Join us as we study through Revelation verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 1:9-16 Bible Study Guide – The Vision Of The Son Of Man
Revelation 1:9-16 Video Bible Study
Revelation 1:9-16 Podcast Bible Study
I. Background of the Vision (9-11)
II. Vision of the Son of Man (12-16)
I. Background of the Vision (9-11)
- What did John have in common with his audience?
- Why was John on Patmos?
- What likely motivated his opponents to put them there?
- How can we see that God providentially used this for the advancement of the kingdom?
- What can we learn from this about God’s providence?
- What does it mean that John was “in the Spirit?”
- What was John commissioned to do?
Philippians 1:5 – Because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
1 Peter 5:10 – And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Romans 12:12 – Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I, John – The testimony of the early New Testament church unanimously agrees that this is John, the apostle of Jesus.
2. Your brother and partner – John emphasizes the fact that he was a peer of the saints. He was one of them, a brother and a partner. As followers of Jesus, they shared many common experiences and characteristics. These include:
- Brothers – Children of God are brothers and sisters of one another. This word denotes the close bond that we have with one another. John uses it to stress the relationship they have as peers and does not focus on his authority as apostle. Using the word brother shows his attitude in writing it. He is not primarily giving them instruction or commands (Jesus Himself does this in His letters to the churches). Rather, he is writing as a messenger, passing on what he has seen. And he is one of the group, sharing their same challenges.
- Partner in tribulation – John and the saints he was writing to faced persecution because of the gospel.
- Partner in the kingdom – Every single believer has a role to play. We are each to use our gifts and resources entrusted to us for building up the body.
- Patient endurance – The time period that John lived in was known for increasing persecution toward the church. While they waited for Jesus’ return, they endured.
3. Was on the island of Patmos on account of the word of God and testimony of Jesus – Patmos is a small island off the coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). It measured only 10 miles (16km) long and 6 miles (10Km) wide. This island was used by the Romans to exile people who were considered to be a threat in some way to Rome. Enemies of the state were banished there.
John lived and ministered in Ephesus. Most Bible scholars believe that he wrote the Gospel of John, and his three epistles in that city.
The Emperor Domitian set himself up as a god and demanded that he be worshiped. Christians like John did not go along with this idea. At some point John’s stand against emperor worship would have reached Domitian’s ears. It may have been this or some other aspect of John’s teaching that he didn’t like. So John was exiled to this island at some point around 95 AD.
In the text in Revelation 1:9, John identifies the reason he was on this island as “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” In other words, he was there because he taught the word and witnessed of Jesus. Because of this, he was persecuted. This also fits with the preceding phrase, which says that he was a “partner in tribulation” and needed “patient endurance.”
4. God’s providence – Man intended this exile to harm John. They hoped that by isolating John they could suppress his message. Basically they wanted to shut him up. But what people intended for evil, God intended for good.
Genesis 50:20 – As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
As we also see in the story of Joseph here, God makes a habit out of working all things together for good (Romans 8:28) for His people. His banishment did not suppress his message in the slightest. Instead it provided the perfect place and opportunity for John to receive this vision and then write it down. Thus, not only the churches of John’s day received a vital message of hope and encouragement, but the church through all ages is strengthened as we are reminded of Christ’s second coming.
Next time you face trials, remember that God’s providence is also at work in your life. God wants to use even those difficulties to shape and teach you.
Reflect: What “bad things” in your life has God caused to work for good?
5. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day – The Lord’s day was used in the early church for Sunday, the day of Jesus’ resurrection. The Holy Spirit enabled John to receive this vision.
6. I heard a loud voice like a trumpet – This was no vague feeling. It was no mysterious sound or ambiguous whisper. It was loud and clear and like a trumpet. There could be no mistake. It was from God. When God supernaturally communicates with His people, He does so in a clear way so there can be no misunderstanding.
II. Vision of the Son of Man (12-16)
- What did these seven golden lampstands represent (see also verse 20)?
- What is significant about the title “Son of Man?”
- Who is this Son of Man?
- Why is it important that He is in the “midst of” the lampstands?
- What can you learn about Jesus and His character from the description of Him here?
- What might His white hair represent?
- What is the significance of the fact that His eyes are like a flaming fire?
- What was His voice like? What does teach us about Him?
- What are the seven stars in His right hand?
- What is the two-edged sword mentioned?
- Why was His face shining?
- After reading this description of Jesus, how has your understanding of Him deepened?
Matthew 5:14-16 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Daniel 7:9 – 9 “As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
Revelation 19:12 – His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I saw seven golden lampstands – In verse 20 Jesus explains that these are the seven churches. These churches refer specifically to: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
Jesus will write a letter to these seven churches in the following chapters and John was to make sure that the book of Revelation would be sent to each of them. They were not far from Patmos, all being in Asia Minor. Though they were literal churches, they also act to serve as representatives for the universal church of all times and ages.
They are referred to as lampstands. While some symbolism in Revelation may be hard to understand, this is not. The churches are to shine the light of Christ in a dark world. That is their primary function. It is through the church that the saving message of the gospel goes out to all the world. The church reveals sin, stands against it, and warns about its consequences. If the church was to be snuffed out, then the world would quickly plunge into much worse darkness and sin.
Application: As individual members of the church, our role is to shine the light of Christ. Are you faithfully shining His light? Share some specific ways you can shine the light in: your family, your workplace, your community.
2. One like a son of man – This the same exact phrase as is used by Daniel in Daniel 7:13. The Son of Man was the title most used by Jesus for Himself. It was used 81 times in the gospels. The title highlights Jesus’ humanity. It reminds us of the incarnation. He became a man in order to represent us before the Father. Just as sin entered in the world through one man (Adam) so we delivered from sin by one man (Jesus).
