Revelation Part 7: The Mighty Angel, Little Scroll, Two Witnesses and the Seventh Trumpet (Revelation 10-11)
(New American Standard Bible, 1995):
Rev. 10:1 ¶ I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire;
Rev. 10:2 and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land;
Rev. 10:3 and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices.
Rev. 10:4 When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them."
Rev. 10:5 Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven,
Rev. 10:6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, WHO CREATED HEAVEN AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE EARTH AND THE THINGS IN IT, AND THE SEA AND THE THINGS IN IT, that there will be delay no longer,
Rev. 10:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.
Rev. 10:8 ¶ Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land."
Rev. 10:9 So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he *said to me, "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey."
Rev. 10:10 I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.
Rev. 10:11 And they *said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."
Rev. 11:1 ¶ Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it.
Rev. 11:2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
Rev. 11:3 "And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."
Rev. 11:4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth.
Rev. 11:5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.
Rev. 11:6 These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.
Rev. 11:7 ¶ When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.
Rev. 11:8 And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.
Rev. 11:9 Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb.
Rev. 11:10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
Rev. 11:11 ¶ But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them.
Rev. 11:12 And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them.
Rev. 11:13 And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.
Rev. 11:14 ¶ The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
Rev. 11:15 ¶ Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,
¶ "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever."
Rev. 11:16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God,
Rev. 11:17 saying,
¶ "We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.
Rev. 11:18 "And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth."
Rev. 11:19 ¶ And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.
Novum Testamentum Graece (New Testament in Greek)
Nestle-Aland, 27th Edition, prepared by Institut für neutestamentliche Testforschung Münster/Westfalen, Barbara and Kurt Aland (Editors). Copyright © 1898 and 1993 by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
Used by permission.
Morphological tagging by William D. Mounce and Rex A. Koivisto
Copyright © 2003 William D. Mounce.
Copyright © 2006 OakTree Software, Inc.
All rights reserved.
(You must have the Helena font installed in order to see the Greek text rendered correctly; it can be obtained here: http://www.accordancebible.com/)
Rev. 10:1 ¼ Kai« eidon aýllon aýggelon iscuro\n katabai÷nonta ek touv oujranouv, peribeblhme÷non nefe÷lhn, kai« iriß epi« thvß kefalhvß, kai« to\ pro/swpon aujtouv wJß oJ h¢lioß, kai« oi po/deß aujtouv wJß stuvloi puro/ß:
Rev. 10:2 kai« eicen en thØv ceiri« aujtouv biblari÷dion aÓnewgme÷non: kai« e¶qhke to\n po/da aujtouv to\n dexio\n epi« th\n qa¿lassan, to\n de« eujw¿numon epi« th\n ghvn,
Rev. 10:3 kai« e¶kraxe fwnhØv mega¿lhØ wsper le÷wn muka×tai: kai« o¢te e¶kraxen, ela¿lhsan ai epta» brontai« ta»ß eautw×n fwna¿ß,
Rev. 10:4 kai« o¢te ela¿lhsan ai epta» brontai« ta»ß fwna»ß eautw×n, e¶mellon gra¿fein: kai« h¡kousa fwnh\n ek touv oujranouv, le÷gousa¿n moi, Sfra¿gison a± ela¿lhsan ai epta» brontai÷, kai« mh\ tauvta gra¿yhØß.
Rev. 10:5 kai« oJ aýggeloß o§n eidon estw×ta epi« thvß qala¿sshß kai« epi« thvß ghvß hre th\n ceira aujtouv eiß to\n oujrano/n,
Rev. 10:6 kai« wýmosen en tw× zw×nti eiß tou\ß aiw×naß tw×n aiw¿nwn, o§ß e¶ktise to\n oujrano/n kai« ta» en aujtw×, kai« th\n ghvn kai« ta» en aujthØv kai« th\n qa¿lassan kai« ta» en aujthØv, o¢ti cro/noß oujk e¶stai e¶ti:
Rev. 10:7 aÓlla» en taiß hJme÷raiß thvß fwnhvß touv ebdo/mou aÓgge÷lou, o¢tan me÷llhØ salpi÷zein, kai« telesqhØv to\ musth/rion touv Qeouv, wJß eujhgge÷lise toiß eautouv dou/loiß toiß profh/taiß.
Rev. 10:8 kai« hJ fwnh\ h§n h¡kousa ek touv oujranouv, pa¿lin lalousa met emouv, kai« le÷gousa, ðUpage, la¿be to\ biblari÷dion to\ hjnewgme÷non en thØv ceiri« aÓgge÷lou touv estw×toß epi« thvß qala¿sshß kai« epi« thvß ghvß.
Rev. 10:9 kai« aÓphvlqon pro\ß to\n aýggelon, le÷gwn aujtw×, Do/ß moi to\ biblari÷dion. kai« le÷gei moi, La¿be kai« kata¿fage aujto/: kai« pikranei sou th\n koili÷an, aÓll en tw× sto/mati÷ sou e¶stai gluku\ wJß me÷li.
Rev. 10:10 kai« e¶labon to\ biblari÷dion ek thvß ceiro\ß touv aÓgge÷lou, kai« kate÷fagon aujto/, kai« hn en tw× sto/mati÷ mou wJß me÷li, gluku/: kai« o¢te e¶fagon aujto/, epikra¿nqh hJ koili÷a mou.
Rev. 10:11 kai« le÷gei moi, Dei se pa¿lin profhteuvsai epi« laoiß kai« e¶qnesi kai« glw¿ssaiß kai« basileuvsi polloiß.
Rev. 11:1 ¼ Kai« edo/qh moi ka¿lamoß o¢moioß rJa¿bdw, kai« oJ aýggeloß eisth/kei, le÷gwn, Egeirai, kai« me÷trhson to\n nao\n touv Qeouv, kai« to\ qusiasth/rion, kai« tou\ß proskunouvntaß en aujtw×.
Rev. 11:2 kai« th\n aujlh\n th\n e¶xwqen touv naouv e¶kbale e¶xw, kai« mh\ aujth/n metrh/shØß, o¢ti edo/qh toiß e¶qnesi: kai« th\n po/lin th\n aJgi÷an path/sousi mhvnaß tessara¿konta du/o.
Rev. 11:3 kai« dw¿sw toiß dusi« ma¿rtusi÷ mou kai« profhteu/sousin hJme÷raß cili÷aß diakosi÷aß exh/konta peribeblhme÷noi sa¿kkouß.
Rev. 11:4 outoi÷ eisin ai du/o elaiai, kai« ai du/o lucni÷ai ai enw¿pion touv Qeouv thvß ghvß estw×sai.
Rev. 11:5 kai« ei¶ tiß aujtou\ß qe÷lhØ aÓdikhvsai, puvr ekporeu/etai ek touv sto/matoß aujtw×n, kai« katesqi÷ei tou\ß ecqrou\ß aujtw×n: kai« ei¶ tiß aujtou\ß qe÷lhØ aÓdikhvsai, ou¢tw dei aujto\n aÓpoktanqhvnai.
Rev. 11:6 outoi e¶cousin exousi÷an kleisai to\n oujrano/n, iºna mh\ bre÷chØ uJeto\ß en hJme÷raiß aujtw×n thvß profhtei÷aß: kai« exousi÷an e¶cousin epi« tw×n uJda¿twn, stre÷fein aujta» eiß aima, kai« pata¿xai th\n ghvn pa¿shØ plhghØv, oJsa¿kiß ea»n qelh/swsi.
Rev. 11:7 kai« o¢tan tele÷swsi th\n marturi÷an aujtw×n, to\ qhri÷on to\ aÓnabainon ek thvß aÓbu/ssou poih/sei po/lemon met aujtw×n, kai« nikh/sei aujtou\ß kai« aÓpoktenei aujtou/ß.
Rev. 11:8 kai« ta» ptw¿mata aujtw×n epi« thvß platei÷aß po/lewß thvß mega¿lhß, h¢tiß kaleitai pneumatikw×ß So/doma kai« Ai¶guptoß, o¢pou kai« oJ Ku/rioß hJmw×n estaurw¿qh.
Rev. 11:9 kai« ble÷yousin ek tw×n law×n kai« fulw×n kai« glwssw×n kai« eqnw×n ta» ptw¿mata aujtw×n hJme÷raß treiß kai« h¢misu, kai« ta» ptw¿mata aujtw×n oujk aÓfh/sousi teqhvnai eiß mnh/mata.
Rev. 11:10 kai« oi katoikouvnteß epi« thvß ghvß carouvsin ep aujtoiß, kai« eujfranqh/sontai, kai« dw×ra pe÷myousin aÓllh/loiß, o¢ti outoi oi du/o profhvtai ebasa¿nisan tou\ß katoikouvntaß epi« thvß ghvß.
Rev. 11:11 kai« meta» ta»ß treiß hJme÷raß kai« h¢misu, pneuvma zwhvß ek touv Qeouv eishvlqen ep aujtou/ß, kai« e¶sthsan epi« tou\ß po/daß aujtw×n, kai« fo/boß me÷gaß e¶pesen epi« tou\ß qewrouvntaß aujtou/ß.
Rev. 11:12 kai« h¡kousan fwnh\n mega¿lhn ek touv oujranouv, le÷gousan aujtoiß, Ana¿bhte wde. kai« aÓne÷bhsan eiß to\n oujrano\n en thØv nefe÷lhØ, kai« eqew¿rhsan aujtou\ß oi ecqroi« aujtw×n.
Rev. 11:13 kai« en ekei÷nhØ thØv wra ege÷neto seismo\ß me÷gaß, kai« to\ de÷katon thvß po/lewß e¶pese, kai« aÓpekta¿nqhsan en tw× seismw× ojno/mata aÓnqrw¿pwn, cilia¿deß epta¿: kai« oi loipoi« e¶mfoboi ege÷nonto, kai« e¶dwkan do/xan tw× Qew× touv oujranouv.
Rev. 11:14 ¼ ÔH oujai« hJ deute÷ra aÓphvlqe: kai« idou/, hJ oujai« hJ tri÷thØ e¶rcetai tacu/.
Rev. 11:15 ¼ Kai« oJ eºbdomoß aýggeloß esa¿lpise, kai« ege÷nonto fwnai« mega¿lai en tw× oujranw×, le÷gousai, Ege÷nonto ai basileiai touv ko/smou, touv Kuri÷ou hJmw×n, kai« touv Cristouv aujtouv, kai« basileu/sei eiß tou\ß aiw×naß tw×n aiw¿nwn.
Rev. 11:16 kai« oi ei¶kosi kai« te÷ssareß presbu/teroi oi enw¿pion touv Qeouv kaqh/menoi epi« tou\ß qro/nouß aujtw×n, e¶pesan epi« ta» pro/swpa aujtw×n, kai« proseku/nhsan tw× Qew×,
Rev. 11:17 le÷gonteß, Eujcaristouvme÷n soi, Ku/rie oJ Qeo\ß oJ pantokra¿twr, oJ w·n kai« oJ hn kai« oJ erco/menoß, o¢ti ei¶lhfaß th\n du/nami÷n sou th\n mega¿lhn, kai« ebasi÷leusaß.
Rev. 11:18 kai« ta» e¶qnh wÓrgi÷sqhsan, kai« hlqen hJ ojrgh/ sou, kai« oJ kairo\ß tw×n nekrw×n kriqhvnai, kai« douvnai to\n misqo\n toiß dou/loiß sou toiß profh/taiß kai« toiß aJgi÷oiß kai« toiß foboume÷noiß to\ o¡noma¿ sou, toiß mikroiß kai« toiß mega¿loiß, kai« diafqeirai tou\ß diafqei÷rontaß th\n ghvn.
Rev. 11:19 ¼ Kai« hjnoi÷gh oJ nao\ß touv Qeouv en tw× oujranw×, kai« wýfqh hJ kibwto\ß thvß diaqh/khß aujtouv en tw× naw× aujtouv: kai« ege÷nonto aÓstrapai« kai« fwnai« kai« brontai« kai« seismo\ß kai« ca¿laza mega¿lh.
Revelation Chapter 10-11
The Mighty Angel, Little Scroll, Two Witnesses and the Seventh Trumpet
E. Supplementary revelation of John's preparation for recording the remaining judgments in the Great Tribulation, Ch. 10
1. The appearance of the mighty angel 10:1-4
2. The announcement of the mighty angel 10:5-7
3. The instruction of the mighty angel 10:8-11
F. Supplementary revelation of the two witnesses in the Great Tribulation, Ch 11:1-14
1. The temple in Jerusalem 11:1-2
2. The ministry of the two witnesses 11:3-6
3. The death of the two witnesses 11:7-10
4. The resurrection of the two witnesses 11:11-13
5. The end of the second woe 11:14
The phrase in 10:7, " the mystery of God," is very interesting. As Mounce points out, this exact same phrase is used in Colossians 2:2 in reference to Christ, within whom is hidden the treasures of pure wisdom and complete knowledge. This indicates that all of God's put forth through His own creation, cumulating in Christ's sacrifice on the cross, will be brought to a conclusion with the sounding of the seventh, and final trumpet.
There are three specific items to ponder in chapter 11; what exactly John is being led to measure, who the two witnesses are, and what is the meaning of the aggregate 1,260 days. The four approaches of Revelation interpretation take it these ways:
- Historicist: A figurative measuring of the true church remaining in the midst of the papal church during the Reformation.
- Preterist: An echo of Ezekiel 40-47, defining the true "spiritual" church as opposed to the physical church structure, which is about to be destroyed by the Romans.
- Futurist: The physical structure which will replace the four previously built, and destroyed ones.
- Spiritualist: A symbolic measuring of the truly faithful, the "Church of the elect servants of God" (1 Cor 3:16).
- Historicist: The Waldenses, Albigenses and others who fought against the corrupt Roman Catholic Church in the years before the Reformation.
- Preterist: A representation of the civil and religious authorities in Israel.
- Futurist: Physical prophets who will appear some day in the future in Jerusalem, either Moses and Elijah or Enoch and Elijah, most likely.
- Spiritualist: These represent the spirit of the corporate church body during the church age.
- Historicist: Actually 1,260 years, the duration of the power of papal Rome.
- Preterist: The period of the Jewish war, or the length of Nero's persecution, or both.
- Futurist: A literal three and a half years, usually assumed to be the second half of the Tribulation period.
- Spiritualist: A symbolic period of the entire church age.
Most futurists consider the Seventh Trumpet to be that which announcing the Second Coming of Christ. The timing of the events in this chapter are difficult to reconcile (to dispensationalists, at least, who see a pretribunal rapturing of the church,, and a raising of the sinful dead at the end of the Millennial Reign), unless you consider that the judgments in verse 18 last 1,000 years, or "a day" in the eyes of the Lord.
IVP-Hard Sayings of the Bible
11:23 Symbolic Numbers?
In addition to its unusual personages and symbols, Revelation has some numbers that are difficult to decipher. Those in Revelation 11:23 are as confusing as anywhere. In fact, they are so confusing that commentators from all positions approach this particular passage with caution, admitting that in the end they are not certain of their identifications. What does it mean for the holy city to be trampled for 42 months? And who are these witnesses who prophesy for 1,260 days? How do these periods of time relate? We can only give tentative answers to these questions.
The context of Revelation 11:23 is the sixth of the series of trumpet judgments, the penultimate judgments of Revelation. This second "woe" (the last three of the seven trumpet judgments are called "woes") blew in Revelation 9:13; its judgment is finished in Revelation 11:14. This last part of the judgment contains both the numbers we mentioned above and the three and a half days that the witnesses (the main subjects of this last judgment scene) are to lie dead before their resurrection. Although the three and a half days are a separate issue, the other two numbers are the same, for it does not take much math skill to discover that 42 months equals three and a half years. Likewise the 1,260 days equals 42 months of 30 days each or three and a half years of 360 days each. Furthermore, in Revelation 12:14, the end of the next chapter, we discover that "the woman" will be protected for "a time, times, and half a time," or three and a half years. Therefore Revelation has three different ways of referring to the same length of time.
It is clear that this time period is symbolic. In Daniel 7:25 the fourth beast will oppress the saints of the Most High for "a time, times, and half a time." The same timing is mentioned in Daniel 12:7, although two other periods of 1,290 (43 months) and 1,335 days (44.5 months) respectively are mentioned in Daniel 12:1112. Daniel 8:14 notes a period of 2,300 days (76.7 months or 6 years and 4.7 months) when the "little horn," Antiochus IV Epiphanes, would suppress Judaism. (This ruler, who deposed the last Zadokite high priest in 170 B.C. and suppressed sacrifice in Jerusalem from 167 to 164 B.C., is the model for much that happens in Revelation.) John does not use all of these numbers from Daniel. What he does use is the 3.5-year period, a period during which there will be oppression and the rule of "the beast," but also the protection of "the woman" and the activity of "the two witnesses."
When it comes to identifying this period and these individuals there are three basic schools of thought. One group sees the temple as a literal rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and the witnesses as two specific individuals. Given the nature of their miracles, they appear to be most like Moses and Elijah, the greatest of the Old Testament prophetic figures. The 3.5 years, then, is also a literal period at the end of the age during what John calls "the great tribulation," when the antichrist, who will be a world ruler, will oppress the temple worship. The problem with this view is that the oppression excludes the altar and inner court of the temple, which makes it appear to be more a symbolic temple than a literal one. Who would control the outer court of the temple and ignore the inner one?
A second interpretation sees the temple and Jerusalem (where the two witnesses are active) as symbols for the Jewish people. The antichrist oppresses the Jewish people as a whole in the end of the age for 3.5 years, but the faithful remnant (the worshipers in the inner court) will be protected (perhaps meaning the same thing as the protection of "the woman" in the next chapter). During this period of protection in the middle of the reign of evil, two eschatological personages will witness to the Jewish people (symbolized by Jerusalem), calling them to Christ. This interpretation has the advantage of retaining the sense of literality in the first interpretation, while avoiding the problems it faced in viewing the temple as a literal temple.
A third interpretation sees the temple and Jerusalem as symbols for the church and the world. The inner court is the true worshipers. The outer court is those members of the church who are corrupted by the world (the Nicolaitans and followers of Jezebel; see Rev 2). The holy city (Jerusalem) is the world outside the church. The church is oppressed by evil for a definite period (the 3.5 years normally are interpreted symbolically). Yet during this period witness will go on (the two witnesses being symbols for the witness of the church), although the witness will entail martyrdom. The strength of this position is that it takes seriously John's calling Judaism "the synagogue of Satan" (Rev 2:9; 3:9) and Jerusalem "Sodom and Egypt" (Rev 11:8), therefore assuming that John would not be interested in preserving either Judaism or Jewish institutions such as the temple. Furthermore, each of the pictures receives an interpretation from within Revelation. The problem is that in most apocalyptic scenarios (including intertestamental apocalyptic) there are real people and places with which the author is concerned, not simply symbolic groups. This interpretation appears to loose itself from history in any form.
Obviously, we cannot be sure of the interpretation of this passage. Too many good Christian scholars have taken too divergent positions to speak with any dogmatism. But from my point of view the second interpretation appears to fit John's perspective best. In his day the temple was gone and Judaism was oppressed. This, he says, will continue. There will be a period of intense persecution in the end of the age, when the embodiment of evil himself, the antichrist, will rule (at least in the Roman world). The Jews, symbolized by Jerusalem in Revelation 11, will be "trampled on" by this ruler, but a remnant that is faithful to God (the inner court of Revelation 11 and perhaps the woman of Revelation 12) will be protected. Just as there will be an embodiment of evil, so witness will be embodied in two individuals who will come in the spirit of Moses and Elijah. After 3.5 years they will be martyred, then raised to life. Yet this will lead to a turning of the Jews as a whole to Christ (Rev 11:13). It will also happen just before the final end of the age (which, if John is using Daniel's chronology, should happen within two or three months). This interpretation fits with Jesus' predictions about Judaism (Lk 21:24) and the temple (Mk 13:2 and parallelsthere is no mention of its rebuilding) and takes the symbols as meaning something concrete.
This, then, is our understanding of what John anticipated in the end of the age. He appears to believe that it would happen within a short time. It did not happen that way during his lifetime, but perhaps we should look at the rapid spread of Christianity within the Roman Empire as a parallel to the repentance of Nineveh in Jonah. It led to the eventual repentance of Rome and perhaps, like in the case of Nineveh, to a putting of the judgment on hold. That is certainly in tune with the desire of God for repentance (rather than judgment) within Revelation. This may move the judgment picture to the end of the age, whenever this may happen to be. Yet will the judgment happen any less concretely or even any differently than John envisioned it 1900 years ago? Only our hindsight from heaven will reveal the truth and the fully correct interpretation of this versewhich God alone knows.
IVP-New Bible Commentary
10:1-11:14 Interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets
Just as John inserted a parenthesis between the sixth and seventh seals, so he does between the sixth and seventh trumpets. Whereas, however, the purpose of the earlier interlude was to convey assurance of the protecting hand of God over his people during the Messianic judgments, that motive is but briefly mentioned in the little oracle of 11:1-2. The primary purpose of this interruption in the story is quite different. First, a solemn declaration is made of the certainty and nearness of the end when the seventh trumpet is sounded (1-7); secondly, John's commission to prophesy is freshly affirmed and even extended (he is to prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings); and thirdly, the task of the church in the time of tribulation is made plain, namely to bear witness to Christ before the opponents of the gospel (11:3-13). Here for the first time the figure of the antichrist appears (11:7), and the dual nature of the last tribulation becomes apparent, namely judgments of God upon those who oppose him and war against the church by the followers of antichrist. No promise of escape from the latter is given, but the end of the story is the vindication of the church and conversion of many.
10:1-11 The proximity of the end.
1 The mighty angel is sometimes identified with Christ, but it is unlikely that John would speak of the Lord as an angel. The language of the vision is reminiscent of Dn. 10:5-6 and 12:7. 2 In view of v 11 the little scroll appears to include the rest of the visions of Revelation.
3 The seven thunders were not uttered by the angel, for they followed his cry. Presumably they came from God or Christ (as also the command of v 4). 4 John is forbidden to write down the message of the thunders. What the message was and why it was not to be revealed has intrigued exegetes through the years. Perhaps it is meant to indicate that God's will is far greater than that which prophecy is able to express.
5 The angel stands on the earth and sea because his message is of worldwide importance.
6-7 The burden of his declaration is that there will be no more delay. God's purpose for humankind, revealed to the prophets, is now to be accomplished; when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet the mystery of God will be accomplished. The mystery is not a mysterious' revelation but God's secret purpose hidden from the unbelieving world. Its content is revealed and celebrated in 11:15-18.
8-11 Having been denied the right to write down one message John is now given a fresh commission to proclaim other messages. This part of the vision recalls Ezk. 2:9-3:3. As in the case of Ezekiel, eating the scroll caused both sweetness and bitterness, illustrating (certainly in Revelation) the mixture of joy and pain in receiving and making known the revealed blessings and the judgments of God.
11:1-2 The security of the church. In this short oracle the temple at Jerusalem and its worshippers are measured off for protection in the period of trial (for the symbolism see Ezk. 40:3-4 and Am. 7:7-9); the outer court of the Gentiles and the city are abandoned to destruction by a heathen power. It is unlikely that John wished this prophecy' to be interpreted literally (the city and temple had been destroyed a generation earlier), or that he framed it as a kind of prophetic parable. Rather, as in ch. 7, he appears to have adapted an earlier Jewish prophecy; literally it has been unfulfilled, but spiritually it conveyed the truth of the security of the church in its endurance of suffering. The same procedure of adaptation is apparent in the prophecy of vs 3-13.
1 The temple of God and the altar and... the [p. 1439] worshippers convey one idea, the church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16).
2 Similarly, the outer court and the holy city together represent the world outside the church. It is a bold transformation, but v 8 implies that the onetime holy city has now become one with sinful Sodom, Egypt the oppressor of God's people and the tyrannous empire that wars against the Messiah. The 42 months of v 2, 1,260 days' of 12:6, and a time, times and half a time' of 12:14 are equivalent expressions for the three and a half years of the antichrist's rule, and are all derived from Daniel's prophecies (see Dn. 7:25; 9:26-27; 12:7).
11:3-14 The prophecy of the two witnesses. This involves similar principles of interpretation as vs 1-2. The OT closes with a prophecy of Elijah returning to minister at the end of the age (Mal. 4:5-6). The great rabbinic teacher Johanan benZakkai, a contemporary of John who wrote Revelation, declared that God said to Moses, If I send the prophet Elijah, you must both come together'. Such an identification suits the description of the witnesses depicted in vs 5-6. Did John, then, intend us to understand that Moses and Elijah are themselves to return and fulfil the ministry described in this passage? No, there are indications that, as in vs 1-2, the vision is to be interpreted symbolically. John in v 4 represents the witnessing prophets in terms of Zc. 4; there the two olive trees' represent Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor, and the lampstand' is Israel. The single lampstand becomes two to conform to the two trees, and they portray the church in its prophetic capacity. The lampstand had already become seven to represent the seven churches of Roman Asia (1:12; 2:1); it was a simple transition to make them become two to correspond to the two prophets. So also, when it is stated in v 7 that the beast attacks (better makes war on') the two witnesses and kills them, and that men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and celebrate by sending gifts to each other (9-10), it is evident that an original picture of two prophets martyred in Jerusalem has become a symbol of a worldwide endeavour to crush the church of God. The celebration, however, is premature (11-12)!
3 The witnesses are clothed in sackcloth, for their message is one of judgment, calling for repentance, and is therefore parallel to 14:6-7.
5-6 The extraordinary power of the witnessing church is set forth in terms reminiscent of Elijah and Moses. The destroying fire recalls 2 Ki. 1:10-11; the ability to prevent rain 1 Ki. 17:1; the turning of waters into blood and striking of earth with every kind of plague Ex. 7-12.
7 Here is the first mention in Revelation of the beast that comes up from the Abyss. He is spoken of as well known, but fuller descriptions of him occur in chs. 13 and 17. Observe the similarity of language in 13:7 to describe the warfare of the beast against the church. For Abyss see on 9:1.
8 The great city originally denoted Jerusalem (cf. vs 1-2 and the last clause of this sentence), but has now come to mean what John Bunyan called Vanity Fair' (M. Kiddle, The Revelation of St. John [Hodder and Stoughton, 1940], p. 185). Throughout the rest of the book the phrase is used of the harlot city Rome (16:19; 17:18; 18:10-24). In one remarkable stroke of the pen, John identifies Jerusalem with Sodom, Egypt, the city of the antichrist and the world that rejected and killed the Son of God.
9-10 Jew and Gentile combine in celebrating their apparent victory over the church. Refusal to allow a corpse to be buried signifies the greatest depth of shame to which a person can be subjected (see Ps. 79:3).
11 The church is crushed by its enemies for three and a half days, a deliberate play on the three and a half years of the tribulation, which, however, is also the period of the powerful ministry of the witnesses. In comparison with that the victory of the antichrist is no victory at all. The statement that a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, cites Ezk. 37:10, which refers to the spiritual quickening of the nation Israel. This resurrection', therefore, could be taken as signifying a revival so great as to fill the world with awe; but in view of the apostolic instruction on the resurrection of the dead and transformation of the living (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thes. 4:14-18) it is more likely to signify the first resurrection' (20:5). With the severe earthquake of v 13 cf. 6:12 and 16:18, both implying the arrival of the end prior to the revelation of the kingdom.
13 The number seven thousand would suitably indicate a tenth of the population of Jerusalem in the first century AD. In making the city to represent the world city John had no need to alter the figure, for seven thousand could be interpreted to mean any large number. The fact that the survivors gave glory to the God of heaven indicates that these events evoked repentance from the hitherto unrepentant populace (cf. Jos. 7:19).
11:15-19 The seventh trumpet
The sounding of the seventh trumpet is intended to bring the third woe (14), but instead of a description of calamity, proclamation is made of the advent of the kingdom of God. The nature of the third woe is expounded in detail later (see note on 8:13).
15 The language of the proclamation echoes Ps. 2:2, but uniquely phrased, for that which has [p. 1440] arrived is the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ an indivisible sovereignty. He will reign for ever and ever. Who is He? Our Lord, or his Christ? We have here a close parallel to Jn. 10:30, I and the Father are one'.
17 The customary attribute of God is significantly shortened; no longer is it said that he is to come' (cf. 1:4), for he has come! The reign has begun, in that God has put forth his great power to subdue the rebellion of humankind against his sovereign rule, which has existed through all ages. The kingdom of God is essentially deliverance from evil and the gift of life. Ch. 5 shows that it began in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and its victory is celebrated in the song of v 17. The song marks an ordered progression of thought which is expounded later in Revelation. God has begun to reign, as seen in the millennial kingdom (20:4-6); the nations were angry, rising in rebellion (20:8-9); your wrath has come, manifesting itself in judgment (20:9); the time has come for judging the dead (20:11-15), when the saints are to be rewarded in the city of God (21:9-22:5), and the destroyers of the earth cast into the lake of fire' (20:15; 21:8). 19 God's temple in heaven is opened to reveal the ark of his covenant. Its manifestation at this point implies that the goal of the covenant, which is the promise of the kingdom, is now in the act of coming to pass. Flashes of lightning, peals of thunder, earthquake etc. testify that the consummation has arrived (cf. 8:5; 16:17-21).
The Mysteries of the End
10:1. Jewish literature pictures a number of angels as being as high as the highest heavens, often shining like the sun (2 Enoch; 3 Enoch; rabbis; cf. Dan 10:6; cf. the Greek figure Atlas). Both evil angels (1 Enoch) and good angels could be very tall. Sometimes they were crowned (e.g., 2 Enoch; 3 Enoch), in this case with a rainbow; in 3 Enoch, even the crown is more than a five-hundred-year journey high. (Sometimes such language was also used figuratively, e.g., for a particular high priest.) John borrows the imagery of his day for a powerful angel over creation (see comment on Rev 7:1).
