Revelation Chapter One is first and foremost all about Jesus.
In this chapter John introduces us to the radiant Christ in all his glory!
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Revelation Chapter One
1 The Book of Revelation is focused primarily upon Christ Jesus. We receive a blessing by taking this book to heart, because it will deepen our relationship and understanding of Jesus.
2 Chapter one describes Jesus as the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
3 King Jesus will return in power and glory. We are perhaps more familiar with Jesus in his humanity, the humble servant crucified on the cross. Here we see the radiant Warrior King in all his glory.
4 The Book of Revelation was written for the seven churches of Asia Minor. This prophecy was never meant to be kept a guarded secret for the elite few. It was meant to be read by the seven churches and then radiated across the world and throughout the generations.
5 John, the beloved disciple, had a deep understanding of scripture, a deep prayer life and an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. He was no flaky prophet. His life was built upon the rock and he was mature enough to handle the depths of this prophecy.
6 Jesus, the High Priest, stands in the midst of the seven golden lamp-stands, which are the churches, tending the light of the lamps. His face is like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
7 King Jesus reaches down to his dear friend John and reassures him that he is the Living One. He was dead, crucified upon the cross, but behold he is alive for ever!
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Welcome to this study on the first chapter of the Book of Revelation which was written by John the beloved disciple whilst in exile on the island of Patmos.
This book is well-known for its fabulous imagery and different interpretations. It has often either been the playground of the obsessed and fanatical or generally considered too difficult to understand and hence put to one side and ignored.
It is a book of immense encouragement to Christians enduring persecution. It begins and ends with the glory and power and ultimate victory of our eternal God.
May we take the words of this divine prophecy to heart and may they bless and keep us through the difficult days ahead.
I hope and pray that this study is of help.
Revelation 1:1 ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ…’
This book is all about our Lord Christ Jesus, he is the primary focus. This book will bring us into a deeper and more loving relationship with our beloved Saviour.
The word ‘Revelation’ is the translation of ‘apokalupsis’ which refers to something that was formerly hidden but that has now been revealed.
Matthew Henry comments delightfully: ‘It is called the Revelation, because God therein discovers (reveals) those things which could never have been sifted out by the reasonings of human understanding, those deep things of God which no man knows but the Spirit of God and those to whom he reveals them’. (1)
Leon Morris adds: ‘It is not a book of human wisdom, nor for that matter a discussion of philosophical or theological problems. It is a setting forth of what God has made known.’ (2)
Revelation 1:1 ‘which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place’.
The expression ‘what must soon take place’, (Gk: ‘en tachei’) has always challenged interpreters since close to two thousand years have passed since the writing of this book!
However, it is best understood as meaning that the events described will happen swiftly and that these events will certainly happen but in God’s sovereign timing and not our own.
Many believe that they will prepare themselves when the time comes but the implication here is that there will be no time to prepare and they will be tragically caught unprepared.
Matthew 25:13 ‘Therefore, keep watch because you do not know the day or the hour.’
This revelation comes from the very heart of God and is meant to be shared.
God made the revelation known to us because He does not intend us to walk around blindfold. He wants us to be prepared for the days ahead and we would be foolish not to heed His advice and warnings. He has made known to us the mystery of his will.
Amos 3:7 ‘Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets’.
Matthew 24:25 ‘Jesus says: ‘See, I have told you ahead of time.’
Revelation 1:1 ‘He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John who testifies to everything he saw, that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ’.
There is a lovely flow of communion here that is typical of our God who delights in relationship. The divine, the angelic and the human agencies collaborate harmoniously to communicate this profound message that has been passed down through the Church from generation to generation.
Revelation 1:3 ‘Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near’.
These first few verses clearly show God’s desire that we receive this revelation and that we take it to heart that it might bless us. There may be challenges of interpretation on the way but it is not a fiendishly impossible cryptic crossword. It is not a matter of the intellect but rather, the study of this majestic prophecy changes our hearts and prepares us for the difficult days of tribulation that lie ahead.
