Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The golden candlestick and the two olive trees. The temple shall be
completed by the aid of God's Spirit.
1. waked me--The prophet was lying in a state of ecstatic slumber with
astonishment at the previous vision. "Came again, and waked me," does
not imply that the angel had departed and now returned, but is an idiom
for "waked me again."
2. candlestick--symbolizing the Jewish theocracy; and ultimately,
the Church of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the
light-bearer (so the original is of "lights,"
Mt 5:14, 16;
to the world.
all . . . gold--all pure in doctrine and practice,
precious and indestructible; such is the true ideal of the Church; such
she shall be
bowl upon the top--In the candlestick of the tabernacle the plural is used, bowls
The Hebrew implies that it was the fountain of supply of
oil to the lamps. Christ at the head ("on the top") of the Church is
the true fountain, of whose fulness of the Spirit all we
his seven lamps--united in one stem; so in
the seven candlesticks are separate. The Gentile churches will not
realize their unity till the Jewish Church as the stem unites all the
lamps in one candlestick
The "seven lamps," in
are the "seven Spirits of God."
seven pipes--feeding tubes, seven apiece from the "bowl" to each
lamp (see Margin) [MAURER and CALVIN]; literally, "seven and seven": forty-nine in all.
The greater the number of oil-feeding pipes, the brighter the light of
the lamps. The explanation in
is, that man's power by itself can neither retard nor advance God's
work, that the real motive-power is God's Spirit. The seven
times seven imply the manifold modes by which the Spirit's grace is
imparted to the Church in her manifold work of enlightening the
3. two olive trees--supplying oil to the bowl. The Holy Ghost, who
fills with His fulness Messiah (the anointed: the "bowl"), from whom
flow supplies of grace to the Church.
by it--literally, "upon it," that is, growing so as somewhat to overtop
it. For the explanation of the "two" see
Zec 4:12, 14.
4. The prophet is instructed in the truths meant, that we may read
them with the greater reverence and attention
5. Knowest thou not, &c.--Not a reproof of his ignorance, but a
stimulus to reflection on the mystery.
No, my lord--ingenious confession of ignorance; as a little child he
casts himself for instruction at the feet of the Lord.
6. Not by might . . . but by my Spirit--As the lamps burned
continually, supplied with oil from a source (the living olive trees)
which man did not make, so Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because
of his weakness; for as the work is one to be effected by the living
of God, man's weakness is no obstacle, for God's might will perfect
strength out of weakness
"Might and power" express human strength of every description,
physical, mental, moral. Or, "might" is the strength of many (an
"army," literally); "power," that of one man
[PEMBELLUS]. God can save, "whether with many, or
with them that have no power"
So in the conversion of sinners
"Zerubbabel" is addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the
7. All mountain-like obstacles
(Isa 40:4; 49:11)
in Zerubbabel's way shall be removed, so that the crowning
top-stone shall be put on, and the completion of the work be
acknowledged as wholly of "grace." Antitypically, the antichristian
last foe of Israel, the obstacle preventing her establishment in
Palestine, about to be crushed before Messiah, is probably meant
Da 2:34, 44;
bring forth the head-stone--Primarily, bring it forth from the place
where it was chiselled and give it to the workmen to put on the top of
the building. It was customary for chief magistrates to lay the
foundation, and also the crowning top-stone (compare
Antitypically, the reference is to the time when the full number of the
spiritual Church shall be completed, and also when "all Israel shall be
Heb 11:40; 12:22, 23;
Grace, grace--The repetition expresses, Grace from first to last
Margin). Thus the Jews are urged to pray perseveringly and
earnestly that the same grace which completed it may always preserve
it. "Shoutings" of acclamation accompanied the foundation of the
(Ezr 3:11, 13).
So shoutings of "Hosanna" greeted the Saviour in entering Jerusalem
when about to complete the purchase of salvation by His death: His Body
being the second temple, or place of God's inhabitation
(Joh 2:20, 21).
So when the full number of the saints and of Israel is complete, and
God shall say, "It is done," then again shall "a great voice of much
people in heaven" attribute all to the "grace" of God, saying,
"Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord
(Re 19:1, 6).
regards Him as "the head-stone of the corner," that is, the
foundation-stone. Compare the angels acclamations at His birth,
Here it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but
also the Finisher
"Grace" is ascribed "unto it," that is, the stone, Messiah. Hence the
benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ"
9. Zerubbabel . . . shall . . . finish it--
in the sixth year of Darius' reign.
Lord . . . sent me unto you--
The Divine Angel announces that in what He has just spoken, He has been
commissioned by God the Father.
