Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 1:12

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Candlestick;   Jesus, the Christ;   Seven;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Christ;   Churches;   Inspiration;   Sacrifice;   Theophanies;   Thompson Chain Reference - Candlestick;   Mysteries-Revelations;   Revelation;   Seven;   Visions;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Candlestick;   Inspiration;   Prophets;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Lamp;   Vision;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christians, Names of;   Humility;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Ascension of Christ;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Candlestick;   Number;   Prophet;   Sacrifice;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Angels of the Seven Churches;   Asia;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   Gold ;   Lamp Lampstand;   Numbers (2);   Olive ;   Type;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Golden candlesticks;   Lamp;   Laodicea;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Candlestick;   Inspiration;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Gold;   Number;   Parousia;   Revelation of John:;  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for October 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And I turned For he had heard the voice behind him. To see the voice; i.e., the person from whom the voice came.

Seven golden candlesticks - Ἑπτα λυχνιας χρυσας· Seven golden lamps. It is absurd to say, a golden silver, or brazen candlestick. These seven lamps represented the seven Churches, in which the light of God was continually shining, and the love of God continually burning. And they are here represented as golden, to show how precious they were in the sight of God. This is a reference to the temple at Jerusalem, where there was a candlestick or chandelier of seven branches; or rather six branches; three springing out on either side, and one in the center. See Exodus 25:31-37. This reference to the temple seems to intimate that the temple of Jerusalem was a type of the whole Christian Church.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me - He naturally turned round to see who it was that spake to him in this solitary and desolate place, where he thought himself to be alone. To see the “voice” here means to see the “person” who spake.

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks - These were the “first” things that met his eye. This must have been in “vision,” of course, and the meaning is, that there “seemed” to be there seven such lamps or candelabras. The word rendered “candlesticks” ( λυχνία luchnia) means properly a light-stand, lampstand - something to bear up a light. It would be applied to anything that was used for this purpose; and nothing is intimated, in the use of the word, in regard to the form or dimensions of the light-bearers. Lamps were more commonly used at that time than candles, and it is rather to be supposed that these were designed to be lamp-bearers, or lamp-sustainers, than candle-sticks. They were seven in number; not one branching into seven, but seven standing apart, and so far from each other that he who appeared to John could stand among them. The lamp-bearers evidently sustained each a light, and these gave a special brilliancy to the scene. It is not improbable that, as they were designed to represent the seven churches of Asia, they were arranged in an order resembling these churches. The scene is not laid in the temple, as many suppose, for there is nothing that resembles the arrangements in the temple except the mere fact of the lights. The scene as yet is in Patmos, and there is no evidence that John did not regard himself as there, or that he fancied for a moment that he was translated to the temple in Jerusalem. There can be no doubt as to the design of this representation, for it is expressly declared Revelation 1:20 that the seven lamp-bearers were intended to represent the seven churches. Light is often used in the Scriptures as an emblem of true religion; Christians are represented as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14; compare Philippians 2:15; John 8:12), and a Christian church may be represented as a light standing in the midst of surrounding darkness.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-1.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle.

I turned to see the voice ... "As in Genesis 3:8, the voice is put for the speaker."[41] One of the big things in Revelation is the voice so frequently mentioned. The voice from heaven is one of the principal focal points in the whole book.

Seven golden candlesticks ... Caird has a remarkably perceptive interpretation of this, thus:

Once again John is asserting that the church is the new Israel, the true people of God, but with this difference: whereas Israel was represented by a single candelabra with seven lamps, the churches are represented by seven separate standing lamps; for, according to the teaching of the New Testament, each local congregation of Christians is the church universal in all its fullness.[42]

For a discussion of the Jewish candlestick, its connection with Zechariah 4, and its symbolism, see in my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 181-183.

One in the midst of the candlesticks ... This, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ, here represented as walking amidst his congregations, only the seven here mentioned? Of course not, but amidst all the congregations of his people throughout history. This is one of the truly great messages of the whole prophecy. Christ is with his congregations! He is fulfilling the promise of Matthew 18:20; 20:28.

One like unto a son of man ... This rendition could be greatly improved by reading it "the Son of man," for, as Beckwith pointed out, "the article before "son" is omitted";[43] and this could be rendered "the Son of man." "That Christ is meant and not an angel is shown by Revelation 1:17f."[44]

Garment down to the foot ... golden girdle ... Most commentators see these things as symbols of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ; but, as Beckwith said, "That office of his is not mentioned in our book."[45] We believe that Christ is here presented as the Judge of all people. The sword in his mouth a moment later in the text is no part of the trappings of a priest. The garment down to the foot and the golden girdle are marks of rank and dignity. "Neither shows Christ to be represented here in his priestly character, as many commentators interpret."[46]

[41] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Volume 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 6.

[42] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 24.

[43] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 437.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me,.... The Complutensian edition reads, "and there I turned": and so the Arabic version; that is, to see who it was that spoke, from whom the voice came, and by whom it was uttered; see Exodus 20:18,

and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; which represented the seven churches, Revelation 1:20; in allusion to the seven lamps in the candlestick of the sanctuary, Exodus 25:37; compared to "candlesticks", for the use of them, which is to hold forth light; these have none of themselves, but what is put into them, and being put into them, they hold it forth; so the churches of Christ have no light of themselves, but what is put into them; and the light which is put into them, is not the mere light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but the Gospel of Christ; which dispels darkness, and is the means of enlightening sinners, and gives light to saints, by which they walk and work; and this light is put into the churches by Christ, whose the Gospel is, and who is himself come a light into the world; and being put here by him, it is held forth by them, especially by the ministers of it, who are the lights of the world, both by their ministry, and in their lives and conversations: and they are compared to "golden" candlesticks, because of their excellency, preciousness, and value, in the esteem of Christ; and for their brightness and purity in doctrine, discipline, and life; and for their splendour, glory, and beauty; and for their stability and duration; and though they are liable to corruption and taint, yet may be melted, refined, and purified as gold.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-1.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

8 And I turned to k see the voice that spake with me. 9 And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

(8) The exposition, declaring the third and last point of the proposition (for the other points are evident of themselves) in which is he first speaks of the author of his calling (till verse 17), and secondly, of the calling itself (Revelation 1:17-20). First of all the occasion is noted in this verse, in that John turned himself towards the vision, and after he sets down the description of the author, in the following verses, (Revelation 1:13-16).