10:2. The seals having been opened (6:1-8:1), the contents of the book may now be examined ("open"). The angel's enormity and his feet on both land and sea indicates how great his dominion is.
10:3-4. Something remains sealed (cf. 22:10), indicating that some mysteries must remain mysteries until the end (Deut 29:29). The thunders could be viewed as less ambiguous if they are identical with the contents of the book- 10:2, 8-11 -or, much less likely, if they are like seven commandments corresponding to the Ten Commandments, as Revelation's groups of seven plagues correspond to Exodus's ten plagues. On unspeakable revelations see comment on 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. The text implies that John is taking notes (as rabbinic or Greek students sometimes did) or writing down what he hears and sees; one could write down visions or utterances as others were having them (e.g., Testament of Job 51, a section admittedly of uncertain date).
10:5-6. Raising one's hand toward a god was used in solemn oath formulas in Greek culture as well as in the Old Testament and later Jewish literature. Here John alludes to Daniel 12:7, where an angel lifted his hands toward heaven and swore by the one who lives forever that there would be only three and a half more years until the end; here this angel swears that the time has come, and there is no further delay. (Some apocalyptic texts spoke of countable time itself ending, but the point here seems to be "time before the end," given Dan 12:7; cf. Rev 2:21; 6:11; 20:3; Hab 2:3.)
10:7. All the Old Testament promises, both of judgment and of restoration, came to a head in the day of the Lord.
A Bitter Message for the Nations
This account is based on Ezekiel 2:8-3:3, where a hand is extended to Ezekiel containing a scroll, written on both sides (cf. Rev 5:1) with a message of three kinds of judgment. Ezekiel ate the scroll, which tasted sweet to his mouth but was a message of judgment for Israel.
10:8-9. These verses are based on Ezekiel 2:8-3:3; another contemporary apocalyptic writer (4 Ezra) drew more loosely on the same imagery. Sin tasted sweet like honey but was poison because it led to judgment (Prov 5:3-4; cf. Num 5:23-31); but the sweetness here is the word of the Lord (cf. Prov 24:13-14; rabbis), and the bitterness is the bitterness of judgment that John must proclaim. On an angel talking with the visionary, see comment on Revelation 7:13-14.
10:11. The Jewish Sibyl in the Sibylline Oracles conceived her task as prophesying concerning all nations (cf. Rev 11:2), but this was standard with many Old Testament prophets, who uttered oracles against the nations, to which John's are much closer (Is 13-23; Jer 46-51; Ezek 25-32; Amos 1-2).
The Two Witnesses
John clearly uses Old Testament language for prophets (Elijah, Moses) and a high priest and king (from Zechariah) to describe these witnesses. On a literal futuristic reading, they could refer to the new Moses and Elijah expected in Judaism; conversely, they could be read as joint aspects of the church, as rulers and priests (Rev 1:6; 5:10), especially since this is the meaning of lampstands elsewhere in the book (1:20).
11:1. Measuring the courts of God's house (21:15) was one way of praising the magnificence of the building whose construction was meant as praise to God (Ps 48:12-13; Ezek 40:3-42:20; Zech 2:1-5; cf. the Similitudes of Enoch, where paradise is measured). A "reed" (NIV, KJV) could be used as a surveyor's rule (hence "measuring rod" NASB, NRSV, TEV).
11:2. The sanctuary had been trodden down before (Is 63:18; 1 Macc 3:45; 4:60), and its desolation was portrayed as the typical goal of pagans (Judith 9:8), but here only the outer court is trodden down. Yet the whole temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, and (with most scholars) Revelation was probably written in the 90s. Even the literal treading down of the outer sanctuary had taken place more than forty-two months before John's time, implying that the number was symbolic for the whole period from its devastation in some sense until its restoration (see comment on Rev 12:6).
If the heavenly temple is meant (11:19; see comment on 4:6), the outer court is meant symbolically. Perhaps as at Qumran, the temple stands for God's chosen remnant (cf. 21:3). The outer court was the only court Gentiles were allowed to enter. Although the literal outer court was in ruins like the rest of the temple, the reference here seems to be to some danger such as pagan spiritual domination over the church as Israel's spiritual remnant (cf. 2:9; 3:9) or over the holy land or Jewish people, or to the lack of a temple; even while the temple stood, many felt that it was spiritually impure (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls).
11:3. On the 1,260 days see comment on 12:6; based on a 360-day year, this was the same as forty-two months or three and a half years (Daniel used all three figures). Sackcloth was proper Old Testament apparel for mourning or repentance; the two witnesses are apparently wailing over the sins of God's people (e.g., Joel 1:13; Jon 3:6; Joseph and Asenath; clothing for prophets in Ascension of Isaiah, etc.). Two witnesses was the minimum number acceptable under Old Testament law (Deut 17:6; 19:15).
11:4. The source of the image is clear: Zechariah 4:2-3 presented two seven-branched lampstands and two olive trees, which represented the two anointed ones (Zech 4:14): the king and the priest (Zech 6:13). In Zechariah's day they represented Zerubbabel and Joshua. (Thus Qumran in some periods in its history stressed two future anointed figures, a messianic king and an anointed priest.) John might connect the image with a kingdom and priests (Rev 1:6; 5:10).
That they "stand" (currently) could indicate, as some (e.g., the second-century North African Christian Tertullian) have suggested, an allusion to Old Testament figures who did not die (cf. also 4 Ezra)-Elijah, Enoch (according to the most common reading of the Old Testament) and Moses (according to some Jewish storytellers, against the plain sense of Deut 34). They could also simply represent the church, whose heavenly representatives are already before God (Rev 4:4; cf. Mt 18:10). The two anointed ones in Zechariah 4:14 "stand" by the Lord of all the earth.
11:5. Elijah seemed to have a spiritual gift for calling down fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12; cf. Lev 9:24-10:2). But what appears to be an allusion to Elijah is slightly modified: the fire comes from their mouths (perhaps symbolic for efficacious proclamations of judgment - Jer 5:10, 14). (Later Jewish texts expand this gift to Joseph, Abraham and others; later rabbis told stories of earlier pious rabbis, especially Simeon ben Yohai in the second century A.D. and Johanan in the third, who disintegrated disrespectful men by gazing at them spitefully.)
11:6. Elijah had "shut" the sky, bringing drought in obedience to God's word (1 Kings 17:1; 18:41); according to a probable Jewish tradition, this was for three and a half years (cf. also Jas 5:17; Lk 4:25). Authorization to turn water to blood clearly recalls Moses (Ex 7:14-25). Jewish people were expecting both a new prophet like Moses (Deut 18:15-18) and the return of Elijah (Mal 4:5); in the language of their power, Revelation describes the mission of the two witnesses, possibly the church (see introduction to 11:1-13).
11:7. Developing Old Testament pictures of the end (Zech 14:1-3), Jewish texts commonly expected this age to end with a long, climactic battle, which often included suffering for God's people but culminated in their ultimate triumph (cf. both sufferings of the final generation and spiritual battle plans in the War Scroll in the Dead Sea Scrolls).
11:8. Refusing to bury the dead was the greatest cruelty one could offer throughout the ancient world (e.g., Is 5:25) and was usually a mark of grave impiety as well. As Paul contrasts the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem (Gal 4:25-26), so Revelation may do here (the place of Jesus' crucifixion); the Old Testament prophets often compared Jerusalem or Israel with Sodom (e.g., Is 1:9-10; Jer 23:14). As Egypt had oppressed Israel, so Jerusalem's authorities had oppressed the true followers of God. The association of Jewish authorities with the persecution of the church held true at least in Asia Minor (Rev 2:9; 3:9); compare this city with Babylon in chapters 17-18. (In contrast, some scholars have pointed to the use of the "city" for Rome elsewhere in Revelation, arguing that the city here is Rome, who martyred Christ in Jerusalem, or the world system as a whole. When used figuratively, "the harlot" [ Rev 17 ] in the Old Testament was almost always used for Israel or Judah betraying their covenant with God. It is possible that, besides Old Testament allusions, John also alludes to earlier Jewish-Christian prophecies against Jerusalem, redirecting them toward Rome in Revelation. Because we do not have those prophecies, however, it is impossible to say; John may simply draw a link between the Jewish authorities and the Roman authorities who, as far as the early Christians experienced their activity, were conspiring together for their persecution.)
11:9. "Three and a half days" may be mentioned to signify that the dead bodies of the two witnesses were decomposing; or it may simply correspond to the three and a half years of their prophesying.
11:10. For "earth-dwellers" see comment on 3:10. The giving of gifts characterized some pagan celebrations and (probably not in view here) the Jewish Feast of Purim, which celebrated Israel's deliverance from Persian enemies (Esther 9:19, 22).
11:11. The breath of life entering the two corpses alludes to Genesis 2:7 and perhaps Ezekiel 37 (cf. Jn 20:22; Testament of Abraham, recension A).
11:12. Elijah ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11), and as time went on, Jewish tradition multiplied the number of holy servants of God taken directly to heaven without death. Greek traditions pictured a very small number of heroes taken to heaven in death. But ascension after resurrection refers in other Christian texts to Jesus (Acts 1:9-11) and the church (1 Thess 4:15-16).
11:13. If "seven thousand" is understood as one tenth of the population, the description fits Jerusalem better than Rome (the latter is estimated to have had a population as high as one million, though some think this inflated). (Some commentators see it as a specific reference to the remnant of Israel- 1 Kings 19:18.) On a final earthquake see Revelation 6:12.
The Final Trumpet and the World's End
11:14. see comment on 8:13; cf. 9:12.
11:15. The world system (in John's day, Rome) constituted a kingdom, but it would be handed over to God's people (Dan 7:17-18). On the eternal reign of Israel's final king, cf. Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 7:13-14 and 1 Maccabees 2:57. Trumpets were always blown on the accession of an Israelite king (1 Kings 1:34).
11:16. see comment on 4:4 and 10.
11:17. Although Judaism acknowledged God's present rule over the earth, it also awaited and celebrated his future rule unchallenged over all humanity, and it usually acknowledged Israel's rule over the nations on his behalf. In Jewish sources, this rule would be inaugurated at the very end of the age.
11:18. The raging of the nations, God's wrath and the rule of Christ over the nations echoes Psalm 2. Judaism held that the righteous were rewarded at the end of the age (or at death). Destroyers and misusers of humanity's stewardship of the earth reversed the mandate God had originally given humanity (Gen 1:26). This idea was not unknown in John's day, e.g., 2 Baruch 13:11, although the unrighteous use of creation there may refer specifically to idolatry. Many Jewish writers also believed that humanity's sin had corrupted the whole creation (e.g., 4 Ezra).
11:19. The ark of the covenant (see comment on 3:17) was the piece of furniture in the tabernacle and temple that corresponded to a throne in ancient Near Eastern symbolism; the inclusion of the ark thus fits the dual image of heaven as a throne room and as God's temple. Jewish hearers of the book would also be aware that the covenant had been deposited in the ark and that the covenant was associated with stipulations and curses (plagues) against the disobedient. The Dead Sea Scrolls and many apocalyptic writers felt that the old temple had been defiled, but that God would supply a renewed, pure temple at the end of the age; on the heavenly temple here, see 4:6. The ark was kept behind a curtain in the holy of holies in the Old Testament, seen only by the high priest one day a year; here it is exposed to open view. (One scholar has suggested that this verse evokes the image of the ark going forth to war, portrayed in terms Roman readers would readily catch: the numen of the state going forth from the temple of Janus for war, thus the opening of heaven here.) On the lightnings and related phenomena, see comment on 4:5; this exodus language (Ex 19:16; cf. Ezek 1:4) suggests that John's revelation is understood as a revelation on the same level as Moses'.
Revelation 10:1-11. VISION OF THE LITTLE BOOK.
As an episode was introduced between the sixth and seventh seals, so there is one here (Revelation 10:1-11:14) after the sixth and introductory to the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15, which forms the grand consummation). The Church and her fortunes are the subject of this episode: as the judgments on the unbelieving inhabiters of the earth (Revelation 8:13) were the exclusive subject of the fifth and sixth woe-trumpets. Revelation 6:11 is plainly referred to in Revelation 10:6 below; in Revelation 6:11 the martyrs crying to be avenged were told they must "rest yet for a little season" or time: in Revelation 10:6 here they are assured, "There shall be no longer (any interval of) time"; their prayer shall have no longer to wait, but (Revelation 10:7) at the trumpet sounding of the seventh angel shall be consummated, and the mystery of God (His mighty plan heretofore hidden, but then to be revealed) shall be finished. The little open book (Revelation 10:2, 9, 10) is given to John by the angel, with a charge (Revelation 10:11) that he must prophesy again concerning (so the Greek ) peoples, nations, tongues, and kings: which prophecy (as appears from Revelation 11:15-19) affects those peoples, nations, tongues, and kings only in relation to ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH, who form the main object of the prophecy.
1. another mighty angel as distinguished from the mighty angel who asked as to the former and more comprehensive book (Revelation 5:2), "Who is worthy to open the book?" clothed with a cloud the emblem of God coming in judgment. a A; B, C. and a read "the"; referring to (Revelation 4:3) the rainbow already mentioned. rainbow upon his head the emblem of covenant mercy to God's people, amidst judgments on God's foes. Resumed from Revelation 4:3 (see note on Revelation 4:3). face as . . . the sun (Revelation 1:16; 18:1). feet as pillars of fire (Revelation 1:15; Ezekiel 1:7). The angel, as representative of Christ, reflects His glory and bears the insignia attributed in Revelation 1:15, 16; 4:3, to Christ Himself. The pillar of fire by night led Israel through the wilderness, and was the symbol of God's presence.
2. he had Greek, "Having." in his hand in his left hand: as in Revelation 10:5 (see note on Revelation 10:5), he lifts up his right hand to heaven. a little book a roll little in comparison with the "book" (Revelation 5:1) which contained the whole vast scheme of God's purposes, not to be fully read till the final consummation. This other, a less book, contained only a portion which John was now to make his own (Revelation 10:9, 11), and then to use in prophesying to others. The New Testament begins with the word "book" (Greek, "biblus "), of which "the little book" (Greek, "biblaridion ") is the diminutive, "the little bible," the Bible in miniature. upon the sea . . . earth Though the beast with seven heads is about to arise out of the sea (Revelation 13:1), and the beast with two horns like a lamb (Revelation 13:11) out of the earth, yet it is but for a time, and that time shall no longer be (Revelation 10:6, 7) when once the seventh trumpet is about to sound; the angel with his right foot on the sea, and his left on the earth, claims both as God's, and as about soon to be cleared of the usurper and his followers.
3. as . . . lion Christ, whom the angel represents, is often so symbolized (Revelation 5:5, "the Lion of the tribe of Juda"). seven thunders Greek, "the seven thunders." They form part of the Apocalyptic symbolism; and so are marked by the article as well known. Thus thunderings marked the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1, 5); so also at the seventh vial (Revelation 16:17, 18). WORDSWORTH calls this the prophetic use of the article; "the thunders, of which more hereafter." Their full meaning shall be only known at the grand consummation marked by the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:19), and the seventh vial. uttered their Greek, "spake their own voices "; that is, voices peculiarly their own, and not now revealed to men.
4. when a reads, "Whatsoever things." But most manuscripts support English Version. uttered their voices A, B, C, and a omit "their voices." Then translate, "had spoken." unto me omitted by A, B, C, a, and Syriac. Seal up the opposite command to Revelation 22:20. Even though at the time of the end the things sealed in Daniel's time were to be revealed, yet not so the voices of these thunders. Though heard by John, they were not to be imparted by him to others in this book of Revelation; so terrible are they that God in mercy withholds them, since "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The godly are thus kept from morbid ponderings over the evil to come; and the ungodly are not driven by despair into utter recklessness of life. ALFORD adds another aim in concealing them, namely, "godly fear, seeing that the arrows of God's quiver are not exhausted." Besides the terrors foretold, there are others unutterable and more horrifying lying in the background.
5. lifted up his hand So A and Vulgate read. But B, C, a, Syriac, and Coptic, ". . . his right hand." It was customary to lift up the hand towards heaven, appealing to the God of truth, in taking a solemn oath. There is in this part of the vision an allusion to Daniel 12:1-13. Compare Revelation 10:4, with Daniel 12:4, 9; and Revelation 10:5, 6, end, with Daniel 12:7. But there the angel clothed in linen, and standing upon the waters, sware "a time, times, and a half" were to interpose before the consummation; here, on the contrary, the angel standing with his left foot on the earth, and his right upon the sea, swears there shall be time no longer. There he lifted up both hands to heaven; here he has the little book now open (whereas in Daniel the book is sealed ) in his left hand (Revelation 10:2), and he lifts up only his right hand to heaven.
6. liveth for ever and ever Greek, "liveth unto the ages of the ages" (compare Daniel 12:7). created heaven . . . earth . . . sea, etc. This detailed designation of God as the Creator, is appropriate to the subject of the angel's oath, namely, the consummating of the mystery of God (Revelation 10:7), which can surely be brought to pass by the same Almighty power that created all things, and by none else. that there should be time no longer Greek, "that time (that is, an interval of time) no longer shall be." The martyrs shall have no longer a time to wait for the accomplishment of their prayers for the purgation of the earth by the judgments which shall remove their and God's foes from it (Revelation 6:11). The appointed season or time of delay is at an end (the same Greek is here as in Revelation 6:11, chronus ). Not as English Version implies, Time shall end and eternity begin.
7. But connected with Revelation 10:6. "There shall be no longer time (that is, delay), but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to (so the Greek ) sound his trumpet (so the Greek ), then (literally, also'; which conjunction often introduces the consequent member of a sentence) the mystery of God is finished," literally, "has been finished"; the prophet regarding the future as certain as if it were past. A, C, a, and Coptic read the past tense (Greek, "etelesthee "). B reads, as English Version, the future tense (Greek, "telesthee "). "should be finished" (compare Revelation 11:15-18). Sweet consolation to the waiting saints! The seventh trumpet shall be sounded without further delay. the mystery of God the theme of the "little book," and so of the remainder of the Apocalypse. What a grand contrast to the "mystery of iniquity Babylon!" The mystery of God's scheme of redemption, once hidden in God's secret counsel and dimly shadowed forth in types and prophecies, but now more and more clearly revealed according as the Gospel kingdom develops itself, up to its fullest consummation at the end. Then finally His servants shall praise Him most fully, for the glorious consummation of the mystery in having taken to Himself and His saints the kingdom so long usurped by Satan and the ungodly. Thus this verse is an anticipation of Revelation 11:15-18. declared to Greek, "declared the glad tidings to." "The mystery of God" is the Gospel glad tidings. The office of the prophets is to receive the glad tidings from God, in order to declare them to others. The final consummation is the great theme of the Gospel announced to, and by, the prophets (compare Galatians 3:8).
8. spake . . . and said So Syriac and Coptic read. But A, B, C, "(I heard) again speaking with me, and saying" (Greek, "lalousan . . . legousan "). little book So a and B read. But A and C, "the book."
9. I went Greek, "I went away." John here leaves heaven, his standing-point of observation heretofore, to be near the angel standing on the earth and sea. Give A, B, C, and Vulgate read the infinitive, "Telling him to give." eat it up appropriate its contents so entirely as to be assimilated with (as food), and become part of thyself, so as to impart them the more vividly to others. His finding the roll sweet to the taste at first, is because it was the Lord's will he was doing, and because, divesting himself of carnal feeling, he regarded God's will as always agreeable, however bitter might be the message of judgment to be announced. Compare Psalms 40:8, Margin, as to Christ's inner complete appropriation of God's word. thy belly bitter parallel to Ezekiel 2:10, "There was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe." as honey (Psalms 19:10; 119:103). Honey, sweet to the mouth, sometimes turns into bile in the stomach. The thought that God would be glorified (Revelation 11:3-6, 11-18) gave him the sweetest pleasure. Yet, afterwards the belly, or carnal natural feeling, was embittered with grief at the prophecy of the coming bitter persecutions of the Church (Revelation 11:7-10); compare John 16:1, 2. The revelation of the secrets of futurity is sweet to one at first, but bitter and distasteful to our natural man, when we learn the cross which is to be borne before the crown shall be won. John was grieved at the coming apostasy and the sufferings of the Church at the hands of Antichrist.
10. the little book So A and C, but B, a, and Vulgate, "the book." was bitter Greek, "was embittered."
11. he said A, B, and Vulgate read, "they say unto me"; an indefinite expression for "it was said unto me." Thou must The obligation lies upon thee, as the servant of God, to prophesy at His command. again as thou didst already in the previous part of this book of Revelation. before, etc. rather as Greek (epilaois ), "concerning many peoples," etc., namely, in their relation to the Church. The eating of the book, as in Ezekiel's case, marks John's inauguration to his prophetical office here to a fresh stage in it, namely, the revealing of the things which befall the holy city and the Church of God the subject of the rest of the book.
Revelation 11:1-19. MEASUREMENT OF THE TEMPLE. THE TWO WITNESSES' TESTIMONY: THEIR DEATH, RESURRECTION, AND ASCENSION: THE EARTHQUAKE: THE THIRD WOE: THE SEVENTH TRUMPET USHERS IN CHRIST'S KINGDOM. THANKSGIVING OF THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS.
This eleventh chapter is a compendious summary of, and introduction to, the more detailed prophecies of the same events to come in the twelfth through twentieth chapters. Hence we find anticipatory allusions to the subsequent prophecies; compare Revelation 11:7, "the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit" (not mentioned before), with the detailed accounts, Revelation 13:1, 11; 17:8; also Revelation 11:8, "the great city," with Revelation 14:8; 17:1, 5; 18:10.
1. and the angel stood omitted in A, Vulgate, and Coptic. Supported by B and Syriac. If it be omitted, the "reed" will, in construction, agree with "saying." So WORDSWORTH takes it. The reed, the canon of Scripture, the measuring reed of the Church, our rule of faith, speaks. So in Revelation 16:7 the altar is personified as speaking (compare Note, see note on Revelation 16:7). The Spirit speaks in the canon of Scripture (the word canon is derived from Hebrew, "kaneh," "a reed," the word here used; and John it was who completed the canon). So VICTORINUS, AQUINAS, and VITRINGA. "Like a rod," namely, straight: like a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27), unbending, destroying all error, and that "cannot be broken." Revelation 2:27; Hebrews 1:8, Greek, "a rod of straightness," English Version, "a scepter of righteousness"; this is added to guard against it being thought that the reed was one "shaken by the wind" In the abrupt style of the Apocalypse, "saying" is possibly indefinite, put for "one said." Still WORDSWORTH'S view agrees best with Greek. So the ancient commentator, ANDREAS OF CAESAREA, in the end of the fifth century (compare Notes, see note on Revelation 11:3, see note on Revelation 11:4). the temple Greek, "naon" (as distinguished from the Greek, "hieron," or temple in general), the Holy Place, "the sanctuary." the altar of incense; for it alone was in "the sanctuary." (Greek, "naos "). The measurement of the Holy place seems to me to stand parallel to the sealing of the elect of Israel under the sixth seal. God's elect are symbolized by the sanctuary at Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, where the same Greek word, "naos," occurs for "temple," as here). Literal Israel in Jerusalem, and with the temple restored (Ezekiel 40:3, 5, where also the temple is measured with the measuring reed, the forty-first, forty-second, forty-third, and forty-fourth chapters), shall stand at the head of the elect Church. The measuring implies at once the exactness of the proportions of the temple to be restored, and the definite completeness (not one being wanting) of the numbers of the Israelite and of the Gentile elections. The literal temple at Jerusalem shall be the typical forerunner of the heavenly Jerusalem, in which there shall be all temple, and no portion exclusively set apart as temple. John's accurately drawing the distinction in subsequent chapters between God's servants and those who bear the mark of the beast, is the way whereby he fulfils the direction here given him to measure the temple. The fact that the temple is distinguished from them that worship therein, favors the view that the spiritual temple, the Jewish and Christian Church, is not exclusively meant, but that the literal temple must also be meant. It shall be rebuilt on the return of the Jews to their land. Antichrist shall there put forward his blasphemous claims. The sealed elect of Israel, the head of the elect Church, alone shall refuse his claims. These shall constitute the true sanctuary which is here measured, that is, accurately marked and kept by God, whereas the rest shall yield to his pretensions. WORDSWORTH objects that, in the twenty-five passages of the Acts, wherein the Jewish temple is mentioned, it is called hieron, not naos, and so in the apostolic Epistles; but this is simply because no occasion for mentioning the literal Holy Place (Greek, "naos ") occurs in Acts and the Epistles; indeed, in Acts 7:48, though not directly, there does occur the term, naos, indirectly referring to the Jerusalem temple Holy Place. In addressing Gentile Christians, to whom the literal Jerusalem temple was not familiar, it was to be expected the term, naos, should not be found in the literal, but in the spiritual sense. In Revelation 11:19 naos is used in a local sense; compare also Revelation 14:15, 17; 15:5, 8.
2. But Greek, "And." the court . . . without all outside the Holy Place (Revelation 11:1). leave out of thy measurement, literally, "cast out"; reckon as unhallowed. it emphatic. It is not to be measured; whereas the Holy Place is. given by God's appointment. unto the Gentiles In the wider sense, there are meant here "the times of the Gentiles," wherein Jerusalem is "trodden down of the Gentiles," as the parallel, Luke 21:24, proves; for the same word is used here [Greek, "patein "], "tread under foot." Compare also Psalms 79:1; Isaiah 63:18. forty . . . two months (Revelation 13:5). The same period as Daniel's "time, times, and half" (Revelation 12:14); and Revelation 11:3, and Revelation 12:6, the woman a fugitive in the wilderness "a thousand two hundred and threescore days." In the wider sense, we may either adopt the year-day theory of 1260 years (on which, and the papal rule of 1260 years, see note on Daniel 7:25; see note on Daniel 8:14; see note on Daniel 12:11), or rather, regard the 2300 days (Daniel 8:14), 1335 days (Daniel 12:11, 12). 1290 days, and 1260 days, as symbolical of the long period of the Gentile times, whether dating from the subversion of the Jewish theocracy at the Babylonian captivity (the kingdom having been never since restored to Israel), or from the last destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, and extending to the restoration of the theocracy at the coming of Him "whose right it is"; the different epochs marked by the 2300, 1335, 1290, and 1260 days, will not be fully cleared up till the grand consummation; but, meanwhile, our duty and privilege urge us to investigate them. Some one of the epochs assigned by many may be right but as yet it is uncertain. The times of the Gentile monarchies during Israel's seven times punishment, will probably, in the narrower sense (Revelation 11:2), be succeeded by the much more restricted times of the personal Antichrist's tyranny in the Holy Land. The long years of papal misrule may be followed by the short time of the man of sin who shall concentrate in himself all the apostasy, persecution, and evil of the various forerunning Antichrists, Antiochus, Mohammed, Popery, just before Christ's advent. His time shall be THE RECAPITULATION and open consummation of the "mystery of iniquity" so long leavening the world. Witnessing churches may be followed by witnessing individuals, the former occupying the longer, the latter, the shorter period. The three and a half (1260 days being three and a half years of three hundred sixty days each, during which the two witnesses prophesy in sackcloth) is the sacred number seven halved, implying the Antichristian world-power's time is broken at best; it answers to the three and a half years' period in which Christ witnessed for the truth, and the Jews, His own people, disowned Him, and the God-opposed world power crucified Him (compare Note, see note on Daniel 9:27). The three and a half, in a word, marks the time in which the earthly rules over the heavenly kingdom. It was the duration of Antiochus' treading down of the temple and persecution of faithful Israelites. The resurrection of the witnesses after three and a half days, answers to Christ's resurrection after three days. The world power's times never reach the sacred fulness of seven times three hundred sixty, that is, 2520, though they approach to it in 2300 (Daniel 8:14). The forty-two months answer to Israel's forty-two sojournings (Numbers 33:1-50) in the wilderness, as contrasted with the sabbatic rest in Canaan: reminding the Church that here, in the world wilderness, she cannot look for her sabbatic rest. Also, three and a half years was the period of the heaven being shut up, and of consequent famine, in Elias' time. Thus, three and a half represented to the Church the idea of toil, pilgrimage, and persecution.
3. I will give power There is no "power" in the Greek, so that "give" must mean "give commission," or some such word. my two witnesses Greek, "the two witnesses of me." The article implies that the two were well known at least to John. prophesy preach under the inspiration of the Spirit, denouncing judgments against the apostate. They are described by symbol as "the two olive trees" and "the two candlesticks," or lamp-stands, "standing before the God of the earth." The reference is to Zechariah 4:3, 12, where two individuals are meant, Joshua and Zerubbabel, who ministered to the Jewish Church, just as the two olive trees emptied the oil out of themselves into the bowl of the candlestick. So in the final apostasy God will raise up two inspired witnesses to minister encouragement to the afflicted, though sealed, remnant. As two candlesticks are mentioned in Revelation 11:4, but only one in Zechariah 4:2, I think the twofold Church, Jewish and Gentile, may be meant by the two candlesticks represented by the two witnesses: just as in Revelation 7:1-8 there are described first the sealed of Israel, then those of all nations. But see note on Revelation 11:4. The actions of the two witnesses are just those of Moses when witnessing for God against Pharaoh (the type of Antichrist, the last and greatest foe of Israel), turning the waters into blood, and smiting with plagues; and of Elijah (the witness for God in an almost universal apostasy of Israel, a remnant of seven thousand, however, being left, as the 144,000 sealed, Revelation 7:1-8) causing fire by his word to devour the enemy, and shutting heaven, so that it rained not for three years and six months, the very time (1260 days) during which the two witnesses prophesy. Moreover, the words "witness" and "prophesy" are usually applied to individuals, not to abstractions (compare Psalms 52:8). DE BURGH thinks Elijah and Moses will again appear, as Malachi 4:5, 6 seems to imply (compare Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21). Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration, which foreshadowed His coming millennial kingdom. As to Moses, compare Deuteronomy 34:5, 6; Jude 1:9. Elias' genius and mode of procedure bears the same relation to the "second" coming of Christ, that John the Baptist's did to the first coming [BENGEL]. Many of the early Church thought the two witnesses to be Enoch and Elijah. This would avoid the difficulty of the dying a second time, for these have never yet died; but, perhaps, shall be the witnesses slain. Still, the turning the water to blood, and the plagues (Revelation 11:6), apply best to "Moses (compare Revelation 15:3, the song of Moses "). The transfiguration glory of Moses and Elias was not their permanent resurrection-state, which shall not be till Christ shall come to glorify His saints, for He has precedence before all in rising. An objection to this interpretation is that those blessed departed servants of God would have to submit to death (Revelation 11:7, 8), and this in Moses' case a second time, which Hebrews 9:27 denies. See note on Zechariah 4:11, see note on Zechariah 4:12, on the two witnesses as answering to "the two olive trees." The two olive trees are channels of the oil feeding the Church, and symbols of peace. The Holy Spirit is the oil in them. Christ's witnesses, in remarkable times of the Church's history, have generally appeared in pairs: as Moses and Aaron, the inspired civil and religious authorities; Caleb and Joshua; Ezekiel the priest and Daniel the prophet; Zerubbabel and Joshua. in sackcloth the garment of prophets, especially when calling people to mortification of their sins, and to repentance. Their very exterior aspect accorded with their teachings: so Elijah, and John who came in His spirit and power. The sackcloth of the witnesses is a catch word linking this episode under the sixth trumpet, with the sun black as sackcloth (in righteous retribution on the apostates who rejected God's witnesses) under the sixth seal (Revelation 6:12).
