What Do the Seven Stars in Revelation Symbolize?

Vivian Bricker

Contributing Writer
Published: Jan 24, 2023
What Do the Seven Stars in Revelation Symbolize?

The seven stars in Revelation symbolize the seven angels of the seven churches. The Lord directly tells us this definition in Revelation 1:20. The seven stars are the seven angels of the churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The concept of the entire Book of Revelation causes curiosity and interest to stir up inside the minds of both believers and unbelievers. Within the Book of Revelation, there is mention of the seven stars.

Revelation 1:20 reads, “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.” As this passage of the Bible says, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.

The Seven Stars in Revelation

In this passage of Revelation, Jesus is speaking. The Lord tells us the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.

The original Greek word used here also has the meaning of “messenger.” Scholars debate over the idea that the angels/messengers listed here are literal angels protecting the churches or if this refers to pastors of churches.

While either one can be true, we cannot be dogmatic on the exact meaning of the word “angels” in this passage of Scripture. However, what we do know to be true is that Jesus tells us directly that the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and that the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The seven churches mentioned by name in Revelation include Ephesus, Smyrna, Perganum, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. During Jesus’ discourse to these seven churches, He had praise and admonishment for each of the churches, except for the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11).

As the Lord tells us in Revelation 1:20, the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven churches, which would directly connect to the seven churches as listed in Revelation 2:1-3:22.

It is plausible that the angels of the seven churches would be the angels or messengers of the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Perganum, Thyatria, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Once again, it should be noted that an angel, in this sense, could also refer to “messenger,” which could also be connected to the pastor of the church.

Within Revelation 1:20, we are also told that the seven stars are in Jesus’ right hand. While this can easily be overlooked, it should not be. This is an important part of what Jesus is saying in this passage of Revelation.

Through this fact of Jesus holding the seven stars, it means Jesus is holding the churches in His mighty right hand. This should give us a feeling of comfort, support, and encouragement because we know the Lord is upholding the seven churches with His mighty hand.

In addition to the Lord upholding the seven churches in Revelation, He is also currently upholding the body of believers.

While we have physical buildings for churches, not all churches are truly teaching in accordance with God’s Will. This is a sad truth, but it needs to motivate us to serve God faithfully, just like the church of Smyrna.

Each of the other churches was rebuked by the Lord for their unfaithfulness. We need to strive to be faithful to the Lord with our whole hearts, minds, and souls.

Even though Revelation is referring to eschatology, we can still learn much from its content. Throughout our Bible reading, we need to pay careful attention to each part of the Bible, including difficult parts such as Revelation.

Symbolism in Revelation

The Book of Revelation can be intimidating, yet it’s important to study it to the best of our ability. The entire Book of Revelation is filled with future events that have not yet come to fruition.

However, there are some parts of Revelation that have been fulfilled, such as the account of Jesus discussing the seven stars in Revelation. As we have established, the seven stars in Revelation symbolize the seven messengers or seven angels of the seven churches.

Messengers could refer to a pastor or someone who had correspondence with those outside the church or correspondence with those in other churches.

This is plausible; however, it could also be that the Lord is referring to literal angels when he says there are seven angels over the seven churches. This can cause us to ponder on whether or not it is a literal angel or just a messenger, such as a pastor.

Angels are often emphasized in modern culture or within Christianity to the point of being obsessive. While angels are real, spiritual beings, we do not need to become obsessed with them. This passage may be referring to literal angels, but we are not given direct names of these angels.

The only angels mentioned in the Bible are Michael and Gabriel. From Revelation 1:20, we are told there are seven angels. Who these angels are, we do not know.

It could be that Michael and Gabriel are two of these angels, yet we cannot be dogmatic on these matters. Similar to the rest of Revelation, none of the angels are named, except for Michael.

It could be that the angels are not named because God does not want us to have an obsession with angels. The importance of Revelation is God telling us the future events of eschatology and God’s future plans.

Throughout the Book of Revelation, we are told about the church, the tribulation, the antichrist, the Battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ, the thousand-year literal reign of Christ, the Great White Throne Judgment, and the creation of the New Heaven and New Earth.

While angels play an important role in the Book of Revelation, they are not the main event. The main event and our focus need to be on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation can be difficult to understand at times, yet through diligent study and dedication to understanding the deep truths of Scripture, a person can understand what the Book of Revelation is saying.

There are some rather difficult parts to Revelation, and there are a few allegories, yet we need to read the Book of Revelation with a literal hermeneutic. It is a great disservice to believe all of Revelation is an allegory or to believe that the contents within its pages do not matter to you.

Every part of the Bible contains the very words of God. It is wrong to overlook these parts for any reason, even if they might be difficult to understand.

What Does This Mean?

Thus, the seven stars in Revelation symbolize the seven angels of the seven churches. The Lord directly tells us this definition in Revelation 1:20. The seven stars are the seven angels of the churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Revelation 1:20 already occurred in the past, yet we can learn much from these seven churches. We need to strive to be a church that is faithful to God and one that honors Him with our hearts, minds, and souls.

We do not want to become lukewarm in our faith or turn away from our first love. The Lord Jesus will meet all of us when we pass away, and we want Him to be pleased with the work we have done for Him. We don’t want to be found to be unfaithful servants who did not obey His Word.

Even though we do not know with certainty if the seven stars are angels or messengers, we can understand that they were one of these two things.

While there are arguments for both sides, we cannot fully know the answer on this side of heaven. It could be these were human messengers, such as pastors or people of correspondence, or they could be literal angels.

Since the Lord does not give us future information on these messengers or angels, we can know that what He has given us is sufficient to help us to grow in our walk with Him and to understand the message of Revelation 1:20.

For further reading:

What Is Revelation All About? Bible Meaning for Today

What Are the Seven Bowls of Wrath in Revelation?

What Are the Seven Seals and Seven Trumpets in Revelation?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/YOTUYA


Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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