(1.11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
1. From verse 10 we expect significant things to be mentioned in verse 11. This is because John was “in the Spirit” and because of his mention of the voice described as like a trumpet. Does something significant happen, as we expect? It sure does. Up until this verse John has related to us things about the Lord that he knew. Now he begins to describe things which he experienced . . . things which he both heard and saw in this vision.
2. What exactly did John hear behind him? Remember, verse 10 says he heard the voice behind him saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last” and, “What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia, unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
3. Now folks, all of this is said while John’s back was turned to the speaker. It is not until verse 12 that John actually gets turned around. But before he even turns around we can discover from what he heard Who was speaking.
4. “I am the Alpha and the Omega”
Who said that back in verse 8? Was it not the Lord Jesus Christ? Of course it was.
5. “The first and the last”
This closely parallels what the Lord Jesus said in verse 8. But remember, in that verse John is relating what the Lord said. In this verse John actually hears Him speak. But is there not a passage in the Bible where these words seem to be mirrored? Yes, there is. Turn to Isaiah 48.12 and read:
“Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.”
Would anyone hazard a guess concerning the identity of the speaker in Isaiah 48.12? Correct. This is the God of Israel speaking. This is yet another instance in which the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is established.
6. “What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”
a. So this speaker, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God of Israel, commands John to write his observations down and send them to seven congregations, seven Churches, in the Roman province of Asia.
b. Not denominational headquarters, mind you. Nor were these letters to be dispatched to a synod or a diocese. As a matter of fact, these letters were not even sent to the head office of a parachurch ministry. Why not? Because none of these types of organizations existed in those days. They are an invention.
c. Jesus founded His church, a congregation that established other congregations. Moreover, it is my understanding of the Bible that the only organizations on earth that are Scripturally authorized to conduct God’s business are congregations like ours. Call me narrow, but that is what I find in the Bible.
d. By the way, the “book” that our glorified Lord directed John to write would not be a book as we see today. It was not a book like the construction of our Bibles or the hymnals we sing from, for such a thing had not been invented at that time, and would not be developed for centuries. “The Greek word refers to a scroll made of parchment formed from papyrus, a reed that grows plentifully along the Nile [River].”
(1.12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
1. “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me.”
a. John now turns to see the voice, which spoke to him. Obviously, John does not turn to see a voice. John is using a figure of speech, a metonymy. That is, he is using a word to represent another word. The word “voice” represents the one whose voice is heard.
b. It is like a newspaper that reads, “The White House commented on the Iraq affair.” Obviously, the White House cannot talk, but those represented by the designation “White House” can talk. So, this is a legitimate figure of speech. And it serves to illustrate that when we interpret the Word of God we need to be on our toes.
2. John’s description takes several verses, so what he is doing is describing the details first so he can focus on the main feature of his observation.
3. What detail does he go on to describe in verse 12? “Golden candlesticks,” which are, by the way, large lampstands. During John’s day candles such as we normally think of them had not been developed. So a candlestick would be a stand that had oil lamps on it or being an integral part of it.
4. If you have ever seen a Jewish menorah then you have an idea what is meant by this term “candlestick.” The difference being, a menorah is a single lampstand with seven branches, and what is spoken of here are seven lampstands.
5. John uses these “seven golden candlesticks” to represent the seven congregations in Asia to whom the seven letters will be sent. This will be brought out in verse 20, but several comments are warranted at this point:
a. First, a comment on the number of the “golden candlesticks.” “Throughout Scripture, 7 is the number of completeness, so these 7 lampstands are representative of all the churches.”
b. Next, though a lampstand is meant by this word “candlestick,” witness bearing is the main thought. The lampstand in the Tabernacle was to give light and was never to go out, according to Exodus 27.20 and 35.14. Its source of light was the oil which is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Churches are the light-bearers to the world. The source of a congregation’s shining is the Holy Spirit. Their testimonies were to never go out. Christ said: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5.14). This word is used seven times in Revelation. Six times in the plural (Chap. 1.12, 13, 20, twice; 2.1; 11.4), and once in the singular (Chap. 2.5), where the Lord tells Ephesus that unless she repents He will remove her candlestick (testimony), or her right to stand as a church, out of its place.
 See footnote for Revelation 1.11, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1993.
 J. Vernon McGee, Reveling Through Revelation, Part I, (Pasadena, CA: Thru The Bible Books, 1979), page 15.
 See footnote for Revelation 1.121, John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997), page 1993.
 L. Sale-Harrison, The Remarkable Revelation, (New York: Sale-Harrison Publications, 1930), pages 37-38.