Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 1:16

In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ;   Seven;   Stars;   Sun;   Sword;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Christ;   Churches;   Theophanies;   Thompson Chain Reference - Glorified Christ, the;   Spirit, Sword of the;   Sword of the Spirit;   Weapons;   The Topic Concordance - Jesus Christ;   War/weapons;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Stars, the;   Sun, the;   Sword, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Mouth;   Prophets;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Glory;   Light;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Humility;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Ascension of Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Stars;   Sword;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Arms;   Nail;   Revelation of John, the;   Sun;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Arms and Armor;   Mouth;   Revelation, the Book of;   Sword;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Angels of the Seven Churches;   Asia;   Stars;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Apocalypse;   Glory (2);   Justification;   Look ;   Mouth Lips;   Numbers;   Numbers (2);   Peace (2);   Pre-Eminence ;   Star;   Star (2);   Sun;   Transfiguration (2);   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Sword;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Countenance;   Golden candlesticks;   Laodicea;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Sun;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Mouth;   Sword;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Inspiration;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Armor;   Number;   Revelation of John:;   Shine;   Sun (2);  
Devotionals:
Every Day Light - Devotion for October 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

In his right hand seven stars - The stars are afterwards interpreted as representing the seven angels, messengers, or bishops of the seven Churches. Their being in the right hand of Christ shows that they are under his special care and most powerful protection. See below.

Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword - This is no doubt intended to point out the judgments about to be pronounced by Christ against the rebellious Jews and persecuting Romans; God's judgments were just now going to fall upon both. The sharp two-edged sword may represent the word of God in general, according to that saying of the apostle, Hebrews 4:12; : The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, etc. And the word of God is termed the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17.

And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength - His face was like the disk of the sun in the brightest summer's day, when there were no clouds to abate the splendor of his rays. A similar form of expression is found in Judges 5:31; : Let them that love him be as the sun when he Goeth Forth in His Might. And a similar description may be found, Midrash in Yalcut Simeoni, part I., fol. 55, 4: "When Moses and Aaron came and stood before Pharaoh, they appeared like the ministering angels; and their stature, like the cedars of Lebanon: - חמה לגלגלי דומים עיניהם וגלגלי vegalgilley eyneyhem domim legalgilley chammah, and the pupils of their eyes were like the wheels of the sun; and their beards were as the grape of the palm trees; חמה כזיו פניהם וזיו veziv peneyhem keziv chammah, and the Splendor of Their Faces was as the Splendor of the Sun."

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And he had in his right hand seven stars - Emblematic of the angels of the seven churches. How he held them is not said. It may be that they seemed to rest on his open palm; or it may be that he seemed to hold them as if they were arranged in a certain order, and with some sort of attachment, so that they could be grasped. It is not improbable that, as in the case of the seven lamp-bearers (see the notes at Revelation 1:13), they were so arranged as to represent the relative position of the seven churches.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword - On the form of the ancient two-edged sword, see the notes on Ephesians 6:17. The two edges were designed to cut both ways; and such a sword is a striking emblem of the penetrating power of truth, or of words that proceed from the mouth; and this is designed undoubtedly to be the representation here - that there was some symbol which showed that his words, or his truth, had the power of cutting deep, or penetrating the soul. So in Isaiah 49:2, it is said of the same personage, “And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.” See the notes on that verse. So in Hebrews 4:12, “The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword,” etc. So it is said of Pericles by Aristophanes:

“His powerful speech.

Pierced the hearer‘s soul, and left behind.

Deep in his bosom its keen point infixt.”

A similar figure often occurs in Arabic poetry. “As arrows his words enter into the heart.” See Gesenius, Commentary zu, Isaiah 49:2. The only difficulty here is in regard to the apparently incongruous representation of a sword seeming to proceed from the mouth; but it is not perhaps necessary to suppose that John means to say that he saw such an image. He heard him speak; he felt the penetrating power of his words; and they were as if a sharp sword proceeded from his mouth. They penetrated deep into the soul, and as he looked on him it seemed as if a sword came from his mouth. Perhaps it is not necessary to suppose that there was even any visible representation of this - either of a sword or of the breath proceeding from his mouth appearing to take this form, as Prof. Stuart supposes. It may be wholly a figurative representation, as Heinrichs and Ewald suppose. Though there were visible and impressive symbols of his majesty and glory presented to the eyes, it is not necessary to suppose that there were visible symbols of his words.

And his countenance - His face. There had been before particular descriptions of some parts of his face - as of his eyes - but this is a representation of his whole aspect; of the general splendor and brightness of his countenance.

Was as the sun shineth in his strength - In his full splendor when unobscured by clouds; where his rays are in no way intercepted. Compare Judges 5:31; “But let them that love him (the Lord) be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might”; 2 Samuel 23:4, “And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds”; Psalm 19:5, “Which (the sun) is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.” There could be no more striking description of the majesty and glory of the countenance than to compare it with the overpowering splendor of the sun. This closes the description of the personage that appeared to John. The design was evidently to impress him with a sense of his majesty and glory, and to prepare the way for the authoritative nature of the communications which he was to make. It is obvious that this appearance must have been assumed.

The representation is not that of the Redeemer as he rose from the dead - a middle-aged man; nor is it clear that it was the same as on the mount of transfiguration - where, for anything that appears, he retained his usual aspect and form though temporarily invested with extraordinary brilliancy; nor is it the form in which we may suppose he ascended to heaven for there is no evidence that he was thus transformed when he ascended; nor is it that of a priest - for all the special habiliments of a Jewish priest are missing in this description. The appearance assumed is, evidently, in accordance with various representations of God as he appeared to Ezekiel, to Isaiah, and to Daniel - what was a suitable manifestation of a divine being - of one clothed in the majesty and power of God. We are not to infer from this, that this is in fact the appearance of the Redeemer now in heaven, or that this is the form in which he will appear when he comes to judge the world. Of his appearance in heaven we have no knowledge; of the aspect which he will assume when he comes to judge people we have no certain information. We are necessarily quite as ignorant of this as we are of what will be our own form and appearance after the resurrection from the dead.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-1.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Two-edged sword ... A most unlikely symbol of any priestly function. As Wallace said:

This sword stands for divine justice, and means that Jesus Christ was, and is now, the executor of righteous judgment and justice.[49]

Sun shining in his strength ... Here is a reflection of the imagery of Malachi regarding the "sun of righteousness" that shall rise with healing in his wings. Christ as the light of the world; Christ as the center around which everything else revolves; Christ the omnipresent one (who could hide from the sun?); and Christ the omnipotent one - all of these are appropriately symbolized by this glorious countenance.

