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Why does God Allow Evil?  Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm

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Should God’s existence be proven? /Apologeticshtml/Should the Bible and God Be Proven Fideism vs WCG.htm

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What Is the Meaning of the Symbols of Revelation 1?


What do the symbols of Revelation 1 really stand for?  Let’s analyze some of the symbols of the first chapter of Revelation, especially the description of Jesus.  For example, note that Jesus is portrayed as having hair white like wool.  Revelation 1:18 and the preceding verses are clearly a description of Jesus long after His resurrection and ascension to heaven:  "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore."  This description reflects that Jesus has fully again the glory that He had before the incarnation (i.e., His virgin birth) and the world was (John 17:5).

            So then, what's the significance of this depiction of Jesus?  By having white hair, Jesus is implied to be pure and righteous.  It likely alludes to His similarity to the Father as found in the book of Daniel 7:9:  "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool."  The glorified Jesus stood among seven lampstands, which represent the seven churches (and church eras) mentioned in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, the following two chapters.  This means Jesus is present with Christians spiritually down through the ages and as they assemble (Matthew 18:20).  This symbol also alludes back to the single golden lampstand with seven lamps that stood in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem before it was destroyed by both Babylon and Rome (centuries apart, in 586 b.c., and 70 A.D).  Notice how the seven lampstands correspond to the seven churches, and the seven stars refer to the seven angels who are messengers to the seven churches (Revelation 1:20).  When John says the stars are Jesus’ right hand, that means they are under His sovereign or complete control as their Lord and Creator.  It also likely alludes to the angelic host who will accompany Him when He returns.   Here (in verse 20), the Bible clearly explains the symbols in question.  Whenever possible, we should try to find the Bible’s own interpretation of its symbols, even if it occurs in another chapter or book, rather than inventing our own meanings and reading them into Scripture.  The general rule is, let the Bible interpret itself.


          In this vision, Jesus also had glowing bronze feet.  John F. Walvoord in “The Bible Knowledge Commentary” (p. 930), which has been consulted for insights in writing this email in general, says this alludes to the bronze altar in the temple being a place for the sacrifice for sin and divine judgment concerning it.  When He is said to have a sword coming out of His mouth, this refers to His power and authority to judge and wage war against the unrighteous nations when He returns in glory to the earth in the future (cf. II Thess. 1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-12, 21).


          When Jesus calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega (Revelation 1:11), that’s a synonym for when He says He is the First and Last and the beginning and the end.  “Alpha” was the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and “Omega” was its last letter.  So it would be like saying he was the “A” and “Z” of the English alphabet.  This title demonstrates that Jesus is God, that the great plan for humanity and His creation He began as Creator He will bring through to completion (cf. Revelation 21:6).  When John says Jesus’ face shone like the sun, this refers to His being the source of light and truth for humanity (John 1:6-8).  In Revelation 21:22-23, Jesus and the Father are the temple and source of light for the New Jerusalem.  This alludes indirectly to His great creative power since He created the sun and thus is superior to it, although many people from many civilizations down through the centuries mistakenly worshipped it as a god.  People instead  should worship He who created the sun, not the sun itself.


           When John wrote that Jesus had the keys to death and Hades, the place of the dead (Rev. 1:18), this refers to Jesus’ power to resurrected, judge, and condemn the human race (cf. Romans 14:10; II Cor. 5:10) since He is both their Creator and Savior.  He gives us life, but also can deny us eternal life if we don’t repent and have faith in Him as Savior (Romans 6:23).


            By careful reading and analysis, many of the symbols in the book of Revelation’s first chapter can be understood.  We should not see this book as automatically mysterious and impossible to truly understand. 


Eric V Snow

Click here to access essays that defend Christianity:  /apologetics.html

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Why does God Allow Evil? Click here: /Apologeticshtml/Why Does God Allow Evil 0908.htm

May Christians work on Saturdays? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Protestant Rhetoric vs Sabbath Refuted.htm

Should Christians obey the Old Testament law? /doctrinalhtml/Does the New Covenant Abolish the OT Law.htm

Do you have an immortal soul? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Here and Hereafter.htm

Does the ministry have authority? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is There an Ordained Ministry vs Edwards.html

Is the United States the Beast? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Are We the Beast vs Collins.htm

Should you give 10% of your income to your church? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Does the Argument from Silence Abolish the Old Testament Law of Tithing 0205 Mokarow rebuttal.htm

Is Jesus God? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Is Jesus God.htm

Will there be a third resurrection? Click here: /doctrinalhtml/Will There Be a Third Resurrection.htm



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