(k) To see him whose voice I had heard. {(9)} The description of the Author, who is Christ: by the candlesticks that stand about him, that is, the churches that stand before him, and depend upon his direction. In (Revelation 1:13) he is described by his properties, that he is provided with wisdom and dexterity for the achieving of great things, and in (Revelation 1:14) with ancient gravity and most excellent sight of the eye. In (Revelation 1:15) he is described with strength invincible and with a mighty word, and in (Revelation 1:16) by his ruling of the ministry of his servants in the Church by the sword of his word, and enlightening all things with his countenance, and mightily providing for everyone by his divine providence.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-1.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

see the voice — that is, ascertain whence the voice came; to see who was it from whom the voice proceeded.

thatGreek, “of what kind it was which.” The voice is that of God the Father, as at Christ‘s baptism and transfiguration, so here in presenting Christ as our High Priest.

spake — The oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers read, “was speaking.”

being — “having turned.”

seven  …  candlesticks — “lamp-stands” [Kelly]. The stand holding the lamp. In Exodus 25:31, Exodus 25:32, the seven are united in ONE candlestick or lamp-stand, that is, six arms and a central shaft; so Zechariah 4:2, Zechariah 4:11. Here the seven are separate candlesticks, typifying, as that one, the entire Church, but now no longer as the Jewish Church (represented by the one sevenfold candlestick) restricted to one outward unity and one place; the several churches are mutually independent as to external ceremonies and government (provided all things are done to edification, and schisms or needless separations are avoided), yet one in the unity of the Spirit and the Headship of Christ. The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light, holding it forth to give light around. The light is the Lord‘s, not the Church‘s; from Him she receives it. She is to be a light-bearer to His glory. The candlestick stood in the holy place, the type of the Church on earth, as the holiest place was type of the Church in heaven. The holy place‘s only light was derived from the candlestick, daylight being excluded; so the Lord God is the Church‘s only light; hers is the light of grace, not nature. “Golden” symbolizes at once the greatest preciousness and sacredness; so that in the Zend Avesta, “golden” is synonymous with heavenly or divine [Trench].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-1.html. 1871-8.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

12. Seven golden candlesticks.” Gold throughout the Bible means Holy Ghost religion. In regeneration, we find a gold-mine. In sanctification, our gold is put in the smelting furnace, all the earthly elements eliminated out of it, till nothing but the pure, transparent gold is left. Then it is coined and sent glittering around the world to bless the nations. Brass symbolizes counterfeit religion, being a compound of zinc and copper, and always made by men; whereas, gold is one of the original elements which God created when He made the world. 2 Chronicles 12 : tells us about the apostasy of Rehoboam, when Shishak, the king of Egypt, came up with his army, captured Jerusalem, and took out of the temple the golden shields which king Solomon had made. Afterwards, Rehoboam made shields of brass to fill the places left vacant by the golden shields. Shishak emblematizes the devil and Rehoboam as the fallen Church. When the devil comes and takes away the Holy Ghost religion out of the heart, he always pokes off on us a big lot of brass to fool us, so we will not find out that we are already fallen, but think we are growing in grace, till the devil dumps us into hell. Thus, fallen Church are full of Satan’s egotistical, brassy religion. The pastors all want to be bishops, and the members all want to go to the General Conference. The golden candlestick symbolizes a Church full of Holy Ghost religion, in which the Holy Ghost Himself is the light. Here we have a glorious description of the glorified Savior as He walks amid the golden candlesticks.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/revelation-1.html.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

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.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-1.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

To see the voice

The voice is put for the speaker.

That spake ( ἥτις )

The compound relative has a qualitative force: of what sort.

With me ( μετ ' ἐμοῦ )

The preposition implies conversation and not mere address.

Candlesticks ( λυχνίας )

See on Matthew 5:15. We are at once reminded of the seven-branched candlestick of the tabernacle (Exodus 25:31; Hebrews 9:2; compare Zechariah 4:2). Here there is not one candlestick with seven branches, but seven candlesticks, representing the Christian Church. The Jewish Church was one, as being the Church of a single people. The Christian Church, though essentially one, is a Church composed of many peoples. It is no longer outwardly one or in one place. According to the literal meaning of the word, lampstand, the several lampstands are bearers of the light (Matthew 5:14, Matthew 5:16), “holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:15, Philippians 2:16).

The epithet golden, so common in Revelation, indicates the preciousness of all that pertains to the Church of God. Trench observes that throughout the ancient East there was a sense of sacredness attached to this metal, which still, to a great extent, survives. Thus, golden in the Zend Avesta is throughout synonymous with heavenly or divine. Even so late as the time of David gold was not used as a standard of value, but merely as a very precious article of commerce, and was weighed. In the Scriptures it is the symbol of great value, duration, incorruptibility, strength (Isaiah 13:12; Lamentations 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:20; Job 36:19). It is used metaphorically of Christian character (Revelation 3:18). In the Earthly Paradise, Dante describes trees like gold.

