Revelation 1:16
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 shines in his strength.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBIBonarCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And he had (or, having) in his right hand seven stars.—The stars are explained later on (Revelation 1:20) to be the emblems of the angels of the seven churches; they are described as stars in His right hand; they, perhaps, appeared as a wreath, or as a royal and star-adorned diadem in His hand. (See Isaiah 62:3.) It expresses their preciousness in Christ’s sight, and the care He takes of them. A similar emblem is used of Coniah (Jeremiah 22:24), where he is compared to the signet upon God’s right hand.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.—There need be no doubt about the meaning here: the imagery of the Bible elsewhere is too explicit to be mistaken; it is the sword of the Spirit, even the word of God, which is here described; it is that word which is sharper than any two-edged sword, and which lays bare the thoughts and intents of the soul (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12. Comp. Isaiah 49:2). This is the weapon with which Christ will subdue His enemies; no carnal weapon is needed (2Corinthians 10:4). Those that take any other sword in hand than this to advance His kingdom will perish with the weapon to which they have appealed (Revelation 13:10; Matthew 26:52), but those who arm themselves with this will find it mighty through God. With this weapon of His word He Himself fights against His adversaries (Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21); with this He lays bare the hidden hypocrisies of men, cuts off the diseased members, and wounds that He may heal.

“The sword wherewith Thou dost command,

Is in Thy mouth and not Thy hand.”

It is a two-edged sword; it has the double edge of the Old Testament and the New; “the Old Testament, cutting externally our carnal; the New Testament, internally our spiritual sins” (Richard of St. Victor). It has the double edge of its power to rebuke sin and self-righteousness; the evil of wrong-doing and the evil motives which wait on right-doing; the two edges of which will cut off sin from man, or else man in his sin. (Comp. Isaiah 11:4, and 2Thessalonians 2:8.) The Greek word here rendered “sword” is used six times in this book, and only once (Luke 2:35) elsewhere in the New Testament.

His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.—It is the spiritual truth which gives the splendour to such descriptions as these. The dazzling glory of Him who is the Sun of Righteousness is intolerable to human eyes. There is no marvel in this when we remember that He is the brightness of His Father’s glory, and that the Father dwells “in that light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1Timothy 6:16). It is the lustre of holiness and righteousness which is here signified, and which “the eye of sinful man may not see,” but of which saints and angel messengers may catch a faint reflection; so that the angel’s face may look like lightning (Matthew 28:3), and “the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). (Comp. the shining of Moses’ face, Exodus 34:29.)

1:12-20 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.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.

16. he had—Greek, "having." John takes up the description from time to time, irrespective of the construction, with separate strokes of the pencil [Alford].

in … right hand seven stars—(Re 1:20; Re 2:1; 3:1). He holds them as a star-studded "crown of glory," or "royal diadem," in His hand: so Isa 62:3. He is their Possessor and Upholder.

out of … mouth went—Greek, "going forth"; not wielded in the hand. His Word is omnipotent in executing His will in punishing sinners. It is the sword of His Spirit. Reproof and punishment, rather than its converting winning power, is the prominent point. Still, as He encourages the churches, as well as threatens, the former quality of the Word is not excluded. Its two edges (back and front) may allude to its double efficacy, condemning some, converting others. Tertullian [Epistle against Judaizers], takes them of the Old and the New Testaments. Richard of St. Victor, "the Old Testament cutting externally our carnal, the New Testament internally, our spiritual sins."

sword—Greek, "romphaia," the Thracian long and heavy broad sword: six times in Revelation, once only elsewhere in New Testament, namely, Lu 2:35.

sun … in his strength—in unclouded power. So shall the righteous shine, reflecting the image of the Sun of righteousness. Trench notices that this description, sublime as a purely mental conception, would be intolerable if we were to give it an outward form. With the Greeks, æsthecial taste was the first consideration, to which all others must give way. With the Hebrews, truth and the full representation ideally of the religious reality were the paramount consideration, that representation being designed not to be outwardly embodied, but to remain a purely mental conception. This exalting of the essence above the form marks their deeper religious earnestness.

