‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:10-11: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” ...
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:17: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,”

In chapter 1 it is clearly Jesus but who is speaking henceforth every time a church is being addressed?

“To the angel of the church in ... write” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2&3

The messages to the churches appear to be Jesus speaking about himself

Yet the message to each of the churches ends with

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2&3

Who is speaking?

  • Jesus Christ?
  • The Holy Spirit?
  • Both but on separate occasions? First to John and then to the congregants.

How does one make sense of this?

  • The Spirit speaks the Word(s) of God through the Prophets; thus, even were Jesus to have been a mere Prophet, instead of the embodiment of God's divine Word, the (logical) answer would still be both.
    – Lucian
    Nov 3, 2020 at 9:49
  • @curiousdannii I’m curious why you edited the posting? Nov 3, 2020 at 11:59
  • 1
    Fix the "Revelations" in the title, make the break between the verses clearer, and remove the IMO unnecessary italics for quotes (they're already marked out as quotes, better to save italics for emphasis.)
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 3, 2020 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


If we accept that the person speaking to John in Rev 1 is Jesus, that is the one who is:

  • Walking among the lampstands (v13)
  • the Son of Man (v13)
  • long robe and golden sash around His chest (v13)
  • hair like wool, white as snow (v14)
  • eyes like blazing fire (v14)
  • feet like polish bronze (v15)
  • Voice like many waters (v15)
  • held 7 stars in right hand (v16)
  • sharp double-edged sword from mouth (v16)
  • face like the sun (v16)
  • First and Last (v17)
  • was dead but now alive forever (v18)
  • Holds the keys to death and hades (v18)

Then it is a simple matter to determine who is speaking to each of the seven churches.


  • He who hold 7 stars in right hand
  • walks among the 7 lampstands

... ie, Jesus according to Rev 1.


  • first and last
  • dead but now lives again

... ie, Jesus according to Rev 1.


  • he who has the sharp two-edged sword from the mouth

... ie, Jesus according to Rev 1.


  • Son of God
  • eyes like blazing fire
  • feet like burnish bronze

... ie, Jesus according to Rev 1.


  • holds 7 spirits of God
  • Hold 7 stars in hand

... ie, Jesus according to Rev 1.


  • holy and true
  • holds Keys of David to door shuts and no one can open etc.

... ie, Jesus according to NT theology


  • Amen
  • faithful and true
  • ruler of God's creation

... ie, Jesus by NT theology.

Note that most of the titles for Jesus in the seven churches are taken from the description in Rev 1. It is also there that Jesus instructs John to write what Jesus is about to tell him, Rev 1:11.

Thus, Jesus is the one speaking throughout Rev 1, 2, 3.

This is all very well but what do we do with the seven times that we read, "let him hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches", Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29, 3:8, 12, 22? This is actually less complicated than it appears.

The seven messages in Rev 2 & 3 are spoken by Jesus to John (via an angel, Rev 1:1-3). HOWEVER - having conveyed these messages to the churches, each member of every church 9then and since) must accept and understand those message which is only possible by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. Note this well-known verse:

1 Cor 2:14 - The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

See also John 16:13, etc. Therefore, while Jesus speaks the messages to john (who records them for us) we must understand and "hear" them by means of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Jesus asks that each person listen or "hear" what the Spirit is saying in these messages to the seven churches.

  • Appreciate the answer and for the most part not only do I agree but it answers most of the question. +1 for that. However I’m going to ask in the simplest way I can, if Jesus is personally speaking to John and His messages follows with “hear what the spirit is saying to the Church”, is this Jesus’ spirit speaking to the churches or is it the Holy Spirit speaking to the churches? This on account that the Holy Spirit is not Jesus and Jesus is not the Holy Spirit, though yes they are both one/echad/hen God. Thank you Nov 3, 2020 at 11:56
  • @NihilSineDeo - answer updated as requested.
    – Dottard
    Nov 3, 2020 at 21:57

An Interesting observation. That clarification you offered in a comment helped. And although the answer is in some respects is relatively obvious, it’s not, therefore this is worth asking.

Let’s take a closer look. The ‘key’ is in this statement seen in several verses...

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” Revelation‬ ‭2&3

That idiom ‘he who has an ear’ is always a reference to mans spiritual ‘ear’, not his ‘physical’ ear. It’s used in numerous places throughout the Gospels.

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear

Mark 4:23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear

So we need to consider what ‘speaks’ to mans ‘spirit - and that is the Holy Spirit - which is all we have access to, because Jesus said ..

John 16:7 Let me assure you, it is better for you that I go away. I say this because when I go away I will send the Helper to you. But if I did not go, the Helper would not come.

John 15:26 I will send you the Helper from the Father. The Helper is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father. When he comes, he will tell about me. 27 And you will tell people about me too,

So if we, or the ‘churches’ ‘hear’ anything from Jesus/God, it will only ever be via the Holy Spirit - which is God/Jesus.


'How does one make sense of this?' Only by a theological reading which notes the highly developed Trinitarian theology of Revelation.

The opening epistolary greetings is from God the Father (who is who was and who is to come) the seven spirits (which is a way of talking about the Spirit from Is 11) and Jesus.

What Jesus says to the churches is said by the Spirit, since, as elsewhere in the NT, the Spirit speaks the words of Jesus to his people.

In a similar way, whilst keeping the persons distinct, John fuses the words, action and worship of the One on the Throne and the lamb, so they reign together and are worshipped together.

I argue in my Tyndale commentary that the Spirit is present in the New Jerusalem in the form of the river of the water of life, an image from Ezekiel picked up in the Fourth Gospel as a symbol of the Spirit poured out for us. Jesus invites all to drink from the water of the river of life, which is the Spirit, and in doing so we receive the life that Jesus has won for us by his death and resurrection.

For more details, see my essay on the Trinity in the Book of Revelation in the book Trinity without Hierarchy and on my blog here: https://www.psephizo.com/revelation/what-does-rev-4-5-tell-us-about-the-trinity/

  • Thank you for the answer. I’m going to dumb it down to help visualize, John is face to face with Jesus, but the Holy Spirit is speaking through Jesus? Is that your claim? Or Jesus is saying what the Holy Spirit told him to speak? Nov 3, 2020 at 12:06
  • No—John is not 'face to face' with Jesus in any literal sense. He only has this vision of Jesus because he is 'in the Spirit' (Rev 1.10). Both his vision (seeing) of Jesus and his audition (hearing) of Jesus are enabled and mediated by the Spirit. That is true for all of us—it is the Spirit who enables us to cry 'Abba' to the Father as Jesus did (Rom 8), and hear the word that Jesus speaks to us (1 Cor 12).
    – Ian Paul
    Nov 4, 2020 at 15:28

The endquote for each of the 7 Churches is by the Spirit to all Christian Churches ["He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (note the plural) NASV]. The first quote is Jesus speaking to each of the seven temporal geographical Churches ["To the angel of the church ... write..."].

I believe Jesus is addressing the spiritual power [angel] ministering to each Church, while seeking a faithful human to write the message, granting us a glimpse of another complex spiritual mystery. So the first message Jesus wanted written to each Church is exemplary for us, as it is specific to a time and place, while the endquote by the Spirit to the Churches is for us individually in any place or time in history.

Please note I capitalise Church for a denomination, complete with wheat and tares, to distinguish it from the real lower-case church which is the worldwide body of true believers in Christ across all denominations. I came across this hermeneutics website because I was seeking an answer as to why the Spirit's message succeeds the written message to each Church for the first 3 Churches, but precedes it for the last 4. I'm still seeking an answer.

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