Revelation of John 1

Verse 14. Peace be to thee.] Mayest thou possess every

requisite good, both of a spiritual and temporal kind.

Our friends salute thee.] Desire to be affectionately

remembered to thee. Greet the friends by name-remember me to all

those with whom I am acquainted, as if I had specified them by

name. This is a proof to me that this epistle was not sent to

Corinth, where it is not likely John ever was; and where it is not

likely he had any particular acquaintances, unless we could

suppose he had seen some of them when he was an exile in Patmos,

an island in the AEgean Sea.

For other particulars concerning John, the reader is requested

to refer to the preface to his gospel.

Instead of φιλοι and φιλους, friends, the Codex Alexandrinus

and several others read αδελφοι and αδελφους, brethren. The

former (friends) is a very singular appellation, and nowhere else

found in Scripture; the latter is of frequent occurrence.

Subscriptions in the VERSIONS:-

In the ancient SYRIAC.-Nothing.

The Third Epistle of John the apostle is ended.-SYRIAC




The end of the epistles of the pure Apostle and Evangelist


The Third Epistle of St. John the apostle is ended.-Latin text


The end of the Third catholic Epistle of St John.-DITTO, Greek


Subscriptions in the Manuscripts:-

The third of John.-CODD. ALEX. and VATICAN.

The Third catholic Epistle of John the evangelist and divine.

The third of John to Caius concerning Demetrius, of whom he

witnesses the most excellent things.

I have already shown in the preface to those epistles termed

catholic, that the word καθολικος is not to be taken here, and

elsewhere in these epistles, as signifying universal, but

canonical; for it would be absurd to call an epistle universal

that was written to a private individual.

We seldom hear this epistle quoted but in the reproof of lordly

tyrants, or prating troublesome fellows in the Church. And yet

the epistle contains many excellent sentiments, which, if

judiciously handled, might be very useful to the Church of God.

But it has been the lot both of the minor prophets and the minor

epistles to be generally neglected; for with many readers bulk is

every thing; and, no magnitude no goodness.

This and the preceding epistle both read over in reference to a

new edition, Jan. 3rd, 1832.-A. C.




Chronological Notes relative to this Book.

-Year of the Constantinopolitan era of the world, or that used

by the Byzantine historians, and other eastern writers, 5604.

-Year of the Alexandrian era of the world, 5598.

-Year of the Antiochian era of the world, 5588.

-Year of the world, according to Archbishop Usher, 4100.

-Year of the world, according to Eusebius, in his Chronicon,


-Year of the minor Jewish era of the world, or that in common

use, 3856.

-Year of the Greater Rabbinical era of the world, 4455.

-Year from the Flood, according to Archbishop Usher, and the

English Bible, 2444.

-Year of the Cali yuga, or Indian era of the Deluge, 3198.

-Year of the era of Iphitus, or since the first commencement of

the Olympic games, 1036.

-Year of the era of Nabonassar, king of Babylon, 845.

-Year of the CCXVIIIth Olympiad, 4.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor,


-Year from the building of Rome, according to Frontinus, 847.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to the Fasti

Capitolini, 848.

-Year from the building of Rome, according to Varro, which was

that most generally used, 849.

-Year of the era of the Seleucidae, 408.

-Year of the Caesarean era of Antioch, 144.

-Year of the Julian era, 141.

-Year of the Spanish era, 134.

-Year from the birth of Jesus Christ, according to Archbishop

Usher, 100.

-Year of the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 96.

-Year of Pacorus II, king of the Parthians, 6.

-Year of the Dionysian period, or Easter Cycle, 97.

-Year of the Grecian Cycle of nineteen gears, or Common Golden

Number, 2; or the first embolismic.

-Year of the Jewish Cycle of nineteen years, 18; or the year

before the seventh embolismic.

-Year of the Solar Cycle, 21.

-Dominical Letters, it being the Bissextile, or Leap Year, CB.