God promises a blessing to those who read and take to heart this prophecy and to ignore Revelation is to turn away from its blessing.
Dr Paige Patterson comments encouragingly that: ‘Christ not only reigns supreme but he also guides history to his designed climax, at which time good conquers forevermore.’ (3)
This first chapter will establish a firm foundation upon our Lord Jesus. We begin our journey into the Book of Revelation on a sound Christ-centred basis.
Grace and Peace
Revelation 1:4 ‘John, to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne and from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.’
This book was intended as a blessing to the seven churches that were in Asia Minor, the area that we would call modern-day Turkey. We explore these churches in the following two chapters.
However, these words have blessed and inspired Christians throughout the world and through the generations. In particular, the encouragements and warnings within the letters are very prophetic and relevant to the seven year period of tribulation in the end-times.
Revelation 1:4 ‘Grace and peace’
This is a traditional way of starting a letter. In the darkest of times we are promised peace through the grace of Jesus. Peace follows in the wake of grace.
Revelation 1:4 ‘who is and was and who is to come’.
This speaks of the eternal nature of God the Father. God dwells within and yet transcends our framework of time. The world may be a transient chaos but behind the scenes our eternal God holds everything together.
G.K .Beale comments poetically: ‘...all time is embraced within God’s eternal presence.’ (4)
The eternal nature of God has always been a great reassurance to the saints, and especially to those enduring persecution, who are trusting in the promises of God.
Revelation 1:4 ‘the seven spirits before his throne’.
This is best understood as the perfect and complete Holy Spirit and alludes to his diverse gifts and workings. Isaiah 11:1 speaks of the seven blessings of the Spirit which include wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, fear and delight.
Zechariah 4:10a also writes of the seven eyes of the Lord which range throughout the earth.
The concept of the number ‘seven’ representing perfection and completion is derived from the seven days of creation in Genesis.
The theologians amongst us will delight in pointing out the Trinitarian nature of these verses, that is: the eternal nature of God, the complete nature of the Holy Spirit and the description of Jesus that is to follow.
Revelation 1:5 ‘Jesus Christ the faithful witness’.
Jesus came to make the Father known to us. He was the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. Not only was Jesus the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy but he was also the Prophet, who came to reveal God to man.
Hebrews 1:3 ‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being’.
Jesus was faithful in sharing the gospel of salvation, knowing that this path led to death upon the cross. He faced the rejection and the insults of the crowds and he did not turn back or compromise his message. His sole purpose was to reveal the glory of his heavenly Father.
We are called to walk in his footsteps.
1 Peter 2:21 ‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.’
We will discover, in later chapters, that the end-time church will be called to witness passionately in the face of a deepening persecution.
Revelation 1:5 ‘the first-born from the dead’…
Christ Jesus has conquered death and pioneered the way for us to enter eternal life through our relationship with him. Jesus came as the Priest, bringing the perfect sacrifice, his unblemished self, which ushered us into the forgiveness and eternal presence of God.
His crucified body was laid in the tomb but death could not hold him. The stone was rolled away and Jesus stepped out into the light.
Romans 5:21 ‘So grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’.
1Corinthians 15:55 ‘Where, O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?
We are promised that even though we might face persecution, that if we are faithful we will be blessed.
Revelation 2:10a ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death and I will give you the crown of life.’
Revelation 1:5 ‘the ruler of the kings of the earth’.
Earthly tyrants will come and go but the reign of King Jesus is eternal. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. Jesus came as the King of kings, and every tongue will confess that he is Lord.
Philippians 2:10 ‘…that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.’
Countless numbers of Christians live their daily lives under the oppression of earthly tyrants. Revelation brings them a deep encouragement, knowing that as they faithfully witness the gospel, even though they may face the ultimate sacrifice, that the Lord will be with them at their side.
