The Book of
A Commentary for the Body of Christ
Revelation chapter 1
Revelation 1:1-20, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodocia. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Write the things which thou has seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
In the four Gospels we see Jesus Christ as meek, lowly, humble and subject to his enemies, finally dying on the cross. In the Book of Revelation we see the Living Jesus Christ as he is right now in heaven, in absolute control of the universe under God the Father, as our High Priest, interceding for us with the Father.
Revelation 1:1, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.” The word “revelation” is the Greek word apokalupsis, meaning “the uncovering, unveiling or revelation”, and it is called in verse 1 “The uncovering, unveiling or revelation of Jesus Christ”, not the revelation of John as so many people like to call it.
“to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass.” In Revelation 22:10 John is told “seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book.” Daniel, in contrast, in the 500s BC was told to seal the meaning of what was revealed to him, and that in the time of the end, people would understand it’s meaning. Important secrets about the Kingdom of God weren’t to be revealed until the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Mark 4:11-12 says, “And he said to them, ‘To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’ [Isaiah 6:9-10].” The book of Daniel has to be understood in the light of what is revealed in the Book of Revelation, the two are almost parallel prophecies, as we’ll come to see. Revelation reveals the secrets about the coming Kingdom of God which are given in both the book of Revelation and the book of Daniel--- the secrets about the prophecies of the Kingdom of God. It is also a vital key for unlocking the meaning and timing of all the Kingdom of God prophecies given in the Old Testament, such as are found in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and all of the Minor Prophets from Hosea to Malachi.
“And he sent and signified it.” Remember, a key rule about prophecy, 2 Peter 1:20-21, “…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” As J. Vernon McGee says, “The symbols given in Revelation are symbols of reality”, real things that are going to come to pass leading up to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the literal Kingdom of God on earth.
“must shortly come to pass” indicates urgent and absolute certainty that these things will occur. “shortly” has the meaning that when an event, say like vengeance, begins to occur, it will happen speedily, with great speed, in a brief time-span. It does not indicate that these events are about to occur right now, as you’re reading this, or when John first heard and saw these things, as he was writing them down. No, it does not indicate that at all.
Revelation 1:2, “Who bare record of the Word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.”
“Who bore record”, John is the scribe, he’s witnessing these events, actually seeing and hearing them like we would if we were watching an action/adventure movie. It’s like John is an eyewitness, and he records everything he saw and heard.
“of the word of God” The Word of God here refers to both Jesus Christ, who is the Living Word of God, and to what is written in this book. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ written down in words.
“and of all things that he saw.” John saw all these things, both saw and heard them. He might have even smelled them too, like smelling the stench coming off a battle-field. It was real to John, what he was witnessing, and he wrote it all down.
Revelation 1:3, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” Jesus says there’s a blessing for those who read and/or hear the words of this prophecy. It states right here that the words in the book of Revelation are prophecy. This is a book of prophecy, and Jesus is saying there will be a blessing bestowed on those who hear or read the words of this book. Prophecy, when properly understood, makes us as believers understand several important points. One, this world, age of man (and Satan) is temporary, and the coming Kingdom of God is going to be permanent, and is what counts. Prophecy is meant to take our eyes off of the things of the world and place them on the things of the Kingdom, the ways of that coming Kingdom of God. Those ways are explained and expounded upon within the four Gospels and all the Epistles of the apostles. Prophecy also reveals to us that God wins in the end, not Satan, not the world or its armies or it’s political leaders. They don’t win in the end, God does, our Lord Jesus Christ does. Those are a few of the blessings conferred on the readers and hearers of the words written in the book of Revelation. That is what Jesus Christ told John in verse 3 of Revelation 1.