“A little farther on, seven trees of gold

In semblance the long space still intervening

Between ourselves and them did counterfeit.”

Purgatorio,” xxix., 43-45

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-1.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 12. And being turned I saw] It is well observed here by a learned interpreter (Mr Brightman), that every godly endeavour doth receive some fruit greater than a man can hope for; John turned himself to behold the man, and behold (over and besides) seven candlesticks, which he had not the least suspicion of.

Seven golden candlesticks] Candlesticks the Churches are called, for the light they have and give; golden, for their worth and price; as much above other men as gold is above other metals. As God is the gold of his people ("the Almighty shall be thy gold," saith Eliphaz, Job 22:25), so they are his; yea, his peculiar treasure: they comprehend all his gettings, Titus 2:14, they are the people of his acquisition, 1 Peter 2:9.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 1:12. Seven golden candlesticks; The original word here used for candlesticks, answers almost constantly to the Hebrew one used for the golden candlesticks, or chandeliers, in the tabernacle and temple.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-1.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

12.] And I turned about to see the voice which was speaking with me (the voice, the acting energy, being used for the person whose voice it was. ἥτις, giving the force of qualis; of what sort it was which was speaking, &c.): and when I had turned about I saw seven golden candlesticks ( λυχνία is a word repudiated by the Atticist writers. So Phrynichus, App. p. 50, λυχνίον· οἱ ἀμαθεῖς αὐτὸ λυχνίαν καλοῦσι: and Eustathius, p. 1842. 26, λαμπτῆρες λέγει ἃς νῦν οἱ ἀγροτικοὶ λυχνίας φασίν, ἐφʼ ὧν δᾷδες κείμεναι ἀνάπτονται. It is found in Philo, Josepbus, and Lucian. See Lobeck’s Phrynichus, p. 313 note. It is the vessel containing the λύχνος: better therefore rendered candlesticks than lamps, which gives more the idea of the light itself. The seven golden candlesticks are (united in one λυχνία) part of the furniture of the tabernacle, Exodus 25:31 ff. Again, in ref. Zech., we have the λυχνία χρυσῆ ὅλη with its seven λύχνοι. Here there are seven separate candlesticks, typifying, as that one, the entire church, but now no longer bound together in one out-ward unity and one place. Each local church has now its candlestick, to be retained or removed from its place according to its own works):

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-1.html. 1863-1878.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

As if St. John had said, "I turned to see the person whose voice I heard speaking with me, and I beheld seven golden candlesticks, representing the seven Asian churches, and in the midst of those candlesticks I saw one in the shape of a man, which reminded me of Christ the Son of man, clothed in garments much like unto Aaron's the high-priest, who was an illustrious type of Christ, our great and merciful High-priest, who made an atonement for us on earth, and maketh now intercession for us in the highest heavens."

Note here, 1. The comparison made between the churches of Christ and the golden candlesticks; they are candlesticks, in regard of the light which they held forth; the candlestick does not give light of itself, but holds it forth to others: it is the church's duty to keep within herself the pure word of God, and to keep herself pure from being besmeared with errors in doctrine, or vice in conversation.

Churches, the holiest and purest of all churches, are rather candlesticks than candles; Christ is the light, the word is the lamp, the church but the instrument to convey the light unto us.

Again, the churches are golden candlesticks; gold is the most precious of metals, the church is the most excellent of all societies; for it beautifies all societies whatsoever that are members of the church of Christ.

Note, 2. How Christ was seen by St. John walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, present in and with his churches; that is, St. John had in his vision a very lively representation of Christ in his human nature; not that St. John now saw Christ in his manhood really, for that was then in heaven, but he had a resemblence of it in the vision.

Note, 3. The description given of Christ, as walking in the midst of his gospel church.

He is, 1. described by his attire, habited like Aaron the high-priest, with a garment down to his feet, and girt with a golden girdle; to signify, that as Aaron was of the old so Christ is the high priest of the new testament, presenting continually to his Father the memorials of his death, the merits of his sacrifice, and making intercession with the Father for our gracious acceptance with him.

2. He is next described by the parts and members of the body: His head and hair as white as snow and wool, signify his eternity and his purity, that he is the Ancient of days, even the Father of eternity, and perfectly innocent, pure and holy: His eyes like flaming fire, denoting his piercing knowledge; that as head of his church, he espies out all her ways, words, and thoughts: His feet like burning brass, and his voice like many waters; which expressions represent the enemies of his church; and that vengeance he would execute upon his murderers, in particular, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and upon all the impenitent rejectors of his gospel grace, at the general judgment: then will they understand what they now will not believe, that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

3. He is next described by what he had in his right hand, namely, seven stars, representing the seven angels, bishops and ministers of the seven churches. These are called stars, their office and duty being to enlighten the church, both by the light of life and doctrine; and as stars are seated above, so should their conversation be in heaven, and their affections not set upon the things below.

Stars give direction, light, and influence, to others; they were not made for themselves. Ministers must not chiefly seek their own, but others' good. Stars are swift in their motion, and their motion is constantly in their own orb and sphere. Vain is the pretence of care and concern for other churches, whilst we neglect our own.

Finally, ministers are stars, as in respect to their situation, and in respect of their constant and regular motion; so in respect of their continuance and duration. Stars are fixed in heaven, so are ministers in the church; Christ holds them in his hand, otherwise the world would soon have them under their feet.

4. He is described by a sharp two-edged sword coming out of his mouth, denoting the piercing power of the word of God to conquer sin, convert sinners, and to condemn and slay the unconverted.

