Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah ("Jesus Christ")

Revelation Chapter 1: John's assignment - to write about the soon-coming Day of Yehovah ("the LORD"); the meaning of the term “revelation”; the true author of the Revelation; the purpose of the Revelation; benefits to those who read, hear, and obey the Revelation; John’s circumstances and assignment; identification of those to whom the Revelation is addressed; identification of the carriers of the Revelation; description of the magnificence and deity of Yeshua the Messiah ("Jesus Christ").

Note: In the Old Covenant ("Old Testament") Scriptures, the titles Elohim (translated "God" in most English Bibles) and Adonai (translated "Lord" in most English Bibles) and the name Yehovah (translated "LORD" or occasionally "GOD" in most English Bibles) are used interchangeably, referring to either the Father or the Son, or to both, depending on the context.  For a detailed explanation, go to the Important Terms and Concepts page. 

1:1, 2  The (a) Revelation (b) of [Yeshua the Messiah], which [Yehovah] gave Him to show (c) His servants - things which must (d) shortly take place. And He sent and (e) signified it by (f) His angel to (g) His servant John, who (h) bore witness to the word of [Yehovah], and to the testimony of [Yeshua the Messiah], to all things that he saw.

a. The word revelation in the original Greek is apokalupsis or, literally, uncovering. The Revelation is an uncovering of events that had been previously hidden or “sealed” from human knowledge that will happen during, as we shall see, the last seven years of the reign of Satan over Elohim’s ("God's") creation and the events following those seven years.

b. This is not the “Revelation of John,” as some translations state. It is the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah ("Jesus Christ"), Elohim ("God") the Son, given to Him by Elohim the Father. John wrote what was shown and told to him by Yeshua and other heavenly beings.

c. The purpose of the Revelation is to show the end-times servants of Yehovah things which must take place in the near future, namely, the events leading up to and including the often-prophesied "Day of the Lord" - the climax of world history. Both ancient Israel (before Yeshua), and the disciples of Yeshua the Messiah are referred to in the Bible as Yehovah’s servants (Deuteronomy 9:27; 2 Chronicles 6:23; Psalm 79:2; John 18:26; Acts 4:29). The Revelation was given to both those of Israel who have not yet recognized that Yeshua is the Messiah (the Jews who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah) and the Followers of Yeshua.

d.  Although it was written in about 90 ABM (After the Birth of the Messiah), the Revelation was written primarily to the true disciples ("servants") of the Messiah who will "shortly" see the events of the Revelation literally beginning to be fulfilled, so they will know what to expect and remain faithful to the end (an exhortation that is repeated throughout the book).  That's what Yeshua meant when, in giving His "end-of-the-age" (Matthew 24:3) prophesies, He told His disciples that "this generation [the generation that will experience the prophesied events] will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34).  However, because the events of the book have been partially and increasingly fulfilled down through the centuries, and none of us knows when our life on this earth will end, it was written to all believers in the coming Messiah to let us know what is coming and to exhort us to maintain an attitude of constant watchfulness and expectancy (cf. Matthew 25:13).

e. The Greek word for “signified” (semaino) can mean either to give a sign/to indicate, or to communicate/make known. In this context, it would appear to mean to communicate or make known. Although the Revelation contains a lot of symbolism, it is not, as a whole, an allegory. Just as the events prophesied through highly symbolic imagery in the book of Daniel have been and are being fulfilled literally, the events of the Revelation will actually, literally occur.

f. The Greek word translated “angel” (aggelos) literally means “messenger,” especially one sent from Yehovah. In fact, this "angel" may even be the Messiah Himself (at times throughout history, the Son has manifested himself as a man or an angel--e.g., Genesis 3:8; 16:5-13; 18:1-2). The Greek construction of this sentence seems to indicate that this is a special messenger. Yehovah often assigns specific jobs or tasks to angels. Although John is spoken to by others and hears others speak, it appears that this angel is with him throughout the Revelation. It seems that he is assigned the task of making sure John gets the message revealed to him by Adonai ("the Lord") and gets it written down (cf. 19:9-10; 22:8, 9). 

g. Conservative Bible scholars are almost universally agreed that this is John the apostle - the one “[Yeshua] loved” (John 19:26), who also wrote the gospel of John and the first, second, and third letters of John.

h. The Revelation is not hearsay or a product of John’s imagination. It is the record of what he personally heard and saw.

1:3 (a) Blessed is he who (b) reads and those who hear the words of this (c) prophecy, and (d), keep those things which are written in it; for (e) the time is near.

a. As Yeshua promised while He was on the earth, blessings to those who keep His commandments (cf. Matthew 5:3-12), He promises blessings to those who read, hear, and keep the things written in His Revelation.

b. The Revelation is intended for everyone - both those who read and those who hear.

c. The Revelation is a prophetic book (like numerous books in the Old Covenant Scriptures - the "Old Testament"). As the last book of the Bible, continuing where the book of Daniel in the Old Covenant Scriptures left off (cf. Daniel 12:4, 9), it foretells the final events of world history.

d. The blessings are not for those who are passive, merely reading or hearing the Revelation. The Revelation is a book of action, not just prophecy. It is a how-to manual for dealing with the terrible or wonderful (depending on one's point of view) times soon to come. As James wrote, “. . . be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (in thinking that you will receive any benefits by being passive) (James 1:22). For faithful obedience (Revelation 22:7), steadfastness (Revelation 2:25), alertness, spiritual purity (Revelation 16:15), victorious spiritual warfare (Revelation 21:7), and remaining united with the Yehovah to the end (Revelation 14:13), numerous blessings or benefits are promised, including: eternal life; freedom from all sorrow, weeping, or pain (Revelation 21:4); reigning with Adonai over all nations in His millennial kingdom on Earth; and reigning with Him forever after that in His eternal kingdom (cf. 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26, 27; 5:10; 20:6; 22:5).

e. The sense of urgency and expectancy is reinforced, especially for those who find themselves in the circumstances prophesied in the Revelation. The events prophesied in the Revelation were beginning to be fulfilled at the time it was written and have continued to be increasingly fulfilled since then.  Also, even though from Earth’s perspective it has been close to 2,000 years since the Revelation was written, from Heaven’s perspective (which is the perspective from which the Revelation was written) there is no difference between one day and a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8).  Adonai ("the Lord") transcends time.  All of history is like a giant mural in His view. Something that will happen a thousand years from now, from Earth’s point of view, will happen very soon from the perspective of Heaven.  Besides, we do not know when we will die and suddenly find ourselves in the next state of our existence, do we?  So, for any individual "the time is near." 

1:4-6 John, to the (a) seven [assemblies - "churches"] which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from (b) Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from (c) the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from (d) [Yeshua the Messiah], the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to (e) Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

a. Some say that Revelation was written just to the seven assemblies or congregations of Asia Minor that are addressed in Chapters 2 and 3. But there are several indications that it was intended not only for the Yehovah’s people the Disciples of Yeshua in general, but also for His people the Jews (Israelites) who, in the end, will be saved (Romans 11:26): (1) Textual analysis indicates the Revelation was originally written in Hebrew.  If the book was written in a Gentile, Greek-speaking part of the world just for "Christians," why was it written in Hebrew?  (2) The Greek word (ekklesia) translated "churches" means the "called out."  The same term is used in the Greek translation of the Old Covenant Scriptures (the Septuagint) in referring to the assembly of Israel called out of Egypt (Exodus 16:3). (3) There were more than seven assemblies of Believers in Yeshua in Asia Minor. The distinctly different characteristics of the seven from one another seem to indicate that they are representative of all assemblies of Followers of Yeshua. (4) Seven is the number of completeness in Revelation: seven spirits before the throne (1:4), seven candlesticks (1:12), seven stars (1:16), seven lamps (4:5), seven seals (5:1), seven horns (5:6), seven eyes (5:6), seven angels standing before Yehovah (8:2), seven trumpets (8:2), seven thunders (10:3), seven thousand people killed (11:13), seven heads (12:3), seven crowns (12:3), seven angels (15:1), seven plagues (15:1), seven bowls (15:7), seven mountains (17:9), and seven kings (17:10). So, since Revelation is the prophecy of the completion of all things and what will occur during the final seven years of history, it would seem that the seven assemblies represent different aspects or different types of congregations of Disciples of Yeshua in general throughout history, especially at the end of the age, just before the Messiah's return. (5) the Revelation was written not only to the seven assemblies, but to the angels of the seven assemblies (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Addressing the Revelation to the angels, just as it was addressed to the seven assemblies, would seem to indicate that angels are responsible for doing something with it besides getting it to the seven, literal assemblies. In fact, Revelation 22:6 indicates that the mission of Yehovah’s angel was more than to just show the Revelation to John, but to His people in general. And that would seem to indicate that the Revelation was intended for more than the seven literal assemblies in Asia Minor. (6) There are numerous prophecies about Israel in the Revelation. If it is written just to the seven assemblies of followers of Yeshua, why would they be concerned about what will happen to Israel? (7) The language used by John appears to be directed to both Yehovah’s people the world-wide Assembly of Believers in Yeshua (the "Church") and to Yehovah’s people the Jews (Israel). For example, he points out that the dragon of Chapter 12 is “. . . that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan” (12:9). “Serpent” is the language of both the New Covenant Scriptures (the "New Testament") and the Old Covenant Scriptures (the "Old Testament"). Also, "devil" is translated from a Greek word (diabolos) and "Satan" is translated from a Hebrew title (hasatan). (8) the remnant of Israel who will, in the end, be saved, is temporarily blinded to the Gospel until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). Meanwhile, it is the job of the Followers of Yeshua to preach the Gospel, including Revelation, to the whole world, especially to the Jews (Israelites) (cf. Romans 1:16). Then, when the Jews see all these things coming to pass, their eyes will be opened to the Truth that Yeshua is their Messiah, and “. . . all Israel [as a literal nation] will be saved” (Romans 11:26).

