Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 1

Verse 1

The Revelation (αποκαλυπσιςapokalupsis). Late and rare word outside of N.T. (once in Plutarch and so in the vernacular Koiné), only once in the Gospels (Luke 2:32), but in lxx and common in the Epistles (2 Thessalonians 1:7), though only here in this book besides the title, from αποκαλυπτωapokaluptō old verb, to uncover, to unveil. In the Epistles αποκαλυπσιςapokalupsis is used for insight into truth (Ephesians 1:17) or for the revelation of God or Christ at the second coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:7). It is interesting to compare αποκαλυπσιςapokalupsis with επιπανειαepiphaneia (2 Thessalonians 2:8) and πανερωσιςphanerōsis (1 Corinthians 12:7). The precise meaning here turns on the genitive following.

Of Jesus Christ (Ιησου ΧριστουIēsou Christou). Hort takes it as objective genitive (revelation about Jesus Christ), but Swete rightly argues for the subjective genitive because of the next clause.

Gave him (εδωκεν αυτοιedōken autoi). It is the Son who received the revelation from the Father, as is usual (John 5:20-23 f., John 5:26, etc.).

To shew (δειχαιdeixai). First aorist active infinitive of δεικνυμιdeiknumi purpose of God in giving the revelation to Christ.

Unto his servants (τοις δουλοις αυτουtois doulois autou). Believers in general and not just to officials. Dative case. God‘s servants (or Christ‘s).

Must shortly come to pass (δει γενεσται εν ταχειdei genesthai en tachei). Second aorist middle infinitive of γινομαιginomai with δειdei See this same adjunct (εν ταχειen tachei) in Luke 18:8; Romans 16:20; Revelation 22:6. It is a relative term to be judged in the light of 2 Peter 3:8 according to God‘s clock, not ours. And yet undoubtedly the hopes of the early Christians looked for a speedy return of the Lord Jesus. This vivid panorama must be read in the light of that glorious hope and of the blazing fires of persecution from Rome.

Sent and signified (εσημανεν αποστειλαςesēmanen aposteilas). “Having sent” (first aorist active participle of αποστελλωapostellō Matthew 10:16 and again in Revelation 22:6 of God sending his angel) “signified” (first aorist active indicative of σημαινωsēmainō from σημαsēma sign or token, for which see John 12:33; Acts 11:28). See Revelation 12:1 for σημειονsēmeion though σημαινωsēmainō (only here in the Apocalypse) suits admirably the symbolic character of the book.

By his angel (δια του αγγελου αυτουdia tou aggelou autou). Christ‘s angel as Christ is the subject of the verb εσημανενesēmanen as in Revelation 22:16 Christ sends his angel, though in Revelation 22:6 God sends.

Unto his servant John (τωι δουλωι αυτου Ιωανειtōi doulōi autou Iōanei). Dative case. John gives his name here, though not in Gospel or Epistles, because “prophecy requires the guarantee of the individual who is inspired to utter it” (Milligan). “The genesis of the Apocalypse has now been traced from its origin in the Mind of God to the moment when it reached its human interpreter” (Swete). “Jesus is the medium of all revelation” (Moffatt).

Verse 2

Bare witness (εμαρτυρησενemarturēsen). First aorist active indicative of μαρτυρεωmartureō which, along with μαρτυςmartus and μαρτυριαmarturia is common in all the Johannine books (cf. Revelation 22:18, Revelation 22:20), usually with περιperi or οτιhoti but with cognate accusative as here in Revelation 22:16, Revelation 22:20; 1 John 5:10. Epistolary aorist here, referring to this book.

The word of God (τον λογον του τεουton logon tou theou). Subjective genitive, given by God. The prophetic word as in Revelation 1:9; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 20:4, not the personal Word as in Revelation 19:14.

The testimony of Jesus Christ (την μαρτυριαν Ιησου Χριστουtēn marturian Iēsou Christou). Subjective genitive again, borne witness to by Jesus Christ.

