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Revelation 1:13: The Majesty and Loveliness of Christ, Part 1

Updated: Jul 1, 2019

Verse 13:[1] (Rev. 2:1) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks (Ezek. 1:26; Dan. 7:13; 10:16; Rev. 14:14) one like unto the Son of man, (Dan. 10:5) clothed with a garment down to the foot, and (Rev. 15:6) girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

[In the midst, etc.] Now, Christ is said to dwell in the midst of the candlesticks, because He is present to the Churches: just as also ἐμπεριπατεῖν, to walk in the midst of, is used of God, in Leviticus 26:12[2] and 2 Corinthians 6:16,[3] and to be in the midst, in Isaiah 12:6.[4] You have the reality itself in Matthew 18:20; 28:20 (Grotius).

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks; that is, of the churches, resembled by the golden candlesticks.

[Like (or, a certain One like [Beza, Piscator] to the Son of man] That is, a Man (Ribera, certain interpreters in Pareus, Beza, Vatablus), indefinitely, or the appearance of a man (certain interpreters in Pareus, Beza, Piscator), that is, a certain one of men. Thus son of man, especially without the article, as here, is often taken, as in Numbers 23:19; Job 25:6; Psalm 8:4; Daniel 8:17 (Ribera). Now, he understands, either, 1. an Angel (Grotius, Ribera), in the form of Christ, which Christ is μυστικῶς/mystically described by such a mark; Daniel 7:13; 10:5. See what things are said there and on Matthew 8:20. The equivalent expression in Revelation 14:14 (Grotius), which [Angel], so that he might represent Christ, appeared like unto a man (Ribera). Or, 2. Christ (Pareus, Cotterius, Cluverus, Brightman, Gomar, Louis Cappel, Beza), who by the same expression is to be like the son of man, Daniel 7:13, to which place John here no doubt alludes: for he loves to borrow the phrases and descriptions of his own visions from the Old Testament Prophets (Louis Cappel). That Christ is He who speaks, it is proven from the description of Him in verses 11, 17, 18, which is not able to be applied to an Angel (Gomar). Now, He is said to be like to the Son of man, either, 1. that is to say, truly the Son of man, as this phrase is taken in Romans 8:3; Philippians 2:7, 8, for nothing is as similar to true man as true man (Pareus). Or, 2. because Christ did not appear in His own true body, but in type (Cotterius, similarly Durham); not in His original appearance, which He received from the virgin, and in which He sits at the right hand of the Father, but in a new appearance assumed (Brightman); in which His most glorious state was represented (Durham). In accordance with the reality of His flesh, He was appearing as the Son of man, but according to His divine majesty He was greatly surpassing the form of a man (Cluverus).

One like unto the Son of man: we say, no like is the same; but Christ, who was the Son of man, and who ordinarily calls himself so throughout the gospel, is undoubtedly here meant, as appeareth by Revelation 1:17, 18, which description can agree to him alone. He is said to have come in the likeness of sinful flesh,[5] though he came in true human flesh; and Philippians 2:7, he was made in the likeness of men. John saw one who appeared to him as a man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks, which was Christ in the midst of his churches; placed in the midst, partly to let us know his observation of them all, and partly to let us know his being at hand to them all, to help, protect, and defend them.