-Day of the Jewish Passover, the twenty-fifth of March, which

happened in this year on the day before the Jewish Sabbath.

-Easter Sunday, the twenty seventh of March.

-Epact, or age of the moon on the 22d of March, (the day of the

earliest Easter Sunday possible,) 11.

-Epact, according to the present mode of computation, or the

moon's age on New Year's day, or the Calends of January, 19.

-Monthly Epacts, or age of the moon on the Calends of each month

respectively, (beginning with January,) 19, 21, 20, 21, 22, 23,

24, 26, 26, 27, 29, 29.

-Number of Direction, or the number of days from the

twenty-first of March to the Jewish Passover, 4.

-Year of the Emperor Flavius Domitianus Caesar, the last of

those usually styled The Twelve Caesars, 15: Nerva began his

reign in this year.

-Roman Consuls, C. Antistius Vetus, and C. Maulius Valens.


The preface to this book, and the promise to them who read it,


John's address to the seven Churches of Asia, whose high

calling he particularly mentions; and shows the speedy coming

of Christ, 4-8.

Mentions his exile to Patmos, and the appearance of the Lord

Jesus to him, 9-11.

Of whom he gives a most glorious description, 12-18.

The command to write what he saw, and the explanation of the

seven stars and seven golden candlesticks, 19, 20.


The Revelation of St. John the divine. To this book the

inscriptions are various. "The Revelation.-The Revelation of

John.-Of John the divine.-Of John the divine and evangelist.-The

Revelation of John the apostle and evangelist.-The Revelation of

the holy and glorious apostle and evangelist, the beloved virgin

John the divine, which he saw in the island of Patmos.-The

Revelation of Jesus Christ, given to John the divine." These

several inscriptions are worthy of little regard; the first verse

contains the title of the book.

Verse 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ] The word αποκαλυψις,

from which we have our word Apocalypse, signifies literally, a

revelation, or discovery of what was concealed or hidden. It

is here said that this revelation, or discovery of hidden things,

was given by GOD to Jesus Christ; that Christ gave it to his

angel; that this angel showed it to JOHN; and that John sent

it to the CHURCHES. Thus we find it came from God to Christ, from

Christ to the angel, from the angel to John, and from John to the

Church. It is properly, therefore, the Revelation of God, sent by

these various agents to his servants at large; and this is the

proper title of the book.

Things which must shortly come to pass] On the mode of

interpretation devised by Wetstein, this is plain; for if the book

were written before the destruction of Jerusalem, and the

prophecies in it relate to that destruction, and the civil wars

among the Romans, which lasted but three or four years, then it

might be said the Revelation is of things which must shortly come

to pass. But if we consider the book as referring to the state of

the Church in all ages, the words here, and those in Re 1:3, must

be understood of the commencement of the events predicted; as if

he had said: In a short time the train of these visions will be

put in motion:-

_____et incipient magni procedere menses.

"And those times, pregnant with the most stupendous events, will

begin to roll on."

Verse 2. Who bare record of the word of God] Is there a

reference here to the first chapter of John's gospel, In the

beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, &c.? Of this

Word John did bear record. Or, does the writer mean the fidelity

with which he noted and related the word-doctrines or prophecies,

which he received at this time by revelation from God? This seems

more consistent with the latter part of the verse.

Verse 3. Blessed is he that readeth] This is to be understood of

the happiness or security of the persons who, reading and hearing

the prophecies of those things which were to come to pass shortly,

took proper measures to escape from the impending evils.

The time is at hand.] Either in which they shall be all

fulfilled, or begin to be fulfilled. See Clarke on Re 1:1.

These three verses contain the introduction; now the dedication

to the seven Churches commences.

