What Does Revelation 1:16 Mean?

In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

Revelation 1:16(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

Many consider that Revelation is a difficult book and one to be avoided, but the Word of God is living and powerful, and Scripture is its own faultless interpreter. It is God's final word to us about the Person and Work of Christ Jesus, His beloved Son Who completed His work on earth and today is seated on the right hand of the Father. God the Father gave the content of Revelation to Jesus, Who relayed it to John through His angel. It was given for our learning, and all who read it and take it to heart are promised a great blessing.

In Chapter one, John hears a loud voice behind him, like the sound of a trumpet, giving him some instructions. When he turns to see the voice that is speaking with him, John sees Jesus. For over 3 years he had been with Jesus, but the awesome vision that meets his eyes causes him to fall at His feet like a dead man. Jesus had veiled His glory during His sojourn on earth, but He now stood clothed in glorious magnificence in the middle of 7 golden lampstands (which we are told later, represent 7 churches, the totality of the Christian Church). 

The appearance of the glorified Christ confounded John. The garment He wore reached down to the feet, and a golden sash was fastened across His chest: "His head and His hair were white like white wool, as white as snow," which denoted His super-abounding wisdom, "and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters." And in verse 16 we read: "In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength."

As John lay prostrate in awesome wonder and reverential fear before the glorified Son of Man, the Lord Jesus revealed that the seven stars in His right hand, represented the "angels of the 7 churches." Some consider that these seven stars speak of leaders, pastors, and representatives within the Christian Church, while others suggest that the literal meaning of angels or messengers is more likely. But whether human or angelic ministers of Christ, these stars help to lighten the darkness in this fallen world, and it is a great comfort and blessing to see that the stars are held securely in Christ's right hand.

Jesus is the Son Who is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He graciously held the seven stars in His own right hand. This is the same hand that upholds the world by His supreme power and might, the same, gentle hand that will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes. Throughout the Bible, the Lord's right hand is the place of power and honour, and indicates God's great and sovereign authority and unrestricted control. What a comfort to know that nothing can pluck any of His children out of His hand. Surely there can be no more secure place for any of us, than to be held securely in the right hand of our precious Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is full of grace and truth, and John describes the pure words of grace and judgement that flowed from the lips of the Saviour as "a sharp two-edged sword that proceeded from His mouth." During the early days of the Church, Israel were subdued under Roman authority. The double-edged swords the Romans carried were lethal weapons, and the Word of God is the deadly weapon that Christ will use to silence and condemn his enemies. Isaiah writes: "He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked," which is descriptive of this very scene. Paul refers to the Scriptures as "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." And during His earthy life, the Lord Jesus used this same 'sword' that John saw in this terrible vision, to silence Satan when He said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

The transforming description John gives of Christ's face is breathtaking, presenting a picture of Christ's divinity, His awful holiness, His noble preexistent virtue, His penetrating wisdom, His perfect righteousness. We read: "His face shone like the unclouded sun shining in its strength." John had captured a tiny glimpse of the majesty of Christ when the Lord was transfigured on the holy Mount, but as he lay prostrate on the floor before Jesus, His might, majesty, dominion, and power displayed the brilliance of His Person and, no doubt, gave the apostle an increased understanding of what it cost the Father to give His Son as the sacrifice for the sin of the whole world: "God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."

Chapter one reminds us that Jesus, Who died for our sin, is the great resurrected Lord, the firstborn from the dead Who is now glorified. As the perfect Lamb of God, He conquered sin, death, and hell at the Cross for all who believe. However, as the exalted Lamb on the Throne of God, He is preparing to judge the Christ-rejecting sinful world and reclaim the kingdom of this world from that old serpent (which is the devil and Satan) and restore it to His Father in heaven. As God's blood-bought children, we are not appointed to His wrath, and we will not be here when the resurrected, glorified Jesus judges the world in righteousness.

Let us treasure these verses in our hearts as we await the day when Jesus will come to take us to be with Himself: "For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, the written Word, and the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank You that Your Word is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword. Thank You that nothing is hidden from Jesus and my life is laid bare before His eyes, from my actions to the thoughts and intentions behind my actions. May I live my life for Him every day of my life, in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Choose a Verse from Revelation 1