Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
BLESSING ON THE
IT, AS THE
INSCRIPTION TO THE
COMETH" (Compare at the close,
"Surely I come quickly"):
VISION OF THE
GLORY, AMIDST THE
1. Revelation--an apocalypse or unveiling of those things
which had been veiled. A manifesto of the kingdom of Christ. The
travelling manual of the Church for the Gentile Christian times. Not a
detailed history of the future, but a representation of the
great epochs and chief powers in developing the kingdom of God in
relation to the world. The "Church-historical" view goes counter
to the great principle that Scripture interprets itself. Revelation is
to teach us to understand the times, not the times to interpret to us
the Apocalypse, although it is in the nature of the case that a reflex
influence is exerted here and is understood by the prudent
[AUBERLEN]. The book is in a series of parallel
groups, not in chronological succession. Still there is an organic
historical development of the kingdom of God. In this book all the
other books of the Bible end and meet: in it is the consummation of all
previous prophecy. Daniel foretells as to Christ and the Roman
destruction of Jerusalem, and the last Antichrist. But John's
Revelation fills up the intermediate period, and describes the
millennium and final state beyond Antichrist. Daniel, as a godly
statesman, views the history of God's people in relation to the four
world kingdoms. John, as an apostle, views history from the
Christian Church aspect. The term Apocalypse is applied
to no Old Testament book. Daniel is the nearest approach to it; but
what Daniel was told to seal and shut up till the time of the
end, John, now that the time is at hand
is directed to reveal.
of Jesus Christ--coming from Him. Jesus Christ, not John
the writer, is the Author of the Apocalypse. Christ taught many things
before His departure; but those which were unsuitable for announcement
at that time He brought together into the Apocalypse [BENGEL]. Compare His promise,
"All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto
"The Spirit of truth will show you things to come." The Gospels
and Acts are the books, respectively, of His first advent, in the
flesh, and in the Spirit; the Epistles are the inspired comment on
them. The Apocalypse is the book of His second advent and the events
preliminary to it.
which God gave unto him--The Father reveals Himself and His will
in, and by, His Son.
to show--The word recurs in
so entirely have the parts of Revelation reference to one another. It
is its peculiar excellence that it comprises in a perfect compendium
future things, and these widely differing: things close at hand, far
off, and between the two; great and little; destroying and saving;
repeated from old prophecies and new; long and short, and these
interwoven with one another, opposed and mutually agreeing; mutually
involving and evolving one another; so that in no book more than in
this would the addition, or taking away, of a single word or clause
(Re 22:18, 19),
have the effect of marring the sense of the context and the comparison
of passages together [BENGEL].
his servants--not merely to "His servant John," but to
all His servants (compare
shortly--Greek, "speedily"; literally, "in," or "with
speed." Compare "the time is at hand,"
Re 1:3; 22:6,
"Behold, I come quickly." Not that the things prophesied were
according to man's computation near; but this word "shortly" implies a
corrective of our estimate of worldly events and periods. Though a
at least are included, the time is declared to be at hand.
"speedily." The Israelite Church hastened eagerly to the predicted end,
which premature eagerness prophecy restrains (compare
The Gentile Church needs to be reminded of the transitoriness of the
world (which it is apt to make its home) and the nearness of Christ's
advent. On the one hand Revelation says, "the time is at hand"; on the
other, the succession of seals, &c., show that many intermediate events
must first elapse.
he sent--Jesus Christ sent.
by his angel--joined with "sent." The angel does not come
forward to "signify" things to John until
Re 17:1; 19:9, 10.
Previous to that John receives information from others. Jesus Christ
opens the Revelation,
Re 1:10, 11; 4:1;
one of the four living creatures acts as his informant; in
one of the elders; in
Re 10:8, 9,
the Lord and His angel who stood on the sea and earth. Only at the end
does the one angel stand by Him (compare
Da 8:16; 9:21;
2. bare record of--"testified the word of God" in this book.
