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Revelation 1

Knollys' Commentary on RevelationKnollys on Revelation

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Verse 1

Revelation 1:1

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

This chapter consists of three general parts; first, an inspiration. {Revelation 1:1-3} Secondly, a direction of the prophecies of this book. {Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:9}

In the first verse we have the title of this book,

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ"

As the whole scripture being given by inspiration of God, is the revelation of his holy will, {Ephesians 3:4-5} so this last part of the Holy Scripture is the Revelation of Jesus Christ: Also the author of this revelation,

"which God gave unto him"

that is, God the Father gave unto his Son Jesus Christ

"To show unto his servants"

First, his sanctified servants, called saints: {Romans 6:12; 1 Corinthians 1:2} Second, his suffering servants, called martyrs. {Revelation 19:2} Thirdly, all his ministering servants, called angels (or elders) of his churches, {Revelation 1:20; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2}

"Things that must shortly come to pass"

that is, the dispensations of God both touching his Church, and his and their enemies.

"And he sent and signified it by his Angel unto his Servant John"

The holy angels are God’s ministering spirits. {Hebrews 1:7-14} John was the ministering servant of Jesus Christ to his churches; the ancient learned and godly writers called him "John the Divine," because he wrote so profoundly of the divinity of Jesus Christ both in his gospel and in his epistles.

Verse 2

Revelation 1:2

Revelation 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

"Who bare Record of the Word of God"

{John 1:1-3; 1 John 1:2-3; 1 John 5:7} The Word made Flesh. {John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16} God manifested in the flesh; God over all blessed for ever. {Romans 9:5} His name is called the Word of God. {Revelation 19:13}

"And of the Testimony of Jesus Christ"

that is, the witness, which the prophets, apostles, ministers, and martyrs of Jesus Christ have testified of Christ, his life, sufferings, and glory, that should follow. {1 Peter 1:9-11}

"And of all things that he saw"

that is, all those things which Jesus Christ showed his servant John in the visions and prophecies of this his revelation.

Verse 3

Revelation 1:3

Revelation 1:3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

"Blessed is he that readeth"

That is, so readeth, as that he understandeth what he readeth {Acts 8:30} [ginwskein a anaginwskein]; understandeth thou what thou readeth? and so expoundeth what he readeth that the people may understand the reading, as they did, {Nehemiah 8:8} and as the Apostle Paul did. {Acts 28:23}

"And they that hear the Words of this Prophecy"

that is, They that are diligent hearers, who hear what the Spirit speaketh thereby to the churches, {Isaiah 55:3; Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:17} not being forgetful hearers, but believing hearers, {Hebrews 4:2} and doers, {James 1:22; James 1:25} "and keep those things which are written therein".

Verse 4

Revelation 1:4

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Those seven churches in the lesser Asia, were the true visible constituted particular churches of Jesus Christ. And such were the churches in Judea, in Achaia, in Galatia, and all the churches of Christ that were in the apostles days, that we read of in the Holy Scripture of the New Testament; whom John thus saluted

"Grace be to you, and peace," etc.

All having grace, and all spiritual peace floweth from God, and was, and is, and is to come; through the mediation and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the operation of the Holy Eternal Spirit into the hearts of saints and churches of saints. By the grace of God, we are to understand not only the love and favor of God, but also all grace, {1 Peter 5:10} more and greater measure of every grace; {James 4:6} truth of grace; {Colossians 1:6} growth in grace; {2 Peter 3:18} and perfection of grace at last. {Ephesians 4:13} And by peace, spiritual peace, which is peace with God; {Romans 5:1} peace in ourselves {Romans 15:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:13} among ourselves. By the seven spirits, which are before his throne, we are to understand the Holy Eternal Spirit with his diversity of gifts, operations, and administrations, {1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:11} there called seven, which is a prophetical number in this prophecy, signifying both variety and perfection.

Verse 5

Revelation 1:5

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

"And from Jesus Christ"

who is here described by his prophetical office,

"who is the faithful witness"

{Revelation 3:14} God gave Christ for a witness unto the people. {Isaiah 55:4} Christ was that great Prophet, {Acts 3:21; Acts 7:37} who did faithful testify the whole will of God. {John 15:15; John 17:6; John 17:8; John 17:26}

"And the first-begotten of the dead"

the description of the priestly office. There are two parts of his priestly office. Satisfaction {1 Timothy 2:5-6} and intercession; {Hebrews 7:24-25} Christ is called God’s first-born from the dead.

