Harry Whittaker
Revelation - A Biblical Approach

Chapter 1 - The Son Of Man (ch. 1)

Is it
(a) a Revelation given by Jesus Christ?

(b) a Revelation concerning Jesus Christ? (e.g. ch. 1 :13-18).

(c) a description of the future manifestation of Jesus Christ? (e.g. v. 10; 1 Corinthians 1:7).

The rest of v. 1 is decisive in favour of (a). “It is not Christ who is revealed, but Christ who reveals”. Contrast with revelation through other men; this is through Christ himself (Matthew 11:27).

revelation. The very word implies intelligibility, and not the reverse, which is the reputation the book has somehow gained. Today, would not most students of this Revelation consider “mystery” (in the sense of “secret”) to be more appropriate? Then should it be assumed that some explanation (not written down) went with the symbolism of the book? Or did Christians of the first century have a much greater insight into the meaning of Holy Scripture than is normal today?

which God gave unto him. Emphasizes the inferior status of the Son; Mark 13:22; Acts 1:7; 1 Timothy 6:15 R.V.m. Compare also many passages in John; e.g. 5:20 and 7:16 and 12:49 and 14:10 and 17:7, 8.

things which must shortly come to pass. Cp. Daniel 2:29 LXX: “what thing must come to pass after these things.” There is no “shortly” in Daniel 2. Also=Matthew 24:6, suggesting a connection between Revelation and Olivet Prophecy. This is important; see ch. 10.

shortly. The Greek word does not mean either “swiftly” or “suddenly,” but “shortly”, “soon” (see the analysis in Appendix - An Important and Difficult Problem).

signified. Better: sign-ified them. s.w. Acts 11:28 (how? see Acts 21:11); John 12:33 and 21:19; obviously = “revealed by symbols.” Each of these passages also means “revealed beforehand.”

by his angel. 1 Peter 3:22. Is this the guiding interpreting angel of the rest of the book? 4:1 and 10:4, 8, 11 and 14:3 and 17:1(?), 7 and 19:10 and 21:5, 9(?) and 22:8, 9.

his servants. Amos 3:7; Revelation 22:9 R.V.

John. Thus John authenticates his prophecy. Compare “I John” in v. 9 and 22:8 and also “I Daniel” in Daniel 9:2 and 8:1. John is “the disciple Jesus loved”, and Daniel is “greatly beloved.”

2. The word of God, the testimony of Jesus Christ, all things that he saw. Either: ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (1 John 1:1, 2; John 19:35); or, Gospel of John, Epistles of John, Revelation John 1:1, 14 and 21:24, 25); or, three descriptions of the same thing. This is the first of a series of triads which occur in Revelation 1; compare v. 4, 5, 6a, 7, 9, 18, 19.

the word of God. Hence the title “John the theo-logian, or the divine.” The Jews applied this title to Moses, and Eusebius used it of the prophets.

the testimony of Jesus Christ means “the truth about Jesus Christ,” compare v. 9 and 19:10 and especially 20:4 R.V. The testimony of Moses (the 10 commandments) was about Jesus Christ (see Exodus 20:6 and compare Luke 1:50 R.V.m.).

that he saw suggests that this preface (v. 1-3) was written after the rest of Revelation. Compare the details in 22:6-8. Similarly, Isaiah 1 may have been the last of the 66 chapters to be written.

3. he that readeth refers to the brother reading Scripture at the Breaking of Bread service (as today); modelled on synagogue service. “He that knows accurately” is a wrong translation.

they that hear-and-keep = the congregation-one class, not two.

hear = hear understandingly; Acts 22:9 (contrast Acts 9:7 where the Gk. grammatical form is different). Was an inspired interpretation forthcoming in First Century days from Spirit-guided elders with the gift of interpretation? Nehemiah 8:8.

keep. Generally used of observing commandments, e.g. Luke 11:28 with 8:21; applies especially to chapters 2 and 3. Note the 7-fold chain in the communicating of Revelation God - Christ - his angel - John - the messenger - the reader - the hearer-and-keeper.

the time is at hand. Cp. 22:10 where the context will hardly allow of: “the time for the fulfillment to begin is at hand.”

4. churches in Asia. Why to churches in Asia? Because they were the only churches with the man who was properly suited to receive it. The only other-Paul, to whom much of it may have already been revealed (see Chapter 26 - The Seventh Trumpet (11:14-19)) had lately suffered martyrdom (18:20; 20:4).

Why seven? - maintaining the figure of the seven-branched lampstand.

Why to these seven (there were many other churches in Asia, e.g. Colosse, Hierapolis, Miletus, etc.)? Ramsay answers: These were each the leading ecclesia in a particular district. Paul also wrote letters to seven churches (1 Samuel 2:5).

grace and peace. Paul’s greeting; John’s conclusion also; ch. 22:21.

is, was, is to come = Jehovah. See on v. 8. The Gk. involves a solecism, which only makes sense when this expression is taken as a name, and not a description, of God.

which is to come = which is the Coming One - a neat variation of “which shall be.” Reference to the literal coming, the manifestation of God in Christ (21: 3). Messiah was often spoken of as the Coming One; John 1: 15, 27; Matthew 11:3 R.V.

seven spirits. If reference here to the Holy Spirit, then the context would require the Holy Spirit to be a person separate from the Father and Son, sending greeting. Rather: these seven spirits are seven archangels. Compare ch. 4:5 and 5:6; Zechariah 3:9 (the eyes are not engraven on the stone, but are fastened attentively on it); Zechariah 4:10; Ezekiel 1:18, 20; Micah 5:5 (Christ and his seven archangels); Luke 1:19. Note the seven-fold spirit in Isaiah 11:2 and also I Corinthians 12:29, 30.

5. faithful witness, first-begotten, prince. All three titles come in Psalm 89:27 37. Whence:

faithful witness = the rainbow (look at Psalm 89:36, 37) =

the glory of his Father; Ezekiel I :27, 28; Matthew 16:27;

guarantee of the keeping of God’s promise and covenant of redemption; Genesis 9:12-17.

(a)         and (b) are really identical; John 18:37: “the Truth” here is an Old Testament idiom for covenants of promise called “the Truth” because God will not be found a liar. This makes Psalm 89:37 = 89:28. The three titles then come in two verses. So Jesus was born, not to be a king, but to bear witness to his future kingship, fulfilling the promises of God. Thus Jesus was “the faithful witness” before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13). So the candidate for baptism witnessing his good confession follows closely the pattern of Christ witnessing his - note the context here (6:12). Compare the force of Isaiah 54:9 (and context) applied to the true Israel of God.

first begotten of the dead. Always when Jesus is referred to as First-born it is in this sense, “from the dead.” Hence Colossians 1:15 is to be explained by Colossians 1:18. The entire context shouts for application to the New Creation of whom the Risen Lord was literally the Beginning. Compare 1 Corinthians 15: 20 and Acts 13:33 (which definitely applies to Christ’s resurrection, as is proved by Hebrews 1: 4, 5 and 5: 5).

prince of the kings of the earth. An honour gained through the conquest of temptation, not by submission to it (Matthew 4: 8, 9). These three titles also come together in Isaiah 55: 3, 4:

leader and commander of the people = first begotten from the dead; cp. Acts 13:33.

witness for the people = faithful witness.

everlasting covenant, sure mercies of David = prince of the kings of the earth (see R.V.m. here).

Ioved us, washed us, made us to be kings and priests. Another triad of closely-related ideas.

in his blood should be “by his blood” i.e. it is his blood (metonymy for his sacrifice) which makes the disciple’s baptism a valid washing away of sins.

washed us. Some doubt as to whether this should read “loosed us.” The two Greek words are nearly identical. If “washed,” cp. ch. 7:14 and especially Leviticus 8:6. If “loosed,” see Isaiah 40:2. Job 42:9 LXX has: “he loosed their sin for the sake of Job.”

6. made us kings and priests. This was God’s design with Israel, Exodus 19:6. And since “a priest’s lips shall keep knowledge,” this implied a missionary work amongst the nations. With Israel’s failure, a new beginning was made with a New Israel; 1 Peter 2:9; Malachi 3:17 (reference here to the twelve jewels on the breastplate of the High Priest).

to him be glory and dominion. This doxology is the response to the greeting of Grace and Peace conveyed in v. 4.

7. he cometh with clouds. i.e. in the Glory of the Lord. The interpretation which makes this into a public “manifestation” of a Messiah who is already come, along with “clouds” of immortalised saints is not faithful to the text. It also rests on a very inadequate Biblical foundation, as does the whole idea of a secret coming of Christ. For full details, see “The Last Days” ch. 10, 12, and “The Time of the End” ch. 16. The conventional interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, even if correct, does not help the idea just mentioned. And Jude 14, 15 palpably refers to angels coming with the Messiah. Also Mark 13:26, 27 makes perfectly clear that this coming “in the clouds” precedes the gathering of the saints and must therefore be distinct from it.

There is a much more satisfactory and much more Biblical interpretation available. The Glory of the Lord appeared to ancient Israel in cloud and fire: Exodus 13:21, 22; 14:19, 20, 24; 16:10; 19:16-19; 20:18; 24:15-19; 33:18-21 with 34:4-7; 40:34-38; Numbers 10:34; 12:5, 10; 14:9 mg. 10, 14, 21, 22; Deuteronomy 31:14, 15; Psalm 105:39; 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2. The same Shekinah Glory appeared to Abraham: Genesis 15:17 (Acts 7:2). In later days the Glory appeared in a Cloud to David (Psalm 18:6-15), to Ezekiel (1:4 and 10:4), to Elijah (1 Kings 19:11-13), to Solomon and his people (1 Kings 8:10, 11), to Job (38:1), to the apostles (Luke 9:34, 35). The judgments of God are to be manifest in the Last Days in this Cloud of Glory: Joel 2:2; Zephaniah 1:15; Ezekiel 30:3; Isaiah 19:1; 25:5. In particular, the Lord Jesus Christ who ascended to heaven in the Cloud of Glory (Acts 1: 9) will so come in like manner: Luke 21: 27; Matthew 26: 64; Revelation 14:14-16, Isaiah 4:5. Revelation 1:7 chimes in perfectly with this latter group of passages. It expresses in another way the simple but powerful truth: “The Son of man shall come in the Glory of his Father” (Matthew 16:27). With such a solid mass of Biblical support for this interpretation it is difficult to see why expositors should ever have looked elsewhere. The idea that “clouds” means “clouds of witnesses” is either almost or completely devoid of Biblical support (Hebrews 12: 1 uses a different Greek word).

the earth. Greek ge means “earth” or “Land” (so also Hebrew eretz). Usually the context decides. Here and in many places in Revelation read: “the Land;” s.w. Luke 21: 23; Matthew 24: 30. Then:

1. every eye
2. they which pierced him
3. all tribes of the Land
Not three classes but one. Another triad meaning the nation of Israel.

The reference is to Zechariah 19:10-14 where note: v. 10: “me . . . him.”

For this switch of pronoun compare. “why persecutest thou me?’’ v. 11: only divine inspiration would describe a national mourning in the day of deliverance. v. 12, 13: King, Prophet and Priest-and Shimei, type of the rejectors of the Lord’s Anointed in all ages; 2 Samuel 16:5-8 and 19; 16-23.

pierced. Was not the piercing of John 19: 34 done by a Roman? True, but this as well as the actual crucifixion was by procuration of the Jews.

wail. Matthew 23: 39. Contrast Luke 23: 28.

Even so, Amen. Ch. 22: 20. Even so (Gk.)=Amen (Hebrew). If John were so earnest about the Second Coming, we also! 2 Corinthians 1: 20. John, the only one to record the piercing of Jesus, is appropriately the one to add this fervent prayer that these men be brought to acknowledgement of their crime and to contrition for it.

8. Alpha and Omega. In ch. 21: 6, concerning the Father (observe v. 7). In ch. 22:13 concerning the Son. “The Almighty says that I (Jesus) am the and (cp. v. 11). The context requires this. If this verse were applied to the Father, then it stands alone and pointless.

This use of the same title with reference to the Father and to the Son need perplex no-one. Cp. use of “Lord;” and note that much of the language describing Christ in this chapter and elsewhere is used also to describe the Father; e.g. v. 14; 3:14; Isaiah 45:23, 24 (note the pronouns!); Philippians 2:10, 11; Isaiah 8:13 = 1 Peter 3:15; Joel 2:32 = Acts 2:21, 36; Zechariah 12:10 (me, him); Psalm 45:17; Jeremiah 23:6; Isaiah 47:4. The Father is and as being the One who has planned all from the beginning and will yet bring all to perfection. The Son is and since, in the practical outworking of the plan, he has begun redemption by his sacrifice and will yet perfect it by his kingdom. Cp. v. 7 – they who pierced him will see him come in glory.

The first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet were similarly used by the Rabbis as a code-word for the Shekinah Glory possibly because of its occurrence in Genesis 4:1: “I have gotten a man it Jehovah.” This word normally the (untranslateable) sign of the objective case. Therefore read: “I have gotten a Man, even Jehovah.” Eve here is justified by her faith: she looked for the coming of the God-man (Genesis 3:15). That the Lord, in Revelation 1: 8, uses Greek and not Hebrew (Aleph, Taw) is a possible hint of the imminent casting-off of Israel.

Alpha and Omega is pure Old Testament in idea:

Isaiah 41:4: “calling the generations from the beginning” = ; “hath wrought and done it” = ; v. 8, 9: the Messiah; v. 11: his sufferings (); v. 15, 16: his glory (); v. 4 = “with the last ones” - “bringing many sons unto glory.” Here the same Hebrew particle precedes “the last ones.”

Isaiah 44:6, where note (1) redeemer (2) King, v. 7,8 – the One who declares His unerring Purpose from the beginning.

Isaiah 48:12. v. 13-creation (the New Creation?), v. 14 – the Purpose declared; v. 15 –Messiah; v. 16 – Messiah speaks of the Purpose to be fulfilled in himself “from the beginning.”

Revelation 1:8 summarises v. 5-7. (1) the sacrifice for sins (2) the King of Glory.

Revelation 22:13. v. 14: “tree of life” suggests Genesis 3:15 () now accomplished in the bringing of the Kingdom ().

Revelation 21:6. v. 4: the curse of Genesis; v. 1: new heavens and earth.

saith the Lord God (R.V.) etc. This verse has the main titles of God in the Old Testament.

Revelation 1
Old Testament
English O.T.
1. the Lord
2. God
3. which is, was, is to come
4. Almighty
Jehovah Ts’baoth
Lord of hosts

All of these call for much fuller study than can be given here.

Adonai. “Lord” in the ordinary dictionary sense of “master, ruler, prince, chief,” e.g. Psalms 2:4 and 110:1, 5; Psalm 68:17-22. Emphasizes God’s special relationship to Israel.

Elohim. God as a God of might and power. Occurs very frequently. Also used of (a) false gods (b) angels (Psalm 8 :5) cp. Exodus 23 :20, 21 and Genesis 16:11, 13; Hosea 12:3, 5. (c) judges and others in authority on God’s behalf (e.g. the Messiah); Exodus 21:6 and 22 :8,9; Psalm 82:6. This usage is more common than is usually recognized. e.g. Isaiah 64:4 and 40:3, 9 and 65:16; Revelation 3:14; Psalm 138:1; John 10:34 and 20:28.

Jehovah. Moderns insist that Hebrew should read Yahweh or Yahveh. They usually explain the traditional Jehovah as a Massoretic hybrid by addition of vowels of Adonai. This may be correct but should not be taken as proven. From the parallel columns Revelation 1:8 is seen to be an inspired interpretation of the Memorial Name=He who is and was and is to come (see the note on v. 4), cp. Genesis 21:33; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 135:13 (contrast Revelation 17:8). Several scholars have suggested very plausibly that Jehovah (more correctly Y’howah) is a composite name, which would sound in the ears of any Israelite like “Shall-is-was”. Many Scriptures stress this timelessness of God. He has not only been actively manifest in the past, He continues the development of His Purpose in the present, and He will certainly bring all to fulfillment in a multitude of redeemed worthy to bear His Name: Psalm 90:1, 2; Isaiah 41: 4; and 43: 10, 11 and 44:6, 7, 8; Exodus 3: 14-17; Genesis 15:7, 18.

