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g Isa. 41. 4.
& 44. 6. & 48. 12.
ch. 21. 6.
& 22. 13.
h Rom. 8. 17.
Phil. 1. 7.
& 4. 14.
2 Tim. 1. 8.
& 2. 12.
i ch. 4. 2.
τῆς γῆς· ναὶ, ἀμήν. 'Εγώ εἰμι τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω, λέγει Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος, ὁ παντοκράτωρ.
9 h 'Eyà
Ἐγὼ Ιωάννης, ὁ ἀδελφὸς ὑμῶν καὶ συγκοινωνὸς ἐν τῇ θλίψει καὶ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ νήσῳ τῇ καλουμένῃ Πάτμῳ διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 10 Εγενόμην
Tribes of the Earth will wail at Him: a sentence uttered by Our Lord Himself in the Gospel, Matt. xxiv. 30.
The Tribes of the Earth in this book are they who are of the earth, earthy, and are not like the Tribes of the Israel of God, the heirs of the heavenly Jerusalem, who have their hearts in heaven, their treasure in heaven, and their conversation in heaven (Matt. vi. 20. Phil. iii. 20). See below, iii. 10.
It is a saying of S. Augustine, which is of constant use in expounding the Apocalypse, "Ecclesia Dei cælum est, inimici Ejus terra sunt (Serm. 57).
The tribes of the spiritual Israel, the Church Universal, are represented as sealed with the Seal of God, at the final gathering of all his people, in the seventh Seal. See below, vii. 4–9.
But they who set their affections on things upon earth will wail at Christ's Coming to Judgment; while they who have set their affections on things above (Col. iii. 2) will rejoice at His appearance, and will "lift up their heads, because the day of their redemption draweth nigh." Luke xxi. 28.
On the use of the verb KÓTтоμаι, plango, see above, Matt. xi. 17; xxiv. 30. Luke viii. 52; xxiii. 27; below, xviii. 9.
8. ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω] Ι am the Alpha and the Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet are used by Christ, in order to declare that He is the Beginning and End of all things. A similar mode of speech, derived from their own alphabet, was employed by the Hebrews, who said that Adam transgressed, and that Abraham observed, the whole law "from Aleph to Thau" see Schoettgen, pp. 1086, 7. A like usage is found in later Greek writers. See Wetstein, p. 749.
A, B, C have τὸ ̓́Αλφα καὶ τὸ Ω but it seems hardly probable that the initial letter only would have been written in one case by St. John, and not in the other also.
This use of letters of the alphabet of the Greek or Gentile world, and not of the Hebrew, in the introduction of this Book, as a designation of Jesus Christ, and adopted by Himself as such, is characteristic of the universality of the Dispensation which it reveals, and of the incorporation of all nations of the Earth in the mystical Body of Christ. The numerical value of A is an Unit, and of is eight hundred; and eight is the symbol of glory. See on Luke xxiv. 1.
These words, applied by Christ to Himself (xxi. 6; xxii. 13; cp. i. 17, 18), and compared with the declarations of JEHOVAH Isa. xli. 4; xliv. 6; xlviii. 12, are also a plain assertion of Christ's Divinity and Co-eternity with the Father. See Athanasius, c. Arianos, Orat. iii. vol. i. p. 317; and cp. Andreas, Ecumen., Arethas here. Bp. Andrewes, ii. 162. Bp. Pearson, Art. ii. p. 233. Dr. Waterland, ii. p. 136. Observe the definite articles prefixed here to Alpha and Omega, indicating that He is the only Beginning and End of all things, and showing His Co-equality with the Father.
This declaration of Christ concerning Himself, "I am the A and the ," was reverently accepted by early Christian Art, and is often seen in ancient Christian Inscriptions, particularly in the Catacombs of Rome, where the symbols A, are frequently ac
(Xplorós). See Aringhi, Roma Subterranea,
companied by cap. xiii. and xv. Bp. Kip on the Catacombs, Lond. 1859, p. 110; and Scott on the Catacombs, p. 100; in one case the symbol is accompanied with the words ES DEIS, probably DEUS, "Thou art GOD," asserting the GODHEAD of CHRIST.
9. ἐγὼ Ἰωάννης-Πάτμῳ] I, John, your brother. Observe the humility of the beloved Disciple; see above, v. 1. I, John, your brother, became (èyevóμny, not ) a dweller in the island called Patmos, on account of the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Observe the gentleness with which he speaks of his exile and imprisonment for the Gospel; ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ vhow, I became, for the sake of God's Word, an inmate of Patmos. He regards his banishment like a voyage and sojourn in a pleasant place; for he was there visited by Christ. There is also something beautiful and touching in the repetition of this word ¿yevóμny here. I became a dweller in Patmos, for the Word's sake, and I became a dweller in the Spirit, on the Lord's Day. To be in Patmos for the Truth's sake is a proper preparation for being in the Spirit, and for seeing Revelations of heaven.
The aorist eyevóμny does not intimate, as some have supposed, that the Apocalypse was not written in Patmos; see v. 11.
It is like the epistolary aorist eypaya, by which the writer puts himself in the place of the reader; see 1 Pet. v. 12.
