1. μίαν ἐκ τῶν ἑπτὰ σφραγίδων. It is noteworthy that in this first Vision we have “one,” not “the first,” as in the Visions of the “Trumpets” and “Vials.” μία, in the New Testament, does stand for the first day of the week with and without the article, and with the article in Revelation 9:12 it certainly seems to stand for the first Woe.
ἑνὸς ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων. Presumably the Lion, as the other voices are described as those of the second, third, and fourth. But the voice like thunder, cf. Revelation 10:3, does not refer to the lion’s roaring: no doubt the other three voices were as loud.
ὡς φωνὴ βροντῆς. These words have no precise construction; it is to be supposed that the first term of the comparison is left to be imagined from λέγοντος.
ἔρχον. See critical note. καὶ ἴδε is almost certainly spurious and is not even a correct gloss. If the Seer needed to be bidden draw nigh (which he does not) the word would probably be δεῦρο as in Revelation 17:1, Revelation 21:9, and certainly he would only be bidden once. It would be less impossible to suppose, comparing Revelation 22:17; Revelation 22:20, that the cry is addressed to the Lord Jesus. His creatures pray Him to come—and behold, instead of His coming immediately, there come those terrible precursors of His, so increasingly unlike Him. If so, why is He not named as in Revelation 22:20, though not in 17? Moreover the scene is in Heaven, where He is visibly present, and the seals have to be opened one by one. The whole meaning of the phrase is that each of the living creatures by turns summons one of the four Horsemen.
Revelation 6:1-2. THE FIRST SEAL
2. ἰδοὺ ἵππος λευκός. The image of these four horses is certainly suggested by the vision of four chariots (with perhaps four horses in each, and so related to this exactly as Ezekiel’s vision of the living creatures to that in ch. 4) in Zechariah 6:1-8; cf. ibid. Revelation 1:8. But that passage throws little light on this: it is in fact the obscurer of the two. Here, the colours of the four horses plainly symbolise triumph, slaughter, mourning, and death; we are told expressly who the fourth Rider is: and hardly anyone doubts that the second and third represent War and Scarcity respectively. But about the first there is controversy. His white horse and golden crown resemble His Who appears in Revelation 19:11, Whose Name is called the Word of God: and hence many think that this Rider is Christ, or at least the representative of Christ’s Kingdom. But is it possible that when He has come, the plagues that follow should come after Him? or why should the living creatures continue to cry to Him to come, if He be come already? It would be more credible, that the first Rider is a false Christ, just as Matthew 24:5 precedes Revelation 6:6-7. But on the whole it seems more reasonable to suppose that all four Riders symbolise the woes before Christ’s coming foretold in the two latter verses: and that the first is the spirit of Conquest:—the description is like that in ch. 19, because there Christ is described as a Conqueror, and here we have a Conqueror who is nothing more. Then what is the difference between the first and the second Rider? Conquest is necessarily painful—it may be unjust and cruel, but it may be beneficent even to the conquered: at least it is not necessarily demoralising to the conquerors, as war becomes when it sinks from conquest into mere mutual slaughter. This Rider has a bow, that a sword, which may mean more than a contrast between the national weapons of the East and the West: the first is prepared to fight, and slay if necessary, but he will do so without passion or cruelty—just as it is commonly observed, that fire-arms have tended to make war less brutal, by removing the soldiers from the excitement of a personal struggle.
ἔχων is a predicate, though λευκός is an epithet.
ἐδόθη αὐτῷ. Here, as in Revelation 6:4, we may ask, does the Rider receive the gift for the first time after his appearance to the Seer? This is not necessary here or in Daniel 7:4; Daniel 7:6; Daniel 7:14; Daniel 7:27, which no doubt suggested the phrase: it is safer to say that the gift is an event of the Vision than that the Seer actually sees it given; in Daniel 7:4 this would be impossible. Any way, the crown, see on Revelation 2:10, Revelation 3:11, is rather an earnest of future dominion than a guerdon of past achievements.
ἐξῆλθεν. If this stood alone we should suppose that the Rider departed out of the field of vision—perhaps out of Heaven—to carry his conquests over the earth. Most commentators assume that ἐξῆλθεν changes its sense with its place: if not, both Riders come forth from a secret place behind the Throne.
νικῶν, καὶ ἵνα νικήσῃ. He makes war successfully, but his purpose is the securing the victory, not the excitement of battle and carnage.
3. ἔρχου. Text. Rec adds καὶ βλέπε; א καὶ ἴδε; Latt. et vide.
