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Revelation 1:16

Adam Clarke
Bible 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."

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God. And the apostle saw as though of the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He is with his churches always, to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love. He was clothed with a robe down to the feet, perhaps representing his righteousness and priesthood, as Mediator. This vest was girt with a golden girdle, which may denote how precious are his love and affection for his people. His head and hairs white like wool and as snow, may signify his majesty, purity, and eternity. His eyes as a flame of fire, may represent his knowledge of the secrets of all hearts, and of the most distant events. His feet like fine brass burning in a furnace, may denote the firmness of his appointments, and the excellence of his proceedings. His voice as the sound of many waters, may represent the power of his word, to remove or to destroy. The seven stars were emblems of the ministers of the seven churches to which the apostle was ordered to write, and whom Christ upheld and directed. The sword represented his justice, and his word, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb 4:12. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared. We may well be contented to walk by faith, while here upon earth. The Lord Jesus spake words of comfort; Fear not. Words of instruction; telling who thus appeared. And his Divine nature; the First and the Last. His former sufferings; I was dead: the very same whom his disciples saw upon the cross. His resurrection and life; I have conquered death, and am partaker of endless life. His office and authority; sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal. Let us listen to the voice of Christ, and receive the tokens of his love, for what can he withhold from those for whose sins he has died? May we then obey his word, and give up ourselves wholly to him who directs all things aright.
Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 13-4

“Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God.”

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 418

Those in the service of God must show animation and determination in the work of winning souls. Remember that there are those who will perish unless we as God's instrumentalities work with a determination that will not fail nor become discouraged. The throne of grace is to be our continual dependence. 6T 418.1

There is no excuse for the faith of our churches to be so faint and feeble. “Turn you to the Stronghold, ye prisoners of hope.” Zechariah 9:12. There is strength for us in Christ. He is our Advocate before the Father. He dispatches His messengers to every part of His dominion to communicate His will to His people. He walks in the midst of His churches. He desires to sanctify, elevate, and ennoble His followers. The influence of those who truly believe in Him will be a savor of life in the world. He holds the stars in His right hand, and it is His purpose to let His light shine through these to the world. Thus He desires to prepare His people for higher service in the church above. He has given us a great work to do. Let us do it with accuracy and determination. Let us show in our lives what the truth has done for us. 6T 418.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 23

My brethren and sisters, plead for the Holy Spirit. God stands back of every promise He has made. With your Bibles in your hands, say: “I have done as Thou hast said, I present Thy promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’” Christ declares: “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” “Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Matthew 7:7; Mark 11:24; 14:13. 8T 23.1

The rainbow about the throne is an assurance that God is true; that in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. We have sinned against Him and are undeserving of His favor; yet He Himself has put into our lips that most wonderful of pleas: “Do not abhor us, for Thy name's sake, do not disgrace the throne of Thy glory: remember, break not Thy covenant with us.” Jeremiah 14:21. He has pledged Himself to give heed to our cry when we come to Him confessing our unworthiness and sin. The honor of His throne is staked for the fulfillment of His word to us. 8T 23.2

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 265.5

In meeting the enemy in the wilderness, Christ's response to his wicked insinuations was, “It is written.” When Satan presumed to claim the ownership of the whole world, and asked Christ to worship him as God, He who with a word might have called to His assistance legions of angels, merely said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). The intensity of this conflict we but partly understand. It seemed as though the Saviour would die on the field of battle, but He withstood the wily foe. His words so carefully chosen, were as sharp as a two-edged sword. Satan was thoroughly repulsed. He realized that the Prince of Life could not be deceived by any sophistry. TDG 265.5

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