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The mystery

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of the

seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,

and the seven golden lampstands are the seven churches.”


Here is the revelation that you need in order to understand the truth about the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are all the churches that are fully known and understood by God, and the seven golden lampstands are all the people of God being what they should be.”



The term “mystery” in the Bible referred to a truth that had been revealed, or something that could only be understood if it were revealed; human understanding cannot discern it. We use the term “mystery” to indicate something that is hard to figure out, but the Bible uses the word “mystery” for things that are easy to understand if you are in a right relationship with God and He chooses to reveal it to you. It has nothing to do with studying and searching and striving.

“The Seven Stars are the Angels of the Seven Churches”

John was told that the seven stars are “the angels of the seven churches.” This was explained because it would not be the normal understanding of the word “stars” (see note  on Revelation 6:13)

Who or what does the word “angel” refer to in this case? Instead of explaining all the possibilities, and there are several, I will tell you the one I think fits best.

Doesn’t it seem to you that these are letters to the churches themselves, not just some messenger or church leader? I believe that perception is correct. Notice also that each of the letters end with the words, “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” It does not say, “what the spirit is saying to the angel of the churches.” Each letter starts out being addressed to the angel of the church, and finishes being addressed to the church itself, as if they are one and the same.

The best explanation I have read is that the “angel” represents all that the church is, its personality, its strengths and weaknesses, and its specific mission based on its unique setting. We could call it the heartbeat of the church. However, these characteristics are rolled into one entity, which is pictured as the heavenly identity of the earthly church. Or we could say that this is the way this congregation is perceived in heaven, i.e. its reputation in heaven. These heavenly entities (the seven stars), together with the actual people who make up the congregation (the golden lampstand), demonstrate first the spiritual, and then the human aspects of the church. The seven stars and the seven lampstands are often mentioned together, for together they represent the spiritual and human realities of each congregation. The seven stars represent the church’s reputation in heaven, and the seven golden lampstands represent the church’s reputation on earth.

The word “angel” also means “messenger.” A messenger was someone who represented the other person. The messenger spoke with the same authority as the person who sent him, for that authority had been granted him by the one sending him. Thus, to rebuff a messenger from the king was to rebuff the king. To accept the messenger of a king was to accept the king.

The angel of the church at Ephesus is not God’s messenger to them, but their representative before God. Therefore, a letter to the angel of the church at Ephesus was a letter to the church. The messenger, and the church he represented, are one and the same. I believe the messenger was not an individual person, but rather the “heartbeat” of the church, the cumulative vibrancy, or lack thereof, that went up to God from them.

The letter to the angel of the church of Ephesus is indeed a letter to the people of God in Ephesus, just as you would think when you read it.

What is the emphasis created by saying “to the angel of the church at ______”?  The intent is to go beyond simply saying, “To the church at ______.”  The intent is to indicate that God sees and knows and understands everything going on in that congregation, good and bad, for their reputation has come to His attention and He has heard their heart-throb. For that reason, when the text we are accustomed to says, “To the angel of the church in _______ write:” I have chosen to repackage it as, “Write this to the church that is fully known and understood by God.”

It is significant that the text says the seven stars were being held in the “right hand” of Jesus. One’s right hand was a sign of strength and honor. Jesus places high value on the heartbeat of the churches; He has granted them honor and esteem; He holds them in His most powerful hand (this does not imply that His left-hand is weak).

“The Seven Golden Lampstands Are the Seven Churches”

The use of “lampstand” is explained because here it stands for something slightly different than its customary meaning. In the design and organization of the Tabernacle and Temple the lampstands stood for the glory of God. There God did not rely on any involvement from man to demonstrate His glory. However, in the image used here, God does involve man in demonstrating His glory. The seven golden lampstands represent all the people of God who show God’s glory to the world.

We should not miss the fact that these were golden lampstands. Gold was a symbol of purity because gold had to be very pure in order to have value. If there was any impurity mixed with the gold it was not worth anything. The symbol of purity fits well with the idea of God’s glory being revealed through the churches. A pure and holy life testifies like nothing else to the transforming power of God. It gives Him glory!

The lampstands of those days were made of receptacles which held oil; they were not candle sticks. Oil in the Bible usually represented the Holy Spirit, or one of the benefits the Spirit could minister into people’s lives. So this word picture is also a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to Him. This fits well with the idea of purity, for indeed, the control of the Spirit over our lives is necessary for purity.

The churches, as lampstands, were also to give light to the world; they were intended to take the light of Christ, who is the light of the world, and transmit it to others. This refers to evangelism and the efforts of the believers to win others to the obedience of the Gospel.

There were seven golden lampstands referring to all God’s people.

“Seven golden lampstands,” stands for 1) all the people of God 2) serving as demonstrations of God’s glory, 3) through purity of life, 4) which is made possible by the Holy Spirit, 5) causing us to shine the light of the Gospel to the world. WOW! That’s the power of Jewish imagery.