b. This phrase refers to Yehovah the Father, but also, as is clarified in 1:8, it refers to Yeshua the Son.  Yeshua is Elohim ("God") - One with Yehovah the Father (cf. John 10:30) who is also Elohim (cf. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3!

c. Some commentators have conjectured that these seven spirits before the throne are the seven-fold Spirit of Yehovah (the Holy Spirit), but the term “spirits” (plural) is used in the Bible to refer to various entities, positive and negative, including familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31), the four spirits of Heaven (Zechariah 6:5), unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1), evil spirits (Luke 7:21), the spirits of the prophets (1 Corinthians 14:32), and the spirits of demons (Revelation 16:14).  Also, Hebrews 1:14 mentions angels as being ministering spirits.  Also, the seven spirits are before Yehovah’s throne rather than emanating from it, as are the seven angels of 8:1, suggesting a position of submission and readiness to carry out the will of Yehovah.  And that is the role of angels throughout Scripture.  Also, although Scripture does refer to various roles of the Holy Spirit (as in Isaiah 11:2), never do any of those manifestations of the Spirit work as a separate entity from the Spirit, as angels do.  Although this commentator will not be dogmatic about it, he leans toward the interpretation that the seven stars, seven angels, and seven spirits designated in the Revelation are basically the same--created beings who carry out the will of Yehovah in different ways--sometimes as ministering spirits to the Believers or congregations of Believers in Yeshua (cf. 1:20), sometimes as messengers (e.g., 2:1), sometimes as heralds of coming events (e.g., 8:6), and sometimes as executioners of His judgments (e.g., 16:1) in perfectly and completely bringing about the end of the dominion of Satan and his ruler, the false messiah ("Antichrist") on Earth during the Final Seven Years.

d. Yeshua is seen in His divine attributes as Savior and Messiah - the witness to Himself, the Truth (John 8:14, 18); “firstfruits” of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23); “King of Kings” (Revelation 19:16); and Redeemer (Titus 2:14) - making His Followers a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) who minister to Yehovah (cf. Joel 2:17).

e. Why? - so that Yehovah will receive glory and dominion over His creation forever (Revelation 19:1, 6, 7).

