The One like the Son of Man (Rev 1:9–20)

1:9 I, St. John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

John identified himself humbly by saying he is the “companion in the tribulation” (Rev. 1:9). Having been exiled with other criminals, he shared in the severe persecution with the believers. He also identified himself as a partner in “the patience of the Lord Jesus Christ” in the suffering and persecution for “the word of God and the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:9).

John “bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw” (Rev. 1:2). He was a witness to the things that Jesus did, and he wrote them down in his gospel, in his three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation (John 21:24; Rev. 19:13).

The Circumstances of the Vision

John was in exile on “Patmos” when he received this vision (Rev. 1:9). He was in Patmos for “the word of God” and “the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.” These two phrases are synonymous in (Rev. 1:9). John suffered exile for his faithful, uncompromising preaching of the gospel of Christ.

Patmos

“Patmos” is a barren, volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, about ten miles long and five to six miles wide. It is some forty miles offshore from Miletus (Acts 20:15–17). Exile to such islands was a common form of punishment in the first century. John was sent to Patmos as a criminal because the Romans considered him a member of an illegal religious sect, Christianity! 

The conditions under which John lived would have been harsh, especially considering he was ninety years old when they sent him into exile. Indeed, he suffered exhausting labor and a lack of food and clothing, plus he had to sleep on the bare ground.

The Greek name of the Island of Πάτμ Patmos” reflects the gloomy conditions of living there. Its name means “my killing” or “my crushing,[1] “a reminder of the place of Golgotha, where they crucified the Lord Jesus Christ. 

It was on that gloomy, barren island, under those brutal conditions, that John received the most extensive revelation ever given. The persecutors pressed hard on John and his companions. These faithful people carried the dying of the Lord Jesus in their bodies so that God might reveal the life of Jesus in their mortal flesh (2 Cor. 4:8–12).

1:10 I was in the Spirit on theLord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 

In the Spirit

John received the Revelation while being “in the Spirit” (Rev. 1:10). We can translate the phrase “in the Spirit” as “I came to be in the Spirit” or “I became in union with the Spirit.”

The phrase “in the Spirit” means being under the control and the influence of the Holy Spirit. God lifted St. John to a state of perception beyond that of the human senses. In that state, God supernaturally revealed things to St. John. Many prophets and apostles like Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:2; 3:12, 14), Peter (Acts 10:9), and Paul had similar experiences (Acts 22:17–21; 2 Cor. 12:1).

The Spirit of God is “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph. 1:16). Therefore, it was only “in the Spirit” that John could receive the “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:1, 10).

Likewise, God reveals His knowledge to us “in the Spirit.” The same Spirit that inspired the Book of Revelation enlightens the eyes to understand God’s revelation.

On the Lord’s Day

John received his vision on “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:10). Some understand “the Lord’s Day” as a reference to Sunday, but others argue “the Lord’s Day” is the Day of judgment at the Second Coming of Christ. We cannot limit the panorama of the Book of Revelation to only the Second Coming of Christ.

The liturgical service of the Eucharist depicts a vivid picture of the liturgy in heaven recorded in Revelation. So, most probably, John received the messages and visions of Revelation during the Sunday celebrations of the Eucharist. 

The Divine Liturgy is a vivid experience of Father’s work in Christ’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, and His second coming. The text of St. Basil’s liturgy emphasizes this truth. The celebrant priest prays:

“Therefore, as we also commemorate His holy Passion, His Resurrection from the dead, His Ascension into the heavens, His sitting at Your right hand, O Father, and His Second Coming from the heavens, awesome and full of glory, we offer unto You Your gifts from what is Yours, for everything, concerning everything, and in everything.” (The Coptic Liturgy of St Basil).

Voice of a Trumpet

John heard behind him “a loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev. 1:10) in its piercing and clarity. This loud voice was Christ’s voice among the lampstands (Rev. 1:12–13,17–18).

Trumpets are the most significant musical instruments in Scripture. The Israelites used them to summon the congregation to different events (Num. 10:2). The sound of the trumpets acted as the alarm in times of war (Num. 10:9; 2 Chron. 13:12; Ezek. 33:3). People gather to the religious worship and feast upon the trumpets’ calls.[2] Announcing news and acclaiming kings are associated with the trumpets’ sound (1 Sam. 13:3; 1 Kings 1:34,39). Zephaniah associates trumpets with the Day of the Lord (Zeph. 1:14–16). The New Testament teaches that a trumpet will announce the Second Coming of Christ (1 Cor. 15:52, 1 Thess. 4:16).