St. John saw and wrote the Revelation in the isle of Patmos, one of the Sporades, in the Egæan Sea, to which he was banished by the Emperor Domitian about A.D. 95. See Tertullian, Præscr. Hær. 36. Iren., c. Hær. v. 30. Origen in Matt., tom. xvi. Euseb. iii. 18; and cp. Andreas here, and S. Jerome, Scr. Eccl. x.; and above, Introduction, p. 152; and Introduction to St. John's Gospel, p. 267, note, where the passages are cited.
Smaller Islands, especially in the Archipelago, such as Gyaros. Seriphos, Patmos, were used by the Romans for purposes of penal deportation and imprisonment; see Tacit., Annal. i. 53. Juvenal, i. 73; x. 170.
The island of Patmos still preserves some local traditions of St. John's sojourn there. A cave is shown where he is said to have seen the Revelation. Tournefort, ii. p. 198. Pococke, iii. p. 36. Walpole, Turkey, ii. p. 43.
At the opening of this Book, Christ displays a specimen of the providential Scheme which is to be revealed in the Apocalypse. John was banished by the powers of this world; but Christ uses his exile and detention in Patmos as an occasion for revealing to him the glories of His Second Coming, and for commissioning him to write what he could not now preach by word of mouth, and to send the writing to the Seven Churches, so that it might be read by them and by all Churches in every age, even to the Coming of Christ.
St. John, an exile on earth, was admitted to visions of HeaConfined within the limits of Patmos, he was received into the courts of the Jerusalem that is above.
He who had been admitted to our Lord's most private retirements; to the most solemn scenes of His sufferings and sorrow; who had been with Him on the Mountain of Transfiguration, in the Garden of Gethsemane, in the High Priest's hall, and at the Cross; was now a prisoner in a lonely island.
All his brother Apostles had been taken away by Death. He was left the last. As the winds blew, and as the waves dashed on the rocky shores of Patmos, so the storms of the world were beating against the rock of the Church. But the aged and lonely Apostle was cheered with glorious visions. He was visited by JESUS CHRIST. The Man of Sorrows, Whom St. John had seen in His agony at Gethsemane, He Whom he had seen standing bound before Caiaphas, crowned with thorns, mocked by Herod, condemned by Pilate, pierced by the soldier, and dying on the Cross, was now seen by him enthroned in heaven, and adored by Angels kneeling before Him. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death."
Here is comfort to all in times of sorrow. They who love Christ with St. John, they who suffer with Christ, and for Him, will be visited by Him, and after the troubles of this world will pass to the peace of heaven. See above, Introduction, p. 157.
10. èyevóμny, k.T.λ.] I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day; the Day of the Lord's Resurrection from the Dead; a very appropriate season for the revelation of Christ in glory, and of the bliss of the Church Triumphant.
The expression" the Lord's Day"-shows that the First Day of the Week, on which our Lord rose, was now observed by Christians as a day set apart for religious uses. In the words of S. Augustine (Epist. 119), "The Lord's Day being proclaimed to Christians by the Lord's Resurrection, thence became their festal Day." See note above on Acts xx. 7; and Bp. Andrewes, Sermon on 1 Cor. xi. 16, vol. ii. p. 426, who there says, "The Lord's Day hath testimony in Scripture." Bp. White on the Sabbath, Lond. 1636. Bp. Cosin, De die Dominico, Works, v. p. 529; and Archbp. Bramhall on the Lord's Day, Works, vol. v. pp. 9-85; and Bp. Pearson on the Creed, note, Art. v. pp. 497, 498; and Grotius here; and No. xliv. of the Editor's Occasional Sermons, On the Christian Sunday." Tertullian refers to this passage in his De Animâ, c. 9.
There is also another special aptitude and adjustment in the Visions of the Apocalypse to the first day of the week. For all these Visions-the Seals, the Trumpets, the Vials, are grouped in
ἐν Πνεύματι ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου φωνὴν μεγάλην ὡς
& 22. 13.
σάλπιγγος 11 * λεγούσης, Ὃ βλέπεις γράψον εἰς βιβλίον, καὶ πέμψον ταῖς ἑπτὰ καὶ. 2. 8. ἐκκλησίαις, εἰς ̓́Εφεσον, καὶ εἰς Σμύρναν, καὶ εἰς Πέργαμον, καὶ εἰς Θυάτειραν, καὶ εἰς Σάρδεις, καὶ εἰς Φιλαδέλφειαν, καὶ εἰς Λαοδίκειαν. eis 12 Καὶ ἐπέστρεψα βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν ἥτις ἐλάλει μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ· καὶ ἐπιστρέψας εἶδον ἑπτὰ λυχνίας
sevens: they begin on the first day of the Seven, the birthday of the Church, whose history and pilgrimage they reveal, till she comes, after the Hexäemeron of her trial, to the Sabbath of her Rest; and to the Octave of a glorious Resurrection.
11. καὶ πέμψον ταῖς ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαις] and send it to the Seven Churches: that is, primarily to the Seven Churches in Asia here specified.
