Revelation 1:18
(18) I am he that liveth, and was dead.--Better, and the living One (omit the words "I am"); and I became dead; and, behold, I am alive (or, I am living) unto the ages of ages (or, for evermore), "Amen" is omitted in the best MSS. This verse must be carefully kept in connection with the preceding, as the description should go on without pause. He is the living One--not merely one who once was alive, or is now alive--but the One who has "life in Himself, and the fountain and source of life to others, John 1:4; John 14:6; the One who hath immortality," 1Timothy 6:16 (Trench). Yet He became dead. There are two wonders here: the living One becomes dead, and the dead One is alive for evermore. It is another form of the glorious truth and paradox of which the Apostles were so fond (Philippians 2:8-9; Hebrews 2:9). Comp. Christ's words, Luke 9:24, and Luke 13:43, which contain promises which He only could make who could say, "I have the keys of death and of Hades." The order of these words has been transposed in our English version. The true order is the more appropriate order, "For Hades is the vast unseen realm into which men are ushered by death; dark and mysterious as that realm was, and dreaded as was its monarch, our risen Lord has both under His power. The keys are the emblems of His right and authority." (Comp. Revelation 3:7-8.) It is not of the second death that He speaks; our Lord is here seen as the conqueror of that clouded region, and that resistless foe which man dreaded. (Comp. John 11:25; Hebrews 2:15.) Comp. Henry Vaughan's quaint poem "An Easter Hymn"--

"Death and darkness get you packing,

Nothing now to man is lacking;

All your triumphs now are ended,

And what Adam marred is mended;

Graves are beds now for the weary,

Death a nap to wake more merry.

Christ had spoken before of the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18), and of the keys. (Comp. also 1Peter 3:19.) The key of the grave was one of the four keys which the Eternal King committed to no ministering angel, but reserved for himself (so Targum and Talmud). The whole verse affirms the undying power and inalienable authority of our Master, and is a fitting prelude to a book which is to show the inherent divine tenacity of Christianity. The Church lives on because Christ its Head lives on (John 14:19). The resurrection power which the Lord showed is to be reflected in the history of His Church. "The greatest honour is due to Christianity," says Goethe, "for continually proving its pure and noble origin by coming forth again, after the great aberrations into which human perversity has led it, more speedily than was expected, with its primitive special charm as a mission. . . . for the relief of human necessity"

Verse 18. - I am he that liveth. This should be joined with what precedes. "I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I became dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." "Became" or "came to be" (ἐγενόμην), as in vers. 9 and 10, indicates an exceptional condition. The "Amen" has been improperly inserted after "forevermore" (see on "forever and ever," in ver. 6) from liturgical usage. Most English versions omit it. The keys, as so often, are the sign of authority (Revelation 3:7; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 20:1; Matthew 16:19). Christ, as the absolutely Living One, who "has life in himself" and is the Source of life in others, has control, not merely over the passage from this world to the other, but over the other world itself. He can recall departed souls from their resting place. The error of rendering Αιδης "hell" has often been pointed out; it is not a place of punishment, but the temporary home of the departed, who are awaiting the day of judgment. "Death," in all the best manuscripts and versions precedes "Hades;" and this is the logical order.

1:12-20 The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God. And the apostle saw as though of the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He is with his churches always, to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love. He was clothed with a robe down to the feet, perhaps representing his righteousness and priesthood, as Mediator. This vest was girt with a golden girdle, which may denote how precious are his love and affection for his people. His head and hairs white like wool and as snow, may signify his majesty, purity, and eternity. His eyes as a flame of fire, may represent his knowledge of the secrets of all hearts, and of the most distant events. His feet like fine brass burning in a furnace, may denote the firmness of his appointments, and the excellence of his proceedings. His voice as the sound of many waters, may represent the power of his word, to remove or to destroy. The seven stars were emblems of the ministers of the seven churches to which the apostle was ordered to write, and whom Christ upheld and directed. The sword represented his justice, and his word, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb 4:12. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared. We may well be contented to walk by faith, while here upon earth. The Lord Jesus spake words of comfort; Fear not. Words of instruction; telling who thus appeared. And his Divine nature; the First and the Last. His former sufferings; I was dead: the very same whom his disciples saw upon the cross. His resurrection and life; I have conquered death, and am partaker of endless life. His office and authority; sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal. Let us listen to the voice of Christ, and receive the tokens of his love, for what can he withhold from those for whose sins he has died? May we then obey his word, and give up ourselves wholly to him who directs all things aright.I am he that liveth,.... As the eternal God, who has life in himself, originally, essentially, and inderivatively, and is the fountain and author of life to others; and who ever lived as the Mediator and Redeemer, and still does, and ever will, yea, even when he was dead as man:

and was dead; he died the death of the cross, for the sins of his people, in due time, and but once; and it was but a short time he was held under the power of death, and will never die any more:

and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; he was always alive as God, or he was always the living God, and ever will be; and he is now alive as man, and will for ever continue so; and he is alive to God, he lives by him, with him, and to his glory; and he is alive to the benefit and advantage of his redeemed ones, for whom he died; he ever lives to make intercession for them; he rose again from the dead for their justification; their being quickened together with him, and their being begotten again to a lively hope, are owing to his being alive; and as their reconciliation is by his death, so their salvation, or the application of it to them, is by his interceding life; and his resurrection is the cause of theirs: this is very fitly said to John, who was fallen as dead at the feet of Christ, and might be to animate him against the fears of death, or whatever he was to meet with on account of Christ; as well as to make himself known unto him, who had before known him, living, dying, and risen again. The word "Amen" is left out in the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions; but is in others, and is rightly retained, either as an asseveration of Christ to the truth of what is before said, or as an assent of John's unto it, who was a proper witness both of the death and resurrection of Christ:

and have the keys of hell and death; or "of death and hell"; as the words are transposed in the Alexandrian copy and Complutensian edition, in the Vulgate Latin and in all the Oriental versions, agreeably to Revelation 6:8, by which phrase is expressed the power of Christ over both: his power over death is seen in taking away persons by death when he pleases, the instances of Ananias and Sapphira are proofs of this; and in delivering persons from death when near it, as the centurion's servant, Peter's wife's mother, and the nobleman's son of Capernaum; and in raising persons from the dead, as Jairus's daughter, the widow of Naam's son, and Lazarus, when he was here on earth; and in his raising up his own body when dead, and which will also appear in raising all the dead at the last day: and his power over "hell", by which may be meant the grave, or the place of the departed, and separate souls, or the place of the damned and of the devils which are there, will be seen in opening the graves at the time of the resurrection, when death and hell, or the grave, will deliver up the dead in them, at his command; and in retaining or sending out the separate souls "in hades"; and in opening the doors of hell, and casting in the wicked, and destroying them, soul and body, there; and in shutting them up, that they cannot come out from thence who are once in; and in binding Satan, and casting him into the bottomless pit, and shutting him up there, the key of which he has in his hand; and in preserving his church and people from his power and malice, so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against them. This is an expression of the sovereignty, power, and authority of Christ; and is designed to encourage and support John under his present concern and anxiety of mind about the person he saw in this vision: , "the key of the grave", and of the resurrection of the dead, is frequently said by the Jews to be one of the keys which are in the hands of the holy blessed God, and his only; not in the hands of an angel or a seraph, or any other (u),

(u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 73. fol. 64. 3. Targum Jerus. in Genesis 30.21. & Jon in Deuteronomy 28.12. Zohar in Gen. fol. 67. 3. Pirke Eliezer, c. 34. T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 2. 1. & Sandedrin, fol. 113. 1.

Revelation 1:17
Top of Page
Top of Page