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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 10

Verse 1

1. We are not told yet, as we might expect, that “the Second Woe is past,” nor does the Seventh Trumpet and the Third Woe immediately follow: but just as in ch. 7 the two descriptions of the sealed Israelites and the palm-bearing multitude came after the Sixth Seal, so here the vision of the mighty angel, and the prophecy (passing insensibly into a vision) of the Two Witnesses, follow the Sixth Trumpet.

ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρόν. “Another,” probably, than the four mentioned in Revelation 9:15 : cf. Revelation 7:1-2. Some suppose a reference back to Revelation 5:2, where we have heard of a “mighty angel” (the epithet is the same) before.

περιβεβλημένον νεφέλην. And therefore with something of the state with which Christ will come to judgement: cf. Revelation 1:7 &c. The cloud is wrapt about the head as well as the shoulders, as appears from the next clause.

ἡ ἶρις. The article suggests that the same bow of God is seen every time that it appears.

οἱ πόδες. i.e. his legs are as thick as the pillars of a temple, and their substance of fiery brightness.

Verses 1-11


Verse 2

2. ἔχων. Rightly paraphrased by versions as a predicate rather than an epithet.

βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεῳγμένον. The diminutive perhaps suggests comparison (but hardly contrast, which is sufficiently marked by the epithet) with the book of Revelation 5:1 sqq.

Verse 3

3. αἱ ἑπγὰ βρονταί. The only reason that we can imagine for the presence of the article is, that to St John’s mind “the seven thunders” formed one element in the vision; as we might speak of “the seven seals,” “the seven trumpets,” “the seven vials”—these being known to us, as the thunders also were to him.

τὰς ἑαυτῶν φωνάς. The possessive is emphatic, “their own voices.” Perhaps the meaning is, “each uttered its own.” It has been taken to imply that the voices of the thunders were not the voice of God: but comparing Psalms 29 : passim, St John 12:28-29, it is scarcely possible to doubt that these thunders, voices from heaven, are from God, or at least directed by Him.

Verse 4

4. ἔμελλον γράφειν. See Revelation 1:19. It is useless to speculate how far the Book was written at the same time that the Vision was seen: possibly it may have been in part, but it is enough to suppose that, having been bidden to write, the Seer seemed to himself to write, or (so to speak) saw himself writing, at appropriate points of the Vision.

σφράγισον. Cf. Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:9. There the use of the words is more logical: Daniel is to write the vision, but not to let it be read: contrast in this book Revelation 22:10. Here the use of the word is suggested by the passage in Daniel—in the impassioned style of this book it is forgotten that what is not written cannot and need not be sealed. It may be noted that μὴ αὐτὰ γράψῃς in this verse and Revelation 11:2 μὴ αὐτὴν μετρήσης are the only certain instances in this book of an accusative pronoun other than a relative coming before the verb except Revelation 1:7, Revelation 12:15; cf. Revelation 11:5, Revelation 18:14. Why the voices of the thunders were not to be written it is idle to guess: it is worse than idle to guess what they were. And in our ignorance of this it is hardly possible that we should be able to identify the mission of this angel with any special dispensation of God yet known.

Verse 5

5. τὴν χεῖρα αὐτοῦ τὴν δεξιάν. Cf. Daniel 12:7, where the angel lifts up both hands: here, his left is occupied with the book. For the gesture symbolic of an oath see Genesis 14:22, &c.: there may be a reference to that passage intended, in the description of the Most High that follows.

Verse 6

6. ὤμοσεν ἐν τῷ ζῶντι This angel is therefore in no sense a divine Person.

Verses 6-7

6, 7. ὅτι χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται, ἀλλʼ …, i.e. as we say, “there shall be no more time lost, but” …: “there shall be delay no longer,” Ezekiel 12:22-23. It is not in harmony with the usual language of Scripture to suppose that finite “time” is meant to be opposed to eternity.