And he had in his right hand seven stars: the right hand is the hand of power, Psalm 21:8; and of favour, Psalm 44:3; and of honour and dignity, Psalm 110:1. The seven stars are expounded, Revelation 1:20, to be the ministers of the gospel, his messengers to his churches, who having in all times been most exposed to the malice and rage of enemies, Christ is said to hold them in his right hand, as to signify the dignity he hath put upon them and the favour he hath showed them, so also to show his resolution to protect them, according to his promise, Matthew 28:20.

And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; either his gospel and word, compared to a two-edged sword, Hebrews 4:12; or a sword of justice, which he will use till he hath perfectly overcome and vanquished his enemies.

And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength; that is, was very glorious, so as the apostle was not able to behold him. And he had in his right hand seven stars,.... The angels or pastors of the seven churches, Revelation 1:20. The ministers of the Gospel are compared to stars, because of their efficient cause, God, who has made them, and fixed them in their proper place, and for his glory; and because of the matter of them, being the same with the heavens, so ministers are of the same nature with the churches; and because of their form, light, which they receive from the sun, so preachers of the Gospel receive their light from Christ; and because of their multitude and variety, so the ministers of the Gospel are many, and their gifts different; and chiefly for their usefulness, to give light to others, to direct to Christ, and point out the way of salvation, and to rule over the churches: nor was it unusual with the Jews to compare good men to stars, and to the seven stars. The Targumist (r) says, the seven lamps in the candlestick answer to the seven stars to which the righteous are like. These are led and held in Christ's right hand; which shows that they are dear unto him, and highly valued by him; that they are his, in his possession, at his dispose, whom he uses as his instruments to do his work; and whom he upholds and sustains, that they shall not sink under their burdens; and whom he preserves from failing, and so holds them that they shall stand fast in the faith, and not be carried away with the error of the wicked:

and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword; which designs the word of God; see Ephesians 6:17; This comes out of the mouth of Christ, it is the word of God, and not of man; and is a sharp sword, contains sharp reproofs for sin, severe threatenings against it, and gives cutting convictions of it, and is a twoedged one; and by its two edges may be meant law and Gospel; the law lays open the sins of men, fills with grief and anguish for them, yea, not only wounds, but kills; and the Gospel cuts down the best in man, his wisdom, holiness, righteousness, and carnal privileges, in which he trusts; and the worst in man, teaching him to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts: or the word of God may be so called, because it is a means both of saving and of destroying; it is the savour of life unto life to some, and the savour of death unto death to others; and is both an offensive and defensive weapon; it is for the defence of the saints, against Satan, false teachers, and every other enemy; and an offensive one to them, which cuts them down, and destroys them and their principles: or this may mean the judiciary sentence of Christ upon the wicked, which will be a fighting against them, and a smiting of the nations of the world; see Revelation 2:16; which the Jews interpret of the law (s):

and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength; at noonday; such was the countenance of Christ at his transfiguration, Matthew 17:2; and designs here the manifestation of himself in the glories of his person, and in the riches of his grace; who is the sun of righteousness that arises upon his people with light, heat, joy, and comfort; see the phrase in Judges 5:31, which the Jewish writers understand of the strength of the sun both in the summer solstice, and in the middle of the day, or at noon, at which time its heat is strongest, and it usually shines brightest; the design of the metaphor is to set forth the glory and majesty of Christ,

(r) Jonathan ben Uzziel in Exodus 40.4. (s) Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 95. 4. & 131. 1.

{8} And I turned to {k} see the voice that spake with me. {9} And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

(8) The exposition, declaring the third and last point of the proposition (for the other points are evident of themselves) in which is he first speaks of the author of his calling (till verse 17), and secondly, of the calling itself Re 1:17-20. First of all the occasion is noted in this verse, in that John turned himself towards the vision, and after he sets down the description of the author, in the following verses, Re 1:13-16.

