1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants, things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
1:1 The Book of Revelation, like the other books in the Bible, is “inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NASB).
The book is “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1). The word translated “Revelation” simply means “unveiling.” Revelation is an open book in which God reveals His plans and purposes to His church. It reveals the majesty and glory of God in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It contains truths that had been concealed, but have now been revealed. When Daniel finished writing his prophecy, he was instructed to “shut up the words, and seal the book” (Daniel 12:4). But John was given opposite instructions: “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:10). Why? Since Calvary, the Resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, God has ushered the “last days” (Hebrews 1:1-2) and has fulfilled His hidden purposes in this world. “The time is at hand” (Revelation 1:3; 22:10).
John’s prophecy is primarily the revelation of Jesus Christ, not the revelation of future events. You must not divorce the person of Jesus Christ from the prophecy, for without the Person there could be no fulfillment of the prophecy. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Whatever you do as you study this book, get to know your Savior better.
The Writer and Style
1:2 John wrote Revelation about 95 AD, during the reign of the Roman emperor Titus Flavius Domitian. The emperor had demanded to be worshiped as “Lord and God,” and the refusal of the Christians to obey his edict led to severe persecution. Tradition says that it was Domitian who sent John to the island of Patmos, a Roman penal colony off the coast of Asia Minor.
According to Revelation 1:1-2, God the Father gave the “Revelation” to His Son Jesus Christ. The Son shared it with the apostle, using “His angel” as intermediary. Sometimes Christ Himself conveyed information to John (Revelation 1:10); sometimes it was an elder [priest] (Revelation 7:13); and often it was an angel (Revelation 17:1; 19:9-10). Sometimes a “voice from heaven” told John what to say and do (Revelation 10:4). The book came from God to John, no matter what the various means of communication were; and it was all inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The word “signified” (Revelation 1:1) is important. It means “to show by a sign.” In Revelation, the noun is translated as “sign” (Revelation 15:1), “wonder” (Revelation 12:1, 3), and “miracle” (Revelation 19:20). This is the same word used in the Gospel of John for the miracles of Jesus Christ. His miracles were events that carried a deeper spiritual message than simply the display of power. As you study Revelation, expect to encounter a great deal of symbolism. Much of the symbolism related to the Old Testament.
Symbolism is a kind of “spiritual code”. It is understood only by those who know Christ personally. To understand John’s symbolism, however, we must be careful not to allow our imaginations to run wild. Biblical symbols are consistent with the whole of biblical revelation. Some symbols are explained (Revelation 1:20; 4:5; 5:8). Others are understood from Old Testament symbolism (Revelation 2:7, 17; 4:7). Some symbols are not explained at all like the “white stone” in (Revelation 2:17). Nearly 300 references to the Old Testament are found in the Book of Revelation! This means that we must anchor our interpretations to what God has already revealed, lest we misinterpret this important prophetic book.
Blessings of the Book – Revelation 1:3-4
3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. 4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia…
1:3 The book was originally sent to seven actual local churches in Asia Minor. Revelation was first read aloud in local church meetings. However, John makes it clear that any believer may read and profit from it (Revelation 1:3). God promised a special blessing to the one who would read the book and obey its message: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it” (Revelation 1:3).
John did not send this book of prophecy to the assemblies in order to satisfy their curiosity about the future. God’s people were going through intense persecution and they needed encouragement. As they heard this book, its message would give them strength and hope. But even more, its message would help them examine their own lives to determine those areas needing correction. They were not only to hear the Word, but they were also to “keep it”—that is, guard it as a treasure and practice what it said. The blessing would come, not just by hearing, but even more so by doing (James 1:22-25).
There are seven “beatitudes” in Revelation: 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14. The number seven is important in this book because it signifies fullness and completeness. In Revelation, God tells us how He is going to complete His great work and usher in His eternal kingdom. In Revelation, you will find seven seals (Revelation 5:1), seven trumpets (Revelation 8:6), seven vials (Revelation 16:1), seven stars (Revelation 1:16), and seven lampstands (Revelation 1:12, 20). Other “sevens” in this book will be discussed as we study.
1:4 The special messages to each of the seven churches are given in Revelation 2-3. These letters remind us that Jesus, the exalted Head of the church knows what is going on in each church. Our relationship to Him and His Word determines the life and ministry of the local body.