Verse 4. John to the seven Churches] The apostle begins this

much in the manner of the Jewish prophets. They often name

themselves in the messages which they receive from God to deliver

to the people; e.g. "The vision of ISAIAH, the son of Amoz, which

he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem." "The words of JEREMIAH,

the son of Hilkiah; to whom the word of the Lord came." "The word

of the Lord came expressly unto EZEKIEL, the priest." "The word of

the Lord that came unto HOSEA, the son of Beeri." "The word of the

Lord that came to JOEL." "The words of AMOS, who was among the

herdsmen of Tekoa." "The vision of OBADIAH; thus saith the Lord."

"The word of the Lord came unto JONAH." So, "The revelation of

Jesus Christ, which he sent and signified to his servant JOHN."

"JOHN to the seven Churches," &c.

The Asia here mentioned was what is called Asia Minor, or the

Lydian or Proconsular Asia; the seven Churches were those of

Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and

Laodicea. Of these as they occur. We are not to suppose that

they were the only Christian Churches then in Asia Minor; there

were several others then in Phrygia, Pamphylia, Galatia, Pontus,

Cappadocia, &c., &c. But these seven were those which lay nearest

to the apostle, and were more particularly under his care; though

the message was sent to the Churches in general, and perhaps it

concerns the whole Christian world. But the number seven may be

used here as the number of perfection; as the Hebrews use the

seven names of the heavens, the seven names of the earth,

the seven patriarchs, seven suns, seven kinds, seven years, seven

months, seven days, &c., &c.; in which the rabbins find a great

variety of mysteries.

Grace be unto you] This form of apostolical benediction we have

often seen in the preceding epistles.

From him which is, and which was, and which is to come] This

phraseology is purely Jewish, and probably taken from the

Tetragrammaton, YEHOVAH; which is supposed to include in

itself all time, past, present, and future. But they often use the

phrase of which the οωνκαιοηνκαιοερχομενος, of the

apostle, is a literal translation. So, in Sohar Chadash, fol. 7,

1: "Rabbi Jose said, By the name Tetragrammaton, (i.e.

Yehovah,) the higher and lower regions, the heavens, the earth,

and all they contain, were perfected; and they are all before him

reputed as nothing:- vehu hayah, vehu

hoveh, vehu yihyeh; and HE WAS, and HE IS, and HE WILL BE. So, in

Shemoth Rabba, sec. 3, fol. 105, 2: "The holy blessed God said

to Moses, tell them:-

ani shehayithi, veani hu achshaiu, veani hu laathid labo;


In Chasad Shimuel, Rab. Samuel ben David asks: "Why are we

commanded to use three hours of prayer? Answer: These hours point

out the holy blessed God:- shehu hayah, hoveh,

veyihyeh; he who WAS, who IS, and who SHALL BE. The MORNING prayer

points out him who WAS before the foundation of the world; the

NOONDAY prayer points out him who IS; and the EVENING prayer

points out him who IS TO COME." This phraseology is exceedingly

appropriate, and strongly expresses the eternity of God; for we

have no other idea of time than as past, or now existing, or

yet to exist; nor have we any idea of eternity but as that

duration called by some aeternitas a parte ante, the eternity that

was before time, and aeternitas a parte post, the endless duration

that shall be when time is no more. That which WAS, is the

eternity before time; that which IS, is time itself; and that

which IS TO COME, is the eternity which shall be when time is no


The seven Spirits-before his throne] The ancient Jews, who

represented the throne of God as the throne of an eastern monarch,

supposed that there were seven ministering angels before this

throne, as there were seven ministers attendant on the throne of a

Persian monarch. We have an ample proof of this, Tobit 12:15: I am

Raphael, one of the SEVEN HOLY ANGELS which present the prayers of

the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy

One. And in Jonathan ben Uzziel's Targum, on Ge 11:7:

God said to the SEVEN ANGELS which stand before him, Come now, &c.

In Pirkey Eliezer, iv. and vii: "The angels which were first

created minister before him without the veil." Sometimes they

represent them as seven cohorts or troops of angels, under whom

are thirty inferior orders.