1:7 Behold, (a) He is coming with clouds, and (b) every eye will see Him, (c) even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.

a. The “second coming” of the Messiah which initiates the “Day of [Yehovah]” is the key, focal event, the central theme, of the Revelation. After Yeshua’s apostles watched Him ascend toward Heaven enveloped in a cloud, “two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel,” and told them, “… this same [Yeshua] who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw him go into heaven (Acts 1:9, 10, 11). 

b. And it will not be a private, “secret” event; the whole world will see him. Other books of the Bible give us more details. Yeshua Himself told His disciples, As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. . . . Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great  glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other [the ‘Rapture’]  (Matthew 24:27, 29-31)  Then, the apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, gives us a few more details of the second coming: [Adonai] Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of [Yehovah]. And the dead in [the Messiah] will rise first [the resurrection of the Redeemed]. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet [Adonai] in the air [the ‘Rapture’]. And thus we shall always be with [Yehovah]. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)  This will also be the fulfillment of the BBM prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14. What an awesome event - the “Blessed Hope” of the Believers! As we go through the Revelation, many more details concerning the second coming, including when it occurs in the sequence of events of the seven years, will be filled in. And, as you will see, Yehovah does not want us to be confused about what is going to happen; it will all be very clear to those that have eyes that see.

c. Although everyone on Earth will witness the spectacular return of the Messiah, among those who witness His return will be “those who pierced [crucified] Him and who will “mourn because of Him.” Who this includes is easy to determine because this is a direct reference, a quote, from Zechariah 12:10. And Zechariah 12:10, according to Hebrew scholars, is talking about Israel - not just Judah, but all twelve tribes of Israel, who, at the present time are scattered all over the world, “hidden” among the nations of the world. The word (Greek: phule) translated “tribes” in verse 7 can mean clans or families, as in the families or tribes of Israel, rather than nations or peoples in general. And the word (Greek: ge) translated “earth” in most translations can refer to “land,” or a specific nation. Apparently, in this verse, the people who “mourn him as they mourn an only son (Zechariah 12:10) are Israel. In other words, the eyes of Israel (the true remnant of Israel, who really believe in the coming Messiah - cf. Romans 9:6), whose temporary blindness (cf. Romans 11:25) has been removed, will recognize that Yeshua is their Messiah when He returns and will mourn because they have rejected and crucified Him. (The words translated “mourn” in Zechariah and the Revelation mean mourning in sorrow for what has happened to another, not in dismay for what has happened to oneself.) And then, they will repent and, as a nation, be saved (Romans 11:26-27). How the salvation of the remnant of Israel who will not recognize the Messiah until He returns at the End of the Age fits together with the salvation of His Followers who have already accepted Him as their Savior and Messiah is a magnificent story of Yehovah’s amazing providence and grace and will become very clear as we proceed through the Revelation. And understanding that, in the end, “all of Israel will be saved” is a very important key to understanding how the Final Seven Years will play out on Earth and in Heaven.

1:8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says [Adonai], “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This is referring to Elohim the Father.  However, in the context of verses 4, 7, 11, 2:8, and 22:13, this is also referring to the Messiah, Elohim the Son - the One who “is to come.” Both the Father and the Son are “the Alpha and the Omega" (Hebrew: the Aleph and the Tav), "the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last," and “the Almighty God (cf. Genesis 17:1; Isaiah 9:6). Again, Yeshua is Elohim ("God")!

1:9 I, John, both (a) your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of [Yeshua the Messiah], (b) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of [Yeshua the Messiah].

a. Life in the Kingdom of Elohim was not a cake walk for John. He described it as being “in the tribulation and patience of [Yeshua the Messiah].” In other words, like the apostle Paul, he was sharing in Yeshua’s sufferings (2 Corinthians 1:5). Life in the Messiah in this present life on Earth, contrary to the worldly-minded thinking of many, is not the life of a conquering crusader, dominionist, or materially successful and prosperous person. It is the life of, like Yeshua when He was on Earth, the suffering servant. The joy is spiritual. This understanding is very important in the interpretation of the Revelation, which is all about the “tribulation” of Yehovah’s People at the "End of the Age" (Matthew 24:3) when Yehovah’s People the Followers of Yeshua will be taken “out of here" when His wrath falls on Planet Earth and Yehovah’s People the Jews (Israel), who will not recognize Yeshua as the Messiah until they see Him returning with the clouds, will be protected in hiding until He returns with the redeemed, glorified Saints and the angels to reclaim His dominion on Earth. The sequence of all these events and many more in the fantastic “showdown” between Yehovah and Satan and between Yeshua and the false messiah ("Antichrist") during the Final Seven Years are made very clear in the Revelation of Yeshua.