[Clothed, etc., ἐνδεδυμένον ποδήρη] Clothed to the foot (Syriac), or, with a robe reaching to the ankle (Montanus, Illyricus, Pagnine, Castalio, Beza, Piscator), or, unto the feet by a low-hanging (Erasmus, Tigurinus, Vatablus), understanding, garment (Erasmus, Pagnine, Castalio, Beza, etc.). Just as the Angels also are described in Ezekiel 9:2 and Daniel 10:5. In both place in the Hebrew it is בַּדִּים, linen garments, which in Ezekiel the Septuagint translators render ποδήρη;[6] but in Daniel Theodotion[7] retains the Hebrew word:[8] Some interpreters put ἐξαίρετα, choice garments; others, βύσσινα, garments made of fine linen. What is here ποδήρη, is λίνον λαμπρόν, bright linen, in Revelation 15:6. Byssus is the brightest sort of linen, Pliny’s Natural History 19:1. Concerning podere[9] see Josephus,[10] and Jerome’s little book Concerning the Priestly Garments.[11] It is the same name in Apuleius[12] (Grotius). This is the judgment, either, 1. of dignity and of wisdom, according to the custom of the Elders, Scribes, and doctors of law among the Jews (certain interpreters in Gomar). Or, 2. of the imputed righteousness of Christ (Brightman, similarly Cluverus), in which the whole bride is covered, lest her nakedness appear; which also is compared to a garment, Matthew 22:12; Revelation 16:15. For this cloak is not necessary for Christ, but it serves the bride; which nevertheless is attributed to Christ, so that it might cause His close conjunction with her to be made known on good evidence (Brightman). Or, 3. of office and authority, from a comparison with Isaiah 22:21 (Cotterius). Now, since these long garments were used both by Kings and by Priests, Exodus 28:29 (Durham), this was a symbol, either, 1. of His Kingship (Cocceius, Durham). Indeed, naked He hung on the cross, and, although He was stripped of His garments, He stripped principalities, etc., and over them He triumphed on the cross, Colossians 2:14, 15. Now, after the resurrection, He made a new heaven and new earth, etc., and those He wears as His ornament, and appears all glorious (Cocceius). Or, 2. of His Priesthood (Piscator, Zegers, Durham, Lapide, etc.), in which He was engaged, and is yet engaged in the heavenly sanctuary (Gomar). [For] this is the Priestly garment (Grotius, similarly Pererius, Ribera, Lapide, Gomar, Hammond, Durham, Mede’s Works 5:1111, Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament), Exodus 28:42; Leviticus 6:10; 16:4, 23, 32. Now, it is given to Angels as ministers of God also, of which sort are the Priests; just as in turn the name of Angel is given to the Priest in Malachi.[13] Now, here a poderes is given to Christ as to the high Priest; which title is often attributed to Him with the greatest propriety in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grotius). It is read ποδήρης in Wisdom of Solomon 18:24[14] and Ecclesiasticus 27:8;[15] 45:8.[16] By this word the Septuagint renders אֵפוֹד/ephod, Exodus 28:31,[17] and מַחֲלָצוֹת, ceremonial garments, Zechariah 3:4[18] (Mede’s Works 5:1111).

[And, etc., καὶ περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς ζώνην χρυσῆν] And girded (this indicates the strength of Christ [Gomar], the alacrity [Piscator], the diligence [Gomar], and promptness in attending to duty [Gomar, similarly Piscator, Durham]) to the paps (Question 1: How is this same garment represented as extended and gathered up? Response: These things are not opposed. Those that make use of longer robes, gather them [Cotterius]: Question 2: Why was Christ girded, not at the loins, as was the custom, but at the paps, and the Angels at the chest, Revelation 15:6 [Gomar]? Response 1: This designated the perfection and constancy of the charity of Christ towards the Church; for it signified the heart [the seat of which is in the breast near the paps] surrounded by a girdle [Gomar, similarly Ribera]: Response 2: The Priests were girded in the middle interval, that is, on the ribs, and around the paps [Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:491]) by a golden band (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator). This was a symbol of majesty (Pareus), authority, and eminence, Isaiah 22:21 (Durham); or, of royal dignity (Zegers). So it was that they wore the golden belts of Kings, Job 12:18, to which there is an allusion in Isaiah 11:5 and Psalm 18:32, 39. The same is attributed to Michael as the Prince of the Angels, Daniel 10:5. Now, as the linen garment, so also the golden belt, is attributed to the Angels, Revelation 15:6. Now, the same is rightly attributed to Christ as reigning over the very Angels, Ephesians 1:20, 21 (Grotius). Gold is a mark of purity, or of fidelity in His duty (Cotterius).

Clothed with a garment down to the foot; ποδήρη: the word signifieth a long garment reaching to the feet, whether of linen or woollen, or what other material, is not expressed; so as it seemeth to me hard to determine, whether it was to signify his priestly or kingly office, or neither. It is a habit of gravity. And girt about the paps with a golden girdle; nor dare I determine the significancy of the golden girdle about his loins. It was a habit like that in Daniel’s vision, Daniel 10:5. They were both symbols of majesty, authority, and dignity, and the appearance agreed very well to him, who was both a High Priest and a King.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἑπτὰ λυχνιῶν ὅμοιον υἱῷ ἀνθρώπου, ἐνδεδυμένον ποδήρη, καὶ περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς ζώνην χρυσῆν.

[2] Leviticus 26:12: “And I will walk among you (וְהִתְהַלַּכְתִּי֙ בְּת֣וֹכְכֶ֔ם; καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσω ἐν ὑμῖν, in the Septuagint), and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”

[3] 2 Corinthians 6:16: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk (ἐμπεριπατήσω) in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

[4] Isaiah 12:6: “Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee (בְּקִרְבֵּךְ; ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῆς, in the Septuagint).”