4. standing before the God of the earth A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS read "Lord" for "God": so Zechariah 4:14. Ministering to (Luke 1:19), and as in the sight of Him, who, though now so widely disowned on "earth," is its rightful King, and shall at last be openly recognized as such (Revelation 11:15). The phrase alludes to Zechariah 4:10, 14, "the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The article "the" marks this allusion. They are "the two candlesticks," not that they are the Church, the one candlestick, but as its representative light-bearers (Greek, "phosteres," Philippians 2:15), and ministering for its encouragement in a time of apostasy. WORDSWORTH'S view is worth consideration, whether it may not constitute a secondary sense: the two witnesses, the olive trees, are THE TWO TESTAMENTS ministering their testimony to the Church of the old dispensation, as well as to that of the new, which explains the two witnesses being called also the two candlesticks (the Old and New Testament churches; the candlestick in Zechariah 4:2 is but one as there was then but one Testament, and one Church, the Jewish). The Church in both dispensations has no light in herself, but derives it from the Spirit through the witness of the twofold word, the two olive trees: compare Note, see note on Revelation 11:1, which is connected with this, the reed, the Scripture canon, being the measure of the Church: so PRIMASIUS [X, p. 314]: the two witnesses preach in sackcloth, marking the ignominious treatment which the word, like Christ Himself, receives from the world. So the twenty-four elders represent the ministers of the two dispensations by the double twelve. But Revelation 11:7 proves that primarily the two Testaments cannot be meant; for these shall never be "killed," and never "shall have finished their testimony" till the world is finished.
5. will hurt Greek, "wishes," or "desires to hurt them." fire . . . devoureth (Compare Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29). out of their mouth not literally, but God makes their inspired denunciations of judgment to come to pass and devour their enemies. if any man will hurt them twice repeated, to mark the immediate certainty of the accomplishment. in this manner so in like manner as he tries to hurt them (compare Revelation 13:10). Retribution in kind.
6. These . . . power Greek, "authorized power." it rain not Greek, "huetos brechee," "rain shower not," literally, "moisten" not (the earth). smite . . . with all plagues Greek, "with (literally, in') every plague."
7. finished their testimony The same verb is used of Paul's ending his ministry by a violent death. the beast that ascended out of the bottomless pit Greek, "the wild beast . . . the abyss." This beast was not mentioned before, yet he is introduced as "the beast," because he had already been described by Daniel (Daniel 7:3, 11), and he is fully so in the subsequent part of the Apocalypse, namely, Revelation 13:1; 17:8. Thus, John at once appropriates the Old Testament prophecies; and also, viewing his whole subject at a glance, mentions as familiar things (though not yet so to the reader) objects to be described hereafter by himself. It is a proof of the unity that pervades all Scripture. make war against them alluding to Daniel 7:21, where the same is said of the little horn that sprang up among the ten horns on the fourth beast.
8. dead bodies So Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS. But A, B, C, the oldest manuscripts, and Coptic read the singular, "dead body." The two fallen in one cause are considered as one. the great city eight times in the Revelation elsewhere used of BABYLON (Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:18; 18:10, 16, 18, 19, 21). In Revelation 21:10 (English Version as to the new Jerusalem ), the oldest manuscripts omit "the great" before city, so that it forms no exception. It must, therefore, have an anticipatory reference to the mystical Babylon. which Greek, "the which," namely, "the city which." spiritually in a spiritual sense. Sodom The very term applied by Isaiah 1:10 to apostate Jerusalem (compare Ezekiel 16:48). Egypt the nation which the Jews' besetting sin was to lean upon. where . . . Lord was crucified This identifies the city as Jerusalem, though the Lord was crucified outside of the city. EUSEBIUS mentions that the scene of Christ's crucifixion was enclosed within the city by Constantine; so it will be probably at the time of the slaying of the witnesses. "The beast [for example, Napoleon and France's efforts] has been long struggling for a footing in Palestine; after his ascent from the bottomless pit he struggles much more" [BENGEL]. Some one of the Napoleonic dynasty may obtain that footing, and even be regarded as Messiah by the Jews, in virtue of his restoring them to their own land; and so may prove to be the last Antichrist. The difficulty is, how can Jerusalem be called "the great city," that is, Babylon? By her becoming the world's capital of idolatrous apostasy, such as Babylon originally was, and then Rome has been; just as she is here called also "Sodom and Egypt." also our A, B, C, ORIGEN, ANDREAS, and others read, "also their." Where their Lord, also, as well as they, was slain. Compare Revelation 18:24, where the blood of ALL slain on earth is said to be found IN BABYLON, just as in Matthew 23:35, Jesus saith that, "upon the Jews and JERUSALEM" (Compare Matthew 23:37, 38) shall "come ALL the righteous blood shed upon earth"; whence it follows Jerusalem shall be the last capital of the world apostasy, and so receive the last and worst visitation of all the judgments ever inflicted on the apostate world, the earnest of which was given in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. In the wider sense, in the Church-historical period, the Church being the sanctuary, all outside of it is the world, the great city, wherein all the martyrdoms of saints have taken place. Babylon marks its idolatry, Egypt its tyranny, Sodom its desperate corruption, Jerusalem its pretensions to sanctity on the ground of spiritual privileges, while all the while it is the murderer of Christ in the person of His members. All which is true of Rome. So VITRINGA. But in the more definite sense, Jerusalem is regarded, even in Hebrews (Hebrews 13:12-14), as the world city which believers were then to go forth from, in order to "seek one to come."
9. they rather, "(some ) of the peoples." people Greek, "peoples." kindreds Greek, "tribes"; all save the elect (whence it is not said, The peoples . . . but [some] of the peoples . . . , or, some of the peoples . . . may refer to those of the nations . . ., who at the time shall hold possession of Palestine and Jerusalem ). shall see So Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic. But A, B, C, and ANDREAS, the present, "see," or rather (Greek, "blepousin "), "look upon." The prophetic present. dead bodies So Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS. But A, B, C, and Coptic, singular, as in Revelation 11:8, "dead body." Three and a half days answer to the three and a half years (see note on Revelation 11:2, see note on Revelation 11:3), the half of seven, the full and perfect number. shall not suffer so B, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS. But A, C, and Vulgate read, "do not suffer." in graves so Vulgate and PRIMASIUS. But B, C, Syriac, Coptic, and ANDREAS, singular; translate, "into a sepulchre," literally, "a monument." Accordingly, in righteous retribution in kind, the flesh of the Antichristian hosts is not buried, but given to all the fowls in mid-heaven to eat (Revelation 19:17, 18, 21).
10. they that dwell upon . . . earth those who belong to the earth, as its citizens, not to heaven (Revelation 3:10; 8:13; 12:12; 13:8). shall so Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic. But A, B, and C read the present tense; compare Note, see note on Revelation 11:9, on "shall not suffer." rejoice over them The Antichristianity of the last days shall probably be under the name of philosophical enlightenment and civilization, but really man's deification of himself. Fanaticism shall lead Antichrist's followers to exult in having at last seemingly silenced in death their Christian rebukers. Like her Lord, the Church will have her dark passion week followed by the bright resurrection morn. It is a curious historical coincidence that, at the fifth Lateran Council, May 5, 1514, no witness (not even the Moravians who were summoned) testified for the truth, as HUSS and JEROME did at Constance; an orator ascended the tribunal before the representatives of papal Christendom, and said, "There is no reclaimant, no opponent." LUTHER, on October 31, 1517, exactly three and a half years afterwards, posted up his famous theses on the church at Wittenberg. The objection is, the years are years of three hundred sixty-five, not three hundred sixty, days, and so two and a half days are deficient; but still the coincidence is curious; and if this prophecy be allowed other fulfilments, besides the final and literal one under the last Antichrist, this may reasonably be regarded as one. send gifts one to another as was usual at a joyous festival. tormented them namely, with the plagues which they had power to inflict (Revelation 11:5, 6); also, by their testimony against the earthly.
11. Translate as Greek, "After the three days and an half." the Spirit of life the same which breathed life into Israel's dry bones, Ezekiel 37:10, 11 (see note on Ezekiel 37:10, see note on Ezekiel 37:11), "Breath came into them." The passage here, as there, is closely connected with Israel's restoration as a nation to political and religious life. Compare also concerning the same, Hosea 6:2, where Ephraim says, "After two days will He revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight." into so B and Vulgate. But A reads (Greek, "en autois "), "(so as to be) IN them." stood upon their feet the very words in Ezekiel 37:10, which proves the allusion to be to Israel's resurrection, in contrast to "the times of the Gentiles" wherein these "tread under foot the holy city." great fear such as fell on the soldiers guarding Christ's tomb at His resurrection (Matthew 28:4), when also there was a great earthquake (Revelation 11:2). saw Greek, "beheld."
12. they so A, C, and Vulgate. But B, Coptic, Syriac, and ANDREAS read, "I heard." a cloud Greek, "the cloud"; which may be merely the generic expression for what we are familiar with, as we say "the clouds." But I prefer taking the article as definitely alluding to THE cloud which received Jesus at His ascension, Acts 1:9 (where there is no article, as there is no allusion to a previous cloud, such as there is here). As they resembled Him in their three and a half years' witnessing, their three and a half days lying in death (though not for exactly the same time, nor put in a tomb as He was), so also in their ascension is the translation and transfiguration of the sealed of Israel (Revelation 7:1-8), and the elect of all nations, caught up out of the reach of the Antichristian foe. In Revelation 14:14-16, He is represented as sitting on a white cloud. their enemies beheld them and were thus openly convicted by God for their unbelief and persecution of His servants; unlike Elijah's ascension formerly, in the sight of friends only. The Church caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and transfigured in body, is justified by her Lord before the world, even as the man-child (Jesus) was "caught up unto God and His throne" from before the dragon standing ready to devour the woman's child as soon as born.
13. "In that same hour"; literally, "the hour." great earthquake answering to the "great earthquake" under the sixth seal, just at the approach of the Lord (Revelation 6:12). Christ was delivered unto His enemies on the fifth day of the week, and on the sixth was crucified, and on the sabbath rested; so it is under the sixth seal and sixth trumpet that the last suffering of the Church, begun under the fifth seal and trumpet, is to be consummated, before she enters on her seventh day of eternal sabbath. Six is the number of the world power's greatest triumph, but at the same time verges on seven, the divine number, when its utter destruction takes place. Compare "666" in Revelation 13:18, "the number of the beast." tenth part of the city fell that is, of "the great city" (Revelation 16:19; Zechariah 14:2). Ten is the number of the world kingdoms (Revelation 17:10-12), and the beast's horns (Revelation 13:1), and the dragon's (Revelation 12:3). Thus, in the Church-historical view, it is hereby implied that one of the ten apostate world kingdoms fall. But in the narrower view a tenth of Jerusalem under Antichrist falls. The nine-tenths remain and become when purified the center of Christ's earthly kingdom. of men Greek, "names of men." The men are as accurately enumerated as if their names were given. seven thousand ELLIOTT interprets seven chiliads or provinces, that is, the seven Dutch United Provinces lost to the papacy; and "names of men," titles of dignity, duchies, lordships, etc. Rather, seven thousand combine the two mystical perfect and comprehensive numbers seven and thousand, implying the full and complete destruction of the impenitent. the remnant consisting of the Israelite inhabitants not slain. Their conversion forms a blessed contrast to Revelation 16:9; and above, Revelation 9:20, 21. These repenting (Zechariah 12:10-14; 13:1), become in the flesh the loyal subjects of Christ reigning over the earth with His transfigured saints. gave glory to the God of heaven which while apostates, and worshipping the beast's image, they had not done. God of heaven The apostates of the last days, in pretended scientific enlightenment, recognize no heavenly power, but only the natural forces in the earth which come under their observation. His receiving up into heaven the two witnesses who had power during their time on earth to shut heaven from raining (Revelation 11:6), constrained His and their enemies who witnessed it, to acknowledge the God of heaven, to be God of the earth (Revelation 11:4). As in Revelation 11:4 He declared Himself to be God of the earth by His two witnesses, so now He proves Himself to be God of heaven also.
14. The second woe that under the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:12-21), including also the prophecy, Revelation 11:1-13: Woe to the world, joy to the faithful, as their redemption draweth nigh. the third woe cometh quickly It is not mentioned in detail for the present, until first there is given a sketch of the history of the origination, suffering, and faithfulness of the Church in a time of apostasy and persecution. Instead of the third woe being detailed, the grand consummation is summarily noticed, the thanksgiving of the twenty-four elders in heaven for the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth, attended with the destruction of the destroyers of the earth.
15. sounded with his trumpet. Evidently "the LAST trumpet." Six is close to seven, but does not reach it. The world judgments are complete in six, but by the fulfilment of seven the world kingdoms become Christ's. Six is the number of the world given over to judgment. It is half of twelve, the Church's number, as three and a half is half of seven, the divine number for completeness. BENGEL thinks the angel here to have been Gabriel, which name is compounded of El, GOD, and Geber, MIGHTY MAN (Revelation 10:1). Gabriel therefore appropriately announced to Mary the advent of the mighty God-man: compare the account of the man-child's birth which follows (Revelation 12:1-6), to which this forms the transition though the seventh trumpet in time is subsequent, being the consummation of the historical episode, the twelfth and thirteen chapters. The seventh trumpet, like the seventh seal and seventh vial, being the consummation, is accompanied differently from the preceding six: not the consequences which follow on earth, but those IN HEAVEN, are set before us, the great voices and thanksgiving of the twenty-four elders in heaven, as the half-hour's silence in heaven at the seventh seal, and the voice out of the temple in heaven, "It is done," at the seventh vial. This is parallel to Daniel 2:44, "The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break to pieces all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." It is the setting up of Heaven's sovereignty over the earth visibly, which, when invisibly exercised, was rejected by the earthly rulers heretofore. The distinction of worldly and spiritual shall then cease. There will be no beast in opposition to the woman. Poetry, art, science, and social life will be at once worldly and Christian. kingdoms A, B, C, and Vulgate read the singular, "The kingdom (sovereignty) of (over) the world is our Lord's and His Christ's." There is no good authority for English Version reading. The kingdoms of the world give way to the kingdom of (over) the world exercised by Christ. The earth-kingdoms are many: His shall be one. The appellation "Christ," the Anointed, is here, where His kingdom is mentioned appropriately for the first time used in Revelation. For it is equivalent to KING. Though priests and prophets also were anointed, yet this term is peculiarly applied to Him as King, insomuch that "the Lord's anointed" is His title as KING, in places where He is distinguished from the priests. The glorified Son of man shall rule mankind by His transfigured Church in heaven, and by His people Israel on earth: Israel shall be the priestly mediator of blessings to the whole world, realizing them first. he not emphatic in the Greek. shall reign for ever and ever Greek, "unto the ages of the ages." Here begins the millennial reign, the consummation of "the mystery of God" (Revelation 10:7).
16. before God B and Syriac read, "before the throne of God." But A, C, Vulgate, and Coptic read as English Version. seats Greek, "thrones."
17. thanks for the answer to our prayers (Revelation 6:10, 11) in destroying them which destroy the earth (Revelation 11:18), thereby preparing the way for setting up the kingdom of Thyself and Thy saints. and art to come omitted in A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, CYPRIAN, and ANDREAS. The consummation having actually come, they do not address Him as they did when it was still future, "Thou that art to come." Compare Revelation 11:18, "is come." From the sounding of the seventh trumpet He is to His people JAH, the ever present Lord, WHO IS, more peculiarly than JEHOVAH "who is, was, and is to come." taken to thee thy great power "to Thee" is not in the Greek. Christ takes to Him the kingdom as His own of right.
18. the nations were angry alluding to Psalms 99:1, Septuagint, "The Lord is become King: let the peoples become angry." Their anger is combined with alarm (Exodus 15:14; 2 Kings 19:28, "thy rage against Me is come up into Mine ears, I will put My hook in thy nose," etc.). Translate, as the Greek is the same. "The nations were angered, and Thy anger is come." How petty man's impotent anger, standing here side by side with that of the omnipotent God! dead . . . be judged proving that this seventh trumpet is at the end of all things, when the judgment on Christ's foes and the reward of His saints, long prayed for by His saints, shall take place. the prophets as, for instance, the two prophesying witnesses (Revelation 11:3), and those who have showed them kindness for Christ's sake. Jesus shall come to effect by His presence that which we have looked for long, but vainly, in His absence, and by other means. destroy them which destroy the earth Retribution in kind (compare Revelation 16:6; Luke 19:27). See on Daniel 7:14-18.
19. A similar solemn conclusion to that of the seventh seal, Revelation 8:5, and to that of the seventh vial, Revelation 16:18. Thus, it appears, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials, are not consecutive, but parallel, and ending in the same consummation. They present the unfolding of God's plans for bringing about the grand end under three different aspects, mutually complementing each other. the temple the sanctuary or Holy place (Greek, "naos "), not the whole temple (Greek, "hieron "). opened in heaven A and C read the article, "the temple of God "which is" in heaven, was opened." the ark of his testament or ". . . His covenant." As in the first verse the earthly sanctuary was measured, so here its heavenly antitype is laid open, and the antitype above to the ark of the covenant in the Holiest Place below is seen, the pledge of God's faithfulness to His covenant in saving His people and punishing their and His enemies. Thus this forms a fit close to the series of trumpet judgments and an introduction to the episode (the twelfth and thirteen chapters) as to His faithfulness to His Church. Here first His secret place, the heavenly sanctuary, is opened for the assurance of His people; and thence proceed His judgments in their behalf (Revelation 14:15, 17; 15:5; 16:17), which the great company in heaven laud as "true and righteous." This then is parallel to the scene at the heavenly altar, at the close of the seals and opening of the trumpets (Revelation 8:3), and at the close of the episode (the twelfth through fifteenth chapters) and opening of the vials (Revelation 15:7, 8). See note on Revelation 12:1, note at the opening of the chapter.
Analysis of the Chapter
THIS chapter contains the record of a sublime vision of an angel which, at this juncture, John saw descending from heaven, disclosing new scenes in what was yet to occur. The vision is interposed between the sounding of the sixth, or second woe-trumpet, and the sounding of the seventh, or third woe-trumpet, under which is to be the final consummation, Rev. 11:15, seq. It occupies an important interval between the events which were to occur under the sixth trumpet, and the last scenethe final overthrow of the formidable power which had opposed the reign of God on the earth, and the reign of righteousness, when the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of God, Rev. 11:15. It is, in many respects, an unhappy circumstance that this chapter has been separated from the following. They constitute one continued vision, at least to Rev. 11:15, where the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet occurs.
The tenth chapter contains the following things:
(1.) An angel descends from heaven, and the attention of the seer is for a time turned from the contemplation of what was passing in heaven to this new vision that appeared on the earth. This angel is clothed with a cloud; he is encircled by a rainbow; his face is as the sun, am/his feet like pillars of fire:all indicating his exalted rank, and all such accompaniments as became a heavenly messenger.
(2.) The angel appears with a small volume in his hand, Rev. 10:2. This book is not closed and sealed, like the one in chapter 5, but was "open"so that it could be read. Such a book would indicate some new message or revelation from heaven; and the book would be, properly, a symbol of something that was to be accomplished by such an open volume.
(3.) The angel sets his feet upon the sea and the land, Rev. 10:2: indicating by this, apparently, that what he was to communicate upperrained alike to the ocean and the landto all the world.
(4.) The angel makes a proclamationthe nature of which is not here statedwith a loud voice, like the roaring of a lion, as if the nations were called to hear, Rev. 10:3.
(5.) This cry or roar is responded to by heavy thunders, Rev. 10:3. What those thunders uttered is not stated, but it was evidently so distinct that John heard it, for he says (Rev. 10:4) that he was about to make a record of what was said.
(6.) John, about to make this record, is forbidden to do so by a voice from heaven, Rev. 10:4. For some reason, not here stated, he was commanded not to disclose what was said, but so to seal it up that it should not be known, The reason for this silence is nowhere intimated in the chapter.
(7.) The angel lifts his hand to heaven in a most solemn manner, and swears by the Great Creator of all things that the time should not be yetin our common version, "that there should be time no longer," Rev. 10:5-7. It would seem that just at this period there would be an expectation that the reign of God was to begin upon the earth; but the angel, in the most solemn manner, declares that this was not yet to be, but that it would occur when the seventh angel should begin to sound. Then the great "mystery" would be complete, as it had been declared to the prophets.
(8.) John is then commanded, by the same voice which he heard from heaven, to go to the angel and take the little book from him which he held in his hand, and eat itwith the assurance that it would be found to be sweet to the taste, but would be bitter afterwards, Rev. 10:8-10.
(9.) The chapter concludes with a declaration that he must yet prophecy before many people and nations, (Rev. 10:11,) and then follows (Rev 11.) the commission to measure the temple; the command to separate the pure from the profane; the account of the prophesying, the death, and the resurrection to life of the two witnessesall preliminary to the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the introduction of the universal reign of righteousness.
The question to what doer the chapter refer, is one which it is proper to notice before we proceed to the exposition. It is unnecessary to say, that on this question very various opinions have been entertained, and that very different expositions have been given of the chapter. Without going into an examination of these different opinionswhich would be a task alike unprofitable and endlessit will be better to state what seems to be the fair interpretation and application of the symbol, in its connexion with what precedes. A few remarks here, preliminary to the exposition and application of the chapter, may help us in determining the place which the vision is designed to occupy.
(a) In the previous Apocalyptic revelations, if the interpretation proposed is correct, the history had been brought down, in the regular course of events, to the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, and the complete overthrow of the Roman empire by that event, A.D. 1453, Rev. 9:13-19. This was an important era in the history of the world; and if the exposition which has been proposed is correct, then the sketches of history pertaining to the Roman empire in the book of Revelation have been made with surprising accuracy.
(b) A statement had been made, (Rev. 9:20, 21,) to the effect that the same state of things continued subsequent to the plagues brought on by those invasions, which had existed before, or that the effect had not been to produce any general repentance and reformation. God had scourged the nations; he had cut off multitudes of men; he had overthrown the mighty empire that had so long ruled over the world; but the same sins of superstition, idolatry, sorcery, murder, fornication, and theft prevailed afterwards that had prevailed before. Instead of working a change in the minds of men, the world seemed to be confirmed in these abominations more and more. In the exposition of that passage (Rev. 9:20, 21) it was shown that those things prevailed in the Roman churchwhich then embraced the whole Christian worldbefore the invasion of the Eastern empire by the Turks, and that they continued to prevail afterwards: that, in fact, the moral character of the world was not affected by those "plagues."
(c) The next event, in the order of time, was the Reformation, and the circumstances in the case are such as to lead us to suppose that this chapter refers to that. For
(1) the order of time demands this. This was the next important event in the history of the church and the world after the conquest of Constantinople producing the entire downfall of the Roman empire; and if, as is supposed in the previous exposition, it was the design of the Spirit of inspiration to touch on the great and material events in the history of the church and the world, then it would be natural to suppose that the Reformation would come next into view, for no previous event had more deeply or permanently affected the condition of mankind.
(2.) The state of the world, as described in Rev. 9:20, 21, was such as to demand a reformation, or something that should be more effectual in purifying the church than the calamities described in the previous verse had been. The representation is, that God had brought great judgments upon the world, but that they had been ineffectual in reforming mankind. The same kind of superstition, idolatry, and corruption remained after those judgments which had existed before, and they were of such a nature as to make it every way desirable that a new influence should be brought to bear upon the world to purify it from these abominations. Some such work as the Reformation is, therefore, what we should naturally look for as the next in order; or, at least, such a work is one that well fits in with the description of the previous state of things.
(d) It will be found, I apprehend, in the exposition of the chapter, that the symbols are such as accord well with the great leading events of the Protestant Reformation; or, in other words, that they are such that, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to the Reformation, these are the symbols which would have been appropriately employed. Of course, it is not necessary to suppose that John understood distinctly all that was meant by these symbols, nor is it necessary to suppose that those who lived before the Reformation would be able to comprehend them perfectly, and to apply them with accuracy. All that is necessary to be supposed in the interpretation is
(1) that the symbol was designed to be of such a character as to give some general idea of what was to occur; and
(2) that we should be able, now that the event has occurred, to show that it is fairly applicable to the event; that is, that on the supposition that this was designed to be referred to, the symbols are such as would properly be employed. This, however, will be seen more clearly after the exposition shall have been gone through.
With this general view of what we should naturally anticipate in this chapter, from the course of exposition in the preceding chapters, we are prepared for a more particular exposition and application of the symbols in this new vision. It will be the most convenient course, keeping in mind the general views presented here, to explain the symbols, and to consider their application as we go along.
1. And I saw. I had a vision of. The meaning is, that he saw this subsequently to the vision in the previous chapter. The attention is now arrested by a new visionas if some new dispensation or economy was about to occur in the world.
Another mighty angel. He had before seen the seven angels who were to blow the seven trumpets, (Rev. 8:2) he had seen six of them successively blow the trumpet; he now sees another angel, different from them, and apparently having no connexion with them, coming from heaven to accomplish some important purpose before the seventh angel should give the final blast. The angel is here characterized as a "mighty" angeliscuronone of strength and power; implying that the work to be accomplished by his mission demanded the interposition of one of the higher orders of the heavenly inhabitants. The coming of an angel at all was indicative of some Divine interposition in human affairs; the fact that he was one of exalted rank, or endowed with vast power, indicated the nature of the work to be donethat it was a work to the execution of which great obstacles existed, and where great power would be needed.
Clothed with a cloud. Encompassed with a cloud, or enveloped in a cloud. This was a symbol of majesty and glory, and is often represented as accompanying the Divine presence, Exod. 16:9-10; 24:16; 34:5; Numb. 11:25; 1 Kings 8:10; Psa. 97:2.
The Saviour also ascended in a cloud, Acts 1:9; and he will again descend in clouds to judge the world, Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; Rev. 1:7.
Nothing can be argued here as to the purpose for which the angel appeared, from his being encompassed with a cloud; nor can anything be argued from it in respect to the question who this angel was. The fair interpretation is, that this was one of the angels now represented as sent forth on an errand of mercy to man, and coming with appropriate majesty, as the messenger of God.
And a rainbow was upon his head. In Rev. 4:3, the throne in heaven is represented as encircled by a rainbow. See See Note on Rev. 4:3.
The rainbow is properly an emblem of peace. Here the symbol would mean that the angel came not for wrath, but for purposes of peace; that he looked with a benign aspect on men, and that the effect of his coming would be like that of sunshine after a storm.
And his face was as it were the sun. Bright like the sun, (See Note on Rev. 1:16) that is, he looked upon men with
(a) an intelligent aspectas the sun is the source of light; and
(b) with benignitynot covered with clouds, or darkened by wrath. The brightness is probably the main idea, but the appearance of the angel would as here represented, naturally suggest the ideas just referred to. As an emblem or symbol, we should regard his appearing as that which was to be followed by knowledge and by prosperity.
And his feet as pillars of fire. See Note on Rev. 1:15.
In this symbol, then, we have the following things:
(a) An angelas the messenger of God, indicating that some new communication was to be brought to mankind, or that there would be some interposition in human affairs which might be well represented by the coming of an angel;
(b) the fact that he was "mighty"indicating that the work to be done required power beyond human strength;
(c) the fact that he came in a cloudan embassage so grand and magnificent as to make this symbol of majesty proper;
(d) the fact that he was encircled by a rainbowthat the visitation was to be one of peace to mankind; and
(e) the fact that his coming was like the sunor would diffuse light and peace.
Now, in regard to the application of this, without adverting to any other theory, no one can fail to see that, on the supposition that it was designed to refer to the Reformation, this would be the most striking and appropriate symbol that could have been chosen. For,
(a) as we have seen above, this is the place which the vision naturally occupies in the series of historical representations.
(b) It was at a period of the world, and the world was in such a state, that an intervention of this kind would be properly represented by the coming of an angel from heaven. God had visited the nations with terrible judgments, but the effect had not been to produce reformation, for the same forms of wickedness continued to prevail which had existed before. See Note on Rev. 9:20.
In this state of things, any new interposition of God for reforming the world would be properly represented by the coming of an angel from heaven as a messenger of light and peace.
(c) The great and leading events of the Reformation were well represented by the power of this angel. It was not, indeed, physical power; but the work to be done in the Reformation was a great work, and was such as would be well symbolized by the intervention of a mighty angel from heaven. The task of reforming the church, and of correcting the abuses which had prevailed, was wholly beyond any ability which man possessed, and was well represented, therefore, by the descent of this messenger from the skies.