"And the Prince of the kings of the Earth"

These words are a description of Christ’s kingly office. There are two sorts of persons called kings of the earth; first, the great potentates and powers of this world, {Revelation 9:19} who give their power, strength and kingdom to the beast. {Revelation 17:12-13; Revelation 17:17} Christ is the Prince of these kings, therefore called the only potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. {1 Timothy 6:15} Secondly, Christ’s redeemed ones out of all nations, are made unto God, kings and priests, who shall reign on earth; {Revelation 5:9-10} Christ is King of saints; {Revelation 15:3} King of Sion; {Psalms 149:1-2} and King of nations. {Jeremiah 10:7; Jeremiah 10:10; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 11:15}

"Who hath loved us"

The love of Christ to his redeemed ones, is the same wherewith the Father loved him; {John 17:10; John 17:23; John 17:26} everlasting love. {Jeremiah 31:3; John 13:1}

"And washed us from our Sins in his own blood"

This blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin; {1 John 1:7; 1 John 1:9} purgeth our conscience from dead works; {Hebrews 9:14} sanctifieth us; {Hebrews 13:12} justifieth us. {Romans 5:9} Thereby we are redeemed. {Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15}

Verse 6

Revelation 1:6

Revelation 1:6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

This verse contains a doxology, wherein is ascribed glory and dominion unto the Lord Jesus Christ for all the blessings and benefits of his Mediatorialship, kings and priests [basileion ierateuma]. Read. 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:12-13; Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27 The first to Judah. Micah 4:6-8; Isaiah 61:6; Revelation 11:15 The kingdom of his father David. Lu 1:31-33; Zechariah 14:9

Verse 7

Revelation 1:7

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

John doth not say, Christ is come, the primitive saints did know that, 1 John 5:20 nor doth he say Christ will come, Hebrews 10:37 though that is certain. Hebrews 9:28 But he saith

"Behold, he cometh"

Christ is preparing to come a second time, he is making way for his kingdom and coming.

"And every eye shall see him"

Job testified his faith in this matter. Job 19:25-27 Also the Prophet Zechariah. Zechariah 12:10 Christ’s second coming, and of the faith and hope of the saints therein, Revelation 22:20 Even so come Lord Jesus.

Verse 8

Revelation 1:8

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

"Alpha and Omega"

that is, the first and the last. Revelation 22:13

"The beginning and the end"

Isaiah 46:9-10 both eternal and unchangeable.

"Which is, and was, and is to come"

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

"The Almighty"

Revelation 4:8; Revelation 4:11 whose name is JEHOVAH. Jeremiah 23:6 God over all blessed for ever. Romans 9:5

Verse 9

Revelation 1:9

Revelation 1:9 "I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."

"I John"

a servant of Jesus Christ, and apostle of Christ Matthew 10:2 and an elder. 1 Peter 5:1-2; John 1:1

"Who also am your Brother"

in the faith and fellowship of the gospel, called the Brotherhood. 1 Peter 2:17 Why should not John, as well as Jesus, Christ’s ministers as well as their Lord, call the saints brethren? Hebrews 2:11-12 He was not ashamed to call them brethren,

"And Companion in Tribulation"

fellow citizens with the saints are fellow sufferers with the saints Ephesians 2:19, with Philippians 1:29, also 2 Thessalonians 1:3-7; and Hebrews 10:33.

"And in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ"

They that are fellow heirs with the saints in the kingdom of glory, must be fellow sufferers in the kingdom of patience trough tribulation. Acts 14:22

"Was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the Testimony of Jesus"

Patmos is an island in the Aegean Sea, near the coast of the lesser Asia, into which island John was banished in the reign of Domitian a Roman, pagan emperor; not for treason, nor rebellion, nor any other crime against civil government; but for the word of God, which he preached, and the testimony of Jesus Christ that John bare. John 21:24 This is the disciple who testified of those things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Verse 10

