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Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verse 1


The Apocalypse and Its Author —The last book of the NT is entitled: Apocalypse of (i.e. written by) John. Who was this John? But for certain doctrinal objections, ancient tradition would have been unanimous— he was John the Apostle, the son of Zebedee. In the 2nd cent. the ’Anocalypse’ was known throughout the Church, regarded as inspired by God, and written by a John whom St Justin (c 140: Dial., 81, 4) calls ’one of the apostles of Christ’: Justin knew Ephesus well. Polycarp, John’s disciple (martyred at Smyrna, 155-6), quotes the Apocalypse complete with grammatical abnormalities: the Muratorian Fragment ( Rome: 155-200) mentions the Apocalypse as John’s, manifestly meaning the Apostle: Irenaeus (177-8; familiar with Gaul, Rome and the East; cf. the Letter from Lyons, doubtless drawn up by him; and Adv. Haer., ii, 22, 5; iv, 21, 11; v, 26, 1) is certain that it is by John, disciple of the Lord. Tertullian (c 205-10: Adv. Marc., iii, 14, 24; iv, 5: and De resurr. carnis, 27) is no less clear. The list were easily amplified. But a certain Roman priest Caius (c 205) startlingly assigned the book to John’s great adversary Cerinthus who, under the pseudonym’ a great apostle’, declared that it taught a terrestrial ’kingdom of Christ’ lasting 1,000 years of nuptial festivity. The Montanists, passionately believing in personal mystical inspiration, fostered a reaction against the Johannine writings and objected to symbolism as such: ’What use to me is John’s Apocalypse when it talks of Seven Angels or Seven Trumpets?’ But they acknowledge that the ruck of Christians ascribe the book to the Apostle: thus they witness to the tradition while deriding it.

But about 250 Dionysius bishop of Alexandria, disliking the book’s symbolism and ’millenarianism’, ’guessed’ that its author was different from that of the Gospel: ’Many men are called John, and they say that there are two tombs in Ephesus, each called John’s!’ His reasoning, then, is purely personal not traditional: no one so far had heard of this ’other John’. Eusebius however ( HE iv, 13, 8) says that either the book must be ranked as among the undisputed NT books or rejected as apocryphal, and suggests that its author ’might be’ John the Presbyter mentioned by Papias: this ’other John’ might account for the story of the ’two tombs’. So for slightly over a century there was a partial eclipse of the Apocalypse: it was accepted in the West, doubted or rejected in the East: but soon the entire Church accepted it—there was no rival tradition, and the doubts had been raised on impressionist or doctrinal grounds. Towards the end of the 19th cent., it was argued that neither Gospel nor Apocalypse was written by the Apostle, or that only the latter was: but a reaction set in, and it is very generally admitted that both documents are by one author: since we hold that the Fourth Gospel was written by John the son of Zebedee (see §§ 776d-778f), we regard the Apocalypse too as having been written by him.

Impossible, here, to do more than indicate lines of argument for or against identity of authors. Verbally, the Apocalypse is more akin to the Johannine Gospel and Epistles than to the rest of the NT. Grammatically and syntactically the differences are startling, but the coincidences far more subtle, so that those who believe in different authors sometimes postulate a sort of ’ Asia Minor’ dialect due, maybe, to ’John of Ephesus’, which influenced all the Johannine writings. Doctrinally, Jn is said to present a ’human’ Christ: the Apocalypse, a tremendous heavenly Judge and King —as to this, see the Commentary: enough to note here that only in the Gospel and the Apocalypse is our Lord called the ’Logos’; nowhere could His divinity be more strongly stressed than in the former; throughout the Gospels ???s??, judgement, is a keyword; Christ’s role as Judge at the End is, if anything, less emphasized in the Apocalypse. In short, the latter seems to be more closely allied with Jn than with the Synoptists. Then we are told that the spirit and method controlling the two documents differ profoundly. But, first, each is built up out of contrasts—Light, Dark; Truth, Lie; Life, Death—and Lamb, Wild Beast; Bride, World-Wanton; Jerusalem, Babylon; Michael, Dragon (see Commentary). Again, the historical events in Jn are chosen for their spiritual significance—John uses the material fact as symbol for a spiritual truth: in the Apocalypse he chooses a spiritual truth and devises a symbol for it. Again, the Apocalypse is put into carefully articulated groups of ’seven’: in the Gospel, John selects seven significant miracles (many other ’septuples’ are to be found there; see Abbott, Johannine Grammar, 2624-7): this is the more remarkable since certain expressions (e.g. ’these things have I spoken to you’) could hardly have been observed as used seven times save by a student looking for such a system: they do not construct a pattern as ’sevens’ do in the Apocalypse-though it too contains various ’latent sevens’. Another habit of John’s, specially noticeable in the Apocalypse, is that having all that he proposes to say already in his mind he will provide a self-contained picture into which, none the less, some element of what he will say next enters: his sections are separate, yet ’dove-tailed’. His mounting tide rolls forward and the wave crashes: it retreats, carrying back some shingle: forward it sweeps again, covering a new reach of shore, and so on, till it reaches its appointed limit.

