Revelation 1

The Beginning of John's Vision


He sent and made it known by His angel to His servant John (Revelation 1:1).

John is here depicted with an eagle, which is the symbol of both the apostle and his Gospel (taken from Rev 4:7). Depictions of John as the “beloved disciple,” as here, typically show him as a beardless youth, while depictions of “John the theologian” show him with a long white beard and a receding hairline. This statue from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran in Rome appears to depict John seeing a vision and writing the book of Revelation.

Witness to the Resurrection

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead (Revelation 1:5).

When John called Jesus “the firstborn of the dead,” he spoke of a reality that he had witnessed for himself, beginning with a visit to the empty tomb early in the morning on that first Easter Sunday. The site pictured here is a place that John knew well, though he would not recognize the church and shrine built over it to commemorate the place of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.


I was on the island called Patmos (Revelation 1:9).

The island of Patmos is located in the Aegean Sea, 37 miles (60 km) southwest of Miletus and 28 miles (45 km) south of the island of Samos. It is about 7.5 miles (12 km) long from north to south and its width varies up to 6 miles (10 km) from east to west. Patmos has an area of 13 square miles (34 sq km) and a circumference of 25 miles (40 km). The island is divided into three parts by two narrow isthmuses, and also includes a few small islets. This photo was taken from the center part of the island, looking toward the northern part.


And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands (Revelation 1:12).

The word “lampstand” (Gk. luchni) refers to a piece of furniture that was intended to elevate a lamp so that it could cast unobstructed light throughout a room. The word is closely related to the “lamp” (Gk. luchnos) that it was intended to hold. Most of the lampstands that have been found are made of bronze, although there can be little doubt that some were also made of perishable materials like wood. The lampstand on the left and the one in the middle were preserved by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The lampstand (candelabrum) on the right is Greek and dates to the late 6th century BC. It is missing its upper portion, which would likely have included an elaborate sculpture and a plate to support a lamp. These lampstands were photographed at the Getty Villa in southern California.

Burnished Bronze

His feet were like burnished bronze (Revelation 1:15).

The word “burnished bronze” (Gk. chalkolibanon) appears only here and in Revelation 2:18, and nowhere else in ancient literature. The word appears to be a compound of “brass/bronze/copper” (Gk. chalkos) and the verb “to pour” (Gk. leibō), and it likely refers to some sort of exceptionally fine metal or alloy (some have suggested electrum, an alloy of silver and gold). The bronze greaves shown here are polished and give some idea of the brilliance that the metal can achieve when properly worked. These greaves were photographed at the Thessalonica Archaeological Museum.

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