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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 15

Verses 1-99

The Seven Vials. Chaps. 15, 16

1. another sign ] Besides those of 12:1, 3. Here preparation is made (as in 8:2) for another sevenfold series of visions. Some have attempted to see a sevenfold series in the three preceding chapters its elements being the successively appearing figures of the Woman, the Dragon, the Man Child, Michael, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Lamb. But this seems rather far-fetched: at any rate, it is not likely to have been consciously present to St John’s mind.

the seven last plagues; for ] Literally, seven plagues, the last, for : i.e. the fact that “in them is filled up [or rather “fulfilled, finished”] the wrath of God” is given as the reason why these plagues are the last.

The Triumph of the Victors over the Beast, vv. 2 8

2. a sea of glass mingled with fire ] Probably describes an optical appearance much like that of 21:18, 21. It gives no reason for doubting that this is the same sea of glass as in 4:6: it is not till now that the Seer’s attention is specially directed to it, and he now describes it in more detail than before.

them that had gotten the victory over ] Lit. them that overcame [the same word as “him that overcometh” in chapters 2:3] from …: them that, as we might say, “fought their way clear of” all these dangers and temptations. R. V. “come victorious from.”

and over his mark ] Should be omitted.

stand ] Lit. standing .

on the sea ] Perhaps literally, for “a sea of glass” would of course be a solid support; or if not, they might walk upon the sea like their Lord, sustained by faith. But perhaps no more is meant than when we speak of a town lying “ on the sea:” this is supported by the fact that Israel sung the song of Moses on the shore , after their passage. And the Greek preposition used, though naturally translated “on,” is the same as in the phrase “stand at the door” in 3:20.

harps ] As 5:8, 14:2: though the harpers here are not the same as in the first place nor (probably) as in the second.

3. the song of Moses ] Exodus 15:0 the song of God’s redeemed people, delivered from their enemies, and confident of coming, but not come yet , “unto the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord their God doth give unto them.” There is probably no allusion to their coming from the “Red Sea” of martyrdom: that is a pretty conceit, but below the dignity of prophecy.

the servant of God ] Exodus 14:31 is particularly referred to; but also in Numbers 12:7 ; Joshua 1:1 , Joshua 1:2 , Joshua 1:7 , Joshua 1:13 , Joshua 1:15 , 22:5; Psalms 105:26 “the servant of the Lord” is used as a special honourable title of Moses: cf. Hebrews 3:5 .

the song of the Lamb ] For the Lamb has redeemed them, as Moses redeemed Israel. “The song of the Lamb” is not a different song from “the song of Moses,” but the same interpreted in a higher sense: well illustrated by the Christian use of Psalms 114:0 , and the other Passover Psalms, in our Easter services.

Great and marvellous &c.] There may be references to Psalms 111:2 , Psalms 139:14 , Psalms 145:17 : but this psalm rather continues the spirit of those than combines their words. It is noticeable that this song, alone of those occurring in this book, has the parallelism or quasi-metrical structure of Hebrew poetry.

of saints ] Read, of the nations or of the ages ; the best editors are divided in their preference for one of these readings, but both are better attested than that of the received text. See Jeremiah 10:7 , which no doubt is quoted, in these words and the clause following, and perhaps decides the balance of probability in favour of “nations.”

4. holy ] Not the same word as is applied to God in 4:8 &c., but ordinarily used of human piety or holiness and in that sense applied to our Lord, in His human character, in Hebrews 7:26 . It is only used of God here and in 16:5 (the true text): in both places the sense is that God is “justified in His saying and clear when He is judged.”

all nations shall come &c.] Psalms 86:9 ; Isaiah 66:23 .

thy judgments ] Rather, righteous acts , cf. 19:8. The word occurs only once besides in the N. T., Romans 5:18 .

5. the Temple … was opened ] 11:19. For the phrase “Tabernacle of the Testimony” (or “Witness” the word is the same) cf. Acts 7:44 : see Numbers 1:50 ). “Was opened in Heaven” would give the sense, more accurately than the order of the A. V.

6. having ] We should probably read “which had”: we see in v. 7 that they did not come out having them.

white ] More accurately, bright .

linen ] R. V. “arrayed with precious stone, pure and bright” following a strange reading “stone” (the Greek word differs only by one letter), which is very strongly attested. If it be right, the nearest parallel is Ezekiel 28:13 where, comparing the next two verses, it seems as though the human “king of Tyrus” were identified with a fallen Angel, perhaps the patron of the city. Therefore these holy Angels may be here described as clothed in glory like his before his fall.

their breasts ] As in 1:13, where see note.

7. vials ] See on 5:8.

8. smoke ] Isaiah 6:4 .

no man was able &c. Exodus 40:35 ; 1 Kings 8:11 .

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 15". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.