In Revelation, the loud voice or sound indicates the solemnity of what is about to be revealed (Rev. 5:2,12; 21:3). The scene is reminiscent of what happened when the Lord God, Yahweh, gave the Law to Moses: “On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled” (Ex. 19:16, NIV).

On Sinai, God gave His words, the Law, to Moses. On Patmos, God revealed the “the Son of Man,” Jesus in His glory (Rev. 1:13). Christ is “the word of God” (Rev. 19:13), and He “has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (Heb. 3:3).

1:11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea”

Commissioning John to Write

The loud voice commanded St. John to write what he saw in a book (or scroll). Christ commanded John to write what he saw twelve times in Revelation. He said to St. John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Rev. 1:11). John was divinely forbidden to write only on one occasion (Rev. 10:4).

By this time in history, there were probably hundreds of churches in the world. Out of all those churches, Christ chose only seven. He even identified them in a precise order: “the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea” (Rev. 1:11).

The Seven Golden Lampstands

1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands, 

Upon hearing the “loud voice, as of a trumpet” (Rev. 1:10), John turned around to see who the speaker was. The first thing he saw was “seven golden lampstands” (Rev. 1:12). These lampstands were like the portable oil lamps used to light rooms at night. Verse 20 identifies these lampstands as “the seven churches.”

“Gold” was the most precious metal.  It is mentioned over 500 times in the Bible and associated with worship in the tabernacle and the temple. The Israelites made many religious objects of gold, including the golden lampstand and the high priest’s vest (Ex. 25:31, 28:5).

All the Churches

“Seven” is the number of completeness (Ex. 25:31–40; Zech. 4:2). Thus, the seven churches, which were actual churches in real places, symbolize the church in general, in its totality, throughout history.

Seeing each church as a golden lampstand expresses how beautiful and valuable the church is to God, in Christ. It is so precious to the extent that Christ loved the church and died to purchase her with His blood (Acts 20:28). 

Though each of the seven churches had its shortcomings and limitations, all of them had the glory of God shining over them because Christ appeared in their midst (Isa. 60:1; Rev. 1:13). As a result, the church has become the light of the world (Phil. 2:15).

One Like the Son of Man

1:13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

John turned to see the voice source, and he saw “One like the Son of Man” was standing in the middle of the seven lampstands. He was wearing a long robe that went down to his feet, with a golden sash around his chest.

The phrase “the Son Man” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Daniel called him “the Son of Man” (Dan. 7:13). The Lord Jesus Christ called Himself “the Son of Man” many times while on earth. Quoting from the same vision, Christ identified Himself as “the Son of God,” who sent a message to the church’s angel in Thyatira (Rev. 2:18). He also presented Himself in the same vision as the one who lives, was dead, and alive forever (Rev. 1:18).

Identifying the “One like the Son of Man” is more challenging than it might appear. A careful look at the text makes us think deeper. John saw “One like the Son of Man,” not “the Son of Man.” In other translations, it says, “someone like a son of man, NIV;” and “one like unto the Son of man, KJV.”

In Daniel’s vision, the hair of the head of the one who appeared was like “pure wool;” white, and he called him “the Ancient of Days” (Dan. 7:9). In Revelation, the one who appeared to John also had the head and hair “white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev. 1:14). So, Christ is the Son of Man, who has the Father in Him.

In (Rev. 1:9-20), we do see not just Christ in His humanity, but we see Him in His glory, having the Father in Him. The distinction between Father and the Son does not mean they are apart from each other. The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:38; 14:10; 17:21). He also prayed to His Father, “You, Father, are in Me, and I in You “(John 17:21). In Christ, “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9).

The Lord Jesus Christ entered heaven itself to appear for us in the Father’s presence (Heb. 9:24). After His ascension, He received the glory prepared for Him before the foundation of the world (John 17:5).

Before Christ’s ascension, John saw the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh in “the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7), while He is “the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

On the cross, John and others saw the Lord Jesus Christ having “no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2, NIV). Finally, after the Father ended the time of Christ’s humiliation in the likeness of men, John saw the Lord Jesus Christ in His glory, in “the form of God” (Phil. 2:5-7).

