The book of the Revelation opens with the announcement of its title, and with a benediction on those who shall give diligent heed to its solemn prophetic utterances, as follows:-- p. 323, Para. 2.
1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave
unto him, to show unto his servants things which must
shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his
angel unto his servant John: 2. Who bare record of the word
of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all
things that he saw. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they
that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things
which are written therein: for the time is at hand. p.
323, Para. 3.
Title. -- The translators of our common version of the
Bible have given this book the title of
The Revelation of
St. John the Divine. In this they contradict the very
first words of the book itself, which declare it to be
Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Revelator,
not John. John is but the penman employed by Christ to
write out this Revelation for the benefit of his church.
There is no doubt that the John here mentioned is the
person of that name who was the beloved and highly favored
one among the twelve apostles. He was evangelist and
apostle, and the writer of the Gospel and epistles which
bear his name. [See Clarke, Barnes, Kitto, Pond, and
others.] To his previous titles he now adds that of
prophet: for the Revelation is a prophecy. But the matter
of this book is traced back to a still higher source. It is
not only the Revelation of Jesus Christ, but it is the
Revelation which God gave unto him. It comes, then, first,
from the great Fountain of all wisdom and truth, God the
Father; by him it was communicated to Jesus Christ, the
Son: and Christ sent and signified it by his angel to his
servant John. p. 323, Para. 4.
Character of the Book. -- This is expressed in one
Revelation. A revelation is something revealed,
something clearly made known, not something hidden and
concealed. Moses, in Deut. 29:29, tells us that
things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which
are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.
The very title of the book, then, is a sufficient
refutation of the popular opinion of to- day, that this
book is among the hidden mysteries of God, and cannot be
understood. Were this the case, it should bear some such
The Mystery or
The Hidden Book; certainly not
The Revelation. p. 324, Para. 1.
To show unto his servants things which
must shortly come to pass. His servants -- who are they?
Is there any limit? For whose benefit was the Revelation
given? Was it given for any specified persons? for any
particular churches? for any special period of time? -- No;
it is for all the church in all time, so long as any of the
events therein predicted remain to be accomplished. It is
for all those who can claim the appellation of
servants, wherever they may live. p. 324, Para. 2.
this language brings up again the common view that the
Revelation is not to be understood. God says that it was
given to show something to his servants; and yet many of
the expounders of his word tell us that it does not show
anything, because no man can understand it! as though God
would undertake to make known to mankind some important
truths, and yet fall into the worse than earthly folly of
clothing them in language or in figures which human minds
could not comprehend! as though he would command a person
to behold some distant object, and then erect an
impenetrable barrier between him and the object specified!
or as though he would give his servants a light to guide
them through the gloom of night, and yet throw over that
light a pall so thick and heavy that not a ray of its
brightness could penetrate the obscuring folds! How do they
dishonor God who thus trifle with his word! No; the
Revelation will accomplish the object for which it was
his servants will learn therefrom
which must shortly come to pass, and which concern their
eternal salvation. p. 324, Para. 3.
Angel. -- Christ sent and made known the Revelation to
his angel. A particular angel seems here to be
brought to view. What angel could appropriately be called
Christ's angel? May we not find an answer to this question
in a significant passage in the prophecy of Daniel? In Dan.
10:21, an angel, which was doubtless Gabriel [see Daniel,
chapters 9, 10, and 11:1], in making known some important
truths to Daniel, said,
There is none that holdeth with me
in these things, but Michael your prince. Who Michael is
we easily learn. Jude [verse 9] calls him the
And Paul tells us that when the Lord descends from heaven,
and the dead in Christ are raised, the voice of the
archangel shall be heard. 1 Thess. 4:16. And whose voice
will be heard at that amazing hour when the dead are called
to life? The Lord himself replies,
Marvel not at this; for
the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves
shall hear his voice [John 5:28]; and the previous
shows that the one here referred to, whose voice will then
be heard, is the Son of man, or Christ. It is the
Christ, then, that calls the dead from their graves. That
voice, Paul declares, is the voice of the archangel; and
Jude says that the archangel is called Michael, the very
personage mentioned in Daniel, and all referring to Christ.
The statement in Daniel, then, is, that the truths to be
revealed to Daniel were committed to Christ, and confined
exclusively to him, and to an angel whose name was Gabriel.
