The Vision of the Son of Man.
John to the Seven Churches.
In the Spirit on the Lord's Day.
The Revelation of the Son of Man.
The Seven Stars and Seven Candlesticks.
1-3. The Revelation. Apocalypse, or uncovering, so the
Greek word means. The curtain of the future is lifted.
Of Jesus Christ. The revelation is made by Jesus Christ. See
God gave him to shew. See
He who sits on the throne gave to the Son the sealed book of the future
to open it.
Shortly come to pass. The series of events began to unfold in a
few years after John wrote, and has rolled on through all the
centuries. Lange renders the Greek translated "shortly" by the phrase
"in quick succession," which is nearly its meaning. It implies
He sent and signified. The things "which must shortly come to
By his angel. Here, and throughout the Apocalypse the
office of unveiling the different scenes appears to be assigned to a
particular angel. See
4:1; 21:9; 22:1; 22:8,
To his servant John. A usual designation of the prophets. See
Isa. 49:5; Amos 3:7; Rev. 19:10.
2. Who bare record. John is meant, who made the record of all he
saw and heard.
3. Blessed is he that readeth. There is a reference to the
custom that had already grown up, at the close of the first century, of
reading the apostolic writings publicly in the churches. The
benediction is pronounced on the public reader; on those that
hear, and lastly upon those that keep the words contained
in this prophecy.
The time is at hand. The period to which the prophecy relates
4-8. John to the seven churches which are in Asia. The churches
are named in
The term "Asia" did not mean in the first century what it does now, but
only the Roman province called Asia, of which Ephesus was the capital.
All the seven churches are in that province. It is supposed that SEVEN, the perfect and sacred number, were chosen,
because the seven were to symbolize the whole Church of Christ. There
were in the province of Asia more than seven churches at this time, as
we know, Colosse, Miletus
being named in the New Testament.
to you. The benediction, like that in the apostolic epistles,
shows that Revelation is an epistle also, addressed directly to seven
churches and through them to all the church.
From him which is. The I AM. See
From the seven Spirits. The Holy Spirit. The numeral seven
indicates fulness, perfection. It is the sacred number. The sevens are
constantly repeated through Revelation. There are seven churches, seven
spirits, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven vials,
5. And from Jesus Christ. Some of the glories of Christ, the
third whose grace is invoked, are named.
The faithful witness. Because all that he says is faithful and
The first born of the dead. See notes on
Through Christ's resurrection from the dead life and immortality were
brought to light for us all. Hence he is called the "first born."
The prince. The rightful ruler of all the rulers of the earth.
Unto him that loveth us. The tense is present, as in the
Revision. His love never ceases.
Washed us. Rather, as in the Revision, "loosed us." This was
done by the shedding of his blood.
6. And he made us. Here the Revision must be followed. He made
to be a kingdom; to be priests unto his God. His disciples are
constituted a kingdom; a kingdom in which each one is a priest. No
disciple needeth a priest to offer incense or sacrifice for him, for he
can go directly to the Father through Jesus Christ. See notes on
1 Pet. 2:9.
Christians are called priests, but are never called kings in a correct
translation of the New Testament.
7. Behold, he cometh. Christ.
With clouds. See
Matt. 24:30; 26:64;
Acts 1:9, 11.
The clouds denote the glory and terrors of his coming.
Every eye shall see him. He will then come to meet all mortals.
They which pierced him. Israel, the nation which rejected and
crucified him is meant. See
which is here quoted.
All the tribes of earth shall mourn over him.
In consternation because he is coming to judge the world.
8. I am the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last letters of
the Greek alphabet; hence "the beginning and the end." All begins with
God and he closes the drama of earthly history.
9-11. I John. He here names himself for the third time. The
fourth and fifth times are in
21:2 and 22:8.
Companion in tribulation. A partaker of the sufferings of the
church like you.
Kingdom and patience. In the kingdom they were called to patient
Was in the isle that is called Patmos. For description of this
"It appears to be the certain result of historical evidence that the
Apostle John was banished to the island of Patmos during the reign of
Domitian (A. D. 81-96) and in the fourteenth year of that reign,
and was recalled from Patmos to Ephesus by the Emperor Nerva in
A. D. 96."--Bible Commentary (Speaker's) on Revelation.
For the word of God. Banished on account of preaching the word
10. I was in the Spirit. Was lifted to that
spiritual exaltation in which revelations are given.
On the Lord's day. The day of the Lord's Resurrection, the first
day of the week. In the earlier apostolic writings the day was called
"the first day of the week,"
but by the close of the century it began to be called "the Lord's day,"
as here. Epistles of Barnabas, Ignatius and Dionysius, written near
this time, so style it, and the name is of common occurrence from this
time onward, and is confined to Sunday. It is not confounded with the
"Sabbath day" of many centuries. See Dr. Wm. Smith's Unabridged
Dictionary of the Bible, article "Lord's Day."