Despite the fact of so much of Revelation using terminology and imagery found in the Old Testament, the essential teaching of Revelation is not derived. "It conveys a conception of the Messiah which is unique, for Christ is endowed with a splendor and authority which hitherto had been ascribed only to God."[50]

Before leaving this verse, it should also be pointed out that the mouth is a very abnormal place from which a sword might appear; the symbolism, therefore, includes the meaning that the gospel which came from the mouth of Jesus is the two-edged sword. And why two-edged? As Bruce expressed it: "It proclaims grace to those who repent and put their faith in God, with the corollary of judgment upon the impenitent and disobedient."[51]

Seven stars ... For comment on this, see under Revelation 1:20 where the key to understanding them is revealed.

[49] Foy E. Wallace, Jr., op. cit., p. 80.

[50] Martin Kiddle, The Revelation of St. John, "The Moffatt New Testament Commentary" (New York: Harper and Brothers, n.d.), p. 16.

[51] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 636.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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 he had in his right hand seven stars,.... The angels or pastors of the seven churches, Revelation 1:20. The ministers of the Gospel are compared to stars, because of their efficient cause, God, who has made them, and fixed them in their proper place, and for his glory; and because of the matter of them, being the same with the heavens, so ministers are of the same nature with the churches; and because of their form, light, which they receive from the sun, so preachers of the Gospel receive their light from Christ; and because of their multitude and variety, so the ministers of the Gospel are many, and their gifts different; and chiefly for their usefulness, to give light to others, to direct to Christ, and point out the way of salvation, and to rule over the churches: nor was it unusual with the Jews to compare good men to stars, and to the seven stars. The TargumistF18Jonathan ben Uzziel in Exod. xl. 4. says, the seven lamps in the candlestick answer to the seven stars to which the righteous are like. These are led and held in Christ's right hand; which shows that they are dear unto him, and highly valued by him; that they are his, in his possession, at his dispose, whom he uses as his instruments to do his work; and whom he upholds and sustains, that they shall not sink under their burdens; and whom he preserves from failing, and so holds them that they shall stand fast in the faith, and not be carried away with the error of the wicked:

and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword; which designs the word of God; see Ephesians 6:17; This comes out of the mouth of Christ, it is the word of God, and not of man; and is a sharp sword, contains sharp reproofs for sin, severe threatenings against it, and gives cutting convictions of it, and is a twoedged one; and by its two edges may be meant law and Gospel; the law lays open the sins of men, fills with grief and anguish for them, yea, not only wounds, but kills; and the Gospel cuts down the best in man, his wisdom, holiness, righteousness, and carnal privileges, in which he trusts; and the worst in man, teaching him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts: or the word of God may be so called, because it is a means both of saving and of destroying; it is the savour of life unto life to some, and the savour of death unto death to others; and is both an offensive and defensive weapon; it is for the defence of the saints, against Satan, false teachers, and every other enemy; and an offensive one to them, which cuts them down, and destroys them and their principles: or this may mean the judiciary sentence of Christ upon the wicked, which will be a fighting against them, and a smiting of the nations of the world; see Revelation 2:16; which the Jews interpret of the lawF19Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 95. 4. & 131. 1. :

and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength; at noonday; such was the countenance of Christ at his transfiguration, Matthew 17:2; and designs here the manifestation of himself in the glories of his person, and in the riches of his grace; who is the sun of righteousness that arises upon his people with light, heat, joy, and comfort; see the phrase in Judges 5:31, which the Jewish writers understand of the strength of the sun both in the summer solstice, and in the middle of the day, or at noon, at which time its heat is strongest, and it usually shines brightest; the design of the metaphor is to set forth the glory and majesty of Christ,

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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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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-1.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

he hadGreek, “having.” John takes up the description from time to time, irrespective of the construction, with separate strokes of the pencil [Alford].

in  …  right hand seven stars — (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:1; Revelation 3:1). He holds them as a star-studded “crown of glory,” or “royal diadem,” in His hand: so Isaiah 62:3. He is their Possessor and Upholder.

out of  …  mouth wentGreek, “going forth”; not wielded in the hand. His WORD is omnipotent in executing His will in punishing sinners. It is the sword of His Spirit. Reproof and punishment, rather than its converting winning power, is the prominent point. Still, as He encourages the churches, as well as threatens, the former quality of the Word is not excluded. Its two edges (back and front) may allude to its double efficacy, condemning some, converting others. Tertullian [Epistle against Judaizers], takes them of the Old and the New Testaments. Richard of St. Victor, “the Old Testament cutting externally our carnal, the New Testament internally, our spiritual sins.”

swordGreek, “{romphaia},” the Thracian long and heavy broad sword: six times in Revelation, once only elsewhere in New Testament, namely, Luke 2:35.

sun  …  in his strength — in unclouded power. So shall the righteous shine, reflecting the image of the Sun of righteousness. Trench notices that this description, sublime as a purely mental conception, would be intolerable if we were to give it an outward form. With the Greeks, aesthecial taste was the first consideration, to which all others must give way. With the Hebrews, truth and the full representation ideally of the religious reality were the paramount consideration, that representation being designed not to be outwardly embodied, but to remain a purely mental conception. This exalting of the essence above the form marks their deeper religious earnestness.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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

16. Having in His right hand seven stars.” These stars are the faithful preachers of the gospel. So, if you want to be a star preacher, be sure the Savior holds you in His right hand. If you preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, fearless of men and devils, regardless of reputation, filthy lucre, ejectment, and decapitation, rest assured Jesus will hold you in His right hand, and you will have victory when the world is on fire. “Out of His mouth goes a sharp, two-edged sword.” This is the word of God revealed in the Bible. This wonderful sword has two edges, sharp as God’s lightning; i.e., the salvation edge and the damnation edge. If you receive the salvation edge, and permit it radically and intrinsically to dissect soul, spirit, heart, mind, and body, it will cut out every fiber of sin’s warp and woof, actual and original, and effect a complete purgation from all iniquity, investing you with the spotless robe of entire sanctification, and actually leading you out into the heavenly state, ready, watching and waiting for the Lord to descend, translate and take you up into the cloud. If you prove too cowardly to receive the salvation edge, and let it cut out of you all sin, you will have to take the damnation edge, which will cut all your hopes out of heaven. “His countenance appears as the sun in His power.” John 1:9 :

“He is the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

Thus we see that the world’s Savior shines on every human soul. Hence Paul says en the heathen are left without excuse (Romans 1:20). John says if we walk in the light, the blood cleanseth from all sin. Here is solved the problem of universal salvation. As the sun sends his light throughout the whole world, so the glorious Sun of righteousness illuminates the spiritual world, giving to every human being — saint, sinner, heathen, Jew, and Mohammedan — all the light they need to lead them to heaven. If they will only walk in all the light they have, His blood will cleanse them from all sin, and robe them for glory.