The Pattern of the Apocalypse —The book consists of a Prologue; the ’book’ itself, and an Epilogue. The Prologue is (a) general and (b) particular. (a) 1:1-8 Title; author; sanction; salutation of recipients; ascription of praise to Christ. (b) 1:93:22. Christ commands John to write to the Asiatic communities, telling them ’things present and to come’. John obeys, writing a sevenfold ’covering letter’, insisting chiefly on ’things present’. The Epilogue (22:6-21) corresponds closely with Prologue (a), amplifying it by many expressions used in the bulk of the book.

This falls into two substantial parts: A (4:1-11:18) and B (11:19-22:5): A (1) A Double Preparatory Vision (remaining as an unchanged background to all that follows) a. The everlasting worship of God by all Creation (ch 4). b. The universal role of God incarnate, suffering and triumphant (ch .5).

The Breaking of Seven Seals a. A group of 4 Seals Four Horsemen (6:1-6). b. A group of 2 Seals the cry of the Martyrs and the answer to it (7-17). c. A double vision interposed (ch 7). d. The Seventh Seal (8:1).

A (II) A Double Preparatory Vision a. The Prayer of the Martyrs in Heaven (8:2-4). b. Its effects on earth, seen generally (8:5).

The Sounding of Seven Trumpets a. A group of 4 Trumpets: the woes of inanimate Nature (8:6-13). b. A group of 2 Trumpets: a double war orspirits and of men (ch 9). c. A double vision interposed (10-11: 14). d. The Seventh Trumpet (11:15-18). (Prefatory Vision to Part B: The Apparition of the Ark of God; 11:19.) B (I) A Double Preparatory Vision a. The Woman, Mother of Christ (12:1-6). b. The Dragon, would-be conqueror of Christ (7-12).

Seven Great ’Mysteries’ a. A group of 4 Mysteries—the Dragon; the Wild Beast from the Sea; the Wild Beast from the Land; the Lamb (12:13-14:5). b. A group of 2 Mysteries (14:6-13). c. A double vision interposed (14:14-20). d. The Seventh Mystery (15:1-4).

B (II) A Double Preparatory Vision (15:5-8) The Outpouring of Seven Plagues a. A group of 4 Plagues (16:1-9). b. A group of 2 Plagues (10-12). c. A double vision interposed (13-16). d. The Seventh Plague (17-21).

There follows what could be called Part C, or Part B (III). The structure here may be less distinct, perhaps owing to a new kind of symbolism used; possibly because of the ever-increasing emotion under which John writes.

(A Prefatory Vision: 17:1-2.) A Double Preparatory Vision a. The World Wanton (17:3-6). b. Explanation of this ’Mystery’ (7-18).

Seven Visions a. A group of 4 Visions—The Doom pronounced on Rome (18:1-8): Dirge over Rome (9-20): the Destruction of Rome (21-24): the Triumph of the New Jerusalem (19:1-10). b. A group of two Visions—Christ’s Advent as Conqueror (19:11-16): the Destruction of the Beast (17-21). c. A double vision interposed—The Binding of the Dragon and the Reign of the Saints for 1,000 years (20:1-6): The Destruction of the Dragon (7-10). d. The Seventh Vision: Judgement and Consummation (11-15).

A Double Vision of God proclaiming the New Jerusalem (21:1-8) and of the New Jerusalem itself (21:9-22:5) corresponds to the Double Vision of God and of the Lamb prefixed to the central part of the book. (Epilogue: 22:6-21.)