Even of all the things that he saw (οσα ειδενhosa eiden). Relative clause in apposition with λογονlogon and μαρτυριανmarturian f0).

Verse 3

Blessed (μακαριοςmakarios). As in Matthew 5:3. This endorses the book as a whole.

He that readeth (ο αναγινωσκωνho anaginōskōn). Present active singular articular participle of αναγινωσκωanaginōskō (as in Luke 4:16). Christians in their public worship followed the Jewish custom of public reading of the Scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:14.). The church reader (αναγνωστηςanagnōstēs lector) gradually acquired an official position. John expects this book to be read in each of the seven churches mentioned (Revelation 1:4) and elsewhere. Today the public reading of the Bible is an important part of worship that is often poorly done.

They that hear (οι ακουοντεςhoi akouontes). Present active plural articular participle of ακουωakouō (the audience).

And keep (και τηρουντεςkai tērountes). Present active participle of τηρεωtēreō a common Johannine word (1 John 2:4, etc.). Cf. Matthew 7:24. “The content of the Apocalypse is not merely prediction; moral counsel and religious instruction are the primary burdens of its pages” (Moffatt).

Written (γεγραμμεναgegrammena). Perfect passive participle of γραπωgraphō the time is at hand (ο γαρ καιρος εγγυςho gar kairos eggus). Reason for listening and keeping. On καιροςkairos see Matthew 12:1, time of crisis as in 1 Corinthians 7:29. How near εγγυςeggus (at hand) is we do not know any more than we do about εν ταχειen tachei (shortly) in Revelation 1:1.

Verse 4

To the seven churches which are in Asia (ταις επτα εκκλησιαις ταις εν τηι Ασιαιtais hepta ekklēsiais tais en tēi Asiāi). Dative case as in a letter (Galatians 1:1). John is writing, but the revelation is from God and Christ through an angel. It is the Roman province of Asia which included the western part of Phrygia. There were churches also at Troas (Acts 20:5.) and at Colossal and Hierapolis (Colossians 1:1; Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:13) and possibly at Magnesia and Tralles. But these seven were the best points of communication with seven districts (Ramsay) and, besides, seven is a favorite number of completion (like the full week) in the book (Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:12, Revelation 1:16; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:1, Revelation 5:6; Revelation 8:2; Revelation 10:3; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 14:6.).

From him which is (απο ο ωνapo ho ōn). This use of the articular nominative participle of ειμιeimi after αποapo instead of the ablative is not due to ignorance or a mere slip (λαπσυς πενναεlapsus pennae), for in the next line we have the regular idiom with απο των επτα πνευματωνapo tōn hepta pneumatōn It is evidently on purpose to call attention to the eternity and unchangeableness of God. Used of God in Exodus 3:14.

And which was (και ο ηνkai ho ēn). Here again there is a deliberate change from the articular participle to the relative use of οho (used in place of οςhos to preserve identity of form in the three instances like Ionic relative and since no aorist participle of ειμιeimi existed). The oracle in Pausanias X. 12 has it: ευς ην ευς εστι ευς εσσεταιZeus ēnο ερχομενοςZeus estiο εσομενοςZeus essetai (Zeus was, Zeus is, Zeus will be).

Which is to come (ο ερχομενοςho erchomenos). “The Coming One,” futuristic use of the present participle instead of απο των επτα πνευματωνho esomenos See the same idiom in Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8 and (without τωνho erchomenos) in Revelation 11:17; Revelation 16:5.

From the seven spirits (αapo tōn hepta pneumatōn). A difficult symbolic representation of the Holy Spirit here on a par with God and Christ, a conclusion borne out by the symbolic use of the seven spirits in Revelation 3:1; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6 (from Zechariah 4:2-10). There is the one Holy Spirit with seven manifestations here to the seven churches (Swete, The Holy Spirit in the N.T., p. 374), unity in diversity (1 Corinthians 12:4).

Which are (ενωπιον του τρονου αυτουtōn article Aleph A, ha relative P).

Before his throne (enōpion tou thronou autou). As in Revelation 4:5.

