VISION OF THE
As an episode was introduced between the sixth and seventh seals, so
there is one here
after the sixth and introductory to the seventh trumpet
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
were the exclusive subject of the fifth and sixth woe-trumpets.
is plainly referred to in
the martyrs crying to be avenged were told they must "rest yet for a
little season" or time: in
here they are assured, "There shall be no longer (any interval of)
time"; their prayer shall have no longer to wait, but
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
(Re 10:2, 9, 10)
is given to John by the angel, with a charge
that he must prophesy again concerning (so the Greek)
peoples, nations, tongues, and kings: which prophecy (as appears
affects those peoples, nations, tongues, and kings only in
relation to ISRAEL AND THE
CHURCH, who form the main object of the
1. another mighty angel--as distinguished from the mighty
angel who asked as to the former and more comprehensive book
"Who is worthy to open the book?"
clothed with a cloud--the emblem of God coming in judgment.
a--A, B, C, and Aleph read "the"; referring to
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
face as . . . the sun--
(Re 1:16; 18:1).
feet as pillars of fire--
The angel, as representative of Christ, reflects His glory and bears
the insignia attributed in
Re 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
he lifts up his right hand to heaven.
a little book--a roll little in comparison with the
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
(Re 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
and the beast with two horns like a lamb
out of the earth, yet it is but for a time, and that time
shall no longer be
(Re 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
3. as . . . lion--Christ, whom the angel represents,
is often so symbolized
"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
(Re 8:1, 5);
so also at the seventh vial
(Re 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
and the seventh vial.
uttered their--Greek, "spake their own voices";
that is, voices peculiarly their own, and not now revealed to
4. when--Aleph reads, "Whatsoever things." But most
manuscripts support English Version.
uttered their voices--A, B, C, and Aleph omit "their
voices." Then translate, "had spoken."
unto me--omitted by A, B, C, Aleph, and Syriac.
Seal up--the opposite command to
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,
Aleph, 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
with Da 12:4, 9;
Re 10:5, 6,
end, with Da 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
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
created heaven . . . earth . . . sea,
&c.--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
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
The appointed season or time of delay is at an end (the
same Greek is here as in
chronus). Not as English Version implies, Time shall end
and eternity begin.
7. But--connected with
"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, Aleph, and Coptic read the past tense
(Greek, "etelesthee"). B reads, as English
Version, the future tense (Greek, "telesthee").
"should be finished" (compare
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
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
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 Aleph and B read. But A and C, "the
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
Margin, as to Christ's inner complete appropriation of God's
thy belly bitter--parallel to
"There was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe."
(Ps 19:10; 119:103).
Honey, sweet to the mouth, sometimes turns into bile in the stomach.
The thought that God would be glorified
(Re 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
Joh 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, Aleph, 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
before, &c.--rather as Greek (epilaois),
"concerning many peoples," &c., 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.