(d) The same thing may be said of the rainbow that was upon his head. Nothing would better symbolize the general aspect of the Reformation, as fitted to produce peace, tranquillity, and joy upon the earth. And
(e) the same thing was indicated by the splendourthe light and glorythat attended the angel. The symbol would denote that the new order of things would be attended with light; with knowledge; with that which would be benign in its influence on human affairs. And it need not be said, to any one acquainted with the history of those times, that the Reformation was preceded and accompanied with a great increase of light; that at just about that period of the world the study of the Greek language began to be common in Europe; that the sciences had made remarkable progress; that schools and colleges had begun to flourish; and that, to a degree which had not existed for ages before, the public mind had become awakened to the importance of truth and knowledge. For a full illustration of this, from the close of the eleventh century and onward, see Hallam's Middle Ages, vol. ii. pp. 265-292, chap. ix. part ii. To go into any satisfactory detail on this point would be wholly beyond the proper limits of these Notes, and the reader must be referred to the histories of those times, and especially to Hallam, who has recorded all that is necessary to be known on the subject. Suffice it to say that, on the supposition that it was the intention to symbolize those times, no more appropriate emblem could have been found than that of an angel whose face shone like the sun, and who was covered with light and splendour. These remarks will show that, if it be supposed it was intended to symbolize the Reformation, no more appropriate emblem could have been selected than that of such an angel coming down from heaven. If, after the events have occurred, we should desire to represent the same things by a striking and expressive symbol, we could find none that would better represent those times.
2. And he had in his hand a little book open. This is the first thing that indicated the purpose of his appearing, or that would give any distinct indication of the design of his coming from heaven. The general aspect of the angel, indeed, as represented in the former verse, was that of benignity, and his purpose, as there indicated, was light and peace. But still, there was nothing which would denote the particular design for which he came, or which would designate the particular means which he would employ, here we have, however, an emblem which will furnish an indication of what was to occur as the result of his appearing. To be able to apply this, it will be necessary, as in all similar cases, to explain the natural significancy of the emblem.
(1.) The little book. The word used herebiblaridionoccurs nowhere else in the New Testament except in Rev. 10:8-10. The word biblionbookoccurs frequently: Matt. 19:7; Mark 10:4applied to a bill of divorcement; Luke 4:17, 20; John 20:30; 21:25; Gal. 3:10
2 Tim. 4:13; Heb. 9:19; 10:7.
In the Apocalypse this word is of common occurrence: Rev. 1:11; 5:1-5, 7-9; 6:14, rendered scroll; Rev. 17:8; 20:12; 21:27; 22:7, 9-10, 18-19.
The word was evidently chosen here to denote something that was peculiar in the size or form of the book, or to distinguish it from that which would be designated by the ordinary word employed to denote a book. The word properly denotes a small roll or volume; a little scroll.Rob. Lex, Pollux. Onomast. 7, 210. It is evident that something was intended by the diminutive size of the book, or that it was designed to make a distinction between this and that which is indicated by the use of the word book in the other parts of the Apocalypse. It was, at least, indicated by this that it was something different from what was seen in the hand of him that sat on the throne in Rev. 5:1. That was clearly a large volume; this was so small that it could be taken in the hand, and could be represented as eaten, Rev. 10:9-10. But, of what is a book an emblem? To this question there can be little difficulty in furnishing an answer. A book seen in a dream, according to Artemidorus, signifies the life, or the acts of him that sees it.Wemyss. According to the Indian interpreters, a book is the symbol of power and dignity. The Jewish kings, when they were crowned, had the book of the law of God put into their hands, (2 Kings 11:12; 2 Chron. 23:11) denoting that they were to observe the law, and that their administration was to be one of intelligence and uprightness. The gift of a Bible now to a monarch when he is crowned, or to the officer of a corporation or society, denotes the same thing. A book, as such, thus borne in the hand of an angel coming down to the world, would be an indication that something of importance was to be communicated to men, or that something was to be accomplished by the agency of a book. It was not, as in Rev. 6:2, a bowemblem of conquest; Rev. 10:4, a swordemblem of battle; or Rev. 10:5, a pair of scalesemblem of the exactness with which things were to be determined: but it was a booka speechless, silent thing, yet mighty; not designed to carry desolation through the earth, but to diffuse light and truth. The natural interpretation then would be, that something was to be accomplished by the agency of a book, or that a book was to be the prominent characteristic of the timesas the bow, the sword, and the balances had been of the previous periods. As to the size of the book, perhaps all that can be inferred is, that this was to be brought about, not by extended tomes, but by a comparatively small volumeso that it could be taken in the hand; so that it could, without impropriety, be represented as eaten by an individual.
(2.) The fact that it was open: "a little book open"anewgmenon. The word here used means, properly, to open or unclose in respect to that which was before fastened or sealed, as that which is covered by a door, Matt. 2:11; tombs, which were closed by large stones, Matt. 27:60, 66; a gate, Acts 5:23; 12:10; the abyss, Rev. 9:2"since in the East pits or wells are closed with large stones, compare Gen. 29:2."Rob. Lex. The meaning of this word, as applied to a book, would be, that it was now opened so that its contents could be read. The word would not necessarily imply that it had been sealed or closed, though that would be the most natural impression from the use of the word. Compare for the use of the word rendered open, Rev. 3:8, 20; 4:1; 5:2-5, 9; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12; 8:1; 9:2; 10:8
Rev. 11:19; 20:12. This would find a fulfilment if some such facts as the following should occur:
(a) if there had been any custom or arrangement by which knowledge was kept from men, or access was forbidden to books or to some one book in particular; and
(b) if something should occur by which that which had before been kept hidden or concealed, or that to which access had been denied, should be made accessible. In other words, this is the proper symbol of a diffusion of knowledge, or of the influence of A BOOK on mankind.
(3.) The fact that it was in the hand of the angel. All that seems to be implied in this is, that it was now offered, or was ready to be put in possession of Johnor of the churchor of mankind. It was open, and was held out, as it were, for perusal.
In regard to the application of this, it is plain that, if it be admitted that it was the design of the author of the vision to refer to the Reformation, no more appropriate emblem could have been chosen. If we were now to endeavour to devise an emblem of the Reformation that would be striking and expressive, we could not well select one which would better represent the great work than that which is here presented. This will appear plain from a few considerations:
(1.) The great agent in the Reformation, the moving cause of it, its suggestor and supporter, was a bookthe Bible. Wycliffe had translated the New Testament into the English language, and though this was suppressed, yet it had done much to prepare the people for the Reformation; and all that Luther did can be traced to the discovery of the Bible, and to the use which was made of it. Luther had grown up into manhood; had passed from the schools to the university of Erfurt, and there, having during the usual four years' course of study displayed intellectual powers and an extent of learning that excited the admiration of the university, and that seemed to open to his attainment both the honour and emolument of the world, he appeared to have been prepared to play an important part on the great drama of human affairs. Suddenly, however, to the astonishment and dismay of his friends, he betook himself to the solitude and gloom of an Augustinian monastery. He had found a Biblea copy of the Vulgatehid in the shelves of the university library. Till then he had supposed that there existed no other Gospels or Epistles than what were given in the Breviary, or quoted by the Preachers. (For the proof of this, see Elliott, ii. 92.) To the study of that book he now gave himself with untiring diligence and steady prayer; and the effect was to show to him the way of salvation by faith, and ultimately to produce the Reformation. No one acquainted with the history of the Reformation can doubt that it is to be traced to the influence of the Bible; that the moving cause, the spring of all that occurred in the Reformation, was the impulse given to the mind of Luther and his fellow-labourers by the study of that one book. It is this well-known fact that gives so much truth to the celebrated declaration of Chillingworth, that "the Bible is the religion of Protestants." If a symbol of this had been designed before it occurred, or if one should be sought for now that would designate the actual nature and influence of the Reformation, nothing better could be selected than that of an angel descending from heaven, with benignant aspect, with a rainbow around his head, and with light beaming all around him, holding forth to mankind a book.
(2.) This book had before been hidden, or closed; that is, it could not till then be regarded as an open volume.
(a) It was in fact known by few even of the clergy, and it was not in the hands of the mass of the people at all. There is every reason to believe that the great body of the Romish clergy, in the time that preceded the Reformation, were even more ignorant of the Bible than Luther himself was. Many of them were unable to read; few had access to the Bible; and those who had, drew their doctrines rather from the Fathers of the church than from the word of God. Hallam (Middle Ages, ii. 241) says, "Of this prevailing ignorance [in the tenth century, and onward] it is easy to produce abundant testimony. In almost every council the ignorance of the clergy forms a subject for reproach. It is asserted by one held in 992, that scarcely a single person could be found in Rome itself who knew the first elements of letters. Not one priest of a thousand in Spain, about the age of Charlemagne, could address a letter of common salutation to another. In England, Alfred declares that he could not recollect a single priest south of the Thames, (the best part of England,) at the time of his accession, who understood the ordinary prayers, or who could translate the Latin into the mother tongue."
There were few books of any kind in circulation, and, even if there had been an ability to read, the cost of books was so great as to exclude the great mass of the people from all access to the sacred Scriptures. "Many of the clergy," says Dr. Robertson, (Hist. of Charles V., p. 14. Harper's Ed.,) "did not understand the Breviary which they were obliged daily to recite; some of them could scarcely read it." "Persons of the highest rank, and in the most eminent stations, could neither read nor write." One of the questions appointed by the canons to be put to persons who were candidates for orders was this, "Whether they could read the Gospels and Epistles, and explain the sense of them at least literally?" For the causes of this ignorance, see Robertsoh's Hist. of Charles V., p. 515. One of those causes was the cost of books. "Private persons seldom possessed any books whatever. Even monasteries of considerable note had only one Missal. The price of books became so high that persons of a moderate fortune could not afford to purchase them. The Countess of Anjou paid for a copy of the Homilies of Haimon, bishop of Alberstadt, two hundred sheep, five quarters of wheat, and the same quantity of rye and millet," etc. Such was the cost of books that few persons could afford to own a copy of the sacred Scriptures; and the consequence was, there were almost none in the hands of the people. The few copies that were in existence were mostly in the libraries of monasteries and universities, or in the hands of some of the higher clergy.
(b) But there was another reason that was still more efficacious, perhaps, in keeping the people at large from the knowledge of the Scriptures. It was found in the prevailing views in the Roman Catholic communion respecting the private use and interpretation of the sacred volume. Whatever theory may now be advocated in the Roman Catholic communion on this point, as a matter of fact, the influence of that denomination has been to withhold the Bible from a free circulation among the common people. No one can deny that, in the times just preceding the Reformation, the whole influence of the Papal denomination was opposed to a free circulation of the Bible, and that one of the great and characteristic features of the Reformation was the fact that the doctrine was promulgated that the Bible was to be freely distributed, and that the people everywhere were to have access to it, and were to form their own opinions of the doctrines which it reveals.
(3.) The Bible became, at the Reformation, in fact an "open" book. It was made accessible. It became the popular book of the world; the book that did more than all other things to change the aspect of affairs, and to give character to subsequent times. This occurred because
(a) the art of printing was discovered, just before the Reformation, as if, in the providence of God, it was designed then to give this precious volume to the world; and the Bible was, in fact, the first book printed, and has been since printed more frequently than any other book whatever, and will continue to be to the end of the world. It would be difficult to imagine now a more striking symbol of the art of printing, or to suggest a better device for it, than to represent an angel giving an open volume to mankind.
(b) The leading doctrine of the Reformers was, that the Bible is the source of all authority in matters of religion, and, consequently, is to be accessible to all the people. And
(c) the Bible was the authority appealed to by the Reformers. It became the subject of profound study; was diffused abroad; and gave form to all the doctrines that sprang out of the times of the Reformation. These remarks, which might be greatly expanded, will show with what propriety, on the supposition that the chapter here refers to the Reformation, the symbol of a book was selected. Obviously, no other symbol would have been so appropriate; nothing else would have given so just a view of the leading characteristics of that period of the world.
And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot upon the earth. This is the third characteristic in the symbol. As a mere description this is eminently sublime. I was once (at Cape May, 1849) impressively reminded of this passage. My window was in such a position that it commanded a fine view at the same time of the ocean and the land. A storm arose such as I had never witnessedthe clouds from the different points of the compass seeming to come together over the place, and producing incessant lightning and thunder. As the storm cleared away, the most magnificent rainbow that I ever saw appeared, arching the heavens, one foot of it far off in the sea, and the other on the landan emblem of peace to bothand most strikingly suggesting to me the angel in the Apocalypse. The natural meaning of such a symbol as that represented here would be, that something was to occur which would pertain to the whole world, as the earth is made up of land and water. It is hardly necessary to say, that, on the supposition that this refers to the Reformation, there is no difficulty in finding an ample fulfilment of the symbol. That great work was designed manifestly by Providence to affect all the worldthe sea and the landthe dwellers in the islands and in the continentsthose who "go down to the sea in ships, and do business in the great waters," and those who have a permanent dwelling on shore. It may be admitted indeed, that, in itself, this one thingthe angel standing on the sea and the land, if it occurred alone, could not suggest the Reformation; and, if there were nothing else, such an application might seem fanciful and unnatural; but taken in connexion with the other things in the symbol, and assuming that the whole vision was designed to symbolize the Reformation, it will not be regarded as unnatural that there should be some symbol which would intimate that the blessings of a reformed religiona pure gospelwould be ultimately spread over land and oceanover the continents and islands of the globe; in all the fixed habitations of men, and in their floating habitations on the deep. The symbol of a rainbow, bending over the sea and land, would have expressed this: the same thing would be expressed by an angel whose head was encircled by a rainbow, and whose face beamed with light, with one foot on the ocean and the other on the land.
3. And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth. The lion is the monarch of the woods, and his roar is an image of terror. The point of the comparison here seems to be the loudness with which the angel cried, and the power of what he said to awe the worldas the roar of the lion keeps the dwellers in the forest in awe. What he said is not stated; nor did John attempt to record it. Professor Stuart supposes that it was "a loud note of woe, some interjection uttered which would serve to call attention, and at the same time be indicative of the judgments which were to follow." But it is not necessary to suppose that this particular thing was intended. Any loud utteranceany solemn commandany prediction of judgmentany declaration of truth that would arrest the attention of mankind, would be in accordance with all that is said here. As there is no application of what is said, and no explanation made by John, it is impossible to determine with any certainty what is referred to. But, supposing that the whole refers to the Reformation, would not the loud and commanding voice of the angel properly represent the proclamation of the gospel as it began to be preached in such a manner as to command the attention of the world, and the reproof of the prevailing sins in such a manner as to keep the World in awe? The voice that sounded forth at the Reformation among the nations of Europe, breaking the slumbers of the Christian world, awaking the church to the evil of the existing corruptions and abominations, and summoning princes to the defence of the truth, might well be symbolized by the voice of an angel that was heard afar. In regard to the effect of the "theses" of Luther, in which he attacked the main doctrines of the Papacy, a contemporary writer says, "In the space of a fortnight they spread over Germany, and within a month they had run through all Christendom, as if angels themselves had been the bearers of them to all men." To John it might not be known beforehandas it probably would not bewhat this symbolized; but could we now find a more appropriate symbol to denote the Reformation than the appearance of such an angel; or better describe the impression made by the first announcement of the great doctrines of the Reformation, than by the loud voice of such an angel?
And when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices. Professor Stuart renders this, "the seven thunders uttered their voices," and insists that the article should be retained, which it has not been in our common version. So Elliott, Bishop Middleton, and others. Bishop Middleton says, "Why the article is inserted here I am unable to discover. It is somewhat remarkable that a few manuscripts and editions omit it in both places, [Rev. 10:3-4] Were the seven thunders anything well known and pre-eminent? If not, the omission must be right in the former instance, but wrong in the latter: if they were pre-eminent, then is it wrong in both. Bengel omits the article in Rev. 10:3, but has it in Rev. 10:4." He regards the insertion of the article as the true reading in both places, and supposes that there may have been a reference to some Jewish opinion, but says that he had not been able to find a vestige of it in Lightfoot, Schoettgen, or Meusehen. Storr supposes that we are not to seek here for any Jewish notion, and that nothing is to be inferred from the article.Middleton, on the Gr. Article, p. 358. The best editions of the New Testament retain the article in both places, and indeed there is no authority for omitting it. The use of the article here naturally implies either that these seven thunders were something which had been before referred to, either expressly or impliedly; or that there was something about them which was so well known that it would be at once understood what was referred to; or that there was something in the connexion which would determine the meaning. Compare Note on Rev. 8:2.
It is plain, however, that there had been no mention of "seven thunders" before, nor had anything been referred to which would at once suggest them. The reason for the insertion of the article here must, therefore, be found in some pre-eminence which these seven thunders had; in some well-known facts about them; in something which would at once suggest them when they were mentionedas when we mention the sun, the moon, the stars, though they might not have been distinctly referred to before. The number "seven" is used here either
(a) as a general or perfect number, as it is frequently in this book, where we have it so often repeatedseven spirits; seven angels; seven seals; seven trumpets; or
(b) with some specific reference to the matter in handthe case actually in view of the writer. It cannot be doubted that it might be used in the former sense here, and that no law of language would be violated if it were so understood, as denoting many thunders; but still it is equally true that it may be used in a specific sense as denoting something that would be well understood by applying the number seven to it. Now let it be supposed, in regard to the application of this symbol, that the reference is to Rome, the seven-hilled city, and to the thunders of excommunication, anathema, and wrath that were uttered from that city against the Reformers; and would there not be all that is fairly implied in this language, and is not this such a symbol as would be appropriately used on such a supposition? The following circumstances may be referred to as worthy of notice on this point:
(a) the place which this occupies in the series of symbolsbeing just after the angel had uttered his voice as symbolical of the proclamation of the great truths of the gospel in the Reformation, if the interpretation above given is correct. The next event, in the order of nature and of fact, was the voice of excommunication uttered at Rome.
(b) The word thunder would appropriately denote the bulls of excommunication uttered at Rome, for the name most frequently given to the decrees of the Papacy, when condemnatory, was that of Papal thunders. So Le Bas, in his life of Wycliffe, p. 198, says, "The thunders which shook the world when they issued from the seven hills sent forth an uncertain sound, comparatively faint and powerless, when launched from a region of less devoted sanctity."
(c) The number seven would, on such a supposition, be used here with equal propriety. Rome was built on seven hills; was known as the "seven-hilled" city, and the thunders from that city would seem to echo and re-echo from those hills. Compare Rev. 17:9.
(d) This supposition, also, will accord with the use of the article here, as if those thunders were something well known "the seven thunders;" that is, the thunders which the nations were accustomed to hear.
(e) This will also accord with the passage before us, inasmuch as the thunders would seem to have been of the nature of a response to what the angel said, or to have been sent forth because he had uttered his loud cry. In like manner, the anathemas were hurled from Rome because the nations had been aroused by the loud cry for Reformation, as if an angel had uttered that cry. For these reasons, there is a propriety in applying this language to the thunders which issued from Rome condemning the doctrines of the Reformation, and in defence of the ancient faith, and excommunicating those who embraced the doctrines of the Reformers. If we were now to attempt to devise a symbol which would be appropriate to express what actually occurred in the Reformation, we could not think of one which would be better fitted to that purpose than to speak of seven thunders bellowing forth from the seven-hilled city.
4. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices. After he had listened to those thunders; or when they had passed by.
I was about to write. That is, he was about to record what was uttered, supposing that that was the design for which he had been made to hear them. From this it would seem that it was not mere thunderbrutum fulmenbut that the utterance had a distinct and intelligible enunciation, or that words were employed that could be recorded. It may be observed, by the way, as Professor Stuart has remarked, that this proves that John wrote down what he saw and heard as soon as practicable, and in the place where he was; and that the supposition of many modern critics, that the Apocalyptic visions were written at Ephesus a considerable time after the visions took place, has no good foundation.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me. Evidently the voice of God: at all events it came with the clear force of command.
Seal up those things. On the word seal, See Note on Rev. 5:1.
The meaning here is, that he was not to record those things, but what he heard he was to keep to himself as if it was placed under a seal which was not to be broken.
And write them not. Make no record of them. No reason is mentioned why this was not to be done, and none can now be given that can be proved to be the true reason. Vitringa, who regards the seven thunders as referring to the Crusades, supposes the reason to have been that a more full statement would have diverted the mind from the course of the prophetic narrative, and from more important events which pertained to the church, and that nothing occurred in the Crusades which was worthy to be recorded at length: Nec dignae erant quae prolixius exponerentur"for," he adds, "these expeditions were undertaken with a foolish purpose, and resulted in real detriment to the church," pp. 431, 432. Professor Stuart, vol. ii. pp. 204-206, supposes that these "thunders" refer to the destruction of the city and temple of God, and that they were a sublime introduction to the last catastrophe, and that the meaning is not that he should keep "entire silence," but only that he should state the circumstances in a general manner without going into detail. Mede supposes that John was commanded to keep silence because it was designed that the meaning should not then be known, but should be disclosed in future times; Forerius, because it was the design that the wise should be able to understand them, but that they were not to be disclosed to the wicked and profane. Without attempting to examine these and other solutions which have been proposed, the question which, from the course of the exposition, is properly before us is, whether, on the supposition that the voice of the seven thunders referred to the Papal anathemas, a rational and satisfactory solution of the reasons of this silence can be given. Without pretending to know the reasons which existed, the following may be referred to as not improbable, and as those which would meet the case:
(1.) In these Papal anathemas there was nothing that was worthy of record; there was nothing that was important as history; there was nothing that communicated truth; there was nothing that really indicated progress in human affairs. In themselves there was nothing more that deserved record than the acts and doings of wicked men at any time; nothing that fell in with the main design of this book.
(2.) Such a record would have retarded the progress of the main statements of what was to occur, and would have turned off the attention from these to less important matters.
(3.) All that was necessary in the case was simply to state that such thunders were heard: that is, on the supposition that this refers to the Reformation, that that great change in human affairs would not be permitted to occur without opposition and noiseas if the thunders of wrath should follow those who were engaged in it.
(4.) John evidently mistook this for a real revelation, or for something that was to be recorded as connected with the Divine will in reference to the progress of human affairs. He was naturally about to record this as he did what was uttered by the other voices which he heard; and if he had made the record, it would have been with this mistaken view. There was nothing in the voices, or in what was uttered, that would manifestly mark it as distinct from what had been uttered as coming from God, and he was about to record it under this impression. If this was a mistake, and if the record would do anything, as it clearly would, to perpetuate the error, it is easy to see a sufficient reason why the record should not be made.
(5.) It is remarkable that there was an entire correspondence with this in what occurred in the Reformation; in the fact that Luther and his fellow-labourers were, at first, and for a long timesuch was the force of education, and of the habits of reverence for the Papal authority in which they had been reareddisposed to receive the announcements of the Papacy as the oracles of God, and to show to them the deference which was due to Divine communications. The language of Luther himself, if the general view here taken is correct, will be the best commentary on the expressions here used. "When I began the affairs of the Indulgences," says he, "I was a monk, and a most mad Papist. So intoxicated was I, and drenched in Papal dogmas, that I would have been most ready to murder, or assist others in murdering, any person who should have uttered a syllable against the duty of obedience to the Pope." And again: "Certainly at that time I adored him in earnest." He adds, "How distressed my heart was in that year 1517-how submissive to the hierarchy, not feignedly but reallythose little know who at this day insult the majesty or the Pope with so much pride and arrogance. I was ignorant of many things which now, by the grace of God, I understand. I disputed; I was open to conviction; not finding satisfaction in the works of theologians, I wished to consult the living members of the church itself. There were some godly souls that entirely approved my propositions. But I did not consider their authority of weight with me in spiritual concerns. The popes, bishops, cardinals, monks, priests, were the objects of my confidence. After being enabled to answer every objection that could be brought against me from sacred Scripture, one difficulty alone remained, that the Church ought to be obeyed. If I had then braved the Pope as I now do, I should have expected every hour that the earth would have opened to swallow me up alive, like Korah and Abiram." It was in this frame of mind that, in the summer of 1518, a few months after the affair with Tetzel, he wrote that memorable letter to the Pope, the tenor of which can be judged of by the following sentences: and what could more admirably illustrate the passage before us, on the interpretation suggested, than this language? "Most blessed Father! Prostrate at the feet of thy blessedness I offer, myself to thee, with all that I am, and that I have. Kill me, or make me live; call, or recall; approve, or reprove, as shall please thee. I will acknowledge thy voice as the voice of Christ presiding and speaking in thee." See the authorities for these quotations in Elliott, ii. pp. 116, 117.
(6.) The command not to record what the seven thunders uttered was of the nature of a caution not to regard what was said in this manner; that is, not to be deceived by these utterances as if they were the voice of God. Thus understood, if this is the proper explanation and application of the passage, it should be regarded as an injunction not to regard the decrees and decisions of the Papacy as containing any intimation of the Divine will, or as of authority in the church. That this is to be so regarded is the opinion of all Protestants; and if this is so, it is not a forced supposition that this might have been intimated by such a symbol as that before us.
5. And the angel which I saw stand, etc. Rev. 10:2. That is, John saw him standing in this posture when he made the oath which he proceeds to record.
Lifted up his hand to heaven. The usual attitude in taking an oath, as if one called heaven to witness. See Gen. 14:22; Deut. 32:40; Ezek. 20:5-6. Compare Note on Dan. 12:7.
6. And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever. By the everliving God: a form of an oath in extensive use now. The essential idea in such an oath is an appeal to God; a solemn reference to Him as a witness; an utterance in the presence of Him who is acquainted with the truth or falsehood of what is said, and who will punish him who appeals to Him falsely. It is usual, in such an oath, in order to give to it greater solemnity, to refer to some attribute of God, or something in the Divine character on which the mind would rest at the time, as tending to make it more impressive. Thus, in the passage before us, the reference is to God as "ever-living;" that is, he is now a witness, and he ever will be; he has now the power to detect and punish, and he ever will have the same power.
Who created heaven, and the things that therein are, etc. Who is the Maker of all things in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea; that is, throughout the universe. The design of referring to these things here is that which is just specifiedto give increased solemnity to the oath by a particular reference to some one of the attributes of God. With this view nothing could be more appropriate than to refer to him as the Creator of the universedenoting his infinite power, his right to rule and control all things.
That there should be time no longer. This is a very important expression, as it is the substance of what the angel affirmed in so solemn a manner; and as the interpretation of the whole passage depends on it. It seems now to be generally agreed among critics that our translation does not give the true sense, inasmuch
(a) as that was not the close of human affairs, and
(b) as he proceeds to state what would occur after that. Accordingly, different versions of the passage have been proposed. Professor Stuart renders it, "that delay shall be no longer." Mr. Elliott, "that the time shall not yet be; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whensoever he may be about to sound, then the mystery of God shall be finished." Mr. Lord, "that the time shall not be yet, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel," etc. Andrew Fuller, (Works, vol. vi. 113,) "there should be no delay." So Dr. Gill. Mr. Daubuz, "the time shall not be yet." Vitringa, (p. 432,) tempus non fore amplius, "time shall be no more." He explains it (p. 433) as meaning, "not that this is to be taken absolutely, as if at the sounding of the seventh trumpet all things were then to terminate, and the glorious epiphanyepifaneia (or manifestation of Jesus Christ)was then to occur who would put an end to all the afflictions of his church; but in a limited senserestricteas meaning that there would be no delay between the sounding of the seventh trumpet and tile fulfilment of the prophecies." The sense of this passage is to be determined by the meaning of the words and the connexion.
(a) The word timecronoßis the common Greek word to denote time, and may be applied to time in general, or to any specified time or period. See Robinson, Lex. s. voce (a, b.) In the word itself there is nothing to determine its particular signification here. It might refer either to time in general, or to the time under consideration; and which was the subject of the prophecy. Which of these is the true idea is to be ascertained by the other circumstances referred to. It should be added, however, that the word does not of itself denote delay, and is never used to denote that directly. It can only denote that because delay occupies or consumes time, but this sense of the noun is not found in the New Testament. It is found, however, in the verb cronizw, to linger, to delay, to be long in coming, Matt. 25:5; Luke 1:21.
(b) The absence of the article "time," not "the time"would naturally give it a general signification, unless there was something in the connexion to limit it to some well-known period under consideration. See Note on Rev. 8:2.
In this latter view, if the time referred to would be sufficiently definite without the article, the article need not be inserted. This is such a case, and comes under the rule for the omission of the article as laid down by Bishop Middleton, part i. chap. iii. The principle is, that when the copula, or verb connecting the subject and predicate, is the verb substantive, then the article is omitted. "To affirm the existence," says he, "of that of which the existence is already assumed, would be superfluous; to deny it, would be contradictory and absurd." As applicable to the case before us, the meaning of this rule would be, that the nature of the time here referred to is implied in the use of the substantive verb, (estai) and that consequently it is not necessary to specify it. All that needs to be said on this point is, that, on the supposition that John, referred to a specified time, instead of time in general, it would not be necessary, under this rule, to insert the article. The reference would be understood without it, and the insertion would be unnecessary. This is, substantially, the reasoning of Mr. Elliott, (ii. 123,) and it is submitted for what it is worth. My own knowledge of the usages of the Greek article is too limited to justify me in pronouncing an opinion on the subject, but the authorities are such as to authorize the assertion that, on the supposition that a particular well-known period were here referred to, the insertion of the article would not be necessary.
