Revelation 1:14-20

Wednesday Night Bible Study

December 4, 1996


We've seen that this unique book is one that comes with a built in blessing (vs.3)

It's from the Father, the Holy Spirit (the seven spirits), and the Son.

It was information recorded by the apostle John during a time when he was transported in the Spirit to the time known as "the day of the Lord" (vs.10).

The things that John saw started with a vision of Jesus Christ.

He was described in a manner that reminds us of a priest doing His priestly duties in the holy place of the tabernacle, in particular, cleaning and preparing the lamps in the tabernacle:

(Rev 1:12-13 KJV) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; {13} And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.


Because this vision of Jesus contains these candlesticks and stars, which are later interpretted as being symbols (v.20), it is likely that the description of Jesus might also be symbolic in some sense.

:12-16 The Vision of Jesus

:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow

Some have suggested that the white hair shows us wisdom, or perhaps purity.

Revelation 7:13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

I think its possible that Jesus is just showing his age.

We see this same picture, along with the age issue used by the prophet Daniel:

(Dan 7:9 KJV) I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Jesus isn't the Ancient of Days (that's the Father), He's the Son of Man to whom the kingdoms of the world are given.

But in actuality, Jesus Himself is just as old as the Father.

Both are without beginning, and without end.

:14 his eyes were as a flame of fire

I think this speaks of Jesus' knowledge of us (seeing right through us) and of His judgment over us.

When we come to the letters to the seven churches, we're going to see how each of these parts of Jesus' description are used in the introduction to each of the churches.

To church He was most upset with (Thyatira), Jesus described Himself with this very description:

Re 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass; (AV)

And again to the same church, Jesus elaborates with:

Re 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (AV)

Paul tells us that there is going to be a sense in which we all are going to have our works judged before Jesus.

We're going to see just what kind of lives we really lived.

(1 Cor 3:13-15 KJV) Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

:15 his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace

Typically, we are taught that brass is a symbol of judgment.

This probably was derived from the fact that the altar in the courtyard of the tabernacle and temple was made of bronze, or brass.

And the altar is seen as a place of judgment, where judgment is brought on sin by sacrficing an animal in your place.

And so, some see this as a picture of Jesus being ready to bring judgement on the world.

Another suggestion:

To me, I think it's helpful to remember that brass is the metal that was used exclusively in the courtyard of the tabernacle and the temple.

With the tabernacle, we see a progression of places that increasingly get farther from the world, and closer to heaven.

There was a cloth "fence" that kept anyone from looking into the courtyard from the rest of the camp.

The courtyard was open to all worshippers, both priests as well as regular people.

And inside the courtyard,

The altar outside was made of brass.

The lavers or the "sea" were made of brass.

All the tools and equipment of the tabernacle and temple that were used outdoors were made of brass.

From the courtyard, the progression leads into the holy place, where only the priests could go, and they did, every day.

And inside the holy place, everything was made of gold.

And from the holy place, the last step was through the veil, into the holy of holies, where only the high priest went, and then only once each year.

The only thing in the holy of holies was the ark of the covenant, which was topped by the mercy seat, which represented God's throne.

Both were made of gold.

I know I may be kind of wierd about this but ...

The courtyard was the place where the world came in contact with God.

It's only one step outside of the world, but one step closer to God.

Kind of like the church.

We're in the world, but on our way to heaven.

I wonder if this is more a picture of Jesus having been out walking in the world with His church?

Just a thought.

:15 his voice as the sound of many waters.

This allusion to God's voice is also found in:

Eze 43:2 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east: and his voice [was] like a noise of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory. (AV)

I believe it is talking about the awesome power of the Lord, when He simply speaks, as the roaring noise of a great waterfall.

Psalm 29:3-5 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

:16 he had in his right hand

The right hand is usually the favored hand (more people being right handed), hence it has come to mean that which is favored, the preferred position, strength, power, that which is chosen.

We see the right hand to carry several ideas in Scripture:

1. Best blessings.

The best blessing was done with the right hand.

Genesis 48:14 And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid [it] upon Ephraim's head, who [was] the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh [was] the firstborn.

2. Strength.

Isaiah 62:8 The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn [to be] meat for thine enemies; and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast laboured:

3. The preferred choice.

Psalms 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

4. Authority and power.

Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken [this is] the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

:16 seven stars:

This is not a mystery, because Jesus tells us what these seven stars represent in verse 20:

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches:

Some see these "angels" as possibly being the pastors of the seven churches.

The word "angel" is aggelos, which simply means "messenger", so this is a possibility.

In fact, this word is actually used in the NT of humans, one is John the Baptist:

Matthew 11:10 For this is [he], of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Yet, I tend to think that these are actual, angelic beings, which watch over the affairs of the individual churches. (though I could be wrong, after all , my mother always used to call me an angel)

The Greek word translated "angel" is found 72 times in Revelation alone, only ten of them in chapters 1,2,3. The rest of the times it is clearly understood as angelic beings.

In fact, angels do have responsibilities over mankind:

Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (AV)


We're in a great place!

Whether these are pastors, or angelic beings, these are the individuals that Jesus sees as having authority over the churches.

These are the ones that Jesus addresses the letters in chapters 2 & 3 to.

And these individuals are in a great place, in Jesus' RIGHT HAND!

They're not under His foot!

They're in the place of blessing, strength, choice, and authority!

We can kind of get the idea that Jesus is a little rough on some of the churches.

But it's only because He loves us so very, very much.

The truth is, we as the church are Jesus' highest priority.

:16 out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword:

This one isn't too hard to understand.

It's His Word.

(Heb 4:12 KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (see also Eph. 6:17)

It's your Bible!


The Greek word used in Heb.4:12 is machaira which was a small sword used in hand-to-hand combat.

The Greek word used here in Revelation is rhomphaia which was a large sword, the kind that was so big it had to be carried on the shoulder.

The point?

Jesus isn't messing around with the little sword anymore!

He's pulling out all the stops with His beloved church!

:16 his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Re 1:16 His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (NIVUS)

This is simply talking about the glory that is surrounding Jesus.

The Biblical idea of glory is like a shining light, a kind of glow.

When Moses spent time with God, the glow kind of rubbed off on him:

Ex 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (AV)

When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a mountain retreat for a few days ...

(Mat 17:1-3 KJV) And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, {2} And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. {3} And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

Jesus allowed the His glory to peak out.


God wants you to glow!

This glowing thing wasn't intended for Moses alone.

God wants to have His glory shine on all of us.

Nu 6:22-27 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 23 Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, 24 The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 25 The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them. (AV)

I kind of hope that as we spend time in God's presence, that people will see it in our faces, that we've been with God.

Spending time with God ought to change us.


I know I've gone into great detail to explain this vision of Jesus, as if this were nothing but a bunch of symbols.

But remember one of our principles of interpretation?

"Wherever possible, take it literally".

I wonder if there isn't a sense in which this to some extent is simply the way Jesus looks.

I know I'm getting wierd on you, forgive me.

After all, when Jesus was glowing on the mountain before Peter, James, and John, I don't see that there's any sense that it was symbolic.

I think that Jesus was literally glowing.

In another instance, Daniel has a vision of a heavenly kind of being (which may or may not be Jesus, depending upon who you talk to ...) and the person looks almost exactly like Jesus in Rev. 1 (see Dan. 10:5-6 for homework)

Maybe this is just what heavenly people look like?

:17-20 John's response to the vision

:17 when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.

This isn't that uncommon of a response to someone who sees something as awesome as this.

Ezekiel wrote:

Eze 1:28 As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so [was] the appearance of the brightness round about. This [was] the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw [it], I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (AV) (see also Is.6:5; Dan.8:17)


Opened eyes fall to the floor.

If we are truly aware that we are in God's presence, there ought to be a sense of awe and fear that should drive us to the floor.

I personally wonder why we don't spend more of our worship time flat on our faces.

If we never sense a need to get on our face before God, I kind of wonder if we have ever worshipped at all.

I wonder if we really realize what is going on around us.

We don't have to wait until we see something has awesome as John did, either.

When Jesus healed a blind man, Jesus asked him if he believed in the Messiah.

Jesus said,

Joh 9:37-38 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. (AV)

Have your eyes been opened?

Perhaps you need some floor time.


Warren Wiersbe:

"There is a dangerous absence of awe and worship in our assemblies today. We are boasting about standing on our own feet, instead of breaking and falling at His feet. For years, Evan Roberts prayed, "Bend me! Bend me!" and when God answered, the great Welsh Revival resulted."

:17 he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not;

As awesome as Jesus is, as scary as it is to come into His presence, He doesn't want us to be afraid of Him.

He is still the Good Shepherd.

:17 I am the first and the last:

We saw this last week, as the Alpha and Omega.

:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore,

This is clearly Jesus Christ.

His death, resurrection, and eternal nature.

:18 and have the keys of hell and of death.

Literally, "the keys of death and Hades".

This speaks of Jesus' authority over death and the grave.

He has authority over death.

He can take away persons in death, as in Ananias and Saphira (Acts ).

He can bring people back from death, as in raising Jairus' daughter (Luke 8)

He has authority over the grave.

The word "hell" is actually the word "Hades", which is known as the abode of the dead.

Before Jesus' resurrection, Hades was divided into two compartments, for the good and the bad.

At His resurrection, Jesus took the righteous with Him to heaven (Ephesians 4:8-9)


Something I'm interested in, to see if there's a connection:

With all the descriptions of Jesus, you will see each one of them applied to specific churches, in the letters to the churches.

Yet the only mention of a "key" is in:

Re 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (AV)

Is there a connection???? Sounds like homework to me!

:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

What we have here, is the actual division of the book of Revelation.

John is told by Jesus to write down three types of things:

1. the things which thou hast seen

This refers to what we've just studied, John's vision of Jesus in His glorified body.

These are the things in Revelation 1.

2. the things which are

This refers to the things that are happening at the present, what we might call "the church age".

As we're going to see, these are the things included in the following two chapters, the letters to the seven churches.

These are the things in Revelation 2-3.

3. the things which shall be hereafter

Jesus uses two words here, meta tauta (meta tauta).

Coincidentally, these exact same two words are found at the beginning of chapter four:

Re 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door [was] opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard [was] as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. (AV)

This covers the remainder of the book, the things which happen after "the church age", the things that are going to happen in the future.

This includes the things in Revelation 4-22.

:20 The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches


The best commentary on the Bible, is the Bible!

It's not that uncommon that we're going to find the interpretation right in the pages of the Bible itself!

Here it's right in the same passage!

:20 and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

As we've already seen.

Homework assignment:

Next week we're going to start into the letters to the seven churches, starting with the church at Ephesus.

If you want to get a head up start, for extra credit, read:

Acts 18-20 - which details the start of the church at Ephesus, about 45 years earlier.

Ephesians - Paul's letter to the church some 30 years before this one in Revelation.