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1. New (kainon). See on Matt. xxvi. 29. Compare Isa. lxv. 17. There was no more sea (h qalassa ouk estin epi). Lit., as Rev., the sea is no more. Here as in xx. 13. Some explain the sea as the ungodly world. I cannot help thinking this interpretation forced. According to this explanation, the passage is in the highest degree tautological. The first earth was passed away, and the ungodly world was no more.
2. I John. Omit John.
New Jerusalem. Others join new with coming down, and render corning down new out of heaven.
3. With men. Men at large. No longer with an isolated people like Israel. He shall dwell (skhnwsei). Lit., tabernacle. Only in Revelation and John i. 14. The word "denotes much more than the mere general notion of dwelling. There lies in it one of the particulars of that identification of Christ and His people which is fundamental to the seer." See on John i. 14. Compare Ezekiel. xxxvii. 27, 28.
People (laoi). Notice the plural, peoples (so Rev.), because many nations shall partake of the fulfillment of the promise. Compare ver. 24. And God Himself shall be with them and be their God. And be is inserted. The Greek is shall be with them their God.
All tears (pan dakruon). Lit., every tear. Compare Isa. xxv. 8. There shall be no more death (o qanatov ouk estai eti). Render, as Rev., death shall be no more.
Sorrow ( penqov). Better, as Rev., mourning, since the word signifies manifested grief. See on Matt. v. 4; Jas. iv. 9. Compare Isa. lxv. 19. "That soul I say," observes Socrates, "herself invisible, departs to the invisible world - to the divine and immortal and rational: thither arriving, she is secure of bliss, and is released from the error and folly of men, their fears and wild passions, and all other human ills, and forever dwells, as they say of the initiated, in company with the gods" (Plato, "Phaedo," 81). So Sophocles:
"Sorrow touches not the dead." "Oedipus Coloneus," 966
"How thrice happy those of mortals, who, having had these ends in view, depart to Hades; for to them alone is it given there to live; but to others, all things there are evil" ("Fragment"). And Euripides:
"The dead, tearless, forgets his pains." "Troades," 606
5. True and faithful (alhqinoi kai pistoi). The proper order of the Greek is the reverse, as Rev., faithful and true.
Fountain (phghv). See on John iv. 6.
Whoremongers (pornoiv). Much better, as Rev., fornicators.
Sorcerers. See on sorceries, ch. ix. 21.
Shall have their part (to merov autwn). Lit., the whole passage reads: to the fearful, etc., their part. shall be is supplied.
9. Unto me. Omit.
Vials. Properly bowls. See on ch. v. 8.
10. In the Spirit. See on ch. i. 10.
That great city, the holy Jerusalem. Omit great. Render the article as usual, and not as a demonstrative pronoun, and construe holy With city. So Rev., the holy city Jerusalem.
Jasper. See on ch. iv. 3.
Clear as crystal (krustallizonti). Lit., shining like crystal.
12. And had (ecousan te). Rev., more simply and literally, having.
West (dusmwn). Lit., the goings down or settings.
In them the names (en autoiv onomata). The correct reading is ejp' aujtwn dwdeka ojnomata, on them twelve names.
15. A golden reed. Add metron as a measure. See ch. xi. 1. Compare Ezek. xl. 5.
Twelve-thousand furlongs (epi stadiwn dwdeka ciliadwn).
Strictly, to the length of (epi) twelve, etc. For the collective term ciliadev thousands, see on ch. v. 11. For furlongs see on ch. xv. 20. The twelve-thousand furlongs would be 1378.97 English miles. Interpretations vary hopelessly. The description seems to be that of a vast cube, which may have been suggested by the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, which was of that shape. 83 But opinions differ as to whether the twelve thousand furlongs are the measure of the four sides of the city taken together, in which ease each side will measure three thousand furlongs; or whether the twelve-thousand furlongs are intended to represent the length of each side. The former explanation is prompted by the desire to reduce the vast dimensions of the city. Another difficulty is raised about the height. Dusterdieck, for example, maintains that the houses were three-thousand stadia in height. The question arises whether the vertical surface of the cube includes the hill or rock on which the city was placed, a view to which Alford inclines. These are enough to show how utterly futile are attempts to reduce these symbolic visions to mathematical statement. Professor Milligan aptly remarks: "Nor is it of the smallest moment to reduce the enormous dimensions spoken of. No reduction brings them within the bounds of verisimilitude; and no effort in that direction is required. The idea is alone to be thought of."
17. Cubits (phcwn). The word originally means that part of the arm between the hand and the elbow-joint, the forearm. Hence a cubit or ell, a measure of the distance from the joint of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger, i.e., about a foot and a half. The precise length, however, is disputed. Cubit is from the Latin cubitus the elbow, on which one reclines (cubat). Some take the one hundred and forty-four cubits as representing the height of the wall; others the thickness. If the height, then they must be interpreted as equal to the twelve thousand furlongs, since the length and the breadth and the height of the city are equal (ver. 16). It is to be noted, however, that there is a distinction between the measure of the city and the measure of the wall. "The most inconsiderable wall" remarks Dusterdieck, "is sufficient to exclude all that is impure."