Heard behind me a great voice. Heard but did not see the
11. I am Alpha and Omega. These words are omitted in the
Revision, as not found in the best MS.
What thou seest. In all the visions of the Book of Revelation.
Write in a book. The Greek says "in a roll," which was the form
of books in the East at that time.
Unto Ephesus. The seven churches are now named. For notes on
these churches and the cities where they were located, see the
Two of the churches named had received epistles from the Apostle
12-16. I saw seven golden candlesticks. The first things seen
when he turned to see whence the voice came were the seven golden
candlesticks, which symbolized the churches
13. And in the midst. It is a beautiful thought that he who said
"I will be with you always"
is represented as moving in the midst of the church.
Like unto the Son of man. A term used in
and applied by the Savior to Himself, but never applied to him by the
New Testament writers except here,
Rev. 14:14 and Acts 7:56.
A garment down to the foot. The long robe of a high priest girt
about with the golden girdle of a king.
14. His head and his hair were white. White is the color of
purity and of triumph. The idea here is not age but heavenly glory.
His eyes were as a flame of fire. Bright, piercing, all seeing,
flashing light, and also a consuming fire of the wicked.
15. Feet like unto fine brass. Shedding forth splendor like
burnished brass heated in a furnace.
His voice. His voice was mighty like the sound of surging
16. In his right hand seven stars. "The seven stars are the
angels of the seven churches"
And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. This
two-edged sword is a symbol of the word by which Christ's conquests are
Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12,
His countenance. The glory of his countenance is the same that
was manifested at the Transfiguration.
17-20. I fell at his feet as dead. Overcome with awe. No sinful
man can stand before God and live; hence the impression made by the
appearance of the Lord is that of terror.
Fear not. But when the Lord spoke to the disciple it was with
the old love. How often before had Jesus said "Fear not."
I am the first and the last. See
The attributes claimed for Jehovah are also claimed for Christ.
18. He that liveth, and was dead. Put to death but living.
Have the keys of death and of Hades.
Not only a victor over death, but the very gates of death and Hades are
under his control. Hence he can deliver from the dead whom he will.
19. Write. Not only the vision just seen, but
the things which are, viz., the description of the state of
the churches given in
the things which shall be, viz., the revelation of future
history recorded in
20. The mystery of the seven stars. The Lord himself at once
explains what the seven stars and seven candlesticks symbolize. The
seven candlesticks represent the churches, or organizations appointed
to "let their light shine"
and become "the light of the world."
And the seven stars are the angels of the churches. These were, I
think, the evangelists of the churches. See
He was arrayed in a priestly robe and girt with a kingly girdle of
gold. Heavenly purity was indicated by the dazzling whiteness of his
head and hair, and the splendor that shone from his countenance was
like that of the unclouded sun. Every manifestation of the divine glory
is accompanied with brilliancy and splendor. "In him is no darkness at
The burning bush of Horeb, the glory of Sinai, the Shekinah of the
tabernacle, the City of which God and the Lamb are the light, the
transfigured Savior of Hermon, the Son of Man of Patmos, and all the
visions of the prophets of both covenants, indicate that whenever the
Deity manifests itself, there is a revelation of heavenly splendor. The
Son of Man, the Man of Sorrows, the Lamb of God, is also the Bright and
Morning Star, and the Sun of Righteousness. It is thus, crowned with
majesty, garbed in light, and shining as the sun, that John beholds the
Son of Man walking amid the golden candlesticks and holding the seven
stars in his hands.
I shall not take up space to discuss the various views as to the nature
of the angels of the churches. It has been held that they were heavenly
angels, were diocesan bishops of the cities, were pastors or elders, or
were messengers sent from the churches to visit John in Patmos. The
word angel means a messenger, and is equally applicable to the
messengers of God and those of men. John the Baptist is called in
angel, or messenger, and the term is often applied to human
beings. It is certain that it is in this passage. John is told to
write to these angels,
and certainly the letters were not sent to the angels of heaven. Nor
does this language suggest the idea of messengers sent to visit John in
Patmos. In that case the letters might be sent by them to the
churches, but would certainly not be written to them. It becomes
evident, therefore, that the angels were men filling some office in
connection with the churches. There is not the slightest evidence that
diocesan bishops existed until much later than this age, and hence I do
not think that they are meant. The term can hardly apply to an elder,
for there seems to have been a plurality of elders in all the churches,
and it is not likely that one would be singled out. It is my judgment
that the angels were the preachers or evangelists of the churches. As
these evangelists not only labored at home, but were often sent out,
and were messengers to carry the good tidings, there is a fitness in
applying the term to them. We know from the epistles of Paul and from
church tradition, that Timothy was long the evangelist at Ephesus, and
it is possible that he may have lived and labored until the time of
John's banishment. If so, he was the angel to whom the epistle to the
church at Ephesus was directed. Then we conclude that the seven stars
held in the hand of the Lord, supported and strengthened by him,
shining with his light, are the seven preachers of the churches of