Where we would say "testifies," the ancients in epistolary
communications use the past tense. The word of God constitutes his
"the words of this prophecy."
the testimony of Jesus--"the Spirit of prophecy"
and of all things that, &c.--The oldest manuscripts omit "and."
Translate, "whatsoever things he saw," in apposition with "the word of
God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."
3. he that readeth, and they that hear--namely, the public
reader in Church assemblies, and his hearers. In the first
instance, he by whom John sent the book from Patmos to the seven
churches, read it publicly: a usage most scriptural and profitable. A
special blessing attends him who reads or hears
the apocalyptic "prophecy" with a view to keeping the things
therein (as there is but one article to "they that hear and keep those
things," not two classes, but only one is meant: "they who not only
hear, but also keep those things,"
even though he find not the key to its interpretation, he finds a
stimulus to faith, hope, and patient waiting for Christ. Note: the term
"prophecy" has relation to the human medium or prophet inspired,
here John: "Revelation" to the Divine Being who reveals His will, here
Jesus Christ. God gave the revelation to Jesus: He by His angel
revealed it to John, who was to make it known to the Church.
4. John--the apostle. For none but he (supposing the writer an
honest man) would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole
survivor and representative of the apostles and eye-witnesses of the
Lord, he needed no designation save his name, to be recognized by his
seven churches--not that there were not more churches in that
region, but the number seven is fixed on as representing
totality. These seven represent the universal Church of
all times and places. See TRENCH'S [Commentary
on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia] interesting note,
on the number seven. It is the covenant number, the sign
of God's covenant relation to mankind, and especially to the Church.
Thus, the seventh day, sabbath
Circumcision, the sign of the covenant, after seven days
(Nu 23:1; 14:29;
Compare also God's acts typical of His covenant
(Jos 6:4, 15, 16;
The feasts ordered by sevens of time
(De 15:1; 16:9, 13, 15).
It is a combination of three, the divine number (thus the
Trinity: the thrice Holy,
and four the number of the organized world in its extension
(thus the four elements, the four seasons, the
four winds, the four corners or quarters of the earth,
the four living creatures, emblems of redeemed creaturely life,
Eze 1:5, 6,
with four faces and four wings each; the four
beasts and four metals, representing the four world empires,
Da 2:32, 33; 7:3;
the four-sided Gospel designed for all quarters of the world;
the sheet tied at four corners,
the four horns, the sum of the world's forces against the Church,
In the Apocalypse, where God's covenant with His Church comes to its
consummation, appropriately the number seven recurs still more
frequently than elsewhere in Scripture.
Asia--Proconsular, governed by a Roman proconsul: consisting of
Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia: the kingdom which Attalus III had
bequeathed to Rome.
Grace . . . peace--Paul's apostolical greeting. In his
Pastoral Epistles he inserts "mercy" in addition: so
him which is . . . was . . . is to come--a
periphrasis for the incommunicable name JEHOVAH,
the self-existing One, unchangeable. In Greek the
indeclinability of the designation here implies His unchangeableness.
Perhaps the reason why "He which is to come" is used, instead of "He
that shall be," is because the grand theme of Revelation is the Lord's
Still it is THE FATHER as
distinguished from "Jesus Christ"
who is here meant. But so one are the Father and Son that the
designation, "which is to come," more immediately applicable to Christ,
is used here of the Father.
the seven Spirits which are before his throne--The oldest
manuscripts omit "are."
before--literally, "in the presence of." The Holy Spirit in His
sevenfold (that is, perfect, complete, and universal) energy.
Corresponding to "the seven churches." One in His own essence,
manifold in His gracious influences. The seven eyes resting on
the stone laid by Jehovah
Four is the number of the creature world (compare the fourfold
cherubim); seven the number of God's revelation in the
5. the faithful witness--of the truth concerning Himself and His
mission as Prophet, Priest, and King Saviour. "He was the faithful
witness, because all things that He heard of the Father He
faithfully made known to His disciples. Also, because He taught the way
of God in truth, and cared not for man, nor regarded the persons of
men. Also, because the truth which He taught in words He confirmed by
miracles. Also, because the testimony to Himself on the part of the
Father He denied not even in death. Lastly, because He will give true
testimony of the works of good and bad at the day of judgment"
[RICHARD OF ST.