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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

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.

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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)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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

A sharp, two-edged sword ( ῥομφαία δίστομος ὀξεῖα )

The (Greek order is a sword, two-edged, sharp. For the peculiar word for sword see on Luke 2:35. Two-edged is, literally, two-mouthed. See on edge, Luke 21:24. Homer speaks of poles for sea-fighting, “clad on the tip ( στόμα , mouth ) with brass.”

Countenance ( ὄψις )

Used by John only, and only three times: here, John 7:24; John 11:44. Not general appearance.

Shineth ( φαίει )

See on John 1:5.

In his strength

With the full power of the eastern sun at noonday.

This picture of the Son of Man suggests some remarks on the general character of such symbols in Revelation. It may be at once said that they are not of a character which tolerates the sharper definitions of pictorial art. They must be held in the mind, not as clearly-cut symbols which translate themselves into appeals to the eye and which have their exact correspondences in visible facts, but rather in their totality, and with a dominant sense of their inner correspondences with moral and spiritual ideas. To translate them into picture is inevitably to run at some point into a grotesqueness which impairs and degrades their solemnity. This is shown in Albrecht Dürer's sixteen wood-cuts illustrative of Revelation. Professor Milligan goes too far in saying that these are only grotesque. One must be always impressed with Dürer's strong individuality, “lurking” as Lord Lindsay remarks, below a mind “like a lake, stirred by every breath of wind which descends on it through the circumjacent valleys;” with the fertility of his invention, the plenitude of his thought, his simplicity and fearlessness. But his very truthfulness to nature is his enemy in his dealing with such themes as the Apocalyptic visions; investing them as it does with a realism which is foreign to their spirit and intent. Take, for example, “the four riders” (Revelation 6). The power is at once felt of the onward movement of the three horsemen with bow, sword, and balances; the intense, inexorable purpose with which they drive on over the prostrste forms at their feet; but the fourth rider, Death on the pale horse, followed by Hell, portrayed as the wide-opened jaws of a rnonster into which a crowned head is sinking, degenerates into a ghastly caricature of the most offensive German type - a harlequin, far surpassing in hideousness the traditional skeleton with seythe and hour-glass.

Similarly, the angel with his feet like pillars of fire, the one upon the sea and the other upon the earth. If we are solemnly impressed by the awful face of the angel breaking forth from the sun, the solemnity degenerates into something akin to amusement, at the feet like solid columns, ending in flame at the knees, and at the Evangelist “who kneels on a promontory with the corner of the great book presented by the angel in his mouth, apparently in danger of choking.”

In short, such symbols as the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes; the four living creatures, each with six wings, and full of eyes before and behind; the beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on the horns ten diadems, - do not lend themselves to the pencil. An illustration of the sadly grotesque effect of such an attempt may be seen in Mr. Elliott's “Horae Apocalypticae,” where is a picture of the locust of chapter 9, with a gold crown on the head, hair like women's, a breastplate of iron, and a tail like a scorpion's.

Archbishop Trench very aptly draws the comparison between the modes in which the Greek and the Hebrew mind respectively dealt with symbolism. With the Greek, the aesthetic element is dominant, so that the first necessity of the symbol is that it shall satisfy the sense of beauty, form, and proportion. With the Hebrew, the first necessity is “that the symbol should set forth truly and fully the religious idea of which it is intended to be the vehicle. How it would appear when it clothed itself in an outward form and shape; whether it would find favor and allowance at the bar of taste, was quite a secondary consideration; may be confidently affirmed not to have been a consideration at all.”

The imagery of Revelation is Hebrew and not Greek. It is doubtful if there is any symbol taken from heathenism, so that the symbols of Revelation are to be read from the Jewish and not from the Heathen stand-point.

But to say that these symbols jar upon the aesthetic sense is not to detract from their value as symbols, nor to decry them as violations of the fitness of things. It may be fairly asked if, with all their apparent incongruity, and even monstrousness, they may not, after all, be true to a higher canon of congruity. Certain it is that the great visible divine economy, both of nature and of man, distinctly includes the grotesque, the monstrous, the ridiculous (or what we style such). We recognize the fact in the phrase “freaks of Nature.” But are they freaks? Are they incongruous? Until we shall have grasped in mind the whole kosmos it will not be safe for us to answer that question too positively. The apparent incongruity, viewed from a higher plane, may merge into beautiful congruity. Tested by a more subtle sense; brought into connection and relation with the whole region of mental and spiritual phenomena; regarded as a factor of that larger realm which embraces ideas and spiritual verities along with external phenomena; the outwardly grotesque may resolve itself into the spiritually beautiful; the superficial incongruity into essential and profound harmony.

This possibility emerges into fact in certain utterances of our Lord, notably in His parables. Long since, the absurdity has been recognized of attempting to make a parable “go on all fours;” in other words, to insist on a hard and literal correspondence between the minutest details of the symbol and the thing symbolized. Sound exposition has advanced to a broader, freer, yet deeper and more spiritual treatment of these utterances, grasping below mere correspondences of detail to that deeper, “fundamental harmony and parallelism between the two grand spheres of cosmic being - that of Nature and that of Spirit; between the three kingdoms of Nature, History, and Revelation. The selection of symbols and parables in Scripture, therefore, is not arbitrary, but is based on an insight into the essence of things” (Milligan).

Thus then, in this picture of the Son of Man, the attempt to portray to the eye the girded figure, with snow-white hair, flaming eyes, and a sword proceeding out of His mouth, - with feet like shining brass, and holding seven stars in His hand, would result as satisfactorily as the attempt to picture the mysterious combination of eyes and wheels and wings in Ezekiel's vision. If, on the other hand, we frankly admit the impossibility of this, and relegate this symbolism to a higher region, as a delineation (imperfect through the imperfection of human speech and the inevitable power of the sensuous) of deep-lying spiritual facts, priestly and royal dignity, purity, divine insight, divine indignation at sin; if we thus bring the deeper suggestions of outward humanity and nature into relation with their true correspondents in the spiritual realm - we gain something more and deeper than a pictorial appeal to the imagination. We grasp what we cannot formulate; nevertheless we grasp it. Dropping the outward correspondence, we are the freer to penetrate to the depths of the symbolism, and reach an inner correspondence no less real and no less apprehensible.

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Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

And he had in his right hand seven stars — In token of his favour and powerful protection.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword — Signifying his justice and righteous anger, continually pointed against his enemies as a sword; sharp, to stab; two-edged, to hew.