Verse 5

Who is the faithful witness (ο μαρτυς ο πιστοςho martus ho pistos). “The witness the faithful,” nominative in apposition like πρωτοτοκοςprōtotokos and αρχωνarchōn with the preceding ablative Ιησου ΧριστουIēsou Christou with αποapo a habit of John in this book (apparently on purpose) as in Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:20; Revelation 3:12, etc. See this same phrase in Revelation 2:13; Revelation 3:14. The use of μαρτυςmartus of Jesus here is probably to the witness (Revelation 1:1) in this book (Revelation 22:16.), not to the witness of Jesus before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13).

The first-born of the dead (ο πρωτοτοκος των νεκρωνho prōtotokos tōn nekrōn). A Jewish Messianic title (Psalm 89:27) and as in Colossians 1:18 refers to priority in the resurrection to be followed by others. See Luke 2:7 for the word.

The ruler of the kings of the earth (ο αρχων των βασιλεων της γηςho archōn tōn basileōn tēs gēs). Jesus by his resurrection won lordship over the kings of earth (Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16), what the devil offered him by surrender (Matthew 4:8.).

Unto him that loveth us (τωι αγαπωντι ημαςtōi agapōnti hēmās). Dative of the articular present (not aorist αγαπησαντιagapēsanti) active participle of αγαπαωagapaō in a doxology to Christ, the first of many others to God and to Christ (Revelation 1:6; Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:9, Revelation 5:12.; Revelation 7:10, Revelation 7:12, etc.). For the thought see John 3:16.

Loosed (λυσαντιlusanti). First aorist active participle of λυωluō (Aleph A C), though some MSS. (P Q) read λουσαντιlousanti (washed), a manifest correction. Note the change of tense. Christ loosed us once for all, but loves us always.

By his blood (εν τωι αιματι αυτουen tōi haimati autou). As in Revelation 5:9. John here as in the Gospel and Epistles states plainly and repeatedly the place of the blood of Christ in the work of redemption.

Verse 6

And he made (και εποιησενkai epoiēsen). Change from the participle construction, which would be και ποιησαντιkai poiēsanti (first aorist active of ποιεωpoieō) like λυσαντιlusanti just before, a Hebraism Charles calls it, but certainly an anacoluthon of which John is very fond, as in Revelation 1:18; Revelation 2:2, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 2:20; Revelation 3:9; Revelation 7:14; Revelation 14:2.; Revelation 15:3.

Kingdom (βασιλειανbasileian). So correctly Aleph A C, not βασιλειςbasileis (P cursives). Perhaps a reminiscence of Exodus 19:6, a kingdom of priests. In Revelation 5:10 we have again “a kingdom and priests.” The idea here is that Christians are the true spiritual Israel in God‘s promise to Abraham as explained by Paul in Gal 3; Rom 9.

To be priests (ιερειςhiereis). In apposition with βασιλειανbasileian but with καιkai (and) in Revelation 5:10. Each member of this true kingdom is a priest unto God, with direct access to him at all times.

Unto his God and Father (τωι τεωι και πατρι αυτουtōi theōi kai patri autou). Dative case and αυτουautou (Christ) applies to both τεωιtheōi and πατριpatri Jesus spoke of the Father as his God (Matthew 27:46; John 20:17) and Paul uses like language (Ephesians 1:17), as does Peter (1 Peter 1:3).

To him (αυτωιautōi). Another doxology to Christ. “The adoration of Christ which vibrates in this doxology is one of the most impressive features of the book” (Moffatt). Like doxologies to Christ appear in Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:10; 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 13:21. These same words (η δοχα και το κρατοςhē doxa kai to kratos) in 1 Peter 4:11, only η δοχαhē doxa in 2 Peter 3:18; 2 Timothy 4:18, but with several others in Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:10.