(c) The particle rendered "longer"eti"time shall be no longer"means properly, according to Robinson, (Lex.,) yet, still; implying
(1) durationas spoken of the present time; of the present in allusion to the past, and, with a negative, no more, no longer,
(2) implying accession, addition, yet, more, farther, besides. According to Buttmann, Gram. % 149, i. p. 430, it means, when alone, "yet still, yet farther; and with a negative, no more, no farther." The particle occurs often in the New Testament, as may be seen in the Concordance. It is more frequently rendered "yet" than by any other word, (compare Matt. 12:46; 17:5; 19:20; 26:47; 27:63; Mark 5:35; 8:17; 12:6) Mark 14:43and so in the other Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles; in all, fifty times. In the book of Revelation it is only once rendered "yet," Rev. 6:11, but is rendered "more" in Rev. 3:12; 7:16; Rev. 9:12; 12:8; 18:21-22, (three times,) Rev. 18:23, (twice;) Rev. 20:3; 21:1, 4, (twice;) "longer" in Rev. 10:6; "still" in Rev. 22:11, (four times.) The usage, therefore, will justify the rendering of the word by "yet," and in connexion with the negative, "not yet"meaning that the thing referred to would not occur immediately, but would be hereafter. In regard to the general meaning, then, of this passage in its connexion, we may remark
(a) that it cannot mean, literally, that there would be time no longer, or that the world would then come to an end absolutely, for the speaker proceeds to disclose events that would occur after that, extending far into the future, (Rev. 10:11) and the detail that follows (Revelation 11) before the sounding of the seventh trumpet is such as to occupy a considerable period, and the seventh trumpet is also yet to sound. No fair construction of the language, therefore, would require us to understand this as meaning that the affairs of the world were then to terminate.
(b) The connexion, then, apart from the question of grammatical usage, will require some such construction as that above suggested"that the time," to wit, some certain, known, or designated time, "would not be yet," but would be in some future period; that is, as specified Rev. 10:7, "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound."
Then "the mystery of God would be finished," and the affairs of the world would be put on their permanent footing.
(c) This would imply that, at the time when the angel appeared, or in the time to which he refers, there would be some expectation or general belief that the "mystery was then to be finished, and that the affairs of the world were to come to an end. The proper interpretation would lead us to suppose that there would be so general an expectation of this, as to make the solemn affirmation of the angel proper to correct a prevailing opinion, and to show that the right interpretation was not put on what seemed to be the tendency of things.
(d) As a matter of fact, we find that this expectation did actually exist at the time of the Reformation; that such an interpretation was put on the prophecies, and on the events that occurred; and that the impression that the Messiah was about to come, and the reign of saints about to commence, was so strong as to justify some interference, like the solemn oath of the angel, to correct the misapprehension. It is true that this impression had existed in former times, and even in the early ages of the church; but, as a matter of fact, it was true, and eminently true, in the time of the Reformation, and there was, on many accounts, a strong tendency to that form of belief. The Reformers, in interpreting the prophecies, learned to connect the downfall of the Papacy with the coming of Christ, and with his universal reign upon the earth; and as they saw the evidences of the approach of the former, they naturally anticipated the latter as about to occur. Compare Dan. 12:11; 2 Thess. 2:3; Dan. 2:34; 2 Thess. 2:8.
The anticipation that the Lord Jesus was about to come; that the affairs of the world, in the present form, were to be wound up; that the reign of the saints would soon commence; and that the permanent kingdom of righteousness would be established, became almost the current belief of the Reformers, and was frequently expressed in their writings. Thus Luther, in the year 1520, in his answer to the Pope's bull of excommunication, expresses his anticipations: "Our Lord Jesus Christ yet liveth and reigneth; who, I firmly trust, will shortly come, and slay with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming, that Man of sin."Merle D'Aubig. ii. 166. After being summoned before the Diet at Worms, and after condemnation had been pronounced on him by the Emperor, he fell back for comfort on the same joyous expectation. "For this once," he said, "the Jews, as on the crucifixion-day, may sing their Paean; but Easter will come for us, and then we shall sing Hallelujah."D'Aubig. ii. 276. The next year, writing to Staupitz, he made a solemn appeal against his abandoning the Reformation, by reference to the sure and advancing fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy. "My father," said he, "the abominations of the pope, with his whole kingdom, must be destroyed; and the Lord does this without hand, by the word alone. The subject exceeds all human comprehension. I cherish the best hopes."Milner, p. 692. In 1523 he thus, in a similar strain, expresses his hopes: "The kingdom of Antichrist, according to the prophet Daniel, must be broken without hands; that is, the Scriptures will be understood by and by; and every one will preach against Papal tyranny, from the word of God, until the Man of sin is deserted of all, and dies of himself."Milner, p. 796. The same sentiments respecting the approach of the end of the world were entertained by melancthon. In commenting on the passage in Daniel relating to the "little horn," he thus refers to an argument which has been prevalent: "The words of the prophet Elias should be marked by every one, and inscribed upon our walls, and on the entrances of our houses. Six thousand years shall the world stand, and after that be destroyed; two thousand years without the law; two thousand years under the law of Moses; two thousand years under the Messiah; and if any of these years are not fulfilled, they will be shortened, (a shortening intimated by Christ also, on account of our sins.") The following manuscript addition to this argument has been found in melancthon's hand, in Luther's own copy of the German Bible:"Written A.D. 1557, and from the creation of the world, 5519; from which number we may see that this aged world is not far front its end." So also the British Reformers believed. Thus Bishop Latimer: "Let us cry to God day and nightMost merciful Father, let thy kingdom come! St. Paul saith, The Lord will not come till the swerving from the faith cometh, (2 Thess. 2:3) which thing is already done and past. Antichrist is already known throughout all the world. Wherefore the day is not far off." Then, reverting to the consideration of the age of the world, as Melancthon had done, he says, "The world was ordained to endure, as all learned ones affirm, 6000 years. Now of that number there be past 6552 years, so that there is no more left but 448 years. Furthermore, those days shall be shortened for the elect's sage. Therefore, all those excellent and learned men, whom without doubt God hath sent into the world in these last days to give the world warning, do gather out of sacred Scripture that the last day cannot be far off." So again, in a sermon on the nearness of the Second Advent, he says, "So that peradventure it may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children's days." Indeed, it is well known that this was a prevalent opinion among the Reformers; and this fact will show with what propriety, if the passage before us was designed to refer to the Reformation, this Solemn declaration of the angel was made, that the "time would not be yet"that those anticipations which would spring up from the nature of the case, and from the interpretations which would be put on what seemed to be the obvious sense of the prophecies, were unfounded, and that a considerable time must yet intervene before the events would be consummated.
(e) The proper sense of this passage, then, according to the above interpretation, would be"And the angel lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever. That the time should not yet be; but, in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished." Appearances, indeed, would then indicate that the affairs of the world were to be wound up, and that the prophecies respecting the end of the world were about to be fulfilled; but the angel solemnly swears "by Him who lives for ever and ever," and whose reign therefore extends through all the changes on the earth; "by Him who is the Creator of all things," and whose purpose alone can determine when the end shall be, that the time would not be yet. Those cherished expectations would not yet be realized, but there was a series of important events to intervene before the end would come. Thenat the time when the seventh angel should soundwould be the consummation of all things.
7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel. The days in the period of time embraced by the sounding of the seventh trumpet. That is, the affairs of this world would not be consummated in that period embraced in the sounding of the sixth trumpet, but in that embraced in the sounding of the seventh and last of the trumpets. Compare Rev. 11:15-19.
When he shall begin to sound. That is, the events referred to will commence at the period when the angel shall begin to sound. It will not be merely during or in that period, but the sounding of the trumpet, and the beginning of those events, will be contemporaneous. In other words, then would commence the reign of righteousnessthe kingdom of the Messiahthe dominion of the saints on the earth.
The mystery of God should be finished. On the meaning of the word mystery, See Note on Eph. 1:9.
It means here, as elsewhere in the New Testament, the purpose or truth of God which had been concealed, and which had not before been communicated to man. Here the particular reference is to the Divine purpose which had been long concealed respecting the destiny of the world, or respecting the setting up of his kingdom, but which had been progressively unfolded by the prophets. That purpose would be "finished," or consummated, in the time when the seventh angel should begin to sound. Then all the "mystery" would be revealed; the plan would be unfolded; the Divine purpose, so long concealed, would be manifested, and the kingdom of the Messiah and of the saints would be set up on the earth. Under that period, the affairs of the world would be ultimately wound up, and the whole work of redemption completed. As he hath declared to his servants the prophets. As he has from time to time disclosed his purposes to mankind through the prophets. The reference here is, doubtless, to the prophets of the Old Testament, though the language would include all who at any time had uttered any predictions respecting the final condition of the world. These prophecies had been scattered along through many ages; but the angel says that at that time all that had been said respecting the setting up of the kingdom of God, the reign of the saints, and the dominion of the Redeemer on the earth, would be accomplished. See Note on Rev. 11:15.
From the passage thus explained, if the interpretation is correct, it will follow that the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15-18) is properly the conclusion of this series of visions, and denotes a "catastrophe" in the action, and that what follows is the commencement of a new series of visions. This is clear, because
(a) the whole seven seals, comprising the seven trumpets of the seventh seal, must embrace one view of all coming eventssince this embraced all that there was in the volume seen in the hand of him that sat on the throne;
(b) this is properly implied in the word here rendered "should be finished"telesqhthe fair meaning of which is, that the "mystery" here referred tothe hitherto unrevealed purpose or plan of Godwould, under that trumpet, be consummated or complete, (see the conclusive reasoning of Professor Stuart on the meaning of the word, vol. ii. p. 210, foot-note;) and
(c) it will be found in the course of the exposition that, at Rev. 11:19, there commences a new series of visions, embracing a view of the world in its religious aspect, or ecclesiastical characteristics, reaching down to the same consummation, and stating at the close of that (Revelation 20) more fully what is here (Rev. 1:15-18) designated in a more summary waythe final triumph of religion, and the establishment of the kingdom of the saints. The present series of visions (Rev. 5:1-11:18) relates rather to the outward or secular changes which would occur on the earth, which were to affect the welfare of the church, to the final consummation; the next series (Rev. 11:19 and chapters 12-20) relates to the church internally, the rise of Antichrist, and the effect of the rise of that formidable power on the internal history of the church, to the time of the overthrow of that power, and the triumphant establishment of the kingdom of God. In other words, this series of visions, terminating at Rev. 11:18, refers, as the leading thing, to what would occur in relation to the Roman empire considered as a secular power, in which the church would be interested; that which follows Rev. 11:19; 12:1-10. to the Roman power considered as a great apostasy, and setting up a mighty and most oppressive domination over the true church, manifested in deep corruption and bloody persecutions, running on in its disastrous influence on the world, until that power should be destroyedBabylon falland the reign of the saints be introduced.
8. And the voice which I heard from heaven. Rev. 10:4. This is not the voice of the angel, but a direct Divine command.
Said, Go and take the little book that is open, etc. That is, take it out of his hand, and do with it as you shall be commanded. There is a very strong resemblance between this passage and the account contained in Ezek. 2:9-10; 3:1-3. Ezekiel was directed to go to the house of Israel and deliver a Divine message, whether they would hear or forbear; and in order that he might understand what message to deliver, there was shown to him a roll of a book, written within and without. That roll he was commanded to eat, and he found it to be "in his mouth as honey for sweetness." John has added to this the circumstance that, though "sweet in the mouth," it made "the belly bitter." The additional command, (Rev. 10:11) that he must yet "prophesy before many people," leads us to suppose that he had the narrative in Ezekiel in his eye, for, as the result of his eating the roll, he was commanded to go and prophesy to the people of Israel. The passage here (Rev. 10:8) introduces a new symbol, that of "eating the book," and evidently refers to something that was to occur before the "mystery should be finished ;" that is, before the seventh trumpet should sound.
Which is open in the hand, etc. On the symbolical meaning of the word "open," as applied to the book, See Note on Rev. 10:2.
9. And I went unto the angel. This is symbolic action, and is not to be understood literally. As it is not necessary to suppose that an angel literally descended, and stood upon the sea and the land, so it is not necessary to suppose that there was a literal act of going to him, and taking the book from his hand, and eating it.
Give me the little book. In accordance with the command in Rev. 10:8. We may suppose, in regard to this,
(a) that the symbol was designed to represent that the book was to be used in the purpose here referred to, or was to be an important agent or instrumentality in accomplishing the purpose. The book is held forth in the hand of the angel as a striking emblem. There is a command to go and take it from his hand for some purpose not yet disclosed. All this seems to imply that the bookor that which is represented by itwould be an important instrument in accomplishing the purpose here referred to.
(b) The application for the book might intimate that, on the part of him who made it, there would be some strong desire to possess it. He goes, indeed, in obedience to the command; but, at the same time, there would naturally be a desire to be in possession of the volume, or to know the contents, (compare Rev. 5:4) and his approach to the angel for the book would be most naturally interpreted as expressive of such a wish.
And he said unto me, take it. As if he had expected this application; or had come down to furnish him with this little volume, and had anticipated that the request would be made. There was no reluctance in giving it up; there was no attempt to withhold it; there was no prohibition of its use. The angel had no commission, and no desire to retain it for himself, and no hesitation in placing it in the hands of the seer on the first application. Would not the readiness with which God gives his Bible into the hands of men, in contradistinction from all human efforts to restrain its use and to prevent its free circulation, be well symbolized by this act?
And eat it up. There is a similar command in Ezek. 3:1. Of course, this is to be understood figuratively, for no one would interpret literally a command to eat a manuscript or volume. We have in common use a somewhat similar phrase, when we speak of devouring a book, which may illustrate this, and which is not liable to be misunderstood. In Jer. 15:16, we have similar language: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." Thus in Latin, the words propinare, imbibere, devorare, deglutire, etc., are used to denote the greediness with which knowledge is acquired. Compare in the Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 14:38-40. The meaning here, then, is plain. He was to possess himself of the contents of the book; to receive it into his mind; to apply it, as we do food, for spiritual nourishmenttruth having, in this respect, the same relation to the mind which food has to the body. If the little book was a symbol of the Bible, it would refer to the fact that the truths of that book became the nourisher and supporter of the public mind.
And it shall make thy belly bitter. This is a circumstance which does not occur in the corresponding place in Ezek. 3:1-3. The expression here must refer to something that would occur after the symbolical action of "eating" the little book, or to some consequence of eating itfor the act of eating it is represented as pleasant: "in thy mouth sweet as honey." The meaning here is, that the effect which followed from eating the book was painful or disagreeableas food would be that was pleasant to the taste, but that produced bitter pain when eaten. The fulfilment of this would be found in one of two things.
(a) It might mean that the message to be delivered in consequence of devouring the book, or the message which it contained, would be of a painful or distressing character: that with whatever pleasure the book might be received and devoured, it would be found to contain a communication that would be indicative of woe or sorrow. This was the case with the little book that Ezekiel was commanded to eat up. Thus, in speaking of this book, it is said, "And it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe," Ezek. 2:10. Compare Rev. 3:4-9, where the contents of the book, and the effect of proclaiming the message which it contained, are more fully stated. So here the meaning may be, that, however gladly John may have taken the book, and with whatever pleasure he may have devoured its contents, yet that it would be found to be charged with the threatening of wrath, and with denunciations of a judgment to come, the delivery of which would be well represented by the "bitterness" which is said to have followed from "eating" the volume. Or
(b) it may mean, that the consequence of devouring the book, that is, of embracing its doctrines, would be persecutions and troublewell represented by the "bitterness" that followed the "eating" of the volume. Either of these ideas would be a fulfilment of the proper meaning of the symbol; for, on the supposition that either of these occurred in fact, it would properly be symbolized by the eating of a volume that was sweet to the taste, but that made the belly bitter.
But it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. So in Ezek. 3:3. The proper fulfilment of this it is not difficult to understand. It would well represent the pleasure derived from Divine truththe sweetness of the word of Godthe relish with which it is embraced by those that love it. On the supposition that the "little book" here refers to the Bible, and to the use which would be made of it in the times referred to, it would properly denote the relish which would exist for the sacred volume, and the happiness which would be found in its perusal: for this very image is frequently employed to denote this. Thus in Psa. 19:10: "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." Psa. 119:103: "How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth." We are then to look for the fulfilment of this in some prevailing delight or satisfaction, in the times referred to, in the word of the Lord, or in the truths of revelation.
10. And as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. The effect immediately followed: that is, as soon as he was made acquainted with the contents of the book, either, as above explained, requiring him to deliver some message of woe and wrath which it would be painful to deliver; or, that the consequence of receiving it was to bring on bitter persecutions and trials.
11. And he said unto me. The angel then said.
Thou must prophesy. The word "prophesy" here is evidently used in the large sense of making known Divine truth in general; not in the comparatively narrow and limited sense in which it is commonly used, as referring merely to the foretelling of future events. See the word explained in See Notes on Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:1.
The meaning is, that, as a consequence of becoming possessed of the little volume and its contents, he would be called to proclaim Divine truth, or to make the message of God known to mankind. The direct address is to John himself; but it is evidently not to be understood of him personally. He is represented as seeing the angel; as hearkening to his voice; as listening to the solemn oath which he took; as receiving and eating the volume; and then as prophesying to many people: but the reference is undoubtedly to the far-distant future. If the allusion is to the times of the Reformation, the meaning is, that the end of the world was not, as would be expected, about to occur, but that there was to be an interval long enough to permit the gospel to be proclaimed before "nations, and tongues, and kings;" that in consequence of coming into possession of the "little book," the word of God, the truth was yet to be proclaimed far and wide on the earth.
Againpalin. This had been done before. That is, supposing this to refer to the time of the Reformation, it could be said
(a) that this had been done beforethat the gospel had been in former times proclaimed in its purity before "many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings," and
(b) that it would be done "again:" that is, though the word of God had been hidden, and a mass of corrupt traditions had taken its place, yet the time would come when those pure truths would be made known again to all lands. This will explain the word "again" in this placenot meaning that John would do this personally, but that this would be in fact the result of the restoration of the Bible to the church.
Before many peoples. This word denotes people considered as masses, or as grouped together in masses, without reference to the manner in which it is done. It is used when we look on a mass of men, without taking into account the question whether they are of the same nation, or language, or rank. See Note on Rev. 8:9.
The plural is used here"peoples"perhaps to denote that those to whom the truth would be made known would be very numerous. They would not only be numerous in regard to the individuals to whom it would be communicated, but numerous considered as communities or nations.
And nations. The word nations here denotes people considered as separated by national boundaries, constitutions, laws, customs. See Note on Rev. 7:9.
And tongues. People considered as divided by languages: a division not always, or necessarily, the same as that denoted by the word "people" or "nations" as used in this passage.
And kings. Rulers of the people. The meaning is, that the gospel would not only be borne before the masses of mankind, but in a special manner before kings and rulers. The effect of thus possessing the "little volume"or of the "open book" of revealed truth would ultimately be that the message of life would be carried with power before princes and rulers, and would influence them as well as the common people.
In inquiring now for the proper application of this symbol as thus explained, we naturally turn to the Reformation, and ask whether there was anything in that of which this would be the proper emblem. The following things, then, are found in fact as occurring at that time, of which the symbol before us may be regarded as the proper representation:
(1.) The reception of the Bible as from the hand of an angelor its recovery from obscurity and forgetfulness, as if it were now restored to the church by a heavenly interposition. The influence of the Bible on the Reformation; the fact that it was now recovered from its obscurity, and that it was made the grand instrument in the Reformation, has already been illustrated. See Note on Rev. 10:2.
The symbolical action of taking it from the hand of an angel was not an improper representation of its reception again by the church, and of its restoration to its true place in the church. It became, as it is proper that it should always be, the grand means of the defence of the faith, and of the propagation of truth in the world.
(2.) The statement that the little book when eaten was "in the mouth sweet as honey," is a striking and proper representation of the relish felt for the sacred Scriptures by those who love the truth, (compare Note on Rev. 10:9) and is especially appropriate to describe the interest which was felt in the volume of revealed truth in the time of the Reformation. For the Bible was to the reformers emphatically a new book. It had been driven from common use to make way for the legends of the saints and the traditions of the church. It had, therefore, when translated into the vernacular tongue, and when circulated and read, the freshness of noveltythe interest which a volume of revealed truth would have if just given from heaven. Accordingly it is well known with what avidity and relish the sacred volume was studied by Luther and his fellow-labourers in the Reformation; how they devoured its doctrines; how they looked to it for comfort in their times of trial; how sweet and sustaining were its promises in the troubles that came upon them, and in the labours which they were called to perform.
(3.) The representation that, after it was eaten, it was "bitter," would not improperly describe the effect, in some respects, of thus receiving the Bible, and making it the groundwork of faith. It brought the Reformers at once into conflict with all the power of the Papacy and the priesthood; exposed them to persecution; aroused against them a host of enemies among the princes and rulers of the earth; and was the cause for which many of them were put to death. Such effects followed substantially when Wycliffe translated the Bible; when John Huss and Jerome of Prague published the pure doctrines of the New Testament; and when Luther gave to the people the word of God in their own language. To a great extent this is always sothat, however sweet and precious the truths of the Bible may be to the preacher himself, one of the effects of his attempting to preach those truths may be such opposition on the part of men, such cold indifference, or such fierce persecution, that it would be well illustrated by what is said here, "it shall make thy belly bitter."
(4.) The representation that, as a consequence of receiving that book, he would prophesy again before many people, is a fit representation of the effect of the reception of the Bible again by the church, and of allowing it its proper place there. For
(a) it led to preaching, or, in the language of this passage, "prophesying" a thing comparatively little known before for many ages. The grand business in the Papal communion was not, and is not, preaching, but the performance of rites and ceremonies. Genuflexions, crossings, burning of incense, processions, music, constitute the characteristic features of all Papal churches; the grand thing that distinguishes the Protestant churches all over the world, just in proportion as they are Protestant, is preaching. The Protestant religionthe pure form of religion as it is revealed in the New Testamenthas few ceremonies; its rites are simple; it depends for success on the promulgation and defence of the truth, with the attending influence of the Holy Ghost; and for this view of the nature and degree of religion the world is indebted to the fact that the Bible was again restored to its true place in the church.
(b) The Bible is the basis of all genuine preaching. Preaching will not be kept up in its purity, except in the places where the Bible is freely circulated, and where it is studied; and where it is studied, there will be, in the proper sense of the term, preachers. Just in proportion as the Bible is studied in the world, we may expect that preaching will be better understood, and that the number of preachers will be increased.
(c) The study of the Bible is the foundation of all the efforts to spread the knowledge of the truth to "peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings," in our own times. All these efforts have been originated by the restoration of the Bible to its proper place in the church, and to its more profound and accurate study in this age; for these efforts are but carrying out the injunction of the Saviour as recorded in this bookto "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
(d) The same thing will be true to the end of the world: or, in the language of the portion of the book of Revelation before us, til the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever," Rev. 11:15. The fact of the restoration of the Bible to its proper place in the church will, therefore, ultimately be the means of the conversion of the whole world to God; and this fact, so momentous in its nature and its consequences, was worthy to be symbolized by the appearance of the "angel descending from heaven clothed with a cloud;" was properly represented by the manner in which he appeared"his face radiant as the sun, and his feet pillars of fire;" was worthy to be expressed by the position which he assumed, as "standing on the sea and the earth"as if all the world were interested in the purpose of his mission; and was worthy of the loud proclamation which he madeas if a new order of things were to commence. Beautiful and sublime, then, as this chapter is and always has been esteemed as a composition, it becomes still more beautiful and sublime if it be regarded as a symbol of the Reformationan event the most glorious, and the most important in its issues, of any that has occurred since the Saviour appeared on the earth.
Analysis of the Chapter
THIS chapter, which is very improperly separated from the preceding, and improperly endedfor it should have been closed at ver. 18consists (excluding the last verse, which properly belongs to the succeeding chapter) essentially of three parts:
I. The measuring of the temple, Rev. 11:1, 2. A reed, or measuring- stick, is given to John, and he is directed to arise and measure the temple. This direction embraces two parts:
(a) he was to measure, that is, to take an exact estimate of the temple, of the altar, and of the true worshippers;
(b) he was carefully to separate this, in his estimate, from the outward court, which was to be left out and to be given to the Gentiles, to be trodden under foot forty-two months; that is, three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty daysa period celebrated in the book of Daniel as well as in this book.
II. The two witnesses, Rev. 11:3-13. This is, in some respects, the most difficult portion of the book of Revelation, and its meaning can be stated only after a careful examination of the signification of the words and phrases used. The general statement in regard to these witnesses is, that they should have power, and should prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days; that if any one should attempt to injure them, they had power, by fire that proceeded out of their mouths, to devour and kill their enemies; that they had power to shut heaven so that it should not rain, and power to turn the waters of the earth into blood, and power to smite the earth with plagues as often as they chose; that when they had completed their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit would make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them; that their dead bodies would lie unburied in that great city where the Lord was crucified three days and a half; that they that dwelt upon the earth would exult in their death, and send gifts to one another in token of their joy; that after the three days and a half the spirit of life from God would enter into them again, and they would stand up on their feet; that they would then be taken up into heaven, in the sight of their enemies; and that, at the time of their ascension, there would be a great earthquake, and a tenth part of the city would fall, and many (seven thousand) would be killed, and that the remainder would be affrighted, and would give glory to the God of heaven.
III. The sounding of the seventh trumpet, Rev. 11:14-18. This is the grand consummation of the whole; the end of this series of visions; the end of the world. A rapid glance only is given of it here, for under another series of visions a more detailed account of the state of the world is given under the final triumph of truth. Here, as a proper close of the first series of visions, the result is merely glanced at or adverted tothat then the period would have arrived when the kingdoms of the world were to become the kingdoms of the Lord, and of his Christ, and when he should commence that reign which was to continue for ever. Then universal peace and happiness would reign, and the long-promised and expected kingdom of God on the earth would be established. The "nations" had been "angry," but the time had now come when a judgment was to be pronounced on the dead, and when the due reward was to be given to the servants of Godthe prophets, and the saints, and those who feared his name, small and great, in the establishment of a permanent kingdom, and the complete triumph of the true religion in the world.
I regard this chapter, therefore, to Rev. 11:18, as extending down to the consummation of all things, and as disclosing the last of the visions seen in the scroll or volume "sealed with the seven seals," Rev. 5:1. For a reason above suggested, and which will appear more fully hereafter, the detail is here much less minute than in the earlier portions of the historic visions, but still it embraces the whole period, and states in few words what will be the condition of things in the end. This was all that was necessary; this was, in fact, the leading design of the whole book. The end towards which all tendedthat which John needed most to knowand which the church needed most to know, was, that religion would ultimately triumph, and that the period would arrive when it could be announced that the kingdoms of this world had become the kingdoms of God, and of his Christ. That is here announced; and that is properly the close of one of the divisions of the whole book.
1. And there was given me. He does not say by whom, but the connexion would seem to imply that it was by the angel. All this is of course to be regarded as symbolical. The representation undoubtedly pertains to a future age, but the language is such as would be properly addressed to one who had been a Jew, and the imagery employed is such as he would be more likely to understand than any other. The language and the imagery are, therefore, taken from the temple, but there is no reason to suppose that it had any literal reference to the temple, or even that John would so understand it. Nor does the language here used prove that the temple was standing at the time when the book was written; for as it is symbolical, it is what would be employed whether the temple were standing or not, and would be as likely to be used in the one case as in the other. It is such language as John, educated as a Jew, and familiar with the temple worship, would be likely to employ if he designed to make a representation pertaining to the church.
A reedkalamoß. This word properly denotes a plant with a jointed hollow stalk, growing in wet grounds. Then it refers to the stalk as cut for use, as a measuring-stick, as in this place; or a mock sceptre, Matt. 27:29-30; or a pen for writing, 3 John 1:13. Here it means merely a stick that could be used for measuring.
Like unto a rod. This wordrabdoßmeans properly a rod, wand, staff, used either for scourging, 1 Cor. 4:21; or for leaning upon in walking, Matt. 10:10; or for a sceptre, Heb. 1:8. Here the meaning is, that the reed that was put into his hands was like such a rod or staff in respect to size, and was therefore convenient for handling. The word rod also is used to denote a measuring-pole, Psa. 74:2; Jer. 10:16; 51:19.
And the angel stood, saying. The phrase, "the angel stood," is wanting in many MSS. and editions of the New Testament, and is rejected by Professor Stuart as spurious. It is also rejected in the critical editions of Griesbach and Hahn, and marked as doubtful by Tittmann. The best critical authority is against it, and it appears to have been introduced from Zech. 3:5. The connexion does not demand it, and we may, therefore, regard the meaning to be, that the one who gave him the reed, whoever he was, at the same time addressed him, and commanded him to take a measure of the temple and the altar.
Rise, and measure the temple of God. That is, ascertain its true dimensions with the reed in your hand. Of course, this could not be understood of the literal templewhether standing or notfor the exact measure of that was sufficiently well known. The word, then, must be used of something which the temple would denote or represent, and this would properly be the church, considered as the abode of God on the earth. Under the old dispensation, the temple at Jerusalem was that abode; under the new, that peculiar residence was transferred to the church, and God is represented as dwelling in it. See Note on 1 Cor. 3:16.
Thus the word is undoubtedly used here, and the simple meaning is, that he who is thus addressed is directed to take an accurate estimate of the true church of God; as accurate as if he were to apply a measuring-reed to ascertain the dimensions of the temple at Jerusalem. In doing that, if the direction had been literally to measure the temple at Jerusalem, he would ascertain its length, and breadth, and height; he would measure its rooms, its doorways, its porticoes; he would take such a measurement of it that, in a description or drawing, it could be distinguished from other edifices, or that one could be constructed like it, or that a just idea could be obtained of it if it should be destroyed. If the direction be understood figuratively, as applicable to the Christian church, the work to be done would be to obtain an exact estimate or measurement of what the true church wasas distinguished from all other bodies of men, and as constituted and appointed by the direction of God; such a measurement that its characteristics could be made known; that a church could be organized according to this, and that the accurate description could be transmitted to future times. John has not, indeed, preserved the measurement; for the main idea here is not that he was to preserve such a model, but that, in the circumstances, and at the time referred to, the proper business would be to engage in such a measurement of the church that its true dimensions or character might be known. There would be, therefore, a fulfilment of this, if at the time here referred to there should be occasion, from any cause, to inquire what constituted the true church; if it was necessary to separate and distinguish it from all other bodies; and if there should be any such prevailing uncertainty as to make an accurate investigation necessary.
