“Please explain this passage: ‘I will give him the morning star’ (Rev. 2:28). What is the ‘morning star’?”
This passage embraces one of the seven promises from Christ to those who “overcome” the trials and temptations of life and thus remain loyal to him to the end (see: Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21).
To the church at Thyatira, the Lord Jesus, therefore, says (regarding the one who overcomes):
“I will give him the morning star.”
There are two general ideas suggested as the meaning of this mysterious promise.
Some scholars consider the reference to be to Christ himself. Professor Andrew Hill has written:
“Jesus Christ is described as the ‘morning star’ in 2 Peter 1:19 (
phosphoros) and in Revelation 2:28 (
aster proinos), and He identifies Himself as ‘the bright morning star’ (
ho aster ho lampros ho proninos) in Revelation 22:16” (413).
He goes on to point out that this star symbolism reflects the Old Testament and inter-testament emphasis on the “celestial” or heavenly nature of the coming Messiah (cf. Num. 24:17; Mal. 4:2).
William Barclay suggested several ideas. He thought the expression could signify the coming resurrection of the righteous. Just as the “morning star” breaks forth from the darkness of night, so the Lord’s people will break out of the darkness of the grave (1957, 67).
Later, however, he came to a different conclusion. He was quite certain that the correct interpretation is this. The morning star is Christ himself.
“If the Christian is true, when life comes to an end he will possess Christ, never to lose him again” (1959, 140).
Objections to the Morning Star Being Identified as Christ
Some have objected to this view for a couple of reasons. It is alleged that since the evil “king of Babylon” is called “day-star, son of the morning” in Isaiah 14:12, the same symbol would not be appropriate for the Lord Jesus. Note: “day-star” (i.e., Lucifer, KJV) is not a reference to Satan as is commonly thought, but contextually is a reference to the king of Babylon (cf. Isa. 13:1).
However, this objection is nullified by the fact that Christ is unequivocally called “the bright, the morning star” in Revelation 22:16. Bible symbols are frequently used in a variety of ways, sometimes quite diversely, depending upon the context.
Another objection that has been argued is that since the Christian already “has Christ,” it would be meaningless to say that we somehow will be given him when we have overcome.
But this objection presents no real problem when we understand that many blessings come incrementally.
We are in the kingdom now (Col. 1:13), but there is a more glorious phase to yet be entered (2 Pet. 1:11). We enjoy salvation presently (Mk. 16:16), but there is a greater dimension — a heavenly salvation — to be received at death (2 Tim. 4:18). There is a sense in which we are with Christ now (Mt 18:20; 26:29; 28:20), but there is a more exalted state in which we will be with him ultimately (Phil. 1:23; 2 Cor. 5:8).
Another View: Splendor and Victory
Lenski thought that the imagery had to do with the royal splendor of Jesus.
“The adjective ‘of the morning’ suggests unfading, glorious brilliance both for Jesus in Rev. 22:16, and here [Rev. 2:28] for us. The Victorious King Jesus is the brilliant Morning Star in royal splendor; and he gives to every faithful believer the gift to be like him in royal splendor” (pp. 124-125).
The idea would be that the Lord’s people will partake of his victorious glow in the heavenly realm.
Another scholar, Professor Robert Wall, says that it seems likely that the morning star is a symbol of those Christians who overcome, by pointing to their “future participation in the triumph of God’s rule over all those secular and materialistic pretenders to the Lord’s throne” (79).
Similarly, Frank Pack suggested:
“The victorious Christian shares in Christ’s glorious triumph and authority, and possesses Christ as an everlasting treasure” (48).
It is easy to see that there are several reasonable interpretations as to the significance of “morning star” in Revelation 2:28, each of which is entirely consistent with information elsewhere in the biblical record.
One need not feel compelled to tie down to a specific view, so long as that view is not in conflict with other clear teachings of scripture.
The careful and courteous path for the devout Christian is to refrain from dogmatism when there is room for reasonable dissent.