Certain questions and answers from the Belmar conference:
Question: What is the meaning of the seven stars mentioned in Revelation 1:20?
Answer: It was readily admitted by those who took part that there were numerous interpretations of the seven stars, stretching, on the one hand, from the claims of Christendom that they represent the bishops over each diocese, and on the other hand, to the suggestion by some among the assemblies of God’s people, that they symbolize the leading brother in each local church, possibly the correspondent.
A closer scrutiny of the context of the passage revealed the following facts: First, there is a perfect antithesis between the seven stars and the seven candlesticks (lamp-stands). While these may be compared in as much as they both are to give light in the night, yet, they actually stand in contrast the one to the other. The seven stars are in the heavens, and are similar to those who turn many to righteousness (Dan. 12:3), but the seven lampstands are on earth. The seven stars are in the hand of Christ; first, in their security (John 10:28-29), and second, in their preservation, for there they are unlike the wandering stars of which we read (Jude 13). The seven lamps give light and are maintained by human responsibility, (For a parallel see Zech 4.).
In second place it was noticed that in each church among the seven there were two groups; first, that there were those who had ears to hear; second, that there apparently were those who had no spiritual hearing. Here again we have an antithesis that corresponds to the first one.
In third place, there are those who are overcomers in the midst of gross failure and declension, and in this a third antithesis was noticed. It was therefore concluded that the stars correspond to those who have ears to hear, the overcomers, and that the lampstands correspond to those who have no spiritual hearing, and who are not among the overcomers, and consequently must be among the fearful and the unbelieving, (See Rev. 21:7-8).
It therefore became obvious that the seven stars represent that which is real and genuine, those who are truly the Lord’s in the midst of profession on earth as seen in the seven lampstands; that is, the seven stars represent the spirit of real and genuine Christianity in the midst of the pretention and hypocrisy of Christendom.
In as much as the seven stars are stated to be the seven angels of the seven churches, it was suggested that, since the word angel is the Greek word for messenger, only the true and genuine, real believers in the Lord Jesus, could be characterized as God’s messengers either to the professing Church, or through the professing Church to the world.