Prophecy: Prediction: ’Apocalypse’ —The book therefore belongs to a certain class of prophetic writing, i.e. ’Apocalypse’, and is traditional. But it is also original. The word ’apocalypse’, un-veiling’, is frequent in both Testaments. St Paul speaks of the unveiling of God’s Judgements, of Christ, of the ’sons of God’, and says that he has had personal unveilings (cf.Romans 2:5; Romans 8:19; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 1:12). Prophecy can include ’prediction’, and Apocalypse can include actual comment and practical advice; yet we might say that the former begins from earth and rises to heaven, while the latter begins from heaven and descends to interpret human life in the light of eternity. Now if St Paul heard ’ words that transcend all words’— ’words that no man may utter’ (2 Corinthians 12:4), should he have wished to relate that experience he must perforce have done so in symbols. So too would any other ecstatic. Hence an ’apocalyptic dialect’ grew up, especially when the Ending of the World was being dealt with. Nor was this disdained by our Lord himself. The message might be new; but the diction, inherited. John’s message was new—it concerned a Messias not only promised, but arrived. So he could not but use and adapt the ancestral symbolism. He would have adapted it in any case, being a true artist: thus he simplifies Ezechiel’s vision of God and quite ’de-humanises’ it: he accepts many a suggestion from his own environment: he will use various symbols for one thing, or allow one symbol to float from one meaning to another. Some of his symbolism may remain inexplicable for us, not only because we cannot fully share the knowledge of his Asiatic readers, but because he wrote at times ’in cipher’ what he had already explained or would explain later and could not risk writing openly, e.g. about the Emperors; cf. St Paul: 2 Thess 2. We may, then, say that a Prophet can have five planes of consciousness within himself, all intcrpenetrating—he might see something concrete, actual or imminent; a city, or an invasion, and, he might allude to this directly, or under some symbol— a strong king attacks a weak one; a lion devours a gazelle. Or, he might see a persecution as ’typical’, a summing-up of the world-enduring conflict between Right and Wrong—thus the End of the World could be seen in the sack of Jerusalem, when a ’world’ undoubtedly did end, as another did when Christendom broke up, or, may be, in 1945. Again, he could see all this as having its counterpart in man’s soul: or, yet again shifting his perspective, he could contemplate a world of spiritual prototypes, more ’real’ than transitory events. Finally, he might ’see God’, so far as that is granted to man. Delicate indeed the task of judging upon which plane the Apocalyptist’s eye is focused, for, while seeing more than one, he will focus especially upon one. Our suggestions therefore are but tentative, nor do we forget that John was inspired to write as he did, so that his words have God for Author.

It is clear that one man must have arranged the component elements of the book into their strange mosaic—’7’, i.e. ’4; 2; (2); 1’. So we need not suppose that John ’saw’ all these visions ’on end’: they may have been ’lights in prayer’ granted at different times in his life, remembered by him (as

Mary ’kept all these things’, reflecting on them, interconnecting them: Luke 2:19, Luke 2:51) and finally arranged by him as we have them. If this be so, the question of ’when’ the visions were granted, lapses, though we still can ask when the book was composed. But more. It becomes evident that the episodes (starting with the Seals) cannot represent a sequence in time—century by century, era by era. Commentators used to struggle to show that they do: probably no one attempts this now. John’s eye is fixed throughout on one subject—Christ’s Triumph in a hostile world. True, we shall see that he focuses more and more on contemporary events; but in reality the consummation is reached at the end of each group of seven, though, foreseeing (as we said) what he will write down next, he causes the theme of, or some item in, the following group of visions to be anticipated in the previous one.