Lastly, it is added, that his countenance was as the sun that shineth in his strength; that is, very glorious in itself, and very comforting and refreshing to those that are his members, his sincere believers and followers. This part of the description of Christ sweetly follows the former: when his feet were as burning brass, to tread down and consume his enemies; his countenance was as the sun, to cheer and cherish, to comfort and refresh his friends.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-1.html. 1700-1703.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 1:12. καὶ ἐπέστρεψα. John turns,(741)—viz., according to the connection, backwards,(742)—in order to see. This is correctly explained according to its meaning, as “the one who uttered the voice;”(743) the βλέπειν has its foundation in the liveliness and directness of the presentation, which immediately penetrates from the perception of the voice to the speaker himself, just as in Revelation 4:1 λέγων is written, while the subject speaking is only φωνή.

John now sees, after turning, seven golden candlesticks,—but in no way a candlestick(744) with seven branches,(745)—and, in the midst of them, Christ himself (Revelation 1:13). [See Note XXVI., p. 125.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXVI. Revelation 1:12. ἑπτὰ λυχνίας χρυσιᾶς

Alford notes the change from the seven-branched candlestick of the temple, as symbolizing the loss of outward unity, so that “each local church has now its own candlestick.” So Trench: “The Christian Church is at once ‘the Church’ and the ‘churches.’ ” Plumptre: “What he needed was to bring out clearly the individuality of each society.” Tait: “These candlesticks were of gold, to denote the preciousness of every thing connected with the Church, and, we may add, the beauty of the Church and her holy services.”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 1:12. βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν, to see the voice) to see Him, to whom the voice belonged; or, an instance of Oratio Semiduplex.(19)

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-1.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me; that is, to see the person whose voice I heard speaking to me: or else, by seeing is meant understanding; but that he might have done without turning; he therefore turned, hoping to see the person that spake.

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks: by these seven candlesticks which he saw, are meant the seven churches; so we find it infallibly expounded, Revelation 1:20. We shall find in this book frequent allusions to the Jewish temple: here they begin. In the Jewish tabernacle there was one golden candlestick, and seven lamps, to give light against it; so Numbers 8:2 Zechariah 4:2. John here seeth seven. God had but one church of the Jews, but many amongst the Gentiles. This notion, or comparison of churches to golden candlesticks, both showeth us the nature and office of the churches of Christ, they do not give light of themselves, only hold lights, and it is their duty to keep in them the pure word of God, which is a light to our feet, and a godly ministry; and it also lets us know, that they ought to keep themselves pure (as beaten gold) from all corruption as to doctrine, and their members from all scandalous conversation.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-1.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

светильников Это были переносные золотые светильники с маленькими лампадами. Каждый светильник олицетворял церковь (ст. 20), из которой сиял свет жизни. Во всем Писании 7 – это число завершенности. Эти 7 светильников являются олицетворением всех церквей.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-1.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Seven golden candlesticks; these represented the seven churches in the places above mentioned. Verse Revelation 1:20.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

When John turned to see the person who spoke to him he saw a majestic figure clothed in a long robe standing among seven lampstands (cf. Exodus 25:31-40; Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:10; Matthew 18:20). This person would have resembled a priest in Israel ministering in the tabernacle or temple. The seven lampstands represent seven churches ( Revelation 1:20; cf. Zechariah 4:2-6). [Note: See Appendix2, "Symbols Used in the Book of Revelation That the Book Itself Interprets," at the end of these notes.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-1.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 1:12. The Seer naturally turns to see; and the first thing that strikes his eyes as the outer circle of the vision is seven golden candlesticks, each of them like the golden candlestick of the Tabernacle. That we have seven candlesticks instead of one points to the richness and fulness of the New Testament Dispensation in its contrast with the Old. The idea that we have before us only one candlestick with seven branches is to be rejected as alike inconsistent with the language of St. John and with the symbolism of the book. It is, besides, wholly unnecessary to think of only one candlestick for the sake of unity. The number seven is not less expressive of unity than unity itself.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-1.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

I saw seven golden candlesticks, which, by the last verse of this chapter, represented the seven Churches of Asia. We may suppose these candlesticks to have been shown to St. John, like what is described, Exodus xxv. 31. For in these visions of St. John are frequent allusions to the former tabernacle, and to things relating to the service and worship of God, which Moses was ordered to make. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

voice. The Speaker (Figures of speech Metonymy of Effect, and Catachresis. App-6). See Revelation 1:10.

spake = was speaking.

being = having.

candlesticks = larnpstands. Occurs seven times in Rev.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-1.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

See the voice - i:e., ascertain from whom the voice proceeded.

That, [ heetis (Greek #3748)] - 'of what kind it was which.' The voice of God the Father, as at Christ's baptism and transfiguration, so here in presenting Christ as our High Priest.

Spake. 'Aleph (') B C, Vulgate, h, Irenaeus, read, 'was speaking.'

Being - `having turned.'

