Revelation 1:12: The Menorah of the World

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Verse 12:[1] And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, (Rev. 1:20; Ex. 25:37; Zech. 4:2) I saw seven golden candlesticks…

[And[2] (or, therefore, a copulative in the place of a transitive [Piscator]) I turned (now, he properly says that he looked back, because the voice was heard from behind [Grotius]) so that I might see the voice] That is, the Author of the voice (Piscator, Menochius, similarly Beza, Drusius, Grotius, Durham, Lyra, Lapide), by Metonymy of effect (Piscator): or, that I might see, that is, that I might hear (Drusius), or understand (Drusius, thus Zegers, Ribera, Lapide, Menochius, Brightman), as in Genesis 42:1 (Drusius); Exodus 20:18 (Drusius, Ribera, Lapide). Others: He calls Christ the voice, because He is not to be known [now] after the flesh, but in the Word, where we, hearing Him, see Him (Cotterius).

[Which was speaking, ἐλάλει] In some manuscripts it is λαλεῖ, as if in the present tense[3] (Grotius).

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me; that is, to see the person whose voice I heard speaking to me: or else, by seeing is meant understanding; but that he might have done without turning; he therefore turned, hoping to see the person that spake.

[Seven golden candlesticks] Just as in the Temple there was one Lampstand with seven lamps, Numbers 8:2; Zechariah 4:2, so now for a sign of Grace multiplied seven lampstands have seven lamps. By these are signified in the first place the seven Asiatic Church, then by those other Churches also like unto them, made for this purpose, that they might shine upon the Earth (Grotius), and bear openly the lights of life (Cotterius). See Matthew 5:16; John 5:35; Philippians 2:15. The number seven, as Philo[4] explains, signifies Purity; indeed Gold, Immunity from all rust: to which what is in Revelation 21:18, 21 also has regard. What sort of Churches they ought to be are here described (Grotius). The Churches are called candlesticks because however apt for light they appear, like a candlestick, they are not able to have it unless it be conveyed from elsewhere; however, golden, because of strength and permanence, and the excellence of charity and heavenly doctrine, which does not have admixture of false doctrine, like the doctrine of the Philosophers (Ribera).

And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks: by these seven candlesticks which he saw, are meant the seven churches; so we find it infallibly expounded, Revelation 1:20. We shall find in this book frequent allusions to the Jewish temple: here they begin. In the Jewish tabernacle there was one golden candlestick, and seven lamps, to give light against it; so Numbers 8:2; Zechariah 4:2. John here seeth seven. God had but one church of the Jews, but many amongst the Gentiles. This notion, or comparison of churches to golden candlesticks, both showeth us the nature and office of the churches of Christ, they do not give light of themselves, only hold lights, and it is their duty to keep in them the pure word of God, which is a light to our feet, and a godly ministry; and it also lets us know, that they ought to keep themselves pure (as beaten gold) from all corruption as to doctrine, and their members from all scandalous conversation.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἐπέστρεψα βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν ἥτις ἐλάλησε μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ. καὶ ἐπιστρέψας εἶδον ἑπτὰ λυχνίας χρυσᾶς.

[2] Greek: καὶ.

[3] The majority of Byzantine manuscripts read ἐλάλει, which was speaking, in the imperfect tense; the Textus Receptus reads ἐλάλησε, which spake, in the aorist; Codex Alexandrinus reads λαλεῖ, which speaketh, in the present.

[4] Philo was a first century Jewish scholar of Alexandria, Egypt. In him, one finds a synthesis of Platonic philosophy and Hebrew exegesis and theology. With respect to exegesis, Philo indulges freely in allegorization.

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