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Author: Ron Graham

Book of Revelation

Christ Appears to John
—Revelation 1:12-17

The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >The Prologue >The Vision of Christ >His appearance

The first vision which John is given is, appropriately, a vision of the risen and glorified Christ who now lives in heaven (Revelation 1:8-20).

The vision shows us that Jesus Christ is still able to be present among his people on earth, because he is seen walking among the seven golden lampstands which represent his churches.

1 The Visions Begin

I Turned... It has always impressed me, though it seems a small thing, that the first vision did not occur before John’s eyes where he was looking. The vision began "behind" John (verse 10), and he had to turn around to see it.

You may think me silly, but to me this is an indication that the visions were not of John’s own making inside his own head. They were an external phenomena from the angel of the Lord. It also points out to me John’s carefulness in recording exactly in every detail what happened.

Seven golden lampstands... These first objects, among all that will be shown John in the visions, represent the seven churches to whom John is writing (Revelation 1:20).

When the Lord gives his message to the church at Ephesus, he threatens to remove their lamstand from its place (Revelation 2:5).

2 The Son of Man

Son of man... The appearance of Jesus Christ to John (Revelation 1:12-18), may be compared with Daniel's vision of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-10,13-14).

In these visions there is "One like the Son of Man". Yet when he appeared to John, he looked like the Ancient of Days who appeared to Daniel. So here we have a Son of Man who has the glory of God and therefore must be God.

The vision of John confirms that Jesus Christ is not only truly a man whose blood was shed, but is also truly God who lives for ever and ever and is worthy to be worshipped.

In the middle... Jesus is in the middle of the lampstands. This symbolises the same idea we get from thinking of Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep. Jesus "walks among the seven golden lampstands" (Revelation 2:1). His presence sustains and protects the churches.

3 What the Vision Means

Clothed... The raiment of Jesus in the vision represents mainly the power of his righteousness. The robe down to his feet represents that he is fully clothed in righteousness.

Because of his perfection Jesus was able to be the sacrifice for our sins. The golden girdle across his breast is like the "breastplate of righteousness" in Ephesians 6:14.

Head... The head and hair were white like wool or snow. This is again a symbol of the purity of God in whom "there is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5).

In Daniel's vision, "the Ancient of Days" appeared in the same way: "His vesture was white like snow, and the hair of his head was like pure wool" (Daniel 7:9).

Eyes... The eyes like a flame of fire represent the wisdom and knowledge of Christ. "There is no creature hidden from his sight, but all things are open and naked to the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).

Fire represents judgment. Jesus not only sees all, but he forms a judgment of what he sees. The messages to the seven churches show that Jesus knows their deeds and circumstances and judges them.

Feet... The feet of Jesus are like shining or glowing bronze refined in a furnace. This reminds us of the saying, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news" (Isaiah 52:7).

Voice... The voice of Jesus is like the sound of many waters, perhaps of a great waterfall or the mighty ocean waves. This voice is heard again in...

In those places, the voice is further described as like the sound of mighty peals of thunder and like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. It is a voice of awesome power, yet of grace. That is what the gospel of Christ is like. "It is the power of God for salvation" (Romans 1:16).

Right hand... The right hand symbolises the fact that Jesus has been "exalted to the right hand of God" (Acts 2:33) as close to God as he can possibly be, and through him each of us can be in close touch with God in heaven.

We "have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way..." (Hebrews 10:19).

Seven stars... Christ’s right hand holds the seven stars. These stars, we are told, are "the angels of the seven churches" (Revelation 1:20).

We normally think of churches as composed of human beings. The idea that there is an angel in each church is a mystery to us. Those churches that keep a membership roll don't include on the list "one angel, name unknown" do they? Yet in the vision, each of the seven churches had an angel recognised in the right hand of Christ.

This again symbolises each local church's closeness and connection with God in heaven —even though each church is physically located in an earthly place.

Two edged sword... Out of Christ’s mouth there came a sharp two edged sword. This sword is mentioned later in the vision, in our Lord's message to Pergamum (Revelation 2:12,16).

Because the sword was seen in the vision to come out of Christ’s mouth, we understand that it represents his word, "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (Revelation 1:9).

This word or gospel is the main weapon in the battle against good and evil. In the "the full armour of God" (Ephesians 6:13-17).

The "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," is the last item in the inventory of God’s armour, and it is the single weapon of agression (Ephesians 6:17).

Of course the word of God is even "sharper than any two edged sword, piercing as far as... and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

Face... Christ’s face was like the sun shining at noon. This represents the light and glory of Christ. Jesus called himself "the bright and morning star" (Revelation 22:16). Jesus is the light of men (John 1:4).

The vision of Jesus (Revelation 1:9-20) is recalled in each of his seven messages to the churches. These messages are part of this first vision (Revelation 2:1 to 3:22).

After the key words "...the one who..." or "...He who...", there are descriptions of Christ that show his divine power and eternal glory, his righteousness, justice, authority, supremacy, as Saviour and Head of his church in each place.


Webservant Ron Graham

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