Keep in mind that the churches in Asia Minor were facing persecution and it was important that they be rightly related to the Lord and to each other. They are pictured as seven separate lampstands, each giving light in a dark world (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 5:14-16). The darker the day, the greater the light must shine. Situations existed in at least five of these assemblies that required correction if their lights were to shine brightly. As you read Revelation 2-3, note that the Lord always reminded them of who He is, and encouraged them to be “overcomers.”
To all Christians at all times, the promise of Jesus Christ’s coming should be a motivation for obedience and consecration (Revelation 1:3, 7; 2:5, 25; 3:3, 11; 22:7, 12, 20; 1 John 1:1-3). Believer should not study prophecy merely to satisfy his curiosity. When Daniel and John received God’s revelations of the future, both fell down as dead men (Daniel 10:7-10; Revelation 1:17). They were overwhelmed! We need to approach this book as wonderers and worshipers, not as academic students.
Benediction and Doxology – Revelation 1:4-6
4 Grace to you and peace from Him
who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1:4-5 At the opening of the Book of Revelation, St. John sent his benediction of peace and grace to his readers from God the Father who is described as the Eternal One, “who is and who was and who is to come” (Revelation 1:8; 4:8). He is God who had saved them in the past, saves them in the present and would keep them safe in the future as they faced the fiery trials of suffering.
St. John sent the benediction of peace and grace also from “the seven Spirits who are before His throne”. Some see “the seven Spirits” as the Holy Spirit in His fullness. They refer to (Isaiah 11:20 as a reference, where the holy Spirit is described in sevenfold expressions: the Spirit of “the Lord”, “wisdom”, “understanding”, “counsel” , “might”, “knowledge” and of “the fear of the Lord”.
Psalm 104, makes a direct reference to the “angels” as “spirits”. David said, “Who [the Lord] makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire” (Psalms 104:4). Then “the seven angels of God” are “the seven spirits of God”. They are mentioned in the Book of Revelation in many places as in (Revelation 8:2, 8:6, 15:1, 15:6, 15:7, 15:8, 16:1, 17:1, 21:9).
After sending the benediction for ‘the seven spirits of God”, St. John sent the benediction also from “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:5). Mentioning Jesus after “the seven spirits”, who are “the seven angels” is a reference to “the humbling process” that Jesus went through in His flesh. “He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). “But [now] we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2: 9).
Jesus Christ is seen as “the faithful witness”. ���Revelation 3:14��� calls Him “���The Amen, the faithful and true Witness���”. Jesus is the perfect witness to the nature of God. “He is the image of the invisible God”(Colossians 1:15), “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). “���For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world,���” He declared to Pilate, “���to testify to the truth���” (���John 18:37���).
The second description of Jesus, “the firstborn of the dead”, does not mean He was chronologically the first one to be raised from the dead. There were resurrections before His in the Old Testament (���1 Kings 17:17–23���; ���2 Kings 4:32–36���; ���13:20–21���), and He Himself raised others during His earthly ministry (���Matt. 9:23–25���; ���Luke 7:11–15���; ���John 11:30–44���). Prōtotokos does not mean firstborn in time sequence, but rather first in preeminence. Of all who have ever been or ever will be resurrected, He is the premier one. God declares of the Messiah in ���Psalm 89:27���, “���I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.���” The book of Revelation records the unfolding of that promise.
Jesus is also “the firstborn of the dead” in a sense that He is the first one who rose from the dead and lives forever. He said to John, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys [the authority over] of Hades and of Death” (Revelation 1:18). “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:9).
The third title, the ruler of the kings of the earth, depicts Christ as the sovereign King of the earth (Revelation 19:16���; ���Psalm 2:6–8���; ���Jeremiah 23:5���; ���Zechariah 9:9���; ���Matthew 2:2���; ���21:5���; ���Luke 19:38���; ���23:3���; ���John 1:49���). He is Lord, having a name “���above every name���” (���Philippians 2:9–11���). He grants believers His royal blessing of grace and peace according to the will of His Father.
1:6 In His love, God called Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:1-6), but the Jews failed God and their kingdom was taken from them (Matthew 21:43). Today, God’s people [the new Israel] are His kings and priests (1 Peter 2:1-10), exercising spiritual authority and serving God in this world.
Announcing the Second Coming – Revelation 1:7-8
7 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty”
1:7 The statement in Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He cometh with clouds,” describes our Lord’s return to the earth. The event described in Revelation 1:7 will be witnessed by the whole world. It will be public, not secret (Matthew 24:30-31).