Hence the testimony of those Churches to the genuineness of the Apocalypse is of great weight. It was sent to them, and they bear witness that it was sent by the Apostle and Evangelist St. John. See above, the Introduction to this Book, pp. 154–6. Tertullian (adv. Marcion. iv. 5) refers to this passage, and calls these Churches "alumnas Joannis."
Secondly, the message delivered to them was designed by the Great Head of the Church for the perpetual edification of all Churches in every age and country of the World. This is evident from the fact, that each of the Seven Epistles here sent contains the solemn words, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches" (Rev. ii. 7. 11. 17. 29; iii. 6. 13. 22).
Besides, in Holy Scripture the number seven indicates completeness (see Bahr, Symbolik i. pp. 187-201), and it is specially used in the Apocalypse in this sense. The Seventh Seal, the Seventh Trumpet, the Seventh Vial, is the last in their own series respectively.
There were many more Churches in Asia than Seven when St. John wrote (e. g. Colossæ, Hierapolis, and probably Tralles, Magnesia, and others); and therefore, as is said by all the ancient Expositors (Victorinus, Andreas, Primasius, Bede, Arethas, and others), the design of the Holy Spirit, in adopting the perfect number seven as the number of Churches to whom the Epistles are to be sent, is to declare that in speaking to them He is speaking to all.
The words of Victorinus (Bishop and Martyr in the third century), whose comment on the Apocalypse is the oldest now extant, deserve to be cited here. "There are seven horns of the Lamb (Rev. v. 6), seven eyes of God (Zech. iv. 10), seven spirits before the throne (Rev. i. 4; iv. 5), seven Candlesticks (i. 13), seven Women in Isaiah (iv. 1), seven Churches addressed in St. Paul's writings, seven Deacons (Acts vi. 3), seven Seals (Rev. v. 1), seven Trumpets (Rev. viii.), seven Weeks ending at Pentecost (Lev. xxiii. 15), seventy weeks in Daniel (ix. 25), seven clean animals in the Ark (Gen. vii. 2), seven chastisements on Cain (Gen. iv. 15), seven years followed by a release of debt (Deut. XV. 1), seven Pillars in the House of Wisdom (Prov. xi. 1)." (Victorin. de Fabricá Mundi.)
"Numero septenario Universæ Ecclesiæ significata est plenitudo: propter quod et Joannes Apostolus ad septem scribit Ecclesias, eo modo se ostendens ad unius plenitudinem scribere" (S. Augustine, de Civ. Dei xvii. 4).
St. John, in writing to Seven Churches of Asia, writes to all Churches of the world; and it has been observed by ancient Expositors (Canon. Muratorian. ap. Routh, R. S. iv. p. 2. Victorinus. Cyprian, de Exhort. Martyr. c. ii., and others), that the number of Gentile Churches to which St. Paul wrote Epistles is seven; and that what St. Paul wrote to them he wrote to all.
The Candlestick or Lamp in the Temple had seven branches, i. e., three on each side and the shaft in the centre (Exod. xxv. 31, 32), and it was a figure of the Church fed by the Oil of Holy Scripture, and illuminating the World (see Zech. iv. 2, and below, i. 20, and especially xi. 4); whence S. Irenæus says, v. 20, that "the Church is the Seven-branched Lamp, holding the Light of Christ."
There are Seven Golden Candlesticks in the Apocalypse, and yet there was but one Seven-branched Golden Candlestick in the Temple, and in the visions of Zechariah. So there are particular Churches throughout the World; but all these together make One Church Universal; being fed with the same Oil of pure doctrine, and all constructed of the same pure material of fine gold.
Any one Candlestick may be removed (see on Rev. ii. 5), but the sevenfold unity is not disturbed by its removal. Any particular Church may fail, but the promise of Christ to the Church Universal is, that "the Gates of Hell shall never prevail against it" (Matt. xvi. 18).
els Epeσov, K.T.λ.] to Ephesus, and to Smyrna. The Churches here mentioned are situated in a circular group (see v. 4), and are specified in the geographical order in which they would occur to the mind of a person writing from Patmos. See above, on 1 Pet. i. 1.
Some learned Modern Expositors (Vitringa, p. 31. Venema, p. 55. Henry More, p. 720, and others) regard the Seven Epistles as having a prophetical character, and as representing Seven successive states of the Christian Church in seven consecutive periods of time, dating from the Apostolic Age to the end.
But this is a notion which is not sanctioned by ancient Expositors, and seems to be unfounded.
It cannot be doubted that in writing to the Seven Churches St. John (as has been already observed) is writing to all; and that every Church of Christendom may see itself reflected in one or other of these Epistles. Indeed (as Victorinus says), in these seven Churches we see an image of the faithful of the whole Catholic Church. But the Epistles have an historical character (see ii. 6. 13. 15), and the arrangement of their order, as before said, appears to be geographical. Ephesus is fitly placed first, as being nearest to Patmos, and as being the Chief City and Church of Asia, where St. John himself lived and died.
Zuúpvav] Smyrna: eight miles north of Ephesus. In Christian History it is celebrated as the Episcopal See of S. Polycarp, the scholar of St. John. See ii. 8-11. Iren. ap. Euseb., iv. 14, 15. Tertullian, Præscr. § 32.
