Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 12-16

· Lampstands. The image that God is Light refers to the Church as the body of believers and whose duty it is to be a light as a witness for Christ. His character is the Light we follow and proclaim. Christ is the Priest, Head, Lord, and Prime Shepherd of the Church. He is the Object and Reason why we meet and function. This refers to the O.T. account of how God’s Glory descended into the Tabernacle. Now, our purpose is to point to His glory, as the Church is the light of the world. Christ is the destiny and pattern we follow and emulate. Proclaiming the Church as a lamp stand is saying the Church is significant as the true place of reverence to God, and Christianity is the true practice of Judaism (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 25:31-40; 1 Kings 7:49; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16; 18:20; 28:20; John 1:4-5; 8:12; 14:18; Acts 26:13; Eph. 1:10; 5:8-13; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 1:4-5; Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

· Like a son of man refers to His supremacy and role as Lord Ruler and Love for the believer (Dan. 7:9-13; 10:5-6; Ezek. 1:25-28; Mark 8:31; Col. 1:16-17).

· Robe means distinction. Christ appears in overwhelming brilliance and glory that was extremely difficult to put into words, as the world cannot contain His essence. The high priest was dressed in expensive, decorative, full-length girdles and robes. This alludes to Ezekiel and Daniel and portrays Christ as Judge and Ruler over all, especially the Church in which we think we rule (Ex. 28:4; 29:5; Ezek. 1:13, 25-28; Dan. 7:9-10; 10:5-6; Rev. 2:27; 3:21).

· Golden sash was a woven sash worn by priests. It refers to His Glory, Deity, and the victory and conquest over sin, and His guarantee of the final victory in the last days. It also refers to Christ being our High Priest. In context, this is also powerful Trinitarian imagery (Ex, 29:29; Rev. 1:17-18; 15:6; 17:14; 19:11-16).

· Like wool refers to age, wisdom, honor, respect, and dignity (Lev. 19:32; Prov. 16:31; Dan 7:9; Isa. 1:18).

· Blazing fire means God’s penetrating insight and strength, His Sovereignty as Warrior, and His role as victor in the final battle to come. It also refers to the great victories of battle in the O.T. This points to the Transfiguration (Ex. 15:3; Duet. 32: 41-42; Judges 5:31; Isa. 59:17-18; Zech. 14:3; Dan. 10:6; Matt. 13:43; 17:2; Rev. 4:6; 19:11-21).

· Bronze…feet means bearers of God’s throne, and that God is irresistible and firm (Ezek. 1:7; Dan. 10:6)

· Seven stars. Jewish texts often display angels as stars. In contrast, pagans saw stars as the rulers of their destiny when, in fact, God, who is LORD is that ruler.

· Double-edged sword refers to the Roman “Thracian” sword that a small double edge dagger used as an offensive weapon, it is referring to the power of His Word and the testimony of our Lord. It symbolizes His divine judgment and decisive action (Isa. 4:12; 11:4; 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12, 16; 6:8; 19:15, 21)

· Sun. Angels are sometimes described as shining like the sun (Isa. 60:1-3, 19-20; Dan. 10:6; Rev. 21:22).

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Exegetical look into Revelation 1: 9-11

· Brother and companion. John is addressing all Christians¾not just the seven churches, because the seven means “completeness” and represents us all. John is making it personal and caring, yet forceful in function.

· Suffering is a prevailing theme in Revelation (Rev. 2:9-10, 22; 7:14)!

· Endurance is a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. We are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress. This theme is prominent in Revelation (Rev. 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

· Patmos is a small, rocky island, eight-by-four miles, in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, then called Asia Minor. It was a Roman penal colony where inmates who were dangerous were sent and left there. John’s exile here could also been clemency by the governor because he could have been executed. Church tradition states they tried to execute John several times but failed. This also puts John in the position to perhaps denounce Rome, calling them “Babylon (chaps 17-18).” Eusebius, a “Church Father” and early historian (A.D. 265-340), states that John was released from Patmos under the rein of the emperor Nerva (96-98). This gives further credence for a late date.

· The Lord’s Day was a covert term to mean when the Early Church met for worship. It refers to the day of worship, Sunday, where Christ’s resurrection, victory, and Last Supper were celebrated. Many Christians were Jews and still participated in the Sabbath observances, too (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 19:1-10).

· In the Spirit means “spiritual exaltation,” possibly as in charismatic worship. However, John did not solicit this vision; God gave it to him. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no dream (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

· Loud voice refers to the power of Christ and our duty to reverence Him (Job 37:5-6; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6).

· Trumpet means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16).

· Scroll means a piece of papyrus or parchment that is usually bound or sown together and rolled on a wood spindle, which codex’s in the second century (books) replaced. It refers to the power and eminence of His Word.

· Send it to the seven churches, as the text says, at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. They were 30 to 40 miles apart in a circular placement and this was also the most efficient order a messenger would literally take. This would disprove that the churches were merely symbolic!

· Seven churches. These are not allegories, but rather real, actual churches in Asia Minor whose tangible problems are the representation of ones we still have with us today. There were many more churches in Asia Minor at that time, as seven is symbolic for completeness, and thus applies to all churches in all times (See last week’s study and Background Article for more info).

This passage also points us that it is God’s power that leads¾not our ways or trends. The essential framework to build a healthy church is to understand that its prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to please our comforts or ideas. We are to shine before Him by holding His truth, and shine for the Lord, making Him known in a dark world!

Revelation 1: 9-20

Introduction

“The Vision of Christ”

The first vision! Jesus is proclaimed as the Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church. This is not theory, rather, reality with which we must connect. John is getting his people ready for his visions. To do so, John is demonstrating humility, making a connection to his people so they can have hope and endurance by the sharing of his sufferings and experiences and they will know he is still with them in spirit and in understanding. John was not living the good life while his people were being persecuted; he was in the frontlines of it all. He was a leader who led by example by going first to the destination to which he was leading others. Now that he has set a tone, he tells them of his incredible vision of Christ and His call to the leadership of the Seven Churches. Jesus is speaking to him in vivid imagery, commanding him to write it all down so it can be shared and used to further the Kingdom.

The image of Christ is breathtaking. It is not that of the humble servant, Son of man; now it is the immeasurable Sovereign of the universe standing in the heavens, holding the stars. He was blazing as radiantly as the sun with a voice that thundered as He held the Churches in His grip. John’s only response was to fall face down as dead in total reverence and humility to Christ’s Lordship. Christ, with His full mercy and grace, allows John to stand, gives him comfort, and gives him the important task of recoding His precepts. Verse 19 is interesting; it may set a tone for the meaning of Revelation, not necessary literally, but as imageries that have a meaning for a purpose that is for us now and will still be so in its culmination.

Context

In the Old Testament Tabernacle that Moses built and where the Jews first worshiped God, there was one lampstand with seven branches (in practice some Jews use six to nine branches, so not to duplicate anything that was in the Temple). This is now called the “menorah,” a prime symbol of Judaism today and used in “Chanukah.” This Menorah had seven branches that symbolized the assembly of believers and how God’s light shines to us (Ex. 25:31-40; Isaiah 42:6; Zech. 4:1-6; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16).

This passage displays God’s splendor in the best symbolic words and imagery available following the theme of Daniel chapter seven, where mere words are insufficient to convey who He is (Rev. 5:6; 14:14; 19:11-13). Obviously, this is a figurative, not a literal description of our Lord! Christ is shown as Supreme, and Head over the Church. He controls the Church. Does He control yours, or do you think you do (2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13-15; 5:23; Col. 1:15-20; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9)?