Symbology: Like a son of man

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Revelation has hardly started before it uses symbols which are not explained and which we are expected to understand. The section from 1:10-20 is full of symbols that tell us who this personage ‘speaking like a trumpet’ is. Notice that John uses the phrase “like…” as in “a loud voice like a trumpet” Rev 1:10 this phrase “like…” occurs 43 times in Revelation, this should give us a clue to the fact that Revelation is using symbols.

{10} On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me aloud voice like a trumpet, {11} which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” {12} I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, {13} and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. {14} His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. {15} His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. {16} In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. {17} When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. {18} I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. {19} “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. {20} The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Rev 1:10-20 NIV
  • like a son of man (Dan 7:13, Mat 8:20 an expression Jesus used of himself)
  • head and hair were white like wool (Dan 7:9 could be God)
  • out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword (word of God Heb 4:12 cf. Rev 19:13and 15)
  • His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Mat 17:2 the transfiguration)
  • I am the First and the Last. (Isa 44:6, Isa 48:12 the Lord, implies deity, Rev 22:13 )
  • I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! (this can be none other than Jesus)

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