I hold, then, that the book is a complex whole Fonstructed by one man, who does not, for example incorporate earlier (hypothetical) apocalypses; who modifies the traditional dialect to suit his genius and environment; that its doctrine is identical with that of the Fourth Gospel and that its diction and style are nearer to that than to the Synoptists. Is this paradoxical in view of the differences on grammar, vocabulary and style which have been a main reason for the denial of identity of authorship, or at least for assigning the purer Greek of the Gospel to ’disciple-secretaries’ used by the aged John? (See on the Pentateuch, § 48b, and on Hebrews, § 52c.) But (a) the style of the Fourth Gospel hardly suggests to me an adapting hand, let alone mind; and (b) it is absurd to say that a man cannot write in very different styles, especially when both his material and his mood are different. John, receiving shock after shock of ecstacy and struggling to write down symbolically and traditionally what could not really be written down at all, cannot but have written in a quite special way. Had we Aquinas’s Summa only, we would not have expected his hymns: having the hymns we are not surprised by the Summa. Had we only St John of the Cross’s lyrics, would we have expected his prose works (or vice versa)? Having both, we see—once he explains his symbolism—how truly. yet surprisingly, they harmonize. John was steeped in the apocalyptic passages of the Prophets, especially Daniel, Ezechiel and Zacharias: he may have read earlier or contemporary apocalypses— Enoch ( 166164 b.c.); The Secrets of Enoch ( a.d. 1-50); especially Baruch (contemporary?): but he does not quote, and the non-canonical documents are altogether beneath him artistically and spiritually: we need not mention anything that followed him. One cannot precisely prove that the book was written by the son of Zebedee or at any definite date: the only reason for asserting that parts of it could not have been written before a late date (94-6: see § 970k, l) would be the assumption that prediction is impossible.

The Recipients of the Apocalypse: Emperor-Worship: Gnosticism —John sent his Apocalyple into a world where two main dangers were manifest. One was Emperor-worship, due at its lowest to the immemorial oriental wish to flatter its princes, flattery welcomed at any rate by unbalanced emperors like Nero, Caligula or Domitian. It was due, too, to a far-sighted policy, especially when linked with the Goddess Rome. Emperor-worship alone held together the heterogeneous cultures that formed the Empire, and this worship insinuated itself into every part of life—military, social, bureaucratic, commercial: every reunion involved some Emperor-worship; to avoid it, a man must practically ostracize and ruin himself. But even the hard-headed Roman felt that ’ Rome’ existed ’not without the gods’ and was herself ’divine’ : so in proportion as the Emperor incarnated ’ Rome’, he too became divine. Finally, the prevalent Stoic philosophy regarded the Logos—the departmental ’expression’ of ’God’—as socially made visible in the system of Empire. Thus he who dissociated himself from this was not only disloyal, but an enemy of civilization, animated by a ’hatred for the (civilized) human race’ and must be got rid of.

Secondly, a vaguely religious philosophy was everywhere taking many fluid forms later to be known, collectively, as ’Gnosticism’. It tended to regard all ’matter’ as bad, so that God could never come into contact with it: contact was made through an enormous series of existences each less spiritual than the preceding one. Somewhere in this series was the ’Logos’. Those then who did not wish to exclude Christianity held that our Lord’s body was unreal, an ’appearance’ only: or, that a divine Power laid hold of a human body and used it like a marionette between, e.g. the Temptation and the Agony (or the Death). You could either get rid of this evil matter by extreme asceticism—no marriage! no eating of flesh-meat!; or, you could regard your body as so definitely not your Self that it did not matter what it did: the divine spark, ultimately to be reunited with God, remained inviolate though in prison. Thus all religions were relatively ’true’, being but expressions of the Inexpressible Super-Reality and useful for, the common herd who did not know the ’depths’ of this doctrine as true Gnostics (Know-ers) did (see § 965a).

This was but on its way to systematization when the Apocalypse was written; but St Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Colossians and indeed St John’s first Epistle often refer to its embryo. Both Christian ’intellectuals’ and the average Christian were hard pressed. The latter could so easily be persuaded that Emperor-worship was a mere social formality: the former, that Gnosticism was just ’broad-mindedness’. The intransigeance of St John will be seen hurling itself against both these misconceptions and implements its decisions about actual problems by its vision of eternal Truth.

Verses 2-20

The Title: ’The Revelation of (i.e. given by, through) John’ I 1-3 The Scope of the Book —’The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to show to his servants—what must soon take place—which he showed —sending it by his Angel—to his servant John—who witnessed to the Word of God and the witness of Jesus Christ—all that he saw.’

I 1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Is he the Revealer or the Revealed? Both. He revealed himself to St Paul (2 Thessalonians 1:7; Galatians 1:16, etc.). God entrusts what he reveals, to his Son that he in his turn may reveal it to the world by means of his prophets—in this case, John (cf.John 17:8; John 14:10).