VICTOR in TRENCH]. The
nominative in Greek standing in apposition to the genitive,
"Jesus Christ," gives majestic prominence to "the faithful witness."
the first-begotten of the dead--
Lazarus rose, to die again. Christ rose to die no more. The image is
not as if the grave was the womb of His resurrection-birth [ALFORD]; but as
treat Christ's resurrection as the epoch and event which
fulfilled the Scripture,
"This day (at the resurrection) have I begotten Thee." It was
then that His divine Sonship as the God-man was manifested and openly
attested by the Father. So our resurrection and our manifested sonship,
or generation, are connected. Hence "regeneration" is used of the
resurrection-state at the restitution of all things
the prince--or Ruler. The kingship of the world which the
tempter offered to Jesus on condition of doing homage to him, and so
shunning the cross, He has obtained by the cross. "The kings of the
earth" conspired against the Lord's Anointed
these He shall break in pieces
Those who are wise in time and kiss the Son shall bring their
glory unto Him at His manifestation as King of kings, after He has
destroyed His foes.
Unto him that loved us--The oldest manuscripts read the present,
". . . loveth us." It is His ever-continuing
character, He loveth us, and ever shall love us. His love rests
evermore on His people.
washed us--The two oldest manuscripts read, "freed
(loosed as from a bond) us": so ANDREAS and
PRIMASIUS. One very old manuscript,
Vulgate, and Coptic read as English Version,
perhaps drawn from
"Loosed us in (virtue of) His blood," being the
harder reading to understand, is less likely to have come from the
transcribers. The reference is thus to Greek, "lutron," the
ransom paid for our release
In favor of English Version reading is the usage whereby the
priests, before putting on the holy garments and ministering,
washed themselves: so spiritually believers, as priests
unto God, must first be washed in Christ's blood from every
stain before they can serve God aright now, or hereafter minister as
dispensers of blessing to the subject nations in the millennial
kingdom, or minister before God in heaven.
6. And hath--rather as Greek, "And (He) hath."
made us kings--The oldest manuscripts read, "a kingdom." One
oldest manuscript reads the dative, "for us." Another reads "us,"
accusative: so Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and
ANDREAS. This seems preferable, "He made us (to
be) a kingdom." So
"a kingdom of priests";
"a royal priesthood." The saints shall constitute peculiarly a
kingdom of God, and shall themselves be kings
They shall share His King-Priest throne in the millennial kingdom. The
emphasis thus falls more on the kingdom than on priests:
whereas in English Version reading it is equally distributed
between both. This book lays prominent stress on the saints'
kingdom. They are kings because they are priests: the priesthood
is the continuous ground and legitimization of their kingship; they are
kings in relation to man, priests in relation to God, serving Him day
and night in His temple
(Re 7:15; 5:10).
The priest-kings shall rule, not in an external mechanical manner, but
simply in virtue of what they are, by the power of attraction and
conviction overcoming the heart [AUBERLEN].
priests--who have pre-eminently the privilege of near access to
the king. David's sons were priests (Hebrew),
The distinction of priests and people, nearer and more remote
from God, shall cease; all shall have nearest access to Him. All
persons and things shall be holy to the Lord.
God and his Father--There is but one article to both in the
Greek, therefore it means, "Unto Him who is at once God and His
glory and dominion--Greek, "the glory and the
might." The fuller threefold doxology occurs,
Re 4:9, 11;
Doxology occupies the prominent place above, which prayer does below.
If we thought of God's glory first (as in the Lord's Prayer),
and gave the secondary place to our needs, we should please God and
gain our petitions better than we do.
for ever and ever--Greek, "unto the ages."
