Can you explain the description of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-15?


In Revelation 1:13, it reads "And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle."  What is the golden girdle? Was this around his chest? Does this refer somehow to the breastplate of righteousness that Paul talks about in Ephesians? 

Also, can you explain verses 14 and 15?


"And in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters" (Revelation 1:13-15).

In these verses, John gives us a description of what Jesus is like. It is not an exact portrait of Jesus, after all, Jesus is a spirit. Rather, John is using words to give us a picture of Jesus' character or what it feels like to be in the Son of Man's presence.

Jesus is depicted as wearing a long robe belted at the breasts with golden belt. In older times cloth was very expensive. Most people owned only one or perhaps two garments. A workman's garment would be shorter, ending around the knees or mid-calf level, both to save the cost of material and so that the garment did not interfere with his labors. However, a nobleman could afford longer garments and he did not need to be concerned about the extra length getting in the way of his work. Priests were of the noble class and wore long robes similar to what John describes (Exodus 28:4; 29:5).

The placement of the belt and the material of which it was made indicated the importance of the person. The higher it was worn and the more costly the material, the more important the individual. Josephus mentions that Levitical priests wore their belts around their breasts.

"THERE were peculiar garments appointed for the priests, and for all the rest, which they call Cohanoeoe [-priestly] garments, as also for the high priests, which they call Cahanoeoe Rabbae, and denote the high priest's garments. Such was therefore the habit of the rest. But when the priest approaches the sacrifices, he purifies himself with the purification which the law prescribes; and, in the first place, he puts on that which is called Machanase, which means somewhat that is fast tied. It is a girdle, composed of fine twined linen, and is put about the privy parts, the feet being to be inserted into them in the nature of breeches, but above half of it is cut off, and it ends at the thighs, and is there tied fast. Over this he wore a linen vestment, made of fine flax doubled: it is called Chethone, and denotes linen, for we call linen by the name of Chethone. This vestment reaches down to the feet, and sits close to the body; and has sleeves that are tied fast to the arms: it is girded to the breast a little above the elbows, by a girdle often going round, four fingers broad, but so loosely woven, that you would think it were the skin of a serpent. It is embroidered with flowers of scarlet, and purple, and blue, and fine twined linen, but the warp was nothing but fine linen. The beginning of its circumvolution is at the breast; and when it has gone often round, it is there tied, and hangs loosely there down to the ankles: I mean this, all the time the priest is not about any laborious service, for in this position it appears in the most agreeable manner to the spectators; but when he is obliged to assist at the offering sacrifices, and to do the appointed service, that he may not be hindered in his operations by its motion, he throws it to the left, and bears it on his shoulder. Moses indeed calls this belt Albaneth; but we have learned from the Babylonians to call it Emia, for so it is by them called. This vestment has no loose or hollow parts any where in it, but only a narrow aperture about the neck; and it is tied with certain strings hanging down from the edge over the breast and back, and is fastened above each shoulder: it is called Massabazanes" (Antiquities of the Jews, 3.7.1-2).

Thus we see Jesus in a garment that roughly reminds a person of the priestly garments, but shows him to be far superior. It is also a kingly garment at the same time.

Jesus hair is white, like wool or snow. Whiteness is a symbol of purity and a freedom from sin. ""Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool"" (Isaiah 1:18). It is an apt description of the one who lived on this earth without sin (II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:22; I John 3:5).

The description of Jesus' hair is very like Daniel's description of the Ancient of Days: "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire" (Daniel 7:9). White hair is usually associated with an elderly person who has gained wisdom through experience (Leviticus 19:32; Proverbs 16:31). God, being eternal, would be best described as being very old and very wise. Jesus, being a part of the Godhead and eternal, would share the same characteristic. Thus the symbols portraying God, the Father, in the Old Testament are now being applied to God, the Son, in the New Testament.

John's description of Jesus' eyes being like flames is very similar to Daniel's description of an angel: "I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, a certain man clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz! His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude" (Daniel 10:5-6). Daniel was so terrified by what he saw that he fainted (Daniel 10:7-11). But we can't blame him, John also fainted at his vision (Revelation 1:17).

The symbolism is of a person with a penetrating gaze. Sight that even darkness cannot hinder from seeing. "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:13). These are the eyes of the all-knowing, all-seeing God.

Jesus' feet are described as being like polished bronze still glowing from the furnace. Actually, the type of metal mentioned here is not known. It is only mentioned here and in Revelation 2:8. It is generally translated as brass, copper, or bronze. It is the description of a person who able to stomp out any opposition, leaving nothing but ashes behind. ""For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up," says the LORD of hosts, "that will leave them neither root nor branch. But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this," says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 4:1-3).

Finally, we are told that he has a voice like many waters. This alludes back to Ezekiel's visions:

"When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings" (Ezekiel 1:24).

"And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory" (Ezekiel 43:2).

It is the roar of a huge waterfall. I read this description and think of the noise of Niagara Falls. It is a voice that cannot be ignored. It is heard from a distance and felt in every fiber of your being, holding authority and power. Once again, we see an Old Testament image of God, the Father, being applied to Jesus, His Son.