And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength — Without any mist or cloud.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-1.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

A sharp two-edged sword. The image here used, as a symbol, to denote the word or doctrine of Jesus Christ, is employed for the same purpose, metaphorically, in Hebrews 4:12.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-1.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 16. And he had in his right hand] See here the dignity and safety of a faithful minister. While a child hath his father by the hand, though he walk in the dark, he fears nothing. Godly ministers not only have Christ by the hand (who as he will not cast away a perfect man, so neither will he take the ungodly by the hand, saith Bildad, Job 8:20), but are held fast in Christ’s right hand, "that teacheth him terrible things," Psalms 45:4, against such as seek to pull them thence. It is well observed by a worthy writer, that about the time of the silencing of ministers, many churches in England were torn at once (within our remembrance) with terrible lightning; and almost no place else but churches were touched, especially in the lower parts of Devonshire, where many were scorched, maimed, and many had their brains struck out, as they sat in churches; as at the church of Anthony in Cornwall, near Plymouth, on Whit Sunday, 1640. (See the account in print.)

A sharp two-edged sword] The word, like a sacrificing sword, slits open, and, as it were, unridgeth the conscience.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-1.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 1:16. He had in his right hand seven stars: The candlesticks, or churches, were round about him: he, in the midst of them, held in his right hand the stars; that is, the angels or bishops of the churches: stars are the hieroglyphics used to express both rulers and teachers. They may therefore, with great propriety, be used symbolically, for the bishops or pastors of the church. See on Jude, Revelation 1:13.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-1.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

16.] And having ( ἔχων, not = καὶ εἶχεν, but as in ref. St. John takes up the description from time to time irrespective of the construction, as if (De W.) with separate strokes of the pencil) in his right hand seven stars (not, as Heinr., on his right hand, as a number of jewelled rings, but in his right hand, as a wreath or garland held in it. De W. well remarks that this, which is the more natural rendering, is also required by the symbolism. If the seven churches which the seven stars symbolize, were on the Lord’s hand as rings, they would seem to be serving (adorning?) Him, and not to be the objects of his action: but now that He holds them in his hand, He appears as their Guardian, their Provider, their Nourisher: and, we may add, their Possessor, who brings them out and puts them forth to be seen when He pleases. His universal Church would hardly be thus represented, but only a portion of it which it pleases Him to take in his hand and hold forth as representing the rest): and out of his mouth a two-edged sharp sword going forth (cf. Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2 ( ἔθηκε τὸ στόμα μου ὡς μάχαιραν ὀξεῖαν): also our ch. Revelation 2:16, and Wisdom of Solomon 18:15-16. The same figure occurs with reference to men in Psalms 55:21; Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7; and Wetst. and Schöttg. give examples of it from the Rabbinical writings. The thing signified may perhaps be as in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, ὁ ἄνομος ὃν ὁ κύριος ἰησοῦς ἀνελεῖ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ …: and in ch. Revelation 19:21; but clearly we must not exclude (as Düsterd.) the attributes of the word of God, Hebrews 4:12, Ephesians 6:17. And this all the more, inasmuch as 1) here the Lord is represented not as taking vengeance on his enemies, but as speaking with his own, both in the way of comforting and of threatening: and 2) in ch. Revelation 19:21, where this very sword is again alluded to as slaying the Lord’s enemies, His title as καθήμενος ἐπὶ τοῦ ἵππου is ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ): and his countenance (not, as Düsterd., who wrongly quotes De W. as supporting him, general appearance: so also Ewald, al. Had this been so, how should the Apostle have noted the details just mentioned? for the whole figure of our Lord would have been too dazzling for him to contemplate. It is natural that after describing the eyes, and that which proceeded from the mouth, he should give the general effect of the countenance. And as matter of usage, John 11:44 is decided, being spoken of a person, which John 7:24 is not) as the sun shineth in his strength (see ref. Judges:—that is, when unclouded and in full power: not necessarily at midday, but at any time. The construction is again broken: ὡς ὁ ἥλ. φαίνων would be the regular connexion).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-1.html. 1863-1878.

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

Revelation 1:16. καὶ ἔχων, κ. τ. λ. Not for καὶ είχε, κ. τ. λ.;(794) but the participle occurs in violation of syntax, while John with a few strong touches of his pencil(795) portrays the sublime manifestation.(796) Christ appears, having seven stars(797) in his right hand.(798) The stars are neither to be changed into precious stones which shine like stars, and to be sought in a ring, or seven rings, on Christ’s fingers,(799) nor is it to be said that “the stars soar so easily, freely, and steadily, on or over his right hand, that he might confidently place them(800) upon John’s head.”(801) To ask at all where these stars in Revelation 1:17 must be regarded, is a question both paltry and unpoetic. That Christ has the stars in his right hand, shows that they are his property. This is presented for the consolation of believers,(802) but not in the sense as though the power of Christ over the churches, from which no one can deliver, should he wish to punish,(803) were portrayed. This is entirely foreign to the present passage, and even in Revelation 2:1 sqq. is conceivable only as Christ, who graciously rules and defensively walks in the midst of the candlesticks, can cast a faithless church from its candlestick,(804) or even reject a star.

καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στό΄ατος

ἐκπορευο΄ένη. Again, a new feature of the sublime picture is stated in an asyntactical way. “Who can portray this form? And yet it has occurred, alas! a thousand times, and the form of the God-man is represented as the most miserable cripple.” Thus Herder; while Eichh.,(805) just in the present feature of the description, would find an offence against the laws of painting. The sharp two-edged sword which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is, in a way similar to the feet like brass, a plastic representation of the divine power of Christ, in complete accordance with the image of the vision according to which he “slays the godless with the rod of his mouth.”(806) Of the power of the word of God, preached by Christ’s ministers, striking the conscience and otherwise divinely efficacious,(807) there is nothing said here. The entire description is purely personal. The sword from the mouth(808) of Christ is directed against his enemies both within(809) and without(810) the Church.(811) What a consolation for those whom he holds in his hands!

καὶ ὄψις αὐτοῦ designates not the countenance,(812) as ὄψις is used in John 11:44 but not in John 7:24, but(813) the appearance in general. The description is not concluded by a single feature, but so that the entire form appears as surrounded with the brilliancy of the sun. We are forbidden to take ὄψις in the sense of πρόσωπον by the comparison of Revelation 10:1, where this word, frequently found in the Apoc.,(814) is regularly used; also Daniel 10:6, where πρόσωπον occurs, and that, too, in the beginning of the detailed description, is throughout against Hengstenberg’s opinion. In like manner, in the description, Daniel 10:6, τὸ σῶ΄α αὐτοῦ ὡσει θαρσίς, the entire form of the Lord is to be regarded: ῶς ἥλιος φαίνει ἐν τῇ δυνά΄ει. The additional designation,(815) of course, is not necessarily to be referred to the noonday brilliancy(816) of the sun, but is correctly paraphrased by De Wette: “when its light is at the strongest.”(817) The sun shines in its strength when neither mist nor clouds intercept its rays.(818)

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-1.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

And he had in his right hand seven stars: the right hand is the hand of power, Psalms 21:8; and of favour, Psalms 44:3; and of honour and dignity, Psalms 110:1. The seven stars are expounded, Revelation 1:20, to be the ministers of the gospel, his messengers to his churches, who having in all times been most exposed to the malice and rage of enemies, Christ is said to hold them in his right hand, as to signify the dignity he hath put upon them and the favour he hath showed them, so also to show his resolution to protect them, according to his promise, Matthew 28:20.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; either his gospel and word, compared to a two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12; or a sword of justice, which he will use till he hath perfectly overcome and vanquished his enemies.