7. with clouds--Greek, "the clouds," namely, of
heaven. "A cloud received Him out of their sight" at His ascension
His ascension corresponds to the manner of His coming again
Clouds are the symbols of wrath to sinners.
every eye--His coming shall therefore be a personal, visible
shall see--It is because they do not now see Him, they
will not believe. Contrast
they also--they in particular; "whosoever."
Primarily, at His pre-millennial advent the Jews, who shall
"look upon Him whom they have pierced," and mourn in repentance,
and say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
Secondarily, and here chiefly, at the general judgment all the
ungodly, not only those who actually pierced Him, but those who did so
by their sins, shall look with trembling upon Him. John is the only one
of the Evangelists who records the piercing of Christ's side.
This allusion identifies him as the author of the Apocalypse. The
reality of Christ's humanity and His death is proved by His having been
pierced; and the water and blood from His side were the
antitype to the Levitical waters of cleansing and blood offerings.
all kindreds . . . shall wail--all the unconverted at
the general judgment; and especially at His pre-millennial advent, the
(Zec 12:3-6, 9; 14:1-4;
Greek, "all the tribes of the land," or "the
earth." See the limitation to "all,"
Even the godly while rejoicing in His love shall feel penitential
sorrow at their sins, which shall all be manifested at the general
because of--Greek, "at," or "in regard to
Even so, Amen--Gods seal of His own word; to which corresponds
the believer's prayer,
The "even so" is Greek; "Amen" is Hebrew. To both
Gentiles and Jews His promises and threats are unchangeable.
8. Greek, "I am the Alpha and the Omega."
The first and last letters of the alphabet. God in Christ comprises all
that goes between, as well as the first and last.
the beginning and the ending--omitted in the oldest manuscripts,
though found in Vulgate and Coptic. Transcribers probably
inserted the clause from
In Christ, Genesis, the Alpha of the Old Testament, and Revelation, the
Omega of the New Testament, meet together: the last book presenting to
us man and God reconciled in Paradise, as the first book presented man
at the beginning innocent and in God's favor in Paradise. Accomplishing
finally what I begin. Always the same; before the dragon,
the beast, false prophet, and all foes. An anticipatory consolation to
the saints under the coming trials of the Church.
the Lord--The oldest manuscripts read "the Lord God."
Almighty--Hebrew, "Shaddai," and "Jehovah
Sabaoth," that is, "of hosts"; commanding all the hosts or powers
in heaven and earth, so able to overcome all His Church's foes. It
occurs often in Revelation, but nowhere else in the New Testament save
a quotation from Isaiah.
9. I John--So "I Daniel"
(Da 7:28; 9:2; 10:2).
One of the many features of resemblance between the Old Testament and
the New Testament apocalyptic seers. No other Scripture writer uses the
also--as well as being an apostle. The oldest manuscripts omit
"also." In his Gospel and Epistles he makes no mention of his
name, though describing himself as "the disciple whom Jesus
loved." Here, with similar humility, though naming himself, he does not
mention his apostleship.
companion--Greek, "fellow partaker in the tribulation."
Tribulation is the necessary precursor of the kingdom," therefore "the"
is prefixed. This must be borne with "patient endurance." The oldest
manuscripts omit "in the" before "kingdom." All three are inseparable:
the tribulation, kingdom and endurance.
patience--Translate, "endurance." "Persevering, enduring
"the queen of the graces (virtues)" [CHRYSOSTOM].
of, &c.--The oldest manuscripts read "IN
Jesus," or "Jesus Christ." It is IN Him that
believers have the right to the kingdom, and the spiritual
strength to enable them to endure patiently for it.
was--Greek, "came to be."
in . . . Patmos--now Patmo or Palmosa. See
on this island, and John's exile to it under Domitian, from which he
was released under Nerva. Restricted to a small spot on earth, he is
permitted to penetrate the wide realms of heaven and its secrets. Thus
John drank of Christ's cup, and was baptized with His baptism
for--Greek, "for the sake of," "on account of"; so,
"because of the word of God and . . . testimony." Two
oldest manuscripts omit the second "for"; thus "the Word of God" and
"testimony of Jesus" are the more closely joined. Two oldest
manuscripts omit "Christ." The Apocalypse has been always appreciated
most by the Church in adversity. Thus the Asiatic Church from the
flourishing times of Constantine less estimated it. The African Church
being more exposed to the cross always made much of it [BENGEL].