The theme of the Book of Revelation is unveiling the divine purposes for the creation in Jesus Christ. God’s plans reaches its climax with the second coming of Jesus Christ. ‘For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
1:8 The titles given to God in Revelation 1:8 make it clear that He is certainly able to work out His divine purposes in human history. Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. God is at the beginning of all things and also at their end. He is the eternal God (Revelation 1:4). He is also the Almighty, able to do anything. Almighty is a key name for God in Revelation (Revelation 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22).
Vision of the Son of Man – Revelation 1:9-19
9 I, 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. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 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”.
1:9 This is the third time in the first nine verses of this book that John referred to himself by name (Revelation 1:1���, ���4���). This time, his amazement at receiving this vision caused him to add the demonstrative personal pronoun “I”.
John was an apostle, a member of the inner circle of the twelve along with Peter and James, and the writer of a gospel and three epistles by the Holy Spirit. Yet he humbly identified himself simply as “your brother”. He did not write as one impressed with his authority as an apostle, commanding, exhorting, or defining doctrine, but as an eyewitness to the revelation of Jesus Christ that begins to unfold with this vision.
John further humbly identified with his readers by describing himself as their “companion”, sharing with them first of all in “tribulation”. Like them, John was at that moment suffering severe persecution for the cause of Christ, having been exiled with other criminals. He could thus identify with the suffering believers to whom he wrote. John was part of the same kingdom as his readers; the redeemed community over which Jesus reigns as Lord and King (Revelation 1: 6���).
Finally, John identified with his readers in the matter of “patience [perseverance]”. “perseverance” literally means “���to remain under.���” It speaks of patiently enduring difficulties without giving up.
John further described these experiences as “in Jesus”. Suffering persecution for the cause of Christ, belonging to His kingdom, and patiently enduring trials are distinctly Christian experiences.
When he received this vision, John was in exile on “the island that is called Patmos”. Patmos is a barren, volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, at its extremities about ten miles long and five to six miles wide, located some forty miles offshore from Miletus (a city in Asia Minor about thirty miles south of Ephesus; cf. ���Acts 20:15–17���). According to the Roman historian Tacitus, exile to such islands was a common form of punishment in the first century. John was probably sent to Patmos as a criminal , as a Christian, he was a member of an illegal religious sect. If so, the conditions under which he lived would have been harsh. Exhausting labor under the watchful eye (and ready whip) of a Roman overseer, insufficient food and clothing, and having to sleep on the bare ground would have taken their toll on a ninety-year-old man. It was on that bleak, barren island, under those brutal conditions, that John received the most extensive revelation ever given.
John’s only crime was faithfulness for “the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ”. Those two phrases appear to be synonymous. John suffered exile for his faithful, uncompromising preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1:10 John received his vision while he “was in the Spirit”. Under the Holy Spirit’s control, John was transported to a plane of experience and perception beyond that of the human senses. In that state, God supernaturally revealed things to him. Ezekiel (���Ezekiel 2:2���; ���3:12���, ���14���), Peter (���Acts 10:9), and Paul (���Acts 22:17–21���; ���2 Corinthians 12:1) had similar experiences.
John received his vision on “the Lord’s day”. While some argue that this refers to the time of eschatological judgment called the Day of the Lord, some understand it as a reference to Sunday.
John received his commission to record the vision in dramatic fashion: I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 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”.
The “loud voice” (Ezekiel 3:12���) was that of the Lord Jesus Christ (revelation 1: 12–13���, ���17–18���), sounding to John in its piercing, commanding clarity like the sound of a trumpet. Throughout the book of Revelation, a loud voice or sound indicates the solemnity of what is about to be revealed(Revelation ���5:2���, ���12���; ���6:10���; ���7:2���, ���10���; ���8:13���; ���10:3���; ���11:12���, ���15���; ���12:10���; ���14:2���, ���15���, ���18���; ���16:1���, ���17���; ���19:1���, ���17���; ���21:3���).
The scene is reminiscent of the giving of the Law at Sinai: “���So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled���” (���Exodus 19:16���).
1:10 The sovereign, powerful voice from heaven commanded John, “���Write in a book (or scroll) what you see.���” This is the first of twelve commands in the book of Revelation for John to write what he saw (Revelation ���19���; ���2:1���, ���8���, ���12���, ���18���; ���3:1���, ���7���, ���14���; ���14:13���; ���19:9���; ���21:5���); on one other occasion he was forbidden to write (Revelation ���10:4���).
