The Authority of Jesus in the churches
We are almost done with the introduction to this series and ready to move on to the churches. Actually, I was done but got lost on a small rabbit trail. So, next time readers can go down that trail with me!
Jesus is the head of His church, and his churches. That seems self-evident from scripture, yet somehow along the way that seems to have fallen by the wayside some. I write from the perspective of the work I am part of. One of the things we believe is that Jesus formed His church personally during His earthly ministry. We also believe that each church is an independent body and that no higher ecclesiastical authority can exercise authority over them. I know other works are organized differently in terms of ecclesiastical authority, and that’s fine. Nonetheless, Jesus has full authority over His churches. Regardless of how we have organized within our various tribes of Christianity, ultimately His churches report to Him and Him alone.
In the opening chapter of Revelation, we see that authority claimed quite explicitly by Jesus.
First Jesus claims divine authority as he prepares John to write down the letters He will dictate to the Apostle. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8. Jesus repeats this declaration again in verse 11. This is the same way God answered Moses when asked who He was. “I am.” Jesus establishes His credentials as the preexistent and eternal God in this section.
The imagery here practically shouts the power and glory of God. “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. ” Revelation 1:14-16. The hair white as snow seems to represent the holiness of God. We see eyes like a flame of fire that can see all that His churches are doing, even what they may think is hidden. Quite a few scholars see the brass feet represent the judgment of God, and possible judgment on sin in His churches. Not all agree on every particular of the meaning of all the imagery, but all agree of what it represents, and that is the power, holiness, and authority of God. Jesus being endowed with all of these things clearly established Jesus’ authority as well.
As we alluded to before, the fact that Jesus sent seven letters is likely no accident. Since seven represents the completeness of God, this seems to be an allusion to Jesus’ authority over all churches at all times.
Revelation 1:20 “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”
That the seven candlesticks are the churches is easy and clear; the meaning of the stars might be ambiguous, but I don’t think so. Angels can be translated as messengers. Since we don’t see any evidence elsewhere that actual angels have ever had authority in the churches, it seems likely this is a referral to the pastors, elders or other leaders of these congregations. Jesus is walking among the candlesticks; today He is still among and within His churches. Jesus literally holds the angels in His hand; He is in control of His churches and its leaders.
Friends, our congregations are not alone. Jesus even today is walking among them and has full control of what is happening in them. There is nothing going on, good or bad, that He is not in full awareness of.
Jesus had words to say to His churches then. Some were good words, and some were not good words. In this opening chapter, He clearly established His full presence with, knowledge of, and authority over the churches. In the following two chapters we will see what he had to say to the seven churches of Asia, and by default what He has to say to us today.