Jehovah also marks God as a God of Covenant and Promise. This is frequently the main idea where this Divine name is used; e.g. Exodus 3:15 (reference back to the promise of Genesis 15); 6:3 (reference also to Genesis 15:2, 7; “And by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them”?); Genesis 4:1 (Eve knew the Covenant Name!); Psalm 105:1, 8, 42; Jeremiah 14:21, 22; Isaiah 26:8; Micah 4:5; Malachi 3:16. In these and many other passages, emphasis is not only on God’s covenant promises but also on Jehovah being His Memorial Name (Exodus 3:14, 15), that which (by an anthropomorphism) was to be a perpetual reminder to Him, as well as to His people, of the great Messianic Purpose. Many occurrences of “memorial,” “remember,” “remembrance” (use concordance) has this idea.

Almighty. The LXX used the Greek work of Revelation 1: 8 represent the two Hebrew forms El Shaddai (Almighty God) a Jehovah Tsvaoth (Lord of Hosts).

Shaddai is connected with the Hebrew root shadah (to water fertilise) and shad (breast), or with shadad, to destroy. Every occurrence in Old Testament has this idea of fertility and so of prosperity except in Job and a few places in the prophets where the other meaning is prominent. For the first idea see Genesis 17:1-8; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3, 4; 49:25; Ruth 1:20; 2 Numbers 24:4, 7; and compare 2 Corinthians 6:18. Thus “Almighty God” is the name, which emphasizes that the multitudinous seed and all other forms of prosperity are the purposed gifts of God. But perhaps in Revelation the other idea is more appropriate: God, the Destroyer of evil men.

Jehovah Tsvaoth: Lord of Hosts. Reference is either to: (a) the hosts of Israel under the control of the Almighty (Exodus 12:41 [R.V.]; Joshua 5:14-Joshua thought he was captain; 2 Samuel 6:1, 2); or to: (b) the host of heaven, the angels (Psalm 148:2; 103:21; 46:7; 1 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 24:23 and 25:6; Luke 2:13). Both (a) and (b): Isaiah 37:36; Psalm 24:10, 1 Samuel 17:45. In Revelation it is always (b) rather than (a) which is intended (ch. 11: 17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, I5; 21 :22).

9. John tells how he was commissioned; cp. Isaiah 6:8; Jeremiah 1:1; Ezekiel 1: 3.

1 John. Contrast his anonymity in the Gospel. Why?

tribulation and kingdom and patience. Another triad. Romans 8:17; Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4:17 (us = the apostles).

patience = doggedness. Best equivalent is the modern slang “guts”. Not all a passive virtue; e.g. Hebrews 10:32, 36 and 12:1, 2, 3, 7; 2 Timothy 2:10; Revelation 13:10; Luke 2:43 (“tarried” = hung on, loath to leave).

Patmos. Why called Patmos? Did John see significance in the name? cp. John 9:7; Revelation 11:8; 16:16. But what meaning? Just possibly: “Only a little trial,” with a sidelong glance at Massah (Exodus 17:7 “Is the Lord among us or not?” The answer is in 1:10. Banishment to Patmos is said to have been reserved for people of wealth and standing.

for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. “for” = because of. Either: (a) retirement to solitude in order to receive the word of God; cp. Elijah, 1 Kings 19:8; Paul, Galatians 1: 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1,2; Philippians 1: 23. (b) Because of preaching Christ; 2 Timothy 1:8; cp. heading of Syriac Version: “in the island of Patmos to which he was, banished by Nero the Emperor”; Matthew 20:22. Also supported v. 9a and 6: 9 and 20: 4. (b) is almost certainly correct.

10. in the spirit = in a trance, seeing visions (by contrast with a revealed word); ch. 4: 2 and 17: 3 and 21: 10; Acts 10: 10 and 11: 5 and 22: 1 Ezekiel 1: 1, 3 and 37: 1 and 40: 1, 2 and many others. 2 Corinthians 12: 1

Lord’s day. Only other occurrence of this Greek word is 1 Corinthian 11: 20 which is altogether indecisive as to meaning.

The first day of the week.

1 Corinthians 11:20-same word used of the Lord’s Supper. But: what special point is there in having this Revelation on a Sunday?

The early church used the word kuriakos in this sense (Ignatius: To the Magnesians). But this may have been derived from a misreading of Revelation 1:10.

The letters would be read to the ecclesias on this day.

v. 5 R.V. “loveth us” might be an allusion to the Love Feast.

ch. 1:18 would harmonize nicely.
The great day of the Lord’s Second Coming; cp. v. 7; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.

1 Corinthians 11:20 (kuriakos) matches Luke 22:16.

Note “in that day” in Zechariah 12:3, 6, 9, 11 and 13:1, 2, 4 and 14:1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 13, 20.

Peshito version uses kuriakos with this meaning.

