In Revelation chapters 1—3, “seven stars” are referenced four times. There are other “sevens,” as well: seven lampstands, seven spirits, and seven churches. Also, the first few chapters of Revelation contain letters from Jesus to seven historical churches in Asia Minor.
In Revelation 1, John is “in the Spirit” and hears “a loud voice like a trumpet” behind him (verse 10). He turns around and sees a vision of the Lord Jesus in His glory. The Lord is standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands, and “in his right hand he held seven stars” (verse 16). John falls down at Jesus’ feet “as though dead” (verse 17). Jesus then revives John and strengthens him for the task of writing the coming revelation.
The fact that the stars are in Jesus’ right hand indicates that they are important and under His authority. The right hand is a sign of strength and control. Jesus explains to John that the “stars are the angels of the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20). An “angel” is literally a “messenger.” But that leads us to the question—are these human messengers or heavenly beings?
It could be that every local church has a “guardian angel” who oversees and protects that congregation. Even if that is the case, a better interpretation of the “messengers” of Revelation 1 is that they are the pastors or bishops of the seven churches, symbolized by the lampstands. A pastor is God’s “messenger” to the church in that he is responsible to faithfully preach God’s Word to them. John’s vision shows that each pastor is being held in the Lord’s right hand. And, as we learn in John 10:28, no one can snatch them out of Jesus’ hand.