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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 10

Verses 1-99

The Angel with the Little Book. Chap. 10

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.

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

clothed with a cloud ] And therefore with something of the state with which Christ will come to judgement: cf. 1:7, &c.

a rainbow ] Lit. the rainbow : it is conceived as being the same bow of God that is seen every time that it appears.

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

2. a little book ] The diminutive perhaps suggests comparison (but hardly contrast) with the book of 5:1 seqq.

3. seven thunders ] Lit. the seven thunders . 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.

their voices ] 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 29:0 passim ; St John 12:28 , it is scarcely possible to doubt that these thunders, voices from heaven, are from God, or at least directed by Him.

4. I was about to write ] See 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.

Seal up ] 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 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. 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 identity the mission of this angel with any special dispensation of God yet known.

5. lifted up his hand to heaven ] Read, “his right hand.” 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.

6. sware by him ] This angel therefore is in no sense a divine Person.

6, 7. that there shall be time no longer: but ] i.e. as we say, “there shall be no more time lost , but” …: “there shall be delay no longer.” It is not in harmony with the usual language of Scripture to suppose that finite “time” is meant to be opposed to eternity.

7. when he shall begin to sound ] More accurately, “when he shall be about to sound .”

the mystery of God ] Here Abp. Whately’s paradox is hardly an exaggeration, that for “mystery” one might substitute “revelation,” without altering the sense: see on 1:20.

shall be finished ] The construction in the Greek is curious, but it is probably a mere Hebraism, and the sense of the A. V. right.

declared ] The word is the characteristic evangelical one, “told the good news.”

8. spake unto me again ] The true reading is scarcely grammatical, but must mean “[I heard] again speaking unto me.”

9. I went ] Apparently from his place in heaven to the earth: but there are difficulties in tracing coherently the changes in the point of view.

and said unto him, Give me , &c.] Read, saying unto him that he should give me .

eat it up ] Ezekiel 2:8 , Ezekiel 3:3 .

it shall make thy belly bitter ] 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 after-thought of bitterness the Christ-like sorrow for those against whom God’s wrath is revealed, who “knew not the time of their visitation.”

“It grieves so sore his tender heart

To see God’s ransom’d world in fear and wrath depart.”

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 v. 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.

11. And he said ] Read, And they say .

Thou must prophesy again ] Some try to make out that there is here a new commission given to the Apostle, and that in the remainder of the book there are higher mysteries than in the foregoing part. But it is surely simpler to take it as 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.