Difficulty: this view would seem to require that everything in Revelation shall have reference to the Last Day. Is that absurd? Further difficulty: Is the emphasis here on Jesus as a High Priest appropriate to the day of his return in glory?
The anniversary of the Lord’s own resurrection. See v. 18. Note: “I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand on me saying, Fear not.” Precisely this in Matthew 28:5, 9.
The Day of Atonement, called by the Jews: “The Day,” and by Isaiah “a day to (for) the Lord” (58:5). Description of Jesus as a High Priest on duty in the Holy Place (ch. 1) and as sacrifice in the Holy of Holies (ch. 5) harmonizes well. John falling on his face would correspond with prostration of worshippers in the temple court. And “I heard behind me . . . “ would imply that literal observances in a literal sanctuary were now “behind.”

behind me. Often explained as intimating Revelation to be in terms of types and symbols of the Old Testament (which are now “behind”). Or: “No man shall see my face and live.” Hence “behind me” corresponds to the cloud, which veiled the Glory. Then John turns and immediately falls “dead” (v. 17). Recognition that there is here an allusion to Isaiah 30:21 supplies a further idea. That chapter furnishes a prophetic parallel with (or should one write: a straight prophecy of?) the circumstances of John when Revelation was written. Observe:

v. 8
Revelation 1: 11, 19.
v. 9
Israel is about to be cast off.
v. 10
The gospel rejected by them.
v. 12-14, 17
Jerusalem to be destroyed.
v. 19
Consolation of the saints.
v. 20
Saints persecuted, John banished.
v. 22
Christianity v. Paganism.
v. 23, 24
Ultimate blessing.
v. 24b
Day of Judgement.
v. 25ff
The coming of the Kingdom.

Note especially in v. 21: “a word behind thee saying, This is the way, walk ye in it;” the implication is that at the moment the exhortation is received, the “walking” is in the wrong direction. Revelation 2, 3 proves that this was so already in the early church. Those two chapters are the equivalent of: “This is the way walk ye in it.”

as of a trumpet. (a) the voice of God (Exodus 19:13, 16, 19; Joshua 6:9, 10, 13). (b) a summons to God’s people; Numbers 10:2, 8; Judges 3:27 and 6:34; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Matthew 24:31. (c) a prophetic warning: Isaiah 58:1; Ezekiel 33:3-6. More detail in Chapter 26 - The Seventh Trumpet (11:14-19).

11. in a book. Not in seven separate books. Therefore each ecclesia could read what was written to the others (cp. 1 Timothy 5:20 - a practice of the early church no longer followed. Why?). This was necessary because, whilst the general character of each ecclesia was accurately summed up, there would be some of every type in every ecclesia; cp. ch. 2:23 - a lesson for all churches.

send it to the seven churches. Therefore each would receive the book in turn and make its own copy.

Why seven and not eight? Just as the seven spirits represent the universal activity of the Holy Spirit in the world, so also these seven churches represent the Gentile church everywhere. The sins rebuked are common to the ecclesias everywhere and at all times. The exhortations are such as have been always needed by all ecclesias in Christ. See also notes on v. 16. Why these seven? There were a good many other churches in Asia. Ramsay answers: These were the recognized centres of well-defined districts. Why to Asia and not to Judaea? Because Gentiles are now more important than Jews in the purpose of God? (see on v. 16). Or, because the Revelation had to be given where there was a man fit to receive it?

12. turned to see the voice. Not a solecism, but a synecdoche, or-more probably-a personification; i.e. to see who was “the Voice of God;” cp. Genesis 3:8 (an angel).

seven golden candlesticks. This calls for a study of Exodus 25:31-40:

There was a central shaft and branch and six other branches. Revelation 1:12 demonstrate the incorrectness of speaking of a six-branched candlestick. Candlestick = lampstand. Candles were not used. According to Josephus it was 5 ft. high, 3½ ft. wide. “It terminated in seven heads all in one row... and these branches carried seven lamps ... These lamps looked to the east and south (near the southern wall of the Holy Place), the candlestick being situate obliquely” (Jos. Ant. 3.6.7). Did Josephus mean “in one row” or “in one plane?” He himself says the representation on the Arch of Titus was erroneous. If there was a central stem with six others arranged in a regular hexagon round it, the origin of the Star of David is explained.

"beaten work.” So Christ. Isaiah 53:5, 10. So also his saints: Leviticus 2:1, 14 and 24:2, 5; Exodus 29:40 and 37:7; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:10.

shafts, branches, bowls, knops, flowers. Obviously intended to represent a tree-an almond tree (v. 33)-the Tree of Life (Numbers 17:8). This leads to an interpretation of the “cherubim and flaming sword” of Genesis 3:24. In the Tabernacle cherubim were not angels but symbols of redemption. And there, above them, and in the midst of them, was the Shekinah Glory (“a flaming sword”); Psalm 80:1 R.V. In what sense are ecclesias a Tree of Life? Proverbs 15:4 and 11:30. “The fruit of the righteous (proves him to be) a tree of life;” Psalm 1:3; Revelation 22:1, 2.

70 ornaments in all (Josephus)=the Gentile nations: Genesis 10 (70 names); Deuteronomy 32:8; Genesis 46:27. Cp. Revelation 1 :12-Gentile churches. Solomon’s temple had ten seven-branched candlesticks of gold like a fence before the veil (2 Chronicles 4:7).

The central stem spoken of as The Candlestick.

lamps thereof. The Candlestick shone in the Tabernacle, not outside it. It revealed bread and wine, altar of incense, cherubim on the veil, the way into the Holy of Holies.

to give light over against it. Boat-shaped lamps at the end of each stem projected so as to cast light on the central stem (Christ?). Thus Scripture testifies to its own glories and to Christ, its chief glory. Cp. also the glory on the face of Moses (Exodus 34:29); Stephen (Acts 6:15; 7:55)

after the pattern. i.e. according to their true significance; Hebrews 8:5 and 9:23, 24.