Verse 7

Behold, he cometh with the clouds (ιδου ερχεται μετα των νεπελωνidou erchetai meta tōn nephelōn). Futuristic present middle indicative of ερχομαιerchomai a reminiscence of Daniel 7:13 (Theodotion). “It becomes a common eschatological refrain” (Beckwith) as in Mark 13:26; Mark 14:62; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Luke 21:27. Compare the manifestation of God in the clouds at Sinai, in the cloudy pillar, the Shekinah, at the transfiguration” (Vincent).

Shall see (οπσεταιopsetai). Future middle of οραωhoraō a reminiscence of Zechariah 12:10 according to the text of Theodotion (Aquila and Symmachus) rather than the lxx and like that of Matthew 24:30 (similar combination of Daniel and Zechariah) and Matthew 26:64. This picture of the victorious Christ in his return occurs also in Revelation 14:14, Revelation 14:18-20; Revelation 19:11-21; Revelation 20:7-10.

And they which (και οιτινεςkai hoitines). “And the very ones who,” Romans and Jews, all who shared in this act.

Pierced (εχεκεντησανexekentēsan). First aorist active indicative of εκκεντεωekkenteō late compound (Aristotle, Polybius, lxx), from εκek and κεντεωkenteō (to stab, to pierce), in N.T., only here and John 19:37, in both cases from Zechariah 12:10, but not the lxx text (apparently proof that John used the original Hebrew or the translation of Theodotion and Aquila).

Shall mourn (κοπσονταιkopsontai). Future middle (direct) of κοπτωkoptō old verb, to cut, “they shall cut themselves,” as was common for mourners (Matthew 11:17; Luke 8:52; Luke 23:27). From Zechariah 12:12. See also Revelation 18:9.

Tribes (πυλαιphulai). Not just the Jewish tribes, but the spiritual Israel of Jews and Gentiles as in Revelation 7:4-8. No nation had then accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour, nor has any yet done so.

Verse 8

The Alpha and the Omega (το Αλπα και το Οto Alpha kai to O). The first and the last letters of the Greek alphabet, each with its own neuter (grammatical gender) article. This description of the eternity of God recurs in Revelation 21:6 with the added explanation η αρχη και το τελοςhē archē kai to telos (the Beginning and the End) and of Christ in Revelation 22:13 with the still further explanation ο πρωτος και ο εσχατοςho prōtos kai ho eschatos (the First and the Last). This last phrase appears also in Revelation 1:17; Revelation 2:8 without το Αλπα και το Οto Alpha kai to O The change of speaker here is unannounced, as in Revelation 16:15; Revelation 18:20. Only here and Revelation 21:5. is God introduced as the speaker. The eternity of God guarantees the prophecy just made.

The Lord God (Κυριος ο τεοςKurios ho theos). “The Lord the God.” Common phrase in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 6:3, Ezekiel 6:11; Ezekiel 7:2, etc.) and in this book (Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7; Revelation 19:6; Revelation 21:22). See Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:8 for the triple use of οho etc. to express the eternity of God.

The Almighty (ο παντοκρατωρho pantokratōr). Late compound (παςpās and κρατεωkrateō), in Cretan inscription and a legal papyrus, common in lxx and Christian papyri, in N.T. only in 2 Corinthians 6:18 and Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7, Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:6, Revelation 19:15; Revelation 21:22.

Verse 9

1 John (Εγω ΙωανηςEgō Iōanēs). So Revelation 22:8. In apocalyptic literature the personality of the writer is always prominent to guarantee the visions (Daniel 8:1; Daniel 10:2).

Partaker with you (συνκοινωνοςsunkoinōnos). See note on 1 Corinthians 9:23. “Co-partner with you” (Romans 11:17). One article with αδελποςadelphos and συνκοινωνοςsunkoinōnos unifying the picture. The absence of αποστολοςapostolos here does not show that he is not an apostle, but merely his self-effacement, as in the Fourth Gospel, and still more his oneness with his readers. So there is only one article (τηιtēi) with τλιπσειthlipsei (tribulation), βασιλειαιbasileiāi (kingdom), υπομονηιhupomonēi (patience), ideas running all through the book. Both the tribulation (see Matthew 13:21 for τλιπσιςthlipsis) and the kingdom (see Matthew 3:2 for βασιλειαbasileia) were present realities and called for patience (υπομονηhupomonē being “the spiritual alchemy” according to Charles for those in the kingdom, for which see Luke 8:15; James 5:7). All this is possible only “in Jesus” (εν Ιησουen Iēsou), a phrase on a par with Paul‘s common εν Χριστωιen Christōi (in Christ), repeated in Revelation 14:13. Cf. Revelation 3:20; 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Was (εγενομηνegenomēn). Rather, “I came to be,” second aorist middle indicative of γινομαιginomai the isle that is called Patmos (εν τηι νησωι τηι καλουμενηι Πατμωιen tēi nēsōi tēi kaloumenēi Patmōi). Patmos is a rocky sparsely settled island some ten miles long and half that wide, one of the Sporades group in the Aegean Sea, south of Miletus. The present condition of the island is well described by W. E. Geil in The Isle That Is Called Patmos (1905). Here John saw the visions described in the book, apparently written while still a prisoner there in exile.

For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus (δια τον λογον του τεου και την μαρτυριαν Ιησουdia ton logon tou theou kai tēn marturian Iēsou). The reason for (διαdia and the accusative) John‘s presence in Patmos, naturally as a result of persecution already alluded to, not for the purpose of preaching there or of receiving the visions. See Revelation 1:2 for the phrase.

Verse 10

I was in the Spirit (εγενομην εν πνευματιegenomēn en pneumati). Rather, “I came to be (as in Revelation 1:9) in the Spirit,” came into an ecstatic condition as in Acts 10:10.; Acts 22:17, not the normal spiritual condition (ειναι εν πνευματιeinai en pneumati Romans 8:9).

On the Lord‘s Day (εν τηι κυριακηι ημεραιen tēi kuriakēi hēmerāi). Deissmann has proven (Bible Studies, p. 217f.; Light, etc., p. 357ff.) from inscriptions and papyri that the word κυριακοςkuriakos was in common use for the sense “imperial” as imperial finance and imperial treasury and from papyri and ostraca that ημερα Σεβαστηhēmera Sebastē (Augustus Day) was the first day of each month, Emperor‘s Day on which money payments were made (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1.). It was easy, therefore, for the Christians to take this term, already in use, and apply it to the first day of the week in honour of the Lord Jesus Christ‘s resurrection on that day (Didache 14, Ignatius Magn. 9). In the N.T. the word occurs only here and 1 Corinthians 11:20 (κυριακον δειπνον τε Λορδς Συππερkuriakon deipnon the Lord's Supper). It has no reference to ημερα κυριουhēmera kuriou (the day of judgment, 2 Peter 3:10).

Behind me (οπισω μουopisō mou). “The unexpected, overpowering entrance of the divine voice” (Vincent). Cf. Ezekiel 3:12.

Voice (πωνηνphōnēn). Of Christ, as is plain in Revelation 1:12.

As of a trumpet (ως σαλπιγγοςhōs salpiggos). So in Revelation 4:1 referring to this.

Saying (λεγουσηςlegousēs). Present active participle genitive case agreeing with σαλπιγγοςsalpiggos rather than λεγουσανlegousan accusative agreeing with πωνηνphōnēn So on purpose, as is clear from Revelation 4:1, where λαλουσηςlalousēs also agrees with σαλπιγγοςsalpiggos f0).

Verse 11

Write in a book (γραπσον εις βιβλιονgrapson eis biblion). First aorist active imperative of γραπωgraphō for instantaneous action. The commission covers the whole series of visions which all grow out of this first vision of the Risen Christ.

Send (πεμπσονpempson). First aorist active imperative of πεμπωpempō Part of the commission from Christ. The names of the seven churches of Revelation 1:4 are now given, and the particular message to each church comes in chapters 2 and 3 and in the same order, the geographical order going north from Ephesus, then east and south to Laodicea. But apparently the whole book was to be read to each of the seven churches. It would probably also be copied at each church.