10. I was--Greek, "I came to be"; "I became."
in the Spirit--in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut
out, and the inner and higher life or spirit being taken full
possession of by God's Spirit, so that an immediate connection with the
invisible world is established. While the prophet "speaks" in
the Spirit, the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit in his whole
person. The spirit only (that which connects us with God and the
invisible world) is active, or rather recipient, in the apocalyptic
state. With Christ this being "in the Spirit" was not the exception,
but His continual state.
on the Lord's day--Though forcibly detained from Church
communion with the brethren in the sanctuary on the Lord's day, the
weekly commemoration of the resurrection, John was holding spiritual
communion with them. This is the earliest mention of the term,
"the Lord's day." But the consecration of the day to worship,
almsgiving, and the Lord's Supper, is implied in
The name corresponds to "the Lord's Supper,"
IGNATIUS seems to allude to "the Lord's day"
[Epistle to the Magnesians, 9], and IRENÆUS [Quæst ad Orthod., 115] (in
[Apology, 2.98], &c., "On Sunday we all hold our joint meeting;
for the first day is that on which God, having removed darkness and
chaos, made the world, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead.
On the day before Saturday they crucified Him; and on the day after
Saturday, which is Sunday, having appeared to His apostles and
disciples, He taught these things." To the Lord's day PLINY doubtless refers [Epistles, Book X., p. 97],
"The Christians on a fixed day before dawn meet and sing a hymn
to Christ as God," &c. TERTULLIAN [The
Chaplet, 3], "On the Lord's day we deem it wrong to fast." MELITO, bishop of Sardis (second century), wrote a book
on the Lord's day [EUSEBIUS 4.26]. Also,
DIONYSIUS OF CORINTH, in
EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 4.23,8].
CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA
[Miscellanies, 5. and 7.12]; ORIGEN
[Against Celsus, 8. 22]. The theory that the day of Christ's
second coming is meant, is untenable. "The day of the Lord" is
different in the Greek from "the Lord's (an adjective) day,"
which latter in the ancient Church always designates our Sunday, though
it is not impossible that the two shall coincide (at least in some
parts of the earth), whence a tradition is mentioned in JEROME [Commentary on Matthew, 25], that the
Lord's coming was expected especially on the Paschal Lord's day. The
visions of the Apocalypse, the seals, trumpets, and vials, &c., are
grouped in sevens, and naturally begin on the first day of the
seven, the birthday of the Church, whose future they set forth
great voice--summoning solemn attention; Greek order, "I
heard a voice behind me great (loud) as (that) of a trumpet." The
trumpet summoned to religious feasts, and accompanies God's revelations
11. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last; and--The
oldest manuscripts, omit all this clause.
write in a book--To this book, having such an origin, and
to the other books of Holy Scripture, who is there that gives the
weight which their importance demands, preferring them to the many
books of the world? [BENGEL].