[5] Romans 8:3.

[6] Ezekiel 9:2: “And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen (לָבֻ֣שׁ בַּדִּ֔ים; ἐνδεδυκὼς ποδήρη, in the Septuagint), with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.”

[7] Theodotion was a linguist and convert to Judaism, who translated the Hebrew Scripture into Greek in the middle of the second century AD. His translation appears to be an attempt to bring the Septuagint into conformity with the Hebrew text.

[8] Daniel 10:5: “Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen (לָב֣וּשׁ בַּדִּ֑ים; ἐνδεδυμένος βύσσινα, in the Septuagint; ἐνδεδυμένος βαδδὶν, in Theodotion), whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz…”

[9] Podere is a transliteration of podh/rh.

[10] Flavius Josephus (37-93) was a priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, a Jewish general, and an eyewitness to the final siege of Jerusalem. Josephus’ works are invaluable to the student of Jewish antiquities and of the history of the fall of Jerusalem.

[11] De Vestibus Sacerdotalibus.

[12] Apuleius’ (c. 125-c. 180) novel, Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass, is the only Latin novel from this period that has survived in its entirety.

[13] Malachi 2:7: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger (מַלְאַךְ/angel) of the Lord of hosts.”

[14] Wisdom of Solomon 18:24: “For in the long garment (ποδήρους) was the whole world, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and thy Majesty upon the diadem of his head.”

[15] Ecclesiasticus 27:8: “If thou followest righteousness, thou shalt obtain her, and put her on, as a glorious long robe (ποδήρη).”

[16] Ecclesiastes 45:8: “He put upon him [Aaron] perfect glory; and strengthened him with rich garments, with breeches, with a long robe (ποδήρη), and the ephod.”

[17] Exodus 28:31: “And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod (הָאֵפוֹד; ποδήρη, in the Septuagint) all of blue.”

[18] Zechariah 3:4: “And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment (וְהַלְבֵּ֥שׁ אֹתְךָ֖ מַחֲלָצֽוֹת׃; καὶ ἐνδύσατε αὐτὸν ποδήρη, in the Septuagint).” מַחֲלָצָה is a ceremonial garment, to be taken off, or changed, in ordinary life; מַחֲלָצָה is related to the verb, חָלַץ, to draw off.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
01. Juli 2019

Dr Dilday's Sermon: "A Priest Forever..."

1) Introduction

2) Analysis

a) Context

b) “Clothed with a garment down to the foot (ποδήρη/podere, from πούς, ποδός, foot), and girt about the paps with a golden girdle”

Exodus 28:31: And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod (ὑποδύτην ποδήρη, undergarment reaching to the foot) all of blue.

Zechariah 3:4b: And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment (ποδήρη).

3) Doctrine: Christ remains active in His meditorial office.

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04. Mai 2018

Agreed. It is amazing how consistent things are. The Westminster Confession puts it this way: Chapter 1 6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.....

And you comment is perfectly consistent with the way John Gill saw it.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
04. Mai 2018

I used the language of "tending", 1. because of the context (the priest in the midst of the candlesticks); 2. but also because of what Jesus is doing in chapters 2 and 3, "tending" to the spiritual well-being of the churches (the candlesticks). He gives them counsel so that they can continue as candlesticks, and bear light (a good testimony) in the world.

Make sense?

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03. Mai 2018

It might be worth a brief comment on connecting “in the midst“ with the word ”tending”, which is neither in the text or in the standard Greek definitions. Appears to be derived from what the priest would have commonly been doing, and the promises to the church. Is there any more that you might add?

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks

John Gill says it this way: now Christ was seen by John in the midst of the candlesticks or churches, and among whom he walked, as in Rev 2:1; which is expressive of his presence in his churches, and which he has promised unto the end of the world; and of the gracious visits he makes them,…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
21. Apr. 2018

Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening": '"Girt about the paps with a golden girdle."—Revelation 1:13

"One like unto the Son of Man" appeared to John in Patmos, and the beloved disciple marked that he wore a girdle of gold. A girdle, for Jesus never was ungirt while upon earth, but stood always ready for service, and now before the eternal throne he stays not is holy ministry, but as a priest is girt about with "the curious girdle of the ephod." Well it is for us that he has not ceased to fulfil his offices of love for us, since this is one of our choicest safeguards that he ever liveth to make intercession for us. Jesus is never an idler; his…

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