Aaodíkelar] Laodicea, in Phrygia; called from Laodice, wife of Antiochus II., a celebrated commercial city, Tacit. Ann. xiv. 27; on the river Lycus, not far from Colossæ, see Col. ii. 1; iv. 14; it had a Chief Pastor, Archippus, in Apostolic times, Col. iv. 16. Const. Apostol. viii. 47; and a Bishop and Martyr, Sagaris, circ. A.D. 170. Euseb. iv. 26; v. 24.
12. εἶδον ἑπτὰ λυχνίας χρυσᾶς] I saw Seven Candlesticks (or rather Lamps) of Gold. The word Candlestick has taken root in the English language as an emblem of a Church, and it seems almost impossible to eradicate it; but it must be borne in mind by the English reader that the word Candlesticks does not rightly represent these Auxía, which were similar to the Seven-branched Avxviai, or Lamps, which were to be kept continually burning in the Levitical Tabernacle, or Temple (Exod. xxv. 31; xxvii. 20. Lev. xxiv. 1-4. 1 Kings vii. 49. Heb. ix. 1, 2); and (as before observed, see v. 11) were fed with oil (cp. Exod. xxvii. 20) supplied through their branches, or tubes, into their bowls, and thus were very apt emblems of Churches (see v. 20), which have no independent light in themselves (as Andreas here observes), but are only vehicles (дxhμara) of light derived from above; being supplied by the Holy Spirit with a perennial stream of pure oil (see Caten. pp. 194. 199) flowing from the Word of God, and enabling them to enlighten the world-even the Angels of heaven - with the pure light of the Gospel (see Eph. iii. 10), and ever tended by Christ, and under him by the Christian Priesthood; as the Seven-branched Lamp was tended by the Levites in the Temple. In like manner the Priests of the Church of Christ are bound to keep watch and ward by day and night, and to take good heed that the wicks of the Spiritual Lamp in the Christian Sanctuary are duly trimmed, and that the pipes are not clogged and obstructed by the clotted corruptions of unsound doctrine, and that the oil is not adulterated, and that the lights burn clearly; and they are responsible to Christ for the discharge of this duty, and He will remove their Lamp if they neglect to perform it. See next note.
1 Ezek. 1. 26. Dan. 7. 13.
ch. 2. & & 15. 6.
m Dan. 7. 9.
ch. 19. 12. n ch. 14. 2.
χρυσᾶς, 13' καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἑπτὰ λυχνιῶν ὅμοιον Υἱῷ ἀνθρώπου, ἐνδεδυμένον 11.14 ποδήρη, καὶ περιεζωσμένον πρὸς τοῖς μαστοῖς ζώνην χρυσῆν· 14 m ἡ δὲ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ αἱ τρίχες λευκαὶ ὡς ἔριον λευκὸν, ὡς χιών· καὶ οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς φλὸξ πυρὸς, 15 " καὶ οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ, ὡς ἐν καμίνῳ πεπυρωμένοι, καὶ ἡ φωνὴ αὐτοῦ ὡς φωνὴ ὑδάτων πολλῶν, 16 ° καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ ch. 2. 1, 12. & 3.1. Seģiậ avtoû xeipì ảσtépas éttà, kaì èk toû σтóμatos avτoû poμpaía diotoμos ὀξεῖα ἐκπορευομένη, καὶ ἡ ὄψις αὐτοῦ ὡς ὁ ἥλιος φαίνει ἐν τῇ δυνάμει αὐτοῦ.
o Isa. 49. 2.
Eph. 6. 17.
Heb. 4 12. ver. 20.
& 19. 15. 21.
p Isa. 41. 4.
& 44. 6.
& 48. 12.
Dan. 8. 18. & 10. 10.
ch. 2. 8.
q Job 12. 14.
Ps. 68. 21.
Isa. 22. 22.
Rom. 6. 9.
ch. 3. 7. & 20. 1.
17 » Καὶ ὅτε εἶδον αὐτὸν ἔπεσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ὡς νεκρός· καὶ ἔθηκε τὴν δεξιὰν αὐτοῦ ἐπ ̓ ἐμὲ λέγων, Μὴ φοβοῦ, ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος, 18 4 καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς, καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου. 19 Γράψον οὖν ἃ εἶδες, καὶ ἅ εἰσι, à å
13. καὶ ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἑπτὰ λυχνιῶν] and in the midst of the seven golden Lamps one like the Son of Man, clothed with a long garment down to His feet. "One like the Son of Man," so Daniel describes Christ, Dan. vii. 13; x. 5. Christ is arrayed in a long garment, as the High Priest of the Church Universal. Compare Ezek. ix. 2. 11, and the description of the High Priest's robes in Josephus, Ant. iii. 8. 4; viii. 3. 8; xx. 1. 1, who uses the word Todnpns, flowing to the feet, as applicable to the Sacred Vesture of the High Priest.