b. Patmos, off the coast of Asia Minor about 60 miles southwest of Ephesus, was an island to where criminals and enemies of Rome were exiled by the emperor Domitian, who ruled from 81-96 ABM, at the time the Revelation was written (about 95 ABM). Victorinus, a 2nd Century follower of Yeshua wrote: When John saw these things [the visions of the Revelation], he was on the Isle of Patmos, condemned to the mines by Caesar Domitian. There he saw the Apocalypse; and when at length grown old, he thought that he should receive his release by suffering; but Domitian being killed, he was liberated. (Introduction to the New Testament, Everett P. Harrison, page 473). Like Paul, who wrote his most joyful letter, to the Philippians while imprisoned in Rome,  John saw every situation as an opportunity to spread the Word of Yehovah and the testimony of Yeshua the Messiah.

1:10-11 I was (a) in the Spirit (b) on [Yehovah's] day, and I heard behind me a (c) loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, (d) “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see (e) write in a book and send it to (f) the seven [assemblies] which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

a. “In the Spirit” indicates that John was not physically present in the situations described in the Revelation. It was like he was in a trance, dream, or “out of body” experience, but it was more than that: It was a vivid vision supernaturally revealed to him by the Spirit of Yehovah when he was in Heaven or at least in a spiritual state that transcends space and time (cf. Revelation 4:1).

b. Literally “the day of the Lord” (there are no possessive forms of words in Greek nor in Hebrew, John’s frame of reference).  Also, language, context, and perspective all mitigate against “Lord’s” in this verse being used as a possessive form of the word.  The phrase refers to an event, a series of events, or a period of time ("With [Yehovah] a thousand yars is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years"--2 Peter 3:8)

The language of the text:  The closest equivalent to this phrase in the Bible is “the day of Yehovah [‘the LORD’],” which occurs throughout Scripture—many times in both the Old Covenant Scriptures (the "Old Testament") and the New Covenant Scriptures (the "New Testament").  With one exception (Isaiah 58:13), it always, invariably refers to catastrophic executions of the judgments of Elohim (“God”) or the return of the Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus).  Some examples are:

  • The day of the destruction and wrath of Yehovah being poured out on the whole world (Isaiah 13:6-13)
  • The day of the destruction of the Gentile nations (Ezekiel 30:3-26)
  • The day Yehovah gathers the armies and others of all nations to Jerusalem and destroys them (Zechariah 14:2, 12-14; Revelation 19:11-21)
  • The total destruction by fire of the cosmos—the heavens and the earth (2 Peter 3:10-12)
  • The day of the return of the Messiah Yeshua to gather His elect to Himself (Matthew 24:30-31; 2 Corinthians 1:14: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

The context:  It is the fulfillment of the “time of the end” prophecies revealed to Daniel and to other prophets, including Yeshua (cf. Daniel 12:9).  In other words, the book is all about the “end-of-the-age” (Matthew 24:3) events leading up to the return of the Messiah to gather His people to Himself (cf. Matthew 24:3-31), destroy His enemies (Revelation 19:11-21), restore the earth to its Edenic state (Acts 3:21), and reign over the earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4), then the final rebellion, judgment, and destruction of all the evil forces and humans on the earth (Revelation 20:7-15), plus other events during that period of time.  In other words, the Revelation is about the fulfillment of all the Bible’s prophecies concerning “the Day of the Lord.”

The perspective: Notice that John states that he was “in the Spirit” on "the Day of the Lord.”  And Revelation 4:1 states that he, in the Spirit, ascended to Heaven where he was given the revelation of the events of the Day of Yehovah.  In other words, John’s perspective when he was in the Spirit was from Heaven which is not limited by space and time.  So, when he wrote that he was in the Spirit on “the Day of the Lord,” John was not referring to a specific day here on earth.  He was referring to the whole timeline of events of the Day of Yehovah that he saw from Heaven’s panoramic perspective.

So, contrary to the doctrine of almost all Christians, by “the Day of the Lord,” John was not referring to the Sunday so-called “Lord’s Day” (a term that is never used in the Bible), nor to any other specific day here on the earth.  He was referring to what the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah is all about: the period of time at the end of the age during which all the prophesied events of the Day of Yehovah will occur.