3, 4. THE SECOND SEAL
4. ἐδόθη αὐτῷ: see crit. note and on Revelation 2:7.
τὴν εἰρήνην. This may mean merely “peace in general,” “peace in the abstract,” but may also stand for “the peace” which the conquests of the previous Rider have left as their fruit.
ἵνα ἀλλήλους σφάξουσιν. This is the first instance of the future with ἵνα, which illiterate “barbarians” would think as natural as the future with ὄπως. The MSS. are never unanimous: the editors are by no means always unanimous, nor is it possible, on the hypothesis that the writer conforms fitfully to the common construction, ever to be quite sure whether the MSS. which represent the “regular” or the “irregular” construction are right. No MS. has the “irregular” construction in all the places where it commends itself to a majority of editors. Moreover most of the forms which mark the future or the subjunctive are liable to be confounded with one another. A possible theory is that in this Book ἵνα with the future indicative corresponds to ἵνα with the subjunctive in ordinary Greek, while ἵνα with the subjunctive aorist (which is much commoner than the present) corresponds to ἵνα with the optative. As for the sense, some understand this of civil war exclusively: and such wars have indeed most of the character of war as indicated under this seal. But its full meaning perhaps includes all wars, so far as they are aimless blood-shedding, not painful steps towards human progress. Here we can agree almost entirely with the “continuous historical” interpreters, who see the fulfilment of these four seals in the reigns of the “five good emperors,” when Trajan carried imperial conquest to its utmost height; in the civil wars and mutinies during and after the age of the Severi; in the famines that followed; and in the general distress that made the Barbarian conquest possible. Only we need not regard their meaning as exhausted in the fifth century (much less in the third). We may see e.g. the contrast of the two first seals in the Crusades compared with the religious wars of the Reformation: in the conquests of the French Republic and Empire, compared with the Red and the White Terror, and the mutual crimes of the Holy Alliance and the Carbonari: even in our own country, in a comparison of the reigns of Edward III. and Henry V. with those of their respective successors, or of Elizabeth’s with Charles I.’s: while again the civil war of the latter was noble and fruitful compared with the Dutch war of his son.
5. ζυγόν. What follows proves that scarcity rather than oppression is symbolised. The sense is, that mankind shall be placed on limited rations of bread, like the people in a besieged city; as in Leviticus 26:26; Ezekiel 4:16.
5, 6. THE THIRD SEAL
6. φωνήν. One of the many voices heard throughout this book without anyone being defined as the speaker.
χοῖνιξ σίτου. The object of the voice is rather to define the extent of the scarcity than, as some say, to mitigate it. It is noticeable that here as in 2 Kings 7:18 there is a simple ratio between the price of wheat and that of barley, which is probably due to the fact that they were constantly bartered for each other without the intervention of money. The proportion varied in different famines. Joshua the Stylite says that in a famine at Edessa 500 A.D. 4 modii of wheat were sold for a dinar, and six modii of barley for the same. So too Barhebraeus says that in a famine in Bagdad A.H. 373 ( ± 983 A.D.) wheat was exactly double the price of barley (as in Samaria), a cor of wheat sold for 4080 zuzas and a cor of barley for 2040 zuzas. A quart (or somewhat less) of corn is to be bought for a silver penny (about 8½d.): the former was the estimated ration for an able-bodied man’s daily fare, the latter the daily pay of a soldier, apparently a liberal daily pay (see Matthew 20:2) for a labourer. So there is not such a famine that the poor must starve, and the rich “give their pleasant things for meat to relieve the soul”: the working man can, if he pleases, earn the ordinary necessaries of life for himself: he may even procure a bare comfortless subsistence (for barley, an ordinary article of human food down to the time of the kings of Israel, was now considered as fodder for cattle) for a family, if not too numerous. Meanwhile, nothing is said about the fish and vegetables, which the plain-living man of the Mediterranean ate with his bread, as the plain-living Englishman eats bacon or cheese: but the comparatively superfluous luxuries of wine and oil are carefully protected. In short, we have a picture of “bad times,” when no one need be absolutely without bare necessaries, and those who can afford it need not go without luxuries, All that we know of the age of the decline of the Roman Empire points to this prophecy having been eminently fulfilled then; but we need not go so far for fulfilments of it any more than of the two former: indeed this is much nearer to us than the Grand Army and the barricades, or Waterloo and Peterloo.
7. ἤκουσα φωνήν. The slight variation of phrase serves to mark the fourth rider off, as partly distinct in character from the rest. They have brought an increasing series of scourges to the earth: his work is utter and unmitigated woe, combining the worst features of theirs.