seven churches--As there were many other churches in Proconsular
Asia (for example, Miletus, Magnesia, Tralles), besides the seven
specified, doubtless the number seven is fixed upon because of
its mystical signification, expressing totality and
universality. The words, "which are in Asia" are rejected by the
oldest manuscripts, A, B, C, CYPRIAN,
Vulgate, and Syriac; Coptic alone supports them of old
authorities. These seven are representative churches; and, as a complex
whole, ideally complete, embody the chief spiritual characteristics of
the Church, whether as faithful or unfaithful, in all ages. The
churches selected are not taken at random, but have a many-sided
completeness. Thus, on one side we have Smyrna, a Church exposed to
persecutions unto death; on the other Sardis, having a high name
for spiritual life and yet dead. Again, Laodicea, in its own
estimate rich and having need of nothing, with ample
talents, yet lukewarm in Christ's cause; on the other hand,
Philadelphia, with but a little strength, yet keeping
Christ's word and having an open door of usefulness set
before it by Christ Himself. Again, Ephesus, intolerant of
evil and of false apostles, yet having left its first
love; on the other hand, Thyatira, abounding in works, love,
service, and faith, yet suffering the false
prophetess to seduce many. In another aspect, Ephesus in
conflict with false freedom, that is fleshly licentiousness (the
Nicolaitanes); so also Pergamos in conflict with Balaam-like tempters
to fornication and idol-meats; and on the other side,
Philadelphia in conflict with the Jewish synagogue, that is, legal
bondage. Finally, Sardis and Laodicea without any active opposition to
call forth their spiritual energies; a dangerous position, considering
man's natural indolence. In the historic scheme of interpretation,
which seems fanciful, Ephesus (meaning "the beloved" or "desired"
[STIER]) represents the waning period of the
apostolic age. Smyrna ("myrrh"), bitter suffering, yet sweet and costly
perfume, the martyr period of the Decian and Diocletian age. Pergamos
(a "castle" or "tower"), the Church possessing earthly power and
decreasing spirituality from Constantine's time until the seventh
century. Thyatira ("unwearied about sacrifices"), the Papal Church in
the first half of the Middle Ages; like "Jezebel," keen about its
so-called sacrifice of the mass, and slaying the prophets and
witnesses of God. Sardis, from the close of the twelfth century to the
Reformation. Philadelphia ("brotherly love"), the first century of the
Reformation. Laodicea, the Reformed Church after its first zeal had
12. see the voice--that is, ascertain whence the
voice came; to see who was it from whom the voice
that--Greek, "of what kind it was which." The
voice is that of God the Father, as at Christ's baptism and
transfiguration, so here in presenting Christ as our High Priest.
spake--The oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers read, "was
seven . . . candlesticks--"lamp-stands"
[KELLY]. The stand holding the lamp. In
Ex 25:31, 32,
the seven are united in ONE candlestick or
lamp-stand, that is, six arms and a central shaft; so
Zec 4:2, 11.
Here the seven are separate candlesticks, typifying, as that
one, the entire Church, but now no longer as the Jewish Church
(represented by the one sevenfold candlestick) restricted to one
outward unity and one place; the several churches are mutually
independent as to external ceremonies and government (provided all
things are done to edification, and schisms or needless separations are
avoided), yet one in the unity of the Spirit and the Headship of
Christ. The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light, holding
it forth to give light around. The light is the Lord's, not the
Church's; from Him she receives it. She is to be a light-bearer to His
glory. The candlestick stood in the holy place, the type of the Church
on earth, as the holiest place was type of the Church in heaven. The
holy place's only light was derived from the candlestick, daylight
being excluded; so the Lord God is the Church's only light; hers is the
light of grace, not nature. "Golden" symbolizes at once the greatest
preciousness and sacredness; so that in the Zend
Avesta, "golden" is synonymous with heavenly or divine [TRENCH].
13. His glorified form as man could be recognized by John, who
had seen it at the Transfiguration.
in the midst--implying Christ's continual presence and ceaseless
activity in the midst of His people on earth. In
when He appears in heaven, His insignia undergo a corresponding
change yet even there the rainbow reminds us of His everlasting
covenant with them.
seven--omitted in two of the oldest manuscripts, but supported
Son of man--The form which John had seen enduring the agony of
Gethsemane, and the shame and anguish of Calvary, he now sees
glorified. His glory (as Son of man, not merely Son of
God) is the result of His humiliation as Son of man.