The only other possible interpretation, as was mentioned above, is that “the Day of the Lord” mentioned in Revelation 1:10 is the seventh-day Sabbath, according to Isaiah 58:13.  However, in light of the context of the Revelation and the perspective of John when he wrote the Revelation, that seems to be a very unlikely correct interpretation.

c. “A loud voice” compared to a trumpet blast, a peal of thunder, or the sound of roaring water is used 22 times in Revelation, where it always indicates a significant message from an angel or divine being.

d. See the notes on 1:8.

e. John was instructed to write what he saw in a book, so it was meant to be read and heard in the congregations of Believers in Yeshua (cf. 1:3).

f. The seven congregations were in cities in western Asia Minor, east of Greece, across the Aegean Sea from Greece. They were all within a half-circle arc radiating out about 70 miles from Smyrna, the location of one of the assemblies, a city on the west coast of Asia Minor. So, it was only a journey of one to three days by foot between the cities. There was a road connecting the cities, and the assemblies are listed here and in Revelation 2 and 3 in the order in which they may have been visited by the apostles.

1:12-16 And I turned to the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw (a) seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands (b) One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand (c) seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.  (d)

a. The lampstands are identified in verse 20.

b. "Son of Man," in referring to the Messiah, occurs only in Daniel (7:13-14) in the Old Covenant Scriptures, but 89 times in the New Covenant Scriptures. Yeshua frequently used the title in referring to Himself. Some may object that "like the Son of Man" indicates that this person or being is not Yeshua, but the description in Daniel, which is very similar, refers to the Messiah. Also, the Greek term huios, translated "the Son" in this verse, is more correctly translated "a son" (lower-case "s"). In John’s vision, He looked "like" a man but was much, much more than that. Just because He resembled a man does not mean that He was not Elohim ("God") the Son. Also, verses 17 and 18 of this chapter confirm His identity. One "like [a] Son of Man" appears again in Chapter 14, reaping the harvest of human souls. But in that context, he is either an angel who represents the Messiah or the Messiah Himself appearing as an angel (see the commentary above on 1:1, 2f). 

c. The seven stars are also identified in verse 20.

d. Similar descriptions of the Son of Man are found in Ezekiel (1:26-28), Daniel (10:5-6), and the writings of other Hebrew prophets.

1:17-18 And when I saw Him, (a) I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am (b) the First and the Last. (c) I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. (d) Amen. And (e) I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

a. This is an appropriate response to such an awesome sight: the King of kings and Lord of lords (19:16), Elohim the Son glorified. The Revelation is all about His Day when He will return to Earth to claim, glorify, and take to Heaven those who belong to Him, His People the Bride of the Messiah, and hide His People the Jews in protective seclusion until He has finished pouring out His wrath (6:16) on the earth, destroying the global kingdom of Satan and Satan’s incarnation, Antimessiah. Then finally, He will return the earth to its original, magnificent, Edenic beauty and rule over it with His redeemed Saints (cf. Ezekiel 36:35). This whole scenario constitutes the long-prophesied Day of Yehovah (e.g., Joel 2:1). And, as we will see as we proceed through this commentary, its sequence of events is crystal clear to those who read the Revelation in the same common sense, literal manner that every book of the Bible should be read.

b.  If the Revelation was originally written in Hebrew, as an increasing number of scholars think, "the first and the last" is more correctly translated "the aleph and the tav" - the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet - which also refer to Yehovah.

c. Compare this description with 17:8, which is a description of the beast, Antimessiah, the false (counterfeit) messiah.

d.  “Amen” is a word of finality or emphasis, meaning “So be it.”

e.  Death separates one from life. Hades (Hebrew: Sheol), the "bottomless pit" (20:3), is a waiting place for lost souls until the time of their final dispensation. Yeshua has the keys—controls who is subjected to Death and Hades (cf. Matthew 16:18).  However, note that Scripture nowhere states that He has the keys to Hell or the Lake of Fire because, after the Final Judgment, all who are cast there, including Death, Hades, Satan, fallen angels, and lost human beings, will be totally destroyed (cf. Matthew 10:28; Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15).

1:19 “Write (a) the things which you have seen, and (b) the things which are, and (c) the things which will take place after this.

a. These are the things John has seen up to this point (Chapter 1).

b. These are the things happening at the present time on Earth and in Heaven (Chapters 2-5). 

c. These are things that will occur in the future (Chapters 6-22).