Christ is represented as walking in the midst of the Seven Golden Lamps (ii. 1), because, as the Priests in the Tabernacle and Temple lighted, and watched, and fed the Lamps (Exod. xxvii. 20, 21; xxxiv. 9. Lev. xxiv. 2. 4), so Christ observes the Churches of Christendom, which He illumines with the light of His Word, and feeds with the oil of His Spirit, and trims with His discipline, and guards with His care, and examines with His eye, whether they burn clearly with the luminous flame of true doctrine, and whether the liquid oil of the Spirit is corrupted with human admixtures, and the light of the lamp is dimmed with heresy, superstition, or unbelief.
Kal Teρiewσμévov] and girded around at the breasts with a golden girdie. This also is a sacerdotal attribute, showing that the Son of Man is here presented as the High Priest of the Church. Compare the language of Josephus, Ant. iii. 7. 2, concerning the girdle of the High Priest of the Levitical Dispensation; and see Wetstein here.
14. ἡ δὲ κεφαλή, κ.τ.λ.] and His head and His hair while as white wool. Here the same attributes are ascribed to Christ as are assigned to God by Daniel, vii. 9; x. 6; and they show that He is God. Cp. v. 8.
It is observed by S. Irenæus (iv. 20. 11), that the imagery by which Christ is here described represents His two Natures and His Sacerdotal Office. The Hair, white like wool, shows His Divinity; His attire displays His Priesthood; His feet of chalcolibanum burning in a furnace represent His permanence, like the Bush in the Wilderness on fire, but not consumed (Exod. iii. 2); and the fire, adds Irenæus, may remind us of that conflagration with which He will execute Judgment at the end of the World.
15. οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ] and His feet like unto chalcolibanus. The etymology of the last word is doubtful; but inasmuch as the language of the Apocalypse coincides in many respects with that of Hebrew Prophecy, it is probably equivalent to the shining brass, or molten brass or copper, glowing in a state of incandescence and fusion, in Dan. x. 6, and Ezek. i. 7. 13. And this is confirmed by Plin. N. H. xxxiv. 2. The word occurs again, ii. 18.
It is rendered aurichalcum, or orichalcum (see Cicero de Off. iii. 23. 12. Horat. Ars Poet. 202), by the Vulgate, and is said by Suidas to be the same as electrum, which is a composite metal (Plin. N. H. ix. 65), made of gold and silver. See Winer, R. W. B. ii. pp. 88, 89, and it is rendered by some "brass from Libanus" (Syr., Ethiop., Vatabl., Ebrard).
But it seems rather to be derived from xaλds, copper, and AiBavos, frankincense, and to be a word similar to xpuσó-πраσоs, and Xpvoó-X100s, and to express a metal which resembles copper in a state of ignition, like frankincense. Cp. Wetst. here, and Salmas. ad Solin. p. 810. Some of the ancient Expositors (e. g. Andreas) see here a reference to the fragrance of frankincense, as a symbol of the savour unto life which attends the preaching of the Gospel. See 2 Cor. ii. 16.
16. καὶ ἐκ τ. στόματος] and going out of His mouth a sharp two-edged sword, the Word of God. Tertullian thus expounds it (c. Marcion. iii. 14), "the Apostle St. John, in the Apocalypse, describes a sword coming forth from the mouth of God, with two cdges and sharp at the point, which is the Word of
God, sharpened with the two edges of the two Testaments—the Law and the Gospel."
The judicial, punitive Power of God's Holy WORD, as an instrument of His retributive Justice and indignation on the guilty, for their disobedience, is displayed in the Apocalypse in awful characters, see ii. 12. 16, and particularly xix. 15. 21. This attribute of God's Word is carefully to be observed, as serving to explain some Visions in this Book which would otherwise be obscure, and particularly xi. 3-6.
This imagery is also derived from the ancient Scriptures, Isa. xi. 4; xlix. 2. Hos. vi. 5; and is adopted by St. Paul, Heb. iv. 12. This sword of Christ is always called poupaía in the Apocalypse (i. 16; ii. 12. 16; xix. 15. 21), never μáxaipa, and perhaps this word may be chosen in order to express more clearly the terror of the Lord (2 Cor. v. 11), and of His Word to those who disobey Him.
17. Kal OnKe] and He laid His right hand upon me, as the Angel did on Daniel, viii. 18; x. 10.
18. Kal exw Tàs Kλeîs] and I hold the Keys of Death and of Hades. Christ holds the Keys of Death, both of natural and spiritual Death; of natural Death, as He proved by raising the Dead, and by giving to His Apostles the power of raising the Dead, and by raising Himself from the Dead. See John v. 21.
He holds also the Keys of Spiritual Death. He quickens the soul, dead in trespasses and sins, by His Word and Sacraments (see on John v. 25); and as the appointed Judge of Quick and Dead, He will condemn the wicked at the Last Day, to that spiritual death, which is called in the Apocalypse the Second Death. See xx. 6. 14; xxi. 8. "For Hell itself is secunda mors, and is so termed by St. John." Bp. Andrewes, ii. 194.
He it is therefore "that openeth, and no man shutteth; and that shutteth, and no man openeth," iii. 7.
