Bible Commentary on the
1 The 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:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
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.
Greetings and Doxology
4 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;
5 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,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
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.
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.
One Like a Son of Man
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.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
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.
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 which shall 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.
Revelation is an unveiling; God is revealing great events that will take place in the future. Some people say that the Book of Revelation is a sealed Book and that it cannot be understood. However, the word revelation shows that this is not so. And what is more, it is a Revelation of Jesus Christ and is complimentary to the Gospels. The Gospels record Christ's ministry on earth, His teachings, acts of healing, miracles and example of life or living. The Revelation records His work in the plan of redemption since that time and His intimate association with the Church here on earth.
THE 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:
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
The key phrase is 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ.' It is a glowing portrait of the Lord Jesus for in this wonderful Book; Christ is pictured in a number of ways. We are introduced to Him as the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the earth. No less than twenty-six times is Christ's sacrificial title 'The Lamb' used.
He is presented as the 'Faithful Witness', a title that can only apply to Christ who came from the Father to reveal Him to mankind. He is also called the 'First Begotten of the Dead', the 'Prince of the Kings of the Earth', the 'Alpha and Omega', the 'Son of Man', the 'Lion of the Tribe of Judah', the 'Root of David', and finally as 'Lord of Lords' and 'King of Kings'.
All along the communication between heaven and earth has been through Christ. It was Christ who spoke to our first parents in the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:16 says: "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:" It was Christ who spoke to Abraham.
Genesis 18:1 says: "And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day." Again in
Exodus 6:3 we are told that Christ appeared to not only Adam and Abraham, but also to Isaac, and Jacob and Moses.
Exodus 6:3 says: "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them".
There is no question that this was Christ, for Paul writing in
1 Corinthians 10, says that it was Christ who accompanied the people of Israel in their wilderness wanderings (Exodus 33:9-11).
1 Corinthians 10:4 says "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ". It was Christ who was Israel's leader not only in their wilderness wanderings but throughout their entire history as a nation. In fact, all of God's dealings with fallen humanity have been through Christ (Patriarchs and Prophets by EG White 311, 366, 373, 396; Desire of Ages by EG White 52).
Which must shortly come to pass
The thought expressed throughout the Book is that these events were to take place in the not too distant future:
ch. 1:1, 22:6
"...things which must shortly come to pass,"
"...the time is at hand,"
"...behold I come quickly,"
The Second Coming of Christ is the great climatic event of the age long conflict between good and evil, and all the events portrayed in the Book of Revelation are a background to this great event. It is so that God's people may not be deceived as to the approximate time of His return that Christ has pictured very clearly, the events that lead up to this great event. Some might say, "The Lord delayeth His coming", but as we study the Book of Revelation it is quite clear that this is not so. These prophecies are planned to reveal how far ahead lies the actual day of His Coming.
And He sent and signified it by his angel
The angels are God's messengers and the Angel mentioned here is Gabriel, who is God's chief messenger.
Unto His servant John
It is rather interesting to notice that the Book of Revelation is the only Book written by John in which he identifies himself by name.
WHO BARE RECORD OF THE WORD OF GOD, AND OF THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, AND OF ALL THINGS THAT HE SAW.
John was given a great privilege in being selected as the one chosen to reveal to God's people these wonderful visions, special messages that were designed to bring great encouragement to the Church through the long ages from his time to the end.
And of the testimony of Jesus Christ
The Book of Revelation is a message from Jesus Christ about Jesus Christ. The Revelation is a factual, eye and ear witness report of what John saw and heard while in vision.
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.
In John's day not everyone could read and write so there was a special person appointed to read the Sacred Scrolls in public. The fact that this Book was to be read in the churches of Asia suggests that its messages were timely even in those days.
There is a special blessing in the reading of this Book, which shows very clearly that it was designed to be understood and appreciated by its readers. It is well worth noting that the Book of Revelation opens with a blessing on the reading of it whether it was a public or private reading. In the book 'Testimonies to Ministers by EG White' page 114, "The Lord will bless all who will seek humbly and meekly to understand that which is revealed in the Revelation."
And they that hear the words of this prophecy
Although there was one reader in the church back in John's day everyone could listen and understand, for even those who could neither read nor write were able to understand. Just as there was a blessing on the readers so there was also a blessing on the hearers.
And keep those things which are written therein
It is very sad that so few ever bother to read this Book, that there are so few who realize that there is a great blessing not only in studying this Book but in doing what the Book suggests. 'Testimonies to the Church', Vol 8 p.302 says "The solemn messages that have been given in their order in the Revelation are to occupy the first place in the minds of the people". 'Testimonies to Ministers by EG White', p.113 says "When we as a people understand what this Book means to us, there will be seen among us a great revival…"
For the time is at hand
There is no question that we are living in the days when Christ's return is close at hand. The prophecies of Revelation are of vital significance to every Christian living at this time.
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:
John to the seven churches which are in Asia
There has been some controversy regarding the John mentioned here. The early church Fathers almost unanimously recognized John the son of Zebedee and the brother of James as the author of Revelation. In
Matthew 10:2-4 are listed the apostles.
Verse 2 says: "... and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;" John the son of Zebedee and the brother of James is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John. According to tradition, John resided at Ephesus and had the oversight of the Seven Churches in Asia.
Seven Churches and the Seven Spirits
The number 7 has a very prominent place in the Book of Revelation and this can be seen as we list some of the Sevens:
seven churches -
seven candlesticks -
seven seals -
seven horns, eyes
seven angels -
seven heads, crowns -
seven angels, plagues
seven mountains -
Grace be unto you, and peace
The two words grace and peace appear commonly in the salutations of the early Christian epistles.
From Him which is, and which was, and which is to come
Which is: expresses the timelessness of God, is similar to 'I am' found in
Which was: God has always existed, there was never a time when He was not.
Which Is To Come: The same One who exists today has always existed and will always exist. Jehovah means the eternal one and is descriptive of timelessness.
And from the Seven Spirits which are before His throne
As we have already noticed, seven plays a very important part in the Book of Revelation. The association of the seven Spirits with the Father and with Christ and as an equal source of grace and peace, indicates a symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit. It is well for us to keep in mind that the language of Revelation is highly symbolic. The seven used in this case is symbolic of many aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry.
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,
And from Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness
Christ is the perfect representative of God, for only He who came from the Father and knows the Father and is loved by the Father could fully reveal God’s character, His mind and will to mankind.
Isaiah 55:4 says: "Behold I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people." Jesus Himself made this statement, found in
John 18:37: "…for this cause came I into the world that I should bear witness unto the truth." Only One who is close to the Father could reveal Him to man.
The first begotten of the dead
Christ was not the first to rise from the dead. There were those who were resurrected before and after Him. However they were raised by virtue of His triumph over the grave.
John 10:17,18 says: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again..." No other who has died had the power to come forth from the grave, only He who had power over death could do this. Those who were raised before Him and after were tokens of this power.
1 Corinthians 15:20 says: "But now is Christ risen from the dead and became the firstfruits of them that slept."
And the prince of the kings of the earth
Christ is the rightful ruler of this earth for He was the One who made it in the first place.
Colossians 1:16,17 says: "For by Him (Christ) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist." Also look up
Secondly, Christ is the rightful ruler because He also redeemed this earth.
Revelation 5:9 says: "and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Because Christ is Creator and Redeemer, He is the prince of the kings of the earth .
Philippians 2:9,10 says: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven (angels) and things under the earth."
Unto Him that loved us
Christ's love for us was so great that He was prepared to die in the cruelest manner man was able to devise. It would be hard enough to lay down one's life for his friends but Christ died for the sake of His enemies as well.
John 10:11 says: "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep."
And washed us from our sins in His own blood
When a person recognizes that Jesus shed His blood for the sinner and applies that shed blood as a sin cleansing agent, then the applied blood cleanses and purifies the life. It is wonderful to know that the blood of Christ washes away sin and the defilement that sin brings.
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father.
Kings: This word should be rendered 'a kingdom'. The Revised Standard Version renders it "...and made us a kingdom priests to his God and Father..." Christ is the King, the church is a kingdom and its individual members priests.
1 Peter 2:9 says: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."
A priest is one who presents offerings to God and every Christian has the privilege of doing this by prayer, intercession, thanks giving, by dedicating his or her life to God.
To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
To Him, that is to Christ, is to be given all glory, all power, all honour, for God has placed in His hands all power and all authority."
Philippians 2:9 says: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and hath given Him a name which is above every name."
Revelation 19:16 says: "And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
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.
Behold, He cometh with clouds:
The Second Coming is the focal point of all prophecy and especially here in the Book of Revelation. The Second Coming is the greatest event of all as far as God's people are concerned. It has been said that one out of every twenty texts in the New Testament talks about the end of the world and the Coming of Jesus Christ, there are 300 texts altogether so you can see that it is very important.
Enoch, one of the earliest patriarchs of the Bible spoke of the Lord's return, also Job who lived in the early stages of this earth's history prophesied of this wonderful event.
Job 19:25 says: "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." Job was very positive in his belief in the Second Coming."
And every eye shall see him
There is one thing that is sure, when the KING of KINGS and the LORD of LORDS comes in all His glory, His majesty and power accompanied by countless hosts of Angels and vast numbers of inhabitants of other worlds, it will be impossible to miss this dazzling and awesome spectacle.
There are some who say that this is the spiritual eye, that will see Him, that He does not come visibly and literally. Jesus Himself makes it clear that this is not so.
Matthew 24:30 says: "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
Luke 21:27 says: "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."
1 Thessalonians 4:16 says: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
Titus 2:13 says: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ."
Even wicked Caiaphas the high priest will be raised to see this wonderful event.
Matthew 26:64 says: "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." In
Revelation 6:16, we read of how the wicked are terrified of the coming of Christ as He comes in all His majesty as KING OF KINGS and LORD of LORDS. They say to the mountains and the rocks: "fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb." They will actually see Christ’s face as He returns to this earth in great glory and power. It is very clear that not only do God's people actually see Jesus as He returns to this earth but the wicked will do likewise.
And they also which pierced him
Those who were responsible for the death of Jesus will be raised from the dead to witness His coming. Daniel speaks of this in his Book.
Daniel 12:2 says: "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
Acts 24:15 says: "And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust."
John 5:29 says: "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
It is quite clear that not only is there a resurrection of life but there is also a resurrection of shame and disgrace. Jesus told the scheming high priest Caiaphas in
Matthew 26:64 "…nevertheless I say unto you, hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven". Apparently those who are raised in this resurrection of shame and disgrace will witness the majesty of Christ's triumphal return and then like the rest of the wicked will be destroyed by the breath of His mouth.
And all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.
Great grief will be manifested by those who have despised the Saviour and the plan of salvation.
Matthew 22:13 says: "Then said the king to the servants, bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This verse is taken from the parable of the marriage of the king's son, which pictures the Gospel invitation. Verse 13 climaxes what happens to the man without the wedding garment, in other words the man who does not accept the Gospel invitation.
The great tragedy is that among this number of people, those who weep and wail because of Him, will be those who once walked with the Saviour. Many once walked in the truth, they loved their Saviour, they enjoyed fellowship with God's people but somehow lost out. Perhaps it was discouragement or maybe carelessness or something else. Whatever it was they are now lost forever. How terrible, it is no wonder that they are overcome by great grief.
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.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending
The first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet. It indicates completeness, comprehensiveness, and applies to both God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, for in verse 11 and then on to verse 18 of this chapter it is clearly speaking of Christ.
Saith the Lord
The Almighty or 'Ruler of all'. This title recurs frequently in the Book of Revelation. It stresses the omnipotence of God.
Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Which is: This expression implies the eternal, timeless self-existence of God.
Which was: God has existed from all eternity. Moses expresses this well in
Psalm 90:2: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God."
Which is to come or the coming one
The reference here to the Father sets forth His eternity and states that the same One who now continually exists has always existed and will always exist.
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.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation
John knew what it meant to be tried for his faith. He suffered a great deal of persecution and hardship. Tradition tells us that he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil.
And in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ
To attain to the Kingdom is not easy and particularly was this so in the time of the Apostles. Notice what it says in
Acts 14:22: "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom."
The word 'patience' suggests the exercise of self-control, to endure a difficult situation.
Should read 'in Jesus'. Christians can withstand trials and temptations when their lives and hearts are 'in Jesus'.
Was in the Isle that is called Patmos
Patmos is a small island in the Aegean Sea about 50 miles south west of Ephesus. It is about 10 miles long and 6 miles wide at its widest point. It is very rocky and barren. It was used as a penal colony and John was there as a Roman prisoner.
For the word of God
Rather on the account of the Word of God, his fearless testimony had brought the wrath of the Roman Emperor upon him.
For the testimony of Jesus Christ
From the barren Isle of Patmos, where Domitian thought he had forever extinguished at least one torch of truth, has come one of the greatest revelations of Jesus Christ in all Scripture. John was wonderfully rewarded for his devotion to the cause of spreading the Gospel message.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
I was in the Spirit
John was in vision and was totally unconscious of earthly things.
On the Lord's day
This expression appears only once in the Scriptures and it is generally accepted by many Christians that the 'Lord's day', spoken of here is the first day of the week or Sunday. However there is no proof whatsoever that this is so. The text itself does not define the term 'the Lord's day'. In the Gospel of John written somewhere about the time of the writing of Revelation, John calls Sunday the first day of the week and does not attach any religious significance to it. John not only wrote the Gospel but also the three smaller books 1 John, 2 John and 3 John and in none of these books is there any mention of Sunday as the Lord's day. The other inspired Bible writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul when speaking of the first day of the week only refer to it as the first day of the week.
There are some who say that the Lord's day was the usual term for the first day of the week in John's day, however there is no proof for this at all. If this was so then we would have it recorded in the New Testament. This claim is further disproved by the fact that neither the Father nor the Son have ever claimed this day as their own, or placed any blessing upon it, or attached any sanctity to it.
There is another view regarding the meaning of this text, which is very well supported by Scripture and that is, that by the Lord's day, is meant the seventh day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. When God first made man and placed him in the Garden of Eden, he did something very special.
Genesis 2:2,3 says: "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
When God gave to man six days of the week to do his own work, He expressly reserved the seventh day for Himself. He rested on that day, not that He was tired, for God never tires but rather to set the example. As God worked through six days and rested on the seventh, He intends that man should do the same. It would give man the opportunity to reflect upon the love and goodness of his Creator and to keep in spiritual communication with Him.
Later on speaking through Moses, God told Israel in
Exodus 16:23: "And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the LORD…" Verse 30 says: "So the people rested on the seventh day." God placed His blessing upon it thus making it a blessed day; there is no record in the Scriptures that God ever blessed any other day.
Numbers 23:19, 20 says: "God is not a man, that He should lie…"
Verse 20 says: "… and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it." When God does a thing it is for ever. Not only did God bless the Sabbath but He sanctified it, He made it a holy day, a day of worship.
In Exodus 20:8 we are told "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy." This is a command of God to remember it and to keep it holy.
Verse 10 says: "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God". The seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. In other words it is God's special day, it is the LORD'S day.
Matthew 12:8 says: "For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day."
Mark 2:27, 28 says: "And He said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath".
John 1:3 speaking of the Word or Christ says, "All things were made by Him: and without him was not any thing made that was made." Christ associated with His Father made the Sabbath, so He can well claim that He is truly lord of it.
Finally you will notice that God calls the Sabbath His Holy day.
Isaiah 58:13 says: "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day…" It certainly is God's special day for He made it, He rested on it, and He sanctified it.
And heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet
A trumpet is an instrument that can produce a good volume of sound with clarity. The voice that John heard was powerful in volume and yet at the same time very clear.
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.
Saying I am Alpha and Omega
These words have been omitted from other translations for apparently they are not in the original. The Revised Standard Version has "Write what you see in a book and send it to the Seven Churches..."
What thou seest, write in a book
John is about to see the first of many remarkable visions, the like of which no man has ever witnessed, and he is told to make sure it is carefully recorded so that others may be able to share these wonderful things.
And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia
The order in which the churches are listed here in this verse and in
chapters 2 and
3 represent the geographical sequence in which a messenger carrying a letter from Patmos, would reach these seven cities in the province of Asia. 'Acts of the Apostles', p. 585 says "The names of the seven churches are symbolic of the church in different periods of the Christian era. The number seven indicates completeness, and is symbolic of the fact that the messages extend to the end of time, while the symbols used reveal the condition of the church at different periods in the history of the world."
Unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Sardis, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
The seven churches are the first in a series of sevens in the Revelation. As applied to the seven churches, this number has a specific purpose. There were more than seven churches in the province of Asia but the Lord evidently chose the seven churches here named because they are typical of the condition of the church as a whole.
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks:
The first vision in Revelation deals with the Sanctuary and the Christ of the Sanctuary. The Sanctuary plays a very prominent part in the early chapters or the Book of Revelation. As a matter of fact, the Sanctuary is a very prominent theme in the book of Daniel as well. Unless we understand the Sanctuary, the 2300 days prophecy and the Sabbath, we will never understand the Book of Revelation.
I saw seven golden candlesticks
In verse twenty we find this symbol explained. The Golden Candlesticks represent the Seven Churches. Candlesticks represent light, and the Seven Churches were to be a light not only in the community, but their light was to spread throughout the world. Gold represents the preciousness of the church as a light in the community. Not only a light but a blessing as well. The glorious Gospel story of salvation for mankind was to penetrate the darkness of paganism.
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.
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man
This was a very encouraging vision for John, for he sees the Saviour walking among the Churches sharing their experiences and understanding their needs. 'Acts of the Apostles by EG White' p. 586 says: "Christ is spoken of as walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks thus is symbolized His relation to the churches. He is in constant communication with His people. He knows their true state, He observes their order, their piety, their devotion..."
One like unto the Son of man
It must have been a great comfort to John to know that though Christ is glorified, He appears to John in the likeness of a human being. Though He is God, He is still our brother in humanity.
Clothed with a garment down to the foot
The long garment is a symbol of dignity. John took notice of His garments for he saw Christ clad in a garment of dazzling whiteness, which was so unlike the cast off purple robe which clothed the despised and rejected Saviour at the cross. 'Christ's Object Lessons by EG White' pp. 310, 311 says: "It is the righteousness of Christ, His own unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all who receive Him as their personal Saviour … Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided, can make us meet (suitable) to appear in God's presence. This covering, the robe of His righteousness, Christ will put upon every repenting believing soul."
And girt about the paps with a golden girdle
This precious metal symbolized great wealth and value. Gold is a colour prominent in the Sanctuary and featured on the priestly garments.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow
White is a symbol of purity. John grasps for an accurate description of what he sees in vision. At first he thinks of wool then he thinks of an even whiter substance, snow.
And His eves were as a flame of fire
A symbol of the penetrating glance of the Son of man, who is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the mind. 'Early Writings by EG White' p. 16 says: "His eyes were as a flame of fire, which searched His children through and through."
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace: and his voice as the sound of many waters.
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burn in a furnace
The feet looked like brass that had been subjected to intense heat, they were dazzling in appearance. It must have been very hard for John to describe these visions of heavenly splendour.
And His voice as the sound of many waters
John thought of the full throated roar of the mighty ocean that surrounded the Isle of Patmos, and so he likens what he heard in the vision to the sound with which he was so familiar.
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.
And He had in His right hand seven stars
The right hand is a symbol of God's power to sustain. The Seven stars represent the 'angels' or messengers sent to the churches. 'Gospel Workers' pp. 13, 14 says: "God's ministers are symbolized by the seven stars which He who is the first and the last has under His special care and protection. The sweet influences that are to be abundant in the church are bound up with these ministers of God who are to represent the love of Christ."
And out of His mouth went a sharp twoedged sword
Out of His mouth
This is highly symbolic language. John repeats this symbol in chs.
19:15, 21 where it is a symbol of divine judgment. The fact that the sword is sharp indicates that it is able to cut deeply, and that it has two cutting edges makes it a symbol of judgment in the setting of the Sanctuary.
The Scripture makes it plain that Christ is the Judge in the Sanctuary.
Acts 10:42 says: "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead."
2 Corinthians 5:10 says: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
John 5:22 says: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:" The Father is not the Judge but rather He acts as a supreme counsel who gives the final word of approval or disapproval.
The Father has given into the hands of the Son the successful accomplishment of the work of redemption. The Son who became man and gave His life for the human race, is the rightful One to judge those who have rejected Him. He alone knows the full power of temptation; He alone has borne the sins of the world.
And His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength
It was so brilliant and dazzling that it was almost too much for the human eye to behold.
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:
And when I saw him, I fell at His feet as dead
The whole thing was too much for John, the vision overwhelmed him. Daniel had the same experience,
Daniel 8:17. Both John and Daniel were completely overcome by a sense of their own weakness and unworthiness.
And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, fear not
Have confidence - do not be alarmed. The glorified Christ reassures John that all is well.
I am the first and the last
This is a quotation from Isaiah 44:6. "Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."
Christ as the leader of Israel appeared to Joshua in order to encourage him that the armies of heaven were standing by to assure Israel of victory.
Joshua 5:14, 15. "And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD'S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so."
Christ as the captain of the LORD'S host, and as Jehovah of
Exodus chapter 6:3, is the eternal One or 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.
I am He that liveth and was dead.
'The Living One', 'El chai'. Hebrew "Living God"
John 1:1: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God."
Verse 4: "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
John 10:17,18: "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again".
John 11:25: "...I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
"Became dead", the "I am he that liveth" is without question Christ for the One who appeared to John in vision was the Saviour.
I am alive for evermore
"I am living," that is, I have continuing life, life that does not end, life that is self-perpetuating. It is the divinity of Christ that is the believer's 'assurance of eternal life. It is Christ who has promised us eternal life.
John 5:25: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live."
John 6:40: "and I will raise him up at the last day."
And have the keys of hell and of death
Keys are a symbol of power and jurisdiction. Christ's resurrection is the assurance that God's people will be raised to life everlasting. "I am the resurrection and the life.",
WRITE THE THINGS WHICH THOu HAST SEEN, and THE THINGS WHICH ARE, AND THE THINGS WHICH SHALL BE HEREAFTER.
Write the things which thou hast seen
The Saviour instructs John to carefully and faithfully record the things he has seen.
And the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter
He was to write about the present and future. The scope of Revelation is tremendous for it covers events from the time of John right down to the very end of all things.
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 mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in My right hand
A mystery is a symbol that has not yet been explained but once it is explained, then it is no longer a mystery. In this verse the Saviour explains the meaning of these symbols.
And the seven golden candlesticks
As in the Book of Daniel, many of the symbols are explained which makes it easy to understand them.
The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches
We have already noticed that angels are messengers and these angels are the leaders of the churches who were to bring the message of God to the communions.
And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches
God has placed the Church in the world to be a light.
Isaiah 60:1, 2: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee."