Text: Revelation 1:11-20

In the previous section we saw the Lord describe the seven churches of Asia as seven golden candlesticks. This description tells us (1) the function of local churches, that is, to bear witness of Christ in this world of darkness and (2) the preciousness of this witness, for it is by the testimony of the local Churches that Christ is to be glorified. It is God’s Word preached by the churches that will bring salvation to men. Therefore, every church must be diligent to ensure that it bears a pure witness for the sake of Christ.

Secondly, we saw how the pastors of the seven churches were described as seven stars that were held in the hand of Christ. This signifies how the pastors are under the authority of Christ to oversee the state of God’s flock. They are thus ac-countable to God for the affairs of the local church. The pastor must be faithful in his task as God’s messenger and spare no effort in declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).

We now move on from the description of the local churches to that of Christ as Head of the Church.

The Son of Man (v.13)
The title of “the Son of Man” emphasises on the humanity of Christ. He was the second Adam who died on the cross as our perfect Representative and Substitute (Romans 5:12-21). Our sins are washed away by Christ’s precious blood. However, as he knew no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), so death had no power over Christ. Therefore, Christ rose again from the dead on the third day for the justification of sins. As the Son of Man, Christ gave Himself for the church, that He “might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Christ, the second Adam, saved us by His perfect obedience in fulfilling the divine requirements of God’s justice. He is therefore most eminently qualified to be the Head of the Church. We owe our existence and salvation to Him. He has every right to demand that the church should walk in holiness and righteousness. The church must not be run according to man’s liking, but according to the directions of the Son of Man who has purchased it for Himself.

The Great High Priest (v.13)
Jesus Christ was further described as “clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” The description here fits that of the clothing worn by the high priest during the Old Testament times:

“And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” (Exodus 28:4)

“And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod” (Exodus 29:5)

It is most comforting for us to know that Christ is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 5:1-10). As the Great High Priest, he knows and feels the sorrows and pain of every believer who is suffering for His sake.

The Judge (v.14-16)
These verses describe Christ as the Judge of all judges.

 “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow” – this describes the perfect purity of Christ. Unlike the judges of the world who are all sinners, Christ is without sin and would thus judge perfectly without error. All His judgements are just.

 “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.” The melting point of brass is usually determined by its composition. Here, the feet of Jesus are described as fine brass, that is, brass of the highest melting point. The point here is that nothing is hidden from Christ, whose eyes “were as a flame of fire”. He will walk through every church and test them by fire! The test would be one that is most thorough. Everything would be exposed before Christ.

Some Christians think that the church is immune from judgement. However, Revelation teaches us that judgement in fact begins at the house of God. Churches who fail to repent of their wicked ways will have the light of their candlestick removed (c.f. Revelation 2:5). God will not be mocked.

Revelation 1:16 adds that Christ had a “sharp twoedged sword” proceeding out of His mouth. This two-edged sword refers to the Word of God. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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 in-tents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Every church will be measured by the perfect yardstick of God’s Word. Churches who pass Christ’s test of fire will be those who adhere to the forever inerrant and infallible Word of everlasting life. Similarly, God’s judgement will fall upon churches who wilfully disobey the truth. 

The One Who Controls Hell and Death (v.18)
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” – this describes the earthly ministry of Christ. He came to this earth to live as a man, keeping the commandments of God perfectly for our sake. He was then crucified and died on the cross of Calvary. Finally, after He was laid in the grave, He rose from the dead on the third day with a glorified body. Those who repent of their sins and believe in this truth shall have everlasting life.

As the resurrected Christ, He has power over life and death. Thus, Christ is said to have the keys of “death” and “hell”. He is the One who decides who will die and enter hell and the lake of fire. Christ has absolute sovereign control! Therefore, Christians need not fear those who will persecute them in this world. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)

With these descriptions of Christ as the Head of the Church, we will look next at Christ’s assessment of the Seven Churches of Asia.

(to be continued)

Yours affectionately,
Pastor C. Chew