(k) To see him whose voice I had heard.

(9) The description of the Author, who is Christ: by the candlesticks that stand about him, that is, the churches that stand before him, and depend upon his direction. In Re 1:13 he is described by his properties, that he is provided with wisdom and dexterity for the achieving of great things, and in Re 1:14 with ancient gravity and most excellent sight of the eye. In Re 1:15 he is described with strength invincible and with a mighty word, and in Re 1:16 by his ruling of the ministry of his servants in the Church by the sword of his word, and enlightening all things with his countenance, and mightily providing for everyone by his divine providence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 1:16. καὶ ἔχων, κ.τ.λ. Not for καὶ είχε, κ.τ.λ.;[794] but the participle occurs in violation of syntax, while John with a few strong touches of his pencil[795] portrays the sublime manifestation.[796] Christ appears, having seven stars[797] in his right hand.[798] The stars are neither to be changed into precious stones which shine like stars, and to be sought in a ring, or seven rings, on Christ’s fingers,[799] nor is it to be said that “the stars soar so easily, freely, and steadily, on or over his right hand, that he might confidently place them[800] upon John’s head.”[801] To ask at all where these stars in Revelation 1:17 must be regarded, is a question both paltry and unpoetic. That Christ has the stars in his right hand, shows that they are his property. This is presented for the consolation of believers,[802] but not in the sense as though the power of Christ over the churches, from which no one can deliver, should he wish to punish,[803] were portrayed. This is entirely foreign to the present passage, and even in Revelation 2:1 sqq. is conceivable only as Christ, who graciously rules and defensively walks in the midst of the candlesticks, can cast a faithless church from its candlestick,[804] or even reject a star.

ΚΑῚ ἘΚ ΤΟῦ ΣΤΌΜΑΤΟς

ἘΚΠΟΡΕΥΟΜΈΝΗ
. Again, a new feature of the sublime picture is stated in an asyntactical way. “Who can portray this form? And yet it has occurred, alas! a thousand times, and the form of the God-man is represented as the most miserable cripple.” Thus Herder; while Eichh.,[805] just in the present feature of the description, would find an offence against the laws of painting. The sharp two-edged sword which proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is, in a way similar to the feet like brass, a plastic representation of the divine power of Christ, in complete accordance with the image of the vision according to which he “slays the godless with the rod of his mouth.”[806] Of the power of the word of God, preached by Christ’s ministers, striking the conscience and otherwise divinely efficacious,[807] there is nothing said here. The entire description is purely personal. The sword from the mouth[808] of Christ is directed against his enemies both within[809] and without[810] the Church.[811] What a consolation for those whom he holds in his hands!

ΚΑῚ Ἡ ὌΨΙς ΑὐΤΟῦ designates not the countenance,[812] as ὌΨΙς is used in John 11:44 but not in John 7:24, but[813] the appearance in general. The description is not concluded by a single feature, but so that the entire form appears as surrounded with the brilliancy of the sun. We are forbidden to take ὌΨΙς in the sense of ΠΡΌΣΩΠΟΝ by the comparison of Revelation 10:1, where this word, frequently found in the Apoc.,[814] is regularly used; also Daniel 10:6, where ΠΡΌΣΩΠΟΝ occurs, and that, too, in the beginning of the detailed description, is throughout against Hengstenberg’s opinion. In like manner, in the description, Daniel 10:6, ΤῸ ΣῶΜΑ ΑὐΤΟῦ ὩΣΕΙ ΘΑΡΣΊς, the entire form of the Lord is to be regarded: ῶς Ὁ ἭΛΙΟς ΦΑΊΝΕΙ ἘΝ Τῇ ΔΥΝΆΜΕΙ. The additional designation,[815] of course, is not necessarily to be referred to the noonday brilliancy[816] of the sun, but is correctly paraphrased by De Wette: “when its light is at the strongest.”[817] The sun shines in its strength when neither mist nor clouds intercept its rays.[818]

[794] Eichh.

[795] De Wette.

[796] Cf. Revelation 19:12, Revelation 21:12; where, as here, the turning aside from the original construction is facilitated by the preceding features of the description.

[797] Cf. v. 20.

[798] Holding them, Revelation 2:1.

[799] Eichh., Heinr.

[800] v. 17.

[801] Ebrard.

[802] Cf. John 10:28 sq.; Herder, Ebrard.

[803] Hengstenb.; also Ew. ii.

[804] Revelation 2:5.

[805] Cf., also, De Wette.

[806] Isaiah 11:4; cf. Isaiah 49:2; Wis 18:15 sqq.; 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

[807] Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17; Tichon., Primas., Arethas, Vitr., Calov., Stern; cf., also, De Wette, etc.

[808] The graphic idea lying at the foundation (cf., besides, Psalm 55:22; Psalm 57:5; Psalm 59:8, etc.) is frequently expressed in the rabbins. Pirke Elies.: “Moses removed him with the sword of his lips.—Dathan said to him, ‘Do you seek to slay me with the sword which is in thy mouth?’ ” Wetst., Schöttg., also on 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

[809] Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16.

[810] Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21.

[811] Ebrard.

[812] Vulg., Luth., Calov., Herd., Hengstenb., Ebrard, De Wette.

[813] Valla, Erasm., Eichh., Ew., Züll.

[814] Cf. Revelation 4:7, Revelation 9:7, Revelation 22:4, Revelation 6:16, Revelation 12:14, Revelation 20:11.

[815] Cf. Jdg 5:31; LXX.: ὥς ἔξοδος ἡλίου ἐν δυνάμοι αὐτοῦ.Revelation 1:16. The care and control exercised by Christ over the churches only come forward after the suggestions of majesty and authority (13–15) which followed the initial idea of Christ’s central position (ἐν μέσῳ) among the churches. Cf. Revelation 5:6 (ἐν μέσῳ) for another reference to Christ’s central authority—ἔχων, κ.τ.λ. For the astrological background of this figure, cf. Jeremiah 24 f. The traditional symbol, of which an interpretation is given later (Revelation 1:20), probably referred to the seven planets rather than to the Pleiades or any other constellation. If the description is to be visualised, the seven stars may be pictured as lying on Christ’s palm in the form of the stars in the constellation of Ursa Major—ῥομφαία, κ.τ.λ. By a vivid objectifying of the divine word (corresponding to that, e.g., in Isaiah 9:8 f., Revelation 9:4, and suggested by the tongue-shaped appearance of the short Roman sword or dagger), the figure of the sharp sword issuing from the mouth is applied (in Ps. Sol. 17:27, 39, as here) to the messiah, as in Jewish literature to God (Psalm 149:6, etc.) and to wisdom (Sap. 18:15), elsewhere to the λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ (Hebrews 4:12, cf. Revelation 19:13-15): Christ’s power of reproof and punishment is to be directed against the church (Revelation 2:12 f.) as well as against the world of heathen opposition (Revelation 19:21, where the trait is artistically more appropriate). As a nimbus or coronata radiata sometimes crowned the emperor (“image des rayons lumineux qu’il lance sur le monde,” Beurlier), so the face of Christ (ὄψις as in John 11:44, cf. below, Revelation 10:1) is aptly termed, as in the usual description of angelic visitants (reff.), bright as sunshine unintercepted by mist or clouds. This is the climax of the delineation.16. he had] Lit. having, and so the sword “going” out of His mouth. Throughout the book, participles are used coordinately with finite verbs, especially in descriptions: perhaps rather by a Hebraism than a mere carelessness of construction.