Revelation 1:10

Revelation 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,


To be in the "Spirit" here, is not only to be in a spiritual frame, as the true worshippers are, who worship God in spirit and truth, John 4:23, praying in the spirit, and signing in the spirit, {as 1 Corinthians 14:15} but also to be in a spiritual rapture, or ecstasies, as Peter was, when he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened; {Acts 10:10-11} or, as Paul was, when he was caught up into the third heaven into the visions and revelations of Christ. {2 Corinthians 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 12:4; 2 Corinthians 12:7}

"on the Lord’s day"

The time when John was in the "Spirit" is here called, "the LORD’S DAY." Had the text been here, "in the day of the LORD" or, "in that day of the LORD;" it might have been understood and expounded of any notable day of the LORD recorded in the Holy Scripture; (as 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; and 2 Peter 3:10). But the text here being "on the LORD’S day," it must be understood and expounded of that day only and most properly so called; which was well known to all the churches of saints to belong peculiarly unto Christ, then being the day of His resurrection, on which day the disciples met together to break bread, Acts 10:7 being the first day of the week. The like propriety of speech we have so expressed by the apostle; {1 Corinthians 11:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25} "the LORD’S Supper;" which was indeed Instituted by the LORD himself. And the Lord’s Day, properly so called here, was the first day of the week, {as Matthew 28:1} In the end of the Sabbath; that was, the seventh day Sabbath, which then was done away, as it began to dawn "towards the first of Sabbaths;" {so Mr 16:12} [Valde mane une Sabbatrum; the Sabbath being finished,] ( to which, the seventh day Sabbath being now ended) very early in the morning, that is, early of the first of Sabbaths. And the reader may observe, that where in our English translation the LORD’S day is called the first day of the week, it is in the Greek text called the first of Sabbaths. This is the gospel Sabbath that remaineth unto the people of God, from the day of Christ’s resurrection unto His Second Coming. As the Lord’s Supper ought to be celebrated in remembrance of Christ’s death; {1 Corinthians 11:24-25} so the Lord’s Day ought to be observed in remembrance of his resurrection from the dead.

"And heard behind me a great Voice, as of a Trumpet"

This vision (and all the visions of God) consists of two parts, viz., something heard and something seen. That which the apostle heard was a voice behind him, (according to God’s promise, Isaiah 30:20-21) an articulate voice, words that he understood, and whereby he was directed what he ought to do in the day of his exile; when he could not preach unto the churches in Asia; which direction is given in the next verse. It is called [a great voice], to wit, the voice of the great God our Saviour Jesus Christ; as of a trumpet, {as Isaiah 58:1} that is, a loud voice, and thereby a certain and distinct sound and voice of words in a tongue or language, which John did well understand, as appears by the verse following.

Verse 11

Revelation 1:11

Revelation 1:11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

In this verse, we have the former description of Jesus Christ, his deity and eternity repeated, {see Revelation 1:8} that John might know, first, whose voice it was that spake unto him, and that he heard behind them. Secondly, from whom he had commission (as formerly to Preach, so now) to write. Thirdly, that the churches might know that this Book of the Revelation is also that part of the Holy Scripture of truth, unto which nothing is to be added, nor any thing taken away. {Revelation 22:18-21}

"What thou seest, Write in a Book"

It is the liberty of the ministers of Christ, when they cannot edify the churches of God by preaching unto them, to endeavor their edification by writing unto them.

"and send it unto the Seven Churches which are in Asia" etc.

Those seven churches were planted by the apostles in the seven principle cities in the lesser Asia, here named, and hence each particular church denominated, as appears in the second and third chapters of this Book, {Revelation 2:1-29} {Revelation 3:1-22} in the exposition whereof, more will be spoken of this matter: All that I shall say in general touching these, (and other churches of God mentioned in the Holy Scripture) in this place is,

First, that each church contained and comprehended, the whole number of them that believed in Jesus Christ, confessed the faith of the gospel, and walked in the order and ordinances of the Lord in one city and suburbs thereof; and had the denomination of that city, and was called the church of God in that city. Search these Scriptures, Acts 1:1; Acts 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Revelation 2:1; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 3:14.