The fate of the kings of the earth is already sealed. King Jesus is preparing to take his rightful place and establish his eternal kingdom on this earth.
Three further observations.
Revelation 1:5 ‘To him who loves us’…
God’s motive and purpose begins and ends with love. Before He even created the world He set about choosing us. God’s divine love sustains and prospers us. By contrast, the motive of tyrants is hatred and greed, no matter how well it may be disguised. The love of Jesus for us was so much that he suffered the death of the cross for us.
Revelation 1:5 ‘…and has freed us from our sins by his blood’.
Jesus was the unblemished sacrificial lamb. The price of sin was death but Christ has fully paid the price for us on the cross. We are now free to walk in righteousness.
Hebrews 10:14 ‘By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy’.
Revelation 1:6 ‘and has made us to be a kingdom and priests’.
God has not gone to such efforts that we should sit back and twiddle our thumbs. We are called to service. As priests we bridge the gap between heaven and earth, whether we are baking cakes for our neighbours or sharing the gospel in some remote land.
The Kingdom of God is not like any earthly kingdom. It is made from living stones, a fellowship of believers who have been redeemed and whose lives have been changed forever by the love of God.
Exodus 19:6 ‘Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
As we go deeper into the end-times, we will be called into worship and intercession.
Isaiah 24:14 ‘They raise their voices, they shout for joy, from the West they acclaim the Lord’s majesty.’
As the darkness of this world increases, we will be called to shine ever more brightly, especially as regards worship and prayer.
The Returning King
The word used to describe the return of Christ is ‘parousia’ which simply means that Christ Jesus will come and be with us. A great word to impress your friends with!
Revelation 1:7 ‘Look, he is coming on the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.‘
After the encouragement of the last few verses John bursts through with the declaration of Jesus’ return in power and glory.
Matthew Henry comments eloquently: ‘We should set ourselves to meditate frequently upon the second coming of Christ, and keep it in the eye of our faith and expectation.’ (5)
Revelation 1:7 ‘Look. he is coming with the clouds’
This verse speaks of the second coming or the return of Christ Jesus. Consider the Olivet Discourse found in Matthew 24:30, Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:25.
Matthew 24:30 ‘They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory’.
Daniel 7:13 ‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.’
Revelation 1:7 ‘…every eye will see him‘.
Jesus’ first coming was in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. He came as a humble servant and many chose to ignore him. His second coming will be with power and glory and everyone will have to face him.
John 1:11 ‘He was in the world and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own but his own did not receive him.’
There will be no place on earth to hide and the world will have to face the righteous and holy judgements of God.
Just how exactly everyone on the earth will see this localised event has puzzled many. Some seem to assert that God has been patiently waiting for mankind to invent satellite television or smart-phones so that everyone can watch on their screens. I doubt it.
Dr Paige Patterson puts us firmly in our place when he sensibly comments that: ‘The explanation belongs to the imponderables of God’. (6)
The redeemed of this earth will be doing cartwheels around the temple at this point.
By contrast, the wicked will be cowering in the caves.
Revelation 6:15 ‘Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every freeman hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
Revelation 1:7 ‘even those who pierced him’.
When Christ Jesus returns in power and glory, Israel will realise Jesus as their Messiah and there will be a dramatic and spontaneous conversion of spiritual Israel. Remember that the Christian church must be praying for Israel, our brother, the apple of our Fathers’ eye.
Zechariah 12:10 ‘They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns an only child and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.’
Israel will receive Jesus as their Messiah and be cleansed from their sins.
Zechariah 13:1 ‘On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Zephaniah 3:19 ‘At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.’
Revelation 1:7 ‘and all the peoples of the earth will mourn’.
The expression ‘tribes of the earth‘ describes Israel who will be comforted in their grief.
Isaiah 61 ‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me…to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.’
God’s love for Israel will be found throughout Revelation. His sovereign purpose for them has never faltered at all. He will see them through the darkness.