1:20 “The (a) mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven lampstands: The (b) seven stars are the angels of the seven [assemblies], and the (c) seven lampstands which you saw are the seven [assemblies].”

a. A mystery is knowledge that has not previously been revealed. But the meanings of the stars and the lampstands are about to be revealed.

b. Some have argued that the seven "stars" or “angels” are literal angels, others that they are human beings - messengers to or leaders of the seven assemblies. There are arguments for both interpretations. 

Supporting the argument that they are human beings:

  • There are no examples in Scripture of angels being given written messages to distribute to assemblies of believers as in 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14. 
  • These stars are held in the right hand of the Messiah.  The only other reference to those who are held in the right hand of the Messiah is to His followers (John 10:28).
  • In Jewish (Israelite) synagogues and early assemblies of Believers in Yeshua, the leading elder, who read messages to the assembly, was called “the messenger of the assembly.”
  • Throughout history, the prophetic Word has been delivered to the assemblies through human messengers, not angels.
  • 3:1 seems to refer to stars and angels as being separate entities.

Supporting the argument that they are angels:

  • It makes no sense that the messages to seven assemblies would be sent just to the leaders of those assemblies.
  • The messages to the seven assemblies seem to be addressed not just to those seven assemblies but to assemblies throughout history after the Revelation was given (cf. the commentary on 2:7 [c]).
  • After Chapter 3, throughout the Revelation, "angels" refers to literal angels or perhaps to the Messiah, not to humans.
  • Angels are also called "ministering spirits" in Hebrews 1:14.
  • Scripture tells us that angels are given oversight over empires (perhaps also congregations) and assigned to protect individuals (Daniel 10:20; Psalm 91:11-12).  Once we understand that angels, including messenger angels like Gabriel (Daniel 9:21; Luke 1:19), the angels who communicated the Revelation to John, and the angel that will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to everyone on the earth (14:6), are involved in the lives of Elohim's people here on the earth and are responsible for protecting and ministering to us, it seems probable that they are also responsible for somehow making it possible for the messages to the seven assemblies to be disseminated to Elohim's people throughout history.   
  • Yeshua's repeated command to John, "Write to the angel of the [assembly] in ..." (2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14) is somewhat ambiguous in the Greek.  It may also be translated, "Write concerning the angel of the [assembly] in ..." 
  • At the time of the end, three angels will proclaim the "everlasting gospel," the fall of Babylon, and the warning not to take the mark of the beast to the world (14:6-9).
  • When mentioned in groups of seven or as one of the seven in the Revelation, angels are usually seen in Heaven or standing before Elohim's throne, announcing events about to happen, offering sacrifices, ready to execute His judgments, or delivering messages (e.g., 8:2-7; 17:4; 21:9).  
  • The seven stars, angels, and spirits mentioned in Chapters 1-3 (including 3:1) may all refer to supernatural beings created to carry out the will of Elohim, including delivering messages to His people on the Earth.

Although this commentator leans toward the interpretation that the "angels" mentioned in this verse are supernatural rather than human beings, he will not be dogmatic about that, and will welcome insights from others.

c. The Hebrew word translated “lampstand” in the Old Covenant Scriptures is menorah - a seven-branched lampstand. There were ten of these in Israel’s Tabernacle and Temple casting one, unified light throughout the space. Also, most synagogues and present-day Messianic congregations have a menorah.  Also, seven is the number of completion or fullness in Scripture, especially in the Revelation.  So, these “lampstands,” with Yeshua walking among them (2:1), indicate that these seven assemblies are representative parts of the single universal Assembly of Disciples of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, indwelled by the illuminating light of His  Spirit, and representing different aspects or types of the Body of the Messiah.

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Common English translations of Hebrew and Messianic terms used in this commentary:

Yehovah - the LORD or GOD
Yah - I Am (the short form         of Yehovah)
Elohim - God
El - God (the short form of         Elohim)
Adonai - my Lord or Master
Yeshua - Jesus
Followers of Yeshua - 
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
     Yeshua - the Church
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
     the Messiah (rather than
     BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the      Messiah (rather than AD
    or CE)

For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.

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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22