“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 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.
19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 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.”
v.17 “when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.” We do not know if in this vision John immediately recognized any of the familiar characteristics of the Lord Jesus, as he was accustomed to seeing Him some sixty years earlier but we are sure that seeing everything that he was about to see, he realized that he didn’t know Him as much as he could have thought.
John saw His beloved in whose bosom he had placed his head, in a light completely di erent from what he had seen before, not even in the Transfiguration had he seen Him in all His splendor.
Although John was in the Spirit (v.1:10) this revelation of Jesus Christ left him without strength and could not stand. His reaction was similar to Paul’s (Acts 9:4); Isaiah (6:5); Ezekiel (1:28; 3:23; 43:3) and Daniel himself.
Daniel 10:7-11 “And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision…. 8 …and no strength remained in me; for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet I heard the sound of his words; and while I heard the sound of his words I was in a deep sleep on my face, with my face to the ground. 10 Suddenly, a hand touched me, which made me tremble on my knees and on the palms of my hands. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved.”
John could not even talk to Jesus as he did to the angel who was guiding him. Everyone falls and will fall before the presence of Jesus. Jesus, in His second coming, will no longer hide His glory and transform us into His likeness.
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
Philippians 3:20-21 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working- by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
• “He laid His right hand on me” Jesus with all His glory and authority laid His hand of power on John for him to stop feeling afraid; this is our Savior, He knows our frailty and he approaches to rise us when we undone before Him.
Matthew 17:5-7 “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”
• “Do not be afraid; I am” These words are spoken by the Son of God who is sovereign, that is why we can overcome our fears because whoever tells us that we are not afraid has authority over everything. This affirmation of Jesus connects Him with what God the Father says of Himself.
Exodus 3:14 “And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Jesus is also the great I AM, that is why John should not fear nor should we fear either.
• “the First and the Last” Again, Jesus as God the Father, presents Himself as the self- existent and eternal.
Isaiah 48:12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First,I am also the Last.”
Isaiah 44:6 “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
This description is essentially the same as ‘the Alpha and Omega’ of v.8. These titles speak of Him as the origin and purpose of all that exists.
v.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”
Jesus continues to give him reasons why he should not fear and that He has authority over the state of death and the place of the dead. That Jesus holds the keys to that place of eternal darkness (Hades) implies that the destiny of human souls is entirely under His jurisdiction. (2 Timothy 4:1)
The faith of John in His resurrection had not been a deception; He had seen Him die and be buried in a grave; he saw Him resurrected a few days later and after sixty years there was Jesus in all His splendor. John was already an old man but Jesus was the same. (Hebrews 13:8)
The worst thing that could have happened to John at that moment was to die but for Jesus that was not a problem. It’s as if Jesus said to him: ‘John, if you die, I raise you up, don’t worry, do not be afraid, keep writing…’
Amen: These “Amen” of Revelation (1:6, 7, 18; 3:14; 5:14; 7:12; 19:4; 22:20 and 21) are not a religious cliché but the response of the Spirit to glorious truths that merit the agreement of those who listen to them; even Jesus himself says amen to His own a rmation.
Revelation 19:4 “And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sat on the throne, saying, “Amen! Alleluia!”
Revelation 3:14 “And write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Behold the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God, says this.”
- “Write” Jesus repeats the same instruction that he had already told him on v.11, to continue writing where he stop writing because he was just starting and now he had to continue recording…
- “the things which you have seen” John had already seen the glorified Jesus walking among the seven lampstands with the seven stars in His hand (v.1:12-16) and had to write these things so that all the churches in all the knew them.
- “the things which are,” What Jesus was going to dictate to him immediately in chapters 2 and 3 were things that had to do with what was happening in the churches at that time but they are also things that have to do with the church throughout history that’s why it says:Rev, 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
- “and the things which will take place after this” From chapter 4-22 are the things that are in the future and that will surely happen because the one who says it is Faithful and true.v.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.”
Jesus told John to write the meaning of these figures. God interpreted many of the symbols he used in Revelation in the same book and in other parts of the Scriptures. Therefore, the correct interpretation of this book depends on the knowledge of the rest of the revelation previously given by God. This is also true for all the other books of the Bible. Bible interprets itself.
Rev. 5:6 “in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”
Rev. 5:8 “…the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints”
“ The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches” This term does not mean that they were angels in the literal sense but rather they were the messengers of the seven churches (ἄγγελος = angels). The obvious meaning is that what John was writing on behalf of Jesus in each letter should be addressed to the leaders, not exclusively as individuals, but as representatives of the churches to be communicated to the church under their care and we know it because what is said belongs to the entire congregation and should be placed before them to be considered attentively.
- How do you think Jesus is today and how does it change the way you saw before you met him?
- Think of some fear you have in your life and now consider some characteristic of Christ that you trust to overcome it
- What do you think your response should be to who Jesus is?