Incredible greeting, verses 4-8
Revelation 1:4, “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the Seven Spirits which are before his throne.” This is a greeting from John, the writer and from Christ in heaven, and from the Holy Spirit. “Asia” here is referring to Asia Minor (the area of modern Turkey now) where these seven churches are located, the seven churches the book of Revelation was sent to, I would assume, as a letter, since John is addressing them in particular. But this salutation (which Paul uses often) and greeting is also addressed to us, as we shall see in the next two chapters. It is addressed to all believers down through the ages.
“Grace be unto you, and peace.” The word grace is charis, the Greek form of greeting at the beginning of a letter. And peace is the Hebrew shalom, the Hebrew form of greeting at the beginning of a letter. Often my Israeli friends will start their letters or emails to me with the word “Shalom Pete” instead of “Dear Pete”. Paul when writing used both the Greek and Hebrew words for greeting, thus representing the two major branches of the body of Christ, the Jewish and Gentile branches. John is doing the same here.
“from him…and from the seven Spirits” refers to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, also probably referring to the seven lampstands.
Revelation 1:5-6, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. And hath made us kings and priests unto God, and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
“faithful witness” indicates that Jesus is the only trustworthy witness to what’s written in the book of Revelation.
“first begotten of the dead” shows Jesus is the first to rise from the dead, the first human being, God in the flesh, the very first to rise from the dead. And he is never to die again. He was the first in the process, but will not be the only human to rise from the dead. He is never to die again, he now is in a glorified body, glowing like the sun in its full strength, as we shall soon see.
“the prince [ruler] of the kings of the earth” refers to the future position of Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, King of the whole earth (cf. Zechariah 14:9).
“washed us from our sins in his own blood” It is the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross, that paid the penalty for my sins and yours, and the sins of everyone who asks and accepts Jesus into their lives. We will never be totally sinless as human beings. We are supposed to become less sinful as we grow in the Lord. But Jesus has paid the whole penalty for all of our sins, for each and every one of us. Do not be like some people who call themselves Christian, who belittle the blood of Christ, either verbally or through their actions.
Revelation 1:7, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” The actual literal second coming of Jesus Christ is described here (cf. Matthew 24:29-30). “they also which pierced him…” refers to the Jews, as it is written in Zechariah 12:10b, “then will they look on me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for him as one mourns for his only son.” The part of the body of Christ that believe in the Rapture of the Church, doesn’t believe this verse refers to that Rapture. They believe that when Jesus does come to Rapture the Church, not every eye will see him. But they do believe that when Jesus comes to take over rulership of the earth, that it is then when he comes down and stands on the Mount of Olives, as Zechariah 14 describes. They believe, and properly so, that this verse 7 in Revelation chapter 1 refers to the actual 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. Here, as we see, it says that “every eye shall see him”.
Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” “Alpha” and “Omega” are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the beginning and the end of God’s alphabet, Gods communication with mankind---the Living Word of God. If you are going to successfully communicate with God the Father, you’ve got to do it by and through the Word of God, both written and Living. Jesus Christ was at the beginning of God’s creation, as the pre-incarnate Christ, Yahweh, the Great I AM (cf. Genesis 1:1; Exodus 3:13-13; John 8:58-59), and he is at the end of God’s great plan of salvation, as the book of Revelation will show us. Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Revelation 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” Jesus says this at the beginning of Revelation and then says it at the end. Verse 4 through 8 make up this incredible opening section of greetings from John the eyewitness and writer, and from Jesus Christ.
Post-Incarnate Christ, verses 9-20
Revelation 1:9, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle of Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” John describes where he received this astounding vision from the Lord.
“your brother, and companion in tribulation” refers to the local persecution going on in Asia Minor under Domitian (AD 96). This emperor had put John in prison on the Isle of Patmos, a rugged volcanic island off the coast of Asia Minor (it’s 10 miles long and 6 miles wide). John was exiled there by Domitian from about 86AD to 96AD. John had been very active in the church at Ephesus and throughout all the churches in Asia Minor, teaching the Word of God. You get in trouble when you teach from all of the Word of God. But be of good cheer, you’re in good company. He is a companion in tribulation with those he’s directly writing this to, the seven churches in Asia Minor. So John’s stating where he is when he received this vision directly from Jesus Christ.