After writing the vision, John was to “send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea”. These cities were located in the Roman province of Asia (modern Turkey). These seven churches were chosen because they were located in the key cities of the seven postal districts into which Asia was divided. They were thus the central points for disseminating information.
The seven cities appear in the order that a messenger, traveling on the great circular road that linked them, would visit them. After landing at Miletus, the messenger or messengers bearing the book of Revelation would have traveled north to Ephesus (the city nearest to Miletus), then in a clockwise circle to Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. Copies of Revelation would have been distributed to each church.
Christ in the Glory – Revelation 1:12-16
12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 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. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 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.
1:12 At the outset of the vision John had his back to the voice, so he “turned to see the voice that spoke with” him. As he did so, he first “saw seven golden lampstands”, identified in verse ���20��� as “the seven churches”. These were like the common portable oil lamps placed on lampstands that were used to light rooms at night. They symbolize churches as the lights of the world (���Phil. 2:15���).
The seven churches are “golden” because gold was the most precious metal. The church is to God the most beautiful and valuable entity on earth—so valuable that Jesus was willing to purchase it with His own blood (���Acts 20:28���).
“Seven” is the number of completeness (���Ex. 25:31–40���; ���Zech. 4:2���); thus, the seven churches symbolize the churches in general. These were actual churches in real places, but are symbolic of the kinds of churches that exist through all of church history.
1:13 In the middle of the lampstands John saw one like a son of man (Daniel 7:13���). Most of the church’s fathers and even modern commentators said that the One seen Revelation 1:9-20 by St John is the Lord Jesus Christ in the glory.
The evidence of this is that He said to St John, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore…“(Revelation 1:18). The one who was dead and now lives is the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, He sent a message to the angel of the church in Thyatira saying, “These things says the Son of God…” (Revelation 2:18). In fact, this vision introduces to us the Lord Jesus Christ in amazing way.
The glorified Lord of the church moving among His churches. Jesus promised His continued presence with His church. In ���Matthew 28:20��� He said, “���I am with you always, even to the end of the age.���” ���Matthew 18:20��� promises Christ’s presence during the difficult work of confronting sin in the church. On the night before His death, Jesus promised His disciples, “���I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him���” (���John 14:18���, ���23���). ���Hebrews 13:5��� records His promise, “���I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.���”
In this vision, Christ did not appear to John as a heavenly angelic being but in the likeness of “Son of Man”. Jesus has been known with the title “Son of Man” that refers to His human nature. Now, we see Jesus glorified in His human nature as Daniel said:
“I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations…” (Daniel 7:13-14).
For the vision of “the Son of Man” here in Revelation 1, there is a similar vision in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 7:9), but of the Father. The description of the Father in Daniel 7 is identical with the description of the Son in Revelation 1 as you might notice while reading the two quotations:
I watched till thrones were put in place, And the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
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. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire… and His countenance [face] was like the sun shining in its strength.
The reason behind this similarity is that because the Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) and He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus said to Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
As far as we know, the apostle John had not heard his Lord’s voice since Christ had returned to heaven more than sixty years before. St. John saw Christ while being in the flesh on earth, in “the form of a bondservant”. In Revelation, He saw Him in the glorified state, in “the form of God”. On these two forms, St. Paul said: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7).
What we are about to see is Jesus in the glory of His Father after His resurrection and ascension to heaven. Daniel saw such vision by the Spirit of prophecy. He said: “I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude” (Daniel 10:5-6).
Three of Jesus’ disciples saw a glimpse of this glory. Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him(Matthew 17:1-4).
Later, St. Peter witnessed to this incident in his second epistles: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:16-18).
It is not mentioned in the Bible that Jesus appeared to anyone after His ascension except to Saul [St Paul] in Acts 9 and to St John in Revelation. The two visions have their strong impact in the life and theology of the church. Jesus will come back in the glory of His Father as He said, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27).
Before going into the details of this vision, it is worthy to mention that we should not interpret this vision or any part of Revelation literally. From this vision and the interpretation given afterward in Chapter 1, we learn that we must not interpret the Book of Revelation literally. It is made up of symbols. We see a great example for this in Revelation 1:20 where the seven lampstands are said to be the seven churches and the seven stars are the seven angels of the churches.