And the altar. On the form, situation, and uses of the altar, See Note on Matt. 5:23-24.
The altar here referred to was, undoubtedly, the altar situated in front of the temple, where the daily sacrifice was offered. To measure that literally, would be to take its dimensions of length, breadth, and height; but it is plain that that cannot be intended here, for there was no such altar where John was, and, if the reference were to the altar at Jerusalem, its dimensions were sufficiently known. This language, then, like the former, must be understood metaphorically, and then it must meanas the altar was the place of sacrificeto take an estimate of the church considered with reference to its notions of sacrifice, or of the prevailing views respecting the sacrifice to be made for sin, and the method of reconciliation with God. It is by sacrifice that a method is provided for reconciliation with God; by sacrifice that sin is pardoned; by sacrifice that man is justified; and the direction here is equivalent, therefore, to a command to make an investigation on these subjects, and all that is implied would be fulfilled if a state of things should exist where it would be necessary to institute an examination into the prevailing views in the church on the subject of the atonement, and the true method of justification before God.
And them that worship therein. In the temple; or, as the temple is the representation here of the church, of those who are in the church as professed worshippers of God. There is some apparent incongruity in directing him to "measure" those who were engaged in worship; but the obvious meaning is, that he was to take a correct estimate of their character; of what they professed; of the reality of their piety; of their lives, and of the general state of the church considered as professedly worshipping God. This would receive its fulfilment, if a state of things should arise in the church which would make it necessary to go into a close and searching examination on all these points, in order to ascertain what was the true church, and what was necessary to constitute true membership in it. There were, therefore, three things, as indicated by this verse, which John was directed to do, so far as the use of the measuring-rod was concerned:
(a) to take a just estimate of what constitutes the true church, as distinguished from all other associations of men;
(b) to institute a careful examination into the opinions in the church on the subject of sacrifice or atonementinvolving the whole question about the method of justification before God; and
(c) to take a correct estimate of what constitutes true membership in the church; or to investigate with care the prevailing opinions about the qualifications for membership.
2. But the court which is without the temple. Which is outside of the temple proper, and, therefore, which does not strictly appertain to it. There is undoubtedly reference here to the "court of the Gentiles," as it was called among the Jewsthe outer court of the temple to which the Gentiles had access, and within which they were not permitted to go. For a description of this, See Note on Matt. 21:12.
To an observer, this would seem to be a part of the temple, and the persons there assembled a portion of the true worshippers of God; but it was necessarily neither the one nor the other. In forming an estimate of those who, according to the Hebrew notions, were true worshippers of God, only those would be regarded as such who had the privilege of access to the inner court, and to the altar. In making such an estimate, therefore, those who had no nearer access than that court, would be omitted; that is, they would not be reckoned as necessarily any part of those who were regarded as the people of God. Leave out and measure it not. Marg., cast out. So the Greek. The meaning is, that he was not to reckon it as appertaining to the true temple of worshippers. There is, indeed, a degree of force in the words rendered "leave out," or, in the margin, "cast out"ekballe exwwhich implies more than a mere passing by, or omission. The word (ekballw) usually has the idea of force or impulse, (Matt. 8:12; 15:17; 25:30; Mark 16:9; Acts 27:38, et al.;) and the word here would denote some decisive or positive act by which it would be indicated that this was not any part of the true temple, but was to be regarded as appertaining to something else. He was not merely not to mention it, or not to include it in the measurement, but he was to do this by some act which would indicate that it was the result of design in the case, and not by accidentally passing it by.
For it is given unto the Gentiles. It properly appertains to them as their own. Though near the temple, and included in the general range of building, yet it does not pertain to those who worship there, but to those who are regarded as heathen and strangers. It is not said that it was then given to the Gentiles; nor is it said that it was given to them to be overrun and trodden down by them, but that it appertained to them, and was to be regarded as belonging to them. They occupied it, not as the people of God, but as those who were without the true church, and who did not appertain to its real communion. This would find a fulfilment if there should arise a state of things in the church in which it would be necessary to draw a line between those who properly constituted the church and those who did not; if there should be such a condition of things that any considerable portion of those who professedly appertained to the church ought to be divided off as not belonging to it, or would have such characteristic marks that it could be seen that they were strangers and aliens. The interpretation would demand that they should sustain some relation to the church, or that they would seem to belong to itas the court did to the temple; but still that this was in appearance only, and that in estimating the true church it was necessary to leave them out altogether. Of course this would not imply that there might not be some sincere worshippers among them as individualsas there would be found usually, in the court of the Gentiles in the literal temple, some who were proselytes and devout worshippers, but what is here said relates to them as a mass or bodythat they did not belong to the true church but to the Gentiles.
And the holy city. The whole holy citynot merely the outer court of the Gentiles which it is said was given to them, nor the temple as such, but the entire holy city. There is no doubt that the words "the holy city" literally refer to Jerusalema city so called because it was the peculiar place of the worship of God. See Note on Matt. 4:5; compare Neh. 11:1, 18; Isa. 52:1; Dan. 9:24
Matt. 27:53. But it is not necessary to suppose that this is its meaning here. The "holy city" Jerusalem was regarded as sacred to God; as his dwelling-place on earth, and as the abode of his people, and nothing was more natural than to use the term as representing the church. Compare Note on Gal. 4:26, and See Note on Heb. 12:22.
In this sense it is undoubtedly used here, as the whole representation is emblematical. John, if he were about to speak of anything that was to occur to the church, would, as a native Jew, be likely to employ such language as this to denote it.
Shall they tread underfoot. That is, the Gentiles above referred to; or those who, in the measurement of the city, were set off as Gentiles, and regarded as not belonging to the people of God. This is not spoken of the Gentiles in general, but only of that portion of the multitudes that seemed to constitute the worshippers of God, who, in measuring the temple, were set off or separated as not properly belonging to the true church. The phrase "should tread under foot" is derived from warriors and conquerors who tread down their enemies, or trample on the fields of grain. It is rendered in this passage by Dr. Robinson, (Lex.,) "to profane and lay waste." As applied literally to a city, this would be the true idea; as applied to the church, it would mean that they would have it under their control or in subjection for the specified time, and that the practical effect of that would be to corrupt and prostrate it.
Forty and two months. Literally this would be three years and a half; but if the time here is prophetic timea day for a yearthen the period would be twelve hundred and sixty yearsreckoning the year at 360 days. For a full illustration of this usage, and for the reasons for supposing that this is prophetic time, See Note on Dan. 7:25.
In addition to what is there said, it may be remarked in reference to this passage, that it is impossible to show, with any degree of probability, that the city of Jerusalem was "trampled under foot" by the Romans for the exact space of three years and a half. Professor Stuart, who adopts the opinion that it refers to the conquest of Jerusalem by the Romans, says, indeed, "It is certain that the invasion of the Romans lasted just about the length of the period named, until Jerusalem was taken. And although the city itself was not besieged so long, yet the metropolis in this case, as in innumerable others in both Testaments, appears to stand for the country of Judaea." But, it is to be remembered that the affirmation here is that "the holy city" was thus to be trodden under foot; and even taking the former supposition, in what sense is it true that the "whole country" was "trodden under foot" by the Romans only three years and a half? Even the wars of the Romans were not of that exact duration, and, besides, the fact was that Judaea was held in subjection, and trodden down by the Romans, for centuries, and never, in fact, regained its independence. If this is to be literally applied to Jerusalem, it has been "trodden down by the Gentiles," with brief intervals, since the conquest by the Romans, to the present time. There has been no precise period of three years and a half, in respect to which the language here used would be applicable to the literal city of Jerusalem.
In regard, then, to the proper application of the language which has thus been explained, (Rev. 11:1-2) it may be remarked, in general, that, for the reasons just stated, it is not to be taken literally. John could not have been directed literally to measure the temple at Jerusalem, and the altar, and the worshippers; nor could he have been requested literally to leave out, or "cast out" the court that was without; nor could it be meant that the holy city literally was to be trodden under foot for three years and a half. The language clearly is symbolical, and the reference must have been to something pertaining to the church. And, if the preceding exposition of the tenth chapter is correct, then it may be presumed that this would refer to something that was to occur at about the period there referred to. Regarding it, then, as applicable to the time of the Reformation, and as being a continuation of the vision in chapter 10, we shall find, in the events of that period, what would be properly symbolized by the language here used. This will appear by reviewing the particulars which have been explained in these verses :
(1.) The command to "measure the temple of God," Rev. 11:1. This, we have seen, was a direction to take an estimate of what constituted the true church; the very work which it was necessary to do in the Reformation, for this was the first point which was to be settled, whether the Papacy was the true church or was the Antichrist. This involved, of course, the whole inquiry as to what constitutes the church, alike in reference to its organization, its ministry, its sacraments, and its membership. It was long before the Reformers made up their minds that the Papacy was not the true church; for the veneration which they had been taught to cherish for that lingered long in their bosoms, And even when they were constrained to admit that that corrupt communion was the predicted form of the great apostasyAntichristand had acquired boldness enough to break away from it for ever, it was long before they settled down in a uniform belief as to what was essential to the true church. Indeed, the differences of opinion which prevailed; the warm discussions which ensued, and the diversities of sect which sprang up in the Protestant world, showed with what intense interest the mind was fixed on this question, and how important it was to take an exact measurement of the real church of God.
(2.) The direction to "measure the altar." This, as we have seen, would relate to the prevailing opinions on the subject of sacrifice and atonement; on the true method of a sinner's acceptance with God; and, consequently, on the whole subject of justification. As a matter of fact, it need not be said that this was one of the first questions which came before the Reformers, and was one which it was indispensable to settle, in order to a just notion of the church and of the way of salvation. The Papacy had exalted the Lord's Supper into a real sacrifice; had made it a grand and essential point that the bread and wine were changed into the real body and blood of the Lord, and that a real offering of that sacrifice was made every time that ordinance was celebrated; had changed the office of the ministers of the New Testament from preachers to that of priests; had become familiar with the terms altar, and sacrifice, and priesthood, as founded on the notion that a real sacrifice was made in the "mass;" and had fundamentally changed the whole doctrine respecting the justification of a sinner before God. The altar in the Romish communion had almost displaced the pulpit; and the doctrine of justification by the merits of the great sacrifice made by the death of our Lord, had been superseded by the doctrine of justification by good works, and by the merits of the saints. It became necessary, therefore, to restore the true doctrine respecting sacrifice for sin, and the Way of justification before God; and this would be appropriately represented by a direction to "measure the altar."
(3.) The direction to take an estimate of those "who worshipped in the temple. This, as we have seen, would properly mean that there was to be a true estimate taken of what constituted membership in the church, or of the qualifications of those who should be regarded as true worshippers of God. This, also, was one of the first works necessary to be done in the Reformation. Before that, for ages, the doctrine of baptismal regeneration had been the established doctrine of the church; the opinion that all that was necessary to membership was baptism and confirmation, was the common opinion; the necessity of regeneration by the influences of the Holy Spirit, as a condition of church membership, was little understood, if not almost wholly unknown; and the grand requisition in membership was not holy living, but the observance of the rites and ceremonies of the church. One of the first things necessary in the Reformation was to restore to its true place the doctrine laid down by the Saviour, that a change of heartthat regeneration by the Holy Ghostwas necessary to membership in the church, and that the true church was composed of those who had been thus renewed in the spirit of their mind. This great work would be appropriately symbolized by a direction to take an estimate of those who "worshipped in the temple of God;" that is, to settle the question who should be regarded as true worshippers of God, and what should be required of those who professed to be such worshippers. No more important point was settled in the Reformation than this.
(4.) The direction to leave out, or to "cast out" the court without the temple. This, as we have seen, would properly mean that a separation was to be made between that which was the true church, and that which was not, though it might seem to belong to it. The one was to be measured or estimated; the other was to be left out, as not appertaining to that, or as belonging to the Gentiles, or to heathenism. The idea would be, that though it professedly appertained to the true church, and to the worship of God, yet that it deserved to be characterized as heathenism. Now this will apply with great propriety, according to all Protestant notions, to the manner in which the Papacy was regarded by the Reformers, and should be regarded at all times. It claimed to be the true church, and to the eye of an observer would seem to belong to it, as much as the outer court seemed to pertain to the temple. But it had the essential characteristics of heathenism, and was, therefore, properly to be left out, or cast out, as not pertaining to the true church. Can any one doubt the truth of this representation as applicable to the Papacy? Almost everything that was peculiar in the ancient heathen systems of religion had been introduced into the Roman communion; and a stranger at Rome would see more that would lead him to feel that he was in a heathen land, than he would that he was in a land where the pure doctrines of Christianity prevailed, and where the worship was celebrated which the Redeemer had designed to set up on the earth. This was true not only in the pomp and splendour of worship, and in the processions and imposing ceremonials; but in the worship of images, in the homage rendered to the dead, in the number of festival-days, in the fact that the statues reared in heathen Rome to the honour of the gods had been re-consecrated in the service of Christian devotion to the apostles, saints, and martyrs; and in the robes of the Christian priesthood, derived from those in use in the ancient heathen worship. The direction was, that, in estimating the true church, this was to be "left out" or "cast out;" and, if this interpretation is correct, the meaning is, that the Roman Catholic communion, as an organized body, is to be regarded as no part of the true church: a conclusion which is inevitable, if the passages of Scripture which are commonly supposed by Protestants to apply to it are correctly applied. To determine this, and to separate the true church from it, was no small part of the work of the Reformation.
(5.) The statement that the holy city was to be trodden under foot, Rev. 11:2. This, as we have seen, must mean that the true church would thus be trodden down by those who are described as "Gentiles." So far as pure religion was concerned; so far as appertained to the real condition of the church and the pure worship of God, it would be as if the whole holy city where God was worshipped were given into the hands of the Gentiles, and they should tread it down, and desecrate all that was sacred for the time here referred to. Everything in Rome at the time of the Reformation would sustain this description. "It is incredible," says Luther, on his visit to Rome, "what sins and atrocities are committed in Rome; they must be seen and heard to be believed. So that it is usual to say, If there be a hell, Rome is built above it; it is an abyss from which all sins proceed.'" So again he says: "It is commonly observed that he who goes to Rome for the first time, goes to seek a knave there; the second time he finds him; and the third time he brings him away with him under his cloak. But now, people are become so clever, that they make the three journeys in one." So Machiavelli, one of the most profound geniuses in Italy, and himself a Roman Catholic, said, "The greatest symptom of the approaching ruin of Christianity is, that the nearer we approach the capital of Christendom, the less do we find of the Christian spirit of the people. The scandalous example and crimes of the court of Rome have caused Italy to lode every principle of piety and every religious sentiment. We Italians are principally indebted to the church and to the priests for having become impious and profane." See D'Aubigne's History of the Reformation, p. 54, Ed. Phila. 1843. In full illustration of the sentiment that the church seemed to be trodden down and polluted by heathenism, or by abominations and practices that came out of heathenism, we may refer to the general history of the Romish communion from the rise of the Papacy to the Reformation. For a sufficient illustration to justify the application of the passage before us which I am now making, the reader may be referred to See Notes on Rev. 9:20; Rev. 9:21.
Nothing would better describe the condition of Rome previous to, and at the time of the Reformationand the remark may be applied to subsequent periods alsothan to say that it was a city which once seemed to be a Christian city, and was not improperly regarded as the centre of the Christian world and the seat of the church, and that it had been, as it were, overrun and trodden down by heathen rites, and customs, and ceremonies, so that, to a stranger looking on it, it would seem to be in the possession of the "Gentiles" or the heathens.
(6.) The time during which this was to continue"forty-two months;" that is, according to the explanation above given, twelve hundred and sixty years. This would embrace the whole period of the ascendency and prevalence of the Papacy; or the whole time of the continuance of that corrupt domination in which Christendom was to be trodden down and corrupted by it. The prophet of Patmos saw it in vision thus extending its dreary and corrupting reign, and during that time the proper influence of Christianity was trampled down, and the domination of practical heathenism was set up where the church should have reigned in its purity. Thus regarded, this would properly express the time of the ascendency of the Papal power, and the end of the "forty-two months," or twelve hundred and sixty years, would denote the time when the influence of that power would cease. If, therefore, the time of the rise of the Papacy can be determined, it will not be difficult to determine the time when it will come to an end. But, for a full consideration of these points, the reader is referred to the extended discussion on Dan. 7:25. As the point is there fully examined, it is unnecessary to go in to an investigation of it here.
The general remark, therefore, in regard to this passage, (Rev. 11:1-2,) is, that it refers to what would be necessary to be done at the Reformation in order to determine what is the true church, and what are the doctrines on which it is based; and to the fact that the Romish communion to which the church had been given over for a definite time, was to be set aside as not being the true church of Christ.
3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses. In respect to this important passage, (Rev. 11:3-13,) I propose to pursue the same method which I have pursued all along in this exposition: first, to examine the meaning of the words and phrases in the symbol with a purpose to ascertain the full signification of the symbols; and, secondly, to inquire into the applicationthat is, to inquire whether any events have occurred which, in respect to their character and to the time of their occurrence, can be shown to be a fair fulfilment of the language.
And I will give power. The word "power" is not in the original. The Greek is simply, "I will give;" that is, I will grant to my two witnesses the right, or the power, of prophesying, during the time specifiedcorrectly expressed in the margin, "give unto my two witnesses that they may prophesy." The meaning is not that he would send two witnesses to prophesy, but rather that these were in fact such "witnesses," and that he would during that time permit them to exercise their prophetic gifts, or give them the privilege and the strength to enunciate the truth which they were commissioned to communicate as his "witnesses" to mankind. Some word, then, like power, privilege, opportunity, or boldness, it is necessary to supply in order to complete the sense.
Unto my two witnesses. The word "two" evidently denotes that the number would be small; and yet it is not necessary to confine it literally to two persons, or to two societies or communities. Perhaps the meaning is, that as, under the law, two witnesses were required, and were enough, to establish any fact, (See Note on John 8:17) such a number would, during those times, be preserved from apostasy, as would be sufficient to keep up the evidence of truth; to testify against the prevailing abominations, errors, and corruptions; to show what was the real church, and to bear a faithful witness against the wickedness of the world. The law of Moses required that there should be two witnesses on a trial, and this, under that law, was deemed a competent number. See Numb. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 5:30-33.
The essential meaning of this passage then is, that there would be a competent number of witnesses in the case; that is, as many as would be regarded as sufficient to establish the points concerning which they would testify, with perhaps the additional idea that the number would be small. There is no reason for limiting it strictly to two persons, or for supposing that they would appear in pairs, two and two; nor is it necessary to suppose that it refers particularly to two people or nations. The word rendered witnessesmartuß that from which we have derived the word martyr. It means properly one who bears testimony, either in a judicial sense, (Matt. 18:16; 26:65) or one who can in any way testify to the truth of what he has seen and known, Luke 24:48; Rom. 1:9; Phil. 1:8; 1 Thess. 2:10; 1 Tim. 6:12.
Then it came to be employed in the sense in which the word martyr is nowto denote one who, amidst great sufferings, or by his death, bears witness to the truth; that is, one who is so confident of the truth, and so upright, that he will rather lay down his life than deny the truth of what he has seen and known, Acts 22:20; Rev. 2:13. In a similar sense it comes to denote one who is so thoroughly convinced on a subject that is not susceptible of being seen and heard, or who is so attached to one, that he is willing to lay down his life as the evidence of his conviction and attachment. The word, as used here, refers to those who, during this period of "forty and two months," would thus be witnesses for Christ in the world: that is, who would bear their testimony to the truth of his religion; to the doctrines which he had revealed; and to what was required of manwho would do this amidst surrounding error and corruption, and when exposed to persecutions and trials on account of their belief. It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to represent the righteous as witnesses for God. See Note on Isa. 43:10, Isa. 43:12; Isa. 44:8.
And they shall prophesy. The word prophesy does not necessarily mean that they would predict future events; but the sense is, that they would give utterance to the truth as God had revealed it. See Note on Rev. 10:11.
The sense here is, that they would in some public manner hold up or maintain the truth before the world.
A thousand two hundred and three score days. The same period as the forty and two months, (Rev. 11:2,) though expressed in a different form. Reckoning a day for a year, this period would be twelve hundred and sixty years, or the same as the "time and times and the dividing of time" in Dan. 7:25. See Note on Dan. 7:25.
The meaning of this would be, therefore, that during that long period in which it is said that "the holy city would be trodden under foot," there would be those who might be properly called "witnesses" for God, and who would be engaged in holding up his truth before the world; that is, there would be no part of that period in which there would not be found some to whom this appellation could with propriety be given. Though the "holy city"the churchwould seem to be wholly trodden down, yet there would be a few at least who would assert the great doctrines of true godliness.
Clothed in sackcloth. Sackclothsakkoußwas properly a coarse black cloth commonly made of hair, used for sacks, for straining, and for mourning garments. See Notes on Rev. 6:12; Isa. 3:24; Matt. 11:21.
Here it is an emblem of mourning; and the idea is, that they would prophesy in the midst of grief. This would indicate that the time would be one of calamity, or that, in doing this, there would be occasion for their appearing in the emblems of grief, rather than in robes expressive of joy. The most natural interpretation of this is, that there would be but few who could be regarded as true witnesses for God in the world, and that they would be exposed to persecution.
4. These are the two olive-trees. These are represented by the two olive-trees, or these are what are symbolized by the two olive-trees. There can be little doubt that there is an allusion here to Zech. 4:3, 11, 14, though the imagery is in some respects changed. The prophet (Zech. 4:2-3) saw in vision "a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which were upon the top thereof; and two olive- trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof." These two "olive branches" were subsequently declared (Zech. 4:14) to be "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The olive-trees, or olive branches, (Zech. 4:12,) appear in the vision of the prophet to have been connected With the ever-burning lamp, by golden pipes; and as the olive-tree produced the oil used by the ancients in their lamps, these trees are represented as furnishing a constant supply of oil through the golden pipes to the candlestick, and thus they become emblematic of the supply of grace to the church. John uses this emblem, not in the sense exactly in which it was employed by the prophet, but to denote that these two "witnesses," which might be compared with the two olive-trees, would be the means of supplying grace to the church. As the olive- tree furnished oil for the lamps, the two trees here would seem properly to denote ministers of religion; and as there can be no doubt that the candlesticks, or lamp-bearers, denote churches, the sense would appear to be that it was through the pastors of the churches that the oil of grace which maintained the brightness of those mystic candlesticks, or the churches, was conveyed. The image is a beautiful one, and expresses a truth of great importance to the world; for God has designed that the lamp of piety shall be kept burning in the churches by truth supplied through ministers and pastors.
And the two candlesticks. The prophet Zechariah saw but one such candlestick or lamp-bearer; John here saw twoas there are two "witnesses" referred to. In the vision described in Rev. 1:12, he saw sevenrepresenting the seven churches of Asia. For an explanation of the meaning of the symbol, See Note on Rev. 1:12.
Standing before the God of the earth. So Zech. 4:14, "These be the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." The meaning is, that they stood, as it were, in the very presence of Godas in the tabernacle and temple, the golden candlestick stood "before" the ark on which was the symbol of the Divine presence, though separated from it by a veil. Compare Note on Rev. 9:13.
This representation that the ministers of religion "stand before the Lord" is one that is not uncommon in the Bible. Thus it is said of the priests and Levites,(Deut. 10:8) "The Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to stand before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless his name," Compare Deut. 18:7. The same thing is said of the prophets, as in the cases of Elijah and Elisha: "As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand," 1 Kings 17:1; 18:15; 2 Kings 3:14; 5:16; compare Jer. 15:19. The representation is, that they ministered, as it were, constantly in his presence, and under his eye.
5. And if any man will hurt them. This implies that there would be those who would be disposed to injure or wrong them; that is, that they would be liable to persecution. The word "will" is here more than the mere sign of the future; it denotes intention, purpose, designqelei"if any man wills or purposes to injure them." See a similar use of the word in 1 Tim. 6:9. The word hurt here means to do injury or injusticeadikhsaiand may refer to wrong in any formwhether in respect to their character, opinions, persons, or property. The general sense is, that there would be those who would be disposed to do them harm, and we should naturally look for the fulfilment of this in some form of persecution.
Fire proceedeth out of their mouth. It is, of course, not necessary that this should be taken literally. The meaning is, that they would have the power of destroying their enemies as if fire should proceed out of their mouth; that is, their words would be like burning coals or flames. There may possibly be an allusion here to 2 Kings 1:10-14, where it is said that Elijah commanded the fire to descend from heaven to consume those who were sent to take him, (compare Luke 9:54) but in that case Elijah commanded the fire to come "from heaven;" here it proceeded "out of the mouth." The allusion here, therefore, is to the denunciations which they would utter, or the doctrines which they would preach, and which would have the same effect on their enemies as if they breathed forth fire and flame. So Jer. 5:14, "Because ye speak this word, Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them."
And devoureth their enemies. The word devour is often used with reference to fire, which seems to eat up or consume what is in its way, or to feed on that which it destroys. This is the sense of the word herekatesqiei"to eat down, to swallow down, to devour." Compare Rev. 20:9; Septuagint Isa. 29:6; Joel 2:6; Lev. 10:2.
As there is no reason to believe that there would be literal fire, so it is not necessary to suppose that their enemies would be literally devoured or consumed. The meaning is fulfilled if their words should in any way produce an effect on their enemies similar to what is produced by fire: that is, if it should destroy their influence; if it should overcome and subdue them; if it should annihilate their domination in the world.
And if any man will hurt them. This is repeated in order to make the declaration more intensive, and also to add another thought about the effect of persecuting and injuring them.
He must in this manner be killed; That is, in the manner specifiedby fire. It does not mean that he would be killed in the same manner in which the "witnesses" were killed, but in the method specified beforeby the fire that should proceed out of their mouth. The meaning is, undoubtedly, that they would have power to bring down on them Divine vengeance or punishment, so that there would be a just retaliation for the wrongs done them.
6. These have power to shut heaven. That is, so far as rain is concerned-for this is immediately specified. There is probably a reference here to an ancient opinion that the rain was kept in the clouds of heaven as in reservoirs or bottles, and that when they were opened it rained; when they were closed it ceased to rain. So Job 26:8, "He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them." Job 36:28, "Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly." Job 38:37, "Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven?" Compare Gen. 1:7-12; Gen. 8:2; 2 Kings 7:2.
To shut or close up the heavens, therefore, is to restrain the rain from descending, or to produce a drought. Compare Note on James 5:17.
That it rain not in the days of their prophecy. In the time when they prophesy. Probably the allusion here is to what is said of Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1. This would properly refer to some miraculous power; but still it may be used to denote merely that they would be clothed with the power of causing blessings to be withheld from men, as if rain were withheld; that is, that in consequence of the calamities that would be brought upon them, and the persecutions which they would endure, God would bring judgments upon men as if they were clothed with this power. The language, therefore, it seems to me, does not necessarily imply that they would have the power of working miracles.
And have power over waters to turn them to blood. The allusion here is doubtless to what occurred in Egypt, Exod. 7:17. Compare Note on Rev. 8:8.
This, too, would literally denote the power of working a miracle; but still it is not absolutely necessary to suppose that this is intended. Anything that would be represented by turning waters into blood, would correspond with all that is necessarily implied in the language. If any great calamity should occur in consequence of what was done to them that would be properly represented by turning the waters into blood so that they could not be used, and that was so connected with the treatment which they received as to appear to be a judgment of heaven on that account, or that would appear to have come upon the world in consequence of their imprecations, it would be all that is necessarily implied in this language.
And to smite the earth with all plagues. All kinds of plague or calamity; disease, pestilence, famine, flood, etc. The word plagueplhghwhich means, properly, stroke, stripe, blow, would include any or all of these. The meaning here is, that great calamities would follow the manner in which they were treated, as if the power were lodged in their hands.
As often as they will. So that it would seem that they could exercise this power as they pleased.
7. And when they shall have finished their testimony. Professor Stuart renders this, "And whenever they shall have finished their testimony." The reference is undoubtedly to a period when they should have faithfully borne the testimony which they were appointed to bear. The word here rendered "shall have finished"teleswsi, from telewmeans properly to end, to finish, to complete, to accomplish. It is used, in this respect, in two senseseither in regard to time, or in regard to the end or object in view, in the sense of perfecting it, or accomplishing it. In the former sense it is employed in such passages as the following: Rev. 20:3, "Till the thousand years should be fulfilled;" Matt. 10:23 "Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel [Gr., ye shall not have finished the cities of Israel] till the Son of man be come"that is, ye shall not have finished passing through them; Matt. 11:1, "When Jesus had made an end [Gr.,finished] of commanding his twelve disciples;" 2 Tim. 4:7, "I have finished my course." In these passages it clearly refers to time. In the other sense it is used in such places as the following: Rom. 2:27, "And shall not the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law;" that is, if it accomplish, or come up to the demands of the law; James 2:8, "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scriptures." The word, then, may here refer not to time, meaning that these events would occur at the end of the "thousand two hundred and threescore days," but to the fact that what is here stated would occur when they had completed their testimony in the sense of having testified all that they were appointed to testify; that is, when they had borne full witness for God, and fully uttered his truth. Thus understood, the meaning here may be that the event here referred to would take place, not at the end of the 1260 years, but at that period during the 1260 years when it could be said with propriety that they had accomplished their testimony in the world, or that they had borne full and ample witness on the points entrusted to them.