7, 8. THE FOURTH SEAL
8. χλωρός. “Livid,” lit. “green,” as in Revelation 8:7, but used constantly of the paleness of the human face when terror-struck, or dead or dying. The colour is certainly symbolical, and it is not certain whether it here expresses a possible colour for a real horse: it seems not very appropriate for the “grisled” of Zechariah 6:3.
ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ. For the previous riders the phrase is ἐπʼ αὐτόν; Alford remarks upon the contrast and proposes the rendering “atop of him,” perhaps taking it to suggest that the spectre (or skeleton or demon?) did not ride astride and manage his horse, but simply sat clumsily on his back.
ὄνομα αὐτῷ ὁ θάνατος. Practically a Hebraism for κέκληται ὁ θάνατος, which gives rather more emphasis to the name, while maintaining the symmetry by leaving ὁ καθήμενος in the nominative.
ὁ ᾅδης. Personified as a demon, as in Revelation 20:13-14. He follows Death, to devour those slain by him.
τὸ τέταρτον τῆς γῆς. Are we to suppose that a fourth part of the earth is a prey to each of the four riders? that the three first decimate or afflict their subjects and the last exterminates his? or that sword, famine, and pestilence, cut off the fourth part of men and deliver them to Hades? It would agree with this that a third part is smitten by the plagues of the first four trumpets and of the sixth. The difficulty of this view is that, though θάνατος in the next clause clearly stands for pestilence as in Ezekiel 14:21 (LXX.), we cannot limit it so here: the Rider on the Pale Horse is sovereign over all four modes of death, though perhaps pestilence is most closely connected with his nature.
ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ καὶ ἐν λιμῷ καὶ ἐν θανάτῳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς. God’s “four sore judgements,” Ezekiel 14:21. “The beasts of the earth,” which have not been hinted at before, are no doubt suggested by the parallel: there is no reason to vary the preposition in English, but in Greek the instrumental Hellenistic ἐν would be ambiguous in the fourth clause, as ἐν τοῖς θηρίοις might mean “among the beasts.”
9. This series of seven visions, like the other groups of seven throughout the book, is divided into two parts. We have seen (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:29) that the messages to the seven Churches were divided into a group of three and one of four: here the first four seals are marked off from the last three, and similarly the four trumpets of chap. 8 from the three that follow in chaps. 9–11.: perhaps also, though less clearly, the vials of chap. 16.
ὑποκάτω τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου. The altar, first mentioned here, was part of the arrangements of the heavenly Temple: see on Revelation 4:6. Are we to understand that its position was that of the golden altar within the Holy Place (Exodus 30:1 sqq.)? is it in itself an altar of incense or of burnt offering? In Revelation 8:3 sqq. we find incense offered at a heavenly golden altar, and it is not distinguished from this: yet it may be thought that the image here is more suitable to the altar of sacrifice. For at the foot of it the blood of the victims was poured out (Exodus 29:12), and the blood, we are told repeatedly, is the life: then is it not meant that the lives or souls (the words are interchangeable, as Matthew 16:25 sqq.) of the martyrs are poured out at the foot of the heavenly altar, when they sacrifice their lives to God? Probably it is meant: but we are not to assume without evidence that the altar here is different from that in chap. 8. Admitting that the Israelite tabernacle and Temple were copies of a really subsisting heavenly archetype, it is not certain that they were exact copies in all respects: they might have to be modified to suit material conditions. Just as it was impossible to have a real sea (see on Revelation 4:6) in front of the earthly temple, so it may have been necessary to have on earth an inner and an outer Sanctuary, an altar before each, whereon to present the symbols of those things which in heaven are offered on one. This altar, like the golden altar of chap. 8, is ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου: the “sea” in the court of the earthly temple is doubtless copied from the “sea” in heaven; but the Temple proper does not seem yet to enter the vision; the Throne is set in the court and “the train” fills it—and the gaze of the Seer.
τὰς ψυχάς. The souls. There is undoubtedly a distinction throughout the N.T. between the words for “soul,” the mere principle of natural life, and “spirit,” the immortal and heavenly part of man: see especially 1 Corinthians 15:44 sqq. Yet it is probably an overstatement of this distinction to say that these are mere lost lives, crying to God for vengeance like Abel’s blood (Genesis 4:10), but different from the immortal souls, which have all their wants satisfied, and desire the salvation, not the punishment, of their murderers. They are the “lives” of the slain: their being under the altar is well illustrated by the ceremonial outpouring of the blood, and their cry for vengeance by that of the blood of Abel, but what follows in the next verse is surely addressed to the inmost souls of the saints, not to impersonal abstract “lives.”
