Vision of Christ among the Lampstands: Part 3 of 6 (series: Lessons on Revelation)
by John Lowe
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
“And in the midst of the seven candlesticks,” pictures One encircled by seven lamp-bearers. This shows that the representation could not have been like what Zechariah saw in his vision (Zechariah 4:2), where the prophet sees “a candlestick made of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon.” In John’s vision, there was not one lamp-bearer, with seven lamps or branches, but there were seven lamp-bearers, arranged in such a way that the likeness of the “Son of man” could stand in the midst of them.
“One like unto the Son of man.” This was evidently the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He is often called “the Son of man.” It is apparent from Revelation 1:18 that the apostle saw the Savior, the God-man. The expression rendered “like unto the Son of man,” should have been “like unto a son of man”; that is, like a man, a human being, or in a human form.
The phrase, “the Son of man,” is often applied to the Lord Jesus in the New Testament, and always, except in three instances (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 1:13), by the Savior himself, apparently to denote his loving interest in man, or his relationship to man; to signify that he was a man, and wished to designate himself as such. The idea would seem to be, that the person he saw resembled “the Son of man”—the Lord Jesus, as he had seen him in the days when He had a body of flesh, though it seems that he did not know that it was actually Jesus until he was informed of it (Revelation 1:18). Perhaps the clothing in which he appeared was so unlike that in which John had been accustomed to seeing the Lord Jesus, that it cannot be expected that he would immediately recognize him as the same person.
“Clothed with a garment down to the foot” suggests a robe extending down to the feet, or to the ankles, leaving the feet themselves visible. The allusion here, no doubt, is to a long, loose, flowing robe, such as was worn by kings.
“And girt about the paps,” that is, “around the chest.” It was common in the East, and still is, to wear a girdle2 to confine the robe, as well as to form a beautiful accoutrement. This was commonly worn around the waste of the person, but it would seem also that it was sometimes worn around the chest.
“With a golden girdle,” made either entirely of gold, or, more probably, richly ornamented with gold. This would naturally suggest that the person who wore it was of high rank, probably one of princely rank. The raiment described here was not that of a priest, but that of a king. It was nothing like that which the Redeemer wore when he dwelt upon the earth; it was, therefore, designed to indicate His royal state in heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God. At this time, He is not represented with a crown and scepter, and perhaps the main idea is that He is one of high rank, unusual dignity, and one suited to inspire awe and respect. In other circumstances, in this book of Revelation, this same Redeemer is portrayed wearing a crown, and going forth to conquest (See Revelation 19:12-16). Here the depiction seems to have been designed to impress the mind with a sense of the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ who suddenly made His appearance.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
“His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow,” that is, very white or perfectly white. The first thing this suggests to the mind of the apostle is that it has the appearance of wool, and then the thought occurs to him—“His hairs are as white as snow, the purest white which the mind conceives. It is not uncommon to find in the Bible the comparison of anything with wool and snow to indicate that it is especially white. (See Isaiah 1:18 )
The depiction was well-suited to signify majesty and authority; and this would be best accomplished by the image of one who was respected because of his years. Thus, in the vision that appeared to Daniel (Daniel 7:9), it is said concerning the One who
is called there the “Ancient of Days,” that “his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool.” It is not unlikely that John had that representation in his mind’s eye, and for that reason, he would be impressed with the conviction that this was a manifestation of a divine person. We are not necessarily to suppose that this is the form in which the Savior always appears now that He is in heaven, any more than we are to suppose that God always appears in the form in which he was manifested to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1), to Daniel (Daniel 7:9), or to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:10-11). The idea is, that this form was assumed for the purpose of impressing the mind of the apostle with a sense of His majesty and glory.
“And his eyes were as a flame of fire,” i.e., bright, sharp, penetrating; as if everything before them was light, or perhaps, they would penetrate into the very thoughts of people. Such a representation is not uncommon. We speak of a lightning glance, a fiery look, etc. In Daniel 10:6, it is said of the man who appeared to the prophet on the banks of the river Hiddekel that his eyes were “as lamps of fire.” Numerous instances of this comparison may be seen in ancient writings.
15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
“And his feet like unto fine brass” is similar to Daniel 10:6: “And his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass.” And it is also very like Ezekiel 1:7: “and they” (the feet of the living creatures) “sparkled like the color of burnished brass.” The word translated here as “fine brass,” actually means “white brass.” The metal referred to was undoubtedly a type of brass well-known for its clearness or whiteness. Brass is a compound metal, composed of copper and zinc. The color can be fluctuated considerably by varying the different proportions of the two ingredients. The exact proportion of the ingredients in the metal referred to here cannot now be determined.
“As if they burned in a furnace,” that is, his feet were so bright that they seemed to be like a beautiful metal glowing intensely inside of a furnace. Anyone who has ever looked at the dazzling brilliance of metal in a furnace has an idea of the image presented here.
“And his voice as the sound of many waters” was hard for me to understand until I recognized that he is comparing the “voice” to the roar of the ocean, or a waterfall. Nothing could be a more inspiring description of majesty and authority than to compare the voice of a speaker with the roar of the ocean. This comparison often occurs in the Scriptures—“And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the east: and his voice was like the sound of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory” (Ezekiel 43:2). (Also see Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:6, Ezekiel 1:24; Daniel 10:6.)
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
“And he had in his right hand seven stars,” representing the angels of the seven churches listed in 1:11. It doesn’t say how He held the stars, so we may hazard a guess. It may be that they appeared to rest upon his open palm; or it may be that he seemed to hold them as if they were arranged in a certain order, and had 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 Revelation 1:13), they were arranged so as to represent the relative position of the seven churches.
“And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword ”—the two edges were designed to cut both ways—it is probably referred to here as a striking symbol of the penetrating power of truth, or of the spoken words that are produced by the mouth. This phrase is designed undoubtedly to show that His words, or His truth, had the power of cutting deep, or penetrate the soul. Isaiah 49:2, says this about the same person, “And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.” And in Hebrews 4:12, we’re told, “The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. . . ”