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20 The mystery of the lampstands[a] and the seven stars is this: the seven lampstands are the seven churches, and the seven stars in my right hand are the seven messengers[b] of the seven churches.[c]

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  1. Revelation 1:20 The lampstand becomes a powerful metaphor of the churches of Jesus. They burn, bringing light and illumination to the city as a witness of God’s glory (Matt. 5:14-16). It stood in the Holy Place, giving light for the priests to minister. Even with their problems these seven churches were “golden” (v. 12) in God’s eyes.
  2. Revelation 1:20 It is likely that these “messengers” represent the human leadership of the churches, who would be accountable to God to ensure that this message was presented to the churches. Heavenly angels would have no need for letters as a form of communication, nor would the reprimands in these letters apply to angels. See Beasley-Murray, Revelation, 69; Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1–7 Exegetical Commentary and Revelation 8–22 Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 1995; R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation, 1963.
  3. Revelation 1:20 The messages to the seven churches from Jesus Christ found in chs. 2–3 have at least four applications: (1) a local application to the specific cities and believers in the church; (2) to all the churches of all generations; (3) a prophetic application unveiling seven distinct phases of church history from the days of the apostle John until today; (4) a personal application to individual believers who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying.