Revelation 1:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Revelation 1:12, NIV: I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

Revelation 1:12, ESV: Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,

Revelation 1:12, KJV: And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

Revelation 1:12, NASB: Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And after turning I saw seven golden lampstands;

Revelation 1:12, NLT: When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands.

Revelation 1:12, CSB: Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,

What does Revelation 1:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

John is describing how he came to receive this Revelation, from Jesus Christ. While "in the Spirit" (Revelation 1:10), John heard a powerful voice commanding him to write a message to seven churches (Revelation 1:11). According to this verse, John turned around to see who was speaking in a loud voice like a trumpet.

Upon doing so, he saw seven golden lampstands. In the Old Testament, a single golden lampstand with seven lamps that burned with oil stood in the tabernacle and later in the temple (Exodus 25:31; Hebrews 9:2). An angel showed the Old Testament prophet Zechariah a golden lampstand with a bowl on its top and seven lamps on top of it (Zechariah 4:1–2). This single lampstand represented the nation of Israel, whom God had chosen to be a light to the Gentiles.

However, the apostle John saw seven individual lampstands. As Revelation 1:20 explains, the seven lampstands represented seven churches. Each individual church was supposed to shine her light into a spiritually dark world. Addressing the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul exhorted, "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:14–15).