Verse 12

To see the voice (βλεπειν την πωνηνblepein tēn phōnēn). The voice put for the person speaking.

Having turned (επιστρεπσαςepistrepsas). First aorist active participle of επιστρεπωepistrephō from which also επεστρεπσαepestrepsa just before, for which verb see Acts 15:36; Acts 16:18.

Seven golden candlesticks (επτα λυχνιας χρυσαςhepta luchnias chrusas). See Matthew 5:15 for λυχνιαluchnia (lampstand). Symbols of the seven churches as explained in Revelation 1:20. See Exodus 25:35. for description of a seven-branched candlestick, but here the lampstands are separate.

Verse 13

One like unto a son of man (ομοιον υιον αντρωπουhomoion huion anthrōpou). Note accusative here with ομοιονhomoion (object of ειδονeidon) as in Revelation 14:14 and not the associative-instrumental as is usual (Revelation 1:15; Revelation 4:3, Revelation 4:6). Charles holds that ομοιονhomoion here has the sense of ωςhōs (as) and compares Revelation 4:6; Revelation 22:1 for proof. The absence of the article here shows also (Charles) that the idea is not “like the Son of man” for Christ is the Son of man. He is like “a son of man,” but not a man.

Clothed (ενδεδυμενονendedumenon). Perfect passive participle of ενδυωenduō accusative case agreeing with ομοιονhomoion garment down to the foot (ποδηρηpodērē). Old adjective ποδηρηςpodērēs (from πουςpous foot, and αιρωairō), here only in N.T., accusative singular retained with the passive participle as often with verbs of clothing. Supply χιτωναchitōna or εστηταesthēta (garment).

Girt about (περιεζωσμενονperiezōsmenon). Perfect passive participle of περιζωννυμιperizōnnumi accusative singular agreeing with ομοιονhomoion the breasts (προς τοις μαστοιςpros tois mastois). Old word for breasts of a woman (Luke 11:27; Luke 23:29) and nipples of a man, as here. High girding like this was a mark of dignity as of the high priest (Josephus, Ant. III. 7. 2). For προςpros with the locative see Mark 5:11.

With a golden girdle (ζωνην χρυσανzōnēn chrusān). Accusative case again retained with the passive participle (verb of clothing). Note also χρυσανchrusān (vernacular Koiné) rather than the old form, χρυσηνchrusēn f0).

Verse 14

As white wool (ως εριον λευκονhōs erion leukon). ΕριονErion (wool) in N.T. only here and Hebrews 9:19, though old word. The person of the Lord Jesus is here described in language largely from Daniel 7:9 (the Ancient of Days).

White as snow (ως χιωνhōs chiōn). Just “as snow,” also in Daniel 7:9. In N.T. only here and Matthew 28:3.

As a flame of fire (ως πλοχ πυροςhōs phlox puros). In Daniel 7:9 the throne of the Ancient of Days is πλοχ πυροςphlox puros while in Daniel 10:6 the eyes of the Ancient of Days are λαμπαδες πυροςlampades puros (lamps of fire). See also Revelation 2:18; Revelation 19:12 for this bold metaphor (like Hebrews 1:7).

Verse 15

Burnished brass (χαλκολιβανωιchalkolibanōi). Associative-instrumental case after ομοιοιhomoioi This word has so far been found nowhere else save here and Revelation 2:18. Suidas defines it as an ηλεχκτρονēlecktron (amber) or a compound of copper and gold and silver (aurichalcum in the Latin Vulgate). It is in reality an unknown metal.

As if it had been refined (ως πεπυρομενηςhōs pepuromenēs). Perfect passive participle of πυροωpuroō old verb, to set on fire, to glow, as in Ephesians 6:16; Revelation 3:18. The feminine gender shows that η χαλκολιβανοςhē chalkolibanos is referred to with της χαλκολιβανουtēs chalkolibanou understood, for it does not agree in case with the associative-instrumental χαλκολιβανωιchalkolibanōi just before. Some would call it a slip for πεπυρομενωιpepuromenōi as Aleph, and some cursives have it (taking χαλκολιβανωιchalkolibanōi to be neuter, not feminine). But P Q read πεπυρωμενοιpepurōmenoi (masculine plural), a correction, making it agree in number and gender with ποδεςpodes (feet).