τῶν ἐσφαγμένων. As the four former seals correspond to Matthew 24:6-8, so this to ibid. 9. In Enoch xl. 5, a voice (that of “him who presides over every suffering and every wound of the sons of men, the holy Raphael,” ib. 9) is heard “blessing the elect One, and the elect who are crucified on account of the Lord of spirits.” There is a passage more like this in sense in the same book, xlvii. 2, “In that day shall the holy ones assemble who dwell above the heavens, and with united voice petition, supplicate, praise, laud, and bless the name of the Lord of spirits, on account of the blood of the righteous which has been shed, that the prayer of the righteous may not be intermitted before the Lord of spirits; that for them He would execute judgement, and that His patience may not endure for ever.”
διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν. Revelation 1:9, Revelation 20:4.
ἣν εἶχον. Cf. Revelation 12:17, fin. where the word rendered “held” here in A. V is more simply translated “have.” Some argue from the name of Jesus not being used here, as in the three places referred to, for describing their testimony, that these are Old Testament martyrs, like those in Hebrews 11. ad fin. But surely their blood was very amply avenged, and very speedily: of the three great persecutors, Jezebel and Antiochus perished miserably, and Manasseh suffered equal misery, though he repented in time to receive some alleviation of it. We have, however, a Jewish parallel to the thought of this passage in Enoch xxii. 5 sqq., where Enoch hears in heaven the accusing cry of the spirit (πνεῦμα—not, as in Genesis, the blood) of Abel.
9–11. THE FIFTH SEAL
10. ἕως πότε. Psalms 94 (93 LXX.):3 ἕως πότε ἁμαρτωλοὶ κύριε, ἕως πότε ἁμαρτωλοὶ καυχήσονται;
ὁ δεσπότης. Not the ordinary word of reverence applied to God, but one meaning (as we say) “lord and master.” It is used of God in Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24, and of Christ in Judges 1:4 (according to the right reading and probable translation); 2 Peter 2:1. Perhaps, as the usual word “Lord” in the N.T. and other Hellenistic writings stands for the Name Jehovah, so this is used where the sense “Lord” is really meant, i.e. it answers to the name Adonai, which the Jews pronounced instead of the Unutterable Name, and which Symeon and the Apostolic Church no doubt used in their thanksgivings. The use of the word after the Incarnation, and especially after the Ascension, shews that it is no argument for these Martyrs being only Jews—as though it proved a servile rather than filial spirit, as some have imagined: at most, it only proves Jewish habits of expression, and it needs no proof that such prevail throughout this Book.
οὐ κρίνεις καὶ ἐκδικεῖς. It has been argued again from this, that the temper of the Martyrs’ souls is less than Christian. But however right it may be to contrast 2 Chronicles 24:22 with Acts 7:60, no one can surely imagine that the spirit of this passage is a selfish desire for personal vengeance. As we meet with the germ of the thought in Psalms 94:3, so we have a developement of it, substantially identical with this, from the mouth of Christ Himself, Luke 18:2-8. Faith looks on evil with a hatred like God’s own—shares God’s will that it shall not triumph and trusts in God that it will not: but without sharing the depth of God’s counsels, Who knows best how and when to overthrow it. Therefore the Church on earth (the probable meaning of the Widow) and the Saints in heaven cry alike to God to execute His own purpose, and bring the reign of evil to an end—and He does not yet, but He surely will.
11. ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἑκάστῳ στολὴ λευκή. The singular στολὴ and the emphatic though irregular apposition αὐτοῖς ἑκάστῳ bring out more fully than the old text, that the white robe is an individual, not a common blessing. It serves to mark them both as innocent and as conquerors: what it is is better felt than said. We see that the “souls” appeared in some visible form, like enough to bodies to wear garments: one of the considerations against regarding them as abstractions, not personal beings. There can hardly be any doubt that this verse (cf. Revelation 3:4-5) represents a portion of the reward given by God to His Saints, and if so, evidently such a portion of their reward as they receive in the interval before the Judgement. In Ascensio Isaiae ix. 7–18 there is a close and curious parallel. Isaiah in the seventh heaven sees all the righteous from the days of Adam, holy Abel and all the righteous, Enoch and all his company already stripped of the garment of flesh and arrayed in the garment of heaven (plainly the spiritual body). These see their thrones but do not sit on them, and their crowns but do not wear them. The angel tells Isaiah they have to wait for the Incarnation and Ascension, when the Lord will bring many other righteous with Him who have not received their garments yet; then these too shall receive garments, crowns, and thrones. But whether all the elect are in the same position as the Martyrs, or whether we have here described a special privilege granted to them only, is more doubtful; the prevalent belief of Christendom has been, that Martyrs and the like more excellent Saints have, in this intermediate state, a privilege above all the other justified ones.
