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Notes on the Book of Revelation: Chapter 1, Part 2

Posted by lehunt on October 14, 2016

Larry Hunt Bible Commentary // Albrecht Dürer The Revelation of St John: 2. St John's Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks

St John’s Vision of Christ and the Seven Candlesticks

by  Albrecht Dürer

v. 12: I assume that these lampstands looked like the original lampstand made for the tabernacle.  This single lampstand is described in Exodus 25:31-39.  Solomon made ten such lampstands for the temple. (II Chron. 4:7).

Vs. 12-16: This vision is an allegory, as Christ explains in v. 20.  John sees the vision and falls down as though dead.  Then the vision passes,[8] and Christ assumes a less frightening form, encourages John, and explains the vision to him.  As for the vision itself, it draws heavily upon imagery from Daniel:

Revelation 1:13 “I saw one like the Son of Man…”

Daniel 7:13 “I saw one like the Son of Man…”

 

Revelation 1:13 “…clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash across his chest.”

Daniel 10:5  “…clothed in linen, with a belt of gold from Uphaz about his waist.”

 

Revelation 1:14 “His head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow.”

Daniel 7:9 “[A]n Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool.”

Revelation 1:15  “[H]is feet were like burnished bronze…and his voice was like the sound of many waters.”

Daniel 10:6 “[H]is arms and legs [were like] the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the roar of a multitude.”

Revelation 1:14  “His eyes were like a flame of fire.”

Daniel 10:6 “…his eyes like flaming torches…”

 

Notice also that John’s reaction to the vision is similar to Daniel’s.

Revelation 1:17 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.”

Daniel 10:8-9 “My strength left me and my complexion grew deathly pale…and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell into a trance, face to the ground.”

And so is his recovery.

Revelation 1:17 “But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid…’”

Daniel 10:10 “But then a hand touched me and roused me to my hands and knees.”

 

This vision of Christ in Revelation combines the imagery used to describe the Ancient One of Daniel 7:9 (God The Father), the Son of Man of Daniel 7:13 (the Messiah), and the mysterious, unnamed figure of Daniel 10:5-9.  This last figure is either the Messiah or Gabriel.  I tend toward believing it is the Messiah. [9]Thus, by combining Daniel’s imagery of God the Father and the Messiah, John emphasizes the paradoxical nature of Christ, which is at once divine and human.  See also notes on v. 6.

Below is how I think the imagery should be interpreted:

The Son of Man is Christ. Christ says the stars of the vision were in “my right hand” (1:20).

The fact that Christ is “in the midst” of the churches indicates his living presence among his believers.

I believe the robe and sash he wears are priestly garments and thus allude to his role as an intercessor between us and God.  I say this because the parallel section of Daniel 10:5 describes the robe as made of linen, which was used by the priesthood (Leviticus 6:10).  As for the sash, I suspect that it alludes to the sash or belt of the high priest, but I am not sure.  Exodus 28 describes the garments of the high priest and uses two terms for belt: abnet (Strong’s Concordance entry 73) is 28:4,39, and chesheb (Strong’s Concordance entry 2805) is 28:8,27,28.  Neither of these belts is described as being completely golden (as the sash here in revelation is), and Christ is not dressed in all the garments of the high priest here, but I still think the suggestion is that he is the high priest.

His white head and hair refer to both his purity and his wisdom.  (White hair is a sign of age and thus of wisdom.)  The whiteness of his appearance and the shining of his face like the sun are reminiscent of the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3), which John himself had witnessed years earlier.

The sharp two-edged sword coming from his mouth is the spiritual force of his words.  See the same image used in Hebrews 4:12.

The imagery of golden lampstands is from the original golden lampstand of the tabernacle (see note on v. 12), and the lampstands themselves represent the seven churches of Asia (1:20).

For the overall purpose of the vision, see notes on 2:1.

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