Seven golden candlesticks - `lampstands' (Kelly). The stand holding the lamp. In Exodus 25:31-32, the seven are united in ONE candlestick - i:e., SIX arms and a central shaft: so Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:11. Here the seven are separate, typifying the entire Church, but now no longer as the one Jewish Church (represented by the one sevenfold candlestick), restricted to one outward unity and place. The several churches are mutually independent as to external ceremonies and government (provided all things are done to edification, and 'schisms' or needless separations are avoided), yet one in the unity of the Spirit and the Headship of Christ. The candlestick is not light, but bears light, holding forth light around. The light the Church bears is the Lord's, not her own (Philippians 2:15-16). His glory is the end of her light (Matthew 5:16). The candlestick stood in the Holy Place, type of the Church on earth, as the Holiest was type of the Church in heaven. The Holy Place's only light was from the candlestick, daylight being excluded: so the Lord God is the Church's only light (cf. Revelation 21:23): the light of grace, not nature. "Golden" symbolizes the greatest preciousness and sacredness. In the Zend Avesta, "golden" is synonymous with heavenly or divine (Trench).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-1.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) Seven golden candlesticks.—Comp. the vision in Zechariah 4:2-11. It has been observed that there is a difference in the two visions. In Zech., as in Exodus 25:31-32, the seven branches are united, so as to form one candlestick; here there are said to be seven candlesticks; and from this supposed difference it is argued that we have a hint of the variety of the Christian churches, as distinguished from the singleness of the Jewish church. But is it not more probable that what St. John saw was the old familiar seven-branched candlestick, identical in form with that which has been rendered familiar to all by the Arch of Titus, but that as the mention of the seven churches was then fresh in his mind, his eye fell rather upon the seven limbs and seven lights than on the whole candlestand, especially if, as Prof. Plumptre suggests, the figure of the Christ concealed part of the main stem? Thus to his view the separate individuality of the churches, and their real union in Him who was the Light, would rather be symbolised. Thus, too, the external teachings of the earlier symbols are not disturbed: the new revelation illumines the types and shadows of the older. “These symbols were intended to raise them out of symbols; the truths were to throw light on the parables, rather than the parables on the truths. Men were to study the visions of an earlier day by the revelations of that day” (Maurice, Apocalypse, p. 22).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
see
Ezekiel 43:5,6; Micah 6:9
I saw
13,20; 2:1; Exodus 25:37; Zechariah 4:2
Reciprocal: Exodus 25:31 - a candlestick;  Exodus 37:17 - the candlestick of;  Exodus 37:23 - GeneralNumbers 8:2 - General1 Chronicles 28:15 - the candlesticks;  Daniel 8:16 - I heard;  Revelation 1:19 - the things

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-1.html.

Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation

The Seven Golden Lamps.

Revelation 1:12.

John hears a voice-a great voice, a voice like a trumpet-behind him, not above, nor before. Dwelling, if tradition be correct, in the southern extremity of the island, on a steep cliff, and looking over the Aegean, he would have his back to the continent of Asia, and, of course, to the Churches there. The voice he heard makes him turn round, and look to the north-east, where the cluster of the seven Churches lay, the churches with which he was specially connected. The first thing meeting his eye is seven golden candlesticks, or lamp stands, as if just somewhere in the region where he might have expected to see the Churches. What a vision in that lonely, barren island! It would seem as if he had been transported back to Jerusalem, and brought into the sanctuary, or as if the golden relics of that now ruined sanctuary had been transported by some angel hand, and placed upon the desolate rock!

Let us seek to gather something from this vision. What did the Holy Spirit mean by it? What does it teach us? We are told that "the seven candlesticks are the seven churches" (Revelation 1:20). This much is plain. Seven Churches, which he knew well, had just been named to him, and he is told that these golden lamp stands are meant to represent or symbolize these churches.

With these "golden candlesticks" we must connect the "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God" (Revelation 4:5). Not that these two sets of lamps are the same. In the one case we read of "lamp stands," in the other of "lamps;" in the one case it is the Churches that are described, in the other it is the Holy Spirit. Still, they are connected. The former get their light from the latter. It is by the Holy Spirit that the seven Churches are made "burning and shining lights."

The "stars" (verse 20) are not, as some have supposed, the flame of the lamp. They are quite different, as we shall see. Of the New Jerusalem, the Lamb is the light; but in His absence from this world just now, the Holy Spirit, in His sevenfold fullness, and with His sevenfold gifts and sevenfold illumination, gives light, by lighting up the churches. They owe all their light to Him. As He came down at Pentecost under the emblem of fire (Acts 2:3), so does He abide upon the Churches still. In the upper chamber this fire "sat upon each" of the disciples, and so it sits still. It is the Pentecostal fire that kindles these seven lamps, and maintains their heavenly brightness; for that brightness is not human nor angelic-it is divine. It is light communicated by the Holy Spirit-a spark or flame from the Shekinah glory; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Let us look at this more in detail.

I. The CANDLESTICKS.It is not so much to the light as to the utensil or stand for holding it that his attention is turned; for the light of these lamps is not from themselves, or from any earthly source, but from Him who is "the light of the world," and who said to His disciples as His representatives here, "You are the light of the world."

"Among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 1:15), says Paul, adding, "holding forth the word of life." The individual saint is a "light;" a Church is a "light holder" or "lamp stand."The saint personally, and the Church or body of saints, is placed "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation," and, like "the word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19), "shines as a light in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day-star arise."

Israel, for ages, was the world"s only light�a light confined within narrow boundaries-not diffused over earth, nor set upon a hill. Of this the one seven-branched candlestick in the tabernacle and temple was the symbol. That lamp stand was doubly shut in-first, by the outer curtain, or wall of the house; and, secondly, by the inner curtain, or wall of the holy place. But these curtains have been torn in pieces, these walls thrown down; and now that lamp stands in uncurtained, unhidden splendor, shining out over all the world.

Take the lamp as meaning, in the first place, CHRIST Himself, the light of Israel, and of the world. This is true. He was "a light to enlighten the Gentiles;" "His life was the light of men." Take it again as meaning ISRAEL, who was so long earth"s only light. This is true; for Israel, when her exclusive privileges passed away, gave forth her light around. Take it as meaning the CHURCH, or Churches, or saints of God. This is also true�they shine out as lights over all the world�not over Israel"s valleys and hills alone, or her cities and villages, but over all earth"s wide expanse, over all kindred"s, and nations, and tongues, and peoples.