Three disciples of the Lord Jesus saw a glimpse of Christ’s glory on the mountain of transfiguration. His face shone like the sun. His clothes became as white as the light (Matt. 17:1–4). So likewise, Peter witnessed the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ received from the Father (2 Pet. 1:16–18).

After His ascension, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to Saul (Acts 9) and John in Revelation. These two visions have a substantial impact on the life and theology of the church until He comes back “in the glory of His Father with His angels” (Matt. 16:27). 

One Day, we will be glorified with the Lord Jesus Christ. He has given us the glory the Father has given Him (John 17:22). We shall “live with Him” (2 Tim. 2:11), “reign with Him” (2 Tim. 2:12), and in Him, we are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4). Christ has “made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Rev. 1:6).

The Lord Jesus Christ, in His glory, continues His presence in the church. John saw “the One like the Son of Man” is amid the seven lampstands, the churches. Christ said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). He also said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Christ’s presence in the churches also means His presence in the glory of his Father.

Christ, the Son of Man, reveals the Father because the Son is the perfect revelation of God. Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15), and He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). In Christ, we can see and hear God’s voice. He who has seen the Lord Jesus Christ has seen the Father (John 14:9).

The Garments

St. John saw the Lord Jesus Christ in the glory of His Father “clothed with a garment down to the feet” (Rev. 1:13). Isaiah also saw the Lord God “sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Isa. 6:1, NASB).

The word Greek word ποδήρη podere,” translated “garment” in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, describes the robe worn by the high priest. The Father glorified His Son, in the flesh, and called Him to be “High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:4–6,10; 7:17–27), a role often mentioned in (Heb. 7–9). Here, the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured with His robe on in His role as the Great High Priest of His people (Lev. 8:7–9), signifying that He is also the High Priest in heaven.

The Golden Band

The statement “girded about the chest with a golden band” (Rev. 1:13) depicts the majestic and powerful reign of the Father through Christ. The Lord God girded Himself with majesty and strength (Ps. 93:1). He also arms His Children with strength (Ps. 18:32) and strengthens them with might through His Spirit in the inner man (Eph. 3:16).

Other words for “band” used in other translations aresash,” “girdle,” or “belt.” It was of leather, cloth, or cord worn around the waist, much like belts are worn today. The Bible mentions belts worn by Elijah (2 Kings 1:8) and John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4). The rich man’s leather belt held his sword, dagger, knife, or an inkhorn for writing in biblical times. The scribe also carried their reed or pen in their belt (Ezek. 9:2,11).

Daniel saw “a certain man clothed in linen” (Dan. 10:5), which expresses righteousness. So, likewise, Christ, in His flesh, was the righteous servant of God (Isa. 53:11).

The High Priest wore sash (Ex. 28:4, Lev. 16:4). Therefore, the imagery of Christ, “girded about the chest with a golden band,” identifies Him as the great High Priest. Moreover, wearing a belt around the waist is a symbol of the commitment to righteousness. Isaiah prophesied the Lord Jesus Christ that “Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist” (Isa. 11:2–5). Thus, Christ had the perfect commitment to “fulfill all righteousness” of God (Matt. 3:15).

The Father credited His righteousness to us because of Christ’s fulness. In Christ, we all have received “grace above grace,” for “grace and truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ” (John 1:16–17). Peter urged the early Christians to “gird up the loins of your mind” (1 Pet. 1:13) to be open and committed to the word of God.

1:14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 

The Head and Hair

The statement “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev. 1:13) has its roots in Daniel when he saw the hair and the head of “the Ancient of Days” was like pure wool (Dan. 7:9). In the vision of Danel, the white color of the head and hair reveal God as the Eternal and the Everlasting God. The psalmist said, “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:2, NIV).

On the cross, Christ’s hair was probably a mess because the crown of thorns forced on His head most likely created blood clots in His hair. St. John also saw the head and hair of Lord Jesus Christ “white like wool, as white as snow” (Rev. 1:14). His head shines with the pure white brightness of heaven.

The imagery of Christ having white hair reveals His person as the eternal Logos of God (John 1:1). He is the great High Priest of God, whose days have no beginning, no end (Heb. 7:3). Christ’s origins are “from of old, from ancient times” (Mic. 5:2, NIV), and Isaiah called Him “Everlasting Father” (Isa. 9:6).