Isaiah 60:1 ‘Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you. ‘
There will also come a dreadful realisation when the whole of the unbelieving world will understand the immensity of stubbornly refusing to accept the righteousness and grace of Christ Jesus.
Revelation 1:8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God’.
These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet and this is another way of describing with words the indescribable eternal nature of God who has no beginning and who has no end.
Theologians speak of the ‘immutability’ of God, that is, his unchanging nature throughout the ages. One can compare this verse with Revelations 22:13 which describes Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega, thus giving us one of the biblical proofs of the divine God-nature of Jesus within the Holy Trinity.
Revelation 22:12 ‘Behold, I am coming soon…I am the Alpha and the Omega…!
Revelation 1:8 ‘Almighty’.
The return of Christ Jesus in glory is a double-edged sword. It brings deliverance for his servants but judgement for those who stubbornly refuse to bow before him.
The eternal nature of God is a constant source of encouragement to those who face transient persecutions. In the midst of our tribulations we are called to look up to our sovereign King who sustains us with his divine love. He is the Almighty. We shelter under His wing.
Psalm 91:1 ‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and fortress, my God in whom I trust’.
John was paying the price for having faithfully and zealously shared the gospel and taught the scriptures. In his old age he had been exiled to the island of Patmos by the Roman emperor Titus Flavius Domitianus in 95 AD.
This small island in the Aegean Sea was used as a penal colony. Prisoners were put to work hard labour in the granite mines but John, because of his advanced years, would not have been forced to work. Provisions would still have been meagre and it was a tough place to be.
The authorities were perhaps keen that John should not become a martyr but rather that he should simply die and fade away.
We often find this principle in Christianity. Opposing forces believe they can bury the radiance of Christ but out of the darkness comes the irrepressible light. Out of the hopelessness and desolation of exile on Patmos came the scorching light of this divine prophecy.
There is an encouragement here for all of us. We may find ourselves ‘exiled in Patmos‘ by our own life situation but no matter how dark and hopeless the conditions may seem, the light of God will always shine through!
Church history has shown us again and again that the persecution of the enemy often has the effect of refining and purifying the churches and this brings in a wonderful harvest of souls.
As we progress through Revelation we will read of tremendous persecutions to come but yet there will be a radiant worshiping church in the midst courageously bringing in the end-time harvest.
Psalm 27:5 ‘For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling, he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle, and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me, at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy, I will sing and make music to the Lord.’
Revelation 1:9 ‘I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus’.
John’s life was an exemplary example of suffering for the kingdom with patient endurance which is often the lot of the Christian life. He lived what he taught.
2Timothy 3:12 ‘Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’.
A lifetime of fellowship and service with Jesus led John to this profound spiritual experience.
Revelation 1:10 ‘On the Lord’s day‘.
Most suggest that The Lord’s Day refers to Sunday, the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
There is a poignant point to be made here. John was separated from his beloved church of Ephesus by no more than forty miles of Aegean Sea but it might as well have been a million miles. In the loneliness of his exile he would have been thinking of his brothers and sisters gathered in worship on the Lord’s Day across the waters.
Revelation 1:10 ‘I was in the Spirit’
John was experiencing a profound spiritual revelation. The point must be made though that John was well and truly established in his faith with strong foundations. His faith had stood the test of time. He had a deep understanding of scripture, a deep prayer life and an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. He was no flaky prophet. His life was built upon the rock and he was mature enough to handle the depths of this prophecy.
Revelation 1:10 ‘I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet which said: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches.’
This is undoubtedly the voice of Jesus. This prophecy was never meant to be kept a guarded secret for the elite few. It was meant to be read by the seven churches and then radiated across the world and throughout the generations.
The Radiant King
The rest of the chapter is taken up with this glorious vision of Christ Jesus that is full to the brim with Old Testament simile. We are perhaps more familiar with Jesus in his humanity, the humble servant crucified on the cross. Here we see the radiant King in all his glory.