Similar to the work of communicating important truth to the
beloved prophet is the work of Christ in the Revelation
of communicating important truth to the
and who, in this work, can be his angel but he who
engaged with him in the former work, that is, the angel
Gabriel? This fact will throw light on some points in this
book, while it would also seem most appropriate that the
same being who was employed to carry messages to the
beloved prophet of the former dispensation, should
perform the same office for him who corresponds to that
prophet in the gospel age. [See on chapter 19:10.] p. 325,
Blessed is he that readeth, and they
that hear the words of this prophecy. Is there so direct
and formal a blessing pronounced upon the reading and
observance of any other portion of the word of God? What
encouragement, then, have we for its study! And shall we
say that it cannot be understood? Is a blessing offered for
the study of a book which it can do us no good to study?
Men may assert, with more pertness than piety, that
age of declension is marked by an increase of commentaries
on the Apocalypse, or
that the study of the Revelation
either finds or leaves a man mad; but God has pronounced
his blessing upon it, he has set the seal of his
approbation to an earnest study of its marvelous pages: and
with such encouragement from such a source, the child of
God will be unmoved by a thousand feeble counterblasts from
men. p. 326, Para. 1.
fulfilment of prophecy brings its duties; hence
there are things in the Revelation to be kept, or
performed; practical duties to be entered upon as the
result of the accomplishment of the prophecy. A notable
instance of this kind may be seen in chapter 14:12, where
it is said,
Here are they that keep the commandments of
God, and the faith of Jesus. p. 326, Para. 2.
The time is at hand, -- another motive
offered for the study of this book. It becomes more and
more important, as we draw near the great consummation. On
this point we offer the impressive thoughts of another:
The importance of studying the Apocalypse increases with
the lapse of time. Here are 'things which must shortly come
to pass.' Even when John bare record of the word of God,
and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things
that he saw, the long period within which those successive
scenes were to be realized was at hand. If proximity then
constituted a motive for heeding those contents, how much
more does it now!
Every revolving century, every closing year, adds to the
urgency with which attention is challenged to the
concluding portion of Holy Writ. And does not that
intensity of devotion to the present, which characterizes
our times and our country, enhance the reasonableness of
this claim? Never, surely, was there a period when some
mighty counteracting power was more needed. The Revelation
of Jesus Christ, duly studied, supplies an appropriate
corrective influence. Would that all Christians might, in
fullest measure, receive the blessing of 'them that hear
the words of this prophecy, and that keep the things which
are written therein; for the time is at hand.' --
Thompson's Patmos, pp. 28, 29. p. 326, Para. 3.
The Dedication. -- Following the benediction, we have the dedication, in these words:-- p. 327, Para. 1.
4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia;
Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which
was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which
are before his throne; 5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the
faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and
the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved
us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6. And
hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to
him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. p. 327,
The Churches in Asia. -- There were more churches in Asia than seven. We may confine ourselves to that western fraction of Asia known as Asia Minor, or we may include still less territory than that; for in even that small portion of Asia Minor where were situated the seven churches which are mentioned, and right in their very midst, there were other important churches. Colosse, to the Christians of which place Paul addressed his epistle to the Colossians, was but a slight distance from Laodicea. Miletus was nearer than any of the seven to Patmos, where John had his vision; and it was an important station for the church, as we may judge from the fact that Paul, during one of his stays there, sent for the elders of the church of Ephesus to meet him at that place. Acts 20:17-38. At the same place he also left, in good Christian hands no doubt, Trophimus, his disciple, sick. 2 Tim. .4:20. And Troas, where Paul spent a season with the disciples, and whence, having waited till the Sabbath was past, he started off upon his journey, was not far removed from Pergamos, named among the seven. It becomes, therefore, an interesting question to determine why seven of the churches of Asia Minor were selected as the ones to which the Revelation should be dedicated. Does what is said of the seven churches in chapter 1, and to them in chapters 2 and 3, have reference solely to the seven literal churches named, describing things only as they then and there existed, and portraying what was before them alone? We cannot so conclude, for the following reasons:-- p. 327, Para. 3.
1. The entire book of Revelation [see chapter 1:3, 11, 19; 22:18, 19] was dedicated to the seven churches. Verse 11. But the book was no more applicable to them than to other Christians in Asia Minor, -- those, for instance, who dwelt in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia, addressed in 1 Peter 1:1; or the Christians of Colosse, Troas, and Miletus, in the very midst of the churches named. p. 328, Para. 1.
2. Only a small portion of the book could have personally concerned the seven churches, or any of the Christians of John's day; for the events it brings to view were mostly so far in the future as to lie beyond the lifetime of the generation then living, or even the time during which those churches would continue; and consequently they could have no personal connection with them. p. 328, Para. 2.