The measure of a man, that is, of the angel. "It is to be the dwelling-place of men; and even, therefore, when an angel measures it, he measures it according to the measure of a man" (Milligan).
18. The building (endomhsiv). Only here in the New Testament. From ejn in and dwmaw to build. Lit., that which is built in. Hence the building of the wall is the material built into the wall; of which the wall was composed.
19. All manner of precious stones. Compare Isaiah 54;11, 12; 1 Chronicles xxix. 2.
Sapphire (sapfeirov). Compare Isa. liv. 11; Ezek. i. 26. Probably lapis lazuli. Our sapphire is supposed to be represented by the jacinth in ver. 20. Pliny describes the sapfeirov as opaque and sprinkled with specks of gold, and states that it came from Media (i.e. Persia and Bokhara) whence the supply is brought to this day. King ("Precious Stones and Gems," cited by Lee), says: "Before the true precious stones were introduced from India, the lapis lazuli held the highest place in the estimation of the primitive nations of Asia and Greece; in fact it was almost the only stone known to them having beauty of color to recommend it."
Chalcedony (calkhdwn). From Chalcedon, where the stone was found in the neighboring copper mines. It was probably an inferior species of emerald, as crystal of carbonate of copper, which is still popularly called "the copper emerald." Pliny describes it as small and brittle, changing its color when moved about, like the green feathers in the necks of peacocks and pigeons.
Emerald. See on ch. iv. 3.
20. Sardonyx (sardonux). The most beautiful and rarest variety of onyx. Pliny defines it as originally signifying a white mark in a sard, like the human nail (onux) placed upon flesh, and both of them transparent. Onyx is called from the resemblance of its white and yellow veins to the shades in the human finger-nail. The early Greeks make no distinction between the onyx and the sardonyx.
Sardius. See on ch. iv. 3.
Chrysolite (crusoliqov). From crusov gold and liqov stone. Lit., gold-stone. Identified by some with our topaz, by others with amber.
Pliny describes it as "translucent with golden luster."
Beryl (bhrullov). Pliny says that it resembled the greenness of the pure sea. It has been supposed to be of the same or similar nature with the emerald.
Topaz (topazion). Compare Job xxviii. 19. The name was derived from an island in the Red Sea where the gem was first discovered. The stone is our peridot. The Roman lapidaries distinguished the two varieties, the chrysopteron, our chrysolite, and the prasoides, our peridot. The former is much harder, and the yellow color predominates over the green. The modern topaz was entirely unknown to the ancients.
Chrysoprasus. Rev., chrysoprase. From crusov gold and prason a leek; the color being a translucent, golden green, like that of a leek. According to Pliny it was a variety of the beryl.
Jacinth (uakinqov). See on ch. ix. 17.
Amethyst (amequstov). From aj not and mequw to be drunken in wine, the stone being supposed to avert intoxication. Pliny distinguishes it from the jacinth, in that, in the latter, the violet hue of the amethyst is diluted. The stone is the amethystine quartz, or rock-crystal, colored purple by manganese of iron.
21. Pearls (margaritai). The pearl seems to have been known from the earliest times to the Asiatic Greeks, in consequence of their intercourse with the Persians. Among the motives which impelled Caesar to attempt the conquest of Britain, was the fame of its pearl-fisheries. Pearls held the highest rank among precious stones. The Latin term unio (unity) was applied to the pearl because no two were found exactly alike; but the word became in time restricted to the fine, spherical pearls, while the generic name was margarita. Shakespeare uses union for pearl in Hamlet, Act v., Sc. 2.
And again: "Drink of this potion: is thy union here?" Every several gate (ana eis ekastov twn pulwnwn). Rev., each one of the several gates, thus bringing out the force of the genitive pulwnwn of gates. The idea several is conveyed by ajna, as Luke ix. 3, ajna duo citwnav "two coats apiece:" John ii. 6, ajna metrhtax duo h treiv "two or three firkins apiece."
Street (plateia). See on Luke adv. 21. From platuv broad. Hence the broadway.
22. No temple. The entire city is now one holy temple of God. See on ch. i. 6.
24. Of them which are saved. Omit.
Do bring (ferousin). The present tense, denoting habit.
Glory and honor. Omit and honor. Compare Isa. lx. 3.
27. That defileth (koinoun). The participle. But the correct reading is the adjective koinon common, hence unhallowed. Rev., unclean.
Worketh (poioun). Lit,, maketh or doeth.
"In this present life, I reckon that we make the nearest approach to knowledge when we have the least possible communion or fellowship with the body, and are not infected with the bodily nature, but remain pure until the hour when God himself is pleased to release us. And then the foolishness of the body will be cleared away, and we shall be pure and hold converse with other pure souls, and know of ourselves the clear light everywhere, which is no other than the light of truth. For no impure thing is allowed to approach the pure" (Plato, "Phaedo," 67).