The first thing John noted was that Christ was clothed in a robe reaching to the feet (Revelation 1:13). The word translated robe was used most frequently (in six of its seven occurrences) in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, to describe the robe worn by the high priest. The robe here pictures Christ in His role as the Great High Priest of His people.
As we see Christ glorified in this vision, we see also glorification to our human nature. Christ has been gloried in His human nature that we the human might share with Him in His glory. Christ made us to share with His glory as He said to the Father, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them…” (John 17:22). He “made us kings and priests to His God and Father…” (Revelation 1:6).
The Father glorified His Son, while being in human nature, and called Him to be the High Priest in heaven. “No man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest”, but He was “called by God as High Priest, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5: 4-6,10).
The book of Hebrews says much about Christ’s role as our Great High Priest. In Hebrews ���2:17–18��� St. Paul notes, “���Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.���”
In ���Hebrews 3:1��� he refers to Christ as the “���High Priest of our confession,���” while in ���Hebrews 4:14��� he reminds believers that “���we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.���”
Our Great High Priest is “���able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them���” (���Hebrews 7:25���). His offering was infinitely superior to that of any human high priest: “���But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption���” (���Hebrews 9:11–12���).
As our High Priest, Christ once offered the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sins and permanently, faithfully intercedes for us (���Romans 8:33–34���). He is able to sympathize with us in all our dangers, sorrows, trials, and temptations: “since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. … We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin���” (���Hebrews 2:18���; ���4:15���). The knowledge that our High Priest is moving sympathetically in our midst to care for and protect His own provides great comfort and hope to His afflicted people.
Jesus’ Golden Band
St. John saw Christ “girded about the chest with a golden band” (Revelation 1:13). In Daniel vision, he saw “a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz!” (Daniel 10:5). Seeing Christ girded across His chest with a golden sash reinforces identity of Christ as the High Priest, since the high priest in the Old Testament wore such a sash (Exodus 28:4���; ���Leviticus 16:4���).
On the other hand, the “golden band” or “belt” refers to the commitment of Christ to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Isaiah prophesied of Jesus that “Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist” (Isaiah 11:2-5).
In comparison with St John the Baptist, we see Jesus having the band “about the chest” (Revelation 1:13) but we see St. John with “a leather belt around his waist” (Mark 1:6). Righteousness of Jesus Christ is much higher that that of St. John. Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
In Christ, we see higher standard of righteousness. He said, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-20). “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren do so?” (Matthew 5:43-47).
When Christ entered to His glory, His righteousness has been credited for us. The Father said of Him in Isaiah, “He [Christ] shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
St. Paul admonished the Ephesians, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…” (Ephesians 6:14-15).
Jesus’ Hear and Head
1:14 Having described Christ’s clothing in verse ���13���, John described His person in verses ���14��� and ���15���. John’s description of Christ’s “head and … hair as white like white wool, like snow” is an obvious reference to ���Daniel 7:9���, where similar language describes the Ancient of Days (God the Father). The parallel descriptions affirm Christ’s eternal, glorious, holy truthfulness:
“And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool” (Daniel 7:9).
The white hair symbolizes His eternality, “the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22). Seeing Christ in His glory having the white hair is a reference to the glorification of our human nature in Him, we are destined to have eternal life in Him. This is an awesome answer to His prayer to the Father in the night before His death, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him” (John 17:1-2). “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).
Continuing his description of the glorified Christ, John noted that “His eyes were like a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14, ���2:18���; ���19:12���). This is parallel to Daniel’s vision when he saw the man whose “eyes like torches of fire” (Daniel 10:6).
The fiery eyes refer to the divine knowledge by the Holy Spirit. God has such wonderful knowledge. Many of the Old Testament profits, like David and Jeremiah, emphasized the impact of God’s knowledge in their lives :
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off…
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it” (Psalms 139:1-2, 6).
“You [O Lord] are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 32:19).
His searching, revealing, infallible gaze penetrates to the very depths of His church, revealing to Him with piercing clarity the reality of everything there is to know. Jesus declared, “���There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known���” (���Matthew 10:26���).
Christ in His glory recognizes and deals with His church according through His divine knowledge. He sent a message to the angel of the church in Thyatira saying, “These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first” (Revelation 2:18-19). All the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23).