Revelation 1:10-11, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, what thou seest, write in a book, and send it [ie, the entire book] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodocia.” John is receiving this vision by, through, and as a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit. John 16:13-14, “However, when he, the Spirit of truth, has come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak; and he will tell you things to come. He will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it unto you.” We are about to see the glorified Jesus Christ (in vision here), in his divine office as our Great High Priest. Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,…”
“I was in the Spirit…” i.e. the Holy Spirit was giving John a sight and sound panoramic picture. Motion pictures, movies didn’t exist back then, but John was the first to see one that would make today’s Hollywood movies appear puny and amateurish by comparison.
“on the Lord’s day…” No one’s sure of the meaning of this. Some scholars say it represents “the Day of the Lord” which ties into all the “Day of the Lord” tribulation prophecies. Others say it represents either the Sabbath or Sunday, an ordinary ‘day of worship’, whatever day that may have been for the early Church in Asia Minor back then.
“…and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Who was it? John tells us in the very next two verses. Obviously this voice had a blaring volume to it, probably blasted poor John off his feet, that is, before he fainted dead away at the feet of this glorified Jesus.
Revelation 1:12-13, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” John turns around to see the voice---like a trumpet blast---that spoke to him, and saw “one like unto the Son of man”, i.e. one like Jesus Christ in appearance. But he appeared different somehow. He was standing in the midst of seven candlesticks or lampstands, made of gold. Unlike the Hebrew candelabra of the Old Testament, the Menorah which stood in the Temple, these lampstands are seven individual lampstands, seven of them. Take note of that. Dr. Herman Hoeh, a knowledgeable historian in the old Worldwide Church of God said that the seven connected candlesticks of the Menorah represented the Old Testament ‘Church in the Wilderness’ under the high priest system. The Temple was a church indeed, but had continuity of leadership from the time of Aaron, its first high priest until Caiaphus in the time of Christ. These lampstands Jesus Christ is standing in the midst of are separate and individual, representing seven individual churches. What those seven lampstands and seven churches represent will become clear to you in the next two chapters of Revelation. Be patient.
“one like unto the Son of man” Next, the appearance of Jesus here. John says “one like unto the Son of man”. The one who spoke like a trumpet had the appearance of Jesus Christ, but something was radically different about him. Throughout the Gospels Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man. So this is Jesus John is beholding, but somehow different in appearance, as we’ll see in a few verses. He’s standing in the middle of these seven golden lampstands it says, “clothed with a garment down to the feet, and girded about the chest with a golden girdle (or sash).” These garments are quite similar (maybe identical) to those of the high priest in Exodus 28:2-4. What is being pictured here to John is Jesus Christ, as he stands in the midst of the churches, those seven churches, standing in their midst judging them, as we will see in the next two chapters. And we will see that he is actively judging them, trimming the wicks of these church-lampstands, so that they will burn brightly. This active trimming or pruning is something John quoted Jesus about in John 15:1-2, where he quoted Jesus as saying, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away; and every branch that bears fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Jesus as our high priest, along with the Father as John 15 shows us, is interceding and intervening for us on a daily basis, pruning, washing the ‘feet of the saints’ (1 John 1:9). His ministry, as a part of this, is also of inspection and judgment (‘every branch that does not bear fruit, he cuts off, or takes away.’) Where is Jesus now, as pictured here? He’s walking in the midst of these lampstands. The lamps on the lampstands, just like the Menorah, burn pure olive oil, which represents the Holy Spirit. Our light to the world is not light at all if it is not due to the indwelling Holy Spirit within each of us, burning within us, and collectively the churches we attend. Again John 15:1-2 shows he is in the constant process of inspection and pruning, trimming the wicks of our lamps, cutting away the deadwood. In John 15:1-2 another translation for the word “pruning” is “washing”. In the actual process of vine-dressing and growing of grapes sometimes the vinedresser actually prunes or cuts off or cuts back live branches, to make them grow more, it stimulates growth. He also washes the branches of the vines, which keeps them healthy and free from disease and parasites. Pruning actually promotes growth, and there is a whole science about the pruning of the various species of plants to promote growth. It is the trials Christians go through that have a pruning effect on them. We are washed and continually sanctified by the Holy Spirit within us, and made to burn brightly.