out of his mouth, &c.] The image is perhaps suggested by Isaiah 49:2; but the application made of it in Revelation 2:16, Revelation 19:15; Revelation 19:21 is more like in sense to Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. It is relevant to compare Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; but the use of similar images by different Apostles must not be allowed to lead us into a sort of Christian mythology, as though the imagery were as absolutely and unalterably fixed as the doctrine symbolized by it. In ch. 19 we see plainly that not the sword but the Owner of it is “the Word of God:” in Revelation 2:23 we have the same sense as in Heb. l. c., but the image of the sword is not there used to illustrate it.

his countenance] The same word is used in John 11:44 in the sense of “face,” and so it is best to take it here, though it might mean “appearance” generally. In Ezekiel 1:27, the LXX. use the word for “colour” not for “appearance.”Verse 16. - He holds the Churches in his hand as a precious possession, which he sustains as a glory to himself. These Churches are as planets, which shine, not with their own light, but that of the sun; which shine most brightly in the night of "tribulation," which (like him who holds them in his right hand) are a guide to the wanderer, and are ever moving, yet ever at rest. Out of his mouth a sharp two-edged sword. This metaphor runs through both Old and New Testaments. It is frequent in this book (Revelation 2:12, 16; Revelation 19:15, 21; comp. Luke 2:35; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 45:3; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7; Psalm 64:3; Psalm 149:6; Proverbs 12:18; Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 49:2, etc.). The sharp words of men and the searching words of God are both spoken of under this figure of the sword. Tertullian and Richard of St. Victor explain the two edges as the Law and the Gospel. Other still more fanciful explanations have been given. "Two-edged" (δίστομος) is literally "two-mouthed," and perhaps expresses no more than the thorough efficiency of the sword. It occurs in Revelation 2:12 and Hebrews 4:12; also in classical Greek as equivalent to the more common ἀμφήκης. If a double meaning be insisted on, it may be found in the double character of God's Word, which not only smites the wicked, but searches the good; which cuts sometimes to punish, sometimes to heal. Thus in these very epistles to the Churches, penetrating words both of blessing and condemnation are uttered. The word for "sword" (ῤομφαία) occurs six times in Revelation; elsewhere in the New Testament only Luke 2:35. In classical Greek it is the heavy Thracian broadsword. In the LXX. it is used of the "flaming sword" of the cherubim which kept the way of the tree of life (Genesis 3:24); also of the sword of Goliath (1 Kings 17:25). His countenance was as the sun shineth. It is the "Sun of Righteousness" and "the Light of the world." The exceptional glory of the Transfiguration has become constant now. A sharp, two-edged sword (ῥομφαία δίστομος ὀξεῖα)

The (Greek order is a sword, two-edged, sharp. For the peculiar word for sword see on Luke 2:35. Two-edged is, literally, two-mouthed. See on edge, Luke 21:24. Homer speaks of poles for sea-fighting, "clad on the tip (στόμα, mouth) with brass."

Countenance (ὄψις)

Used by John only, and only three times: here, John 7:24; John 11:44. Not general appearance.

Shineth (φαίει)

See on John 1:5.

In his strength

With the full power of the eastern sun at noonday.

This picture of the Son of Man suggests some remarks on the general character of such symbols in Revelation. It may be at once said that they are not of a character which tolerates the sharper definitions of pictorial art. They must be held in the mind, not as clearly-cut symbols which translate themselves into appeals to the eye and which have their exact correspondences in visible facts, but rather in their totality, and with a dominant sense of their inner correspondences with moral and spiritual ideas. To translate them into picture is inevitably to run at some point into a grotesqueness which impairs and degrades their solemnity. This is shown in Albrecht Drer's sixteen wood-cuts illustrative of Revelation. Professor Milligan goes too far in saying that these are only grotesque. One must be always impressed with Drer's strong individuality, "lurking" as Lord Lindsay remarks, below a mind "like a lake, stirred by every breath of wind which descends on it through the circumjacent valleys;" with the fertility of his invention, the plenitude of his thought, his simplicity and fearlessness. But his very truthfulness to nature is his enemy in his dealing with such themes as the Apocalyptic visions; investing them as it does with a realism which is foreign to their spirit and intent. Take, for example, "the four riders" (Revelation 6). The power is at once felt of the onward movement of the three horsemen with bow, sword, and balances; the intense, inexorable purpose with which they drive on over the prostrste forms at their feet; but the fourth rider, Death on the pale horse, followed by Hell, portrayed as the wide-opened jaws of a rnonster into which a crowned head is sinking, degenerates into a ghastly caricature of the most offensive German type - a harlequin, far surpassing in hideousness the traditional skeleton with seythe and hour-glass.

Similarly, the angel with his feet like pillars of fire, the one upon the sea and the other upon the earth. If we are solemnly impressed by the awful face of the angel breaking forth from the sun, the solemnity degenerates into something akin to amusement, at the feet like solid columns, ending in flame at the knees, and at the Evangelist "who kneels on a promontory with the corner of the great book presented by the angel in his mouth, apparently in danger of choking."

In short, such symbols as the Lamb with seven horns and seven eyes; the four living creatures, each with six wings, and full of eyes before and behind; the beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on the horns ten diadems, - do not lend themselves to the pencil. An illustration of the sadly grotesque effect of such an attempt may be seen in Mr. Elliott's "Horae Apocalypticae," where is a picture of the locust of chapter 9, with a gold crown on the head, hair like women's, a breastplate of iron, and a tail like a scorpion's.

Archbishop Trench very aptly draws the comparison between the modes in which the Greek and the Hebrew mind respectively dealt with symbolism. With the Greek, the aesthetic element is dominant, so that the first necessity of the symbol is that it shall satisfy the sense of beauty, form, and proportion. With the Hebrew, the first necessity is "that the symbol should set forth truly and fully the religious idea of which it is intended to be the vehicle. How it would appear when it clothed itself in an outward form and shape; whether it would find favor and allowance at the bar of taste, was quite a secondary consideration; may be confidently affirmed not to have been a consideration at all."

The imagery of Revelation is Hebrew and not Greek. It is doubtful if there is any symbol taken from heathenism, so that the symbols of Revelation are to be read from the Jewish and not from the Heathen stand-point.

But to say that these symbols jar upon the aesthetic sense is not to detract from their value as symbols, nor to decry them as violations of the fitness of things. It may be fairly asked if, with all their apparent incongruity, and even monstrousness, they may not, after all, be true to a higher canon of congruity. Certain it is that the great visible divine economy, both of nature and of man, distinctly includes the grotesque, the monstrous, the ridiculous (or what we style such). We recognize the fact in the phrase "freaks of Nature." But are they freaks? Are they incongruous? Until we shall have grasped in mind the whole kosmos, it will not be safe for us to answer that question too positively. The apparent incongruity, viewed from a higher plane, may merge into beautiful congruity. Tested by a more subtle sense; brought into connection and relation with the whole region of mental and spiritual phenomena; regarded as a factor of that larger realm which embraces ideas and spiritual verities along with external phenomena; the outwardly grotesque may resolve itself into the spiritually beautiful; the superficial incongruity into essential and profound harmony.

continued...

Links
Revelation 1:16 Interlinear
Revelation 1:16 Parallel Texts


Revelation 1:16 NIV
Revelation 1:16 NLT
Revelation 1:16 ESV
Revelation 1:16 NASB
Revelation 1:16 KJV

Revelation 1:16 Bible Apps
Revelation 1:16 Parallel
Revelation 1:16 Biblia Paralela
Revelation 1:16 Chinese Bible
Revelation 1:16 French Bible
Revelation 1:16 German Bible

Bible Hub






Revelation 1:15
Top of Page
Top of Page