Jesus’ eyes see all (Revelation 1:14,19:12) , enabling Him to judge righteously according to the authority of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12). “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
1:15 St John saw Christ’s feet were like “fine brass, as if refined in a furnace” (Revelation 1:15). This similar to the vision of Daniel when he saw the man and “His arms and feet like burnished bronze in color” (Daniel 10:6).
Bronze was essential in establishing the tabernacle. The altar of burnt offering was overlaid with bronze. Its pans, shovels, basins, forks, fire-pans and all its utensils of bronze (Exodus 27:1-4).
Seeing Jesus having His feet like “fine brass, as if refined in a furnace” is a reference to the atoning work of Jesus, by which we can approach to God the Father. “For through Him [Christ] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Ephesians 2:18). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
The twenty pillars of the tabernacle and their twenty sockets were in bronze (Exodus 27:10). Christ is also “the chief cornerstone” in our relationship with God. “Now, therefore, you are… fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…” (Ephesians 2:19-22). When we overcome in Jesus Christ, we become so essential in the heavenly temple. “He who overcomes, I [Jesus] will make him a pillar in the temple of My God [the Father], and he shall go out no more…” (Revelation 3: 12).
St John heard the voice of Jesus as “the sound of many waters” (Revelation 1:15). The voice of the eternal God was similarly described in ���Ezekiel 43:2���. It is the voice of God speaking in His Son. “���God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,���” wrote the author of Hebrews, “���in these last days has spoken to us in His Son���” (���Hebrews 1:1–2���). Jesus said, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:42).
This is the voice of sovereign power, the voice that gives life even to the dead, the very voice that will one day command the dead to come forth from the graves (���John 5:28–29���). Jesus said, “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). When Christ speaks, the church should listen. At the Transfiguration God said, “���This is My beloved Son… listen to Him!���” (���Matthew 17:5���).
Jesus’ Right Hand
1:16 In John’s vision, Christ is holding in His right hand the seven stars (Revelation 2:1���; ���3:1���), identified in verse ���20��� as the angels of the seven churches. That He held them in His right hand refers to Christ’s care and protection of the seven angels. Some suggest that these angels were representatives from each of the seven churches who came to visit John on Patmos and take the book of Revelation back with them. But since Christ is said to hold them in His right hand, they were more likely leading priests, one from each of the seven churches.
These seven men demonstrate the function of spiritual leaders in the church. God holds His servants and places them where He wants them to “shine” for Him. In Daniel 12:3, wise soul winners are compared to shining stars. They are to be instruments through which Christ, the head of the church, shepherd His flock. That is why the standards for leadership in the New Testament are so high. To be assigned as an intermediary through which the Lord Jesus ministers to His people is to be called to a sobering responsibility (1 Timothy 3:1–7���; ���Titus 1:5–9���).
The sword from Jesus’ mouth certainly represents the living Word of God, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The word of God is very effective, powerful and “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
Jesus correct His church using His Word. He introduced Himself to the angel of the church in Pergamos as the one “who has the sharp two-edged sword” (Revelation 2:12). He sent a message to Him saying, “you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam…Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth” (Revelation 2:14-16).
He also fights the beast and the false prophet overcomes them with the sword that comes out His mouth, “And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Revelation 19:19-21).
Those, who are in Christ, are worriers. The word of God is like a sword in their hand as the those of Solomon:
“Behold, it is Solomon’s couch,
With sixty valiant men around it,
Of the valiant of Israel.
They all hold swords,
Being expert in war.
Every man has his sword on his thigh.
Because of fear in the night” (Song of Solomon 3:7-8).
John’s vision of the glorified Christ culminated in this description of the radiant glory evident on countenance [His face]. John could only describe as “like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16). Daniel also described His face “like the appearance of lightning” (Daniel 10:6).
This vision of Christ was totally different in appearance from the Savior that John knew “in the flesh” when He was on the cross. Isaiah could portray His appearance on the cross by his saying that Jesus was “so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14, NIV). “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2, NIV).
Jesus’ shining countenance reminds us of His transfiguration (Matthew 17:2) and also the prophecy of Malachi 4:2 , “the Sun of righteousness [shall] arise”. The sun is also a familiar imagery of God in the Old Testament. In the Psalms, we read, “For the Lord God is a sun …” (Psalms 84:11, NIV).
Deborah and Barak used the same analogy in their song to describes those who love the Lord ���(Judges 5:31). They said, “But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength” (Judges 5:31, NIV). The Lord Jesus Christ used the same analogy to explain the glory of the righteous people, “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).