3. The seven stars which the Son of man held in his right hand [verse 20], are declared to be the angels of the seven churches. The angels of the churches, doubtless all will agree are the ministers of the churches. Their being held in the right hand of the Son of man denotes the upholding power, guidance, and protection vouchsafed to them. But there were only seven of them in his right hand. And are there only seven thus cared for by the great Master of assemblies? May not, rather, all the true ministers of the whole gospel age derive from this representation the consolation of knowing that they are upheld and guided by the right hand of the great Head of the church: Such would seem to be the only consistent conclusion. p. 328, Para. 3.
4. Again, John, looking into the Christian dispensation saw only seven candlesticks, representing seven churches, in the midst of which stood the Son of man. The position of the Son of man in their midst must denote his presence with them, his watchcare over them, and his searching scrutiny of all their works. But does he thus take cognizance of only seven individual churches in this dispensation? May we not rather conclude that this scene represents his position in reference to all his churches during the gospel age? Then why were only seven mentioned? Seven, as used in the Scriptures, is a number denoting fulness and completeness, being, doubtless a kind of memorial of the great facts of the first seven days of time, which gave the world the still used weekly cycle. Like the seven stars, the seven candlesticks must denote the whole of the things which they represent. The whole gospel church in seven divisions, or periods, must be symbolized by them; and hence the seven churches must be applied in the same manner. p. 329, Para. 1.
5. Why, then, were the seven particular churches chosen that are mentioned? For the reason, doubtless, that in the names of these churches, according to the definitions of the words, are brought out the religious features of those periods of the gospel age which they respectively were to represent. p. 329, Para. 2.
the seven churches are doubtless to
be understood to mean not merely the seven literal churches
of Asia which went by the names mentioned, but seven
periods of the Christian church, from the days of the
apostles to the close of probation. [See on chapter 2,
verse 1.] p. 329, Para. 3.
Source of Blessing. --
From him which is, and which
was, and which is to come, or is to be, -- an expression
which signifies complete eternity, past and future, and can
be applicable to God the Father only. This language, we
believe, is never applied to Christ. He is spoken of as
another person, in distinction from the being thus
described. p. 329, Para. 4.
Seven Spirits. -- This expression probably has no
reference to angels, but to the Spirit of God. It is one of
the sources from which grace and peace are invoked for the
church. On the interesting subject of the seven spirits,
That is, from the Holy Spirit,
denominated 'the seven spirits,' because seven is a sacred
and perfect number; not thus named as denoting interior
plurality, but the fulness and perfection of his gifts and
operations. Barnes says,
The number seven, therefore, may
have been given by the Holy Spirit with reference to the
diversity or the fulness of
his operations on the souls of
men, and to his manifold agency in the affairs of the
world, as further developed in this book. Bloomfield gives
this as the general interpretation. p. 330, Para. 1.
Throne. -- The throne of God the Father; for Christ
has not yet taken his own throne. The seven spirits being
before the throne
may be intended to designate the fact
that the Divine Spirit is ever ready to be sent forth in
accordance with a common representation in the Scriptures,
to accomplish important purposes in human affairs. p.
330, Para. 2.
from Jesus Christ. -- Then Christ is not the person
who, in the verse before us, is designated as
is, and which was, and which is to come. Some of the chief
characteristics which pertain to Christ are here mentioned.
He is, -- p. 330, Para. 3.
The Faithful Witness. -- Whatever he bears witness to is true. Whatever he promises, he will surely fulfil. p. 330, Para. 4.
First Begotten of the Dead. -- This expression is
parallel to 1 Cor. 15:20, 23; Heb. 1:6; Rom. 8:29; and Col.
1:15, 18, where we find such expressions applied to Christ
the first-fruits of them that slept,
among many brethren,
the first-born of every creature,
the first-born from the dead. But these expressions
do not necessarily denote that he was the first in point of
time to be raised from the dead; for others were raised
before him. That would be a very unimportant point: but he
was the chief and central figure of all who have come up
from the grave: for it was by virtue of Christ's coming,
work, and resurrection, that any were raised before his
time. In the purpose of God, he was the first in point of
time as well as in importance; for it was not till after
the purpose of Christ's triumph over the grave was formed
in the mind of God, who calleth those things that be not as
though they were [Rom. 4:17], that any were released from
the power of death, by virtue of that great fact which was
in due time to be accomplished. Christ is therefore called
first-begotten of the dead [chapter 1:5], the
of them that slept [1 Cor. 15:20], the
among many brethren [Rom. 8:29], and
the first-born from
the dead. Col. 1:18. In Acts 26:23 he is spoken of as
first that should rise from the dead, and should show light
unto the people, or the first who by rising from
should show light unto the people. [See the Greek of this
passage, and Bloomfield's note thereon; also
Hereafter, chapter 17.] p. 330, Para. 5.
