corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.16
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

William Barclay's Daily Study Bible
Revelation 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-19

Chapter 11

ANTICHRIST (Revelation 11:1-19 )

In the passages of the Revelation which we are now about to approach we will on many occasions meet the figure of Antichrist. This figure has exercised a strange fascination over the minds of men and many have been the speculations and theories about him. It will, therefore, be convenient to collect the material about Antichrist at this stage and to try to piece it into a connected whole.

We may lay it down as a general principle that Antichrist stands for the power in the universe which is against God. Just as the Christ is the Holy One and the Anointed King of God, so Antichrist is the Unholy One and the King of all evil. Just as the Christ is the incarnation of God and goodness, so Antichrist is the incarnation of the Devil and of evil.

The idea of a force opposed to God was not new. Antichrist had his predecessors long before the days of the New Testament; and it will help if we look first at some of the older pictures, for they left their mark on the New Testament picture.

(i) The Babylonians had a myth in regard to the creation of the world which they shared with all the Semitic peoples and with which the Jews must have come into contact. This myth painted the picture of creation in terms of a struggle between Marduk the creator and Tiamat the dragon, who stands for primaeval chaos. There was a further belief that this struggle between God and chaos would be repeated before the world came to an end.

This old belief in the struggle between the creating God and the dragon of chaos found its way into the Old Testament and is the explanation of certain obscure passages there. Isaiah tells of the day when God will slay the leviathan and the crooked serpent and the dragon that is in the sea (Isaiah 27:1). In Jewish thought this ancient dragon of chaos came to be known as Rahab. Isaiah says: "Was it not thou that didst cut Rahab in pieces, that didst pierce the dragon?" (Isaiah 51:9). When the Psalmist is recounting the triumphs of God, he says: "I will mention Rahab" (Psalms 87:4). "Thou didst crush Rahab like a carcass," he says (Psalms 89:10). Here is one of the ancestors of the Antichrist idea and that is one of the reasons why the dragon idea reappears in the Revelation (Revelation 12:9).

(ii) There is the Belial--or, as it is sometimes called, Beliar--idea. The word Belial frequently occurs in the Old Testament as a synonym for evil. An evil man or woman is called a son or daughter of Belial. Eli's wicked sons are sons of Belial (1 Samuel 2:12). When Hannah was silently praying for a child in the Temple, Eli thought that she was drunk but Hannah says that she is not a daughter of Belial (1 Samuel 1:16). The wicked Nabal is called a son of Belial (1 Samuel 25:17; 1 Samuel 25:25). One of Shimei's insults was to call David a son of Belial (2 Samuel 16:7). The false witnesses produced by Jezebel against Naboth are sons of Belial (1 Kings 21:10; 1 Kings 21:13), as are Jeroboam's revolutionary followers (2 Chronicles 13:7). The exact meaning of the word is in doubt. It has been taken to mean prince of the air, hopeless ruin, worthlessness. Between the Testaments Belial came to be regarded as the chief of the demons. In the New Testament the word occurs only once: "What accord has Christ with Belial?" (2 Corinthians 6:15). There it is used as the antithesis of Christ. It may well be that this idea came in part at least from the Persian religion with which the Jews came into contact. Persian religion, Zoroastrianism, conceived of the whole universe as the battleground in which the struggle was fought out between Ormuzd, the god of light, and Ahriman, the god of darkness. Here again we have the conception of a force in the world opposed to God and fighting against him.

(iii) There is a sense in which the obvious Antichrist is Satan, the Devil. Sometimes Satan is identified with Lucifer, the son of the morning, the angel who in heaven rebelled against God and was cast down to hell. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!" (Isaiah 14:12). It is easy to find instances in which Satan--the very name means the Adversary--acted in such a way as to overturn the purpose of God, for it is his very nature to do so. Such an instance was when Satan persuaded David to number the people in direct contravention of the command of God (1 Chronicles 21:1). But though Satan is the direct opponent of God, he remains an angel, whereas Antichrist is a visible figure upon earth in which the very essence of evil has become incarnate.

(iv) There is a sense in which the development of the idea of the Messiah made the development of the idea of Antichrist inevitable. The Messiah, God's Anointed One, is bound to meet with opposition; and that opposition is entirely likely to crystallize into one supreme figure of evil. We must remember that Messiah and Christ mean the same thing, being the Hebrew and the Greek respectively for The Anointed One. Where there is the Christ, there will of necessity be the Antichrist, for so long as there is sin there will be opposition to God.

(v) In the Old Testament there is more than one picture of the divine battle with the assembled opposition to God. We find such a picture in the struggle with Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38:1-23 ), and in the destruction of the destroyers of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-21 ).

But, so far as the later Jews were concerned, the peak of the manifestation of evil was connected with one terrible episode in their history. This is commemorated in Daniel's picture of the little horn, which waxed great even against heaven, which stopped the daily sacrifice, which cast down the sanctuary (Daniel 8:9-12). The little horn stands for Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria. He determined to introduce Greek ways, language and Greek worship into Palestine, for he regarded himself as the missionary of Greek culture. The Jews resisted. Antiochus Epiphanes invaded Palestine and captured Jerusalem. It was said that eighty thousand Jews were either slaughtered or sold into slavery. To circumcise a child or to possess a copy of the Law was a crime punishable by death. History has seldom, or never, seen so deliberate an attempt to wipe out the religion of a whole people. He desecrated the Temple. He erected an altar to Olympian Zeus in the Holy Place and on it sacrificed swine's flesh; and he turned the rooms of the Temple into public brothels. In the end the gallantry of the Maccabees restored the Temple and conquered Antiochus; but to the Jews Antiochus was the incarnation of all evil.

It can be seen that the figure of Antichrist was taking shape already in the Old Testament; the incarnation of evil is an idea that is already there.

We now turn to the idea of Antichrist in the New Testament:

(i) There is very little mention of the Antichrist idea in the Synoptic Gospels. The only real occurrence is in the chapters which deal with the end and the signs of the end. There Jesus is represented as saying: "Then if any one says to you, 'Lo, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:23; Matthew 24:44; Mark 13:6; Mark 13:22; Luke 21:8). In the Fourth Gospel Jesus is represented as saying: "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive" (John 5:43). There the idea of Antichrist is rather that of false teaching, leading men away from true loyalty to Jesus Christ, a line of thought which, as we shall see, occurs again in the New Testament.

(ii) One of the main pictures of Antichrist is that of the Man of Sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 . Paul is reminding the Thessalonians of that which he had already taught them by word of mouth and of that which was an essential part of his teaching. He says: "Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?" (2 Thessalonians 2:5). In this picture there is first to be a general falling away; then the man of sin will come who will exalt himself above God and claim the worship which belongs to God by right, and work lying signs and wonders which will deceive many. At the moment when Paul is writing there is something which restrains this final manifestation of evil (2 Thessalonians 2:7). In all probability Paul means the Roman Empire, seen by him as keeping the world from disintegrating into the chaos of the last time. Here Antichrist is concentrated into one person who is the very essence of evil. This rather connects itself with the Beliar idea of the Old Testament and with the conflict of light and darkness in the Persian world view.

(iii) The idea of Antichrist occurs in the Letters of John. It is, in fact, only there that the actual word occurs. In the last time Antichrist is to come; in the times in which John writes many Antichrists have come; therefore, says John, they know that they are living in the last time (1 John 2:18). He who denies the Father and the Son is Antichrist (1 John 2:22). In particular he who denies that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is Antichrist (1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7 ). The supreme characteristic of Antichrist is the denial of the reality of the Incarnation.

Here again the main connection of Antichrist is with heresy. Antichrist is the spirit of falsehood which seduces men from the truth and leads them into mistaken ideas which are the ruin of the Christian faith.

(iv) It is in the Revelation that the fullest picture of Antichrist is painted and it occurs in more than one form.

(a) In Revelation 11:7 there is the picture of the beast from the abyss, who is to slay the two witnesses in Jerusalem and who is to reign for forty-two months. This gives us the picture of Antichrist as coming, as it were, from hell, to have a terrible and destructive, but limited, time of power. In this picture there is at least some connection with the Daniel picture of Antiochus Epiphanes as the little horn. That is certainly where the period of forty-two months comes from, for that was the period during which the terror of Antiochus and the desecration of the Temple lasted.

(b) In Revelation 12:1-17 there is the picture of the great red dragon, who persecutes the woman clothed with the sun, the woman who begets the man child. This dragon is ultimately defeated and cast out of heaven. The dragon is definitely identified with the old serpent the devil (Revelation 12:9). This has clearly some kind of connection with the old myth of the dragon of chaos who was the enemy of God.

(c) In Revelation 13:1-18 there is the picture of the beast with the seven heads and the ten horns, which comes from the sea, and the other beast with the two horns, which comes from the land. There is no doubt that what is in John's mind is the terror and the savagery of Caesar worship; and in this case Antichrist is the great begetter of persecution of the Christian Church. Here the idea is of cruel, persecuting power, bent on the utter destruction of Christ and his Church.

(d) In Revelation 17:3 we have the picture of the scarlet coloured beast, with the seven heads and the ten horns, on which the woman called Babylon is seated. We are told that the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. In the Revelation Babylon symbolizes Rome and Rome was built on seven hills. Clearly this picture stands for Rome and Antichrist is Rome's persecuting power unleashed upon the Church.

It is of great interest to note the change here. As we have seen, to Paul, when he wrote Second Thessalonians, Rome was the one power which restrained the coming of Antichrist. In Romans 13:1-7 Paul writes of the state as divinely appointed and urges all Christians to be loyal citizens. In 1 Peter 2:13-17 the order to Christians is willingly to submit themselves to the government of the state, to fear God and to honour the king. In the Revelation there is a world of difference; times had changed; the full fury of persecution had broken out; and Rome had become to John the Antichrist.

(v) We note one last element in the picture of Antichrist. With the old Jewish idea of this anti-God power and with the Christian idea of a power who was the incarnation of evil, there combined an idea from the Graeco-Roman world. The worst of the Roman Emperors in the early days was Nero who was regarded as the supreme monster of iniquity, not only by the Christians, but also by the Romans themselves. Nero died by suicide in A.D. 68, and there went up a sigh of relief. But almost immediately there arose the belief that he was not dead and that he was waiting in Parthia to descend on the world with the terrible hordes of the Parthians to let loose destruction and terror. This idea is called the Nero redivivus, the Nero resurrected, myth. In the ancient world it was widespread more than twenty years after Nero was dead. To the Christians, Nero was a figure of concentrated evil. It was he who had put the blame of the great fire of Rome on to the Christians; it was he who had initiated persecution; it was he who had found the most savage methods of torture. Many Christians believed in the Nero redivivus myth; and frequently--as in certain parts of the Revelation--Nero redivivus and Antichrist were identified and the Christians thought of the coming of Antichrist in terms of the return of Nero.

THE VISION OF THINGS TO COME (Revelation 11:1-19 continued)

11:1-19 A measuring rod like a stall was given to me, with the instructions: "Rise and measure the Temple of God, and the altar and those who worship there. But leave out of the reckoning the outer Court which is outside the Temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles, and they will trample on the Holy City for forty-two months.

And I will give the task of prophesying to my two witnesses and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lampstands who stand before the Lord of all the earth. If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and whoever tries to hurt them must be thus killed.

These have the authority to shut up the heaven so that rain may not fall during the period for which they prophesied a drought; and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they wish.

When they shall have completed their witness, the beast which comes up from the abyss will make war with them and will overcome them and will kill them. Their corpses shall lie in the street of the great city, whose spiritual name is Sodom and Egypt, and where their Lord also was crucified. There are those of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations who are to see their bodies for three and a half days, and they will not allow their bodies to be placed in a tomb. Those who inhabit the land will rejoice over them and will make merry and will send gifts to each other, because these two prophets tortured those who inhabit the land."

After the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell upon all who saw them. They heard a great voice from heaven saying to them: "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in the cloud, and their enemies saw them. At that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth of the city collapsed and seven thousand persons were killed, and the rest of the people were in fear and gave glory to the God of heaven.

The second woe is gone and, behold, the third is coming quickly.

The seventh angel sounded a blast on his trumpet and there came great voices in heaven saying: "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed One, and he will reign for ever and ever."

The twenty-four elders, who sat upon their thrones in the presence of God, fell down upon their faces, and worshipped God saying: "We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, that you have taken your supreme authority and that you have entered upon your reign. The nations have raged, and your wrath has come, and there has come the time to judge the dead, and to give their reward to your servants the prophets and to God's dedicated people and to those who fear your name, both small and great, and to destroy those who are the destroyers of the earth."

And the Temple of God was opened in heaven, and in the Temple there was seen the Ark of the Covenant, and there were lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great storm of hail.

It is better to see this chapter as a whole, before we make any attempt to deal with it in detail. It has been said that it is at one and the same time the most difficult and the most important chapter in the Revelation. Its difficulty is obvious and it contains problems of interpretation about whose solution there can be no real certainty. Its importance lies in the fact that it contains a deliberate summary of the rest of the book. The seer has eaten the little roll and taken into his mind the message of God; and now he sets it down, not yet in detail but in the broad lines of its development. So certain is he of the course of events that from Revelation 11:11 he alters the tense of his narrative and speaks of things still in the future as if they were past. Let us then set out the scheme of this chapter which is also the scheme of the rest of the book.

(i) Revelation 11:1-2. Here is the picture of the measuring of the Temple. As we shall see, the measuring is closely parallel to the sealing and is for the purposes of protection when the demonic terrors descend upon the world.

(ii) Revelation 11:3-6. Here is the preaching of the two witnesses who are heralds of the end.

(iii) Revelation 11:7-10. Here is the first emergence of Antichrist in the form of the beast from the abyss, and the temporary triumph of Antichrist which results in the death of the two witnesses.

(iv) Revelation 11:11-13. Here follows the restoration to life of the witnesses and the consequent repentance and conversion of the Jews.

(v) Revelation 11:14-19. Finally, here is the first sketch of the final triumph of Christ, the thousand years of his initial reign, the rising of the nations, the defeat of the nations and the judgment of the dead, and the establishment of the Kingdom of God and of his Anointed One.

We now proceed to examine the chapter in detail.

The Measuring Of The Temple (Revelation 11:1-2)

To the seer is given a measuring rod like a staff. The word for measuring rod is literally reed. There were certain grasses which grew with stalks like bamboo canes as much as six or eight feet high; these stalks were used as measuring rods. The word rod actually stands for a Jewish unit of measurement, equal to six cubits. The cubit was originally the space from the tip of the elbow to the tip of the middle finger and was reckoned as seventeen or eighteen inches; so the rod is equal to about nine feet.

The picture of measuring is common in the visions of the prophets. We find it in Ezekiel, Zechariah and Amos (Ezekiel 40:3; Ezekiel 40:6; Zechariah 2:1; Amos 7:7-9); and no doubt these previous visions were in John's mind.

We find the idea of measuring used in more than one way. It is used as a preparation for building or for restoration and also as a preparation for destruction. But here the meaning lies in preservation. The measuring is like the sealing which is described in Revelation 7:2-3; the scaling and the measuring are both for the protection of God's faithful ones in the demonic terrors to descend upon the earth.

The seer has to measure the Temple, but he must omit from his measurement the outer court which has been given over to the Gentiles. The Temple in Jerusalem was divided into four courts, converging, as it were, upon the Holy of Holies. There was the Court of the Gentiles, into which Gentiles might come but beyond which they might not pass under penalty of death. Between it and the next court was a balustrade, into which were set tablets warning any Gentile that to come further was to be liable to instant death. Next came the Court of the Women beyond which women could not come; then the Court of the Israelites beyond which ordinary men could not come. Lastly, there was the Court of the Priests, which contained the Altar of the Burnt-Offering, made of brass, the Altar of Incense, made of gold, and the Holy Place; and into this court only the priests might come.

The seer is to measure the Temple. But the date of the Revelation, as we have seen, is somewhere about A.D. 90; and the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed in A.D. 70. How, then, could the Temple be measured?

The solution lies in this. Almost certainly John is taking over a picture which had already been used. Almost certainly this passage was originally spoken or written in A.D. 70, during the last siege of Jerusalem. During that siege the party of the Jews who would never admit defeat were the Zealots; they would rather die to a man, as indeed they ultimately did. When the walls of the city were breached, these Zealots retired into the Temple to make a last desperate resistance there. It is practically certain that some of their prophets said: "Never fear. The Gentile invaders may reach the outer Court of the Gentiles and defile it; but they will never penetrate into the inner Temple. God would never allow that." That confidence was disappointed; the Zealots perished and the Temple was destroyed; but originally the measuring of the inner courts and the abandoning of the outer court stood for the Zealot hope in those last terrible days.

John takes this picture and completely spiritualizes it. When he speaks of the Temple, he is not thinking of the Temple building at all which had been blasted out of existence more than twenty years before. For him the Temple is the Christian Church, the people of God. This picture meets us repeatedly in the New Testament. The Christians are living stones, built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). The Church is founded on the apostles and the prophets; Jesus is the corner stone; the whole Church is growing into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:20-21). "Do you not know," says Paul, "that you are God's temple?" (1 Corinthians 3:16; compare, 2 Corinthians 6:16).

The measuring of the Temple is the sealing of the people of God; they are to be preserved in the terrible time of trial; but the rest are doomed to destruction.

The Length Of The Terror (Revelation 11:1-2 Continued)

The length of the terror is to be forty-two months; the time of the preaching of the witnesses is to be twelve hundred and sixty days; their corpses are to lie on the street for three and a half days. Here is something which occurs again and again (compare Revelation 13:5; Revelation 12:6); and occurs in still another form in Revelation 12:14 where the period is a time, times and half a time. This is the famous phrase which goes back to Daniel (Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7). We have to enquire, first, into the meaning of the phrase and, second, into its origin.

Its meaning is three and a half years. That is what forty-two months, and twelve hundred and sixty days--by Jewish reckoning--are. A time, times and half a time is equal to one year plus two years plus half a year.

The origin of the phrase comes from that most terrible time in Jewish history when Antiochus Epiphanes, King of Syria, tried to force Greek language, culture and worship upon the Jews and was met with the most violent and stubborn resistance. The roll of the martyrs was immense but the dreadful process was finally halted by the rising of Judas Maccabaeus.

Judas and his heroic followers waged guerrilla warfare and won the most amazing victories. Finally Antiochus and his forces were driven out and the Temple was restored and cleansed. The point is that this dreadful period lasted from June 168 B.C. to December 165 B.C. (To this day the Jews celebrate in December the Festival of Hanukah which commemorates the restoration and the cleansing of the Temple.) That is to say this dreadful time lasted almost exactly three and a half years. It was during that time that Daniel was written and the phrase was coined which ever afterwards was stamped on the Jewish mind as indicating a period of terror and suffering and martyrdom.

The Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:3-6)

It was always part of Jewish belief that God would send his special messenger to men before the final coming of the Day of the Lord. In Malachi we hear God say: "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me" (Malachi 3:1). Malachi actually identifies the messenger as Elijah: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord comes" (Malachi 4:5). So, then, in our passage we have the coming of the messengers of God before the final contest.

These messengers have the task of prophesying; they will prophesy for 1,260 days, that is for three and a half years, which, as we have seen, is the period always connected with terror and destruction to come. Their message will be sombre, for they are clothed in sackcloth. It will be a message of condemnation; to listen to it will be like a torture and the people will be glad when the two witnesses are killed (Revelation 11:10).

(i) Some scholars have entirely allegorized this passage. They see in the two witnesses the Law and the Prophets, or the Law and the Gospel, or the Old Testament and the New Testament. Or, they see in the two witnesses a picture of the Church. Jesus had told his followers that they must be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). Those who explain the two witnesses by the witness of the Church explain the number two by referring to Deuteronomy 19:15, where it is said that if a charge is brought against anyone it must be confirmed by the evidence of two witnesses. But the picture of the two witnesses is so definite that it seems to refer to definite persons.

(ii) The two witnesses have been taken to be Enoch and Elijah. Neither Enoch nor Elijah was said to die. "Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24); Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind and in a chariot of fire to heaven (2 Kings 2:11); and Tertullian (Concerning the Soul, 50) refers to a belief that they were being kept by God in heaven to bring death to Antichrist.