Secondly, although the church in any city, at the beginning and first planting of it, was but one congregation, and assembled themselves together in one place, {Acts 2:1; Acts 4:31; 1 Corinthians 14:23} yet when the number of the disciples was multiplied, {Acts 4:32; Acts 6:1-2} and multitudes both men and women were added to the Lord, and by the Lord to the church, {Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4; Acts 5:14} then the church was necessitated, for the edification of the multitude, and great number of the members thereof, to assemble themselves together in particular congregations, and became distinct companies, of whom we read, {Acts 4:19; Acts 4:23} Peter and John had their own company or congregation, and so had Paul and Barnabas, and each company or congregation had their elders and deacons, {Philippians 1:1} and the denomination of the church, {1 Corinthians 16:1} and are called churches. {1 Corinthians 16:16} The apostles writing to the saints in the Church of Corinth, said, Let your Women keep silence in the Churches. {1 Corinthians 14:34; 2 Corinthians 8:24} Shew ye to them, and before the Churches, the proof of your Love.

Thirdly, church is an homogenial word, as water in the sea, in a river, in a well, and in a spoon, is called water; so the assembly or congregation of sanctified believers in the general assembly, is called the church, {Hebrews 12:23} and the particular assemblies or congregations in any city is called the church, {1 Corinthians 1:1-2} so in any village or town, {Romans 16:1} yea, in any house. {Colossians 4:15}

Verse 12

Revelation 1:12

Revelation 1:12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

"to see the voice"

To "see the Voice" of God, is figuratively and prophetically put for hearing, understanding, and receiving that truth or word of God, which by the "Voice" was spoken to him, as Isaiah 2:1-2. The Word that Isaiah the Son of Amos saw; that is, the prophecy that Isaiah heard, understood and received by the word of the Lord.

"That spake with me"

God did polumerwv kai polutropwv; at sundry times and in divers manners speak unto the fathers by the prophets; and hath in the last days spoken unto us by his Son, {Hebrews 1:1-2} whose voice this was that spake to John.

"And being turned, I saw Seven Golden Candlesticks"

Here begins the second part of this first vision, to wit, that which the apostle saw: Those "Seven Candlesticks" are interpreted by Christ himself, {Revelation 1:20} to be the seven churches unto whom John was commanded to send this Book. {Revelation 1:11} The seven churches are called "Candlesticks" for their visibility {Matthew 5:14-16} and "Golden Candlesticks;" First, from the purity of the worship of God administered in the churches of saints {John 4:23-24} according to Christ’s institutions. {1 Corinthians 11:1-2} Secondly, from the holiness of the ministers and members in the churches of God, upon whom was written holiness to the Lord, and therefore called the churches of saints. {1 Corinthians 14:33} Thirdly, from the purging power, and purifying efficacy of church censures, to wit, admonition of offending unruly persons, suspension of those that walked disorderly, and excommunication of wicked, ungodly, and obstinate sinners. {1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 5:13}

Verse 13

Revelation 1:13

Revelation 1:13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

The LORD Jesus Christ (who is the Mediator) is here personally described after his ascension, as he was before his resurrection. {Daniel 7:13} Such a discovery of Christ Stephen had. Acts 7:55-56 He was real, this mystical, as appears by metaphorical description of Christ here following.

"Clothed with a Garment down to the Foot," etc.

Long garments were worn among the Jews by two sorts of persons, and both for distinction from others, and for dignity above others; namely, kings and priests. {Leviticus 8:6-9; Isaiah 22:20-23}

"And girt about the Paps with a Golden Girdle"

The girdle that John saw Jesus girt about the breasts with, signifies his divine power, strength, and kingly authority. {Isaiah 22:20-23} I will strengthen him with thy girdle, I will commit the government into his hands {Isaiah 11:5; Isaiah 9:6-7} Jesus Christ is present in and with his churches of saints at all times. {Matthew 18:20} Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them: That is, they have his spiritual presence and power. {1 Corinthians 5:4; Revelation 2:7-11; Matthew 28:20} And lo, I am with you always, pasav tav hmerav, daily, all days, and every day, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Verse 14

Revelation 1:14

Revelation 1:14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

"His Head and his Hairs were white like Wool, as white as Snow"

The whiteness of his Head and Hairs signify, that Christ is co-eternal with the Father, who is called the Ancient of Days. {Daniel 7:9-13}

"And his Eyes were as a flame of Fire"

The prophet Daniel had such a representation of Christ in his vision. {Daniel 10:6} And his Eyes as lamps of Fire. So Revelation 19:12-13 hereby is described Christ’s omnisciency. {Hebrews 4:12-13}

Verse 15

Revelation 1:15

Revelation 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

"And his feet like unto fine brass, as having been refined in a furnace," etc.

