A Word for Today | Revelation 1:9-16
One Sunday long ago, the apostle John was beginning his worship on the Lord’s Day, though he was alone and exiled on the Isle of Patmos. Caught up by the Holy Spirit, John was given a vision of Jesus in His exalted glory. Having heard behind him “a voice like a loud trumpet,” John turned to see “one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (Rev. 1:13-15).
Contrary to popular opinion, “Son of Man” does not refer to the humanity of Jesus but rather to the deity of the Savior come in the form of man. John is drawing from Daniel 7, which shows a vision at the end of the Son of Man who came “with the clouds of heaven” (Dan. 7:13) and whose description matches what John describes here. According to Daniel, the Son of Man is the one worthy to receive “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him” (Dan. 7:13). According to Douglas Kelly, the Son of Man is “the sovereign Master of an indestructible kingdom that is going to crush all others.” Far from signifying Jesus’ humble humanity, Son of Man makes the exact opposite point, declaring Jesus in his transcendent majesty and sovereign rule.
John mentions other features of the glorified Christ that bring comfort to His struggling people: “The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (Rev. 1:14-15). Here, the ancient and pure appearance of the Father as the “Ancient of Days” is applied to Christ, apparently to show the union of being which Christ and the Father share in the Godhead. With eyes like flames, feet like burnished bronze, and a voice like the roaring of the waves as they crashed against the rocks of Patmos, the Christ whom John saw in his vision was nothing less than very God of very God. Here is one who holds stars in his right hand (Rev. 1:16), and therefore possesses power no less than that which created and upholds all things.
By the emperor’s decree, the apostle John had been exiled, apparently no longer in a position to influence history. But though he was on Patmos, John was in Christ, and by the Spirit he was shown the true sovereign, the divine Jesus, God’s Son. Just as the Ancient of Days was seated in Daniel’s vision as judge of the nations, Christ is the ruler of kings on the earth and they will give account to Him in the day of HIs coming. What mattered most to John, therefore, was not the will of the Roman Caesar but the will of Christ. The same mighty Savior is with us, so that believers can always live boldly for Jesus, in accordance with His Word. The world is likely to scorn us and may even persecute us as it did John. But if the exalted Christ is with us, what will we fear? Should we not, like John, preach fearlessly the truths of God’s Word into a dark and hostile culture?
In Christ’s Love,
 Douglas Kelly, Revelation, Mentor Expository Commentary (Ross-shire, Scotland: Mentor, 2012), 26.