Revelation 1:16: The Majesty and Loveliness of Christ, Part 4

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

Verse 16:[1] (Rev. 1:20; 2:1; 3:1) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and (Is. 49:2; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:12, 16; 19:15, 21) out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: (Acts 26:13; Rev. 10:1) and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.


[And having, etc., καὶ ἔχων] Supply ἦν, He was. But in some manuscripts ἔχων/having is missing[2] (Grotius). Not εἶχε, He was having, but ἔχων/having, by which it is indicated that this is always continuing (Cotterius).



[Now, He was having in His right hand stars] That is, Teachers (Grotius, Glassius, Cluverus), or the ministers of the Churches (Durham), or, authorities (Pareus), as we are taught in verse 20 (Pareus, thus Grotius, Durham). Bishops (Ribera, Zegers, Grotius): whose especially it is to teach in the Christian Church. Thus also the Apostles are represented by stars in Revelation 12:1. Stars are not unlike Gems. Whence also among the Poets what things are bejeweled are said to be starry, as in Ovid’s[3] Metamorphoses 8, ...Gems are turned into shining fires, that is, into stars (Grotius). The right hand denotes power and skill in doing, etc. (Durham). Fortitude is attributed to the right hand, Psalm 21:8; 44:3 (Ribera). The right hand is more honorable than the left, and stronger (Pereus). Gems were wont to be worn on the right hand, Jeremiah 22:24; Haggai 2:23; Ecclesiasticus 49:11[4] (Grotius). These stars are in the right hand of Christ (Menochius), for they are very precious in His sight (Grotius), and set in a superior and worthier order and position (Menochius, similarly Ribera); and carefully protected by Him (Grotius, similarly Pererius, Cotterius, Cluverus, Durham), for by the hand [even indeed the right hand] we grasp what we are unwilling to have snatched from us (Cotterius). Christ has them numbered, and guards them as the apple of His eye (Hammond); He directs and governs them (Pererius), observes and powerfully moves them according to His good pleasure, and displays them as an excellent ornament of His strength; while by them He subdues the strength of His enemies, He holds them mercifully and graciously, as the right hand is taken in Psalm 18:35; 20:6; 89:13; etc. (Cluverus). The right hand is a symbol of a benevolent disposition (Cotterius). It signifies here, both how arduous and difficult is the office of ministers, on account of their own infirmity, on account of the malice of enemies, before whom they are not able to stand, unless they be upheld by Christ; and how great care Christ employs so that He might protect and direct, etc., them (Durham).


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 a sword, etc., ῥομφαία δίστομος, etc.] A sword (or, Romphæa[5] [Beza, Piscator]) twoedged (that is to say, bioris, or, having two mouths, that is, two edges [Piscator]: understanding and [Piscator]) sharp (Montanus, etc.), or, sharp in both directions (Erasmus, Vulgate), slaying by chopping and with the point (Cotterius): or, twice sharp (Grotius out of Tertullian). Here is understood, either, 1. vengeance (Piscator), the sentence of condemnation, even the very condemnation of the impious on the day of judgment (Menochius out of Ribera); or, 2. the Evangelical word (Grotius, thus Durham, Apocalyptic Harmony), which is compared to a sword on account of the great force of it (Durham); by which it penetrates the innermost parts, and it discerns, not actions only, but also good and evil thoughts: See Revelation 2:12, 16; Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12 (Grotius, similarly Durham, Cluverus); by which, moreover, it torments the impious, Acts 7:54; Revelation 11:10, and in a certain way kills, 1 Kings 19:17; Isaiah 11:4; Hosea 6:5, and promoves their destruction by the just judgment of God (Durham). Elsewhere the sword signifies Vengeance: but what I have said is more agreeable to those things that follow, things pertaining to the Churches (Grotius). He says, from His mouth, etc., so that He might signify, [either] that all the strength of the Word comes forth, not from the men preaching or writing it, but from Christ (Durham); [or] that for Christ to speak is to do, and to bless is to benefit (Cluverus).


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



[And His face (that is, the love of Christ for His people, Psalm 4:6, and the glory and majesty in Him [Durham], the majesty of His Divinity [Apocalyptic Harmony], the glory of His body [Ribera]: or, the Gospel, with which the faces of the saints are irradiated [Apocalyptic Harmony]: or, the whole religion and worship of Christ instituted from heaven [Brightman]) as, etc., ὡς ὁ ἥλιος φαίνει, etc.] It was what is like the sun shining in its strength (Beza, Piscator), verbatim, in its power[6] (Piscator), that is, not in the morning or evening, neither under a cloud (Durham), but close to noon (Piscator, Durham), or, when it especially shines (Grotius, thus Castalio, Zegers, Menochius). To which Christ is compared on account of His glorious majesty, Song of Solomon 5:15, and the excellent light by which He directs and comforts His own, and the true and efficacious influx, Malachi 4:2 (Durham). A symbol [this is] either, of the glory of the body of Christ (Menochius, similarly Piscator): or, of His Majesty, as in Matthew 17:2. Add Habakkuk 3:4. The same is attributed to the Angel in Revelation 10:1. Now, this is a great consolation to the pious, for they also, in their own degree, will be such, Matthew 13:43 (Grotius).


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.

[1] Greek: καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ χειρὶ ἀστέρας ἑπτά· καὶ ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ ῥομφαία δίστομος ὀξεῖα ἐκπορευομένη· καὶ ἡ ὄψις αὐτοῦ, ὡς ὁ ἥλιος φαίνει ἐν τῇ δυνάμει αὐτοῦ.


[2] In Codex Alexandrinus and a few others.


[3] Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17 AD) was a Roman poet.


[4] Ecclesiasticus 49:11: “How shall we magnify Zorobabel? even he was as a signet on the right hand.”


[5] Romphæa is a transliteration of ῥομφαία.


[6] Greek: ἐν τῇ δυνάμει αὐτοῦ.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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