The Son of Man – Revelation 1:9-20

By John Bellingham on August 2, 2020
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The Son of Man

Revelation 1:9-20

I. John’s Plight – v. 9

  1. An Afflicted Apostle
    1. Banished to the Island of Patmos – a Roman Penal Colony
    2. Eusebius (4th Century Historian) claimed that John’s banishment to Patmos occurred in the 14th year of Domitian’s Reign (AD 95)
    3. John claims that his banishment was on account of “the word of God” and the “testimony of Jesus”
  2. A Partner in Persecution
    1. John closely identifies with the plight of the wider Christian Church
      1. ‘Partner’ – v.9 = fellowship
        1. Partnership in Suffering
        2. Partnership in the Kingdom
        3. Partnership in Perseverance
      2. The basis of all Christian partnership: we are “in Jesus”


Application:   Just as John identified with the afflictions of the wider Church, so should we be aware of how our brethren around the world are being persecuted and lift them up both prayerfully and practically.   We should also be prepared to face persecution here in North America.


II. John’s Preparation – vv. 10-11

  1. A Day of Worship
    1. In the Early Church Christians had a designated day for corporate worship which they called ‘the Lord’s Day’ – the day of Christ’s resurrection (cf. John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2)
    2. Paul’s teaching in Colossians 2:16 does not preclude the regular observance of the ‘Lord’s Day’
  2. ‘In the Spirit’ – a phrase which indicates God’s special preparation of John to receive this revelatory vision
    1. Peter and Paul both had similar experiences in which God revealed truth through a vision – Acts 10:10-11, Acts 22:17, 2 Cor 12:2-4
    2. Although we ought to worship God ‘in Spirit and truth’, we should not expect to encounter God in exactly the same way as the first-century Apostles did.  As those whom God chose to be the agents of divinely revealed truth, we should recognize their unique and temporary office in the Early Church.
  3. A Divine Command
    1. A command to record the vision in a book
    2. A command to share the vision with the seven Churches
    3. The same command is repeated in v. 19
      1. The things you have seen (the vision of Christ in vv. 12-16)
      2. The things that are (the letters to the seven Churches – chapters 2-3)
      3. The things that are to take place after this (the prophetic visions of chapters 4-22)


III. John’s Prophecy – vv. 12-16, 19-20

  1. Seven Lampstands
    1. The imagery is rooted in the Old Testament Temple – cf. Exodus 25
      1. The light symbolized God’s presence in the Temple
      2. The Levitical Priests were responsible for tending the lamp
    2. Zechariah’s Vision of a Golden Lampstand – Zechariah 4:1-14
      1. Symbolized the Spirit’s presence and power for the rebuilding of the Temple during the post-exilic period
      2. God’s determination to build His Temple!
    3. John’s vision of seven lampstands
      1. The seven lampstands are identified in v. 20: They represent the seven Churches of Asia Minor to which Revelation was addressed
      2. Jesus describes the Church as the “light of the world” and a “city on a hill” –shines the light of God’s truth and presence into all of the world
  2. The Son of Man
    1. Imagery of the ‘Son of Man’ is from Daniel 7 and 10 – a Messianic figure in Daniel’s visions who will have dominion over all earthly kingdoms
    2. His position: “in the midst of the lampstands” – v. 12
      1. God is present in His true Temple – Jesus is active within His Church, just as the Priests were in the Temple
      2. Just as the Holy Spirit empowered the exiles rebuild the Temple (cf. Zechariah 4) , so is Jesus building His Temple through the Spirit’s power
    3. His description:
      1. Long Robe/ Golden Sash
        1. the garment of a Priest or King (cf. Ex 28:4)
        2. Speaks of the Priestly ministry of Jesus as He tends the lamps, and inhabits/ builds His Temple (Church)
      2. White/Woolen Hair
        1. Imagery from Daniel’s prophecy of the ‘Ancient of Days’ (cf. Daniel 7:9)
        2. A symbol of wisdom
        3. John’s vision attributes the attributes of God (Ancient of Days) to Jesus (Son of Man). Jesus is divine!
      3. Eyes like Fire
        1. Imagery from Daniel’s vision (cf. Daniel 10:6)
        2. A symbol of Judgment – Christ sees exactly what is happening here on earth and will judge accordingly
      4. Feet of Bronze
        1. Imagery from Daniel’s vision (cf. Daniel 10:6)
        2. A symbol of purity, holiness
      5. Voice Like Roaring Water
        1. Imagery from Ezekiel 1:24, 43:2
        2. A symbol of power and authority
      6. Seven Stars in His Right Hand
        1. Seven stars are identified in v. 20 as the ‘angels of the seven churches’
          1. angelos’ = messenger
          2. Although angels are usually heavenly beings in Revelation it’s more likely that these angels refer to the Pastor of each one of the seven Churches
        2. Right hand – place of authority and protection; God possesses and protects the leaders of His Church
      7. Sword in Mouth
        1. Imagery from Isaiah 11:4, 49:2
        2. A symbol of Christ’s authority to proclaim judgment
          1. Judgment against apostate Churches – cf. Rev 2:16-17
          2. Judgment against wicked nations – cf. Rev 19:15
      8. Face like the Sun
        1. Imagery from the Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:2)
        2. A symbol of holiness and deity


  1. John’s vision is clearly meant to portray Christ as the Divine Warrior, and the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of the ‘Son of Man’
  2. The vision displays Christ’s presence with/ concern for His Church on earth.  Just as the Priests tended the Lamps in the Temple, so Christ tends His Church and builds His true Temple on earth.


IV. John’s Panic – vv. 17-18

  1. A Response of Fear
    1. In the Bible falling forward in fear and awe is often the response to an encounter with the Lord – cf. Joshua 5:14, Isaiah 6:5, Ezekiel 1:28, Daniel 8:17-18, Exodus 33:20
    2. It is remarkable that even the Apostle John who knew the Lord as a friend fell down before Him in fear and trembling
  2. A Word of Reassurance: “Fear not”
    1. The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ appears over 350 times in the Bible!
    2. While Christ’s enemies certainly do have something to fear, Christ’s redeemed people have nothing to fear from the Lord
      1. He is eternal
      2. He is indestructible
      3. He holds authority over death and hell


  1. If God be for us, who can be against us??  There is no need for a Christian to panic!
  2. What comes into your mind when you think about Jesus Christ?   In what ways does your current image of the Lord need to be conformed to the full revelation that we find in God’s Word?


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