Revelation 1:14-16, “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.” As John turned around and saw Jesus clothed in this royal High Priestly robe with a golden sash wrapped around his chest, he now also noticed what Jesus looks like in the full intensity of his glorified state, probably as he was as Yahweh in the Holy of Holies, but most definitely as he is now. The Bible says that no man can look on God and live. But remember John is seeing this as a vision, so he isn’t vaporized, as Jesus’ appearing on the Mount of Olives (cf. Zechariah 14:12-15) will do to his enemies at his 2nd coming. It says “his countenance” his appearance “was as the sun shineth in his strength.” If you got too close to the sun, it would vaporize you instantly. When Jesus returns, the sun, moon and stars will appear to go dark, simply due to the fact that Jesus’ luminosity (a term used in astronomy) is far brighter than that of the sun and stars.
“He has in his right hand the seven stars.” This would indicate that Jesus is in total control of the universe, and he is. But that isn’t Jesus’ own interpretation for this portion of the verse. We will see what it is a little later. But Jesus is in control of the whole universe, now estimated as being composed of upwards of 100 billion galaxies!
“Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword” Now this probably is a metaphor. Jesus is called in John 1 “the Word of God”, he is the Living Word of God. What does Hebrews 4:12 tell us? “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Revelation 1:17-18, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen. and have the keys of hell [Hades] and of death.” Do you remember how the apostle John was the disciple who was really close and friendly with Jesus at the last supper? He was actually leaning against Jesus’ chest during part of the meal. But when John saw Jesus as he is now, even today, in this vision, and then heard him speak with a voice like a blaring trumpet and “as the sound of many waters” (ever stand up close to Niagara Falls?), well, John says, “I fell at his feet as dead.” John may have actually fainted dead away, right on the spot. Can you imagine this? John saw this stunning moving image, with sound and all, like a holographic 3-D image that looked realer than real, he saw what we just read through (but written words cannot do it justice), and he fainted dead away at the feet of the glorified Jesus Christ. What we have taken perhaps five, ten minutes to read through John saw and heard, verses 1-17, within a matter of seconds, then plop, he’s down on the ground, probably out cold. Can you even begin to imagine what John just experienced here? I don’t think any of us can.
“And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.” First, obviously, Jesus had to revive John. Then he identifies himself again as he did in verses 10-11, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.”
“And have the keys of Hades and of death” This sentence speaks of the authority and power the resurrected, glorified Jesus has. He has authority over Hades and death itself. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life.” Paul stated “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Hades is a word used in the Bible to denote the grave, simple as that. The body of Christ in its various denominations have placed differing interpretations as to what they think Hades represents. That is not the purpose of this commentary. [If you’re interested in that subject, and the various beliefs held within the body of Christ, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm and read through those two articles.]
The three divisions of the Book of Revelation
Revelation 1:19, “Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” Here Jesus repeats his instructions to John, that he is to write those things which he sees. But this time there’s a timing element thrown into the command to write what he sees, the three tenses, past, present and future. The book of Revelation is divided into these three tenses, even for us reading it today. “Write the things which thou hast seen”, past tense, “and those things which are”, present tense, “and the things which shall be hereafter”, future tense.
“the things which thou hast seen”, past tense. John had seen the glorified Jesus Christ. So the past tense refers to everything John just saw and wrote about from Revelation 1:1 to Revelation 1:19.
“the things which are”, the present tense. These are to be the prophecies of the Church in seven successive era’s, starting from its birth at Pentecost (31/32AD) through the seven successive periods of its history. This goes through Revelation chapters 2 and 3.