That seven ANGELS are here meant, and not the Holy Spirit, is

most evident from the place, the number, and the tradition.

Those who imagine the Holy Ghost to be intended suppose the number

seven is used to denote his manifold gifts and graces. That

these seven spirits are angels, see Re 3:1; 4:5; and

particularly Re 5:6, where they are called

the seven spirits of God SENT FORTH INTO ALL THE EARTH.

Verse 5. The faithful witness] The true teacher, whose testimony

is infallible, and whose sayings must all come to pass.

The first-begotten of the dead] See Clarke on Col 1:18.

The prince of the kings] οαρχων, The chief or head, of

all earthly potentates; who has them all under his dominion and

control, and can dispose of them as he will.

Unto him that loved us] This should begin a new verse, as it is

the commencement of a new subject. Our salvation is attributed to

the love of God, who gave his Son; and to the love of Christ, who

died for us. See Joh 3:16.

Washed us from our sins] The redemption of the soul, with the

remission of sins, and purification from unrighteousness, is here,

as in all the New Testament, attributed to the blood of Christ

shed on the cross for man.

Verse 6. Kings and priests] See on 1Pe 2:5, 9. But instead of

βασιλειςκαιιερεις, kings and priests the most reputable MSS.,

versions, and fathers have βασιλειανιερεις, a kingdom and

priests; i.e. a kingdom of priests, or a royal priesthood. The

regal and sacerdotal dignities are the two highest that can

possibly exist among men; and these two are here mentioned to show

the glorious prerogatives and state of the children of God.

To him be glory] That is, to Christ; for it is of him that the

prophet speaks, and of none other.

For ever and ever] ειςτουςαιωναςτωναιωνων To ages of ages;

or rather, through all indefinite periods; through all time, and

through eternity.

Amen.] A word of affirmation and approbation; so it shall

be, and so it ought to be.

Verse 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds] This relates to his

coming to execute judgment on the enemies of his religion; perhaps

to his coming to destroy Jerusalem, as he was to be particularly

manifested to them that pierced him, which must mean the

incredulous and rebellious Jews.

And all kindreds of the earth] πασαιαιφυλαιτηςγης All the

tribes of the land. By this the Jewish people are most evidently

intended, and therefore the whole verse may be understood as

predicting the destruction of the Jews; and is a presumptive proof

that the Apocalypse was written before the final overthrow of the

Jewish state.

Even so, Amen.] ναιαμην Yea, Amen. It is true, so be it.

Our Lord will come and execute judgment on the Jews and Gentiles.

This the Jews and Romans particularly felt.

Verse 8. I am Alpha and Omega] I am from eternity to eternity.

This mode of speech is borrowed from the Jews, who express the

whole compass of things by aleph and tau, the first

and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet; but as St. John was

writing in Greek, he accommodates the whole to the Greek alphabet,

of which α alpha and ω omega are the first and last letters.

With the rabbins meeleph vead tau, "from aleph to

tau," expressed the whole of a matter, from the beginning to the

end. So in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 17, 4: Adam transgressed the

whole law from aleph to tau; i.e., from the beginning to the end.

Ibid., fol. 48, 4: Abraham observed the law, from aleph to tau;

i.e., he kept it entirely, from beginning to end.

Ibid., fol. 128, 3: When the holy blessed God pronounced a

blessing on the Israelites, he did it from aleph to tau; i.e., he

did it perfectly.

