… and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. (Rev 1:16-18)
The picture of royal authority and magnificence is further amplified by the shining sun-like light emanating from the Son of Man. In Mathew 17:1-2 at the transfiguration event of Christ similar description was used. There we read,
“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.”
The difference between the book of Revelation and the Matthew’s account is simple – in the gospels Jesus’ transfiguration is a temporary glance, but in the Letter of Revelation it is permanent. So overwhelming was the vision of John that he found himself on the floor struck and paralyzed with fear. This is what happened to the disciples at the appearance of the cloud during Jesus’ transfiguration. The hand of the Son of Man quickly touched John and the words of comfort followed. The Son of Man told him not to be afraid, since he was once dead, but now is alive forever. Not only that, but the ultimate authority over death itself and the entire kingdom of darkness now belonged to the resurrected Son of Man (the keys of death and of Hades were now in his hand).
Holding keys to a particular domain is a clear sign of ability to exercise authority connected to that domain. Keeping doors closed or opening them always restricts or allows access. During this time in Jewish religious though we see many references to this general idea. In Matt 16:19 Peter is promised the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. In Matthew 23:13 Jesus speaks of Pharisees and Scribes not entering the Kingdom and keeping others locked out as if they had the authority and ability to do so. In Luke 11:52 parallel the Pharisees have taken away the “key of knowledge” so people cannot enter. In 3 Baruch 11:1-3 Michael the archangel is described as holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven,
1 And the angel took me and led me thence to a fifth heaven. 2 And the gate was closed. And I said, Lord, is not this gate-way open that we may enter? And the angel said to me, We cannot enter until Michael comes, who holds the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; but wait and thou shalt see the glory of God. 3 And there was a great sound, as thunder. (3 Baruch 11:1-3)
Not only the Kingdom of Heaven has gates that can be locked and unlocked, but also the Kingdom of Hell (Hades), the underworld has gates as well (Mat 16:18). A Midrash ascribed to Rabbi Akiva cites this tradition,
“In that hour the Holy One, blessed be He, takes the keys of gēhinnōm and gives them to Michael and Gabriel before the eyes of all the righteous, and says to them: Go and open the gates of ḡhinnōm … Forthwith Michael and Gabriel go and open the 40,000 gates of ḡhinn̄om”.
Jesus as the resurrected Son of Man, one whose face radiates God’s glory has the authority and control not only in heaven, but also in Hell (Hades). A passage often mistakenly published in the appendix of Josephus’ writings that was written by Hyppolitus of Rome (beginning of 3rd century CE) explains about the idea of the Hades as understood by him,
“Hades is a place in the world not regularly finished; a subterraneous region, wherein the light of this world does not shine; from which circumstance, that in this region the light does not shine, it cannot be but there must be in it perpetual darkness.” (Discourse on the Greeks concerning Hades, Dissertation V, 1).
In the light of this popular idea that hades are associated with deep darkness, it makes perfect sense that the face of Jesus shines like the sun at its strength (vs.16). Moreover, it is understandable why John is told not to be afraid.
Lastly, Jesus calls himself the first and the last possibly referring to the Alpha and Omega title. But he is also the risen one, the one who is alive right now. One can see the three aspects (past, future and present) in this symbolic statement. This phrase is similar to the skillfully veiled reference of יהוה, the one “who is and who was and who is to come” in Rev.1:8-9.
Join the conversation (67 comments)
Dr Eli God Bless you for teaching about our God, also I would like to get the book that you mention thank you again
Thank you for the kind remarks
Thanks, Ruth, glad you enjoyed it.
gracias por darme la oportunida de aprender mas de la palabra
In Mat 15:14 Messiah tells the talmidim to disassociate themselves from those sitting in the seat of Moses and Aaron and then passes the authority over to the 12 in Mat 16:19 prior to Rev 1:18.
I see your point. Keys are still only a metaphor for authority.
Thanks for teaching and sharing.
Glad you joined us.
Dr Eli, I am a complete newbie to your teachings as I just joined & this is my 1st teaching to read & study. Although I enjoyed it, I am having a problem finding the book of Baruch??? Where is 3 Baruch in the Bible so I can compare with other translations?
Blessings & shalom!
Dear JP, Welcome. 3 Baruch is an extra-biblical text. You can fin such texts published as special editions known as Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.
If you want to read our Revelation study from the beginning click here
Dear Dr Eli, I just joined your forum but if you don’t mind to help me get on track, just to answer my questions? Can you tell me who Jesus is, and if he was the Messiah?
Shalom, Wilna. We welcome anyone on this forum including people that think that Jesus was not the Messiah. We mainly deal with question of history and culture on this blog and not with questions of theology so much. But to answer your question clearly is that I think he is the Messiah, the Logos of God become flesh. So, there you go :-), welcome.
Dear Wilna Pretorius,
If you read the Word of God, you will find the answer you seek for Jesus is the Messiah. It is written in John Chapter 4: Verse 25,The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Further in John Chapter 20 verse 31 :But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The two versus is from the NIV version and you can look up the net under bible hub and you will find answers you need from the bible. Simply because it gives you from various translation for you to have a deeper understanding.
This verse is take from Aramaic Bible in Plain English, John 20:31
But these things are also written that you may believe that Yeshua is The Messiah, the Son of God, and when you believe, you shall have eternal life in his name.
If I may comment and if I offend anyone I ask of your forgiveness but what I say is from the word of God not my own as I love Jesus and I will defend my Saviour for he is the I am the God that spoke to Abraham, who appeared to Moses in the burning bush and who is the God of Isaac and Jacob. he is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It is God’s chosen people (The Jews) that do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah,( for this reason Jesus turned to the Gentiles) they were waiting for a King in Kingly robe to appear not the son of a carpenter born of a virgin. He came in that form to show us humility, for this reason it is written in Mark Chapter 6 verse 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.”
As it is written in Aramaic Bible in Plain English:-
And Yeshua said to them, “There is no Prophet who is despised except in his city and among his kindred and in his house.”
There are many more that I can tell you but it is good if you start looking into the word of God, for his words brings life and his word is Yea and Amen. Every promise he has made to you in his word and to Abraham he will do. if you do not understand ask for wisdom for God says for those of you who lack wisdom ASK and it will be given graciously.
I hope this help because we prays for the Jews to know God (Jesus) and to return to him, and I will stop here because I can quote Scriptures to you about this too.
Take Care Be Blessed
(A Gentile that love,worships and trust only Jesus with all his Heart)
It’s also easy using only Tanach scripture to prove Yeshua as Messiah. This can be an important distinction when teaching Jewish friends, since they don’t recognize the brit chadasha ( the “new testament”) as “scripture” yet. Point them to Isaiah 53, to start.
Baruch haba b’shem Yeshua!
Can you explain to me from the Tanach to prove Yeshua as the Messiah? Is there not a line of messiah’s in the Tanach starting the beginning?