In a furnace (εν καμινωιen kaminōi). Old word, in N.T. also Revelation 9:2; Matthew 13:42, Matthew 13:50.

As the voice of many waters (ως πωνη υδατων πολλωνhōs phōnē hudatōn pollōn). So the voice of God in the Hebrew (not the lxx) of Ezekiel 43:2. Repeated in Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:6.

Verse 16

And he had (και εχωνkai echōn). “And having,” present active participle of εχωechō loose use of the participle (almost like ειχεeiche imperfect) and not in agreement with αυτουautou genitive case. This is a common idiom in the book; a Hebraism, Charles calls it.

In his right hand (εν τηι δεχιαι χειριen tēi dexiāi cheiri). For safe keeping as in John 10:28.

Seven stars (αστερας επταasteras hepta). Symbols of the seven churches (Revelation 1:20), seven planets rather than Pleiades or any other constellation like the bear.

Proceeded (εκπορευομενηekporeuomenē). Present middle participle of εκπορευομαιekporeuomai old compound (Matthew 3:5) used loosely again like εχωνechōn sharp two-edged sword (ρομπαια διστομος οχειαromphaia distomos oxeia). “A sword two-mouthed sharp.” ομπαιαRomphaia (as distinct from μαχαιραmachaira) is a long sword, properly a Thracian javelin, in N.T. only Luke 2:35; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Hebrews 4:12. See στομαstoma used with μαχαιρηςmachairēs in Luke 21:24 (by the mouth of the sword).

Countenance (οπσιςopsis). Old word (from οπτωoptō), in N.T. only here, John 7:24; John 11:44.

As the sun shineth (ως ο ηλιος παινειhōs ho hēlios phainei). Brachylogy, “as the sun when it shines.” For παινειphainei see John 1:5.

Verse 17

I fell (επεσαepesa). Late form for the old επεσονepeson (second aorist active indicative of πιπτωpiptō to fall). Under the over-powering influence of the vision as in Revelation 19:10.

He laid (ετηκενethēken). First aorist active indicative of τιτημιtithēmi The act restored John‘s confidence.

Fear not (μη ποβουmē phobou). Cf. Luke 1:13 to Zacharias to give comfort.

I am the first and the last (εγω ειμι ο πρωτος και ο εσχατοςegō eimi ho prōtos kai ho eschatos). Used in Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12 of God, but here, Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13 of Christ.

And the Living One (και ο ζωνkai ho zōn). Present active articular participle of ζαωzaō another epithet of God common in the O.T. (Deuteronomy 32:40; Isaiah 49:18, etc.) and applied purposely to Jesus, with which see John 5:26 for Christ‘s own words about it.

Verse 18

And I was dead (και εγενομην νεκροςkai egenomēn nekros). “And I be came dead” (aorist middle participle of γινομαιginomai as in Revelation 1:9, Revelation 1:10, definite reference to the Cross).

I am alive (ζων ειμιzōn eimi). Periphrastic present active indicative, “I am living,” as the words ο ζωνho zōn just used mean.

Forevermore (εις τους αιωνας των αιωνωνeis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn). “Unto the ages of the ages,” a stronger expression of eternity even than in Revelation 1:6.

The keys (τας κλειςtas kleis). One of the forms for the accusative plural along with κλειδαςkleidas the usual one (Matthew 16:19).

Of death and of Hades (του τανατου και του αιδουtou thanatou kai tou hāidou). Conceived as in Matthew 16:18 as a prison house or walled city. The keys are the symbol of authority, as we speak of honouring one by giving him the keys of the city. Hades here means the unseen world to which death is the portal. Jesus has the keys because of his victory over death. See this same graphic picture in Revelation 6:8; Revelation 20:13. For the key of David see Revelation 3:7, for the key of the abyss see Revelation 9:1; Revelation 20:1.