He has also the Keys of Hades-that is, of i, Scheol, the region of disembodied spirits (see on Luke xvi. 23, and Andreas here), distinguished from Hell, yéerva, or the Lake of Fire, which is the final abode of the reprobate (see xx. 10. 14, 15), and into which none are cast until the Day of Judgment.
Therefore the word "Aions is not to be rendered Hell; we may adopt the word Hades, with Hammond and Bp. Wilson, pp. 700, 701, and others. See the notes in the American revised Version, pp. 86, 87, ed. 1854.
Our Lord used this Key on the Cross when He admitted the soul of the Penitent into Paradise (Luke xxiii. 43), and He will use it at the Great Day, when He will unlock the gates of Hades, and will call forth the Spirits of all men, and re-unite every soul to its own body, which He will raise from the grave (John v. 28); and summon all men in soul and body to His Judgment Seat, for their final doom of everlasting bliss or woe.
Elz. places τοῦ θανάτου before τοῦ "Αιδου, but A, B, C place Toù lavárov first; and so all the best Editions. This is the order of the words in all the other passages in which they occur in this book, see vi. 8; xx. 13, 14, and with good reason, because Death is the inlet of the soul into Hades.
19. Kal ä eio] and what they are. The word clot here may signify what they mean; as is explained by what follows, "the seven stars are, i. e. they represent, the Angels of the Seven Churches; and the seven Lamps are, i. e. they represent, the Seven Churches." This interpretation is mentioned by Arethas, and is adopted by Alcasar, Aretius, Launoi, Eichhorn, Herder, De Wette, Ewald, and others.
St. John was not only admitted to see, and enabled to describe, the mysteries of the Spiritual World and of Futurity, but he was also empowered to explain them. Compare xvii. 9. 12. 15. 18, where the substantive verb eiut is used in this sense.
At the same time, in favour of the other interpretation (which
καὶ ἃ μέλλει γίνεσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα· 20· τὸ μυστήριον τῶν ἑπτὰ ἀστέρων, ὧν - Μ1. 2. 7. â εἶδες ἐπὶ τῆς δεξιᾶς μου, καὶ τὰς ἑπτὰ λυχνίας τὰς χρυσᾶς. Οἱ ἑπτὰ ἀστέρες ch. 2. 1. tàs tàs ἄγγελοι τῶν ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησιῶν εἰσι· καὶ λυχνίαι αἱ ἑπτὰ ἑπτὰ ἐκκλησίαι εἰσί.
Π. 1" Τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον Τάδε λέγει ὁ κρατῶν a ch. 1. 13, 20.
is adopted by A Lapide, Grotius, Vitringa, Bengel, Hengstenberg, Ebrard, Lücke, and our Authorized Version), “the things which are," it may be observed, that things present are described in the Seven Epistles (chaps. ii. and iii.), and there seems to be a designed contrast between the things which are," and "the things which are about to come to pass," by which it is intimated that the present and future condition of the Churches are alike open to the eye of Christ.
20. ayyeλoi] Angels of the Seven Churches. Angels, that is, their Chief Pastors, Bishops. The word Angel, or Messenger, had been applied to the Ministers of God, by ancient Prophecy. Cp. Mal. ii. 7, where see S. Jerome; cp. Augustine, Ep. xliii., Epiphanius, Bede, and Aquinas here; Saravia, de Minist. Eccles. p. 29; and Ussher on the Original of Bishops, p. 53; and Bingham, Antiquities, book ii. cap. ii. sect. 10, who says, "Hence, in after ages, Bishops were called Angels of the Churches." See below on ii. 1.
CH. II. 1. T❖ ȧyyéλw] To the Angel of the Church that is in Ephesus, write. Christ commands St. John to write to the Seven Angels, as the Representatives of their several Churches. Christ Himself recognizes that form of Church government in which one Person presides, as Chief Pastor, over a City and Diocese, such as that of Ephesus, which, as we know from Holy Scripture, particularly from St. Paul's address to the Ephesian Presbyters at Miletus (Acts xx. 17), and from his two Epistles to Timothy, the Bishop of Ephesus, contained within it many Presbyters. See above, the Introductory note on 1 Tim. iii. p. 433.
Tertullian (adv. Marcion. iv. 5) designates these Angels as Bishops. "Habemus Joannis alumnas Ecclesias; nam etsi Apocalypsin ejus Marcion respuit, ordo tamen Episcoporum ad originem recensitus in Joannem stabit auctorem." And (Aug.? See above, p. 159) says here, "Angeli non debent hic intelligi nisi Episcopi, aut Præpositi Ecclesiarum."
In these Epistles of the Apocalypse, Christ often blames the Angels of the Churches (see vv. 5. 14. 20; iii. 2. 17), but He never blames them for being Angels; that is, for occupying the chief place in their respective churches; which He certainly would have done, if such a pre-eminence in His Church had not been in accordance with His Will. See Matt. xx. 26. Luke xxii. 24-26.
On the contrary, Christ recognizes the Angels as the Heads and organs of their several Churches; and sends His Epistles to the several Churches, through them. He recognizes the Seven Angels as the official Representatives of the Seven Churches.