The beast. This is the first time in the book of Revelation in which what is here called "the beast" is mentioned, and which has so important an agency in the events which it is said would occur. It is repeatedly mentioned in the course of the book, and always with similar characteristics, and as referring to the same object. Here it is mentioned as "ascending out of the bottomless pit;" in Rev. 13:1, as "rising up out of the sea;" in Rev. 13:11, as "coming up out of the earth." It is also mentioned with characteristics appropriate to such an origin, in Rev. 13:2-4, (twice,) Rev. 13:11-12, (twice,) Rev. 13:14, (twice,) Rev. 13:15, (twice,) Rev. 13:17-18; 14:9, 11
Rev. 15:2; 16:2, 10, 13; 17:3, 7-8, (twice,) Rev. 17:11-13, 16-17
Rev. 19:19-20, (twice;) Rev. 20:4, 10. The word here usedqhrionmeans properly a beast, a wild beast, Mark 1:13; Acts 10:12; 11:6; 28:4-5; Heb. 12:20; James 3:7; Rev. 6:8.
It is once used topically of brutal or savage men, Tit. 1:12. Elsewhere, in the passages above referred to in the Apocalypse, it is used symbolically. As employed in the book of Revelation, the characteristics of the "beast" are strongly marked.
(a) It has its origin from beneathin the bottomless pit; the sea; the earth, Rev. 11:7; 13:1, 11.
(b) It has great power, Rev. 13:4, 12; 17:12-13.
(c) It claims and receives worship, Rev. 13:3, 12, 14-15; 14:9, 11.
(d) It has a certain "seat" or throne from whence its power proceeds, Rev. 16:10.
(e) It is of scarlet colour, Rev. 17:3.
(f) It receives power conferred upon it by the kings of the earth, Rev. 17:13.
(g) It has a mark by which it is known, Rev. 13:17; 19:20.
(h) It has a certain "number;" that is, there are certain mystical letters or figures which so express its name that it may be known, Rev. 13:17-18. These things serve to characterize the "beast" as distinguished from all other things, and they are so numerous and definite, that it would seem to have been intended to make it easy to understand what was meant when the power referred to should appear. In regard to the origin of the imagery here, there can be no reasonable doubt that it is to be traced to Daniel, and that the writer here means to describe the same "beast" which Daniel refers to in Dan. 7:7. The evidence of this must be clear to any one who will compare the description in Daniel, (chapter 8) with the minute details in the book of Revelation. No one, I think, can doubt that John means to carry forward the description in Daniel, and to apply it to new manifestations of the same great and terrific powerthe power of the fourth monarchyon the earth. For full evidence that the representation in Daniel refers to the Roman power prolonged and perpetuated in the Papal dominion, I must refer the reader to See Note on Dan. 7:25.
It may be assumed here that the opinion there defended is correct, and consequently it may be assumed that the "beast" of this book refers to the Papal power.
That ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. See Note on Rev. 9:1.
This would properly mean that its origin is the nether world; or that it will have characteristics which will show that it was from beneath. The meaning clearly is, that what was symbolized by the beast would have such characteristics as to show that it was not of Divine origin, but had its source in the world of darkness, sin, and death. This, of course, could not represent the true church, or any civil government that is founded on principles which God approves. But if it represent a community pretending to be a church, it is an apostate church; if a civil community, it is a community the characteristics of which are that it is controlled by the Spirit that rules over the world beneath. For reasons which we shall see in abundance in applying the descriptions which occur of the "beast," I regard this as referring to that great apostate power which occupies so much of the prophetic descriptionsthe Papacy.
Shall make war against them. Will endeavour to exterminate them by force. This clearly is not intended to be a general statement that they would be persecuted, but to refer to the particular manner in which the opposition would be conducted. It would be in the form of "war;" that is, there would be an effort to destroy them by arms.
And shall overcome them. Shall gain the victory over them; conquer themnikhsei autouß. That is, there will be some signal victory in which those represented by the two witnesses will be subdued.
And kill them. That is, an effect would be produced as if they were put to death. They would be overcome; would be silenced; would be apparently dead. Any event that would cause them to cease to bear testimony, as if they were dead, would, be properly represented by this. It would not be necessary to suppose that there would be literally death in the case, but that there would be some event which would be well represented by deathsuch as an entire suspension of their prophesying in consequence of force.
8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street. Professor Stuart, "Shall be in the street." The words "shall lie" are supplied by the translators, but not improperly. The literal rendering would be, "and their corpses upon the street of the great city;" and the meaning is, that there would be a state of things in regard to them which would be well represented by supposing them to lie unburied. To leave a body unburied is to treat it with contempt, and among the ancients nothing was regarded as more dishonourable than such treatment. See the Ajax of Sophocles. Among the Jews also it was regarded as a special indignity to leave the dead unburied, and hence they are always represented as deeply solicitous to secure the interment of their dead. See Gen. 23:4. Compare 2 Sam. 21:9-13; Eccles. 6:3; Isa. 14:18-20; 22:16; 53:9.
The meaning here is, that, for the time specified, those who are here referred to would be treated with indignity and contempt. In the fulfilment of this, we are not, of course, to look for any literal accomplishment of what is here said, but for some treatment of the "witnesses" which would be well represented by this; that is, which would show that they were treated, after they were silenced, like unburied corpses putrefying in the sun.
Of the great city. Where these transactions would occur. As a great city would be the agent in putting them to death, so the result would be as if they were publicly exposed in its streets. The word "great" here supposes that the city referred to would be distinguished for its sizea circumstance of some importance in determining the place referred to.
Which spiritually is calledpneumatikwß. This word occurs only in one other place in the New Testament, 1 Cor. 2:14"because they are spiritually discerned"where it means, "in accordance with the Holy Spirit," or "through the aid of the Holy Spirit." Here it seems to be used in the sense of metaphorically, or allegorically, in contradistinction from the literal and real name. There may possibly be an intimation here that the city is so called by the Holy Spirit to designate its real character; but still the essential meaning is, that that was not its literal name. For some reason, the real name is not given to it; but such descriptions are applied as are designed to leave no doubt as to what is intended.
Sodom. Sodom was distinguished for its wickedness, and especially for that vice to which its abominations have given name. For the character of Sodom, see Genesis 18-19. Compare 2 Pet. 2:6. In inquiring what "city" is here referred to, it would be necessary to find in it such abominations as characterized Sodom, or so much wickedness that it would be proper to call it Sodom. If it shall be found that this was designed to refer to Papal Rome, no one can doubt that the abominations which prevailed there would justify such an appellation. Compare Note on Rev. 9:20.
See Note on Rev. 9:21.
And Egypt. That is, it would have such a character that the name Egypt might be properly given to it. Egypt is known, in the Scriptures, as the land of oppressionthe land where the Israelites, the people of God, were held in cruel bondage. Compare Exodus 1-15. See also Ezek. 23:8. The particular idea, then, which seems to be conveyed here is, that the "city" referred to would be characterized by acts of oppression and wrong towards the people of God. So far as the language is concerned, it might apply either to Jerusalem or to Romefor both were eminently characterized by such acts of oppression toward the true children of God as to make it proper to compare their cruelties with those which were inflicted on the Israelites by the Egyptians. Of whichever of these places the course of the exposition may require us to understand this, it will be seen at once that the language is such as is strictly applicable to either; though, as the reference is rather to Christians than to the ancient people of God, it must be admitted that it would be most natural to refer it to Rome. More acts authorizing persecution, and designed to crush the true people of God, have gone forth from Rome than from any other city on the face of the earth; and taking the history of the church together, there is no place that would be so properly designated by the term here employed.
Where also our Lord was crucified. If this refers to Jerusalem, it is to be taken literally; if to another, city, it is to be understood as meaning that he was practically crucified there: that is, that the treatment of his friendshis churchwas such that it might be said that he was "crucified afresh" there; for what is done to his church may be said to be done to him. Either of these interpretations would be justified by the use of the language. Thus in Heb. 6:6, it is said of apostates from the true faith, (compare Note on Heb. 6:6) that "they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh." If the passage before us is to be taken figuratively, the meaning is, that acts would be performed which might properly be represented as crucifying the Son of God; that, as he lives in his church, the acts of perverting his doctrines, and persecuting his people, would be, in fact, an act of crucifying the Lord again. Thus understood, the language is strictly applicable to Rome; that is, if it is admitted that John meant to characterize that city, he has employed such language as a Jewish Christian would naturally use. While, therefore, it must be admitted that the language is such as could be literally applied only to Jerusalem, it is still true that it is such language as might be figuratively applied to any other city strongly resembling that, and that in this sense it would characterize Rome above all other cities of the world. The common reading of the text here is "our Lord"hmwn; the text now regarded as correct, however, (Griesbach, Tittmann, Hahn,) is "their Lord"autwn. This makes no essential difference in the sense, except that it directs the attention more particularly to the fact that they were treated like their own Master.
9. And they of the people. Some of the people; a part of the peopleek twn lawn. The language is such as would be employed to describe a scene where a considerable portion of a company of people should be referred to, without intending to include all. The essential idea is, that there would be an assemblage of different classes of people to whom their carcases would be exposed, and that they would come and look upon them. We should expect to find the fulfilment of this in some place where, from any cause, a variety of people should be assembledas in some capital, or some commercial city, to which they would be naturally attracted.
Shall see their dead bodies. That is, a state of things will occur as if these witnesses were put to death, and their carcases were publicly exposed.
Three days and an half. This might be either literally three days and a half, or, more in accordance with the usual style of this book, these would be prophetic days; that is, three years and a half. Compare Note on Rev. 9:5, 15,
And shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. That is, there would be a course of conduct in regard to these witnesses such as would be shown to the dead if they were not suffered to be decently interred. The language used here"shall not suffer"seems to imply that there would be those who might be disposed to show them the respect evinced by interring the dead, but that this would not be permitted. This would find a fulfilment, if, in a time of persecution, those who had borne faithful testimony were silenced and treated with dishonour, and if there should be those who were disposed to show them respect, but who would be prevented by positive acts on the part of their persecutors. This has often been the case in persecution, and there could be no difficulty in finding numerous instances in the history of the church, to which this language would be applicable.
10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them. Those dwelling in the land would rejoice over their fall and ruin. This cannot, of course, mean all who inhabit the globe; but, according to the usage in Scripture, those who dwell in the country where this would occur. Compare Note on Luke 2:1.
We now affix to the word "earth" an idea which was not necessarily implied in the Hebrew word (Heb?) eretz, (compare Exod. 3:8; 13:5; Deut. 19:2, 10; Deut. 28:12; Neh. 9:22; Psa. 37:9, 11, 22, 29; 66:4; Prov. 2:21; 10:30; Joel 1:2) or the Greek word ghge, (compare Matt. 2:6, 20-21; 14:15; Acts 7:7, 11; 7:36, 40; 13:17) Our word land, as now commonly understood, would better express the idea intended to be conveyed here; and thus understood, the meaning is, that the dwellers in the country where these things would happen would thus rejoice. The meaning is, that while alive they would, by their faithful testimony against existing errors, excite so much hatred against themselves, and would be so great an annoyance to the governing powers, that there would be general exultation when the voice of their testimony should be silenced. This, too, has been so common in the world that there would be no difficulty in applying the language here used, or in finding events which it would appropriately describe.
And make merry. Be glad. See Note on Luke 12:19.
The Greek word does not necessarily denote the light-hearted mirth expressed by our word merriment, but rather joy or happiness in general. The meaning is, that they would be filled with joy at such an event.
And shall send gifts one to another. As expressive of their joy. To send presents is a natural expression of our own happiness, and our desire for the happiness of othersas is indicated now by "Christmas" and "New Year's gifts." Compare also Neh. 8:10-12: "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength," etc. See also Esth. 9:19-22.
Because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. They "tormented" them, or were a source of annoyance to them, by bearing testimony to the truth; by opposing the prevailing errors; and by rebuking the vices of the age: perhaps by demanding reformation, and by denouncing the judgment of heaven on the guilty. There is no intimation that they tormented them in any other way than by the truths which they held forth. See the word explained in See Note on 2 Pet. 2:8.
11. And after three days and an half. See Note on Rev. 11:9.
The Spirit of life from God. The living, or life-giving Spirit that proceeds from God entered into them. Compare Note on Job 3:4.
There is evidently allusion here to Gen. 2:7, where God is spoken of as the Author of life. The meaning is, that they would seem to come to life again, or that effects would follow as if the dead were restored to life. If, when they had been-compelled to cease from prophesying, they should, after the interval here denoted by three days and a half, again prophesy, or their testimony should be again borne to the truth as it had been before, this would evidently be all that would be implied in the language here employed.
Entered into them. Seemed to animate them again.
And they stood upon their feet. As if they had come to life again.
And great fear fell upon them which saw them. This would be true if those who were dead should be literally restored to life; and this would be the effect if those who had given great annoyance by their doctrines, and who had been silenced, and who seemed to be dead, should again, as if animated anew by a Divine power, begin to prophesy, or to proclaim their doctrines to the world. The statement in the symbol is, that those who had put them to death had been greatly troubled by these "witnesses;" that they had sought to silence them, and in order to this had put them to death; that they then greatly rejoiced, as if they would no more be annoyed by them. The fact that they seemed to come to life again would, therefore, fill them with consternation, for they would anticipate a renewal of their troubles, and they would see in this fact evidence of the Divine favour towards those whom they persecuted, and reason to apprehend Divine vengeance on themselves.
12. And they heard a great voice from heaven. Some manuscripts read, "I heard"hkousa but the more approved reading is that of the common text. John says that a voice was addressed to them calling them to ascend to heaven.
Come up hither. To heaven.
And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud. So the Saviour ascended, Acts 1:9, and so probably Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11.
And their enemies beheld them. That is, it was done openly, so that their enemies, who had put them to death, saw that they were approved of God, as if they had been publicly taken up to heaven. It is not necessary to suppose that this would literally occur. All this is, manifestly, mere symbol. The meaning is, that they would triumph as if they should ascend to heaven, and be received into the presence of God. The sense of the whole is, that these witnesses, after bearing a faithful testimony against prevailing errors and sins, would be persecuted and silenced; that for a considerable period their voice of faithful testimony would be hushed as if they were dead; that during that period they would be treated with contempt and scorn, as if their unburied bodies should be exposed to the public gaze; that there would be general exultation and joy that they were thus silenced; that they would again revive, as if the dead were restored to life, and bear a faithful testimony to the truth again, and that they would have the Divine attestation in their favour, as if they were raised up visibly and publicly to heaven.
13. And the same hour. In immediate connexion with their triumph.
Was there a great earthquake. An earthquake is a symbol of commotion, agitation, change; of great political revolutions, etc. See Note on Rev. 6:12.
The meaning here is, that the triumph of the witnesses, represented by their ascending to heaven, would be followed by such revolutions as would be properly symbolized by an earthquake.
And the tenth part of the city fell. That is, the tenth part of that which is represented by the "city"the persecuting power. A city would be the seat and centre of the power, and the acts of persecution would seem to proceed from it; but the destruction, we may suppose, would extend to all that was represented by the persecuting power. The word "tenth" is probably used in a general sense to denote that a considerable portion of the persecuting power would be thus involved in ruin; that is, that in respect to that power there would be such a revolution, such a convulsion or commotion, such a loss, that it would be proper to represent it by an earthquake.
And in the earthquake. In the convulsions consequent on what would occur to the witnesses.
Were slain of men seven thousand. Marg., as in the Greek, "names of men"the name being used to denote the men themselves. The number here mentionedseven thousandseems to have been suggested because it would bear some proportion to the tenth part of the city which fell. It is not necessary to suppose, in seeking for the fulfilment of this, that just seven thousand would be killed; but the idea clearly is, that there would be such a diminution of numbers as would be well represented by a calamity that would overwhelm a tenth part of the city, such as the apostle had in his eye, and a proportional number of the inhabitants. The number that would be slain, therefore, in the convulsions and changes consequent on the treatment of the witnesses, might be numerically much larger than seven thousand, and might be as great as if a tenth part of all that were represented by the "city" should be swept away.
And the remnant were affrighted. Fear and alarm came on them in consequence of these calamities. The "remnant" here refers to those who still remained in the "city;" that is, to those who belonged to the community or people designed to be represented here by the city.
And gave glory to the God of heaven. Compare Luke 5:26: "And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day." All that seems to be meant by this is, that they stood in awe at what God was doing, and acknowledged his power in the changes that occurred. It does not mean, necessarily, that they would repent and become truly his friends, but that there would be a prevailing impression that these changes were produced by his power, and that his hand was in these things. This would be fulfilled if there should be a general willingness among mankind to acknowledge God, or to recognise his hand in the events referred to; if there should be a disposition extensively prevailing to regard the "witnesses" as on the side of God, and to favour their cause as one of truth and righteousness; and if these convulsions should so far change public sentiment as to produce an impression that theirs was the cause of God.
14. The second woe is past. That is, the second of the three that were announced as yet to come, Rev. 8:13; compare Rev. 9:12.
And, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. The last of the series. The meaning is, that that which was signified by the third "woe" would be the next, and final event, in order. On the meaning of the word "quickly," See Note on Rev. 1:1; compare Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; Rev. 22:7, 12, 20.
In reference now to the important question about the application of this portion of the book of Revelation, it need hardly be said that the greatest variety of opinion has prevailed among expositors. It would be equally unprofitable, humiliating, and discouraging, to attempt to enumerate all the opinions which have been held; and I must refer the reader who has any desire to become acquainted with them, to Poole's Synopsis, in loc., and to the copious statement of Professor Stuart, Com., vol. it. pp. 219227. Professor Stuart himself supposes that the meaning is, that "a competent number of divinely-commissioned and faithful Christian witnesses, endowed with miraculous powers, should bear testimony against the corrupt Jews, during the last days of their commonwealth, respecting their sins; that they should proclaim the truths of the gospel; and that the Jews, by destroying them, would bring upon themselves an aggravated and an awful doom," ii. 226. Instead of attempting to examine in detail the opinions which have been held, I shall rather state what seems to me to be the fair application of the language used, in accordance with the principles pursued thus far in the exposition. The inquiry is, whether there have been any events to which this language is applicable, or in reference to which, if it be admitted that it was the design of the Spirit of inspiration to describe them, it may be supposed that such language would be employed as we find here.
In this inquiry, it may be assumed that the preceding exposition is correct, and the application now to be made must accord with that; that is, it must be found that events occurred in such times and circumstances as would be consistent with the supposition that that exposition is correct. It is to be assumed, therefore, that Rev. 9:20-21 refers to the state of the ecclesiastical world after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, and previous to the Reformation; that chapter 10 refers to the Reformation itself; that Rev. 11:1-2 refers to the necessity, at the time of the Reformation, of ascertaining what was the true church, of reviving the Scripture doctrine respecting the atonement and justification, and of drawing correct lines as to membership in the church. All this has reference, according to this interpretation, to the state of the church while the Papacy would have the ascendency, or during the twelve hundred and sixty years in which it would trample down the church as if the holy city were in the hands of the Gentiles. Assuming this to be the correct exposition, then what is here said (Rev. 11:3-13) must relate to that period, for it is with reference to that same timethe period of "a thousand two hundred and threescore days," or twelve hundred and sixty yearsthat it is said (Rev. 11:3) the witnesses would "prophesy," "clothed in sackcloth." If this be so, then what is here stated (Rev. 11:3-13) must be supposed to occur during the ascendency of the Papacy, and must mean, in general, that during that long period of apostasy, darkness, corruption, and sin, there would be faithful witnesses for the truth, who, though they were few in number, would be sufficient to keep up the knowledge of the truth on the earth, and to bear testimony against the prevailing errors and abominations. The object of this portion of the book, therefore, is to describe the character of the faithful witnesses for the truth during this long period of darkness; to state their influence; to record their trials; and to show what would be the ultimate result in regard to them, when their "testimony" should become triumphant. This general view will be seen to accord with the exposition of the previous portion of the book, and will be sustained, I trust, by the more particular inquiry into the application of the passage to which I now proceed. The essential points in the passage (Rev. 11:3-13) respecting the "witnesses" are six:
(1) who are meant by the witnesses;
(2) the war made on them;
(3) their death;
(4) their resurrection;
(5) their reception into heaven; and
(6) the consequences of their triumph in the calamity that came upon the city.
15. And the seventh angel sounded. See Note on Rev. 8:2,"; See Notes on Rev. 8:6, Rev. 8:7.
This is the last of the trumpets, implying, of course, that under this the series of visions was to end, and that this was to introduce the state of things under which the affairs of the world were to be wound up. The place which this occupies in the order of time, is when the events pertaining to the colossal Roman powerthe fourth kingdom of Daniel (Daniel chapters 2-7)should have been completed, and when the reign of the saints (Dan. 7:9-14, 27-28) should have been introduced. This, both in Daniel and in John, is to occur when the mighty power of the Papacy shall have been overthrown, at the termination of the twelve hundred and sixty years of its duration. See Note on Dan. 7:25.
In both Daniel and John the termination of that persecuting power is the commencement of the reign of the saints; the downfall of the Papacy, the introduction of the kingdom of God, and its establishment on the earth.
And there were great voices in heaven. As of exultation and praise. The grand consummation had come, the period so long anticipated and desired when God should reign on the earth had arrived, and this lays the foundation for joy and thanksgiving in heaven.
The kingdoms of this world. The modern editions of the New Testament (see Tittmann and Hahn) read this in the singular number"The kingdom of this world has become," etc. According to this reading, the meaning would be, either that the sole reign over this world had become that of the Lord Jesus; or, more probably, that the dominion over the earth had been regarded as one in the sense that Satan had reigned over it, but had now become the kingdom of God; that is, that "the kingdoms of this world are many, considered in themselves; but in reference to the sway of Satan, there is only one kingdom ruled over by the god of this world.' "Professor Stuart. The sense is not materially different whichever reading is adopted; though the authority is in favour of the latter.Wetstein. According to the common reading, the sense is, that all the kingdoms of the earth, being many in themselves, had been now brought under the one sceptre of Christ; according to the other, the whole world was regarded as in fact one kingdomthat of Satanand the sceptre had now passed from his hands into those of the Saviour.
The kingdoms of our Lord. Or, the kingdom of our Lord, according to the reading adopted in the previous part of the verse. The word Lord here evidently has reference to God as suchrepresented as the original source of authority, and as giving the kingdom to his Son. See Note on Dan. 7:13-14; compare Psa. 2:8. The word Lordkurioßimplies the notion of possessor, owner, sovereign, supreme rulerand is thus properly given to God. See Matt. 1:22; 5:33; Mark 5:19; Luke 1:6, 28; Acts 7:33; Heb. 8:2, 10
James 4:15, al saep.
And of his Christ. Of his anointed; of him who is set apart as the Messiah, and consecrated to this high office. See Note on Matt. 1:1.
He is called "his Christ," because he is set apart by him, or appointed by him to perform the work appropriate to that office on earth. Such language as that which occurs here is often employed, in which God and Christ are spoken of as, in some respects, distinctas sustaining different offices, and performing different works. The essential meaning here is, that the kingdom of this world had now become the kingdom of God under Christ; that is, that that kingdom is administered by the Son of God.
And he shall reign for ever and ever. A kingdom is commenced which shall never terminate. It is not said that this would be on the earth; but the essential idea is, that the sceptre of the world had now, after so long a time, come into his hands never more to pass away. The fuller characteristics of this reign are stated in a subsequent part of this book, (chapters 20-22) What is here stated is in accordance with all the predictions in the Bible. A time is to come when, in the proper sense of the term, God is to reign on the earth; when his kingdom is to be universal; when his laws shall be everywhere recognised as binding; when all idolatry shall come to an end; and when the understandings and the hearts of men everywhere shall bow to his authority. Compare Psa. 2:8; Isa. 9:7; 11:9; 45:22
Psalms 60; Dan. 2:35, 44, 45; 7:13-14, 27-28; Zech. 14:9; Mal. 1:11; Luke 1:33.
On. this whole subject, see the very ample illustrations and proofs in Dan. 2:44-45, 27, 28 and on chapters 20-22.
16. And the four and twenty elders, which sat, etc. See Note on Rev. 4:4.
Fell upon their faces, and worshipped God. Prostrated themselves before himthe usual form of profound adoration. See Note on Rev. 5:8, seq.
17. Saying, We give thee thanks. We, as the representatives of the church, and as identified in our feelings with it, (See Note on Rev. 4:4) acknowledge thy goodness in thus delivering the church from all its troubles, and, having conducted it through the times of fiery persecution, thus establishing it upon the earth. The language here used is an expression of their deep interest in the church, and of the fact that they felt themselves identified with it. They, as representatives of the church, would of course rejoice in its prosperity and final triumph.
O Lord God Almighty. Referring to God as all-powerful, because it was by his omnipotent arm alone that this great work had been accomplished. Nothing else could have defended the church in its many trials; nothing else could have established it upon the earth.
Which art, and wast, and art to come. The eternal One, always the same. See Note on Rev. 1:8.
The reference here is to the fact that God, who had thus established his church on the earth, is unchanging. In all the revolutions which occur on the earth, he always remains the same. What he was in past times he is now; what he is now he always will be. The particular idea suggested here seems to be, that he had now shown this by having caused his church to triumph; that is, he had shown that he was the same God who had early promised that it should ultimately triumph; he had carried forward his glorious purposes without modifying or abandoning them amidst all the changes that had occurred in the world; and he had thus given the assurance that he would now remain the same, and that all his purposes in regard to his church would be accomplished. The fact that God remains always unchangeably the same is the sole reason why his church is safe, or why any individual member of it is kept and saved. Compare Mal. 3:6.
Because thou hast taken to thee thy great power. To wit, by setting up thy kingdom over all the earth. Before that, it seemed as if he had relaxed that power, or had given the power to others. Satan had reigned on the earth. Disorder, anarchy, sin, rebellion, had prevailed. It seemed as if God had let the reins of government fall from his hand. Now, he came forth as if to resume the dominion over the world, and to take the sceptre into his own hand, and to exert his great power in keeping the nations in subjection. The setting up of his kingdom all over the world, and causing his laws everywhere to be obeyed, will be among the highest demonstrations of Divine power. Nothing can accomplish this but the power of God; when that power is exerted nothing can prevent its accomplishment.
And hast reigned. Professor Stuart, "and shown thyself as king;" that is, "hast become king, or acted as a king." The idea is, that he had now vindicated his regal power, (Rob. Lex.;) that is, he had now set up his kingdom on the earth, and had truly begun to reign. One of the characteristics of the millenniumand indeed the main characteristicwill be, that God will be everywhere obeyed; for when that occurs, all will be consummated that properly enters into the idea of the millennial kingdom.
18. And the nations were angry. Were enraged against thee. This they had shown by their opposition to his laws; by persecuting his people; by slaying his witnesses; by all the attempts which they had made to destroy his authority on the earth. The reference here seems to be to the whole series of events preceding the final establishment of his kingdom on the earth; to all the efforts which had been made to throw off his government and to crush his church. At this period of glorious triumph it was natural to look back to those dark times when the "nations raged," (compare Psa. 2:1-3,) and when the very existence of the church was in jeopardy.
And thy wrath is come. That is, the time when thou wilt punish them for all that they have done in opposition to thee, and when the wicked shall be cut off. There will be, in the setting up of the kingdom of God, some manifestation of his wrath against the powers that opposed it; or something that will show his purpose to destroy his enemies, and to judge the wicked. The representations in this book lead us to suppose that the final establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth will be introduced or accompanied by commotions and wars which will end in the overthrow of the great powers that have opposed his reign, and by such awful calamities in those portions of the world as shall show that God has arisen in his strength to cut off his enemies, and to appear as the vindicator of his people. Compare Note on Rev. 16:12, seq. See Note on Rev. 19:11, seq.
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged. According to the view which the course of the exposition thus far pursued leads us to entertain of this book, there is reference here, in few words, to the same thing which is more fully stated in chapter 20, and the meaning of the sacred writer will, therefore, come up for a more distinct and full examination when we consider that chapter. See Note on Rev. 20:4, seq. See Note on Rev. 20:12, seq. The purpose of the writer does not require that a detailed statement of the order of the events referred to should be made here, for it would be better made, when, after another line of illustration and of symbol, (Rev. 11:19 and chapters 12-19) he should have reached the same catastrophe, and when, in view of both, the mind would be prepared for the fuller description with which the book closes, Revelation 20-22. All that occurs here, therefore, is a very general statement of the final consummation of all things.
And that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants. The righteous. Compare Matt. 25:34-40 and Rev. 21-22. That is, in the final winding up of human affairs, God will bestow the long-promised reward on those who have been his true friends. The wicked that annoyed and persecuted them, will annoy and persecute them no more; and the righteous will be publicly acknowledged as the friends of God. For the manner in which this will be done, see the details in Revelation 20-22.
The prophets. All who, in every age, have faithfully proclaimed the truth. On the meaning of the word, See Note on Rev. 10:11.
And to the saints. To all who are holyunder whatever dispensation, and in whatever land, and at whatever time, they may have lived. Then will be the time when, in a public manner, they will be recognised as belonging to the kingdom of God, and as being his true friends.
And them that fear thy name. Another way of designating his people, since religion consists in a profound veneration for God, Mal. 3:16; Job 1:1; Psa. 15:4; 22:23; 115:11; Prov. 1:7; 3:13; 9:10
Isa. 11:2; Acts 10:22, 35.
Small and great. Young and old; low and high; poor and rich. The language is designed to comprehend all, of every class, who have a claim to be numbered among the friends of God, and it furnishes a plain intimation that men of all classes will be found at last among his true people. One of the glories of the true religion is, that, in bestowing its layouts, it disregards all the artificial distinctions of society, and addresses man as man, welcoming all who are human beings to the blessings of life and salvation. This will be illustriously shown in the last period of the world's history, when the distinctions of wealth, and rank, and blood shall lose the importance which has been attributed to them, and when the honour of being a child of God shall have its true place. Compare Gal. 3:28.
And shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. That is, all who have, in their conquests, spread desolation over the earth; and who have persecuted the righteous, and all who have done injustice and wrong to any class of men. Compare Note on Rev. 20:13, seq.