Verse 19

Therefore (ουνoun). In view of Christ‘s words about himself in Revelation 1:18 and the command in Revelation 1:11.

Which thou sawest (α ειδεςha eides). The vision of the Glorified Christ in Revelation 1:13-18.

The things which are (α εισινha eisin). Plural verb (individualising the items) though αha is neuter plural, certainly the messages to the seven churches (1:20-3:22) in relation to the world in general, possibly also partly epexegetic or explanatory of α ειδεςha eides things which shall come to pass hereafter (α μελλει γινεσται μετα ταυταha mellei ginesthai meta tauta). Present middle infinitive with μελλειmellei though both aorist and future are also used. Singular verb here (μελλειmellei) blending in a single view the future. In a rough outline this part begins in Revelation 4:1 and goes to end of chapter 22, though the future appears also in chapters 2 and 3 and the present occurs in 4 to 22 and the elements in the vision of Christ (Revelation 1:13-18) reappear repeatedly.

Verse 20

The mystery of the seven stars (το μυστηριον των επτα αστερωνto mustērion tōn hepta asterōn). On the word μυστηριονmustērion see note on Matthew 13:11; and note on 2 Thessalonians 2:7; and note on Colossians 1:26. Here it means the inner meaning (the secret symbol) of a symbolic vision (Swete) as in Revelation 10:7; Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:7, Revelation 17:9; Daniel 2:47. Probably the accusative absolute (Charles), “as for the mystery” (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 490, 1130), as in Romans 8:3. This item is picked out of the previous vision (Revelation 1:16) as needing explanation at once and as affording a clue to what follows (Revelation 2:1, Revelation 2:5).

Which (ουςhous). Masculine accusative retained without attraction to case of αστερωνasterōn (genitive, ωνhōn).

In my right hand (επι της δεχιας μουepi tēs dexias mou). Or “upon,” but εν τηιen tēi etc., in Revelation 1:16.

And the seven golden candlesticks (και τας επτα λυχνιας τας χρυσαςkai tas hepta luchnias tas chrusās). “The seven lampstands the golden,” identifying the stars of Revelation 1:16 with the lampstands of Revelation 1:12. The accusative case here is even more peculiar than the accusative absolute μυστηριονmustērion since the genitive λυχνιωνluchniōn after μυστηριονmustērion is what one would expect. Charles suggests that John did not revise his work.

The angels of the seven churches (αγγελοι των επτα εκκλησιωνaggeloi tōn hepta ekklēsiōn). Anarthrous in the predicate (angels of, etc.). “The seven churches” mentioned in Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:11. Various views of αγγελοςaggelos here exist. The simplest is the etymological meaning of the word as messenger from αγγελλωaggellō (Matthew 11:10) as messengers from the seven churches to Patmos or by John from Patmos to the churches (or both). Another view is that αγγελοςaggelos is the pastor of the church, the reading την γυναικα σουtēn gunaika sou (thy wife) in Revelation 2:20 (if genuine) confirming this view. Some would even take it to be the bishop over the elders as επισχοποςepiscopos in Ignatius, but a separate αγγελοςaggelos in each church is against this idea. Some take it to be a symbol for the church itself or the spirit and genius of the church, though distinguished in this very verse from the churches themselves (the lampstands). Others take it to be the guardian angel of each church assuming angelic patrons to be taught in Matthew 18:10; Acts 12:15. Each view is encompassed with difficulties, perhaps fewer belonging to the view that the “angel” is the pastor.

Are seven churches (επτα εκκλησιαι εισινhepta ekklēsiai eisin). These seven churches (Revelation 1:4, Revelation 1:11) are themselves lampstands (Revelation 1:12) reflecting the light of Christ to the world (Matthew 5:14-16; John 8:12) in the midst of which Christ walks (Revelation 1:13).

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.