And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength; that is, was very glorious, so as the apostle was not able to behold him.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". 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

семь звезд Это семь посыльных, которые представляют 7 церквей (см. сноски к ст. 20). Христос держит их в Своей руке. Это означает, что Он осуществляет контроль над церковью и ее руководителями.

острый с обеих сторон меч Большой, широкий, обоюдоострый меч. Это символизирует свершение суда (ср. 2:16; 19:15) над теми, кто наступает на Его людей и разрушает Его церковь.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-1.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Seven stars; representing the angels of the seven churches, verse Revelation 1:20.

A sharp two-edged sword; with which he smites the nations, chap Revelation 19:15; compare Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2, which are also prophecies of the Messiah. The symbol denotes the efficacy of his doctrine, and of the judgments uttered by him against the wicked.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-1.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he had in his right hand seven stars, and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was as the sun shines in its strength.’

The idea of the seven stars held in the right hand may have in mind in the background the seven then known planets, the holding in the hand intending to signify the universal rule of Christ over the cosmos, or more likely the seven stars of Pleiades which, with Orion, are especially mentioned as God’s workmanship and are linked with God turning deep darkness into morning, making the day dark with night, pouring the waters of the sea on the face of the earth, and bringing sudden destruction on the strong (Amos 5:8). Thus they are connected with His creative and controlling power. Compare Job 38:31 which mentions ‘the sweet influences of the Pleiades’, thus suggesting heavenly power. These ideas could well immediately spring to the minds of his readers.

But this is immediately applied to the seven angels of the seven churches to whom the letters will be sent (Revelation 1:20). They are the seven stars and the ruler of the cosmos holds the seven angels in His right hand. This would confirm that we are to see in the seven churches the universal church. The fact that they are held in His right hand, His most powerful hand, demonstrates that they are both under His supreme control and under His protection.

The sharp two-edged sword (rompheia here in Revelation) is mentioned in Hebrews 4:12 where the word of God is sharper than a two-edged Sword (machaira), dividing soul and spirit and discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart. Compare Ephesians 6:17 where the sword (machaira) of the Spirit is the word of God. The different words for sword could be used interchangeably but demonstrate that if this idea is in mind we are dealing here with an idea common in the churches and not with a direct reference to those verses. Interestingly the ‘two-edged sword’ of vengeance in the Old Testament is also both romphaia and machaira in LXX (Psalms 149:6; Proverbs 5:4).

The suggestion is that the word of God proceeds from His mouth, defending and guiding the righteous and cutting through the defences of the wicked. Compare Isaiah 49:2 where the mouth of the coming Servant of God is made ‘like a sharp sword’ (LXX macheira) and Isaiah 11:4 where the coming King will ‘smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips will slay the wicked’. (For general references to the sword (rompheia) as connected with the mouth see Psalms 57:4; Psalms 64:3. In both cases the idea is of sharp words).

We may also compare Isaiah 66:16 where ‘by fire will the Lord plead, and by His sword (LXX rompheia), with all flesh, for the slain of the Lord will be many’, tying in with the eyes of fire and the sword from the mouth and stressing judgment. The lightning in Genesis 3:24 was also like a flaming sword (LXX rompheia), again symbolising judgment but including the protection of God’s holy place. But in Psalms 17:13; Psalms 35:3 LXX the psalmist looks to the sword (rompheia) of the Lord to deliver him from the wicked. So the sword delivers the righteous and judges the undeserving.

‘And his face was as the sun shines in its strength.’ This compares with the Transfiguration where Matthew says ‘His face did shine as the sun’ (Matthew 17:2). The shining of the sun is used as an indication of righteousness in Matthew 13:43. Thus it refers not only to glory but to supreme righteousness. So John draws on many sources, which are clearly known to him, to bring out the glory and divinity of this ‘son of man’.

The vision is vivid. Face shining like the sun, eyes as a flame of fire, hair of the purest whiteness, feet of burning brass, the word of God like a sharp two-edged sword issuing from His mouth, seven shining stars in His right hand, and a voice like the sound of many waters.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-1.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

In His right hand, the symbol of official honor and sovereign control, He held seven stars protectively (cf. Revelation 9:1; Revelation 12:3; Job 38:7; John 10:28), the angels or messengers of the seven churches ( Revelation 1:20; cf. Revelation 2:1; Revelation 3:1).

A sharp double-edged sword (Gr. hromphaia), the type the Romans used to kill with ( Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 6:8; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21), proceeded from His mouth. His word will judge His enemies ( Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2; Ephesians 6:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 19:13-15). This sword was tongue-shaped. [Note: See the Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hastings, s.v. "Sword," by W. Emery Barnes, 4:634, for a picture of one.]

His face shone like the unclouded sun, a picture of pure holiness and righteousness ( Judges 5:31; Matthew 13:43). John saw Jesus at the Transfiguration with such a shining face ( Matthew 17:2).

". . . Christ was presenting Himself to John in a character that would prepare the apostle for various aspects of the vision to follow." [Note: Robert L. Thomas, "The Glorified Christ on Patmos," Bibliotheca Sacra122:487 (July-September1965):246.]

"This first vision of John, then, included an indication of Jesus" Messianic office with its associated functions: judgment of the unrighteous and comfort of the suffering righteous, His high rank that fits Him as an agent of imposing divine wrath, His activity in imposing that wrath, His preexistence along with God the Father, His penetrating intelligence that enables Him to perform righteous judgment, His movement among the churches to enforce standards of moral purity, His identification with the Father in the power of His utterance, His authority over the seven messengers and the churches they represent, His power to overcome His enemies and pronounce judgment upon them, and His return to earth to implement judgment upon mankind." [Note: Idem, Revelation 1-7, p105.]