ἐρρέθη αὐτοῖς. From the nature of the case, their cry and the answer to it had to be heard by St John successively. But doubtless in fact they are contemporaneous: the Saints at once share God’s desire for the triumph of righteousness over sin, and rest in God’s assurance that it is for good reason that triumph is delayed.
ἵνα ἀναπαύσωνται. Almost as if they were bidden to “turn again to their rest” Psalms 116:7. They were at rest already when God’s judgements came abroad; then they cry out to Him to finish His work and cut it short in righteousness. This rest, if like the rest of the dead who die in the Lord Revelation 14:13, is more than the mere rest of the grave (Job 3:17-19) and certainly does not imply that they are to be unconscious or as it were asleep.
ἔτι χρόνον μικρόν. Yet to Stephen and his companions it is not less than 1850 years: and though the Old Testament Martyrs be not exclusively meant, they are no doubt included. But notice that it is contemplated that there will be an interval between the Martyrs of the Primitive Church and those of the last days.
πληρώσωσιν. If the reading be right, we must supply after “should have fulfilled” ‘their course’ (Acts 13:25), or ‘their work,’ or ‘their number,’ as St Hippolytus quotes this passage in the fourth book of his commentary on Daniel.
καὶ οἱ σύνδουλοι αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ ἀδελφοὶ αὐτῶν. It would be possible to construe the words “both their fellowservants and their brethren,” as though two classes were spoken of. In Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:9, where we get the same words coupled, though in another construction, it may be thought that St John is called a brother of Martyrs and Prophets in a special sense. It would therefore be possible to distinguish the two classes, “their fellowservants (viz. all their true fellow-believers), and their brethren which should be killed as they were.” But it is much simpler to translate as the A. V, making both nouns antecedents to the clause that follows.
ὡς καὶ αὐτοί is a shade more emphatic than ὡς αὐτοί would have been. Both terms in the comparison are to correspond exactly. The Martyrs of the last days are to be like those of the first, Martyrs in the strictest sense—Christians slain because they hold the Christian faith, and will not renounce it. Such Martyrs there have been, no doubt, in the interval between the great ages of persecution under the Roman emperors and under Antichrist, e.g. in the Mohammedan conquests, in the age of the conversion of central Europe, in Japan in the seventeenth century, and in Madagascar, China, New Zealand, and Zululand in our own time. It is likely enough also that martyrs to charity—men like St Telemachus and St Philip of Moscow, Abp Affré and Bp Patteson—have their portion with the perfect martyrs to faith: in some cases, as in the last, it is hard to draw a line between the two: any way, those who suffer for righteousness sake suffer for Christ, as St Anselm said when Lanfranc wished to deny the honours of a martyr to St Alphege. But to suffer for conscience sake, however noble, is not necessarily quite the same thing: and it is hardly right to claim the name of martyr for the victims—certainly not for the victims on one side only—in the fratricidal contests of Christians. “The Lord knoweth them that are His”; He knows whether Becket or Huss, More or Latimer, Charles I. or Margaret Wilson, had most of the Martyr’s spirit: we had better not anticipate His judgement whether any or all of them are worthy of the Martyr’s white robe.
12. σεισμὸς μέγας. Earthquakes follow wars and famines, in Matthew 24:7, as the earlier signs of the approach of Christ’s Coming. But here it is coupled with the darkening of the sun and fall of the stars which, ibid. 29, precede His Coming immediately: whence Alford says, that here it is more than the earth that quakes—that it is a fulfilment of Haggai 2:6-7, cf. Hebrews 12:26 sqq.
μέλας ὡς σάκκος. Isaiah 50:3 ἐνδύσω τὸν οὐρανὸν σκότος καὶ ὡς σάκκον θήσω τὸ περιβόλαιον αὐτοῦ.
ἡ σελήνη ὅλη ἐγένετο. The moon wholly became, or, perhaps the whole [i.e. full] moon became.