This radiant light refer to the glory of Jesus as the righteous and Beloved Son of God. He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3).
While God’s glory is manifested magnificently in Jesus, it shines through the Lord Jesus Christ, reflecting His glory in us. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).
The vision of the one like the Son of Man in the midst of the lampstands, is a wonderful picture of the glorified Christ in the midst of the churches, enlightens His people with His fullness of the Holy Spirit and glorifying them through His righteousness. For this reason Isaiah call on the Church, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Isaiah 60:1-3, NIV).
And the result is that the Father is glorified in the church through Jesus Christ, “to Him [the Father] be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever” (���Ephesians 3:21���).
Effect of the First Vision – Revelation 1:17-18
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. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 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.
1:17-18 John was overwhelmed with terror at the manifestation of Christ’s glory and “fell at His feet as a dead man”. This similar to what happened on the Mountain of Transfiguration when St. John saw the glory of Jesus (Matthew 17:6���).
The one who fell as dead at the feet of the glorified Christ is the apostle who leaned on Jesus’ breast! (John 13:23). Such fear was standard for those few who experienced such unusual heavenly visions.
When an angel appeared to Daniel, he felt that ���no strength was left in him, his natural color turned to a deathly pallor and he retained no strength. As soon as he heard the sound of His words, he fell into a deep sleep on his face, with his face to the ground��� (���Daniel 10:8–9���; ���8:17���).
Overwhelmed by the vision of God that he saw in the temple, Isaiah cried out, “���Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts���” (���Isaiah 6:5���). Ezekiel saw several visions of the Lord’s glory and his response was always the same: he fell on his face (���Ezekiel 1:28���; ���3:23���; ���9:8���; ���43:3���; ���44:4���).
Saul of Tarsus [the apostle Paul] “���saw on the way [to Damascus] a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me���” (���Acts 26:13���). In response, Saul and his companions fell prostrate in the road (Acts 26:14���).
Jesus placed His right hand on John and comforted him as He had done so long ago at the Transfiguration (���Matthew 17:7���). This is a touch of comfort and reassurance. Jesus’ comforting words, “���Do not be afraid,���” reveal His compassionate assurance of the terrified apostle.
Jesus offered comfort based on who He is and the authority He possesses. First, He said, “I am the First and the Last” to remind John with God the redeemer as Isaiah said, “This is what the Lord says- Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6, NIV).
Jesus also said, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” to remind John with power of Jesus’ resurrection. Christ lives forever “���according to the power of an indestructible life���” (���Hebrew 7:16���). “���Christ, having been raised from the dead,���” wrote Paul, “���is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him���” (���Romans 6:9���). That truth provides comfort and assurance, because Jesus “���is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession”.
Jesus also holds the keys of death and of Hades. Those terms are essentially synonymous, with death being the condition and Hades the place. “Hades” is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament term “Sheol” and refers to the place of the dead. Keys denote access and authority. Jesus Christ has the authority to decide who dies and who lives; He controls life and death. And John, like all the redeemed, had nothing to fear, since Christ had already delivered him from death and Hades by His own death.
Knowing that Christ has authority over death provides assurance, since believers need no longer fear it. Jesus declared, “���I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies. … because I live, you will live also. ���” (���John 11:25���; ���14:19���). To die, Paul noted, is “���to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord���” (���2 Corinthians 5:8���; ���Philippians 1:23���). Jesus conquered Satan and took the keys of death away from him: “���Through death [Christ rendered] powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and … free[d] those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives���” (���Hebrews 2:14–15���).
1:19 The Book of Revelation is the only book in the Bible that contains an inspired outline of the contents. “The things which thou hast seen” refers to the vision in Revelation 1. “The things which are” refers to Revelation 2-3, the special messages to the seven churches. “The things which shall be hereafter” refer to the visions of God’s work in Jesus Christ that John would see in chapters ���4–22���.
1:20 All Christians have a duty, like John, to pass on the truths they learn from the visions recorded in the Book of Revelation. Those visions might look like being disturbing or scaring but, in reality, they hold the good news of Jesus Christ. They are “���inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work���” (���2 Tim. 3:16–17���), like all the books of the Bible.
As believers study the glory of Christ reflected in the book of Revelation, “���we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, [will be] transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit���” (���2 Corinthians 3:18���).