The beginning and the ending] That is, as aleph or alpha is

the beginning of the alphabet, so am I the author and cause of all

things; as tau or omega is the end or last letter of the

alphabet, so am I the end of all thinks, the destroyer as well as

the establisher of all things. This clause is wanting in almost

every MS. and version of importance. It appears to have been added

first as an explanatory note, and in process of time crept into

the text. Griesbach has left it out of the text. It is worthy of

remark, that as the union of aleph and tau in Hebrew

make eth, which the rabbins interpret of the first matter out

of which all things were formed, (See Clarke on Ge 1:1;) so the union

of α alpha and ω omega, in Greek, makes the verb αω,

I breathe, and may very properly, in such a symbolical book, point

out Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being; for,

having formed man out of the dust of the earth, he breathed into

his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul;

and it is by the inspiration or inbreathing of his Spirit that the

souls of men are quickened, made alive from the dead, and fitted

for life eternal. He adds also that he is the Almighty, the

all-powerful framer of the universe, and the inspirer of men.

Verse 9. Your brother] A Christian, begotten of God, and

incorporated in the heavenly family.

Companion in tribulation] Suffering under the persecution in

which you also suffer.

In the kingdom] For we are a kingdom of priests unto God.

And patience of Jesus] Meekly bearing all indignities,

privations, and sufferings, for the sake and after the example of

our Lord and Master.

The isle that is called Patmos] This island is one of the

Sporades, and lies in the AEgean Sea, between the island of

Icaria, and the promontory of Miletus. It is now called Pactino,

Patmol, or Palmosa. It has derived all its celebrity from being

the place to which St. John was banished by one of the Roman

emperors; whether Domitian, Claudius, or Nero, is not agreed on,

but it was most probably the latter. The island has a convent on a

well fortified hill, dedicated to John the apostle; the

inhabitants are said to amount to about three hundred men, and

about twenty women to one man. It is very barren, producing very

little grain, but abounding in partridges, quails, turtles,

pigeons, snipes, and rabbits. It has many good harbours, and is

much infested by pirates. Patmos, its capital and chief harbour,

lies in east LONG. 26� 24', north LAT. 37� 24'. The whole island

is about thirty miles in circumference.

For the testimony of Jesus Christ.] For preaching Christianity,

and converting heathens to the Lord Jesus.

Verse 10. I was in the Spirit] That is, I received the Spirit of

prophecy, and was under its influence when the first vision was


The Lord's day] The first day of the week, observed as the

Christian Sabbath, because on it Jesus Christ rose from the dead;

therefore it was called the Lord's day, and has taken place of the

Jewish Sabbath throughout the Christian world.

And heard behind me a great voice] This voice came unexpectedly

and suddenly. He felt himself under the Divine afflatus; but did

not know what scenes were to be represented.

As of a trumpet] This was calculated to call in every wandering

thought, to fix his attention, and solemnize his whole frame. Thus

God prepared Moses to receive the law. See Ex 19:16, 19, &c.

Verse 11. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and]

This whole clause is wanting in ABC, thirty-one others; some

editions; the Syriac, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic,

Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it

out of the text.

Saying-What thou seest, write in a book] Carefully note down

every thing that is represented to thee. John had the visions from

heaven; but he described them in his own language and manner.

Send it unto the seven Churches] The names of which immediately

follow. In Asia. This is wanting in the principal MSS. and

versions. Griesbach has left it out of the text.

Ephesus] This was a city of Ionia, in Asia Minor, situated at

the mouth of the river Cayster, on the shore of the AEgean Sea,

about fifty miles south of Smyrna. See preface to the Epistle to

the Ephesians.

Smyrna] Now called also Ismir, is the largest and richest city

of Asia Minor. It is situated about one hundred and eighty-three

miles west by south of Constantinople, on the shore of the AEgean

Sea. It is supposed to contain about one hundred and forty

thousand inhabitants, of whom there are from fifteen to twenty

thousand Greeks, six thousand Armenians, five thousand Roman

Catholics, one hundred and forty Protestants, eleven thousand

Jews, and fifteen thousand Turks. It is a beautiful city, but

often ravaged by the plague, and seldom two years together free

from earthquakes. In 1758 the city was nearly desolated by the

plague; scarcely a sufficient number of the inhabitants survived

to gather in the fruits of the earth. In 1688 there was a terrible

earthquake here, which overthrew a great number of houses; in one

of the shocks, the rock on which the castle stood opened,

swallowed up the castle and five thousand persons! On these

accounts, nothing but the love of gain, so natural to man, could

induce any person to make it his residence; though, in other

respects, it can boast of many advantages. In this city the Turks

have nineteen mosques; the Greeks, two churches; the Armenians,

one; and the Jews, eight synagogues; and the English and Dutch

factories have each a chaplain. Smyrna is one hundred miles north

of the island of Rhodes, long. 27� 25' E., lat. 38� 28' N.