ὡς αἷμα. From Joel 2:31 ὁ ἥλιος μεταστραφήσεται εἰς σκότος καὶ ἡ σελήνη εἰς αἶμα. The image, no doubt, is suggested by the phenomena of natural total eclipses, when the sun disappears entirely, but the moon, though ceasing to be luminous, does not in general become invisible, but assumes a dull reddish colour. Perhaps the “blood and fire and pillars of smoke” of the preceding verse of Joel stand in similar relations to the natural phenomena of the aurora borealis. We are told of “signs in the Heaven” before the fall of Jerusalem which, if natural, must be assigned to this last cause, and in any case may be regarded as partial fulfilments of these prophecies, and types of their final fulfilment. See Jos. B. J. VI. Revelation 6:3; Tac. Hist. v. xiii. 1.
12–17. THE SIXTH SEAL
13. οἱ ἀστέρες τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. Here we return to the Prophecy of the Mount of Olives, Matthew 24:29.
ὡς συκῆ. It is curious that a “parable of the fig-tree” follows in Matthew 24:32, immediately after the “fall of the stars.” But this image is taken, not from our Lord’s prophecy l.c., but from Isaiah 34:4 (the Hebrew, not LXX.). The ὄλυνθος “untimely fig” (whence Bethphage) is the fig which, having formed too late to ripen in the autumn, hangs through the winter, but almost always drops off before the sap begins to rise in spring, so as not to come to maturity. See Comm. on Matthew 21:19 and parallels.
14. ἀπεχωρίσθη. A. V departed, i.e. parted asunder. The verb depart was so used (only in a transitive sense) in the Marriage Service until the last revision of the Prayer Book, “till death us depart,” i.e. “till death part us.” Here we still have a reference to Isaiah 34:4. The word for “scroll” is the same as that rendered “book” in c. v. &c.
πᾶν ὄρος καὶ νῆσος. Cf. Revelation 16:20. There the convulsion is greater than here: and even there it does not imply quite so much as Revelation 20:11—a fact to be remembered in the interpretation of this passage.
15. χιλίαρχοι. The word means lit. “captains of thousands,” and was in St John’s time the recognised equivalent (as e.g. Acts 21:31, &c.) for the tribunus of the Roman army. Probably St John is thinking of Isaiah 3:2-3.
εἰς τὰ σπήλαια. Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21.
16. καὶ λέγουσιν. The present after ἔκρυψαν suggests that ἔκρυψαν like καὶ ἐτελέσθη, Revelation 10:7 is an Hebraistic equivalent to the future.
τοῖς ὄρεσιν. Hosea 10:8 : adopted by our Lord, Luke 23:30. In that passage, it is entirely natural to understand Him to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem only: and therefore, though we are not meant to suppose that everything revealed further on in the Book comes between the Sixth Seal and the End, it does not seem necessary to understand this vision as implying that the Last Judgement is immediately to come. A judgement of the Lord has now been prepared for, by all the signs that He foretold of it: His disciples, no doubt, will “look up and lift up their heads,” while the world which does not “love His appearing” is terrified. And we see in the next chapter that the faith of those is not unrewarded: but the dread of these is not immediately realised. In fact, the last “Day of the Lord” will come “when they shall say, ‘Peace and safety’ ” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)—not therefore, apparently, preceded by terrors like those among the ungodly, but rather by an unbelief (not so uncommon now) that has outlived such alarms, and asks, “Where is the promise of His Coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
ἀπὸ προσώπον τοῦ καθημένου. All judgement is committed to the Son, John 5:22, but this does not exclude the special presence and Revelation of the Father in the final manifestation of the Divine Righteousness. See Matthew 16:27 and parallels, which are to be taken into account in the interpretation of Titus 2:13, and of chap. 22 in this Book.
ἀπὸ τῆς ὀργῆς τοῦ ἀρνίου. It is scarcely necessary to point out the paradoxical character of the words and their deep significance. The phrase is unique; if αὐτοῦ be read in the next verse it cannot refer, as it would in ordinary Greek, to τοῦ ἀρνίου. The great day of His wrath is something familiar and known.
17. ἦλθεν ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ μεγάλη. So the world has thought in every great social convulsion, since they have learnt so far to believe the Gospel, as to confess that such a day is coming. The thought has led men to repentance or to despair, as they were worthy of one or other: but, since the world has so often thought wrongly that the Day has come, it does not follow that, when this Book tells us that the world thinks it has come, we must suppose the world to be right.
τίς δύναται σταθῆναι; Cf. Malachi 3:2.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
"Commentary on Revelation 6". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany