entire service, beginning to end, there was not one prayer.
When we left the service I remember making the remark that the Spirit of the Lord no longer visits this place.
Sort of like Elvis, God had left the building.
Their candlestick had been removed. There was no influence in the community, the name Jesus was never even mentioned during the service, no light, nothing drawing people to Christ. God had removed the candlestick from this church.
Well enough about candlesticks for now, more when we get to Revelation Chapter 2 and the church at Ephesus.
Revelation 1:13 and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.
I see something here that I have never seen before. The King James Version renders this passage with the word THE replacing the word A. The Revised Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible have the word A. It makes all of the difference in the world as to the meaning of the passage as far as John was concerned.
Do you see it? John has not yet recognized who is standing in the midst of the candlesticks. I think the rendering in the King James Version is the correct one. This is because of the following verse.
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last.
John falls on his face at the sight of the majesty and brilliance of a divine person standing in the center of the candlesticks. He falls down as if dead! This sight had to be awesome and beyond comprehension. His senses went on overload and he fell to the ground as if dead. Others have done this same thing.
Ezekiel fell on his face.
Ezekiel 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spoke.
We see the same result with Daniel when he saw the vision recorded in the book of Daniel chapter 8. Daniel fainted and fell down at the glory of the one that came before him in the vision.
I believe that not until verse 17 does John realize that the One he sees is the Lord Jesus.
And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last
John now knows that the person he sees is Jesus Christ. To me this was a revelation, and unveiling or illumination of the passage.
Now look at the clothing from verse 13.
clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
One view is that this a priestly garment, but I find that the garments of the priest was woven with threads of purple and scarlet and blue, it had pomegranates on the hem. We don’t see that here, we see more, a girdle around the chest that is woven with GOLD. The long flowing robe and the golden girdle signified royalty, kingship, high priest, deity and judge. John saw the glorified Lord Jesus and could not stand before Him.
Next, John sees the features of the Lord.
Revelation 1:14 And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
Notice the figurative language here, as white wool, as white snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire.
What do you think is meant by these terms?
As white wool, it wasn’t wool but it was brilliantly white, it wasn’t snow but it glistened, reflecting the brightness of His hair. It is a picture of the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, the Bright and Morning Star, El Shaddai, the Great I AM.
The eyes as of a flame of fire picture judgment. Fire always pictures purging, cleansing and or judgment. These eyes could pierce the soul. Nothing would be hidden from Him. He would see into the darkest reaches of the heart and soul.
Remember what this book is all about. Christ is returning to bring judgment.
First Jesus comes and takes his church to heaven so that they will escape the coming judgment.
1Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
1Thessalonians 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
1Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Now we continue to see the appearance of the Lord Jesus.
Revelation1: 15 and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters.
This again is a picture of judgment. The brass pictured here comes from two Greek words that render “white” and “brass” when translated. It is the color of the metal while in the furnace of fire, brilliantly shining, blinding because of the brilliant whiteness. That’s the picture of feet that will tread the winepress of the fierceness His wrath, that will stamp out sin and that will usher in the new kingdom.
The following is a quote from Dr. Gill on this particular passage.
“Nothing could be a more sublime description of majesty and authority than to compare the voice of a speaker with the roar of the ocean. This comparison often occurs in the Scriptures. See Ezekiel 43:2, And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the east: and his voice was like the sound of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. So Revelation 14:2. Compare with Ezekiel 1:24; Daniel 10:6.”
The voice was compelling, powerful, with authority and all consuming. John had to listen to the One that spoke.
Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
The interpretation of this passage will be found in verse 20, but for now notice where the seven stars are. They are in the right hand of Jesus Christ. What is the significance of this?
Jesus Christ holds the churches under His authority. He is in charge of them and controls them. It is thought that they may be arranged like the candlesticks in the order of the seven churches that they represent. This would be in a sort of oval pattern or at least arranged to represent the relative position of the seven churches.
Okay, now for the two edged sword. There are several pictures of two edged swords.
The first is a short dagger like a sword. It would be less than 18 inches in length and would be carried by all soldiers. This sword would have two sharp edges.
The next is something like a saber. It is slender, long and sharp on both edges with a very sharp point. Something you might fight a duel with or use for fencing.
The next that I can think of is a very broad sword about three feet long, very heavy and sharp on both edges. It could be used for lopping of the head of your enemy in one stroke. Relate this to the sword that Goliath had when David took the head of Goliath with one stroke.
The last is a scythe that would have both edges sharpened so that it would cut the grain moving both ways. Is this what is meant by the passage?
A quote from Dr. Gill is “The two edges were designed to cut both ways, and such a sword is a striking emblem of the penetrating power of truth, or of words that proceed from the mouth; and this is designed undoubtedly to be the representation here.”
I believe the sword here represents the power of the word of God that can penetrate even to the dividing of soul and spirit.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Now we have the full face of the Lord revealed to us in this verse. It would be like looking at the sun in its brilliance, so bright that we would have to look away lest we burn out our eyes.
Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
The sight is so overwhelming that John just drops to the ground when he sees the magnificence of the vision, bright, majestic, kingly, and powerful.
Then His right hand touches John on the shoulder and He says it is I, I am the First and the Last:
Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Jesus explains just who He is, I am alive, I was dead but behold I will live forevermore. We have seen this from the very first verse of the chapter, it is Jesus. If there was ever any doubt this verse should clear it up.
Jesus says here that He has all authority; this is what is meant by having the keys to hell and death. Death and the grave have no power over the Christian.
1Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1Corinthians 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
1Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
And then we have the following.
Romans 7:24 0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Jesus Christ has the power over death, over sin and we are more than conquers in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Romans 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Now we see John’s instructions from the Lord.
Revelation 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
John is told to write it down.
The mystery of the seven stars, are the angels of the seven churches.
Angels translates messenger or leaders or pastors. There is a messenger to each one of the seven churches. The messenger is the one or ones that give to the church what Jesus tells them.
Every commentary that I have translated angels as messengers, or pastors. It does not feel right to me to call the angels pastors, because I think this is giving way too much credit to pastors.
Not all pastors are listening to God. The Mormon church has pastors and likewise the Jehovah Witnesses, the Unitarians and the Muslims but this is what most all scholars believe.
Why can’t they be angels? There is no symbolic language here, and I am not sure why we cannot just say that these are the angels that watch over the churches. But to be fair, it is not what most believe.
The candlesticks or lamp stands represent the seven churches. I believe this is representative of the influence and witness, the light that these churches radiate abroad, and the testimony that they have in their towns and cities.
Therefore if the lamp stand is removed the witness or light dies. Jesus is no longer preached, people no longer get saved and the church for all intents and purposes dies.