Christ is the world"s light; the church is the world"s light; each saint is the light of the circle where he dwells and where he moves.

II. The MATERIALS of which the candlesticks are made.They are of GOLD. Generally in scripture gold symbolizes the holy, the perfect, the divine. "Be holy, for I am holy;" "be perfect, as your Father who is in heaven is perfect; "partakers of the divine nature;" "as we have borne the image of the earthly, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly,"-these are some of the passages which help to illustrate the meaning of "gold." The Churches are "in God the Father, and in Christ Jesus, our Lord." They are not from beneath, but from above; they are not of the world, even as Christ is not of the world. They are composed of men born from above. With divine glory they shine; with divine beauty they stand forth before the world, "perfect with the loveliness which God has put upon them," and representing the surpassing and all-precious excellence of Him in whose beauty they are beautiful, and in whose perfection they are perfect.

How noble the lesson which we are thus taught! How holy and unworldly ought the Churches to be, and each saint in them! As gold cannot rust, so neither ought they to take on the world"s rust or defilement, but to stand in the midst of it as a witness against its evil; "holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners;" "unspotted from the world." If the iron and clay cannot mingle, how much less the gold and the clay! What a rebuke to the Churches�"How is the fine gold become dim!" Where is the church now that could claim the symbol, and say, "I am a goldencandlestick?"

The furniture of Israel"s two inner sanctuaries was all of gold; the candlestick of the holy place was of gold-thus in all past ages foreshadowing the true character of a church and of a saint. Golden Churches! Golden men! Golden witnesses for Christ and His truth! How far the church of God in the past centuries, since John wrote, has fulfilled the description, ecclesiastical history can tell. The age of gold was not a long one; and then followed the silver, the brass, and the iron. How much of gold is to be seen in the churches of our day? It does cheer one to know that the Lord still counted such imperfect churches as Ephesus and Pergamos, or such backslidden ones as Sardis and Laodicea, as represented by gold. The grace of our Lord is exceeding abundant. He prefers to praise rather than to blame. His love and patience are boundless; His desire to discover the least "good thing" in His people is sincere and earnest.

And this truth is of itself a gospel for the declining churches of the last days. While the sight of the golden candlesticks rebukes, it encourages amazingly. It humbles, yet it cheers. The love of Jesus cannot fail. The efficacy of the cross, as covering, with its atoning shelter, all who have consented to accept that shelter, cannot change; the backsliders shall be saved, but it will be "so as by fire." Lowest of all, it may be, will the "orthodox" Churches of the last days be found, who had the name, and the form, and the profession�but not the love, or the holiness, or the power.

III. The NUMBER of the candlesticks.SEVEN. In the temple the candlestick was one, the branches seven. In this symbolic scene it would rather appear that the seven were quite separate form each other-possibly with the view of intimating that the Churches throughout the world, though all of gold, were to be separate; and if so, then there is here a most vivid protest against the pretended unity of Rome. The number seven is the number of-

(1) PERFECTION. As the one sunbeam is composed of seven parts, and thus perfected into whiteness-so seven is the divine number of perfection, or completeness.

(2) VARIETY. Not absolute uniformity, but variety; the variety which is needful for perfection-the manifold gifts of the one Spirit, sent from the one Christ.

(3) UNITY. Seven is oneness; oneness with diversity-one body, many members; one household, many members; one temple, many stones; one loaf, many crumbs; one sky, many stars.

(4) Covenant-CERTAINTY. Seven is the covenant number. The seven lambs at Beersheba were for covenant; and that place means "the well of the seven," or the "well of the oath" (Genesis 21:31). The Churches are the Churches of the everlasting covenant�the covenant between the Father and the Son�"ordered in all things, and sure."

1. What HONOR belongs to the Churches! They are made of heavenly gold, the gold of the sanctuary. All splendor is theirs; untarnished beauty and glory.

2. What RESPONSIBILITY rests upon them! It is special responsibility to the Son of man, who walks in the midst of them; the responsibility of being what He would have us to be, and what He represents us in this emblem as really being-"golden Churches;" the responsibility of being holy and consistent-of reflecting the image of our Lord; of being lights in the world.

To the Churches, the Son of man is saying, "Let your light shine! Hide it not. Raise it aloft, that it may send its radiance wide and far. Let nothing dim it; let nothing intercept it. The world is dark. The night is gloomy. The light shines in the darkness. There is no other light but this for a dark world."

The day is coming, the time when these lamps shall be needed no more. Until then, shine on, shine on, O church of the living God! And in proportion to the darkness of the last days, let your light blaze out in heavenly splendor!

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Bonar, Horatius. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bch/revelation-1.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

SEVEN GOLDEN LAMPS

Revelation 1:12. — "I turned back to see the voice which spake with me; and having turned, I saw seven golden lamps." The Seer on turning round to see the voice of the speaker necessarily turned round to the east, the scene of immediate interest. The first object he beheld was "seven golden lamps." What these signified we are informed in verse 20: "The seven lamps are seven assemblies." The numerical value of the number seven points to what is morally complete. Gold, the most precious of metals, signifies divine righteousness. The founding and constitution of the Church, whether viewed in relation to Christ as His body, or to God as His house, is the display of divine righteousness of the character of God. It could not be otherwise. In the symbol of "seven golden lamps" we have the Church in its completeness and perfection on earth, as in the thoughts of God, in its public position as His witness. It is not what the Church has become, but viewed in its origin and character as set up by Him. While the whole Church is in view it is here regarded as separate assemblies.

The seven golden lamps evidently allude to the seven-branched golden lamp-stand which stood at the south side of the outer compartment of the sanctuary of old. Here the lamps stand in the east. There, the seven lamps had one stem and one stand, while each lamp threw its clear light on the beautifully ornamented shaft or stem, discovering its beauties during the dark hours of night (Exodus 25:31-40; Numbers 8:2-4), so only in the divine presence are fully expressed the moral glories of Jesus, God's beloved Son. Here each lamp rests on its own base. They represent separate and independent assemblies, each one in its place responsible to cast its beams of light athwart the gloom. It is the serious and urgent responsibility of every professed company of saints to be in its own locality a witness for God, and what, of course, is true of local assemblies is equally so of the Church universal. The seven Asiatic lamps have long since been removed according to the divine threat (Revelation 2:5), and a similar judgment, although expressed under a different symbol, is about to overtake the professing Church as a whole (Romans 11:22). Where are the golden lamps to-day? This is a solemn and searching question for us all.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-1.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Turned to see the voice. That is he turned to see the source from which the voice was coming, and when he did he saw something more than the speaker. Candlesticks (or lampstands) for the purpose of light were used in the tabernacle services ( Exodus 25:31-37), but in that case there was only one unit that had seven parts to it. In the present the candlesticks are separate pieces, the reason for which will be seen in the next chapter.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-1.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

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 Isaiah, 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 Song of Solomon, { 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}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-1.html.

D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation

V:12. "Seven golden candlesticks." We are told in plain language that these are symbols of the seven churches. Zechariah 4:1-14 gives us the same symbolism; and Christ declared: "Ye are the light of the world."

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Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 1:12. And I turned round to see the voice which spake with me. And, when I turned, I saw seven golden lamps. The seeing is to be taken in the larger sense. He wished to learn more exactly about the voice, namely from whom it proceeded. That his desire lay especially upon the latter point, is evident from the turning of his head. This does not need to have been a mere visionary turning (Mark). The internal sense moves after the form of the external. John sees first the churches and then Christ. By this it is implied, that he beholds Christ here only in a special respect, in his relation to the churches. That the seven churches are indicated by the seven lamps, is expressly declared in Revelation 1:20. Among the furniture of the sanctuary there was a candlestick with seven lamps, Exodus 25:37, which already appears in Zechariah 4 as an image of the church.[Note: Comp. the Christol. on Zechariah 4. We believe we must here repeat what was said in the Beitr. III. p. 643 regarding the import of the candlestick: "As regards the candlestick, we have a sure starting point in the oil. The oil throughout both Old and New Testaments is the symbol of the Spirit of God. But when we have determined the oil, we can easily determine also the candlestick; as the bearer of the Spirit of God it can only import the church, the covenant people. So also the light; it can only indicate the operations of the Spirit of God, the spiritual light, which streams forth from the Spirit-endowed community into the surrounding darkness. The symbol in the first instance declares what the church of God is, in the event of its corresponding to its idea, but along with this, at the same time, what it ought to be. The description carries in its bosom a call. This comes distinctly out in the explanation of the symbol, which our Lord himself gives. After saying in Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world," he adds in Revelation 1:18, "Therefore let your light shine before men." Besides, the Saviour again has respect to the candlestick in Luke 12:35, and in the parable of the virgins. So also Paul in Philippians 2:15. The seven number of the lamps points to the covenant relation. Seven is in Scripture, as the language itself bears evidence, the number of the oath, and consequently of the covenant. That the candlestick was of gold denotes the glory of the church of God. The blossoms of flowers, which were added as ornaments, were emblematic of the church's joyful blossoming and prosperity."]It is not accidental that here seven individual lamps are set before us. The candlestick with the seven lamps could not have been admitted here. For this since the time of Moses had been consecrated for all times as a symbol of the whole. But here the discourse is not of the whole church, but only of seven particular churches, in which the church was reflected indeed, though they still did not constitute the church—(comp. Revelation 1:20, where the seven lamps are said to be the seven churches; not the church at large, but seven individual churches selected from the whole. Without any proper right has Hoffmann (Weiss, und Erfullung, Th. II. p. 319) drawn from the passage before us the conclusion, that the seven churches of Asia must have had a symbolical character, a prophetical import, since otherwise they could not have been represented through the symbol of the whole church. But this is just what has not been done. The seer has avoided that supposed identification of the seven churches with the church at large, by not speaking of the candlestick with the seven lamps, but of seven separate lamps. But under the image of seven lamps even seven individual believers might have been represented, as may be seen from Philippians 2:15, and the parable of the ten virgins. Certainly the seven churches constitute one whole, for they have Christ in their midst, but only a whole of the kind described in the words, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them"—a separate section of the church, which stood under the superintendence of John, not the whole of the Christian church. Hoffmann has said, that any one who would see the matter more fully proved, will find in Vitringa all he can wish. But the reasons which have been advanced by the latter are equally untenable. He rests, first of all, upon the general contents of the entire book. According to Revelation 1:1 it contains what was shortly to come to pass. Whence the seven epistles also must be out and out prophetical, which can only be the case if the churches are understood to be types of the church of the future in its varied conditions. But what holds of the book in its general character and import, must not simpliciter be applied to every particular part. The first introductory and preparatory series must, according to the express declaration of Revelation 1:19, be occupied with "what is," as previous to and apart from that "which was afterwards to come to pass"—with a prophetic insight into the real state of matters in the churches of Asia, which was known only in a superficial way to common observation, and still unperceived in its proper depth. In this, what is said of the contents of the book in general, receives its limitation so far as the first portion is concerned. "Must then," continues Vitringa, "the churches alone of the Lydian Asia have lain upon the heart of Christ, and not rather the churches of all Asia, nay the churches of the whole world?"