The white head and hair also express the eternal life of the Father, which He has manifested to us through Christ (1 John 1:2). The Father gave His Son “authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life” (John 17:2). He gave us His Son “to have life in Himself” (John 5:26). This gift of eternal life is for those who hear the words of Christ and believe in God, who sent Him (John 5:24).

The Eyes

The eyes “like a flame of fire” (Rev. 1:14; 2:18; 19:12) express their divine aspects, revealing the zeal and the divine knowledge. The Lord is “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24). His fiery eyes scan the whole earth and search all around the world (Zech. 4:10). Nothing escapes His penetrating glare. He sees all people’s ways and gives everyone according to the fruit of his doings (Jer. 32:19).

Daniel saw a man who was a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose eyes were “like torches of fire” (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 2:18). God anointed the Christ with the fiery Spirit of “wisdom and revelation” (Eph. 1:17, NIV). Christ said to the angel of the church in Thyatira, “All the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts” (Rev. 2:23). The Father committed His Son all judgment  (John 5:22). Christ will judge according to God’s righteousness (Isa. 11:3–4; Heb. 4:12; John 8:15–16).

1:15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;

The Feet

St. John saw the feet of Christ “like fine brass.” Daniel also saw the man had “His arms and feet like burnished bronze in color” (Dan. 10:6).

Brass is an alloy of Copper and Zinc. Other translations use the word “bronze” to mean “brass.” Men did not know brass until the thirteenth century.[3] What is designated by this word in Scripture is properly copper (Deut. 8:9).

Brass is a symbol of strength. It depicts the power of God, who “has broken the gates of bronze” (Ps. 107:16).

The Lord God grants strength to His people. He would make the horn of Zion iron and her hooves bronze so that she might have the power to beat her enemies in pieces (Michah 4:13). Daniel also saw the man had “His arms and feet like burnished bronze in color” (Dan. 10:6).

In addition, in biblical times, they used brass for pieces of armor. Goliath “had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs and a bronze javelin between his shoulders” (1 Sam. 17:5-6).

Seeing the imagery of “His feet were like fine brass” reveals Christ as the victorious worrier. David said to Goliath, “all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17: 47).

The feet of fine brass also reveals Christ’s victory over His enemies. The Father has put everything under the feet of Christ (1 Cor. 15:27). God’s kingdom “shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Dan. 2:44).

Bronze was essential in establishing the tabernacle, the place of meeting with God. He commanded Moses to overlay the altar with bronze and make its pans, shovels, basins, forks, firepans, and utensils of bronze (Ex. 27:1–4). Moses made the twenty pillars of the tabernacle and their twenty sockets of bronze (Ex. 27:10).

The feet, like fine brass, reveals Christ’s role in the atoning work as essential. He is “the chief cornerstone” in our relationship with God (Eph. 2:19–22). Christ also promised those who overcome to make them essential “pillars” in the temple of His Father (Rev. 3:12).

“The brass as if refined in a furnace” reveals the fiery nature of God. He is “is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24). It also refers to Christ’s atoning sufferings and the pains of His death that were like the furnace’s fire. Christ went through the suffering and the pains of death to restore our relationship with God, “For through Him [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18; See also Heb. 2:9, 10:19–20).

The Voice

In the vision, St. John heard the voice of Christ as the sound of the rushing water (Rev. 1:15).

The sound of the mighty rushing waters is a reminiscence of the voice of “the God of Israel” (Ezek. 43:2) in its powerful and majestic work. Therefore, David said, “The voice of the Lord [Yahweh] is upon the waters; The God of glory thunders, The Lord [Yahweh] is over many waters. The voice of the Lord [Yahweh] is powerful, The voice of the Lord [Yahweh] is majestic” (Ps. 29:3-4, NASU).

God spoke to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1–2). In the emptiness of Himself, Christ did not speak on His authority, but God is the one who told the Son what He should say (John 12:42). 

The voice of Christ has the sovereign divine power, and His words are Spirit and life (John 6:63). Christ said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29, NASU).

The Father also commanded us to listen to the Lord Jesus Christ: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matt. 17:5).

1:16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

The Right Hand

In His right hand, John saw “seven stars” (Rev. 2:1; 3:1), which are “the angels of the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20).  These angels are the priests or the elders of these churches, one from each of them.

The fact that these angels are the right-hand means they are the precious possession of Christ. The Spirit of God separates them for the work He calls them (Acts 13:2).