Here ends, as I suppose, the first series of visions referred to in the volume sealed with the seven seals, Rev. 5:1. At this point, where the division of the chapter should have been made, and which is properly marked in our common Bibles by the sign of the paragraph, (¬,) there commences a new series of visions, intended also, but in a different line, to extend down to the consummation of all things. The former series traces the history down mainly through the series of civil changes in the world, or the outward affairs which affect the destiny of the church; the latterthe portion still before usembraces the same period with a more direct reference to the rise of Antichrist, and the influence of that power in affecting the destiny of the church. When that is completed, (Rev. 11:19 and Revelation 12-19) the way is prepared (Revelation 20-22) for the more full statement of the final triumph of the gospel, and the universal prevalence of religion, with which the book so appropriately closes. That portion of the book, therefore, refers to the same period as the one which has just been considered under the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and the description of the final state of things would have immediately succeeded if it had not been necessary, by another series of visions, to trace more particularly the history of Antichrist on the destiny of the church, and the way in which that great and fearful power would be finally overcome. The way is then prepared for the description of the state of things which will exist when all the enemies of the church shall be subdued; when Christianity shall triumph; and when the predicted reign of God shall be set up on the earth, Revelation 20-22.
19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven. The temple of God at Jerusalem was a pattern of the heavenly one, or of heaven, Heb. 8:1-5. In that temple God was supposed to reside by the visible symbol of his presencethe Shekinahin the holy of holies. See Note on Heb. 9:7.
Thus God dwells in heaven, as in a holy temple, of which that on earth was the emblem. When it is said that that was "opened in heaven," the meaning is, that John was permitted, as it were, to look into heaven, the abode of God, and to see him in his glory.
And there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament. See Note on Heb. 9:4.
That is, the very interior of heaven was laid open, and John was permitted to witness what was transacted in its obscurest recesses, and what were its most hidden mysteries. It will be remembered, as an illustration of the correctness of this view of the meaning of the verse, and of its proper place in the divisions of the bookassigning it as the opening verse of a new series of visionsthat in the first series of visions we have a statement remarkably similar to this, Rev. 4:1: "After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven;" that is, there was, as it were, an opening made into heaven, so that John was permitted to look in and see what was occurring there. The same idea is expressed substantially here, by saying that the very interior of the sacred temple where God resides was "opened in heaven," so that John was permitted to look in and see what was transacted in his very presence. This may confirm the idea that this portion of the Apocalypse refers rather to the internal affairs of the church, or the church itselffor of this the temple was the proper emblem. Then appropriately follows the series of visions describing, as in the former case, what was to occur in future times: this series referring to the internal affairs of the church, as the former did mainly to what would outwardly affect its form and condition. And there were lightnings, etc. Symbolic of the awful presence of God, and of his majesty and glory, as in the commencement of the first series-of visions. See Note on Rev. 4:5.
The similarity of the symbols of the Divine Majesty in the two cases may also serve to confirm the supposition that this is the beginning of a new series of visions.
And an earthquake. Also a symbol of the Divine Majesty, and perhaps of the great convulsions that were to occur under this series of visions. Compare Note on Rev. 6:12.
Thus, in the sublime description of God in Psa. 18:7, "Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth." So in Exod. 19:18, "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smokeand the whole mount quaked greatly." Compare Amos 8:8-9; Joel 2:10.
And great hail. Also an emblem of the presence and majesty of God, perhaps with the accompanying idea that he would overwhelm and punish his enemies. So in Psa. 18:13, "The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice: hailstones and coals of fire." So also Job 38:22-23:
"Hast thou entered into the treasures of snow?
Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?
Which I have reserved against the time of trouble.
Against the day of battle and war?"
So in Psa. 105:32:
"He gave them hail for rain.
And flaming fire in their land."
Compare Psa. 78:48; Isa. 30:30; Ezek. 38:22.
Jewish New Testament Commentary
Legs (as in most versions; KJV, "feet"). This is a good proof that the Jewish author, Yochanan, thought in Hebrew. In Greek, "podes" means "feet," and "skelê" means "legs." But Hebrew has only one word, "raglayim," which can mean either. The text here has "podes," but feet cannot be like columns (or "pillars"), only legs can. Either the author, thinking in Hebrew but writing in Greek, believed "podes" was the appropriate Greek rendering of "raglayim"; or the author thought and wrote in Hebrew, but someone else, equally unacquainted with Greek nuances, translated "raglayim" as "podes" instead of "skelê." (I know from living in Israel that this specific confusion does occur: even my own children, bilingual in Hebrew and English, used to call feet "legs.")
His right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, symbolizing the fact that this angel's mission involves the whole world.
Thunderclaps sounded with voices. Compare 1:15, 4:5; and see Ac 2:4b-13&N.
The seven thunders are aspects of divine wrath which God orders concealed and not revealed. Sha'ul mentioned a similar experience at 2C 12:3-4. Compare Daniel 12:9.
No more delay. Compare Ro 9:28, 2 Ke 3:9.
The hidden plan ("mystery"; see Ro 11:25N) of God is the Good News, the Gospel. It includes both judgment, as described in the book of Revelation, and the overall outworking of history, including the salvation of the Jewish people and of others who come to faith, as outlined at Ro 11:25-36, 16:25; Ep 1:9-10; 3:3-11; and Co 1:26-27; compare Mt 13:11. God proclaimed it to his servants the prophets (the phrase echoes Daniel 9:6), even though, since they lived centuries earlier, they did not fully understand it (Daniel 12:8ff.); compare Ga 3:8.
On eating the scroll, compare Jeremiah 15:16, Ezekiel 2:8-3:3; also Psalms 19:11(10), 119:103 on its words' being sweet as honey. On the bitterness, see Ezekiel 3:4-11; also compare Yeshua weeping over Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-38, Lk 19:41) there is no joy in preaching the wrath of God.
Although some take this passage as referring symbolically to the Church, many see it as a graphic way of saying that after the Anti-Messiah and his minions do all in their power to destroy the Gospel witness to the Jewish people (v. 7) and to destroy the Jewish people themselves (v. 2b), then "All Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26a&N). Verses 1-2&N show that the focus is on Jews, not Gentiles.
Measuring symbolizes reserving a city either for preservation (Ezekiel 40:3 48:35, Zechariah 2:5-9(1-5)) or for destruction (2 Kings 21:12-14, Isaiah 34:11, Lamentations 2:8). Verses 2, 8 and 13a suggest that Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish nation and therefore a figure for the Jewish people (as at Isaiah 40:1-2, Mt 23:37-39&N, Lk 2:38), deserves judgment and destruction. But v. 13b shows that its destiny is repenting and being preserved.
The Temple of God. In addition to the Tent of Meeting (the Tabernacle) and the heavenly original after which it was modeled (see 15:5&N, MJ 8:2-6a&N), Scripture mentions six literal temples:
(1) Solomon's, the First Temple (1 Kings 5-8).
(2) Z'rubavel's, the Second Temple (Haggai 1-2, Ezra 3:4-13).
(3) Herod's, called the rebuilt Second Temple or, by some, the Third Temple (Mt 21:12ff., 24:1-2; Yn 2:19-20).
(4) A future temple in the days of Anti-Messiah (Daniel 9:27, 11:45, 12:7; Mt 24:15; 2 Th 2:3-4; and here).
(5) A future temple in the days of the Messiah (Ezekiel 40-48, Zechariah 6:12-15).
(6) The temple in heaven (below at 7:15; 11:19; 14:15, 17; 16:17).
Besides, there are three figurative ones:
(1) The Messianic Community (1C 3:16-17, 2C 6:16, Ep 2:21).
(2) The physical body of a believer (1C 6:19).
(3) God and the Lamb (in the New Jerusalem; Revelation 21:22).
The people... worshipping in the Temple are Jews, and perhaps not all the Jews but the believing Jewish remnant (see Ro 9:6N, 9:27-29&N, 11:1-6&N, 11:26aN); since the court outside the Temple, known as the Court of the Gentiles (see Ep 2:14N) is to be left out and not measured. In fact, the role of the Goyim (see Mt 5:46N) here is to trample over the holy city, Jerusalem (as at Lk 21:24&N), while the remnant is spared. At v. 9 Gentiles prevent the burial of the two witnesses.
42 months (also at 13:5). This is apparently identical with the "1,260 days" of v. 3 and 12:6 (compare Daniel 12:11-12, where "1,290 days" and "1,335 days" are mentioned) and the "season and two seasons and half a season" of 12:14 below (and Daniel 7:25, 12:7).
Related, but pertaining rather to a period twice as long, seven years, are Daniel 8:14 ("2,300 evenings and mornings") and Daniel 9:25-27 (referring to 7 weeks of years, 62 weeks of years and 1 week of years). A Talmudic passage cited in Mt 24:1-39N speaks of a seven-year period during which various plagues occur. Also see 13:1-8N.
My (the Messiah's) two witnesses are identified with the two olive trees of Zechariah 4:3 and the two menorahs standing before the Lord of the earth. Zechariah 4:2 speaks of one menorah with seven branches, while Zechariah 4:14 identifies the two olive branches with "the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth."
These two witnesses testify about Yeshua, spread his Good News among the Jewish people in Jerusalem, prophesy and perform miracles; during this time they enjoy God's special protection (vv. 5-6). Then the beast from the Abyss kills them (v. 7). Their bodies lie in the main street of Jerusalem for three-and-a-half days (vv. 8-9), after which they rise from death and go up into heaven (vv. 11-12).
In the context of Zechariah 3-4 the two "anointed ones" are Joshua the cohen hagadol and Z'rubavel the governor. Various midrashic traditions identify them as Aaron and Moses (Exodus Rabbah 15:3), Aaron and David (Numbers Rabbah 14:13, 18:16), Aaron and the Messiah (Avot diRabbi Natan 30b), possibly Mashiach Ben-Yosef and Mashiach Ben-David (Pesikta Rabbati 8:4; the text is ambiguous). In the Talmud Rabbi Yitzchak calls the scholars of Eretz-Israel "anointed ones" (b'nei-yitzhar, literally, "sons of clear oil") because they debate amicably, and those of Babylon "olive trees" because their disputes are bitter (like uncured olives; Sanhedrin 24a).
So then, who are the two witnesses? Often they are said to be Moses and Elijah, since these appeared with Yeshua at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8). The problem with this understanding is that the witnesses must die (v. 7), and human beings die only once (MJ 9:27).
The case for Elijah is a good one. He has not yet died (2 Kings 2:1), he is expected to return before the Messiah comes (Malachi 3:23-24(4:5-6)), and he has already shut up the sky, so that no rain falls (1 Kings 17:1, 18:42-45; Lk 4:25; Ya 5:17-18&N).
While Moses did turn the waters into blood and strike the earth with every kind of plague (Exodus 7:17-12:30; 1 Samuel 4:8), Scripture says that he died, so that he cannot die again. Nevertheless Jewish tradition is not satisfied to let him rest in peace. To prove he is still alive one Talmudic rabbi used the principle of interpretation called g'zerah shavah. The term means "analogy" (literally, "equal decision") and operates by inferring that if a word has a particular meaning in one passage of Scripture it must have the same meaning in a second passage. (The rabbis saw that this technique could easily be misused to reach conclusions contrary to Scripture and therefore prohibited its further use; only the instances cited by the early interpreters are recognized.)
"It has been taught that Rabbi Eliezer the Elder said, Over an area [about two miles square], the size of the camp of Israel, a bat-kol [heavenly voice] proclaimed, "So Moses died there, the great sage of Israel." But others say that Moses never died. For although the Tanakh says, "So Moses died there" (Deuteronomy 34:5), it elsewhere says, "And he was there with Adonai " (Exodus 34:28). Just as in the latter passage the word "there" means "standing and ministering," so likewise in the former it means "standing and ministering." ' "(Sotah 13b)
In any case, perhaps only because Moses' death was unusual (Deuteronomy 34:5-6; Yd 9&N; below, v. 12N), there is a popular belief that he and Elijah will return:
"Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakkai... [taught that God] said, Moses, I swear to you that in the time to come, when I bring Elijah the prophet to [Israel], the two of you will come together.'"(Deuteronomy Rabbah 3:17)
Yochanan himself is sometimes suggested as one of the witnesses, on the basis of Yn 21:20-24. But the two witnesses had lived and were already in heaven in the fifth century B.C.E., when Zechariah prophesied (see Zechariah 4:11-14).
Besides Elijah, only one person has been taken into heaven without dying Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24; MJ 11:5). Both lived before 500 B.C.E., and both were prophets (they will prophesy; see Yd 14). Since they have never died, they can yet undergo the death of v. 7. If the "two witnesses" are two literal persons and we are not dealing with a figurative expression, I nominate Enoch and Elijah.
Meanwhile, believers in Jerusalem have grown used to being presented with other candidates. They appear every few months, often dressed in sackcloth like the Prophets of the Tanakh (Isaiah 20:2; compare 2 Kings 1:8, Zechariah 13:4, Mt 3:4), and claiming to be "in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Lk 1:17) or even to be Elijah himself. Whatever the spirit, till now the power (vv. 5-6) has not been in evidence.
Fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies. At Jeremiah 5:14, the prophet addresses Israel: "Therefore thus says Adonai, God of the armies of heaven: Because you speak this word, I will make my words fire in your mouth, and this people wood, and it will consume them.' " See also 2 Kings 1:10, 12; Lk 9:54.
The beast seems to be the same as the Anti-Messiah (1 Yn 2:18-19&N). See 13:1-18&NN, 14:8-11&NN. The Abyss. See 9:1N.
The city where their Lord was executed on a stake can only be Jerusalem. "Their" refers to the Jewish people, as does the city itself (vv. 1-2N). The author, speaking to his own people, uses hard language. Their spiritual condition is that of "S'dom" (compare Isaiah 1:10), where sexual sin and misuse of people were rife (Genesis 19), and "Egypt," where false religion, hatred of the one true God and antisemitism flourished (Exodus 1-15).
Some from the nations, tribes, languages and peoples, that is, from the Gentiles (see 5:9b-13N), are so hostile to God, his Word and his Prophets that they prevent the burial of the two witnesses whose bodies lie exposed in the main street of Jeru-salem to dogs and flies, and, more importantly, to shame (19:21 N, Psalm 69:2-4, 1 Kings 13:22; Josephus' Wars of the Jews 4:5:2).
The people living in the Land. I believe this refers here not to the pagans of the earth, as elsewhere in Revelation, but to Jews living in Israel. This conclusion is based on the facts that (1) the Hebrew antecedents of the Greek expression frequently mean this (see 3:10N), and (2) a Gentile reaction to the death of the witnesses has been given already in v. 9.
Yochanan foresees a time when Jewish opposition to the Gospel is intensified by the appearance of these two prophets. From the point of view of believers, they evangelize the non-Messianic Jews of the Land, testifying to Yeshua and proclaiming the Good News. But the non-Messianic Jews' evaluation is that the two prophets tormented them. For this reason they not only reject the witnesses' message but, instead of sitting shivah (Yn 11:19-20N), they celebrate and send each other gifts like the Jews of Shushan after slaying Haman's sons (Esther 9:22). The difference, of course, is that Haman and his sons were truly oppressors, whereas the Messiah's witnesses offer deliverance.
The resurrection and ascension of the witnesses, similar to Yeshua's own, causes great fear in their enemies, because this demonstrates in power (1C 2:14, 4:20, 6:14, 15:54-57) that our God reigns. The Word of Adonai is powerful (Isaiah 55:10-11; MJ 1:3) and indestructible (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Ke 1:23-25); it cannot be silenced by killing those who speak it.
They went up to heaven in a cloud, not only like Yeshua (Ac 1:9-11), but also, according to Josephus, like Moses. Notice how Josephus deals with the contrary witness of Deuteronomy 34:5-6:
"As [Moses] was going to embrace Elazar [the cohen hagadol] and Y'hoshua [bin-Nun], while he was still talking with them, all of a sudden a cloud stood over him, and he disappeared in a certain valley although he wrote in the holy books that he died. This he did out of fear that people might say that because of his extraordinary virtue he went to God." (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 4:8:48)
See also vv. 3-6N, 6:9&N, Yd 9N.
The earthquake is a frequent form of judgment in the Last Days (6:12, 8:5, 11:19, 16:18; Ezekiel 38:19-20). It kills seven thousand people (about 1.3% of Jerusalem's present population) and causes widespread damage (a tenth of the city collapsed). The result, for the survivors, is nothing less than salvation, the fulfillment of God's promise through Sha'ul that "all Israel will be saved" (Ro 11:26a&N). "Jews ask for signs" (1C 1:22). At Mt 16:1-4, the P'rushim asked Yeshua for a sign, but he promised none "except the sign of Jonah," whose being vomited from the stomach of the fish is a type of resurrection. The two witnesses' resurrection and ascension, along with the simultaneous earthquake (in that hour), are correctly understood by the Jewish people as signs from God the rest were awestruck. Even while grieved at the death of 7,000 people, they handled their pain in God's way (2C 7:10&N) it led them to repentance, so that they gave glory to the God of heaven. Throughout the book of Revelation, only those in a right relationship with God give him glory (1:6; 4:9, 11; 5:12-13; 7:12; 15:4; 19:1, 7). Conversely, those who are not in a right relationship with God glorify themselves (18:7) instead of God (14:7 , 16:9) compare the hardened pagans of Ro 1:21: "Although they know who God is, they do not glorify him as God or thank him." This mass repentance breaks the back of the Jewish national establishment's centuries-long opposition to the Gospel. May it come speedily, in our days.
When the seventh angel sounds his shofar, then The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah, and Adonai has begun to rule. The active reign of God on earth, the Messianic Kingdom, promised at 1:5-8 and 6:10, now begins to become real. Between these verses and Chapter 19 are the various judgments and other events associated with the overthrow of the system of this world and the inauguration of the Messiah's rulership. This is why essentially the same cry is heard again at 19:6: "Halleluyah! Adonai, God of heaven's armies, has begun his reign!"
This is a midrash on the whole ofPsalm 2, contrasting God's righteous judgment and rage with that of the Goyim, the pagan nations opposed to God and his ways.
The Temple of God. See vv. 1-2N.
In heaven... the Ark of the Covenant. The earthly ark, mentioned in the New Testament at MJ 9:4-5&NN, is first described at Exodus 25:10-22. Initially kept behind the Tabernacle's curtain and later inside the Holy of Holies in Solomon's temple, this chest was afterwards apparently either removed by Shishak, king of Egypt, when he "took away the treasures of the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 14:25), or destroyed along with the temple by the Babylonians (compare Jeremiah 3:16).
Extra-biblical narratives say that the ark was hidden "in its place" (Talmud, Yoma 53b) or elsewhere. Yoma 52b says it was King Josiah who hid it; but in the Apocrypha, 2 Maccabees 2:4-8 tells that Jeremiah rescued the ark and brought it to a cave on Mount Sinai to be preserved until God gathers his people together in Messianic times (see 2:17N). Mention of the ark in the present verse accords with this tradition, since Israel's salvation, a Messianic event, is reported above at v. 13.
If the earthly ark symbolized God's presence guiding his people, the appearance of the heavenly ark symbolizes God's being about to fulfill the rest of his covenanted promises.
Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament
1. A cloud. The expression occurs seven times in Revelation, and in all of them is connected with the Son of Man.
Rainbow. See on ch. 4:3.
Pillars of fire. Compare ch. 1:15.
2. In his hand (en). The roll of Ch. 5 was on the hand (epi÷, see ch. 5:1), being too large to be grasped within it. The roll was on the right hand; the little book is in the left. See on ver. 5.
3. Cried (e¶kraxen). See on Mark 5:5.
As when. The when of A.V. is unnecessary.
Roareth (muka×tai). Only here in the New Testament. Peter uses wÓru/omai for the voice of the lion. See on 1 Peter 5:8. The verb here is originally applied to the lowing of cattle, expressing the sound, moo-ka-omai. Both Aristophanes and Theocritus use it of the roar of the lion, and the former of thunder. Homer, of the ring of the shield and the hissing of meat on the spit.
Seven thunders. The Jews were accustomed to speak of thunder as "the seven voices." Compare the sevenfold "voice of the Lord," Psalm 29.
As usual, interpretation has run wild as to the seven thunders. As a few illustrations may be cited: Vitringa, the seven crusades; Daubuz, the seven kingdoms which received the Reformation; Elliott, the bull fulminated against Luther from the seven-hilled city, etc.
4. To write. According to the injunction in ch. 1:11.
5. His hand. Add th\n dexia»n the right, and see on ver. 2. On lifting the hand in swearing, see Genesis 14:22; Exodus 6:8 (margin); Deuteronomy 32:40.
6. Swear by (wýmosen en). Lit., "swear in," a Hebrew idiom.
Should be time no longer (cro/noß oujk e¶stai e¶pi). Rev., correctly, shall be, etc. The meaning is not, as popularly understood, that time shall cease to exist, but that there shall be no more delay (so Rev., in margin) before the fulfillment of the divine purposes respecting the Church on earth. Possibly with allusion to the cry how long (ch. 6:10).
7. Shall begin to sound (me÷llhØ salpi÷zein). Wrong. Rev., correctly, when he is about to sound.
The mystery (to\ musth/rion). See on Matthew 13:11.
Declared (eujhgge÷lisen). The word used of declaring the good news of salvation. Here of declaring the mystery of the kingdom.
8. Spake unto me. Render, as Rev., "I heard it again speaking."
9. I went (aÓphvlqon). The preposition aÓpo/ has the force of away. I went away from the place where I was standing.
Eat it up. Compare Ezekiel 3:13; Jeremiah 15:16.
1. A rod. See on ch. 2:27.
And the angel stood. Omit. The insertion of these words furnishes a subject for the agreement of the participle le÷gwn, which is irregular an construction. Literally the correct text reads, "there was given me a reed, saying.". Accordingly Wordsworth refers the speech to the reed as an inspired medium of speech. Rev., better, and one said.
The temple (to\n nao\n). See on Matthew 4:5.
The altar. Of incense, as that alone stood in the sacred place.
Them that worship. Note the peculiar expressed, measuring the worshippers with a reed.
2. The court which is without the temple. Not merely the outer court, or Court of the Gentiles, but including all that is not within the nao/ß, the Holy and Most Holy places.
Leave out (e¶kbale e¶xw). Lit., throw out, i.e., of the measurement.
Unto the Gentiles (toiß e¶qnesin). See on Luke 2:32. Rev., nations.
Forty and two months. A period which appears in three forms in Revelation: forty-two months (ch. 13:5); twelve hundred and sixty days (ver. 3, ch. 12:6); a time, times and half a time, or three years and a half (12, 14, compare Daniel 7:25; 12:7)
3. Power. Omit.
Two witnesses. The reader may profitably consult on this point the lectures of Professor Milligan on the Revelation of St. John. He maintains that the conception of the Apocalypse is powerfully molded by John's recollections of the life of Jesus; that there is a close parallelism between the Apocalypse and the delineation of the life of Christ contained in the fourth Gospel; and that the Apocalypse is, in the deeper conceptions which pervade it, a repetition of the Gospel. See pp. 5969.
They shall prophesy (profhteu/sousin). See on prophet, Luke 7:26. Commonly explained of preaching repentance, though some take it in the later sense of foretelling future events.
Clothed in sackcloth. The garb of preachers of repentance. Compare Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8; Jonah 3:5; Matthew 3:4. For sackcloth see on Luke 10:13.
4. Two olive trees. See Zechariah 4.
Candlesticks. See Zechariah 4, and note on Matthew 10:15.
The God. Read kuri÷ou the Lord. Compare Zechariah 4:14.
5. Fire proceedeth. Compare 2 Kings 1:10; Jeremiah 5:14.
6. To shut up the heaven. As Elijah, 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17.
That it rain not (iºna mh\ bre÷chØ uJeto\ß). Lit., that the rain may not wet.
To turn them into blood. Compare Exodus 7:19.
To smite (pata¿xai). Used by John only in Revelation, here and 19:15. Compare Matthew 26:31; Mark 14:27; Luke 22:49, 50; Acts 12:7, 23.
With all plagues (pa¿shØ plhghvØ). Singular number. Rev., correctly, with every plague. See on Mark 3:10. Not merely with the plagues with which Moses smote Egypt.
7. The beast (qhri÷on). Wild beast See on ch. 4:6. A different word from that wrongly translated beast, ch. 4:6, 7; 5:6, etc. Compare ch. 13:1; 17:8, and see Daniel 7.
Bottomless pit (aÓbu/ssou). See on ch. 9:1.
8. Dead bodies (ptw¿mata). Read ptw×ma carcass. See on Matthew 24:28; Mark 15:45.
In the street (epi« thvß platei÷aß). Lit., "Upon the street." See on Luke 14:21.
The great city. Jerusalem is never called by this name. Different expositors refer it to Rome or Babylon. Milligan to Jerusalem.
Spiritually (pneumatikw×ß). Typically or allegorically. (compare 1 Corinthians 10:3, 4.
Our Lord. Read aujtw×n their for hJmw×n our.
9. Shall see (ble÷yousin). Read, ble÷pousin do men look (Rev.), and see on John 1:29.
Shall not suffer (oujk aÓfh/sousin). Read aÓfi÷ousin do not suffer.
To be put in graves (teqhvnai eiß mnh/mata). Read mnhvma a tomb, as Rev. Compare Genesis 23:4; Isaiah 14:19, 20.
10. Shall rejoice (carouvsin). Read cai÷rousin, present tense, rejoice.
Shall make merry (eujfranqh/sontai). Read eujfrai÷nontai, present tense, make merry; and for the word see note on fared sumptuously, Luke 16:19.
Shall send gifts. As on a day of festival. See Nehemiah 8:10, 12.
Tormented (ebasa¿nisan). See on vexed, 2 Peter 2:8, and on Matthew 4:23, 24.
11. Spirit of life (pneuvma zw×hß). Rev., breath. See on John 3:8.
Entered into them. Compare Ezekiel 37:110.
Saw (qewrouvntaß). See on John 1:18.
13. Earthquake. See on ch. 6:12.
Of men (ojno/mata aÓnqrw¿pwn). Lit., names of men See on ch. 3:4.
Gave glory to the God of heaven. The phrase signifies not conversion, nor repentance, nor thanksgiving, but recognition, which is its usual sense in scripture. Compare Joshua 7:19 (Sept.). John 9:24; Acts 12:23; Romans 4:20.
15. The kingdoms are become (ege÷nonto ai basileiai). Read ege÷neto hj basilei÷a, the kingdom is become.
Of our Lord, etc. Compare Psalm 2:29.
17. O Lord God, etc. See on ch. 4:8.
And art to come. Omit.
Hast taken to Thee. Omit to thee.
18. Were angry (ojrgi÷sqhsan). See on wrath, John 3:36 Compare Psalm 2:1.
The time (oj kairo\ß). See on Matthew 12:1.
Reward (misqo\n). See on 2 Peter 2:13.
Destroy (diafqeirai). Also to corrupt.
Which destroy (tou\ß diafqei÷rontaß). Or, the destroyers.
19. The temple (oj nao\ß). The sanctuary. Compare ver. 1 and see on Matthew 4:5.
In heaven. Join with temple of God, as Rev., instead of with opened, as A.V.
The ark of His covenant (hj kibwto\ß thvß diaqh/khß aujtouv). Kibwto\ß ark, meaning generally any wooden box or chest used of the ark in the tabernacle only here and Hebrews 9:4 Elsewhere of Noah's ark. See Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20. For covenant, see note on testament, Matthew 26:28. This is the last mention in scripture of the ark of the covenant. It was lost when the temple was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:10), and was wanting in the second temple. Tacitus says that Pompey "by right of conquest entered the temple. Thenceforward it became generally known that the habitation was empty and the sanctuary unoccupied do representation of the deity being found within it" ("History," v., 9). According to Jewish tradition Jeremiah had taken the ark and all that the Most Holy Place contained, and concealed them, before the destruction of the temple, in a cave at Mount Sinai, whence they are to be restored to the temple in the days of Messiah.
Lightnings and voices, etc. "The solemn salvos. so to speak, of the artillery of heaven, with which each series of visions is concluded."
Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 52a: Revelation 1-5, Volume 52b: Revelation 6-16 & Volume 52c: Revelation 17-22, David E. Aune
Barnes' Notes on the New Testament: Revelation of St. John the Divine, Albert Barnes
The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24 and The Book of Ezekiel: Chapter 25-48: The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Damiel I. Block
An Introduction to the New Testament, D. A. Carson & Douglas J. Moo
Dr. Constable's Notes on Revelation, Dr. Thomas L. Constable, Dallas Theological Seminary (his class notes)
Revelation: Four Views. A Parallel Commentary, Steve Gregg
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, 1871 Edition, Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown
Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation, Dennis E. Johnson
Revelation Unveiled, Tim LaHaye
Macarthur New Testament Commentary Series: Revelation 1-11, Revelation 12-22, John MacArthur
The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of Revelation, Robert H. Mounce
The Preacher's Commentary: 1,2 & 3 John/Revelation, Earl F. Palmer
Exploring Revelation: Am Expository Commentary, John Phillips
The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation, Vern S. Poythress
"Behold, He Cometh": A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on the Book of Revelation, John R. Rice
Jewish New Testament Commentary, David H. Stern
Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Marvin R. Vincent
The Bible Speaks Today: The Message of Revelation, Michael Wilcock
IVP Pocket Dictionaries:
Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzke and Cherith Fee
Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, Arthur G. Patzia and Anthony J. Petrotta -
Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of
Religion, Stephen Evans -
Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament
Greek, Matthew S. DeMoss Intervarsity Press' New Testament Commentary Intervarsity Press' New Bible Commentary Intervarsity Press' Hard Sayings of the Bible
IVP Pocket Dictionaries:
- Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzke and Cherith Fee Nordling
- Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies, Arthur G. Patzia and Anthony J. Petrotta
- Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics and Philosophy of Religion, Stephen Evans
- Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek, Matthew S. DeMoss
Intervarsity Press' New Testament Commentary
Intervarsity Press' New Bible Commentary
Intervarsity Press' Hard Sayings of the Bible
Back to the main page...