10. who . . . despised . . . small
things--He reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt
because of the humble beginning, compared with the greatness of the
undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress
in the work, though small, was an earnest of great and final success,
because Jehovah's eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support Him
with His favor. Contrast, "great is the day of Jezreel"
with "the day of small things" here.
they shall rejoice . . . with those seven; they
are the eyes of the Lord--rather, "they, even those
seven eyes of the Lord (compare
which . . . shall rejoice and see (that is, rejoicingly see)
the plummet (literally, the 'stone of tin') in the hand of
Zerubbabel" [MOORE]; the plummet in his hand indicating that the work is
going forward to its completion. The Hebrew punctuation, however,
favors English Version, of which the sense is, They who
incredulously "despised" such "small" beginnings of the work as are made
now, shall rejoicingly see its going on to completion under Zerubbabel,
"with (the aid of) those seven," namely, the "seven eyes upon one
which are explained, "They are the eyes of the Lord which," &c. [PEMBELLUS]. So differently do men and Jehovah regard the
"small" beginnings of God's work
Men "despised" the work in its early stage: God rejoicingly regards it,
and shall continue to do so.
run to and fro, &c.--Nothing in the whole earth escapes the eye of
Jehovah, so that He can ward off all danger from His people, come from
what quarter it may, in prosecuting His work
11, 12. Zechariah three times
(Zec 4:4, 11, 12)
asks as to the two olives before he gets an answer; the question
becomes more minute each time. What he at first calls "two olive
trees," he afterwards calls "branches," as on closer looking he
observes that the "branches" of the trees are the channels through
which a continual flow of oil dropped into the bowl of the lamps
and that this is the purpose for which the two olive trees stand beside
the candlestick. Primarily, the "two" refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel.
God, says AUBERLEN, at each of the transition
periods of the world's history has sent great men to guide the Church.
So the two witnesses shall appear before the destruction of Antichrist.
Antitypically, "the two anointed ones"
are the twofold supports of the Church, the civil power (answering to
Zerubbabel) and the ecclesiastical (answering to Joshua, the high
priest), which in the restored Jewish polity and temple shall "stand
by," that is, minister to "the Lord of the whole earth," as He shall be
called in the day that He sets up His throne in Jerusalem
Compare the description of the offices of the "priests" and the
Re 11:3, 4,
the "two witnesses" are identified with the two olive trees and the two
explains them to mean the Law and the Gospel: the two Testaments that
witness in the Church for the truth of God. But this is at
variance with the sense here, which requires Joshua and Zerubbabel to
be primarily meant. So Moses (the prophet and lawgiver) and Aaron (the
high priest) ministered to the Lord among the covenant-people at the
exodus; Ezekiel (the priest) and Daniel (a ruler) in the Babylonian
captivity; so it shall be in restored Israel. Some think Elijah will
appear again (compare the transfiguration,
Mt 17:3, 11,
with Mal 4:4, 5;
which mentions the very miracles performed by Elijah and Moses
(shutting heaven so as not to rain, and turning water into blood),
favors this (compare
Jas 5:16, 17).
The period is the same, "three years and six months"; the scene also is
"where our Lord was crucified." It is supposed that for the first three
and a half years of the hebdomad
God will be worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half
years, Antichrist will break the covenant
and set himself up in the temple to be worshipped as God
The witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while
corruptions prevail and faith is rare
then they are slain and remain dead three and a half years. Probably,
besides individual witnesses and literal years, there is a fulfilment
in long periods and general witnesses, such as the Church and the Word,
the civil and religious powers so far as they have witnessed for God.
So "the beast" in Revelation answers to the civil power of the
apostasy; "the false prophet" to the spiritual power. Man needs the
priest to atone for guilt, and the prophet-king to teach
holiness with kingly authority. These two typically united in
Melchisedek were divided between two till they meet in Messiah, the
accords with this. The Holy Spirit in this His twofold power of
applying to man the grace of the atonement, and that of
sanctification, must in one point of view be meant by the two olive
trees which supply the bowl at the top of the candlestick (that is,
Messiah at the head of the Church); for it is He who filled Jesus with
all the fulness of His unction
But this does not exclude the primary application to Joshua and
with grace to minister to the Jewish Church: and so applicable to the
twofold supports of the Church which are anointed with the Spirit, the
prince and the priest, or minister.
12. through--literally, "by the hand of," that is, by the agency of.
branches--literally, "ears"; so the olive branches are called, because
as ears are full of grain, so the olive branches are full of olives.
golden oil--literally, "gold," that is, gold-like liquor.
out of themselves--Ordinances and ministers are channels of grace, not
the grace itself. The supply comes not from a dead reservoir of oil,
but through living olive trees
fed by God.
13. Knowest thou not--God would awaken His people to zeal in learning
14. anointed ones--literally, "sons of oil"
Margin). Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the civil
ruler, must first be anointed with grace themselves, so as to be the
instruments of furnishing it to others (compare
1Jo 2:20, 27).