These seven angels shine like “stars” in Christ’s right hand. The Spirit of God appoints and places them where He wants them to send His light: “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3, NIV). They are under God’s care and protection. Christ is the High Priest and the shepherd of the churches for the glory of God.

Out of the Mouth

“Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 1:16). The Lord God himself is like a glorious sword defending His people. In the blessing Moses pronounced on the Israelites before his death, he said, “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord [Yahweh]? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places” (Deut. 33:29, NIV).

The sharp two-edged sword is “the sword of the Spirit,” which is “the word of God” (Eph. 6:17), for the word of God is living, powerful, and “sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is “a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). 

The Lord Jesus Christ deals with the church through the living word of  God, which proceeds from His mouth. In Christ’s message to the angel of the church in Pergamos, He introduced Himself as “He who has the sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 2:12). He told him He would come and fight against the Nicolaitans, who hold the false doctrine of Balaam, with the sword of His mouth (Rev. 2:14–16).

Christ overcomes “the beast and the false prophet” with the sword that comes out of His mouth. He will consume the lawless one with the breath of His mouth (2 Thess. 2:8).

Those who are in Christ are warriors, and the word of God is in their hands, just like Solomon’s valiant men who were experts in war (Song.3:7–8).

The Countenance

“His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:16).  His face was shining as bright as the sun at noon, at its brightest. This imagery is a reminiscence of the radiance of God’s countenance. The Lord God is” a sun and shield” (Ps. 84:11, NIV), “the Father of Lights” (James 1:17), and dwells in “unapproachable light” (1 Tim. 6:16).

Daniel also described the man’s face he saw “like the appearance of lightning” as a symbol of Christ  (Dan. 10:6). Christ would be “the Sun of righteousness” that would rise (Mal. 4:2). The radiant light reveals the glory of Christ, who is “the brightness” of God’s glory and “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3).

In Revelation, John saw the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance as entirely different from His appearance in His suffering. On the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ was “so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isa. 52:14, NIV). “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2, NIV). However, Christ’s countenance, in His glory, was “like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:16).

God’s glory also shines in our hearts through the knowledge of His glory in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).  Christ used the same analogy to explain the glory of the righteous: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43). Therefore, Isaiah calls on the church to “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you” (Isa. 60:1, NIV). 

The Aftermath of the Vision

1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 

The Overwhelming Fear

John was so overwhelmed at the manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ in His Glory. He “fell at His feet as a dead man” (Rev. 1:17), although he was the one who laid on Christ’s breast (John 13:23).

Such fear has been a standard reaction for those who have heavenly visions. For example, when Isaiah saw the glory of God in the temple, he was full of fear because he saw the Lord God. Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5). Ezekiel had a similar reaction when seeing the glory of God (Ezek. 1:28; 3:23; 9:8; 43:3; 44:4). Also, when Daniel saw God’s glory in the angel who appeared to him, he felt no strength in him. As soon as he heard the angel’s words, he fell into a deep sleep with his face to the ground (Dan. 10:8–9; 8:17). Saul of Tarsus saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a light from heaven, brighter than the sun. Upon seeing it, Saul and his companions fell on their faces (Acts 26:13–14). 

Every detail of the Son of Man’s vision magnificently revealed the glory of God in Christ. John was overtaken by what he heard and what he saw (Rev. 1:15).

The Touch of Encouragement

The Lord Jesus Christ did not leave John lying there, however. Instead, he comforted and encouraged him by placing His right hand on him and saying, “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17). The same thing happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. St. John, Peter, and James “fell on their faces and were greatly afraid,” but the Lord Jesus Christ gave them the same touch of comfort and reassurance and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they lifted their eyes, they saw no one but the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 17:5–8).

The Declarations

The First and the Last

The Lord God, Yahweh, spoke the exact words in Isaiah. He said, “I am the First and the Last” (Isa. 44:6; 48:12–13). He is “the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17), “for whom are all things and by whom are all things” (Heb. 2:10), and “of Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). 

In the vision, the Lord Jesus Christ also said to St. John, “I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17). The fact that Christ said “I am the First and the Last” three times in (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13) affirms His divinity, as He is the eternal Word of God [Ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ], who was with God from the beginning (John 1:1). In Revelation, Christ appeared “clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called “The Word of God [Ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ]” (Rev.19:13). Christ, also, has the fullness of the deity bodily in Him (John 10:30; Col. 2:9). These words helped John understand the meaning of the vision.

