Revelation Chapter 1: John's assignment - to write about the soon-coming Day of Yahovah ("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 Yahushua the Messiah ("Jesus Christ").
Note: In the Tanakh ("Old Testament"), the titles Elohim (translated "God" in most English Bibles) and Adonai (translated "Lord" in most English Bibles) and the name Yahovah (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 [Yahushua the Messiah], which [Yahovah] 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 [Yahovah], and to the testimony of [Yahushua 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 Yahushua 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 Yahushua and other heavenly beings.
c. The purpose of the Revelation is to show the end-times servants of Yahovah things which must take place in the near future, namely, the events leading up to and including the often-prophesied "Day of Yahovah" - the climax of world history. Both ancient Israel (before Yahushua), and the disciples of Yahushua the Messiah are referred to in the Bible as Yahovah’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 Yahushua is the Messiah (the Yahudim - "Jews" - who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah) and the Followers of Yahushua (spiritually grafted-in Israel).
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 Yahushua 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 Yahovah. The Greek construction of this sentence seems to indicate that this is a special angel or messenger. Yahovah 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 “[Yahushua] 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 Yahushua 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 Yahovah 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) [Yahushua 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 Yahovah’s people the Disciples of Yahushua in general, but also for His people the Yahudim ("Jews") 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 Yahushua 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 Yahushua. (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 Yahovah (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 Yahushua 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. Would not this special, important assignment be getting Revelation to Yahovah’s People in general, just as an angel was responsible for communicating it to John (1:1)? In fact, Revelation 22:6 indicates that the mission of Yahovah’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 Yahushua, why would they be concerned about what will happen to Israel? (7) The language used by John appears to be directed to both Yahovah’s people the world-wide Assembly of Believers in Yahushua (the "Church") and to Yahovah’s people the Yahudim (the "Jews"). 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"). So, why was John told to write to the seven assemblies rather than to the Yahudim (1:4)? That is obvious if we understand how Yahovah is dealing with them at the present time: The Yahudim have been temporarily blinded to the Gospel until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (when the "commonwealth of Israel" will be complete) (Romans 11:25; Ephesians 2:12). Meanwhile, it is the Followers of Yahushuas' job to preach the Gospel, including Revelation, to the whole world, especially to the Yahudim (cf. Romans 1:16). Then, when the Jews see all these things coming to pass, their eyes will be opened to the Truth that Yahushua is their Messiah, and “. . . all Israel [as a literal nation]will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
b. This phrase refers to Yahovah the Father, but also, as is clarified in 1:8, it refers to Yahushua the Son. Yahushua is Elohim ("God") - One with Yahovah the Father (cf. John 10:30) who is also Elohim (cf. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3!
c. Some have conjectured that these are seven angels, but nowhere in Revelation does it explicitly state that the seven spirits are seven angels. In fact, note that in 3:2 the seven spirits of Yahovah and the seven stars (which are identified as angels in 1:20) are separate entities from one another. Some say they are the seven-fold Spirit of Yahovah (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), angels (Hebrews 1:14), and the spirits of demons (Revelation 16:14). Also, the seven spirits are before Yahovah’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 Yahovah. So, this commentator believes that the “seven Spirits of Yahovah” simply represent the various manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the executor of Yahovah’s will on Earth (cf. Isaiah 11:2), whether through angels or otherwise, in perfectly and completely bringing about the end of the dominion of Satan on Earth during the Final Seven Years.
d. Yahushua 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 Yahovah (cf. Joel 2:17).
e. Why? - so that Yahovah 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 [Yahovah]” is the key, focal event, the central theme, of the Revelation. After Yahushua’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 [Yahushua] 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. Yahushua 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 [Yahovah]. 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 [Yahovah]. (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, Yahovah 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 Yahushua 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 (the Yahudim) fits together with the salvation of His Followers who have already accepted Him as their Savior and Messiah is a magnificent story of Yahovah’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.”
See verses 4, 11, 2:8, and 22:13. In the context of 1:7, this is referring to the Messiah, Elohim the Son - the One who “is to come.” But it also refers to Elohim the Father - “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last” (22:13), “the Almighty” (cf. Genesis 17:1), "the Aleph and the Tav" (Hebrew). Again, Yahushua is Elohim ("God")!