By the "Feet" of Christ here, we may understand the paths or ways of his feet, called his footsteps, which the saints ought to follow, {1 Peter 2:21} both in suffering and in doing the Father’s will. Christ’s active and passive obedience hath been tried, as "refined brass," and all Christ’s proceedings in the world, against his, and his churches and peoples enemies and adversaries, are righteous, firm, and stable. {De 32:4; 1 Corinthians 15:24-25}

"And his Voice as the sound of many Waters"

Christ’s "Voice" is either the voice of his word, or the voice of his rod. First, the WORD is his voice. {Jeremiah 26:1-2} either commanding, {Psalms 33:9-10} effecting {John 5:25} or forbidding, {Exodus 20:13-17} and hindering. {Genesis 20:6} Secondly, the rod is his voice, {Micah 6:9} The Lord’s voice crieth unto the city-Hear ye the rod; and who hath appointed it; viz. The rod of correction wherewith he chasteneth his own children in love and measure, {Revelation 3:19; Psalms 89:30-32} or his iron rod, the rod of his wrath, wherewith HE breaketh in pieces all his enemies. {Psalms 2:9-10; Lu 19:14-27; Revelation 2:27} Christ’s "Voice" is compared to "the sound of many Waters," with respect unto the majesty and power thereof. {Psalms 29:3-5} The Voice of the LORD is powerful, the Voice of the Lord is full of Majesty. {Revelation 1:10} The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever. Christ is King of saints, {Revelation 15:3} King of Zion, {Psalms 149:2} and King of nations, {Jeremiah 10:7-10; Revelation 11:15} and Everlasting King. {1 Timothy 6:15} Now where the word of a king is, there is power. {Ecclesiastes 8:4}

Verse 16

Revelation 1:16

Revelation 1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

"And he had in his right hand seven stars," etc.

These "seven stars" are interpreted, {Revelation 1:20} to be the seven angels of the seven churches See KNOLLYS: Revelation 1:20 See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:8 See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:12 See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:18 who are called "Stars" metaphorically, as the church of God is called heaven {Matthew 16:18-19} and Christ is called the Sun, {Malachi 4:2} so his ministers are called stars {Daniel 12:3} for their shining both in doctrine and conversation. {Matthew 5:14-16} And they are said to be in Christ right Hand to teach us, first, that Christ only hath authority and power to call, appoint, and send ministers to preach the gospel. {Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:15} Secondly, that Christ is with his ministers in their work. {1 Corinthians 3:9; Acts 11:19-22} The Hand of the Lord was with them. {Revelation 3:7-8} Thirdly, that Christ preserves his faithful ministers, and keeps them safe from the rage of devils and wicked men. Their rage shall turn to his praise, and the remainder he will restrain. {Acts 26:17-22}

"And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword," etc.

Christ’s kingly and priestly offices were signified by his robe and girdle, {Revelation 1:13} and his prophetical office is represented here by his "sword," {Revelation 19:15-21} the Sword that proceedeth "out of his Mouth, which is the Word of God." {Ephesians 6:15; Hebrews 4:12} It will discover to sinners and to saints the thoughts and intents of their hearts, cutting them to the heart, {Acts 7:51-54} and pricking them in the heart. {Acts 2:36-37} So shall the word of the LORD be that goeth out of his mouth, it shall accomplish that which he pleaseth, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto he sends it {Isaiah 55:11}

"And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength"

