Revelation 1:12-20

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 10, 2011


Israel Trip

Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Somewhere around the year 95 AD the apostle John found himself exiled to the little island of Patmos.  His crime? Preaching the gospel.

While on this island, John is given an amazing “Revelation”, an unveiling about things to come.

We ended the introductory passages last week with John describing how this “Revelation” started, with him hearing a loud voice like a trumpet behind him

(Re 1:11 NKJV) 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.”

We’re now going to see who that voice was.

1:11-20 The Glorified Son of Man

:12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

:12 lampstandsluchnia – a (candlestick) lamp stand, candelabrum

:12 seven golden lampstands

It’s possible that what John is seeing looks like the Menorah

That lamp that was in the Tabernacle and the Temple – an oil lamp that had seven branches on it.

It’s more likely that these are seven separate lampstands.

John will see Jesus “in the midst” of these lampstands.

Jesus Himself will tell us in verse 20 that these lampstands have a symbolic meaning:

(Re 1:20 NKJV) …and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.


Clarifying Heaven

The Bible tells us that the worship of God at the Tabernacle of the Old Testament was a “shadow” of heaven (Heb. 8:5)
(Heb 8:5 NKJV) who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
The first room inside the tent was called the “Holy Place” with a single lampstand with seven lamps. (Ex. 25:37)
In Old Testament times, Israel was God’s light in the world.
The book of Revelation clarifies, unveils some of these “shadows” by giving us a better picture of what heaven is like.
In Revelation, where we will clearly see heavenly things, we're going to be seeing things that have a clear reference to things of the tabernacle or temple.
The Tabernacle had the “mercy seat”.  Heaven has the throne of God.
The Tabernacle had a “bronze sea”.  Heaven has a “glass sea”.
Both will have the “Ark of the Covenant”.
The Tabernacle had an altar of incense.  Heaven has the prayers of the saints.
The Tabernacle had one lampstand.  Heaven has seven.
I see the “Holy Place” of the Tabernacle as a picture of the worship of God’s people from earth.
A priest entered daily to trim and light the lamp, just as we are to daily, continually take care of our relationship with God.
It was a place of fellowship with God, eating with God, the table set with loaves of bread for each of the twelve tribes, all of God's people.
It is the place where prayer is offered, the altar of incense.
It’s only separated from the holy of holies by the thinnest of veils, a veil that was torn when Jesus died on the cross and paid for our sins.
And the lamp (or, lampstands) is in the holy place, just as we are the light to the world.

Jesus said the lampstands were the churches (vs. 20)

:13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man,

:13 midstmesos – middle; the midst; in the midst of, amongst

:13 likehomoios – like, similar, resembling

:13 like the Son of Man

This is Jesus.  Jesus called Himself “the Son of Man” 83 times.

It’s a title that refers to the humanity of Jesus.

Even though He is fully God, He is also fully human.
He is the perfect bridge to God, being both God and man.
(1 Ti 2:5 NKJV) For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,

Daniel also used this title around 600 B.C. to describe the coming Messiah.

(Da 7:13a NKJV) “I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven!

Daniel had a vision that stretched into the end times.  His vision was about different beasts that represented different world empires.  In his vision he caught a glimpse of God in heaven:

(Da 7:9–10 NKJV) —9 “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. His throne was a fiery flame, Its wheels a burning fire; 10 A fiery stream issued And came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, And the books were opened.

Daniel saw a second person

(Da 7:13–14 NKJV) —13 “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. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.

:13 …clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

:13 down to the feetpoderes – reaching to the feet

:13 girdedperizonnumi – to fasten garments with a girdle or belt

:13 the chest

Josephus tells us that the priests, rather than being girded about the waist as most people were, the priests were girded about the chest.

This seems to suggest that Jesus here is dressed as priest
 (Heb 4:14 NKJV) Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

:13 bandzone – a girdle, belt, serving not only to gird on flowing garments but also, since it was hollow, to carry money in


Priest at Work

Jesus is demonstrating the role of the priest.
The author of Hebrews calls Jesus our “High Priest” (Heb. 8:1)

(Heb 2:17 NKJV) —17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

(Heb 4:14 NKJV) —14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

(Heb 6:20 NKJV) —20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

(Heb 7:26 NKJV) —26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;

(Heb 8:1–2 NKJV) —1 Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2 a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.

He’s moving among the lampstands (His church) in the holy place, trimming the lamps, cleaning them out, refilling them, and lighting them on fire!
That’s what the letters to the churches are all about.

He’s the Inspector of the lampstands.  He’s the one works to help the churches burn brighter as lights in this world.

Sometimes we get kind of gunked up, and we don’t burn like we should.

So the Lord has to come and clean out the lamps, re-fill us with oil, and re-light us on fire!

This is what you will experience over the next seven or so weeks as we look at the letters that Jesus has written to all of us.

What follows is the only physical description of Jesus that we have in the New Testament.

This description may indeed be literal, but there may be a symbolic nature to it as well since we’ve been told that the lampstands and the stars are symbolic.

As we work our way through this description, we’re going to see of these elements of Jesus’ description affecting the various churches.  The letters will help us understand some of these elements.


(Re 2:1 NKJV) —1 “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:


(Re 2:8 NKJV) —8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:


(Re 2:12 NKJV) —12 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:


(Re 2:18 NKJV) —18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:


(Re 3:1 NKJV) —1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.


(Re 3:7 NKJV) —7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:


(Re 3:14 NKJV) —14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

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

:14 whiteleukos – light, bright, brilliant

:14 woolerion – wool

:14 snowchion – snow

It shows us that in heaven there is no “Grecian Formula” or “Just For Men”

It might be a reference to His age.

After all, He has existed from eternity past.

(Jn 1:2 NKJV) He was in the beginning with God.

It is a reference to His purity and holiness.

Isaiah uses “white snow” as a picture of purity:

(Is 1:18 NKJV) “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

Jesus describes Himself to the church of Philadelphia as “He who is holy”, a reference that doesn’t show up in any of the description here in Rev. 1 except possibly here.

:14 …and His eyes like a flame of fire;

This speaks of Jesus’ knowledge of us (seeing right through us) and of His judgment.

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

(Re 2:18 NKJV) “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:

It’s to the unrepentant people of this church that Jesus says,

(Re 2:23 NKJV) I will kill her children with death, and 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.
The “searching” of the eyes and the judgment of fire.

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

The judgment is based on what makes it through the fire.
(1 Co 3:13–15 NKJV) —13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

:15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace,

:15 fine brasschalkolibanon (“brass” + “frankincense” (perhaps with the idea of whiteness or brilliancy) – some metal like gold if not more precious

:15 furnacekaminos – a furnace

:15 refinedpuroo – to burn with fire, to set on fire, kindle; make to glow

Because these same parts of Jesus’ description are used for the church of Thyatira, I believe that this too speaks of judgment.

Jesus is ready to bring judgment into the world.

Brass is often seen as 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 sacrificing an animal in your place.

And so, some see this as a picture of Jesus being ready to bring judgment 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 weird 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.

The fiery brass picture is often seen with other beings from heaven as well:

An angel is described in Daniel 10 with a similar appearance:
(Da 10:5–6 NKJV) —5 I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! 6 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.
The cherubim that Ezekiel sees have similar feet:
(Eze 1:7 NKJV) —7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves’ feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.
Ezekiel catches a glimpse of God on His throne:
(Eze 1:27 NKJV) —27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around.

:15 …and His voice as the sound of many waters;

This same description is used to describe the voice of God:

(Eze 43:2 NKJV) And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.

The Psalmist writes:

(Ps 29:3–5 NKJV) —3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over 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 breaks the cedars, Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
It might sound something like a waterfall or the ocean. (Play “Many Waters” clips)

:16 He had in His right hand seven stars,

(to Ephesus) The right hand is usually seen as the favored hand.  It speaks of:

1.  Blessing

(Ge 48:14 NKJV) Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head…

2.  Strength

(Is 62:8 NKJV) The LORD has sworn by His right hand And by the arm of His strength…

3.  Choice

(Ps 16:8 NKJV) I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

4.  Authority

(Heb 8:1 NKJV) …We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,

:16 …seven stars,

Jesus tells us in verse 20 that these stars represent the “angels” of the seven churches.

(Re 1:20 NKJV) …The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…

Though these angels might be what we normally consider angels (the guys with the big wings), it might be referring to the leaders or pastors of the seven churches.

The word “angel” is aggelos, which simply means “messenger”.

Matthew (11:10) uses this word to describe John the Baptist
(Mt 11:10 NKJV) For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.’


In a great place

Look where we are in relation to Jesus.
He is walking among the lampstands.
He has us in His hand – His RIGHT hand.

That’s 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 that the church is Jesus’ highest priority.

:16 …out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword,

(to Pergamos)

:16 swordrhomphaia – a large sword

:16 two-edgeddistomos – having a double mouth as a river; used of the edge of the sword and of other weapons, so has the meaning of two-edged

:16 sharpoxus – sharp; swift, quick

Is this literal or symbolic? I’ve seen drawings with a literal sword.

I hope you can see the clear symbolism of this description.  The Bible says,

(Heb 4:12 NKJV) For the word of God is living and 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.

What is coming out of Jesus’ mouth?  The Word of God, like the letters to the churches.


The Greek word used in Heb.4:12 is machaira, a small sword.

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. 

Kind of like the one Indiana Jones faced.  (Play clip)

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

He’s got the big sword out.  Even at the end of Revelation, it’s the rhomphaia He’s wielding.

:16 …and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

:16 countenance opsis – face

:16 shiningphaino – to bring forth into the light

:16 strengthdunamis – strength power, ability

This is what we call “glory

Part of the Biblical idea of glory is a shining light, a kind of glow.

The Bible talks about God being surrounded by light.
(1 Ti 6:16 NKJV) who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light…
When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up to a mountain retreat…
(Mt 17:2 NKJV) and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Jesus allowed the His glory to peek out.


Being changed

There is a sense in which God wants His “glory” to affect our lives. John’s describing Jesus’ glory is meant to rub off a little on the churches.
Moses found that when he spent time with God, the “glory” rubbed off.
(Ex 34:29 NKJV) Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. 
Look at the blessing that the priests were to speak over God’s people:
(Nu 6:24–26 NKJV) — 24 “The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

The priests were to be asking God’s glory to “shine” on His people.

Paul draws on Moses’ experience and applies it to us.
(2 Co 3:18 NKJV) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Spending time with God ought to change us.  His glory ought to rub off.

As we truly spend time in God’s presence; people ought to see in our faces that we’ve been with God.

What we call our “worship” time is a chance for you to draw near to God, to spend time in His presence.  I hope it’s more than just music for you.

:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.

This is what happens to people who catch a glimpse of glory. It happened to Ezekiel:

(Eze 1:28 NKJV) Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. So when I saw it, I fell on my face

Abraham before the LORD

(Ge 17:1–3 NKJV) —1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:

Joshua before the Commander of the LORD’s army

(Jos 5:14 NKJV) So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Samson’s parents before the Angel of the LORD

(Jdg 13:19–20 NKJV) So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on— 20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.

Daniel before Gabriel

(Da 8:17 NKJV) —17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”

John before the angel

(Re 22:8–9 NKJV) —8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”


Floor time

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 humbly to the floor.
I wonder why we don’t spend more of our worship time flat on our faces.
If I’ve never sensed a need to get on my face before God; I kind of wonder if I’ve ever worshipped at all.
We don’t have to wait until we see something has dramatic as John did, either.
After healing the blind man, Jesus asked if he believed in the Messiah:

(Jn 9:37–38 NKJV) —37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him.

The words used imply he fell to the ground.

Warren Wiersbe writes:
“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 …But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.

:17 afraidphobeo – to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm

:17 I am the First and the Last

I amego eimi

the firstprotos – first in time or place; first in rank

the lasteschatos – extreme; the last

Jesus has already said this to John (1:11)

Everything starts with Jesus and everything ends with Jesus.
We’ve seen this concept twice already, the first time it was spoken by God the Father:
(Re 1:8 NKJV) “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.”
The second time it was spoken by a voice “behind” John, who we now know was Jesus:
(Re 1:11 NKJV) 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.”

: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.

:18 He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore

Jesus was the One who died for our sins and rose from the dead, never to die again.

:18 forevermoreeis tous aionas ton aionon

foreveraion – for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity; period of time, age

“unto the ages of the ages”

:18 Amenamen – firm; verily, amen, truly

It might be that Jesus is simply saying “Amen” to how He’s described Himself.

It could be that He’s saying that He’s the “Amen”, the “truth”

When Jesus addresses the Laodiceans, He calls Himself “the Amen”
(Re 3:14 NKJV) “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

:18 the keys of Hades and of Death

:18 Hadeshades –the realm of the dead, the “grave”

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

He can take away persons in death, as in Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5).
He can bring people back from death, as in raising Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8)
He has authority over death.
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)


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 NKJV) “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:

Is the “key of David” related to the “keys of Hades and Death”?

Sounds like homework to me!


No fear

Even though it is proper for us to experience a sense of fear in God’s presence, there’s also a sense in which we should not be afraid.
He’s the first and last – it all begins with Him and it all ends with Him.
He’s the one who has conquered death.  He’s the reason we have hope when we face death.
David wrote,
(Ps 23:4 NKJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse was one of America’s great preachers. His first wife died from cancer when she was in her thirties, leaving three children under the age of twelve.  Barnhouse chose to preach the funeral himself.  What does a father tell his motherless children at a time like that?  On his way to the service, he was driving with his little family when a large truck passed them in the highway, casting a shadow over their car.  Barnhouse turned to his oldest daughter who was staring sadly out the window, and asked, “Tell me, sweetheart, would you rather be run over by that truck or its shadow?” The little girl looked curiously at her father and said, “By the shadow, I guess.  It can’t hurt you.” Dr. Barnhouse said quietly to the three children, “Your mother has not been overrun by death, but by the shadow of death.  That is nothing to fear.”

:19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

:19 which willmello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something

: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.

:20 the mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret, mystery; in rabbinic writings, it denotes the mystic or hidden sense

:19 Write the things


Revelation’s Key

If you’re not careful, you’ll speed right past this verse.  Jesus isn’t just telling John to write, He’s actually dividing the book into three parts.
the things which you have seen
This is what John has just seen, this vision of Jesus in Revelation 1.
the things which are
These are things in the present age, the church age, referring to the content of Revelation 2-3, the letters to the seven churches.
the things which will take place after this
This refers to the rest of the book, the things that shall be “after” the “things which are”.  These are the future things, the things that shall take place after the church age.
John will even repeat this phrase in the Greek (meta tauta) when he starts this section in chapter 4 to let you know that he is starting this last section of things to come –

(Re 4:1 NKJV) After these things (meta tauta) I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven…

When you grasp how this works out in the book, it helps you to see how the book is laid out prophetically.
Some people want to say that the things in Revelation have already been fulfilled, but when you see the layout of the book, you see that most of the book (chapters 4-22) is even still yet in the future.

Homework assignment:

Read about Ephesus.  Acts 18-20.  Ephesians.