down to the foot--a mark of high rank. The garment and girdle
seem to be emblems of His priesthood. Compare
Ex 28:2, 4, 31;
Septuagint. Aaron's robe and girdle were "for glory and beauty,"
and combined the insignia of royalty and priesthood, the
characteristics of Christ's antitypical priesthood "after the order of
Melchisedec." His being in the midst of the candlesticks (only
seen in the temple), shows that it is as a king-priest He
is so attired. This priesthood He has exercised ever since His
ascension; and, therefore He here wears its emblems. As Aaron wore
these insignia when He came forth from the sanctuary to bless the
(Le 16:4, 23, 24,
the chetoneth, or holy linen coat), so when Christ shall come
again, He shall appear in the similar attire of "beauty and glory"
Margin). The angels are attired somewhat like their Lord
The ordinary girding for one actively engaged, was at the loins;
but JOSEPHUS [Antiquities,3.7.2], expressly
tells us that the Levitical priests were girt higher up, about the
breasts or paps, appropriate to calm, majestic movement. The
girdle bracing the frame together, symbolizes collected powers.
Righteousness and faithfulness are Christ's girdle. The
high priest's girdle was only interwoven with gold, but Christ's is all
of gold; the antitype exceeds the type.
14.--Greek, "But," or "And."
like wool--Greek, "like white wool." The
color is the point of comparison; signifying purity and
glory. (So in
Not age, for hoary hairs are the sign of decay.
eyes . . . as . . . flame--all-searching and
penetrating like fire: at the same time, also, implying
consuming indignation against sin, especially at His coming "in
flaming fire, taking vengeance" on all the ungodly, which is confirmed
as the meaning here, by
Re 19:11, 12.
15. fine brass--Greek, "chalcolibanus," derived by
some from two Greek words, "brass" and "frankincense"; derived
by BOCHART from Greek, "chalcos,"
"brass," and Hebrew, "libbeen," "to whiten"; hence,
"brass," which in the furnace has reached a white heat. Thus it
answers to "burnished (flashing, or glowing) brass,"
"His feet as pillars of fire." Translate, "Glowing brass,
as if they had been made fiery (red-hot) in a furnace." The feet of the
priests were bare in ministering in the sanctuary. So our great High
voice as . . . many waters--
it is "like the voice of a multitude." As the Bridegroom's
voice, so the bride's,
Re 14:2; 19:6;
the cherubim, or redeemed creation. His voice, however, is here
regarded in its terribleness to His foes. Contrast
So 2:8; 5:2,
with which compare
16. he had--Greek, "having." John takes up the
description from time to time, irrespective of the construction,
with separate strokes of the pencil [ALFORD].
in . . . right hand seven stars--
Re 2:1; 3:1).
He holds them as a star-studded "crown of glory," or "royal diadem," in
His hand: so
He is their Possessor and Upholder.
out of . . . mouth went--Greek, "going forth";
not wielded in the hand. His WORD is omnipotent in
executing His will in punishing sinners. It is the sword of His Spirit.
Reproof and punishment, rather than its converting winning power, is
the prominent point. Still, as He encourages the churches, as well as
threatens, the former quality of the Word is not excluded. Its
two edges (back and front) may allude to its double efficacy,
condemning some, converting others. TERTULLIAN
[Epistle against Judaizers], takes them of the Old and the
New Testaments. RICHARD OF
ST. VICTOR, "the Old
Testament cutting externally our carnal, the New Testament
internally, our spiritual sins."
sword--Greek, "romphaia," the Thracian long and
heavy broad sword: six times in Revelation, once only elsewhere in New
sun . . . in his strength--in unclouded power. So
shall the righteous shine, reflecting the image of the Sun of
righteousness. TRENCH notices that this
description, sublime as a purely mental conception, would be
intolerable if we were to give it an outward form. With the Greeks,
æsthecial taste was the first consideration, to which all others
must give way. With the Hebrews, truth and the full representation
ideally of the religious reality were the paramount consideration, that
representation being designed not to be outwardly embodied, but to
remain a purely mental conception. This exalting of the essence above
the form marks their deeper religious earnestness.
