on Revelation 1 :16
In his right hand seven stars - The stars are afterwards interpreted as representing the seven angels, messengers, or bishops of the seven Churches. Their being in the right hand of Christ shows that they are under his special care and most powerful protection. See below.
Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword - This is no doubt intended to point out the judgments about to be pronounced by Christ against the rebellious Jews and persecuting Romans; God's judgments were just now going to fall upon both. The sharp two-edged sword may represent the word of God in general, according to that saying of the apostle, Hebrews 4:12 : The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, etc. And the word of God is termed the sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17.
And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength - His face was like the disk of the sun in the brightest summer's day, when there were no clouds to abate the splendor of his rays. A similar form of expression is found in Judges 5:31 : Let them that love him be as the sun when he Goeth Forth in His Might. And a similar description may be found, Midrash in Yalcut Simeoni, part I., fol. 55, 4: "When Moses and Aaron came and stood before Pharaoh, they appeared like the ministering angels; and their stature, like the cedars of Lebanon: - וגלגלי עיניהם דומים לגלגלי חמה vegalgilley eyneyhem domim legalgilley chammah, and the pupils of their eyes were like the wheels of the sun; and their beards were as the grape of the palm trees; וזיו פניהם כזיו חמה veziv peneyhem keziv chammah, and the Splendor of Their Faces was as the Splendor of the Sun."
on Revelation 1 :16
And he had in his right hand seven stars - Emblematic of the angels of the seven churches. How he held them is not said. It may be that they seemed to rest on his open palm; or it may be that he seemed to hold them as if they were arranged in a certain order, and with some sort of attachment, so that they could be grasped. It is not improbable that, as in the case of the seven lamp-bearers (see the notes at Revelation 1:13), they were so arranged as to represent the relative position of the seven churches.
And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword - On the form of the ancient two-edged sword, see the notes on Ephesians 6:17. The two edges were designed to cut both ways; and such a sword is a striking emblem of the penetrating power of truth, or of words that proceed from the mouth; and this is designed undoubtedly to be the representation here - that there was some symbol which showed that his words, or his truth, had the power of cutting deep, or penetrating the soul. So in Isaiah 49:2, it is said of the same personage, "And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword." See the notes on that verse. So in Hebrews 4:12, "The Word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword," etc. So it is said of Pericles by Aristophanes:
"His powerful speech.
Pierced the hearer's soul, and left behind.
Deep in his bosom its keen point infixt."
A similar figure often occurs in Arabic poetry. "As arrows his words enter into the heart." See Gesenius, Commentary zu, Isaiah 49:2. The only difficulty here is in regard to the apparently incongruous representation of a sword seeming to proceed from the mouth; but it is not perhaps necessary to suppose that John means to say that he saw such an image. He heard him speak; he felt the penetrating power of his words; and they were as if a sharp sword proceeded from his mouth. They penetrated deep into the soul, and as he looked on him it seemed as if a sword came from his mouth. Perhaps it is not necessary to suppose that there was even any visible representation of this - either of a sword or of the breath proceeding from his mouth appearing to take this form, as Prof. Stuart supposes. It may be wholly a figurative representation, as Heinrichs and Ewald suppose. Though there were visible and impressive symbols of his majesty and glory presented to the eyes, it is not necessary to suppose that there were visible symbols of his words.
And his countenance - His face. There had been before particular descriptions of some parts of his face - as of his eyes - but this is a representation of his whole aspect; of the general splendor and brightness of his countenance.
Was as the sun shineth in his strength - In his full splendor when unobscured by clouds; where his rays are in no way intercepted. Compare Judges 5:31; "But let them that love him (the Lord) be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might"; 2 Samuel 23:4, "And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun ariseth, even a morning without clouds"; Psalm 19:5, "Which (the sun) is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race." There could be no more striking description of the majesty and glory of the countenance than to compare it with the overpowering splendor of the sun. This closes the description of the personage that appeared to John. The design was evidently to impress him with a sense of his majesty and glory, and to prepare the way for the authoritative nature of the communications which he was to make. It is obvious that this appearance must have been assumed.
The representation is not that of the Redeemer as he rose from the dead - a middle-aged man; nor is it clear that it was the same as on the mount of transfiguration - where, for anything that appears, he retained his usual aspect and form though temporarily invested with extraordinary brilliancy; nor is it the form in which we may suppose he ascended to heaven for there is no evidence that he was thus transformed when he ascended; nor is it that of a priest - for all the special habiliments of a Jewish priest are missing in this description. The appearance assumed is, evidently, in accordance with various representations of God as he appeared to Ezekiel, to Isaiah, and to Daniel - what was a suitable manifestation of a divine being - of one clothed in the majesty and power of God. We are not to infer from this, that this is in fact the appearance of the Redeemer now in heaven, or that this is the form in which he will appear when he comes to judge the world. Of his appearance in heaven we have no knowledge; of the aspect which he will assume when he comes to judge people we have no certain information. We are necessarily quite as ignorant of this as we are of what will be our own form and appearance after the resurrection from the dead.
on Revelation 1 :16
1:16 And he had in his right hand seven stars - In token of his favour and powerful protection. And out of his mouth went a sharp two - edged sword - Signifying his justice and righteous anger, continually pointed against his enemies as a sword; sharp, to stab; two - edged, to hew. And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength - Without any mist or cloud.