Prince of the Kings of the Earth. -- Christ is Prince
of earthly kings in a certain sense now. Paul informs us,
in Eph. 1:20, 21, that he has been set at the right hand of
God in the heavenly places,
far above all principality,
and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is
named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to
come. The highest names named in this world are the
princes, kings, emperors, and potentates of earth. But
Christ is placed far above them. He is seated with his
Father upon the throne of universal dominion [chapter
3:21], and ranks equally with him in the overruling and
controlling of the affairs of all the nations of the earth.
p. 331, Para. 1.
a more particular sense, Christ is to be Prince of the
kings of the earth when he takes his own throne, and the
kingdoms of this world become the
kingdoms of our
of his Christ, when they are given by the Father into his
hands, and he comes forth bearing upon his vesture the
King of kings and Lord of lords, to dash them in
pieces like a potter's vessel. Chapter 19:16, 2:27; Ps.
2:8, 9. p. 331, Para. 2.
Him that Loved Us. -- We have thought that earthly
friends loved us, -- a father, a mother, brothers and
sisters, or bosom friends, -- but we see that no love is
worthy of the name compared with the love of Christ for us.
And the following sentence adds intensity of meaning to the
And washed us from our sins in his own
blood. What love is this!
Greater love, says the
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his
life for his friends. But Christ has commended his love
for us, in that he died for us
while we were yet sinners.
But more than this --
Hath made us kings and priests unto
God and his Father. From being leprous with sin, we are
made clean in his sight; from being enemies, we are not
only made friends, but raised to positions of honor and
dignity. This cleansing, and this kingly and priestly
exaltation -- to what state do they pertain? to the present
or the future? -- Chiefly to the future; for it is then
only that we shall enjoy these blessings in the highest
degree. Then, after the atonement has been accomplished, we
are absolutely free from our sins; before that time they
are pardoned only on condition, and blotted out only by
anticipation. But when the saints are permitted to sit with
Christ on his throne, according to the promise to the
victorious Laodiceans, when they take the kingdom under the
whole heaven and reign forever and ever, they will be kings
in a sense that they never can be in this present state.
Yet enough is true of our present condition to make this
cheering language appropriate in the Christian's present
song of joy; for here we are permitted to say that we have
redemption through his blood, though that redemption is not
yet given, and that we have eternal life, though
is still in the hands of the Son, to be brought unto us at
his appearing; and it is still true, as it was in the days
of John and Peter, that God designs his people in this
world to be unto him a chosen generation, a royal [kingly]
priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. 1 Peter 2:9;
Rev. 3:21; Dan. 7:18, 27. No wonder the loving and beloved
disciple ascribed to this Being who has done so much for
us, glory and dominion, forever and ever. And let all the
church join in this most fitting ascription to their
greatest benefactor and dearest friend. p. 331, Para. 3.
VERSE 7. Behold, he
cometh with clouds; and every eye
shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all
kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so,
Amen. p. 333, Para. 1.
He Cometh with Clouds. -- Here John carries us forward to the second advent of Christ in glory, the climax and crowning event of his intervention in behalf of this fallen world. Once he came in weakness, now he comes in power; once in humility, now in glory. He comes in clouds, in like manner as he ascended. Acts 1:9, 11. p. 333, Para. 2.
Coming Visible. --
Every eye shall see him; that is,
all who are alive at the time of his coming. We know of no
personal coming of Christ that shall be as the stillness of
midnight, or take place only in the desert or the secret
chamber. He comes not as a thief in the sense of stealing
in stealthily and quietly upon the world, and purloining
goods to which he has no right. But he comes to take to
himself his dearest treasure, his sleeping and living
saints, whom he has purchased with his own precious blood;
whom he has wrested from the power of death in fair and
open conflict; and for whom his coming will be no less open
and triumphant, too. It will be with the brilliancy and
splendor of the lightning as it shines from the east to the
west. Matt. 24:27. It will be with a sound of a trumpet
that shall pierce to earth's lowest depths, and with a
mighty voice that shall wake the sainted sleepers from
their dusty beds. Matt. 24:31, margin: 1 Thess. 4:16. He
will come upon the wicked as a thief, only because they
persistently shut their eyes to the tokens of his approach,
and will not believe the declarations of his word that he
is at the door. To represent two comings, a private and a
public one, in connection with the second advent, as some
do, is wholly unwarranted in the Scriptures. p. 333, Para.
They Also which Pierced Him. -- They also [in addition
every eye, before mentioned] who were chiefly
concerned in the tragedy of his death; they shall behold
him returning to earth in triumph and glory. But how is
this? They are not now living, and how, then, shall they
behold him when he comes? Answer: By a resurrection from
the dead; for this is the only possible avenue to life to
those who have once been laid in the grave. But how is it
that these wicked persons come up at this time: for the
general resurrection of the wicked does not take place till
a thousand years after the second advent. Chapter 20:1-6.
On this point Daniel informs us. He says [chapter 12:1,
2]:-- p. 333, Para. 4.
at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince
which standeth for the children of thy people: and there
shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there
was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy
people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found
written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the
dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life,
and some to shame and everlasting contempt. p. 334, Para.
a partial resurrection is brought to view, or a
resurrection of a certain class of each, righteous and
wicked, before the general resurrection of either class.
Many, not all, that sleep shall awake. Some
righteous, not all of them, to everlasting life, and some
of the wicked, not all of them, to shame and everlasting
contempt. And this resurrection transpires in connection
with the great time of trouble such as never was, which
just precedes the coming of the Lord. May not
which pierced him be among those who then come up to shame
and everlasting contempt? What could be more appropriate,
so far as human minds can judge, than that those who took
part in the scene of our Lord's greatest humiliation, and
other special leaders in crime against him, should be
raised to behold his terrible majesty, as he comes
triumphantly, in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them
that know not God, and obey not his gospel? [See Dan.
12:2.] p. 334, Para. 2.
Church's Response. --
Even so, Amen. Though this
coming of Christ is to the wicked a scene of terror and
destruction, it is to the righteous a scene of joy and
When the world's distress comes, then the saints'
rest comes. That coming which is with flaming fire, and
for the purpose of taking vengeance on the wicked, is to
recompense rest to all them that believe. 2 Thess. 1:6-10.
Every friend and lover of Christ will hail every
declaration and every token of his return as glad tidings
of great joy. p. 334, Para. 3.
8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the
ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which
is to come, the Almighty. p. 335, Para. 1.
another speaker is introduced. Previous to this, John
has been the speaker. But this verse has no connection with
what precedes nor with what follows. Who it is who here
speaks must be determined, therefore, by the terms used.
Here we again have the expression,
Which is, and which
was, and which is to come, which has already been noticed
as referring exclusively to God. But it may be asked, Does
not the word Lord denote that it was Christ? On
Barnes has the following note:
Many MSS. instead of
'Lord,' read 'God,' and this reading is adopted by
Griesback, Tittman, and Hahn, and is now regarded as the
correct reading. Bloomfield supplies the word God,
marks the words
the beginning and the ending as an
interpolation. Thus appropriately closes the first
principal division of this chapter, with a revelation of
himself by the great God as being of an eternity of
existence, past and future, and of almighty power, and
hence able to perform all his threatenings and his
promises, which he has given us in this book. p. 335,
9. I John, who also am your brother, and companion
in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus
Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word
of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. p. 335,
The subject here changes, John introducing the place and the circumstances under which the Revelation was given. He first sets himself forth as a brother of the universal church, and their companion in the tribulations incident to the Christian profession in this life. p. 335, Para. 4.
in the Kingdom. -- These words have been the occasion
of no little controversy. Does John really mean to say that
Christians in the present state are in the kingdom of
Christ, or in other words, that in his day Christ's kingdom
had already been set up? If this language has any reference
to the present state, it must be in a very limited and
accommodated sense. Those who take the ground that it has
its application here, usually refer to 1 Pet. 2:9 to prove
the existence of a kingdom in the present state, and to
show its nature. But, as was remarked on verse 6, the
literal reign of the saints is yet future. It is through
much tribulation that we are to enter into the
God. Acts 14:22. But when the kingdom is entered, the
tribulation is done. The tribulation and the kingdom do not
exist contemporaneously. Murdock's translation of the
Syriac of this verse omits the word kingdom, and
I John, your brother, and partaker with you in
the affliction and suffering that are in Jesus the
Messiah. Wakefield translates:
I John, your brother, and
sharer with you in enduring the affliction of the kingdom
of Jesus Christ. Bloomfield says that by the words
tribulation and patience
denoted afflictions and
troubles to be endured for the sake, and in the cause of
Christ: and [kingdom] intimates that he is to be partaker
with them in the kingdom prepared for them. He says that
the best comment on this passage is 2 Tim. .2:12, which
If we suffer, we shall also reign with
all which we may safely conclude that though there is a
kingdom of grace in the present state, the kingdom to which
John alluded is the future kingdom of glory, and the
suffering and patience are preparatory to its enjoyment.
p. 335, Para. 5.
The Place. -- The isle that is called Patmos, -- a small, barren island off the west coast of Asia Minor, between the island of Icaria and the promontory of Miletus, where in John's day was located the nearest Christian church. It is about eight miles in length, one in breadth, and eighteen in circumference. Its present name is Patino or Patmosa. The coast is high, and consists of a succession of capes, which form many ports. The only one now in use is a deep bay sheltered by high mountains on every side but one, where it is protected by a projecting cape. The town attached to this port is situated upon a high, rocky mountain rising immediately from the sea, and is the only inhabited site of the island. About half way up the mountain on which this town is built, there is shown a natural grotto in the rock, where tradition will have it that John had his vision and wrote the Revelation. On account of the stern and desolate character of this island, it was used, under the Roman empire, as a place of banishment, which accounts for the exile of John thither. The banishment of the apostle took place about the year A.D. 94, as is generally supposed, under the emperor Domitian; and from this fact the date assigned to the writing of the Revelation is A.D. 95 or 96. p. 336, Para. 1.
Cause of Banishment. --
For the word of God, and for
the testimony of Jesus Christ. This was John's high crime
and misdemeanor. The tyrant Domitian, who was then invested
with the imperial purple of Rome, more eminent for his
vices than even for his civil position, quailed before this
aged but dauntless apostle. He dared not permit the
promulgation of his pure gospel within the bounds of his
kingdom. He exiled him to lonely Patmos, where, if anywhere
this side of death, he might be said to be out of the
world. Having confined him to that barren spot, and to the
cruel labor of the mines, the emperor doubtless thought
that this preacher of righteousness was finally disposed
of, and that the world would hear no more of him. So,
doubtless, thought the persecutors of John Bunyan when they
had shut him up in Bedford jail. But when man thinks he has
buried the truth in eternal oblivion, the Lord gives it a
resurrection in tenfold glory and power. From Bunyan's dark
and narrow cell there blazed forth a spiritual light,
which, next to the Bible itself, has built up the interests
of the gospel; and from the barren Isle of Patmos, where
Domitian thought he had forever extinguished at least one
torch of truth, there arose the most magnificent revelation
of all the sacred canon, to shed its divine luster over the
whole Christian world till the end of time. And how many
will revere the name of the beloved disciple, and hang with
delight upon his enraptured visions of heavenly glory, who
will never learn the name of the monster who caused his
banishment. Verily, those words of the Scriptures are
sometimes applicable, even to the present life, which
the righteous shall be in everlasting
the name of the wicked shall rot. p.
337, Para. 1.
10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and
heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. p. 338,
the Spirit. -- Exiled though John was from all of like
faith, and almost from the world, he was not exiled from
God, nor from Christ, nor from the Holy Spirit, nor from
angels. He still had communion with his divine Lord. And
in the Spirit seems to denote the highest
state of spiritual elevation into which a person can be
brought by the Spirit of God. It marked the commencement of
his vision. p. 338, Para. 2.
the Lord's Day. -- What day is intended by this
designation? On this question four different positions are
taken by different classes. 1. One class hold that the
the Lord's day covers the whole gospel
dispensation, and does not mean any particular twenty-four-hour
day. 2. Another class hold that the Lord's day is the
day of judgment, the future
day of the Lord, so often
brought to view in the Scriptures. 3. The third view, and
the one perhaps the most prevalent, is that the expression
refers to the first day of the week. 4. Still another class
hold that it means the seventh day, the Sabbath of the
Lord. p. 338, Para. 3.
1. To the first of these positions it is sufficient to reply that the book of Revelation is dated by the writer, John, in the Isle of Patmos, and upon the Lord's day. The writer, the place where it was written, and the day upon which it was dated, have each a real existence, and not merely a symbolical or mystical one. But if we say that the day means the gospel dispensation, we give it a symbolical or mystical meaning, which is not admissible. Besides, this position involves the absurdity of making John say, sixty-five years after the death of Christ, that the vision which he records was seen by him in the gospel dispensation, as if any Christian could possibly be ignorant of that fact! p. 338, Para. 4.
The second position, that it is the day of judgment,
cannot be correct; for while John might have had a vision
concerning the day of judgment, he could not have
on that day when it is yet future. The word translated on
is (en), and is defined by Robinson when relating
Time when; a definite point or period,
during, on, at, which anything takes place. It never means
about or concerning. Hence
they who refer it to the
judgment day either contradict the language used, making it
mean concerning instead of on,
or they make John state a
strange falsehood, by saying that he had a vision upon the
Isle of Patmos, nearly eighteen hundred years ago, on
day of judgment which is yet future! p. 339, Para. 1.
The third view is that by
Lord's day is meant the
first day of the week, a view by far the most generally entertained.
On this we inquire for the proof. What evidence have we
for this assertion? The text itself does not define the
term Lord's day; hence if it means the first day of the
week, we must look elsewhere in the Bible for the proof
that that day of the week is ever so designated. The only
other inspired writers who speak of the first day at all,
are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul; and they speak of it
the first day of the week. They never speak of
it in a manner to distinguish it above any other of the six
working days. And this is the more remarkable, viewed from
the popular standpoint, as three of them speak of it at the
very time when it is said to have become the Lord's day by
the resurrection of the Lord upon it, and two of them
mention it some thirty years after that event. p. 339,
it is said that the term
Lord's day was the usual
term for the first day of the week in John's day, we ask,
Where is the proof of this? It cannot be found. But we have
proof of just the contrary. [See
History of the Sabbath,
by J. N. Andrews, for sale by the Review and Herald Pub.
Assoc., Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.] If this was the
universal designation of the first day of the week at the
time the Revelation was written, the same writer would most
assuredly call it so in all his subsequent writings. But
John wrote the Gospel after he wrote the
yet in that Gospel he calls the first day of the week, not
Lord's day, but simply
the first day of the week. For
proof that the Gospel was written at a period subsequent to
the Revelation, the reader is referred to such standard
authorities as the Religious Encyclopedia, Barnes's Notes
[Gospels], Bible Dictionaries, Cottage Bible, Domestic
Bible, Mine Explored, Union Bible Dictionary, Comprehensive
Bible, Paragraph Bible, Bloomfield, Dr. Hales, Horne,
Nevins, and Olshausen. p. 339, Para. 3.
And what still further disproves the claim here set up in behalf of the first day, is the fact that neither the Father nor the Son has ever claimed the first day as his own in any higher sense than he has each or any of the other laboring days. Neither of them has ever placed any blessing upon it, or attached any sanctity to it. If it was to be called the Lord's day from the fact of Christ's resurrection upon it, Inspiration would doubtless have somewhere so informed us. But there are other events equally essential to the plan of salvation, as, for instance, the crucifixion and the ascension; and in the absence of all instruction upon the point, why not call the day upon which either of these occurred, the Lord's day, as well as the day upon which he rose from the dead? p. 340, Para. 1.
The three positions already examined having been
disproved, the fourth -- that by Lord's day is meant the
Sabbath of the Lord -- now demands attention. And this of
itself is susceptible of the clearest proof. 1. When God
gave to man in the beginning six days of the week for
labor, he expressly reserved the seventh day to himself,
placed his blessing upon it, and claimed it as his holy
day. 2. Moses told Israel in the wilderness of Sin on the
sixth day of the week,
To-morrow is the rest of the holy
Sabbath unto the Lord. We come to Sinai, where the great
Lawgiver proclaimed his moral precepts in awful grandeur;
and in that supreme code he thus lays claim to his hallowed
The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God:.
. . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the
sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:
wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed
it. By the prophet Isaiah, about eight hundred years
later, God spoke as follows:
If thou turn away thy foot
from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on MY
HOLY DAY, .
. . then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, etc. Isa.
58:13. We come down to New-Testament times, and He who is
one with the Father declares expressly,
The Son of man is
Lord also of the Sabbath. Can any man deny that
is the Lord's day, of which he has emphatically
that he is the Lord? Thus we see that whether it be the
Father or the Son whose title is involved, no other day can
be called the Lord's day but the Sabbath of the great
Creator. p. 341, Para. 2.
One more thought and we leave this point. There is in this dispensation one day distinguished above the other days of the week as the Lord's day. How completely does this great fact disprove the claim put forth by some that there is no Sabbath in this dispensation, but that all days are alike. And by calling it the Lord's day, the apostle has given us, near the close of the first century, apostolic sanction for the observance of the only day which can be called the Lord's day, which is the seventh day of the week. [See notes at close of chapter.] p. 341, Para. 1.
11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the
last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it
unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus,
and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and
unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. p.