Exodus 30:8. Lamps apparently lit at even, to burn during the night; cp. Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:2, 3, I Samuel 3:3 (God called Samuel before the light of Truth was quite gone out in Israel); 2 Chronicles 13:11. But the windowless Holy Place would need light in day-time. Cp. also the idea in Scripture of a perpetual lamp: Psalm 132:17 (this is a definite reference to the Candlestick-see context); 1 Kings 11:36; 2 Kings 8:19.

Exodus 27:20. No quantity specified. Without measure: John 3:34. But it must be “beaten out.” Problem: Why does this section on the Candlestick come here and not in ch. 25?

13. In what sense was Jesus seen “in the midst” of the lampstand?

Seen through the grid of the seven branches? But chapter 2:1 “walking” vetoes this.

Did John see seven seven-branched Candlesticks? (Each ecclesia mentioned would be the centre of a ring of lesser ecclesias.)

More likely, the phrase is interpretative. Jesus was seen beside or behind the Candlestick, and John interprets this as symbolic of his ceaseless activity in the midst of the ecclesias which are represented thus; v. 20; 2:1.

Iike unto the Son of man means “one who is the Son of man.” A common Bible idiom; e.g. Romans 8:3; 5:14; 1:23 R.V.; Philippians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Matthew 14:5. The idea that this Holy One seen in the vision is the multitudinous Christ bristles with difficulties.

He is Alpha and Omega; v. 11.

He sends messages to the churches.

He is accoutred like a High Priest (v. 13 and see notes there).

John falls down before him (v. 17).

“I am the first and the last” (v. 17). If the multitudinous Christ, “last” would be plural (as in Isaiah 41:4), and “first” would be inappropriate.

“I have the keys of hell and of death” (v. 18).

He walks in the midst of the seven candlesticks (2:1),

saying: “I know thy works” (2 2).

It would seem that the main (only?) reason for interpreting with respect to the multitudinous Christ (a thoroughly Biblical idea taught clearly elsewhere) is v. 15: “his voice as the sound of many waters.” But this may carry a different meaning (see notes on v. 15).
The description in Revelation I of the Son of man has its counterpart in almost every detail in the description of the archangel in Daniel 10:

Daniel 10:5-14
Revelation 1:13-17
A man.
Son of man.
Clothed in linen.
Clothed with a garment down to the foot.
Loins girded with fine gold of Uphaz.
Girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
Body like a beryl.
Appearance (see John 7:24) as the sun.
Face as the appearance of lightning.
(His head and his hair like wool, white as snow: Daniel 7:9).
Eyes as lamps of fire.
Eyes as a flame of fire.
Feet like polished brass.
Feet like fine brass.
Voice like the voice of a multitude.
Voice as the sound of many waters.
No strength in me . . . in a deep sleep upon my face.
I fell at his feet as one dead.

A hand touched me . . . set me upon my knees . . . I stood trembling.
He laid his right hand upon me.
Fear not.
Fear not.
I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (v. 19)
The vision is for many days...shut up the words and seal the book to the time of the end (12:4).
Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear...and keep those things that are written, for the time is at hand (v. 3).

What is the point of this detailed designed similarity? What interpretation is to be put on it? First, this glorious being was actually there (even though the word “vision” is used; v.7). He spoke to Daniel and touched him. This rules out the view that here was a vision of Christ or of the multitudinous Christ (for the last phrase of 10:6 see note on Revelation 1:15). The only interpretation left is that this was an angel, helped by another angel characteristics of the divine nature. There is one significant difference. Revelation 1:14 has: “his head and his hairs were white like wool”. This is part of the description of the Almighty in Daniel 7:9 – another example of Jesus being described in terms appropriate to the Father; cp. “Alpha and Omega”.

clothed with a garment down to the foot. s.w. Exodus 28:4, 31 LXX. So obviously a linen garment of righteousness that John doesn’t even trouble to say so. Here, immediately, is Christ the Priest.

girt about the paps with a golden girdle. The High Priest wore two girdles -one round his loins (Jeremiah 13:1-11), and the other round his chest (Leviticus 8:7). To the latter was affixed the breastplate of judgement containing on its outer face the twelve stones of Israel and within its pouch the stones of judgement, the Urim and Thummim. The second girdle, the one referred to in this verse, was called “the cunningly woven band of the ephod.” Cp. two girdles in Isaiah 11:5 (a High Priest-King). “Righteousness the girdle of his loins” suggests that his “seed” share his righteousness!
Revelation 15:6 - Christ delegates to the angels his office of judgement (breastplate of judgement!) upon the nations-but not upon his servants; cp. Daniel 10:5 (no priestly girdle).

14. All the following details-seven of them-are different expressions describing the glory of the divine nature and of the power of the Holy Spirit.

his head and his hair white like wool. In this way Scripture describes the Glory in his face and the halo of glory about his head, Luke 9:29, Daniel 7:9, where the Father is similarly described - another instance of Christ sharing the Glory of his Father (as in Matthew 16:27); cp. v. 8, 15. Cp. also Revelation 14:14 (= a radiant cloud, the pillar of cloud), and 3.4 (the saints already share Christ’s righteousness, this promises radiant glory of divine nature also: “walk with me”). Is this also the secondary meaning behind Matthew 5: 36?