Verse 7

7. ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραιςτοῦ ἑβδόμου ἀγγέλου. This accounts for the Vision being narrated between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets; though it also suggests that the whole of the Vision of the Trumpets may have been seen before it: indeed that the interval may have been long enough for what looked like a fulfilment of the signs which followed the first five Trumpets if not the Sixth—while the end seemed as far off as ever.

ὅταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν. If μέλλῃ is to be pressed we should understand that the course of God’s judgements for this world comes to au end before the Seventh Angel sounds, and that when he does, the world to come begins; but as it would be against the analogy of this book to identify the general resurrection and the condemnation of the Lost with the Third Woe, it is better to take ὅταν μέλλῃ σαλπίζειν simply as a periphrasis for the future.

καὶ ἐτελέσθη. No doubt a literal reproduction of the so-called Hebrew “preterite with vau conversive,” the only one now traceable in the book, though there are places where the Old Latin version seems to have read an aorist where our Greek MSS. read a future.

τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ. Here Abp Whately’s paradox is hardly an exaggeration, that for “mystery” one might substitute “revelation,” without altering the sense: see on Revelation 1:20.

εὐηγγέλισεν. The active is only found in this book.

τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ δούλους. The accusative is not irregular according to New Testament usage. St Luke generally uses it for the recipients of the message when its contents are not mentioned: when both are mentioned, the message is in the accusative, the recipients in the dative; though once, Acts 13:32, we have a double accusative.

Verse 8

8. ἡ φωνὴ ἣν ἤκουσαπάλιν λαλοῦσαν. The participles are made to depend upon ἤκουσα by an irregular attraction, which would be less puzzling if it did not leave ἡ φωνὴ without any construction at all.

Verse 9

9. ἀπῆλθον. Apparently from his place in heaven to the earth; if the Vision which begins at Revelation 4:1 is continued throughout the book, there are difficulties in tracing coherently the changes in the point of view.

κατάφαγε αὐτό. Ezekiel 2:8; Ezekiel 3:3.

πικρανεῖ σου τὴν κοιλίαν. This Ezekiel’s roll did not do. We may presume that this little book, like the O.T. one, contained “lamentations, and mourning, and woe.” To both prophets, the first result of absorbing the words of God and making them their own (Jeremiah 15:16) is delight at communion with Him and enlightenment by Him: but the Priest of the Lord did not feel, as the Disciple of Jesus did, the afterthought of bitterness—the Christ-like sorrow for those against whom God’s wrath is revealed, who “knew not the time of their visitation.”

“Else had it bruised too sore his tender heart

To see God’s ransom’d world in wrath and flame depart.” (Keble.) It is generally held, in one form or another, that this “little book” symbolises or contains “the mystery of God,” the approaching completion of which has just been announced. Some needlessly combine with this the theory (see note on Revelation 5:1) that it contains the whole or part of this Book of the Revelation. But really the surest clue to its meaning is the parallel passage in Ezekiel: if we say that the book contains “the Revelation of God’s Judgement” (remembering how that Revelation is described in Romans 1:18), we shall speak as definitely as is safe.

Verse 10

10. ἐπικράνθη. The ancient variant ἐγεμίσθη, which sums up what is expressed at length Job 32:18-19, brings out a real element in the meaning: the burden of unuttered truth is in itself a pain and, as we see in the next verse, the pain is a call to speak.

Verse 11

11. καὶ λέγουσίν μοι. For the impersonal plural cf. βλέπωσιν, Revelation 16:15.

δεῖ σε πάλιν προφητεῦσαι. If, as is possible (see on Revelation 10:7), this implies a new or renewed commission to the Seer, it is surely unnecessary to try to make out that the remainder of the book contains higher mysteries than the foregoing part. The words certainly include a personal warning to the Apostle himself;—he was to see the end of all things in vision, but his own earthly work and duties were not at an end. He had already “prophesied before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings” (whether Nero or Domitian was the last of these): and he would have to do the same “again.”

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 10". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.