Revelation 1:12 ‘I saw seven golden lamp-stands’.
The seven golden lamp-stands represent the churches throughout the world. Jesus is standing in the midst of them. Jesus has come to dwell in our midst! Our churches, and our individual lives, are to be Christ-centred.
This verse takes us back to Exodus 25:31 where the Israelites are told to build the lamp-stands for the tabernacle out of pure gold which is a symbol for the pure nature of God. The oil would then speak of the Holy Spirit and Jesus would be the light itself.
Exodus 27:20 ‘Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening to morning.’
Worth noting is that the menorah were built to a divine and heavenly design and therefore the churches should be designed by divine guidance and inspiration rather than the clever thoughts of men. The thought here is that Jesus stands in the middle of the lamp-stands as the High Priest that he might tend the lamps and ensure that they never go dim or lose their anointing.
John 1:9 ‘The true light, that gives light to every man was coming into this world’.
Christ Jesus pours his light through the church to the world beyond.
Revelation 1:13 ‘like a son of man’.
The name ‘son of man’ comes from Daniel 7:13 and Jesus adopted this term the most often. It would have been well understood by his Jewish audience that he was claiming to be not just a ‘messiah figure’, there were plenty of those around, but rather he was claiming to be the ‘divine who had become man. This was clearly heretical and would cause the authorities to begin to plot his death.
Revelation 1:13 ‘a robe reaching down to his feet’.
This is the robe of the priest and the golden sash expresses authority. Hebrews 10:11 shows that Jesus is the High Priest who takes the perfect sacrifice to atone for our sins for all time. This perfect sacrifice is the unblemished lamb, that is, his own holy and perfect life.
Revelation 1:14 ‘His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow’.
This speaks of the eternal wisdom of the ages. Compare this with Daniel 7:9: ‘The Ancient of Days took his seat, his clothing was as white as snow, and the hair of his head was white like wool.’
Revelation 1:14 ‘and his eyes were like blazing fire’.
This speaks of omniscience. Nothing is hidden from He who knows the hearts of men. We can hide nothing from him. He sees beyond our masks and illusions. Everything is revealed.
Hebrews 4:12 ‘Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account’.
John 2:24 ‘But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.’
Revelation 1:15 ‘His feet like bronze glowing in a furnace’.
The furnace speaks of purification.
Exodus 30:17 ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing…whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting they shall wash their hands and feet from it.’
Isaiah 48:10 ‘I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
But the furnace also speaks of judgement.
Matthew 13:42 ‘They will throw them into a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Revelation 1:15 ‘His voice was like the sound of rushing waters’’.
No doubt John was inspired by the sound of the breakers crashing against the rocks on the coastline of Patmos. In such places conversations come to a close and one can only be taken up by the majestic glory of the power of God.
Matthew Henry comments eloquently: ‘He can and will make himself heard to those who are afar off as well as to those who are near. His gospel is a profluent and mighty stream that is fed by the upper springs of infinite wisdom and knowledge’. (7)
Psalm 29 reads’ ‘The voice of the Lord thunders over the mighty waters’!
Revelation 1:16 ‘In his right hand he held seven stars’,
We are told later these are the angels of the churches. Interpretations abound here. This could mean that churches have guardian angels assigned to them. The angels could represent the leadership of the churches. The angels could represent the character or spirit of each church. Whatever the interpretation, we know that Christ Jesus not only stands in the midst of the churches but he also cares for and governs them as we shall see in the next two chapters.
John 10:29 ‘My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no-one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.’
Revelation 1:16 ‘Out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword’.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that: ‘the word of God is alive and active, sharper than any two-edged sword it penetrates’.
We will see in the Letters to the Churches in the next two chapters how the word of God comes against false teachings. Remember also that the gospel is double-edged, inasmuch as that it brings salvation to those who believe but judgement for those who reject.
Revelation 2:14 ‘You have people there who hold to the teachings of Balaam…’
Revelation 2:16 ‘Repent therefore! otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.’
Revelation 1:16 ‘His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance’.
John finishes these magnificent verses by comparing his face with the sun, the centre of our universe, so powerful we cannot gaze into its depths without blinding ourselves but without its light we are cast into eternal darkness. The power of creation was pouring through him.
Matthew 17:1 captures the glory of the transfiguration of Jesus with these words: ‘His face shone like the sun and his clothes became as white as the light’.
We are lost for words…
Revelation 1:17 ‘When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the key of death and Hades.’
Who can stand in the presence of the Almighty God! Isaiah cried out: ‘Woe to me, I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’ Isaiah 6:5.
Dr Paige Patterson comments sharply that: ‘this is a rather stark contrast to many contemporary expressions of those who claim to be in God’s presence’. (8)
Then Jesus placed his right hand on John to reassure him. This is one of the most poignant and delightful of verses. The King of the universe had the compassion to reach down to his friend and calm his fears. We must never lose sight of the truth that our deepest friend is also the King upon the throne.
Revelation 1:17 ‘I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One. I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.’
Such a glorious declaration! Jesus is eternal by nature. He is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and the last and all that lies within. Yet he has no beginning and no end. He both dwells in and transcends time.
In his humanity he was crucified on the cross and laid in the tomb. But death could not hold him. The stone was rolled away and he rose from the dead.
1Corinthians 15:54: ‘Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting?’
Jesus has conquered death and made open for us the way into eternal life through our relationship with him.
Revelation 20:6 ‘Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them…’
Revelation 1:19 ‘Write therefore what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lamp-stands is this: The seven stars are angels of the seven churches and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches.’
Once again this is a reminder of the divine and eternal nature of this prophecy. These words are not to be hidden away but freely shared among the churches. Their meaning is relevant to the contemporaries of John, to the present age and for times to come.
The chapter ends with explanations of two of the symbols used in this chapter. The symbols and their interpretations used in this book may be challenging at times. But this prophecy is not meant to be a cryptic crossword, the preserve of the educated elite but rather a word of encouragement and instruction to everyone who has received Christ Jesus as their Lord.
The golden rule is that the best way to understand a biblical verse is to look for other bible verses that explain it.
Revelation 1:20 ‘The seven stars are angels of the seven churches’.
This expression could refer to the ‘messengers’ of the church, that is, those who teach scripture in the church or who simply read scripture out loud. It could also refer to angels being assigned to help individual churches.
Dr Paige Patterson comments cautiously that: ‘Whilst not supporting the popular idea of guardian angels this passage does at least lend support to the heavenly assignment of angels’. (9)
However, G.K. Beale comments that the angel of the church could also be a way of personifying the prevailing spirit or the very essence of the church. (10)
Revelation 1:20 ‘and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches’.
Perhaps this verse is another reminder that this book of revelation is for the churches that are full of people, flesh and blood, with all their faults and weaknesses, held together by the almighty grace of Christ at the centre.
The Book of Revelation will take us on a journey. We will travel through dark and bewildering times. Every step we take we will need to keep Christ as our centre.
Our radiant King has secured the ultimate victory. Our enemy is defeated. But we will need to keep our eyes firmly fixed upon our Saviour and the glory that is to come.
There comes a time when we have to put aside our study books and analyses and just revel in the full glory of the risen Christ!
Mike Thompson Jan 2017
1 Matthew Henry Commentary on Revelation location 31
2 Leon Morris Revelation page 46
3 Dr Paige Patterson New American Commentary location 1024
4 Robert Mounce Revelation location 1547
5 Matthew Henry Commentary on Revelation location 119
6 Dr Paige Patterson New American Commentary location 1419
7Matthew Henry Commentary on Revelation location 116
8 Dr Paige Patterson New American Commentary location 1570
9 Dr Paige Patterson New American Commentary location 1626
10 Robert Mounce Revelation location 1868