1:9 I, John, both (a) your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of [Yahushua the Messiah], (b) was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of [Yahushua the Messiah].
a. Life in the Kingdom of Yahovah was not a cake walk for John. He described it as being “in the tribulation and patience of [Yahushua the Messiah].” In other words, like the apostle Paul, he was sharing in Yahushua’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 Yahushua 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 Yahovah’s People at the "End of the Age" (Matthew 24:3), Yahovah’s People the Followers of Yahushua are taken “out of here,” and Yahovah’s People the Yahudim ("Jews") are protected in hiding until the King of Kings returns, in person, to reclaim His dominion on Earth. The sequence of all these events and many more in the fantastic “showdown” between Yahovah and Satan and between Yahushua and the false messiah (the "beast") during the Final Seven Years, contrary to the opinion of many, are made very clear in the Revelation of Yahovah.
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 Yahushua, 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 Yahovah and the testimony of Yahushua the Messiah.
1:10-11 I was (a) in the Spirit (b) on [Yahovah’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 Yahovah.
b. Literally “the Day of Yahovah." There are only two days in Scripture that are referred to as the Day of Yahovah: the day when He pours out His wrath on the earth (e.g., Joel 2:1) and, over 140 times, the seventh-day Sabbath (e.g., Exodus 20:12; Matthew 12:8). In this context, because the day of Yahovah's wrath has not yet fallen, it seems obvious that this is a reference to the seventh-day Sabbath. In other words, it was on the Sabbath that John was given this vision. Contrary to popular Christian opinion and practice, “Lord’s Day” in this verse is definitely not a reference to the Sunday “Sabbath” or Sunday “Lord’s Day,” Replacement Theology’s substitute for the seventh-day Sabbath. Observance of the Sabbath was not changed from the seventh day of the week to "Sunday" until 321 ABM (After the Birth of the Messiah), over 200 years after the Revelation was written, when the anti-Semitic, pseudo- (anti-) Christian emperor Constantine outlawed the seventh-day Sabbath and proclaimed the "venerable day of the Sun" to be the day of rest and worship in the Christianized Roman Empire. With few exceptions, virtually all Christian denominations, sects and congregations have blindly followed that practice since then.
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 Yahushua (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. Yahushua 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 Yahushua, 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 an angel who represents the Messiah, and again, the “s” on “son” and the “m” on “man” should not be capitalized.
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 [Yahovah] (Joel 2:1, et al.). 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 Yahovah.
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. Yahushua 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 “angels” are literal angels, others that they are human beings - messengers to or leaders of the seven assemblies. For several reasons, the latter interpretation seems the most plausible. 1) 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. 2) Both the Hebrew term malak and the Greek term aggelos can refer to either human or angelic messengers, depending on the context (cf. Zechariah 1:10-17; 1 Samuel 11:23; Luke 7:27; Acts 8:26). 3) In addition to referring literally to celestial objects, the term "stars" (Hebrew: kobab; Greek: aster) in both the Old Covenant and New Covenant Scriptures may figuratively refer to either humans or to angels, depending on the context (cf. Genesis 37:9; Revelation 12:1; Job 38:7; Revelation 12:4). 4) 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). 5) In Yahudic ("Jewish") synagogues and early assemblies of Believers in Yahushua, the leading elder, who read messages to the assembly, was called “the messenger of the assembly.” 6) Throughout history, the prophetic Word has been delivered to the assemblies through human messengers, not angels.
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 Yahushua walking among them (2:1), indicate that these seven assemblies are representative parts of the single universal Assembly of Disciples of the Lord Yahushua the Messiah, indwelled by His seven-fold 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 Yahovah)
Elohim - God
El - God (the short form of Elohim)
Adonai - my Lord or Master
Yehoshua - Jesus
Yeshua - Jesus (the short
form of Yahushua)
Followers of Yehoshua -
Messiah - Christ
Assembly of Followers of
Yahushua - the Church
Yahudim - Jews
Antimessiah - Antichrist
BBM - Before the Birth of
the Messiah (rather than
BC or BCE)
ABM - After the Birth of the Messiah (rather than AD
For a complete explanation of Hebrew terms used, go to Important Terms and Concepts.
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