1:18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death.

Who Lives and Was Dead

The Lord Jesus Christ told John that He was dead but now lives and will live forever. His body did not see decay (Acts 2:24, 13:37). The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I live because of the Father” (John 6:57).

God delivered His Son from the agony of death and raised Him from the dead on the third Day (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30; 13:33–34). Christ now lives forever “according to the power of an indestructible life” (Hebrew 7:16). Christ will never die again; death could not master over Him (Rom. 6:9). As God raised Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit, He will also raise us at His Second Coming (Rom. 8:11).

The Keys of Hades and Death

“Hades” is the New Testament equivalent of “Sheol” in the Old Testament. The terms Hades and Death are essentially synonymous, with “death” being the condition and “Hades” the place the souls of the dead, before Christ. The psalmist said, “The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17, NIV).

God has the power to “cast into hell” (Luke 12:5). He “did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4, NIV). In the end, God will throw death and Hades into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14, NIV).

The word “keys” denotes access and authority. The Father gave Christ all authority on heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18). So, Christ has the authority to deliver His people from “Hades and Death.” He gives His people eternal life (John 17:2).

God will destroy the devil, and He delivers His people from the fear and the power of death (Heb. 2:14–15). The believers in Christ had nothing to fear since Christ has the authority to deliver them from death and Hades. Christ declared, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” and “because I live, you will live also” (John 11:25, 14:19).

Commissioning St. John

1:19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

What John saw was not only meant for his knowledge. The Lord Jesus Christ wanted him to write down the things he has seen for all of God’s people (Rev. 1:19), the bondservants of God (Rev. 1:1). Like St. John, all Christians must pass on the truth they learn from the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16–17). 

Revelation is the only Book in the Bible that contains an inspired outline of the contents:

1.      The expression “the things you have seen” in (Rev. 1) refers to One like the Son of Man’s vision.

2.      The expression “the things which are” in (Rev. 2–3) refers to the particular messages to the seven churches.

3.      The expression “the things which will take place after this” (Rev. 4–22) refers to the visions of God’s glory and work in Christ that John would see.

The Mystery

1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

A “mystery” is a secret or something hidden that has nobody make them known before. Unless someone reveals the mystery, it is meaningless to the ordinary reader. But, once explained, it ceases to be a mystery and becomes a revelation.

The word “mystery” occurs four times in (Rev. 1:20; 10:7; 17:5,7). The first two relate to the church and God, while the last two pertain to Babylon’s great prostitute.

As we study the Apocalypse, we look for hints about interpreting its symbols and understanding its message. Helpful clues are scattered throughout the Book and facilitate the interpretation.

The Lord Jesus Christ elaborated on the symbols of the stars and the lampstands. He declared that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches” (Rev. 1:20).

The Seven Stars

“The angels” are the messengers. They can be heavenly spiritual beings and human messengers (Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24, 9:52). Sometimes the word “angel” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ as  He is “the Angel of the Covenant” or “the Messenger of the Covenant” (Mal. 3:1).  

The word “angel” is often repeated in the Apocalypse, occurring sixty-seven times. It is impossible to maintain that a given term must have the same meaning throughout unless the author indicates it does.

Here, “the seven angels” (Rev. 1:20) are the churches’ priests or elders. The Lord Jesus Christ instructed John to write letters to these seven individual angels of the churches. In verse 16, he holds the seven stars (messengers) in his right hand to send them forth with authority and protect them, for He cares about His church leaders.

These seven angels were held accountable to ensure Christ’s message was delivered and correctly presented as relayed through St. John. The seven angels were also responsible for the people’s sins in the seven churches and their members’ spiritual development and well-being. 

The Seven Lampstands

The lampstands have become a powerful metaphor for the churches. They burn, bringing light and illumination to the city as a witness of the Father’s glory (Matt. 5:14–16). In Christ, God presented these seven churches as “golden lampstands,” Despite their weaknesses and shortcomings (Rev. 1:12).

They are the golden lampstands amid the darkness of the world in which God has placed them. Christ said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house (Matt. 5:14-15).



[1] The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon.

[2] 1 Chron. 16:6,42; 2 Chron. 5:12–13; Num. 10:10; Ps. 81:3

[3] https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/brass/

Excerpt from: Revealing the Father through the Book of Revelation, by Hegumen Abraam Sleman

Click here to buy the book from Amazon

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