(iii) Much more likely the witnesses are Elijah and Moses. Elijah was held to be the greatest of the prophets, just as Moses was the supreme law-giver; and it was fitting that the two outstanding figures in the religious history of Israel should be God's messengers at the last time. It was these two who appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:4). Further, the things said of them fit Moses and Elijah as they fit no one else. It is said (Revelation 11:6) that they have power to turn the water into blood and to smite the earth with all plagues, and that is what Moses did (compare specially Exodus 7:14-18). It is said that fire proceeds out of their mouth and burns up their enemies, and that they can shut up the heavens so that the rain is withheld. That is what Elijah did with the company of soldiers sent to take him (2 Kings 1:9-10) and when he prophesied to Ahab that there would be no rain upon the earth (1 Kings 17:1). We have already seen that Elijah was expected to return to herald the end; and it would not be difficult to regard God's promise that he would raise up a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18) as a prophecy that Moses himself would return.

The Saving Death Of The Two Witnesses (Revelation 11:7-13)

The witnesses are to preach for their allotted time and then will come Antichrist in the form of the beast from the abyss; and the two witnesses will be cruelly slain.

This is to happen in Jerusalem; but Jerusalem is called by the terrible names of Sodom and Egypt. Long before this Isaiah had addressed the rulers of Jerusalem as the rulers of Sodom and the people of Jerusalem as the people of Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:9-10). Sodom and Gomorrah stand as the types of sin, the symbols of those who had not received strangers (compare the story in Genesis 19:4-11) and who had turned their benefactors into slaves (Wisdom of Solomon 19:14-15). The wickedness of Jerusalem had already crucified Jesus Christ and in the days to come it is to regard the death of his witnesses with joy.

So will the people of Jerusalem hate the two witnesses that they will leave their bodies unburied in the street. In Jewish thought it was a terrible thing that a body should not be buried. When the heathen attacked God's people, to the Psalmist it was the greatest tragedy of all that there was none to bury them (Psalms 79:3); the threat to the disobedient prophet, a threat which came true, was that his carcase would not come to the sepulchre of his fathers (1 Kings 13:22). Even worse, such will be the hatred of the people for the witnesses of God that they will regard their death as a reason for festival.

But that is not the end. After three and a half days--here we have the same period--the breath of life entered again into the two slain witnesses and they stood upon their feet. Still more startling things were to happen. In sight of all, the two witnesses were summoned up into heaven, re-enacting, as it were, Elijah's first departure to heaven in the whirlwind and the chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).

To add to the terror came a destructive earthquake which wrecked a tenth of the city and brought death to seven thousand of its inhabitants. The result was that those who had seen these terrifying events and were spared, gave glory to God. That is to say, they repented, for that is the only real way to give glory to God.

The great interest of this passage lies in the fact that the unbelievers were won by the sacrificial death of the witnesses and by God's vindication of them. Here is the story of the Cross and of the Resurrection all over again. Evil must be conquered and men won, not by force but by the acceptance of suffering for the name of Christ.

The Forecast Of Things To Come (Revelation 11:14-19)

What makes this passage difficult is that it seems to indicate that things have come to an end in final victory, while there is still half the book to go. The explanation, as we have seen, is that this passage is a summary of what is still to come. The events foreshadowed here are as follows.

(i) There is the victory in which the kingdoms of the world become the kingdoms of the Lord and of his Anointed One. This is really a quotation of Psalms 2:2, and is another way of saying that the Messianic reign has begun. In view of this victory the twenty-four elders, that is, the whole Church, break out in thanksgiving.

(ii) This victory leads to the time when God takes his supreme authority (Revelation 11:17). That is to say, it leads to the thousand year reign of God, the Millenium, a thousand year period of peace and prosperity.

(iii) At the end of the Millenium there is to come the final attack of all the hostile powers (Revelation 11:18); they will be finally defeated and then will follow the last judgment.

In Revelation 11:19 we come back, as it were, to the present. There is a vision of the heavenly Temple opened and of the Ark of the Covenant. Two things are involved in this vision.

(i) The Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies, the inside of which no ordinary person had ever seen, and into which even the High Priest went only on the Day of Atonement. This must mean that now the glory of God is going to be fully displayed.

(ii) The reference to the Ark of the Covenant is as a reminder of God's special covenant with his people. Originally that covenant had been with the people Israel; but the new covenant is with all of every nation who love and believe in Jesus. Whatever the terror to come, God will not be false to his promises.

This is a picture of the coming of the full glory of God, a terrifying threat to his enemies but an uplifting promise to the people of his covenant.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Barclay, William. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". "William Barclay's Daily Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/revelation-11.html. 1956-1959.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology