SUMMARY.--Preface. John to the Seven Churches. In the Spirit on the Lord's Day. The Revelation of the Son of Man. The Seven Stars and Seven Candlesticks.
12-16. I saw seven golden candlesticks. The first things seen when he turned to see whence the voice came were the seven golden candlesticks, which symbolized the churches ( verse 20 ). 13. And in the midst. It is a beautiful thought that he who said "I will be with you always" is represented as moving in the midst of the church. Like unto the Son of man. A term used in Dan. 7:13 and applied by the Savior to Himself, but never applied to him by the New Testament writers except here, Rev. 14:14 and Acts 7:56 Rev. 14:14 and Acts 7:56 . A garment down to the foot. The long robe of a high priest girt about with the golden girdle of a king. 14. His head and his hair were white. White is the color of purity and of triumph. The idea here is not age but heavenly glory. His eyes were as a flame of fire. Bright, piercing, all seeing, flashing light, and also a consuming fire of the wicked. 15. Feet like unto fine brass. Shedding forth splendor like burnished brass heated in a furnace. His voice. His voice was mighty like the sound of surging waters. 16. In his right hand seven stars. "The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches" ( verse 20 ). And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. This two-edged sword is a symbol of the word by which Christ's conquests are won. See Eph. 6:17 Heb. 4:12 , and compare Rev. 19:15 . His countenance. The glory of his countenance is the same that was manifested at the Transfiguration.
17-20. I fell at his feet as dead. Overcome with awe. No sinful man can stand before God and live; hence the impression made by the appearance of the Lord is that of terror. Fear not. But when the Lord spoke to the disciple it was with the old love. How often before had Jesus said "Fear not." I am the first and the last. See verse 8. The attributes claimed for Jehovah are also claimed for Christ. 18. He that liveth, and was dead. Put to death but living. Have the keys of death and of Hades. Not only a victor over death, but the very gates of death and Hades are under his control. Hence he can deliver from the dead whom he will. 19. Write. Not only the vision just seen, but the things which are, viz., the description of the state of the churches given in /Commentaries/PeoplesNewTestament/pnt.cgi?book=re&chapter=000#" and/Commentaries/PeoplesNewTestament/pnt.cgi?book=re&chapter=000#" and also the things which shall be, viz., the revelation of future history recorded in chapters 6-20 . 20. The mystery of the seven stars. The Lord himself at once explains what the seven stars and seven candlesticks symbolize. The seven candlesticks represent the churches, or organizations appointed to "let their light shine" and become "the light of the world." And the seven stars are the angels of the churches. These were, I think, the evangelists of the churches. See note below.
THE APPEARANCE OF CHRIST. He was arrayed in a priestly robe and girt with a kingly girdle of gold. Heavenly purity was indicated by the dazzling whiteness of his head and hair, and the splendor that shone from his countenance was like that of the unclouded sun. Every manifestation of the divine glory is accompanied with brilliancy and splendor. "In him is no darkness at all." The burning bush of Horeb, the glory of Sinai, the Shekinah of the tabernacle, the City of which God and the Lamb are the light, the transfigured Savior of Hermon, the Son of Man of Patmos, and all the visions of the prophets of both covenants, indicate that whenever the Deity manifests itself, there is a revelation of heavenly splendor. The Son of Man, the Man of Sorrows, the Lamb of God, is also the Bright and Morning Star, and the Sun of Righteousness. It is thus, crowned with majesty, garbed in light, and shining as the sun, that John beholds the Son of Man walking amid the golden candlesticks and holding the seven stars in his hands.
THE SEVEN STARS. I shall not take up space to discuss the various views as to the nature of the angels of the churches. It has been held that they were heavenly angels, were diocesan bishops of the cities, were pastors or elders, or were messengers sent from the churches to visit John in Patmos. The word angel means a messenger, and is equally applicable to the messengers of God and those of men. John the Baptist is called in Mark 1:2 , angel, or messenger, and the term is often applied to human beings. It is certain that it is in this passage. John is told to write to these angels, and certainly the letters were not sent to the angels of heaven. Nor does this language suggest the idea of messengers sent to visit John in Patmos. In that case the letters might be sent by them to the churches, but would certainly not be written to them. It becomes evident, therefore, that the angels were men filling some office in connection with the churches. There is not the slightest evidence that diocesan bishops existed until much later than this age, and hence I do not think that they are meant. The term can hardly apply to an elder, for there seems to have been a plurality of elders in all the churches, and it is not likely that one would be singled out. It is my judgment that the angels were the preachers or evangelists of the churches. As these evangelists not only labored at home, but were often sent out, and were messengers to carry the good tidings, there is a fitness in applying the term to them. We know from the epistles of Paul and from church tradition, that Timothy was long the evangelist at Ephesus, and it is possible that he may have lived and labored until the time of John's banishment. If so, he was the angel to whom the epistle to the church at Ephesus was directed. Then we conclude that the seven stars held in the hand of the Lord, supported and strengthened by him, shining with his light, are the seven preachers of the churches of Asia.