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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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There are only two passages in which the word ‘star’ occurs outside its frequent symbolical use in the book of Revelation. The first is in St. Stephen’s defence, where he quotes a passage from the prophet Amos (Amos 5:25-27), speaking of the idolatry of the Israelites and mentioning ‘the star of the god Rephan’ (Acts 7:43). It is admittedly a difficult passage, but the probable reference is to the Assyrian star-god. The other is in St. Paul’s well-known argument on the resurrection of the body: ‘One star differeth from another star in glory’ (1 Corinthians 15:41). As in nature we observe identity of substance with diversity of form, so will it be in the risen bodies of God’s people.

Turning to the use of the word ‘star’ in the Book of Revelation, we find in the vision of the Son of Man that ‘he had in his right hand seven stars’ (Revelation 1:16) and that ‘the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches’ (Revelation 1:20). According to one view, the angels of the churches are their pastors or rulers; according to another, they are superhuman beings standing in some intimate relation to the churches. The latter is the ordinary use of ἄγγελος in the Apocalypse (see Angels; see also Revelation 2:1; Revelation 3:1).

In the message to the church of Thyatira the promise to those who overcome is: ‘I will give him the morning star’ (Revelation 2:28), i.e. the conqueror is to possess Christ. ‘Christus est stella matutina qui nocte saeculi transacta lucem vitae sanctis promittit et pandet aeternam’ (Bede). In Revelation 22:16 Christ says of Himself: ‘I am … the bright, the morning star.’ ‘If the churches are λυχνίαι and their angels ἀστέρες, the Head of the Church may fitly be the ἀστὴρ ὁ πρωινός, (H. B. Swete, Apocalypse2, London, 1907, p. 47). See article Morning Star.

At the sounding of the third trumpet ‘there fell from heaven a great star … and the name of the star is called Wormwood’ (Revelation 8:10 f.). This is a symbol of Divine visitation. Hence the name ‘Wormwood,’ which is associated with Divine chastisement. The waters are changed into wormwood, and many who drink of them die. This may represent the bitterness of the water with which men seek to quench their thirst, instead of partaking of the water of life. In Revelation 9:1 the Seer sees a star already fallen (πεπτωκότα) and lying on the ground, representing the fall of some person, perhaps Satan.

Lastly, the Woman in the vision (Revelation 12:1) ‘has a crown of twelve stars’ (see article Sun).

Morley Stevenson.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Star'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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