“the things which shall be hereafter”, future tense, or as J. Vernon McGee’s personal (and strictly unofficial) translation renders this, “the things which you are about to see after these things.” The Dispensational Pre-Millennial side of the body of Christ (i.e. those who believe in the pre-millennial Rapture of the Church) believe this about verse 19, quoting J. Vernon McGee, “This is the program of Jesus Christ, and we shall see that the Church goes to heaven, and then we shall see these things take place on the earth after the Church leaves it. This program of Jesus Christ is covered by [Revelation] chapters 4-22.” [J. Vernon McGee, THRU THE BIBLE SERIES, Vol. V, p. 897, par. 7] As to whether the Church at the end times is protected by being taken to “a place or places of safety” or Raptured to heaven to be protected from the events of Revelation 4-19, is immaterial. The Bible promises God will protect the Philadelphia era “from the hour of temptation”, i.e. the tribulation, and perhaps the trying time that leads up to it. But the Scriptural passages that prove it’s gonna be a “Rapture to heaven” or being taken to a “Place of Safety on earth” are so much in the grey area as far as proper interpretation, that it just doesn’t matter, and only proves divisive to the body of Christ. The Classic or Historic Pre-Millennial side of the body of Christ differs only slightly with J. Vernon McGee’s statement, in that they believe the Philadelphia era of the Christian Church stays put on earth, but is protected from the Great Tribulation (cf. Rev. 4-22) in either “a place of safety” or “many places of safety around the world” which God will bring them to. Again, the Scriptures that back up either pre-millennial interpretation can be taken in one of two ways, pro-Rapture or Pro-Place-of-Safety. Both sides, Dispensational or Classic Pre-millennial make real doctrinal mountains out of this spiritual mole-hill, and much to their discredit. I try to present both sides, and leave it at that, simply because the issue is in God’s hands, really, and has proven to be nothing but divisive within the body of Christ. That is to our shame, not credit. Better to climb off that particular soap box. We will look at those verses in Revelation 4. Hopefully, regardless of which interpretation you believe, you will come to see that this is a secondary doctrine of the Bible and not a primary one---ie your salvation doesn’t hinge on which way you believe, and arguing about it is only a waste of time, which is so precious nowadays.
“And in his right hand seven stars” Remember that in verse 16? And then in verses 12-13 shows Jesus standing “in the midst of seven candlesticks” (or lampstands)? Well, the Bible usually interprets its own symbols, and Jesus’ own interpretation for verses 12-13 and verse 16 is found in verse 20 of Revelation 1. Revelation 1:20, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” Even though I said that some interpret the meaning of the seven stars in the right hand of Jesus show he’s got the whole universe under his direct control, we must be very careful about tacking our own interpretations onto Scripture, without backing it up with other Scripture in proper context. That interpretation I mentioned is not the Bible’s or Jesus’ interpretation about what the seven stars represent or are symbolic of. In Jesus’ own words to John the seven stars represent the seven angels of the seven churches.
“The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” And that last statement introduces us to the next two chapters in the book of Revelation, chapters 2 & 3. There are potentially two interpretations as to who the angels of the seven churches are. The word “angel” here and in verse 20 is the Greek word meaning “messenger”. Some, including J. Vernon McGee think “messenger” represents the leader or senior pastor of each of the seven churches, and by extrapolation, the founding leader who starts up that ‘church’s era’. But others interpret “messenger” as actually meaning “angel”, as the Greek for “angel” is messenger in other places throughout the Bible and New Testament, and is actually being used to denote real angels, who are also referred to as “messengers”. Take your pick, we don’t know for sure. The translators translated the Greek word “messenger” as “angel” because they strongly believed that was what it meant. I am inclined to believe them. [Strongs # 32, for the word “angel” has aggelos; messenger; esp. an “angel”. This is the word used almost exclusively throughout the whole New Testament for the word “angel”.]