Besides,-what is very worthy of remark,-in the original Greek the various epithets (dead, hot, cold, poor, rich, blind, naked, and the like) which Christ uses in these two chapters to characterize the qualities and condition of these several Churches, do not agree in gender with the feminine word 'Ekкλŋσía, Church; but they agree with the masculine word "Ayyeλos, Angel. They are all masculine; not one of them is feminine. The address to the Churches is personal to their several Angels. As Primasius expresses it, "unam facit Angeli Ecclesiæque personam.' He identifies him with it. The Bishop is regarded as "Persona Ecclesiæ " by the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls (1 Pet. ii. 5). The Great Head of the Church lays on the Angels the failings of their Churches; and thereby He not only makes a practical recognition of Episcopal Authority, but also teaches a solemn lesson of Episcopal Responsibility.
This Scripture also supplies a sacred precedent, and divine direction, as to the size of Dioceses, and number of Bishops. The territory, in which these Seven Churches were situated, was not much larger in extent than that of some single modern Dioceses; and each great City had its Bishop (see i. 4). The practical application of this sacred precedent to our own Church and Country at this time deserves serious consideration.
Tŷs év 'Epéow èккλŋσías] of the Church in Ephesus. He does not say "to the Angel of Ephesus," but to the Angel of the Church in Ephesus. Observe this title and style, which is employed by Christ in all His addresses to the Seven Angels of the Seven Churches. The Texts in v. 8, and in iii. 14, which seemed to offer exceptions to this rule, have been now restored from the best MSS.
This mode of address ought to regulate the language to b used by Christians toward Chief Pastors, and Cities, like those of Ephesus, Smyrna, &c. in the age of St. John, where the Civil Authorities are not yet Christian.
Accordingly, in the primitive writings of Apostolic men, the Church in a City is described as Tapоikovσa, that is, as sojourning in that City. Thus S. Clement (Ep. i.) says, "The Church of God that dwelleth at Rome" ( πароiкоvσα Рúuny), to the Church of God that dwelleth at Corinth (τῇ παροικούσῃ Κόρινθον). Compare the language of St. John's scholar, S. Ignatius, at the commencement of his Epistles, e. g. ad Ephes. : "To the Church that is in Ephesus," (ad Tralles)" to the holy Church that is in Tralles." The spiritual authority of Bishops flows from Christ alone. They are Chief Pastors of His Church, by virtue of their consecration to the Episcopal Office instituted by Him. But territorial titles are derived from God through the Power to which He has assigned dominion in this World, in which "He determines the bounds of habitation" (Acts xvii. 26). And when the Powers of this world become Christian, they exercise authority, in assigning the territorial limits within which the spiritual power, which is of divine origin and institution, is to be exercised. And when this is done, then the Bishop of the Church in the City becomes the Bishop of the City in which the Church is.
Thus, after the Empire became Christian, the Bishop of the Church in Ephesus became the Bishop of Ephesus, and he is so styled by Historians, Civil and Ecclesiastical. See Hooker, VIII. vii. Abp. Bramhall, i. p. 272. Bp. Sanderson, v. p. 157, and other authorities, quoted in Theophilus Anglicanus, pt. i. ch. xii. and pt. ii. ch. iii.
èv 'Epéow] in Ephesus: the Metropolis of Asia (Acts ii. 9), and specially connected with St. John. See Introduction to his Gospel above, pp. 266, 267, and Rev. i. 11.
Táde Aéye] these things saith.
In proof of the exact symmetry and marvellous accuracy with which this divine book is written, it may be observed, that
(1) Each of the Seven Epistles is introduced with these words, "To the Church-write; These things saith;" and then a special title of CHRIST is introduced, suitable to the particular condition of the Church which is addressed in that particular Epistle.
(2) Each of the Seven Epistles then proceeds to proclaim the Divine Omniscience of CHRIST, and His ever-watchful observation of what is done in the Church. "I know thy works." See here, v. 2. 9. 13. 19; iii. 1. 8. 15.
(3) Each of the Seven Epistles contains the words, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches" marking the importance of the message; and that though it is addressed to one Church, it is designed for all: vv. 7. 11. 17. 29; iii. 6. 13. 22.
(4) The Seven Epistles are divided into two Parts, by the interweaving of two phrases in a remarkable manner;
The phrase concerning him "that overcometh," is placed first in the first three Epistles, and is placed last in the last four Epistles; and the phrase "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches," is placed first in the first three Epistles, and is placed last in the last four.
(5) All the Epistles contain some special warning or promise from Christ; and that warning or promise is appropriately adapted and adjusted to the attribute under which He presents Himself to each Church in succession. It is also accommodated to the special difficulties and dangers which have been overcome, or are to be overcome by that particular Church. Their respective adaptations to the attributes of Christ Himself may be seen as follows in one view.
(1) To Ephesus. Thus saith He that walketh amid the seven golden Lamps (v. 1), Repent, or I will remove thy Lamp (v. 5). (2) To Smyrna. Thus saith the First and the Last who became dead, and rose again to life (v. 8), Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life (v. 10).
(3) To Pergamus. Thus saith He that hath the sharp twoedged sword (v. 12), Repent, or I will fight against them with the sword of My mouth (v. 16).