2. Christ receives, transmits, and is God’s Word and John witnesses to that to which Christ witnesses (cf.John 5:32, John 5:32, John 5:37). The whole of Jn is concerned with the Utterance of God and the witnesses to it—miracles; the Baptist; the Evangelist; the Holy Spirit. But this revelation is also a prediction of what must ’soon’ happen: ’the moment is near’.

3. Blessings on those who’ read the prophecy aloud’ and on those who listen and who ’keep’ what is written, remembering, reflecting (like Mary, Luke 2:19, Luke 2:51). Since Christ evidently is speaking himself, who is the ’Angel’? Our Lord himself alludes to his Angel (22:6) and as a rule it is an angel who addresses or summons John. Probably John, under the spell of the OT, felt that he must not suggest that he saw God with his eyes or heard him with his ears, and gravitated towards the OT expression ’The Angel of Yahweh’, i.e. God precisely as revealing his invisible Self.

4-6. Salutation to the Readers, i.e. the ’seven churches’ in ’ Asia’, and ascription of glory and power to the Eternal, to Christ, slain, risen, Redeemer and Universal King.

4. The ’seven Churches’; see § 964 f. ’From him that is, and was, and is to come’: literally, ’from the Existing, the Was, and the Coming’ (moreover, the preposition ?p?, ’from’, which governs the genitive, is here followed by the nominative: but the words are an immutable title, outside grammatical construction. So too (5) ’from Jesus Christ’ (genitive) is followed by ’the Witness’ (etc.) in the nominative. But these titles too are exclamatory and detached. ’Who is’ occurs five times in the Apoc, though twice without ’the Coming’: God’s essential Being is an eternal Now. The future participle ?s?µe??? would be less meaningful for John than a word implying not only futurity but Arrival (the Last Day). Humanity can express eternity only by such words as ’He who was, is, and will be’. The ’Seven Spirits that are before the Throne of God’. Who are these? Either John omits the Holy Spirit, or these are He—but if so, why so strangely spoken of? Or, if not he, who are these Spirits? John’s word p?e?µata seldom means ’angels’, else we might think of the (apocryphal) ’Angels of the Face’, supremely mighty spirits who may represent an endeavour to express the totality of God’s action ’outwards’. Here I think they represent the Holy Spirit thus—they are the totality of God’s activity especially in regard of his Son (cf.Isaiah 11:2, where the Spirit reposing on the Messias is, it is true, six-fold in Hebrew but made sevenfold in the LXX: cf. too the Seven Eyes of Yahweh and those of the Lamb which rove throughout the world: Zach 4:10; Apoc 5:6). Since the Apoc knows the Holy Spirit (e.g. 22:17) and that the Son is co-equal with his Father, it seems impossible that John should join seven created spirits with Father and Son as givers of grace and peace, especially as he places them between the Father and the Son. Therefore the Seven Spirits are the Holy Spirit whose ’totality’ is seen as seven-fold (disconcertingly, maybe, to us but not to one under the spell of the OT) and acting on the Son of God as made flesh—the Witness wholly to be trusted (’faithful’), first-born from the dead (cf.Colossians 1:18; infra, 19:16, etc.), the Ruler over the kings of the earth (a warning note: the Apoc will have much to say of Christ triumphant over Caesaranti-God).

5. ’To him who loves us (present, not past participle) and loosed us (??sa?t?, not ???sa?t?, ’washed’) from our sins in (i.e. by means of) his blood.’

6. He has made us ’a kingdom (i.e. a royal race) and priests (cf.Exodus 19:6; ’a priestly kingdom’; 1 Peter 2:5, 1 Peter 2:9; ’a holy kingly priesthood’). Our redemption is not only negative—we are no more ’unclean’: it is not only from, but to; to incorporation into the Living Christ, and so, to a sharing in his prerogatives.

