Summary of passage: John was exiled to the island of Patmos because of his beliefs in Jesus. He heard a voice tell him to write down and send to the seven churches a message. The 7 churches were: Ephesus Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
John saw 7 golden lamp stands and Jesus dressed in a robe and a golden sash. He held 7 stars in his right hand and a sword came out of his mouth. Jesus put his hand on John and told him he is God and he holds the keys of death and Hades. He commands John to write what he has seen, including how the 7 stars represent the angels of the 7 churches and the 7 lamp stands are the 7 churches.
12) Verse 20 tells us: “The seven lamp stands are the seven churches” previously mentioned: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
13) Jesus is the Son of Man. He is dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool and snow and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
[Side Note: The “Ancient of Days” in Daniel is God, harking back to God at the beginning, the Alpha. In Daniel 7:22, the “Ancient of Days” is Jesus. All are one as the Triune God.]
14) Personal Question. My answer: [BSF is assuming John is the Apostle John. Seems to be BSF’s belief here. The question is referring to John the Apostle. John of Revelation or John of Patmos NEVER states he knew Jesus personally or was a “close friend”.] John was overwhelmed seeing Jesus in his heavenly glory. This teaches me not to judge others as they may cloak their true personas. In worship, Jesus deserves all the glory for who he is. Falling at someone’s feet is a sign of great respect and awe in the Bible. I would imagine he was dumbfounded and speechless as I would be!
Conclusions: I am a bit bothered that BSF doesn’t even mention that John of Revelation may not be John the Apostle. I believe if we are to study the Word then we cannot ignore some facts (like John of Revelation may not be John the Apostle because in the Word John never identifies himself as such). That needs to be made clear. It’s fine if BSF wants to assume this is John the Apostle as most scholars agree with this. However, it needs to be stated up front that this is their assumption for the rest of the study. It is presented here as fact when doubt exists.
More and more scholars merely refer to John here as John of Patmos. All we know for sure is he was a prophet (being given a vision by God/Jesus) and he was known to the churches he was writing to. He was on the Island of Patmos (which the reasons exactly why are unclear besides “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus”). And the text probably dates between 90-100 AD although some scholars say earlier in the 60’s AD. See more thorough discussion HERE
There is a TON here and BSF has barely touched on this passage as it deserves to be studied. Please see End Notes below for a more thorough analysis.
End Notes: This is an analysis of verses 12-20 only. See Previous Post for an analysis of verses 9-11.
Verse 12: We see the 7 lamp stands 7 times in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 1:12, 13, 20; 2:1, 5; and 11:4).
Jesus is still speaking here. Note John saw the lamp stands first then Jesus. These are not menorahs or candles stands. These are free-standing and held the lamps on top.
THIS IS IMPORTANT AND CRUCIAL: In the Old Testament in the Tabernacle, there was one lamp stand with 7 candles (Exodus 25:31-37). Here there is 7 lamp stands. As BSF asked us, the lamp stands represent the church. In the Old Covenant, there was ONE church–the Jews. In the New Covenant there are many churches (here 7)–signifying the Gentiles. God’s people are now one. Awesome!!
Light does not come from the lamp stands–it comes from the lamp on the lamp stand. The church does not create the light (God does as the Light); the church merely displays it for all to see.
Verses 13-16: The Son of Man is standing in his glory amongst all the lamp stands–Jesus is standing amongst all the churches. This is a title all readers and listeners of these words would have understood. Jesus used the title “Son of Man” about 90 times in the Gospels. It was first used by Daniel in 7:13 to introduce the Messiah. Remember, ancient Christians had much more of the Bible committed to memory than we do today merely because they couldn’t read and had to have it memorized.
His clothes are significant; they signify authority and royalty. Only those who didn’t perform manual labor could wear long robes that would have hindered work to others. The golden sash is something only the rich could afford. The priests in the temple wore a sash with gold threads (Exodus 39:1-5). Jesus’ is pure gold!
Jesus here is the high priest, our intercessor! (Exodus 28:2-4; Hebrews 4:14-16)
The high priest tended the lamp stands in the temple; so Jesus tends us.
White hair spoke of age; age spoke of wisdom in ancient times. Also, snow is pure (Isaiah 1:18). Also, Daniel 7:9 has the Ancient of Days with “clothing as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.” The Ancient of Days (God) is Jesus as well.
Fire represents judgment (Matthew 5:22, 2 Peter 3:7).
Bronze is a very strong metal and is what the sacrificial altar was made of (Exodus 27:1-6).
Verse 16: The 7 stars represent the leaders of the 7 churches here. 7 is the number of completion; therefore, Jesus is holding the entire church in his hands. Cool!
The double-edged sword coming out of Jesus’ mouth is the Word–Jesus’ weapon. The Greek word for sword here is a heavy, battle sword used to kill and destroy.
Jesus had the same glory as in the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). Here is the real Jesus.
Fun Fact: This is the only physical description given of Jesus in the Bible. Isaiah 53:2 is vague in comparison.
Verses 17-18: This is the first time John sees Jesus in all his glory. Jesus’ touches him and comforts him. He identifies himself 3 times–He is Lord of time–past, present and future. Lord over resurrection. Lord over death. Only God and Jesus can determine life and death. The devil has no power here.
Verse 17: The First and the Last is God (Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12). This is one of the few places in the Bible where Jesus identifies himself as God himself.
Verses 19-20: Second time John is commanded to write (Revelation 1:11 is the first) what he sees in the past, present, and future.
Revelation 1: Past
Revelation 2-3: Present
Revelation 4-22: Future
Jesus tells us the 7 stars are angels. Some scholars say the 7 stars are the pastors of the 7 churches. The Greek word used here means “messenger”. Some take it literally and say they are 7 guardian angels of the churches. Some take it figuratively and say the 7 angels are the spirit of each church. What’s important here is they are representatives of the body of Christ.
Note Location: Right Hand of Jesus. We will see this in the next chapter as well. In Jesus’ right hand, rests safety and strength–exactly where we want to be.
Remember–John is on the island of Patmos–maybe a prisoner. Jesus is there in our sufferings and trials and we can know him and see him and trust him right where we are.
Conclusions to Lesson 3: We learned the book of Revelation is all about Jesus and God’s plan for the future of His people–all peoples with the 7 churches. There is so much here in Revelation that BSF does a good job of focusing the most important pieces and I hope the lectures will bring out more we don’t discuss.
I would encourage all of you to read my End Notes as they will bring out more BSF just can’t do in such a limited amount of time as well as do your own extra reading and analysis of Revelation. Commentaries will be most beneficial.