rev. 1:9-20 -> from the gatekeeper of life and death

One like a Son of Man

9I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”[b]dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels[c] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.


a guide to reading this post: if you want the gist, just read the bold.  If you want explanations and applications (indicated by the s*symbol) of the bold, read everything else around it.


John recounts how Christ spoke to him to deliver this message to the 7 churches of asia


V. 9 – The following are ours in Christ: Suffering, Kingdom, Patient endurance

We are in Christ as well.  We are a part of His kingdom.  The bible, especially I think of in the book of 1 Pet. talks about how suffering would be a part of our walk.  We are to be patient people.

*do we think this way?  The kingdom part is nice.  I need help though to see suffering and patient endurance as something I am privileged to share in my relationship with Christ.  Granted, not suffering for doing something wrong for that is not how Christ suffered, but suffering for what is right.  Why suffer for what is right?  Because sometimes to stand up for and live for what is right, invites suffering…it is not an easy path.  However, we can be refined through it, it may cause us to place our hope in him not in ourselves or other things, and it can be a blessing for others.   Because Christ suffered for us, we get to experience the blessing of God rather than His wrath.  Maybe when we suffer on behalf of others, they get to experience the blessing and mercy of God.  Maybe we learn more of the heart of God through suffering.


V. 10 – We know as a xian John has the Holy Spirit in him.  However this seems to be something different.  If it meant simply he had the spirit, there was no reason to make a distinction that he had the sprit this day.  It doesn’t say the Spirit was in him, which should be always, but rather that he was in the Spirit…like in step with the Spirit.  He was in some sort of state.  A special communion.  “In the Spirit” seems to be some sort of state, a state of communion with the Lord such that he could receive a vision.

*Have I ever been in the Spirit?  Can I be in the Spirit or is that something just from some people at a particular point in time?  At the very least, I know from Galatians (gal 5:25) as well as Romans (Romans 8:12-14) that I can choose to live a life in step with the spirit or led by the Spirit.  So am I led by the Spirit these days?


V. 10-20 – Jesus (“God is my salvation”) Christ (“the messiah” aka the anointed one).  Evidence:

1) v.13 – someone “like a son of man” is a reference to Daniel 7:13 that speaks of an exact person who comes before God’s throne and also is worshiped.  (this is a great verse to show that we see the glimpses of the trinity in the old testament too.  someone who is God but seems to be a certain expression of God)

2) v. 18 – someone who was dead but is now alive forever.  someone who has authority over death and the abode of the dead (aka hell).

WHAT AUTHORITY DOES HE HAVE (as stated in this passage)?

1) v. 16 “In his right hand he held seven stars…” we know from v.20 that the stars are angels.  The right hand, the stronger hand, means strength and authority.  Who are these angels that God exerts special strength and authority over?  There are a couple interpretations of this:

A) these are actual angels connected to churches (to do God’s bidding, to guard, to send messages) because stars are often    symbols for angels (Fruchtenbaum) as well as a likely interpretation from the context of the book.


B) these are key messengers of the churches, since the word angel means “messengers.”  MacArthur also points out that it seems strange that God would use a John, a man, to write to an angel when God usually speaks directly to angels.

*in either case what does this mean for us? Ultimately that God has control over the safety and anointing of his church.  We can depend on His power for us, or not.

2) v. 18 he has authority, specifically decisive power, over death and the place of the dead

Hades is the Greek word for the underworld or the abode of those no longer living (Sheol being the Hebrew equivalent), and according to Fructenbaum a temporary state not an eternal state – the eternal state for those unsaved being the lake of fire.  It is somewhat another word for hell, which is an English word for which there is no Hebrew or Greek.  The concept of hell seems to speak specifically to the abode of the dead who are not saved (aka abbadon or the pit).

What do key holders mean?  Without a key holder we are unable to enter into life, exit death and hell.

*Do we believe this, that only Christ has decisive power over who passes from death to life, who moves from the underworld to heaven?  Do we then treasure and share Christ as the only hope for life after death?  Do we seek Him on behalf of others, or do we leave them without the person who holds the keys to their life?


v. 19 – this is how many scholars actually break up this book of revelation

1) “what you have seen”  – Rev. 1:9-20

2) “what is now” – Rev. 2:1-3:22

3) “what will take place letter” – Rev. 4:1-22:21


2 thoughts on “rev. 1:9-20 -> from the gatekeeper of life and death”

  1. Good stuff David! I love how you not only break down what you are learning but the application as well. I also like how you are real about how difficult it is for us to “enjoy” suffering. We often pout about it as if it’s some surprise. It is not. We know that we will suffer yet it is not a treasure from scripture that we mount on our walls. I really like this statement you made, “Maybe we learn more of the heart of God through suffering.”
    I was just thinking in my reading today of how God works all things together for good (Romans 8:28) However, Satan wants to do the reverse. He wants to use what God intended for good (like the 10 commandments for example) and make it evil- we can’t keep the commandments so we are condemned by our sins. But God ALWAYS reverses things! Suffering, should make us bitter, angry, unloving, unthankful people. Suffering, from Satan’s perspective should make us turn away from God. But with the Spirit’s help, we can DRAW CLOSER to God through suffering and in turn be more like Jesus. God showed us HE TOO SUFFERED in allowing Jesus to die. God is LONGSUFFERING to us, not willing that any should perish. 2 Peter 3:9. Can’t wait to read more! Keep the posts coming 🙂

    1. thats a good point about the direction of God’s use for things verses Satan’s use for things. i think we as his people, in america esp, have a lot to learn about suffering. we avoid it all costs…but Christ did not. in fact, he said we must take up our cross (an instrument of death) to follow him. paul, wanted to share in Christ’s suffering to know him more. peter pretty much points out the guarantee of suffering for Christians. not that suffering is an end but somehow a means to know Him. indeed we have so much to learn from and about God.

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