Iike wool suggests the Lamb of God and the forgiveness of sins; Isaiah 1:18.

eyes as a flame of fire. The piercing glance which discerns between the good and the evil (people); Hebrews 4:12, 13 (Jesus, the Word of God); Psalm 11:4 and 33:18 and 94:7, 9; Proverbs 15:3; Ezekiel 1:18, 19, 20. Contrast Daniel 7:20.

of fire. Judgement of the ungodly; 19:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:8. The seven spirits are the eyes of the Lamb; 4:5 and 5:6.

15. feet, fine brass. In Scripture brass is always a symbol of strength, not of human nature; Daniel 10:6 (Revelation 10:1); Jeremiah 15:20; Job 6:12 (note the setting) and 40:18; 1 Samuel 17:5, 6; Micah 4:13. John 3:14 may be an allusion to the strength of the power of sin, or differently, to the Redeemer as one showing sin’s nature (serpent) but made strong to overcome it

as if they burned. The Greek perfect tense implies this is not a momentary characteristic; Exodus 3:2.

in a furnace. Zechariah 13:9 LXX. To reach the same divine nature, his disciples must endure fiery trial as he endured (and he still endures it with them!).

voice as the sound of many waters. As the voice of God, mighty and authoritative.

John 12:28-30; Ezekiel 1:24; Psalm 29 (7 times) and 68:33; 93:4; Jeremiah 51:16; Exodus 19:16, 19 and 20:18, 19; hence

Deuteronomy 18:16-19.

In his coming again: Joel 3:16; Isaiah 30:30, 31.

As is the voice of the Bridegroom so also is the voice of the Bride; Revelation 14:2, 3 and 19:6, 7; compare Daniel 7:14 LXX, 27 (saints).

16. seven stars. Here as in the other details there must be an Old Testament basis; see Isaiah 62:3, where observe “in thy hand,” as here. A strange way to use a crown! Why? There is reason to believe that a crown of 7 jewels was part of the High Priest’s equipment:

Isaiah 61:10 “decketh”=to deck as a priest (see mg.). And 62:1 has allusion to the Shekinah Glory. The word for “ornaments” here is the normal one for the priestly head-gear. With 62:3 this suggests a tiara with jewels.

Zechariah 9:16: “as the stones of a crown” would seem to have priestly reference. Note v. 15 (bowls and horns of the altar); v. 17, “beauty” is a word often associated with the priesthood and temple.

Exodus 28:36-38. If the mitre consisted only of a turban with a golden plate affixed to the front, it is difficult to see why it should be called a “crown.” This Hebrew word is the normal one for a king’s crown; 2 Samuel 1: 10; 2 Kings 11: 12, etc. Further, the word “lace” (v. 37) is somewhat misleading. It should read “circlet ;” s.w. Genesis 38:18, 25.

This, then, was the original of the diadem of seven stars seen in the hand of Christ the High Priest. The seven stars would be seven large diamonds. It is noteworthy that nowhere else was the diamond used in the High Priestly equipment (Exodus 28:18 A.V. is wrong; see R.V. and authorities). It would be strange if the finest of all gems were not to have some hallowed use in the Tabernacle. It is perhaps permissible to argue back from Revelation 1:16 and say that the High Priest’s crown consisted of six large diamonds equally spaced (seven-branched candlestick again!) with one in the centre and with the golden plate “Holy to the Lord” over the forehead. These seven stones symbolize Gentiles: Isaiah 62:5: “so shall thy sons marry thee. But natural sons do not marry their mother. Therefore “sons” = “disciples” (common Hebrew idiom). Who are they? - v. 2: the Gentiles. This interprets v. 3.

Thus the High Priest bore symbols of Israel on his breast and of the Gentiles on his head! But in Revelation 1:16 the High Priest’s crown is in his hand-thus to intimate that at the time of the vision Israel’s precedence was not yet ended but was about to be ended (A.D. 70 not far ahead) Note also that the gems are spoken of in Revelation 1:16 as “stars” because; when reflecting the Glory of Christ, that is how they would appear; cp. Philippians 2:15 (R.V.m.); Psalm 19:1-4 (which Paul applies to the preaching of the gospel; Romans 10:18).

sharp two-edged sword.
countenance as the sun.
countenance here may = “general appearance,” as in John 7:24. This now agrees with Daniel 10:6.

17. I fell at his feet as dead. Would John fall at the feet of a vision? And if John the disciple whom Jesus loved, who leaned on his bosom, thus fell down as dead, what of us when we see him (Luke 21:36)? This was the normal experience of mortal man in the presence of the Glory of the Lord. It taught that without death and resurrection no mortal man can experience an abiding knowledge of the divine Presence; Exodus 33: 20; Leviticus 16: 13. In each case death and resurrection are symbolized: Daniel 10:9-11 and 8:18; Genesis 15:12; Numbers 16:42~7; Jeremiah 31: 26; Job 42:5, 6 (there can be little doubt that Job saw the Shekinah Glory); Ezekiel 1.28 and 2:1, 2; Luke 9:32; Acts 9:4-8; Luke 21:36 (with allusion to Ezekiel’s experience?). Why was Isaiah’s experience different (Isaiah 6:5-7)?