7. A characteristic cry of exultant vision. ’Bewail themselves’ should be ’shall beat (their breasts),’ (cf.Zach 12:10; John 19:37). ’With the clouds’, cf.Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30. Might not ’Yes! Amen!’ be joined to 8, as part of the solemn seal set by God on the Prophet’s words? The combination of Greek with Hebrew was significantly emphatic: cf. ’Abba! Father!’, Mk 14-36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6. ’Alpha and Omega’, first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, i.e. that Alphabet from which all words are made (cf.Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6, etc.). This title, proper to God, Eternal, All-Ruler, is given to Christ in 22:13. These eight verses, then, include the whole doctrine of the Trinity, Incarnation, Redemption, the Church, the Judgement of the World (in every age) by Christ. What Un-Veiling can show more than that?

9-20 The Mandatory Vision —John, exiled in the quarry-island Patmos and rapt in ecstacyi is told to write to the Churches of Asia: he turns, and sees the Living Christ moving about among those Communities and receives his Mandate so to write.

9. John in exile is sharing in the perseverance during that persecution which does not prevent Christians from being a Kingdom. He ’found himself’ there ’because of the Word of God and the Witness of Jesus’ (i.e. the witness given by, or to, Jesus, or both).

10. He was ’in the spirit’, seized by the spirit of ’prophecy’ (cf.I Cor 14:1, 32; Apoc 22:6, etc.). ’The Lord’s Day’: Sunday.—Why ’behind me’? In Homer, the future comes up from behind a man—he does not foresee it. Or, nothing that John had been seeing or hearing ’led up to’ his ’revelation’ (cf.Ez 3:12).

11. The Voice tells him to write to the Seven Churches in Asia. 12. He turns to ’look at the Voice’. The Vision, the Hearing, are expressed in terms recalling Daniel (esp. ch 7) and later apocalyptic writings, e.g. Enoch 46:14 ff., where the Seer beholds: ’One who had a head of days (i.e. was aged; i.e. here, eternal) and his head was white like wool. With him was one whose face was like a man. This is the Son of Man who reveals all the treasures of that which is hidden, because the Lord has chosen him and he will arouse the Kings and the Mighty from their couches and the strong from their thrones. Before the sun and the constellations were created . . . his Name was named before the Lord of Spirits’ (48:3 ff.). John uses OT symbols proper to God alone, transferring them to Christ, pre-existing and everlasting. The Figure is definitely human (Daniel 7:17; and our Lord’s use of the expression ’Son of Man’: see § 621h): in long priestly robe (Exodus 28:4; cf.Zach 3:4) and royal golden girdle (Daniel 10:5): for the flaming eyes his piercing gaze, reading the heart’s secrets, cf. of an angel (Daniel 10:6, Daniel 10:14).

15. The feet of purified bronze (?), firm and indomitable, unlike the clay-and-iron feet of Nabuchodonosor’s image (Daniel 2:23, Daniel 2:34): the ’voice of many waters’ (cf.Psalms 92:4, Psalms 92:5), sonorous, even thunderous, yet not harsh.

16. The Word of God, ’more piercing than any two-edged sword, reaching to the division of the soul and the spirit, of the very joints and marrow, disentangling the inmost thought and intentions of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12). On the Seven Stars, held by Christ, and the Seven Lampstands among which he moves, see on 20.

17. John falls prostrate (cf. 19:10; 21:8; Isaiah 6:5; Dan often). The Vision uses our Lord’s remembered words, ’Fear not!’ ’I am the First and the Last’ (human history, from end to end, is unintelligible apart from the Incarnation: see § 966d): ’the Living One (essentially a divine title in OT), and dead did I become; and see! I am living for ever and ever!’ St John’s Gospel and his Apocalypse are built up around the idea of Life (cf.Acts 3:15; ’Chieftain of Life’). ’The Keys of Death and of Hades’: Christ is Lord also of the Dead (Death and Hell are here ’places’, the world of the bodily-dead: cf. 6:8 for personification). He who holds the keys of city, house, treasury, controls what is in them (cf.Isaiah 22:22. In Matthew 16:19, the Messias inherits the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and hands them over to Peter).

20. Defines the nature of this book—it is to contain ’things that are’, and ’what shall be after these’. Present, and Future. But as a ’mystery’, as having an inner meaning, symbolized. A hint is at once given of how to approach the apocalyptic symbols—Christ moves among seven lampstands: these are the Communities to which John must write: and the ’stars’ that Christ holds are the ’angels’ of those communities.

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Revelation 1". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/revelation-1.html. 1951.
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