Pergamos] A town of Mysia, situated on the river Caicus. It was

the royal residence of Eumenes, and the kings of the race of the

Attali. It was anciently famous for its library, which

contained, according to Plutarch, two hundred thousand volumes. It

was here that the membranae Pergameniae, Pergamenian skins, were

invented; from which we derive our word parchment. Pergamos was

the birthplace of Galen; and in it P. Scipio died. It is now

called Pergamo and Bergamo, and is situated in long. 27� 0' E.,

lat. 39� 13' N.

Thyatira] Now called Akissat and Ak-kissar, a city of Natolia,

in Asia Minor, seated on the river Hermus, in a plain eighteen

miles broad, and is about fifty miles from Pergamos; long. 27� 49'

E., lat. 38� 16' N. The houses are chiefly built of earth, but the

mosques are all of marble. Many remarkable ancient inscriptions

have been discovered in this place.

Sardis] Now called Sardo and Sart, a town of Asia, in Natolia,

about forty miles east from Smyrna. It is seated on the side of

mount Tmolus, and was once the capital of the Lydian kings, and

here Croesus reigned. It is now a poor, inconsiderable village.

Long. 28� 5' E., lat. 37� 51' N.

Philadelphia] A city of Natolia, seated at the foot of mount

Tmolus, by the river Cogamus. It was founded by Attalus

Philadelphus, brother of Eumenes, from whom it derived its name.

It is now called Alah-sheker, and is about forty miles ESE. of

Smyrna. Long. 28� 15' E., lat. 38� 28' N.

Laodicea] A town of Phrygia, on the river Lycus; first called

Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter. It was built by Antiochus

Theos, and named after his consort Laodice.

See Clarke on Col 2:1. And, for a very recent account of

these seven Churches, see a letter from the Rev. Henry Lindsay,

inserted at the end of See Clarke on Re 3:22.

Verse 12. And I turned For he had heard the voice behind him. To

see the voice; i.e., the person from whom the voice came.

Seven golden candlesticks] επταλυχνιαςχρυσας Seven golden

lamps. It is absurd to say, a golden silver, or brazen

candlestick. These seven lamps represented the seven Churches,

in which the light of God was continually shining, and the love

of God continually burning. And they are here represented as

golden, to show how precious they were in the sight of God. This

is a reference to the temple at Jerusalem, where there was a

candlestick or chandelier of seven branches; or rather six

branches; three springing out on either side, and one in the

centre. See Ex 25:31-37. This reference to the temple seems to

intimate that the temple of Jerusalem was a type of the whole

Christian Church.

Verse 13. Like unto the Son of man] This seems a reference to

Da 7:13. This was our blessed Lord himself, Re 1:18.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot] This is a description

of the high priest, in his sacerdotal robes. See these described

at large in the notes on Ex 28:4, &c., Jesus is our high priest,

even in heaven. He is still discharging the sacerdotal functions

before the throne of God.

Golden girdle.] The emblem both of regal and sacerdotal


Verse 14. His head and his hairs were white like wool] This

was not only an emblem of his antiquity, but it was the evidence

of his glory; for the whiteness or splendour of his head and hair

doubtless proceeded from the rays of light and glory which

encircled his head, and darted from it in all directions. The

splendour around the head was termed by the Romans nimbus, and

by us a glory; and was represented round the heads of gods,

deified persons, and saints. It is used in the same way through

almost all the nations of the earth.