When the sun shineth in its strength it produceth various effects upon the earth; the trees, the corn and the grass, etc. grow and spring, so doth the countenance of the LORD Jesus Christ: I shall instance in three various effects, first, the clear shinning of the sun after rain, causeth the tender grass to spring out of the earth, {2 Samuel 23:4} so doth the clear manifestations of the love and grace of God in Christ (called the Light of his Countenance; Psalms 11:7; Psalms 42:5), clear the hearts of sanctified believers, and doth make them exceeding glad, {Psalms 21:6; Acts 2:28} yea those lights and shinings of Christ makes a spring of grace, joy, and peace of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Secondly, the clear shining heat of the sun, when the rain and dews are withheld, scorcheth and withereth the grass, and burns it up, {Matthew 13:6} so doth the rebukes of God, and his angry countenance. {Psalms 80:15-16} The frowns of the Almighty are dreadful, so was his fiery countenance unto Pharaoh’s host {Exodus 14:24-25; Exodus 14:28} Read Psalms 2:9-12, Kiss the Son, least HE be angry, and ye perish, etc. Thirdly, the clear and bright-shining of the sun in its full strength dazzleth our natural eyes (especially if they before are weak sighted). So did the shining glory of Christ cause the prophet to cry out, Woe is me, for I an undone. {Isaiah 6:1; Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 6:5; John 12:41} This shining glory of the sun of righteousness amazed Christ’s three disciples, Peter, James and John, so that they fell on their faces and were afraid to look up. {Matthew 17:1-2; Matthew 17:6} And the like effect had this vision of Christ’s glorious countenance upon the apostle, as is testified by him in the next verse.

Verse 17

Revelation 1:17

Revelation 1:17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead," etc.

The apostle was not "dead" not in a swoon, but rather in a trance, as Peter was, {Acts 10:10} and astonished, as Daniel was, {Daniel 8:27} whose comeliness was turned in him to corruption. {Daniel 10:5-6; Daniel 10:8} Did not God hold back the face of his throne, as Job speaketh {Job 26:9} or put us into the cliff of the rock, as he did Moses, while his glory passeth by, {Exodus 33:22-23} we should not be able to behold the glimpses of his glory; nor can sanctified believers behold the shining light of the glory of God, but in the face of Christ, {2 Corinthians 4:6} and that glory of the LORD, they must behold in the glass of the gospel. {2 Corinthians 3:18} Such raptures and ravishments of soul in the revelations, and manifestations of Jesus Christ put Paul into so great an ecstasy, that he knew not, whether he was in the body of out of the body. {2 Corinthians 12:1-4}

"And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not, I AM the First, and the Last"

John the servant of Jesus Christ now lying at his "feet," not only as one deeply humbled, but as one "dead," not at all alive, but a mere passive creature; his gracious LORD showed him mercy, and laid his right hand upon him to strengthen him with strength in his soul, (as he did his poor worm Jacob; Isaiah 41:8-10), saying unto him,

"Fear not, I AM the First and the Last"

Christ’s deity "I AM," and his eternity "the First and the Last" revealed and believed, and by himself applied unto sanctified believers, will abate their fears, and remove them. {Psalms 56:3-4; Isaiah 8:12-14; Matthew 14:27; Mr 5:36; 1 Peter 3:14}

Verse 18

Revelation 1:18

Revelation 1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

"I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, AMEN," etc.

In these words Christ asserteth, first, his being crucified, "I am He that was dead;" Secondly, his resurrection from the dead "I am He that liveth;" both which great gospel truths the apostle Paul received from Christ also be revelation, {1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:8} Thirdly, his exhortation to consider, that "HE lives for evermore," and sets his "AMEN" unto it. One end of Christ’s "living for evermore" is, that the saints may live eternally, {John 14:19} another end thereof is to make intercession for the saints, and save them to the uttermost in coming to God by him. {Hebrews 7:24-26}

"And have the keys of hell and of death"

That this, the LORD Jesus Christ hath authority, power, and dominion over "hell and death," that is, over the first and second death. {Acts 17:31; Revelation 20:13-14; Lu 12:5} HE hath "the keys of death" and of the grave, to let in, and shut up whom and when he will; and to call out of the grave, and raise from the dead, whom and when he will; as he did Lazarus: And HE hath the "keys of hell" and the second death, into which all the wicked shall be turned, {Psalms 9:17} and at Christ’s command hell must give up the souls that are in it, to be returned to their own bodies and appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and receive that final sentence of the eternal judgement. {Matthew 25:41-46} The whole power of these "keys" are expressed. {Revelation 20:11-15}

Verse 19

Revelation 1:19

Revelation 1:19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

The commission which Jesus Christ gave his servant John, {Revelation 1:11} is here repeated and enlarged; wherein also we have a summary division of this whole Book of the Revelation into three parts. First, the then present state and condition of the church of God, and particularly of the seven churches in Asia;

"the things which are,"

as then they were represented unto John in the first three chapters of this book. {Revelation 1:1-20} {Revelation 2:1-29} {Revelation 3:1-22} Secondly,