Iaid his right hand upon me. Cp. the touch of Jesus in his miracles during his ministry. In Scripture the right hand is always associated with approval and blessing, the left with rejection and curse; Genesis 48:13, 14; Deuteronomy 27:12, 13 (since the Tabernacle faced east, and Gerizim was to the south, the blessings would be spoken from the right, and the curses from the left); Leviticus 1:11 (the sacrifice bearing the curse was on the left-hand side of the altar, but the priest’s approach was from the right); Ezekiel 4:4, 6; Matthew 25:34; cp. Old Testament written in Hebrew from right to left, and the New Testament written in Greek from left to right. The right hand that touched John (cp. Matthew 17:6, 7) was the one, which held the diadem (v. 16) as though intimating that one day John is to share it.

Fear not. This consoling imperative is many times associated with the Glory. An explicit instruction (to the worthy) that the divine presence need not be feared by the pure in heart; Daniel 10:7-11, 17-19; Luke 1:13, 20 and 2:10 and 9:34, 35; John 12:15 (though guilty Jerusalem might well fear at the approach of its King); Matthew 28:5; Malachi 4:1, 2; Isaiah 41:5, 10, 13, 14 and 44:1, 2 and 35:4; Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:25; 5:8. In the Day of Judgement the disciple will pronounce judgement on himself by the way in which he meets his Lord in fear or in confidence- confidence not in himself or his own achievements, but in the love and mercy of Christ (“The Last Days” ch. 11); 1 John 3:21, and 4:17, 18.

In the Transfiguration when Jesus came and touched the disciples, saying: “Be not afraid, they then saw no man, save Jesus only”-and he now divested of the Glory. Is that what happened in this instance also?

18. he that liveth. s.w. Luke 24:5. Numbers 14:21 LXX: “But I live and Living is my name” - another divine title applied to Christ; cp. Revelation 4:9.

alive for evermore. John 5:26, 21 and 14:6, 19.

Amen. Some MSS omit. But if to be included, then it must be understood as John’s instinctive response: “From my own personal experience (John 19:35 and 20:24) I know this statement to be true.”

the keys of hell and of death. Psalm 9:13. Possession of these keys is the qualification to be able to talk with the Almighty (Job 12:14 and 38:17). Are these keys the same as the keys of the Kingdom (Matthew 16:19; Proverbs 1: 21)? Hardly so, for Christ will use the keys of hell and death himself (Genesis 22:17; Isaiah 61: 1; Zechariah 9:11, 12; Revelation 20:3, 13, 14).

death and hell (R.V.). The natural order. The king and his attendant minister; ch. 6: 8.

19. Another triad. The three phrases in this verse all refer to the same things; i.e. to the main body of Revelation still to be unfolded to the Apostle.

which thou sawest. Why past sense? At the time John wrote them the visions would be already past. This “epistolary aorist” is a normal form in Greek; cp. v. 2.

and (i.e. even) the things which are should read “what things they are,” i.e. what they mean. For use of the verb “to be” in an interpretative sense see v. 20 here and 17:9, 12, 15, 18; Matthew 13:37-39; Luke 15:26 Gk., Acts 2:12 and 10:17 Gk.; Ezekiel 37:11. The form of the Greek requires: “What they individually and separately mean.”

Did John obey this instruction and write the meaning of his vision? Yes -by the way in which he reported everything in terms of Old Testament prophecy! And the Apostle’s key has been mostly left untried.

and (even) the things which shall be hereafter. The things to be seen are a prophecy of future events.

write therefore (R.V.). Meaning either:
The instruction is repeated in 14:13 and 19:9 and 21:5. Why in these places particularly? These passages refer to things heard. All the rest was seen. Revelation 22:10: “Publish the book.”

20. mystery. The unfolded meaning; cp. 17:7, 9.

seven stars. Daniel 12:3; contrast Jude 13 (false leaders). Why should explanation be offered as to “stars” and “angels,” but not for any of the rest of the elaborate symbolism in this chapter and those succeeding?

the angels of the churches.

Cannot refer to the messengers carrying the letters from Patmos.

Could be either the Bishop (senior elder) of the church (as Timothy at Ephesus or Titus in Crete), or the elders of the church spoken of collectively.

“Messenger of God” is a description of the instructing priest of the Old Testament; Malachi 2:7; Ecclesiastes 5:6; cp. R.V. of Revelation 19:10, spoken by an angel from heaven.

Elders in Israel were frequently referred to as “elohim ;” e.g. Exodus 22:8 and 28 and 23:20, 21; Psalm 82:1, 6; John 10:34. And this word “elohim” was also used of angels, Psalm 8: 5; Hosea 12:3; Exodus 3:4 (=Acts 7:30). Thus in John’s Hebraistic Greek the word “angel” might well take on the meaning of “elder;” cp. 2 Peter 2:4; these “angels” are leaders-Korah, Dathan, and Abiram-who left their own principality (Jude 6 R.V.).

Observe that there is no distinction between Revelation 1 :4, “to the church,” and 2:1, “to the angel of the church.”

The “messenger” was the title of a synagogue official who had charge of the scrolls and who was responsible for organization of services. And it is a known fact that the early churches adopted much of synagogue procedure.

Careful comparison of Revelation 5:6 and 4:5 and 1:4, Luke 1:19; Zechariah 4:10, suggests that the angels may be angels (everywhere else in Revelation “angel” = angel; what other New Testament examples are there of “angel” = elders?). In which case Revelation 2:1 can read: “For the angel of the church at Ephesus” i.e. on behalf of the ministering angel concerned with the church at Ephesus. More on this in ch. 5: “The Sealed Book.”

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