BLESSING ON THE
IT, AS THE
INSCRIPTION TO THE
COMETH" (Compare at the close,
"Surely I come quickly"):
VISION OF THE
GLORY, AMIDST THE
1. Revelation--an apocalypse or unveiling of those things
which had been veiled. A manifesto of the kingdom of Christ. The
travelling manual of the Church for the Gentile Christian times. Not a
detailed history of the future, but a representation of the
great epochs and chief powers in developing the kingdom of God in
relation to the world. The "Church-historical" view goes counter
to the great principle that Scripture interprets itself. Revelation is
to teach us to understand the times, not the times to interpret to us
the Apocalypse, although it is in the nature of the case that a reflex
influence is exerted here and is understood by the prudent
[AUBERLEN]. The book is in a series of parallel
groups, not in chronological succession. Still there is an organic
historical development of the kingdom of God. In this book all the
other books of the Bible end and meet: in it is the consummation of all
previous prophecy. Daniel foretells as to Christ and the Roman
destruction of Jerusalem, and the last Antichrist. But John's
Revelation fills up the intermediate period, and describes the
millennium and final state beyond Antichrist. Daniel, as a godly
statesman, views the history of God's people in relation to the four
world kingdoms. John, as an apostle, views history from the
Christian Church aspect. The term Apocalypse is applied
to no Old Testament book. Daniel is the nearest approach to it; but
what Daniel was told to seal and shut up till the time of the
end, John, now that the time is at hand
is directed to reveal.
of Jesus Christ--coming from Him. Jesus Christ, not John
the writer, is the Author of the Apocalypse. Christ taught many things
before His departure; but those which were unsuitable for announcement
at that time He brought together into the Apocalypse [BENGEL]. Compare His promise,
"All things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto
"The Spirit of truth will show you things to come." The Gospels
and Acts are the books, respectively, of His first advent, in the
flesh, and in the Spirit; the Epistles are the inspired comment on
them. The Apocalypse is the book of His second advent and the events
preliminary to it.
which God gave unto him--The Father reveals Himself and His will
in, and by, His Son.
to show--The word recurs in
so entirely have the parts of Revelation reference to one another. It
is its peculiar excellence that it comprises in a perfect compendium
future things, and these widely differing: things close at hand, far
off, and between the two; great and little; destroying and saving;
repeated from old prophecies and new; long and short, and these
interwoven with one another, opposed and mutually agreeing; mutually
involving and evolving one another; so that in no book more than in
this would the addition, or taking away, of a single word or clause
(Re 22:18, 19),
have the effect of marring the sense of the context and the comparison
of passages together [BENGEL].
his servants--not merely to "His servant John," but to
all His servants (compare
shortly--Greek, "speedily"; literally, "in," or "with
speed." Compare "the time is at hand,"
Re 1:3; 22:6,
"Behold, I come quickly." Not that the things prophesied were
according to man's computation near; but this word "shortly" implies a
corrective of our estimate of worldly events and periods. Though a
at least are included, the time is declared to be at hand.
"speedily." The Israelite Church hastened eagerly to the predicted end,
which premature eagerness prophecy restrains (compare
The Gentile Church needs to be reminded of the transitoriness of the
world (which it is apt to make its home) and the nearness of Christ's
advent. On the one hand Revelation says, "the time is at hand"; on the
other, the succession of seals, &c., show that many intermediate events
must first elapse.
he sent--Jesus Christ sent.
by his angel--joined with "sent." The angel does not come
forward to "signify" things to John until
Re 17:1; 19:9, 10.
Previous to that John receives information from others. Jesus Christ
opens the Revelation,
Re 1:10, 11; 4:1;
one of the four living creatures acts as his informant; in
one of the elders; in
Re 10:8, 9,
the Lord and His angel who stood on the sea and earth. Only at the end
does the one angel stand by Him (compare
Da 8:16; 9:21;
2. bare record of--"testified the word of God" in this book.
Where we would say "testifies," the ancients in epistolary
communications use the past tense. The word of God constitutes his
"the words of this prophecy."
the testimony of Jesus--"the Spirit of prophecy"
and of all things that, &c.--The oldest manuscripts omit "and."
Translate, "whatsoever things he saw," in apposition with "the word of
God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."
3. he that readeth, and they that hear--namely, the public
reader in Church assemblies, and his hearers. In the first
instance, he by whom John sent the book from Patmos to the seven
churches, read it publicly: a usage most scriptural and profitable. A
special blessing attends him who reads or hears
the apocalyptic "prophecy" with a view to keeping the things
therein (as there is but one article to "they that hear and keep those
things," not two classes, but only one is meant: "they who not only
hear, but also keep those things,"
even though he find not the key to its interpretation, he finds a
stimulus to faith, hope, and patient waiting for Christ. Note: the term
"prophecy" has relation to the human medium or prophet inspired,
here John: "Revelation" to the Divine Being who reveals His will, here
Jesus Christ. God gave the revelation to Jesus: He by His angel
revealed it to John, who was to make it known to the Church.
4. John--the apostle. For none but he (supposing the writer an
honest man) would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole
survivor and representative of the apostles and eye-witnesses of the
Lord, he needed no designation save his name, to be recognized by his
seven churches--not that there were not more churches in that
region, but the number seven is fixed on as representing
totality. These seven represent the universal Church of
all times and places. See TRENCH'S [Commentary
on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia] interesting note,
on the number seven. It is the covenant number, the sign
of God's covenant relation to mankind, and especially to the Church.
Thus, the seventh day, sabbath
Circumcision, the sign of the covenant, after seven days
(Nu 23:1; 14:29;
Compare also God's acts typical of His covenant
(Jos 6:4, 15, 16;
The feasts ordered by sevens of time
(De 15:1; 16:9, 13, 15).
It is a combination of three, the divine number (thus the
Trinity: the thrice Holy,
and four the number of the organized world in its extension
(thus the four elements, the four seasons, the
four winds, the four corners or quarters of the earth,
the four living creatures, emblems of redeemed creaturely life,
Eze 1:5, 6,
with four faces and four wings each; the four
beasts and four metals, representing the four world empires,
Da 2:32, 33; 7:3;
the four-sided Gospel designed for all quarters of the world;
the sheet tied at four corners,
the four horns, the sum of the world's forces against the Church,
In the Apocalypse, where God's covenant with His Church comes to its
consummation, appropriately the number seven recurs still more
frequently than elsewhere in Scripture.
Asia--Proconsular, governed by a Roman proconsul: consisting of
Phrygia, Mysia, Caria, and Lydia: the kingdom which Attalus III had
bequeathed to Rome.
Grace . . . peace--Paul's apostolical greeting. In his
Pastoral Epistles he inserts "mercy" in addition: so
him which is . . . was . . . is to come--a
periphrasis for the incommunicable name JEHOVAH,
the self-existing One, unchangeable. In Greek the
indeclinability of the designation here implies His unchangeableness.
Perhaps the reason why "He which is to come" is used, instead of "He
that shall be," is because the grand theme of Revelation is the Lord's
Still it is THE FATHER as
distinguished from "Jesus Christ"
who is here meant. But so one are the Father and Son that the
designation, "which is to come," more immediately applicable to Christ,
is used here of the Father.
the seven Spirits which are before his throne--The oldest
manuscripts omit "are."
before--literally, "in the presence of." The Holy Spirit in His
sevenfold (that is, perfect, complete, and universal) energy.
Corresponding to "the seven churches." One in His own essence,
manifold in His gracious influences. The seven eyes resting on
the stone laid by Jehovah
Four is the number of the creature world (compare the fourfold
cherubim); seven the number of God's revelation in the
5. the faithful witness--of the truth concerning Himself and His
mission as Prophet, Priest, and King Saviour. "He was the faithful
witness, because all things that He heard of the Father He
faithfully made known to His disciples. Also, because He taught the way
of God in truth, and cared not for man, nor regarded the persons of
men. Also, because the truth which He taught in words He confirmed by
miracles. Also, because the testimony to Himself on the part of the
Father He denied not even in death. Lastly, because He will give true
testimony of the works of good and bad at the day of judgment"
[RICHARD OF ST.
VICTOR in TRENCH]. The
nominative in Greek standing in apposition to the genitive,
"Jesus Christ," gives majestic prominence to "the faithful witness."
the first-begotten of the dead--
Lazarus rose, to die again. Christ rose to die no more. The image is
not as if the grave was the womb of His resurrection-birth [ALFORD]; but as
treat Christ's resurrection as the epoch and event which
fulfilled the Scripture,
"This day (at the resurrection) have I begotten Thee." It was
then that His divine Sonship as the God-man was manifested and openly
attested by the Father. So our resurrection and our manifested sonship,
or generation, are connected. Hence "regeneration" is used of the
resurrection-state at the restitution of all things
the prince--or Ruler. The kingship of the world which the
tempter offered to Jesus on condition of doing homage to him, and so
shunning the cross, He has obtained by the cross. "The kings of the
earth" conspired against the Lord's Anointed
these He shall break in pieces
Those who are wise in time and kiss the Son shall bring their
glory unto Him at His manifestation as King of kings, after He has
destroyed His foes.
Unto him that loved us--The oldest manuscripts read the present,
". . . loveth us." It is His ever-continuing
character, He loveth us, and ever shall love us. His love rests
evermore on His people.
washed us--The two oldest manuscripts read, "freed
(loosed as from a bond) us": so ANDREAS and
PRIMASIUS. One very old manuscript,
Vulgate, and Coptic read as English Version,
perhaps drawn from
"Loosed us in (virtue of) His blood," being the
harder reading to understand, is less likely to have come from the
transcribers. The reference is thus to GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH