Revelation of John 4Here end the epistles to the seven churches of Asia. These churches were situated on the main land, near to the Island of Patmos, where John was then residing; and they are named in geographical order, as they would naturally present themselves to the mind of the writer, as he passed in imagination from one to the other, over the region in which they were situated. The nature of the instructions which they contain,—the fact that a mystical number, seven, was the number of churches addressed,—the incorporation of the epistles into this mysterious book,—and, still more, the general address to Christians with which the several epistles are closed,—all conspire to indicate that these warnings and instructions were intended, even in a higher sense than the other Epistles of the New Testament, for the church at large in all ages. They have, accordingly, exerted an influence in respect to the standard of piety, and to the aims and obligations of the Christian life, fully equal to that of any other writings of the apostles. These letters constitute the first division of the book of Revelation. The reader will now enter upon a portion of the book entirely different from what has preceded it, both in structure and design.
A rainbow—like unto an emerald; that is, a splendid appearance of irised colors, in which green, the color of the emerald, was predominant. These, and all the remaining images in this chapter, are intended, apparently to present an imposing picture of a magnificent regal palace, according to the ideas of the time. We are not, probably, to attempt, as some commentators have done in vain, to give to the several parts a distinct and special significance.
Elders; officers.—Crowns of gold; indicating very exalted rank and station.
Lightnings and thunderings and voices; symbols of mighty power.
A sea of glass; corresponding to the great brazen laver in the temple of Solomon. (1 Kings 7:23.)—Beasts; living beings.
These forms seem to be taken as marked and prominent specimens representing the whole living creation of God. The homage of the four and twenty elders denotes that the throne of Jehovah is surrounded by servants of exalted powers and lofty station, who are always ready to do his will; and the adoration of these four representatives of animal life is intended, apparently, to express the dependence of the whole sentient creation upon him for existence and protection.
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