It is primarily as Judge that Jesus Christ appears in Revelation (cf. Matthew 3:11). He judges the churches (chs2-3), the whole earth (chs4-16), Babylonianism (chs17-18), world rulers at Armageddon ( Revelation 19:19-21), and Satan ( Revelation 20:1-3; Revelation 20:10). He also judges the earth during the Millennium ( Revelation 20:4-6), the rebellious earth at the end of the Millennium ( Revelation 20:7-9), and all the unsaved dead ( Revelation 20:11-15). The first20 chapters of the book deal with judgment and the last two with the new creation.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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 1:16. From the personal appearance of the Redeemer, the Seer now passes to His equipment for His work, and that in three particulars. And he had in his right hand seven stars. In the writings of St. John the verb ‘to have’ denotes possession, and the ‘right hand’ is the hand of power, so that the Lord is here represented as possessing these seven stars, for their rule, protection, and guidance: ‘No one shall pluck them out of My hand’ (John 10:28). The stars are grasped ‘in’ His hand, to denote that they are His property. When the idea is varied in Revelation 1:20, the preposition is also changed,—they sure then not ‘in’ but ‘upon’ his hand. The seven stars are further explained in Revelation 1:20 to be ‘the angels of the seven churches’ (see on that verse).—The second particular mentioned is that of the sword.

Out of his mouth a sword, two-edged, sharp, proceeding forth. The order of the words in the original, and the love of the Seer for the number three, seems to make it desirable to understand ‘proceeding forth’ as an attribute of the sword parallel to the other two, instead of connecting it directly with its noun in the sense, ‘out of his mouth proceeded forth a sharp, two-edged sword.’ The word here translated ‘sword’ occurs six times in the Apocalypse (chaps. Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16, Revelation 6:8, Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21), and only once in the rest of the New Testament (Luke 2:35), but it is very frequently used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, particularly in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 5:1 it is associated with the attribute ‘sharp.’ In Psalms 149:6 we have it connected with the epithet ‘two-edged’ or two-mouthed, the edge of the sword being considered as its mouth by which it devours (Isaiah 1:20; cp. Hebrews 11:34, where the plural ‘mouths’ of the Greek leads to the thought of the two edges). The use of this figure in Scripture justifies the idea that there is here a reference to the Word of God which proceeds out of His mouth (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12); but there is no thought of ‘comforting’ or of ‘the grace and saving power of the Word.’ Its destroying power is alone in view, that power by which it judges, convicts, and condemns the wicked. ‘He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked’ (Isaiah 11:4; cp. John 12:48). Hence, accordingly, the various epithets here applied to the sword, all calculated to emphasize its destroying power, —two-edged, sharp, proceeding forth, the latter denoting that it is not at rest, but in the act of coming forth to execute its work.

And his countenance as the sun shineth in his power. The third particular of Christ’s equipment. We might have expected this particular to be connected with the previous group describing the appearance of the Lord. Its introduction now as a part of Christ’s equipment leads directly to the conclusion that we are to dwell mainly upon the power of the sun’s rays as they proceed directly from that luminary. Hence, also, in all probability the particular Greek word used for ‘countenance,’—not so much the face as the appearance of the face, the light streaming from it. The sun is thought of not at his rising, but in his utmost strength, with the scorching, intolerable power which marks him in the East at noonday.

It thus appears that throughout the whole of this description, the ‘Son of man’ is one who comes to judgment. To Him all judgment has been committed (John 5:22; John 5:27), and the time has arrived when He shall take unto Him His great power and reign. Nor are we to ask how it is possible that this should be the prominent aspect of the Lord in a book intended to strengthen and console His Church. That God is a God of judgment is everywhere throughout the prophets of the Old Testament the comfort of the righteous. They are now oppressed, but ere long they shall be vindicated; and there shall be a recompense unto those that trouble them.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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

In his right hand seven stars, which, as it is said, (ver. 20.) were the Angels, i.e. the bishops of the seven churches, by this comparison is expressed their dignity. --- And from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword. The word of God preached is compared to a two-edged sword. (Ephesians vi. 17. and Hebrews iv. 12.) It also signifies God's severity in punishing sinners. (Witham)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-1.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

He had = having.

stars. See Revelation 1:20.

out . . . sword. For the Figure compare Psalms 55:21; Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7. The significance is seen in Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. See also Revelation 2:12, Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15, Revelation 19:21. Luke 19:27.

twoedged. Compare Hebrews 4:12.

sword. Greek. rhomphaia. Occurs only in Rev. (six times) and Luke 2:35.

countenance. Greek. opsis. Only here; John 7:24; John 11:44.

strength. App-172.1; Revelation 176:1.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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 he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

He had - `having.' John takes up the description, irrespective of the construction, with separate strokes of the pencil (Alford).

In his right hand seven stars - (Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:1; Revelation 3:1.) He holds them as a star-studded "crown of glory," or "royal diadem," in His hand: so Isaiah 62:3, as their Possessor and Upholder.

Out of his mouth went - `going forth;' not wielded in the hand. His WORD, the sword of His Spirit, is omnipotent in executing His will against sinners. Its reproving, punishing, rather than its converting power, is here prominent. Still, as He encourages the churches, as well as threatens, its saving power is not excluded. Its two edges (back and front) imply its double efficacy, condemning some, converting others. Tertullian ('Adv. Jud.') explains them the Old and the New Testament. Richard of Victor, 'the Old Testament cutting externally our carnal, the New Testament internally our spiritual, sins.'

Sword, [ Romfaia (Greek #4501), the Thracian long, heavy broad-sword] - six times in Revelation, once elsewhere in the New Testament, namely, Luke 2:35.

Sun shineth in his strength - in unclouded power. So shall the righteous shine, reflecting the image of the Sun of righteousness. Trench remarks, This description, sublime as a purely mental conception, would be intolerable if we gave it outward embodiment. With the Greeks, aesthetical taste was the first consideration, to which all others must give way. With the Hebrews, the full representation ideally of the religious reality was paramount, that representation being designed to remain a purely mental conception. This exalting of the essence above the form marks their deeper religious earnestness.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "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

(16) And he had (or, having) in his right hand seven stars.—The stars are explained later on (Revelation 1:20) to be the emblems of the angels of the seven churches; they are described as stars in His right hand; they, perhaps, appeared as a wreath, or as a royal and star-adorned diadem in His hand. (See Isaiah 62:3.) It expresses their preciousness in Christ’s sight, and the care He takes of them. A similar emblem is used of Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24), where he is compared to the signet upon God’s right hand.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.—There need be no doubt about the meaning here: the imagery of the Bible elsewhere is too explicit to be mistaken; it is the sword of the Spirit, even the word of God, which is here described; it is that word which is sharper than any two-edged sword, and which lays bare the thoughts and intents of the soul (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12. Comp. Isaiah 49:2). This is the weapon with which Christ will subdue His enemies; no carnal weapon is needed (2 Corinthians 10:4). Those that take any other sword in hand than this to advance His kingdom will perish with the weapon to which they have appealed (Revelation 13:10; Matthew 26:52), but those who arm themselves with this will find it mighty through God. With this weapon of His word He Himself fights against His adversaries (Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21); with this He lays bare the hidden hypocrisies of men, cuts off the diseased members, and wounds that He may heal.