His eyes were as a flame of fire] To denote his omniscience, and

the all-penetrating nature of the Divine knowledge.

Verse 15. His feet like unto fine brass] An emblem of his

stability and permanence, brass being considered the most

durable of all metallic substances or compounds.

The original word, χαλκολιβανον, means the famous aurichalcum,

or factitious metal, which, according to Suidas, was ειδος

ηλεκτρουτιμωτερονχρυσου, "a kind of amber, more precious than

gold." It seems to have been a composition of gold, silver, and

brass, and the same with the Corinthian brass, so highly famed and

valued; for when Lucius Mummius took and burnt the city of

Corinth, many statues of these three metals, being melted, had run

together, and formed the composition already mentioned, and which

was held in as high estimation as gold. See Pliny, Hist. Nat.,

lib. 34, c. 2; Florus, lib. 2, c. 16. It may however mean no more

than copper melted with lapis calaminaris, which converts it into

brass; and the flame that proceeds from the metal during this

operation is one of the most intensely and unsufferably vivid that

can be imagined. I have often seen several furnaces employed in

this operation, and the flames bursting up through the earth (for

these furnaces are under ground) always called to remembrance this

description given by St. John: His feet of fine brass, as if they

burned in a furnace; the propriety and accuracy of which none

could doubt, and every one must feel who has viewed this most

dazzling operation.

His voice as the sound of many waters.] The same description we

find in Eze 43:2:

The glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east;

and his voice was like the noise of many waters: and the earth

shined with his glory.

Verse 16. In his right hand seven stars] The stars are

afterwards interpreted as representing the seven angels,

messengers, or bishops of the seven Churches. Their being in the

right hand of Christ shows that they are under his special care

and most powerful protection. See below.

Out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword] This is no doubt

intended to point out the judgments about to be pronounced by

Christ against the rebellious Jews and persecuting Romans; God's

judgments were just now going to fall upon both. The sharp

two-edged sword may represent the word of God in general,

according to that saying of the apostle, Heb 4:12:

The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any

two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and

spirit, &c. And the word of God is termed the sword of the Spirit,

Eph 6:17.

And his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.] His

face was like the disk of the sun in the brightest summer's day,

when there were no clouds to abate the splendour of his rays. A

similar form of expression is found in Jud 5:31:

Let them that love him be as the sun when he GOETH FORTH IN HIS

MIGHT. And a similar description may be found, Midrash in Yalcut

Simeoni, part I., fol. 55, 4: "When Moses and Aaron came and stood

before Pharaoh, they appeared like the ministering angels; and

their stature, like the cedars of Lebanon:-

vegalgilley eyneyhem domim

legalgilley chammah, and the pupils of their eyes were like the

wheels of the sun; and their beards were as the grape of the palm

trees:- veziv peneyhem keziv chammah, and the


Verse 17. I fell at his feet as dead.] The appearance of the

glory of the Lord had then same effect upon Ezekiel, Eze 1:28:

and the appearance of Gabriel had the same effect on Daniel,

Da 8:17. The terrible splendour of such majesty was more than

the apostle could bear, and he fell down deprived of his senses,

but was soon enabled to behold the vision by a communication of

strength from our Lord's right hand.

Verse 18. I am he that liveth, and was dead] I am Jesus the

Saviour, who, though the fountain of life, have died for mankind;

and being raised from the dead I shall die no more, the great

sacrifice being consummated. And have the keys of death and the

grave, so that I can destroy the living and raise the dead. The

key here signifies the power and authority over life, death, and

the grave. This is also a rabbinical form of speech. In the

Jerusalem Targum, on Ge 30:22, are these words: "There are four

KEYS in the hand of God which he never trusts to angel or seraph.

1. The key of the rain; 2. The key of provision; 3. The

key of the grave; and 4. The key of the barren womb."