17. So fallen is man that God's manifestation of His glorious
presence overwhelms him.
laid his right hand upon me--So the same Lord Jesus did at the
Transfiguration to the three prostrate disciples, of whom John was one,
saying, Be not afraid. The "touch" of His hand, as of old, imparted
unto me--omitted in the oldest manuscripts.
the first . . . the last--
(Isa 41:4; 44:6; 48:12).
From eternity, and enduring to eternity: "the First by creation, the
Last by retribution: the First, because before Me there was no God
formed; the Last, because after Me there shall be no other: the First,
because from Me are all things; the Last, because to Me all things
return" [RICHARD OF ST.
18. Translate as Greek, "And THE
LIVING ONE": connected with
and was--Greek, "and (yet) I became."
alive for evermore--Greek, "living unto the ages of
ages": not merely "I live," but I have life, and am the source
of it to My people. "To Him belongs absolute being, as
contrasted with the relative being of the creature; others may
share, He only hath immortality: being in essence, not
by mere participation, immortal" [THEODORET in
TRENCH]. One oldest manuscript, with English
Version, reads Amen." Two others, and most of the oldest versions
and Fathers, omit it. His having passed through death as one of us, and
now living in the infinite plenitude of life, reassures His people,
since through Him death is the gate of resurrection to eternal life.
have . . . keys of hell--Greek, "Hades";
Hebrew, "Sheol." "Hell" in the sense, the place of
torment, answers to a different Greek word, namely,
Gehenna. I can release from the unseen world of spirits
and from DEATH whom I will. The oldest
manuscripts read by transposition, "Death and Hades," or Hell." It is
death (which came in by sin, robbing man of his immortal birthright,
that peoples Hades, and therefore should stand first in order.
Keys are emblems of authority, opening and shutting at will "the
gates of Hades"
(Ps 9:13, 14;
19. The oldest manuscripts read, "Write therefore"
(inasmuch as I, "the First and Last," have the keys of death, and
vouchsafe to thee this vision for the comfort and warning of the
things which are--"the things which thou hast seen" are those
narrated in this chapter (compare
"The things which are" imply the present state of things in the
churches when John was writing, as represented in the second and third
chapters. "The things which shall be hereafter," the things
symbolically represented concerning the future history of the fourth
through twenty-second chapters. ALFORD
translates, "What things they signify"; but the
antithesis of the next clause forbids this, "the things which shall be
hereafter," Greek, "which are about to come to pass." The
plural (Greek) "are," instead of the usual Greek
construction singular, is owing to churches and
persons being meant by things" in the clause, "the things which
20. in--Greek, "upon My right hand."
the mystery . . . candlesticks--in apposition to, and
explaining, "the things which thou hast seen," governed by "Write."
Mystery signifies the hidden truth, veiled under this symbol,
and now revealed; its correlative is revelation. Stars symbolize
of faithful teachers;
Re 8:10; 12:4;
angels--not as ALFORD, from
ORIGEN [Homily 13 on Luke, and Homily
20 on Numbers], the guardian angels of the churches, just as
individuals have their guardian angels. For how could heavenly angels
be charged with the delinquencies laid here to the charge of these
angels? Then, if a human angel be meant (as the Old Testament analogy
"the Lord's Messenger in the Lord's message";
Mal 2:7; 3:1),
the bishop, or superintendent pastor, must be the angel. For
whereas there were many presbyters in each of the larger churches (as
for example, Ephesus, Smyrna, &c.), there was but one angel,
whom, moreover, the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls holds
responsible for the spiritual state of the Church under him. The term
angel, designating an office, is, in accordance with the
enigmatic symbolism of this book, transferred from the heavenly to the
earthly superior ministers of Jehovah; reminding them that, like the
heavenly angels above, they below should fulfil God's mission
zealously, promptly and efficiently. "Thy will be done on earth, as it
is in heaven!"