For this reason he thinks those churches of Asia must have had a symbolical import. Unquestionably, the seven epistles addressed to them form part of a book, which is destined for the whole church. But nothing more follows from this, than that they also partake of the character attributed in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, to the whole of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and without which indeed, holy Scripture cannot be conceived to exist: "All Scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for allgood works." But our epistles bear this character, even if we give up their prophetic import in the narrower sense, and place them in the same rank with the other apostolic epistles, which likewise refer originally and primarily to special relations. In both cases alike it is the part of the church by means of its theological expositions to extract from the particular, the general, and again make application of this to the particular. The seven churches are no more representatives of all other churches, than were the churches to which the other apostles wrote. "What then," asks Vitringa, "are the churches amongst whom Christ the Lord walks? Are they just those seven churches of Asia, or are they not rather all churches of all times and places?" But the walking of Christ among these seven churches is to be taken positively, not exclusively. One might just as well conclude, that the two or three, in the midst of whom the Lord has promised to be, must represent the whole church. When Thomas calls Christ his Lord and God, John 20:28, or when Paul says, that Christ lives in him, Galatians 2:20, no one surely will maintain, that they could only speak thus as types of the church. Finally, Vitringa still lays stress on the point, that the Lord concludes the epistles to the churches in Asia with a call that is addressed to all churches: he that has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. But this very circumstance shews, that the churches in Asia do not represent the whole church. Had they done so, the Spirit would simply have needed to address them. That there was only a special application and charge made to them of what, we are expressly told, belonged to the whole church, was purposely designed to teach, that they were only parts of this great whole. But against the strictly prophetical character of the seven epistles, there is also this very decisive fact, that they do not at all contain a full representation, even in its main features, of the state of the entire Christian church. It is especially to be noted in this respect, that of the two grand hostile forces against which the Christian church has constantly to contend, Judaism and Heathenism, standing related to each other as a false slavery and a false freedom of spirit, here it is only the latter which is brought into notice, and simply because this alone had then power and influence in the churches, to which the apostle wrote. Those persons, especially, who like Vitringa descry in the seven epistles a prophecy of the seven ages of the church,[Note: In opposition to which this alone is decisive, that, as already indicated, the order in which the seven churches stand, was determined by local considerations and others of a like outward nature.]must by this consideration be reduced to great straits. For, among these ages there sire some, in which the Judaistic element has wrought the greatest devastations in the church. But those also, who perceive in the epistles a pre-intimation of the church's states in the last times, cannot easily dispose of this argument. For, Judaism has a very tenacious existence, and will assuredly never altogether abandon the field to heathenism.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-1.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.See the voice—An expressive solecism: not, as Hengstenberg, that the word see is used in a “larger sense;” but the voice being all he as yet knows, he turns to see into what embodiment it will shape itself.

Being turned—In position to receive the Apocalypse that summons him.

Candlesticks—Why does he see the candlesticks before he sees even the sun-bright face (Revelation 1:16) of the divine Person? We think the Person, at first unseen, grew gradually visible, and is traced by St. John’s words as he gleams successively into view; the radiant clearness of the countenance (Revelation 1:16) being the last fully recognised. The Son of man comes first in his trumpet-like voice, next in his visible tokens, last in his glorious Person. Happy those to whom he comes with a fear not! Revelation 1:17.

Golden—Says Cocceius, (quoted in Latin by Trench,) “Gold in figures and symbolical expression signifies that which is most precious of all things; which perfects all to which it belongs, but can be perfected by nothing; which is most pure and liable to no change, and experiences no harm from time, or fire, the consumer of all things.” Hence these golden candlesticks, as well as, throughout this book, “the golden girdle,” Revelation 1:13; golden crowns,” Revelation 4:5; “golden vials,” Revelation 5:8; “golden censer,” Revelation 8:3; “golden altar,” Revelation 8:3; “golden reed,” Revelation 21:15; “city of pure gold,” Revelation 21:18; the street’ “pure gold,” Revelation 21:21. This symbolism, Trench notes, rested not upon the mere costliness of that material. “Throughout all the ancient East there was a sense of sacredness attached to this metal.” Thus “golden,” in the Zend-Avesta, is throughout synonymous with heavenly and divine. So also in many Eastern lands, while silver might be degraded to profane and every-day uses, it was not permitted to employ gold in any services except only royal and divine.

Candlesticks—These so-called candlesticks were lamps, with oil and a wick inserted. The candelabra of the temple had three lamps on each side and one at the centre, making seven. A lamp-vessel represents a Church, the oil the grace of God, and the blaze the light with which the Church illuminates the world. The temple candelabra represented the Jewish Church in its organic unity; but these seven separate candlesticks represent the individuality of the Churches; yet the number seven suggests completeness, uniformity, and oneness. And this accordance of the seven Churches with the sevenfold candelabra demonstrates that the number is selected for symbolical reasons, and not because there were but seven Churches in Asia.

 

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-1.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 1:12. The seven golden lamp-stands are cressets representing the seven churches (20), the sevenfold lamp-stand of the Jewish temple (cf.S. C. 295–99) having been for long used as a symbol (Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:10). The function of the churches is to embody and express the light of the divine presence upon earth, so high is the prophet’s conception of the communities (cf. on Revelation 2:4-5); their duty is to keep the light burning and bright, otherwise the reason for their existence disappears (Revelation 2:5). Consequently the primary activity of Jesus in providence and revelation bears upon the purity of those societies through which his influence is to reach mankind, just as his connexion with them on the other hand assures them of One in heaven to whom out of difficulties here they can appeal with confidence.

 

 

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-1.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

12. I saw seven gold lampstands. He saw this first. They symbolize the seven churches (Revelation 1:20).

 

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:12". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.