"the things which thou hast seen"

which were not yet come to pass, touching the Roman pagan state, and, the condition of the church of God under those heathen powers, and their persecutions and revolutions, as they were represented unto John in the 4, 5, 6, Chapters of this Book. {Revelation 4:1-11} {Revelation 5:1-14} {Revelation 6:1-17} Thirdly,

"and the things which shall be hereafter"

That is, to say, the Roman, Asian, and papal state, and the condition of the church of God under those anti-Christian powers, and their persecutions, together with all the great revolutions which shall be in states, kingdoms and churches, from the apostles days unto the end of this present evil world, in order unto the setting up the everlasting kingdom of the LORD Jesus Christ, and the coming down of the New Jerusalem from God out of heaven, which shall be hereafter in that world which is to come; together with Christ’s coming to Judgment, (called the eternal judgment; Hebrews 6:1-2), which things John had revealed unto him by Jesus Christ, in the other chapters of this book; especially {Revelation 13:1-18} {Revelation 16:1-21} {Revelation 18:1-24} {Revelation 19:1-21} {Revelation 20:1-15} {Revelation 21:1-27} {Revelation 22:1-21} of this prophecy of the Revelation.

Verse 20

Revelation 1:20

Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

"The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks"

A mystery implies, first, some secret or hidden thing, not obvious unto every eye, {Colossians 1:26-27; Romans 16:25-26} until it be revealed and made known. Secondly, some real and excellent thing, {1 Timothy 3:16} worth our knowledge and understanding, being profitable to us. {1 Timothy 4:8} Thirdly, some practical thing, and applicable for our use and behalf, {1 Timothy 4:7-8; Colossians 1:26-27} when we know it.

"The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches"

Why the ministers of the gospel are called "stars" see Revelation 1:16. The ministry of the law was cloudy and dark, in comparison of the ministry of the gospel {2 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:11} This excelled it in glory, therefore the ministers of the gospel are called "stars," and they are also called angels, because they are the special messengers of God, whom He sendeth to preach the glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ unto the people. {Mr 16:15; Lu 9:52} And the Churches received the Ministers of Christ as Angels. {Galatians 4:14}

Christ puts this name of dignity upon his ministers, that the churches and people to whom they preach, should count them worthy of double honor, {1 Timothy 5:17} therefore called and diligent labor: The churches and saints should have such ministers in reputation, and esteem them highly in love for their works sake. {Philippians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:13} These names of dignity should put the ministers of Christ in mind of their duty, to wit, to let their light shine before men, for they are called stars {Matthew 5:16} and to wait on their ministry, {Romans 12:11} not slothful in business, but fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord, for they are called angels (who are God’s ministers and his ministering spirits; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14), such ought Christ’s ministers to be, his and his churches ministering servants.

"And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest, are the seven churches"

The candlestick in God’s tabernacle, {Exodus 25:31; Exodus 25:37; Exodus 25:40} was pure gold, with seven lamps lighted, according to the pattern which God shewed Moses in the mount. The church of God under the first and old covenant, and Mosaical dispensation of the law, being national and but one church, tabernacle and temple was represented by a golden candlestick. {Zechariah 4:2} The church of God under the second and new covenant and apostolical dispensation of the gospel, being congregational, were represented unto John by two candlesticks {Revelation 11:4} and hereby seven. {Revelation 1:12; Revelation 1:20}

The churches of saints under the gospel and new covenant of grace, are fitly resembled unto candlesticks, because the shinning and glorious light, first, of the knowledge of salvation to sinners; Secondly, of the pure spiritual worship of god by his saints; Thirdly, of the manifold wisdom of God and his glory, is to be made known by the churches throughout all ages, {Ephesians 3:9-11; Ephesians 3:21} and therefore the church of God, under the dispensation of the gospel, is called the Pillar of Truth, {1 Timothy 3:15} for the truth, as it is in Jesus, is born forth and declared thereby. As the edicts, and laws, and proclamations of the potentates, kings and princes of this world, are fixed upon pillars to be know and read of all men; so God’s truth, Christ’s laws, and all his holy ordinances, are given unto the churches, and are to be declared and administered in his churches visibly and publicly, to the glory and praise of God.

Bibliographical Information
Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 1". "Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".