In Sanhedrin, fol. 113, 1, it is said: "When the son of the

woman of Sarepta died, Elijah requested that to him might be given

the key of the resurrection of the dead. They said to him, there

are three KEYS which are not given into the hand of the apostle,

the key of life, the key of the rain, and the key of the

resurrection of the dead." From these examples it is evident that

we should understand αδης, hades, here, not as hell, nor the

place of separate spirits, but merely as the grave; and the key

we find to be merely the emblem of power and authority. Christ

can both save and destroy, can kill and make alive. Death is

still under his dominion, and he can recall the dead whensoever he

pleases. He is the resurrection and the life.

Verse 19. Write the things which thou hast seen] These visions

and prophecies are for general instruction, and therefore every

circumstance must be faithfully recorded. What he had seen was to

be written; what he was about to see, relative to the seven

Churches, must be also written; and what he was to see afterwards,

concerning other Churches and states, to be recorded likewise.

Verse 20. The mystery] That is, the allegorical explanation of

the seven stars is the seven angels or ministers of the Churches;

and the allegorical meaning of the seven golden lamps is the seven

Churches themselves.

1. IN the seven stars there may be an allusion to the seals of

different offices under potentates, each of which had its own

particular seal, which verified all instruments from that office;

and as these seals were frequently set in rings which were worn on

the fingers, there may be an allusion to those brilliants set in

rings, and worn επιτηςδεξιας, UPON the right hand. In

Jer 22:24, Coniah is represented as a

signet on the right hand of the Lord; and that such signets were

in rings see Ge 38:18, 25; Ex 18:11; Da 6:17, Hag 2:23.

On close examination we shall find that all the symbols in this

book have their foundation either in nature, fact, custom, or

general opinion. One of the cutchery seals of the late Tippoo

Saib, with which he stamped all the commissions of that office,

lies now before me; it is cut on silver, in the Taaleck character,

and the piece of silver is set in a large gold ring, heavy, but

roughly manufactured.

2. The Churches are represented by these lamps; they hold the

oil and the fire, and dispense the light. A lamp is not light

in itself, it is only the instrument of dispensing light, and it

must receive both oil and fire before it can dispense any; so no

Church has in itself either grace or glory, it must receive all

from Christ its head, else it can dispense neither light nor life.

3. The ministers of the Gospel are signets or seals of Jesus

Christ; he uses them to stamp his truth, to accredit it, and give

it currency. But as a seal can mark nothing of itself unless

applied by a proper hand, so the ministers of Christ can do no

good, seal no truth, impress no soul, unless the great owner

condescend to use them.

4. How careful should the Church be that it have the oil and the

light, that it continue to burn and send forth Divine knowledge!

In vain does any Church pretend to be a Church of Christ if it

dispense no light; if souls are not enlightened, quickened, and

converted in it. If Jesus walk in it, its light will shine both

clearly and strongly, and sinners will be converted unto him;

and the members of that Church will be children of the light, and

walk as children of the light and of the day, and there will be no

occasion of stumbling in them.

5. How careful should the ministers of Christ be that they

proclaim nothing as truth, and accredit nothing as truth, but

what comes from their master!

They should also take heed lest, after having preached to

others, themselves should be cast-aways; lest God should say unto

them as he said of Coniah, As I live, saith the Lord, though

Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, were the SIGNET UPON MY RIGHT HAND,

yet would I pluck thee thence.

On the other hand, if they be faithful, their labour shall not

be in vain, and their safety shall be great. He that toucheth them

toucheth the apple of God's eye, and none shall be able to pluck

them out of his hand. they are the angels and ambassadors of the

Lord; their persons are sacred; they are the messengers of the

Churches, and the glory of Christ. Should they lose their lives in

the work, it will be only a speedier entrance into an eternal


The rougher the way, the shorter their stay,

The troubles that rise

Shall gloriously hurry their souls to the skies.

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