Daniel 7:13-14 – “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
Yet even though it highlights Jesus’ humanity, it is also a divine title. It is clearly taken from Daniel 7:13, where it is Messianic title given to the ruler of everything. So this Messianic title emphasizes both Jesus’ humanity and His divinity.
3. In the midst of the lampstands – Jesus is described as being in the midst of the lampstands. It is an important reminder that Jesus is among the churches. Revelation 2:1 also describes him as walking among the seven lampstands.
This is one of the things that “are” in verse 19. It is a present reality. Jesus did not abandon the church when He ascended after the resurrection. He is still very much involved. Because He is among us, He knows intimately our deeds. In each letter to the churches, He tells them that He “knows” their works.
It is comforting to know that our Savior is among us. He strengthens and sustains us. He watches over us. We are secure in His hands. Every attack of the enemy is known to Him. Jesus is aware of all of the trials and sufferings we face. No one is weak or sick without Him knowing and sympathizing (Hebrews 4:15).
However, this knowledge also should motivate us to be alert. All of our sins, our innermost thoughts, are exposed to Christ. No sin is kept secret from Him.
Application: Jesus is in the midst of your church. He knows your individual struggles and successes. Don’t try to hide from Him. Instead go to Him for help in the time of need, and He will give it.
4. Clothed with a long robe and a golden sash around his chest –
Leviticus 16:4 – He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on.
Hebrews 2:17 – Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
The clothing is similar to that the high priest would wear. One of the chief roles of the high priest was to come as a mediator between God and man. He offered sacrifices to God, made atonement for sin, and brought God’s messages to the people. Now Jesus is our mediator. He is our high priest. He offered Himself as a sacrifice for sins. It is through His work that we can approach the Lord. In the book of Hebrews we learn that Jesus is a priest of the order of Melchizedek. It was a unique line different from the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek was a king and a priest, whereas in Israel the role of priests and Levites were separate. Jesus too, is a priest and a king.
5. The hairs of his head were white like wool –
Jesus’ white hair reminds us of two things. Firstly, it shows us His “age.” He is the Ancient One, existing from eternity past. As a man, he was born as a baby and grew up to maturity. But He only lived on this earth for 33 years. Here we see Him with His white hair. It evokes a sense of maturity, experience, and wisdom stemming from His eternal existence.
Proverbs 20:29 – The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.
Secondly, His white hair shows us His complete perfection. In Him there is no blemish.
6. His eyes were like a flame of fire –
2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.
Jesus sees all and knows all. He has super vision and His gaze penetrates any facade people put up, piercing to our innermost thoughts. Nothing is hidden from Him. Instead of thinking we can keep secrets from Him, we should take “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) to Christ.
Application: Think about your own life. What is one “secret” you have that you wouldn’t want announced in church next Sunday? Take it to Christ. Admit to Him that He knows all. Confess. Bring it to the light. Seek for His help to defeat this temptation and He will help you.
7. Feet like burnished bronze – The altar outside the tabernacle was covered in bronze. Here the bronze is described as “refined in a furnace.” It is hot and glowing. Thus it signifies Jesus’ holiness. And it reminds us that He is moving through the churches to refine His church.
Isaiah 48:10 – Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
Throughout Scripture, we see that God uses the furnace of afflictions to purify us. Suffering and trial and discipline are all meant to refine us, burning out the sin and strengthening our faith.
Jesus wants to sanctify His church so that we will become like Him.
Application: Is your life being refined? Share an area of your life that God is refining lately.
8. His voice was like the roar of many waters – Don’t you want to hear what that sounds like? I do.
Though we can’t quite imagine this sound, water invokes many ideas to us. Water can be an extremely powerful force. Floods and tsunamis plow through everything in their way. The rumbling force of giant waterfalls can be heard far away. Given enough time, water can destroy anything obstructing its path, even solid rock.
And yet, the sound of water can also be soothing. Bubbling brooks, rainfall on a lake, gentle waves: all of these make us feel peaceful. Many listen to white noise of gentle water sounds to calm them.
And in the Bible, water is also a purifying force. Like fire, it cleanses.
Jesus’ voice is like all of the above. It is both simultaneously powerful, majestic, forceful, and peaceful, calming, and gentle. His voice purifies.
Let us look forward to the day when we can hear His wonderful voice with our own ears.
9. In His right hand He held the seven stars – These stars refer to the leaders of the seven churches (20).
10. From his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword – The sword represents the Word of God.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Jesus is the Word (John 1:1). His words are the very words of God. These words convict. They reveal. They shatter lies, confusion, doubt, and deceptions. All opposition of the nations will be struck down with merely a word (Revelation 19:15).
In this description, we see Jesus’ awesome power and authority. Just as He can create the universe with a word, so He can end anyone at any point in time with a simple command.
Application: Be on His side. We do not want to find ourselves to be His opponents. For them, there will be no hope.
11. His face was like the sun shining in full strength – At Jesus’ first coming, He veiled His glory. It was only partially revealed for a short period of time at the transfiguration. But this book is about the Revelation of Jesus. One day all will see Him as He truly His. His glory will not be veiled any longer. It is like the blast of seeing the sun at close range. Even the sun, we do not see in all of it’s power. The atmosphere shields us from its worst.
In Genesis, we can see that light existed before the sun. That light was most likely the glory of God.
And at the end of Revelation, we see that the eternal city will also have no need of the sun. God Himself is its light. Jesus, the Lamb, is its lamp.
Reflect: What does this teach us about Jesus?
Application: Reading this description of Jesus in all His glory, how should you respond to this? How should this knowledge affect your everyday life?
Revelation Study Paperback
We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work.
Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.