“The sword wherewith Thou dost command,

Is in Thy mouth and not Thy hand.”

It is a two-edged sword; it has the double edge of the Old Testament and the New; “the Old Testament, cutting externally our carnal; the New Testament, internally our spiritual sins” (Richard of St. Victor). It has the double edge of its power to rebuke sin and self-righteousness; the evil of wrong-doing and the evil motives which wait on right-doing; the two edges of which will cut off sin from man, or else man in his sin. (Comp. Isaiah 11:4, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8.) The Greek word here rendered “sword” is used six times in this book, and only once (Luke 2:35) elsewhere in the New Testament.

His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.—It is the spiritual truth which gives the splendour to such descriptions as these. The dazzling glory of Him who is the Sun of Righteousness is intolerable to human eyes. There is no marvel in this when we remember that He is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and that the Father dwells “in that light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:16). It is the lustre of holiness and righteousness which is here signified, and which “the eye of sinful man may not see,” but of which saints and angel messengers may catch a faint reflection; so that the angel’s face may look like lightning (Matthew 28:3), and “the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). (Comp. the shining of Moses’ face, Exodus 34:29.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-1.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
he had
20; 2:1; 3:1; 12:1; Job 38:7; Daniel 8:10; 12:3
out
2:12,16; 19:15,21; Isaiah 11:4; 49:2; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12
and his
10:1; Isaiah 24:23; 60:19,20; Malachi 4:2; Acts 26:13
Reciprocal: Exodus 24:10 - in his clearness;  Exodus 33:20 - Thou canst not;  Exodus 34:29 - the skin;  Deuteronomy 33:29 - the sword;  Judges 3:16 - two edges;  Psalm 2:5 - Then;  Psalm 45:3 - Gird;  Psalm 50:2 - God;  Psalm 149:6 - and a twoedged;  Proverbs 12:18 - like;  Song of Solomon 5:15 - his countenance;  Isaiah 6:5 - said I;  Isaiah 30:28 - his breath;  Isaiah 34:5 - my sword;  Hosea 6:5 - I have;  Zechariah 9:13 - made;  John 8:7 - and said;  John 13:23 - whom;  Acts 22:6 - about;  2 Thessalonians 2:8 - the spirit;  1 Timothy 6:16 - dwelling

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-1.html.

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

Had in his right hand denotes the ability to grasp and support the things named. It is similar to a familiar saying that "God holds all things in the hollow of His hand." We will learn in Revelation 1:20 what the seven stars represent. Sharp two-edged sword is the word of God ( Hebrews 4:12). The original for countenance means the appearance in general, but in this passage Thayer defines it, "Face, countenance." In comparing this person"s face to the shining sun (a condition when the sun is not obscured by clouds), the purpose is to indicate the penetrating brilliance of the Lord"s face.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". 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 1:16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-1.html.

D.S. Clark's Commentary on Revelation

V:16. "In his hand seven stars." We are told what they mean; the messengers or ministers to the churches.

"Out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword." Observe that the sword was in his mouth, not in his hand. Christ"s weapons, by which he conquers the world, are spiritual; not carnal. Christ conquers by his word, not by armies with guns. This imagery corresponds with Paul"s who says: "The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God." We find this sword again in the nineteenth chapter proceeding out of his mouth by which he subdues and conquers his enemies. When Christ leads armies with a sword in his mouth, it is the triumph of the gospel.

"His countenance as the sun shineth in his strength." Let the churches know that their Redeemer is mighty and glorious; that his rule is from sea to sea and from pole to pole, and therefore they need not fear the conflict, nor doubt the final outcome.

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

Revelation 1:16. And had seven stars in his right hand; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and his face shone as the sun in its strength. In accordance with the uniform symbolical usage of the Revelation, the stars denote rulers; comp. upon the stars as symbols of a ruler's greatness and glory, at ch. Revelation 6:13, Revelation 12:4. By the explanation given in Revelation 1:20 the seven stars signify the overseers of the seven churches. The representations of these under this symbol certainly accords ill with the view of those, who maintain the democratic character of the Christian polity. "Pure society-officials, whose authority flowed from no other source than that of the church itself," who "were simply the church's presidents and nothing more," could not possibly have been represented under the symbol of stars. This quite plainly betokens a power over the community, as does also the circumstance, that generally a double symbol is given for the rulers and the spiritual community, which strangely disagrees with the view now so much cried up; and still further, the strength and greatness of the charges, which are given in the epistles to the rulers, which necessarily imply the elevation of their office. For only to whom much is given, can much be required of them. It is equally at variance with the view now currently entertained, what Paul says, in Acts 20:28, to the elders of the church of Ephesus: "Take heed therefore to .yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God," if only it is viewed with an unprejudiced eye, and not in the light of this present time, which is so much averse to all restraints both of law and authority. That Christ has the stars in his right hand, marks his unconditional power over them. No one can deliver them out of his hand, when he will punish; but no one can pluck them out of his hand, if they remain faithful. Comp. John 10:28-29, "And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them me is greater than all, and no one can pluck them out of my Father's hand." That we are not in a partial manner to lay stress merely on the protection, is clear from the two-fold respect in general that the descriptions of Christ bear. In ch. Revelation 2:1, the words, "who holds the seven stars in his right hand," must lay the foundation for the threatening in Revelation 1:5 not less than for the promise in Revelation 1:7. But ch. Revelation 3:1 is quite decisive, as there threatening and judgment greatly preponderate.

Out of his mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword. This is an image, not of the saving efficacy, but of the destroying power of the word, which proceeds from the Almighty. It denotes the resistless energy of Christ's power in punishing his enemies, alike internal and external. This is clear from ch. Revelation 2:12, compared with Revelation 1:16, where the two-edged sword is directed against the false seed in the church, and from Revelation 19:21, where it brings destruction to the antichristian heathen power. The proper fundamental passage is Isaiah 49:2. There, the servant of the Lord Christ says, "And he has made my mouth like a sharp sword," q.d. he has invested me with his omnipotence, so that my word, like his, brings irresistible destruction to my enemies. Comp. Isaiah 51:16, where the Lord says to his servant, "I put my word into thy mouth" (I endow thee with my almighty word),"that thou mayest plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth (mightest bring in an entirely new state of things, a total revolution, mightest introduce a well-ordered instead of a disordered world), and say to Zion, Thou art my people" (mightest raise the church from the dust of humiliation to a state of glory). Besides this undoubted allusion to the Old Testament fundamental passages, there is also, as appears, a reference to Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than a two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a judge of the thoughts, and intents of the heart."[Note: It is only in these two passages that the expression μά χαιρα δί στομος occurs in the New Testament, Nor is there any passage of the Old Testament which is related in thought, like Hebrews 4:12, to the one before us.]The word of God, by which he excludes sinners of the present day from salvation, and dooms them to destruction, as he once did those of former ages (comp. Hebrews 4:5) is not a dead, impotent word, a mere threatening, but such an one as immediately carries its fulfilment along with it; according to that, "He spake and it was done." By the sword being represented as going out of the mouth of Christ, or by the destructive power being attributed to his mere word, he appears as one possessing divine power. For it belongs to God to slay with the, word of his mouth, Hosea 6:5; in the Wisdom of Solomon, God's almighty word is described as a sharp sword, which fills all with death; and the same subject is discoursed of in Hebrews 4:12. Other expressions are used to describe Christ's participation in this divine prerogative, in Isaiah 11:4, "And he smites the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he slays the wicked," and in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, which refers to that passage in Isaiah. Woe to the Seven Stars, if they have against them Him out of whose month proceeds a sharp, two-edged sword! But happy if he stands on their side! They shall then no longer faint before the world, however formidable may be the attitude it assumes against them! A glance to the sharp, two edged sword, and they are filled with consolation!

The face of Christ[Note: That the ὅ ψις is to be taken here in the sense of face, is plain from the parallel passage, ch. 10:1: καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος. John alone in the New Testament uses ὅ ψις, and both here and in the other passages, Gospel 11:44, 7:24, only in the rare signification of face.]is as the sun shining in his strength, when no clouds, vapour, or damps, veil his splendour in the clear sky. On the sun as a symbol of the glory of the Lord, see on ch. Revelation 12:1. That the visage is here first thought of, can only have arisen from the respect had to the stars, which pervades the whole description of Christ's appearance. "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars," 1 Corinthians 15:41; and as the splendour of the sun is to that of the stars, so does the glory of Christ immensely transcend that of his servants in his kingdom. In ch. Revelation 12:1, also, the sun and a crown of stars are put together. Bengel: "In the visible world there is no brightness like the sun's. A person born blind, who in other respects was richly endowed, declared that he would be content to be blind, if he could only see the sun for a little, as he had heard such wonderful things of it. We are in the constant habit of seeing this glorious body, but we cannot fail to regard it as preeminently an image of the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the days of humiliation and suffering, his face was spit upon, struck, treacherously kissed; but now it is full of brightness. This King shall we sometime see in his beauty, and consequently shall be like him."

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-1.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

16.In his right hand—In Revelation 1:20 it reads , upon his right hand. The in suggests the idea of retention, the upon, of support. Both together suggest the hand outspread, with the stars, of course of small diamond-like size, resting upon the palm.

Seven starsStars are an ordinary symbol for rulers.

Mouth’ two-edged sword—Some commentators seem to entertain the crude conception that this sword was seen as a stiff, steel fixture projected from the Lord’s mouth! We view it as his divine and powerful breath, making itself, as it were, visible, often darting forth and brandishing in sword-like motion and form. Its active motion is described as , going forth—emanating in incessant flashes. So Hebrews 4:12: “The word of God is’ sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The contents of the seven epistles display this powerful searching operation of this discriminating and sword-like word. See our note on 2 Thessalonians 2:8. So in Hosea 6:5, for Ephraim’s transient goodness Jehovah says: “Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth.” And so in Isaiah 49:2: “He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.” It is remarkable that the word for twoedged is repeatedly in the New Testament, twomouthed. This, Mr. Glasgow says, refers to its “power of cutting every way.” Perhaps it refers to its double power of destroying, either spiritually the old man, or corporeally the physical man. As a word of truth this spiritual sword corrects and converts the souls of men; as a word of retribution it destroys the bodies of the incorrigible. Note, Revelation 2:16. See Stuart’s excellent note on the passage.

His countenance—As John gradually takes a full view of the glorious face, he is overwhelmed by its power. It is as the sun; not the sun beclouded and dim, but in its full strength. Compare this whole description with the scene of the transfiguration, beheld by our seer, Matthew 17:2, “His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light,” which was intended, like this, to form our conceptions of the glorified body of Christ, and subordinately of the glorified saints. We have not the gentle touches of beauty, such as would picture an Apollo, but dashes of glory, in comparison with which mere beauty is forgotten. So Daniel 12:2, “They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever.” Such language is above all material picture. And this same John also wrote, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2; where, see note.

Let us form a mental picture of the personality described. Before the eyes of the seer stands a colossal figure, robed entirely in white, his face and feet alone bare; the former of sun-like splendour, the latter of a white-heat brilliancy. Locks of snowy whiteness crown his head. He speaks, and his words flash like a double-edged sword from his mouth, and his voice resounds through the space like many waters. He extends his arm, and on his palm is resting a circle of seven stars, and he walks majestically between two rows of lamps blazing upon their stands.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-1.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 1:16. The care and control exercised by Christ over the churches only come forward after the suggestions of majesty and authority (13–15) which followed the initial idea of Christ’s central position ( ) among the churches. Cf.Revelation 5:6 ( ) for another reference to Christ’s central authority— , . . . For the astrological background of this figure, cf. Jeremiah 24 f. The traditional symbol, of which an interpretation is given later (Revelation 1:20), probably referred to the seven planets rather than to the Pleiades or any other constellation. If the description is to be visualised, the seven stars may be pictured as lying on Christ’s palm in the form of the stars in the constellation of Ursa Major— , . . . By a vivid objectifying of the divine word (corresponding to that, e.g., in Isaiah 9:8 f., Revelation 9:4, and suggested by the tongue-shaped appearance of the short Roman sword or dagger), the figure of the sharp sword issuing from the mouth is applied (in Ps. Sol. 17:27, 39, as here) to the messiah, as in Jewish literature to God (Psalms 149:6, etc.) and to wisdom (Sap. 18:15), elsewhere to the (Hebrews 4:12, cf.Revelation 19:13-15): Christ’s power of reproof and punishment is to be directed against the church (Revelation 2:12 f.) as well as against the world of heathen opposition (Revelation 19:21, where the trait is artistically more appropriate). As a nimbus or coronata radiata sometimes crowned the emperor (“image des rayons lumineux qu’il lance sur le monde,” Beurlier), so the face of Christ ( as in John 11:44, cf. below, Revelation 10:1) is aptly termed, as in the usual description of angelic visitants (reff.), bright as sunshine unintercepted by mist or clouds. This is the climax of the delineation.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-1.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

16. Seven stars. The “angels” of the churches (Revelation 1:20). Sharp two-edged sword. A symbol of God’s word (Revelation 19:15; Ephesians 6:17). His face was as bright. See the transfiguration (Luke 9:29).

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 1:16". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-1.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.