16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
The seven stars represent seven angels that are assigned to the churches mentioned in verse 11. The angels can be literal or may mean human messengers who are sent to the churches as the Greek word for angels could mean. I personally believe that it refers to real angels because of Hebrews 1:14 which says, 14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
The phrase “and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword”, refers to His Word as seen in Hebrews 4:12 which says, 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Through God’s Word Jesus defeated Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and likewise in the future, see Revelation 19:15-21.
Jesus’ face shining like the sun reveals His divine nature because it is attributed only to God. An example of this is seen in Psalms 84:11 which says, For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
Jesus’ presence is so powerful that it shows how weak we really are. It is also a picture of our sinful nature that only Jesus can make us alive again through faith in Him. The phrase “I am the First and the Last”, Jesus is declaring to be God, see the commentary on verse 8.
18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
Jesus identifies Himself has the one who died on the cross and proclaims His resurrection so that we may know that our faith in Him is not based on a dead man but on one who lives and is eternal. We can be assured that after we die believing in Jesus we will live because He lives.
The phrase “And I hold the keys of death and Hades”, Jesus is the only one with the authority to send someone to hell or to heaven, depending if the person has trusted in Him or not.
19 “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.
Jesus tells John to write down the vision that He is showing him so that the churches may know where their spiritual growth is at and what will take placed in the future.
20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Jesus is the only one who can reveal mysteries and give one understanding of His Word. The angels are sent to God’s churches to protect those who have eternal life (see Matthew 18:10 and Hebrews 1:14).