341, Para. 2.
this verse Dr. A. Clarke remarks,
Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and -- this clause is wanting
in ABC; thirty-one others; some editions; the Syriac, Coptic,
Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius.
Griesbach has left it out of the text. He also states that
in Asia is wanting in the principal MSS. and
versions, and that Griesbach omits this too from the text.
Bloomfield also marks the clause,
I am Alpha and Omega,
the first and the last, and -- as without doubt an
interpolation, and also the words
in Asia. It would then
saying, What thou seest, write in a book, and send
it unto the seven churches; unto Ephesus, etc. [See
translations of Whiting, Wesley, American Bible Union, and
others. Compare remarks on verse 4.] p. 341, Para. 3.
12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with
me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13.
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto
the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot,
and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14. His head
and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and
his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15. And his feet like
unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his
voice as the sound of many waters. 16. And he had in his
right hand seven stars; and out of his mouth went a sharp
two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth
in his strength. 17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet
as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto
me, Fear not: I am the first and the last: 18. I am he that
liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore,
Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. p. 342,
I turned to see the voice; that is, the person from whom the voice came. p. 342, Para. 2.
Golden Candlesticks. -- These cannot be the antitype
of the golden candlestick of the ancient typical temple
service; for that was but one candlestick with
branches. That is ever spoken of in the singular number.
But here are seven; and these are more properly
than simple candlesticks, stands upon which lamps
are set to give light in the room. And they bear no
resemblance to the ancient candlestick; on the contrary,
the stands are so distinct, and so far separated one from
another, that the Son of man is seen walking about in the
midst of them. p. 342, Para. 3.
Son of Man. -- The central and all-attractive figure
of the scene now opened before John's vision is the
majestic form of one like the Son of man, representing
Christ. The description here given of him, with his flowing
robe, his hair white, not with age, but with the brightness
of heavenly glory, his flaming eyes, his feet glowing like
molten brass, and his voice as the sound of many waters,
cannot be excelled for grandeur and sublimity. Overcome by
the presence of this august Being, and perhaps under a keen
sense of all human unworthiness, John fell at his feet as
dead; but a comforting hand is laid upon him, and a voice
of sweet assurance tells him to fear not. It is equally the
privilege of Christians today to feel the same hand laid
upon them to strengthen and comfort them in hours of trial
and affliction, and to hear the same voice saying unto
Fear not. p. 342, Para. 4.
the most cheering assurance in all these words of
consolation is the declaration of this exalted one who is
alive forevermore, that he is the arbiter of death and the
I have, he says,
the keys of hell [the grave] and
of death. Death is a conquered tyrant. He may ply his
gloomy labors age after age, gathering to the grave the
precious of the earth, and gloat for a season over his
apparent triumph; but he is performing a fruitless task;
for the key to his dark prison-house has been wrenched from
his grasp, and is now held in the hands of a mightier than
he. He is compelled to deposit his trophies in a region
over which another has absolute control; and this one is
the unchanging Friend and the pledged Redeemer of his
people. Then grieve not for the righteous dead; they are in
safe keeping. An enemy for a while takes them away; but a
friend holds the key to the place of their temporary
confinement. p. 343, Para. 1.
19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the
things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.
p. 343, Para. 1.
A more definite command is given in this verse to John to write the entire Revelation, which would relate chiefly to things which were then in the future. In some few instances, events then in the past or then transpiring were referred to: but these references were simply for the purpose of introducing events to be fulfilled after that time, and so that no link in the chain might be lacking. p. 343, Para. 2.
20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou
sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks.
The seven stars were the angels of the seven churches: and
the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven
churches. p. 343, Para. 3.
represent the Son of man as holding in his hand only
the ministers of seven literal churches in Asia Minor, and
walking in the midst of only those seven churches, would be
to reduce the sublime representations and declarations of
this and following chapters to comparative insignificance.
The providential care and presence of the Lord are with,
not a specified number of churches only, but all his
people; not in the days of John merely, but through all
Lo! I am with you alway, said he to his disciples,
even unto the end of the world. [See remarks on verse 4.]
p. 343, Para. 4.
-- An additional thought may be added to what is
said about the claim that the first day of the week is
meant by the term
Lord's day in verse 10. If, when Christ
The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day
[Matt. 12:8], he had said instead,
The Son of man is Lord
of the first day of the week. would not that now be set
forth as conclusive proof that Sunday is the Lord's day? --
Certainly, and with good reason. Then it ought to be
allowed to have the same weight for the seventh day, in
reference to which it was spoken.] p. 344, Para. 1.
© by S. D. Goeldner,