Hello and welcome back to the fifth and final post of a five-part study on Revelation chapter one. In this post, we’ll study the beginning of the vision that John experienced. The revelation that Jesus showed the apostle John started off with him hearing a voice speaking behind him, telling him to write down everything he sees and then send it to the seven churches in Asia Minor (which is present-day Turkey). John hadn’t seen anything yet. But when he turned around to see who was speaking to him, the revelation began with a vision of the glorified Christ! The apostle John was about have one of the most amazing experiences of his life. To learn more, keep reading.
REVELATION CHAPTER ONE
Five in a Five-Part Series
By Karen Thompson
The Glorified Christ
Rev. 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 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: 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. 19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things whichshall be hereafter; 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.
When John heard the voice speaking behind him, he turned to see who it was. He said, “I saw seven golden candlesticks….” Now the King James Bible translated this as candlesticks, but these were not actually wax candles. They were lamp stands that burn oil.
John then described seeing a vision of the glorified Christ standing in the middle of the candlesticks. If someone has a vision of Jesus, the first thing he is asked is, “What did He look like? What was He wearing?” John answered all of those questions in his detailed description of Christ. He first described what He was wearing, saying He was “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” (v. 13). The golden girdle around His “paps,” means His breast area.
He then described His facial features, saying, “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters” (vv. 14–15). Head and hair white like wool, eyes like fire, feet like they just came out of a furnace—all descriptions of the brightness of the glory of God. Earlier in verse 10, John described the voice speaking to him as a trumpet, but now in verse 15, he described the voice to be like the “sound of many waters.”
Stars and a Two-Edged Sword
In verse 16, John went on to further describe what he saw: “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength” (v. 16). Jesus was holding five stars in His hand. And out of Jesus’ mouth went a two-edged sword. The symbolism of the two-edge sword is familiar. Isaiah prophesied about Messiah saying, “he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword” (49:2). A two-edged sword is a sword that is sharp on both sides. John said this two-edged sword came out of Jesus’ mouth; this symbolizes the power of His spoken words.
The Keys of Hell and Death
John was overwhelmed by the experience of seeing the glorified Christ; in verse 17, he wrote, “when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” Of course, he didn’t actually die. He fell “as dead.” Most likely, what he experienced is what is referred to as being “slain in the Spirit.” Many believers have experienced what John experienced. When one comes into contact with the presence and glory of God, it can be so overpowering that your physical body loses all its strength and collapses. That is what happened to the priests when King Solomon dedicated the temple. During the dedication ceremony, a cloud, meaning the glory of God, filled the temple, so much so that “the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house…” (1 Kings 8:10–11). Like John, the priests “fell out” in the Spirit.
When John fell down as dead, Jesus laid His right hand upon him and said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last: 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” (vv. 16–18). The phrase describing Jesus as “the first and the last” is very familiar and can be found three places in Isaiah (Isaiah 41:4, Isaiah 44:6 and Isaiah 48:12).
When Jesus said He was dead and He is alive for evermore, He was referring to His death and resurrection. When He was in hell, the book of Colossians says He “spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15). As a result of overcoming the principalities in hell, He now has in His possession the keys of hell and of death.
In the Bible, keys are symbolic of authority. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the “key of the house of David,” saying that with the key of David, “he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open…” (Isa. 22:22). Whoever has the key of David can open a door and no one can shut it, and he can shut a door and no one will be able to open it. This phrasing is expressing ultimate authority.
In fact, later on in Revelation chapter three in the letter to the church at Philadelphia, Jesus began the letter by saying, “These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth…” (Rev. 3:7). He’s quoting this same verse of scripture in Isaiah about the key! He’s saying He has ultimate authority.
Write It Down
After John described the vision he saw of Jesus, he then tells us what Jesus commanded him to do in verse 19: “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter….” John was to write down what he saw in the vision. And he was to write about “things which are,” meaning the present state of the churches. And then, lastly, he was to write “things which shall be hereafter,” meaning the future events of Daniel’s 70th week.
The Meaning of the Seven Stars and Seven Golden Candlesticks
When John first turned around to see who was talking to him, he saw Jesus standing in the middle of seven candlesticks, holding seven stars in His right hand. In verse 20, Jesus gave John the interpretation of what he just saw: “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.”
The seven candlesticks symbolized the seven churchesof Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. And the seven stars in His right hand symbolized the “angels” assigned to each of the churches. The King James translators translated the Greek word aggelos as angels; however, the word aggelos is also used to mean messengers.10 In this case, the seven stars represented the seven pastors of the seven churches, who are messengers of God’s Word. In later verses, these “angels,” or messengers, were instructed to present the Lord’s messages to their individual churches, which confirms that these messengers were, indeed, the pastors of these seven churches.
John noted that Jesus was standing in the midst of the seven candlesticks and was holding the stars in His right hand. In scripture, the right hand is significant. There are a number of scriptures that refer to the right hand as being full of strength. Psalm 20:6 says, “Now know I that the Lord saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.”
The vision of Jesus holding the seven stars in His hand while standing in the middle of the candlesticks and having a two-edged sword coming out of His mouth is symbolism of Jesus giving forth His messages to the seven churches. And His messages to the pastors of these churches will be quick, powerful, and sharp like a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intents of their hearts!
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