(4) To Thyatira. Thus saith the Son of God, Who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass (v. 18), All shall know that I am He that searcheth reins and hearts (v. 23), that which ye have hold fast till I come (v. 25).
(5) To Sardis. Thus saith He that hath the Seven Spirits
τοὺς ἑπτὰ ἀστέρας ἐν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, ὁ περιπατῶν ἐν μέσῳ τῶν ἑπτὰ λυχνιῶν
of God, and the Seven Stars (iii. 1), that is, Who governs the Angels in the Church in heaven, and upon the earth (see i. 4. 20), He that overcometh I will confess his name in the presence of My Father and of His Angels (iii. 5).
(6) To Philadelphia. Thus saith He that hath the key of David, Who openeth and no one shutteth (iii. 7), I have set before thee a door opened which no man can shut (iii. 8).
(7) To Laodicea. Thus saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness (v. 14); and this Epistle contains a rebuke for lack of faithfulness and zeal in witnessing to the Faith: Because thou art neither cold nor hot I will vomit thee out of My mouth (v. 16). There is, also, a gradual scale of ascent in the dignity and blessedness of Christ's promises to the several Churches. See below, on v. 7.
Such are some of the evidences of harmonious symmetry and elaborate accuracy in the composition of the Apocalypse.
S. Jerome well says (ad Paulin. Ep. 50), that the Apocalypse "has as many mysteries as words,-in verbis singulis
§ 5. Ch. II. To Ephesus.
1. Unto the angel of the Church in Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the miast of the seven golden lamps; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast patience, and hast borne for my name's sake, and hast not fainted. 4 Neverthele-s I have this against thee, that thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember there fore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy lamp out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of my God.
§ 6. Ch. II. To Smyrna. 8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 Í know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and the blasphemy which thou bearest from them which say they are Jews, and are not, but the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear not those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, now the devil will cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
§ 7. Ch. 11. To Pergamos.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, in those days when Antipas was, my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there some that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So thou also hast some that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, in like manner. 16 Repent therefore ; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my
multiplices latent intelligentiæ." And Henry More observes (v. 15)," that there never was a book penned with that artifice as this of the Apocalypse, as if every word were weighed in a balance before it was set down." These remarkable specimens of careful composition in its earlier chapters may have been designed to remind the reader, that every sentence of it is pregnant with meaning, and that in order to understand its Visions, the best method is to examine diligently every word of the Apocalypse.
8 Kрaтŵv] He that holdeth the seven stars in His hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden Lamps. In the foregoing note it was observed, that each of the Seven Epistles is introduced with a recital of a particular title of Christ which has a special reference to the condition of the Church to which the Epistle is sent, and the warnings which it needs.
The Seven Epistles.
§ 8. Ch. II.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;
These several titles and their respective relations to the several Churches, may be here exhibited synoptically in one tabular view, which may help to bring out these points more clearly, and to keep them before the eye of the reader;
that I am he which
§ 10. Ch. III. To Philadelphia. 1 And unto the 7 And to the angel 14 And unto the angel of the of the church in Phil- angel of the church in church in Sardis adelphia write; These Laodicea write; These write; These things saith he that is things saith the Amen, things saith he holy, he that is true, the faithful and true that hath the he that hath the key witness, the beginning seven Spirits of of David, he that of the creation of God, and the openeth, and no man God; 15 I know thy stars; I shutteth; and shut- works, that thou art know thy works, teth, and no man neither cold nor hot: that thou hast a openeth; 8 I know I would thou wert name to live, and thy works: behold, I cold or hot. 16 So thou art dead. have set before thee then because thou 2 Be watchful a door opened, which art lukewarm, and and strengthen no man can shut: for neither cold nor hot, the things which thou hast a little I will spue thee out remain, that were strength, and hast of my mouth. 17 Beready to die for kept my word, and cause thou sayest. I I have not found hast not denied my am rich, and increasthy works perfect name. 9 Behold, I ed with goods, and before my God. will make them of have need of nothing, 3 Remember the synagogue of and knowest not that therefore how Satan, which say thou hast receiv- they are Jews, and ed and heard, and are not, but do lie; keep, and repent. behold, I will make If therefore thou them to come and shalt not watch, worship before thy I will come on feet, and to know thee as a thief, that I have loved and thou shalt thee. 10 Because not know what thou hast kept the hour I will come word of my patience, upon thee. 4 But I also will keep thee thou hast a few from the hour of names in Sardis temptation, which which have not shall come upon all defiled their gar- the world, to try ments; and they them that dwell upon shall walk with the earth. 11 Behold, me in white; for I come quickly: hold they are worthy. that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
thou art the wretched one, and the miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, 18 1 counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and to anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my Voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
To him that over- 29 He that hath an
§ 9. Ch. III. To Sardis.
not this doctrine, and which
26 And he that 5 He that over-
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and my new name. 6 He that hath 13 He that hath an an ear, let him ear, let him hear what hear what the the Spirit saith unto Spirit saith unto the churches. the churches.
§ 11. Ch. III.
21 Το him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto