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Revelation 7

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Revelation 7:1 . Μετὰ ταῦτα . The καὶ ( א ) prefixed in the rec. is properly deleted by Lach., in accordance with A, C, Vulg., al. Tisch. has retained it here, but not in Revelation 18:1 , Revelation 19:1 . In the rec. also, it is lacking in Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 4:1 . Yet it is certain in Revelation 15:5 .

The form τοῦτο (Elz.) is attested, of course, only by the Vulg., while the ταῦτα , approved by Lach., Tisch., has the preponderating witnesses (A, C, א , 2, 4, 6, al.) in its favor; but the plural stands in all similar passages (De Wette). On the other hand, the πᾶν before δένδρον ( א , rec., Tisch. IX.), in spite of the analogy of Revelation 9:4 , Revelation 21:27 (De Wette), must yield to the unexpected, but, indeed, well-attested, τι δενδρ . (Lach., Tisch.), to which also the emendation τινι δένδρῳ (19, Wetst.) points.

Revelation 7:2 . ἀναβαίνοντα . So already Beng., Griesb., Matth., according to all witnesses. Incorrectly, Elz.: ἀναβάντα .

Revelation 7:3 . ἄχρισφραγ . A, C, א , 12, Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Without witnesses: ἄχρις οὖ σφρ .

Revelation 7:5 . ἑσφραγισμένοι , according to the preponderating witnesses, belongs only in the first member of Revelation 7:5 , and at the close of Revelation 7:8 (Lach., Tisch.).

Revelation 7:9 . εἰδον ὄχλον πολύν . So Lach., in accord with A, Vulg., Primas, Cypr. Tisch. with Elz. has written εἰδον , καὶ ἰδοὺ ὄχλος πολύχ ( א ), for which C is cited, whose authority, however, with respect to this passage, is weakened by the evident emendation of the ἑστῶτες into ἑστώτων (cf. the variations ἑστῶτας , ἑστῶτα , in Wetst.).

Revelation 7:11 . Instead of ἑστήκεσαν (Elz.), either ἑστήκεισαν (Beng., Tisch.), or more probably, as Matthew 12:46 (cf. Tisch., ed. vii.), εἱστήκεισαν (Matt., Lach., Tisch. IX.) is to be read. The latter form occurs in 6, 14, 16, 27, 28, Compl., al. (Wetst.), and in four codd. in Matt. A has, according to Lach., ϊστηκεισαν ; C: ἑστήκισαν ; א : ϊστηκισαν . Wetst. cites A, C, 2, al., for ἑστήκεισαν [W. and H.: ἱστήκεισαν ].

Revelation 7:14 . After κύριε , a μου is inserted in the rec., in accord with the decisive witnesses, by Beng., Griesb., Matth. The reading received by Lach., ἀπὸ θλίψεως μεγάλης , is, indeed, attested by A; but there is reason to suspect that the reading ἐκ τῆς θλ . τῆς μεγ . ( א , Elz., Tisch. [W. and H.]) has been changed, because the restriction of the θλῖψις required by the art. appeared difficult.

After ἐλεύκαναν , neither στολὰς αὐτῶν (Elz. [W. and H.]) nor αὐτὰς (A, א , Vulg., Lach., Tisch. IX.) is to be read. Beng., Matth., Tisch., already have rejected the repeated designation of the object.

Revelation 7:17 . ζωῆς . So, according to decided witnesses, Beng., Griesb., Matth., al., N. The ζώσας (Elz.) is a modification. Instead of ἀπὸ τ . οφθ . ( א , Elz., Matth.), read ἐκ (A, C, 2, 4, al., Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

After the conclusion of the sixth seal-vision, and before the description of the final judgment itself, to be expected in the seventh seal, whose immediate signs are presented in the sixth seal, although already the executors of this final storm of judgment, directed against the entire earth, stand prepared for their work (Revelation 7:1 ), “the one hundred and forty-four thousand servants of God” (Revelation 7:3 ) who are of Israel , are first sealed with a “seal of the living God” (Revelation 7:1-8 ). Afterwards, in the second part of ch. 7 (Revelation 7:9-17 ), John beholds in a new vision an innumerable company from all men (Revelation 7:9 ), in white robes and with palms in their hands, who stand before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and unite with all the angels in songs of praise. According to the express interpretation of Revelation 7:13 sqq., they are such as “have come out of great tribulation,” and who, as a reward for their fidelity to their faith, in which they have victoriously endured great tribulation, are refreshed with heavenly joy before God and the Lamb.

The meaning of ch. 7, as a whole, depends less upon the correct exposition of details, than in general upon the correct statement of the intention and plan of the Apoc. Hence the following chief points must be firmly maintained, which must receive their full justification by the explanation of each several verse:

1. The view of Vitringa is incorrect, that, as Revelation 6:12-17 describes the first part of the sixth seal-vision, Song of Solomon 7:1-8 describes its second, and Revelation 7:9-17 its third part. [2200] For not only is the section Revelation 6:12-17 perfectly complete in itself, and, as to its contents, homogeneous with the preceding seal-visions, while in ch. 7 such matters are represented as, because of their entirely different nature, belong not to the seal-visions Revelation 6:12 sqq.; but the vision Revelation 7:1 sqq., and the succeeding Revelation 7:9 sqq., are expressly distinguished from what precedes, by the formula μετὰ ταῦτα ειδ . [2201] Ch. 7, therefore, contains an episode, [2202] inasmuch as it enters with a certain independence between the sixth and seventh seals (Revelation 8:1 sqq.); in both its parts, two pure visions, immediately presented to the prophet, occur, which do not proceed from a seal. 2. The question now arises, whether the twofold vision has its reference to what precedes, whether to the sixth seal, [2203] or the fifth, [2204] or all six, [2205] or to what follows, and what meaning belongs to the entire ch. 7 in its order and contents. The answer to this question depends essentially upon what meaning is attached to the act of sealing, and what relation the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed (Revelation 7:1-8 ) are regarded as holding to the innumerable multitude (Revelation 7:9-17 ). It is a constant assumption of expositors, as well of those who identify the sealed with the innumerable multitude, as those also who make a distinction, that the sealing has as its purpose, to establish the sealed before the impending visitations, so that they may not, like unbelievers, experience them. [2206] An appeal is made for this to Exodus 12:7 ; Exodus 12:13 ; Ezekiel 9:4 sqq.; Revelation 9:4 . But this traditional interpretation is not correct. In neither Exodus 12:0 nor Ezekiel 9:0 is there any thing said of a σφραγίζειν , but of a sign ( σημεῖον ), which, whether it be applied to the houses (Exodus 12:0 ), or the foreheads of men (Ezekiel 9:0 ), has as its expressly designated end to assure those thus marked of the impending judgment. Undoubtedly the seal pressed upon the foreheads (Revelation 7:2-3 ) could be a σημεῖον given for a like purpose; but that this is actually the case, is in no way said in this passage, and also does not follow from Revelation 9:4 , where, as a matter of course, the sealed were not to be afflicted with certain plagues, yet not because they as sealed are secure from all plagues, but because, as the sealed servants of God, they could not be attacked by any plague proceeding “from the abyss,” but rather contradicts as well the N. T. eschatology in general, [2207] as the prophecy of the Apoc. in particular, which admonishes only to patient steadfastness unto the end, and by the promise of eternal life can incite to conflict and victory in all temptations and troubles, [2208] because it presupposes [2209] that the servants of God can in no way remain untouched by all the sorrows which befall the world. The impossibility of carrying through this interpretation of the sealing is immediately seen, when the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed are to be determined in themselves, and their relation to the innumerable multitude, Revelation 7:9 sqq. One class of expositors [2210] refers Revelation 7:1-8 to the flight of Christians [2211] from Jerusalem to Pella, whereby they avoided (= ἐσφραγισμένων ) the distresses occasioned by the siege and fall of Jerusalem. The innumerable multitude of Revelation 7:9 is, according to Alcas., Böhmer, etc., identical with the one hundred and forty-four thousand; according to Grot., the Christians in Syria [2212] are meant; but in any case, in Revelation 7:9-17 , the peaceful life, attended with all its wants, of those secured against the dangers and sorrows of the Jewish war, is described. The unbounded arbitrariness of this exposition, [2213] Heinrichs already sought to avoid by maintaining that in Revelation 7:1-8 are to be understood not only those who fled to Pella, but all Jewish Christians up to the final judgment; besides this correct reference to the final judgment, he has also obtruded upon the text the view that the innumerable multitude, Revelation 7:9-17 , appears in heavenly glory. Thus Heinr. says that here (Revelation 7:9-17 ) the Jewish Christians who perished in spite of the sealing in the judgment that entered (cf. Revelation 7:14 ) appear in heaven as beatified victors; so that, therefore, “the innumerable multitude of all nations and tongues” is to be understood a part of the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of Israel, while the sealing itself is to be regarded as partially ineffectual. But while the expositors just named, in all the defects of their mode of explanation, have correctly understood at least the one point, that the sealing has occurred because of a judgment to be expected after Revelation 6:12-17 , and also declared in Revelation 7:1 as still impending, and accordingly ch. 7 with its prospective reference has its correct position between the sixth and seventh seals, Vitr., Hengstenb., and, in a certain respect, Ew. also, have attempted to explain the meaning of ch. 7 by making what Augustine, Tichonius, and many older expositors in general, call a recapitulatio . [2214] Even in these interpreters, the view concerning the meaning and reference of the two visions, ch. 7, is inseparably combined with the conception that the sealing effects an exemption from the visitations upon the world, and with the manner in which the relation of the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, to the innumerable multitude, is determined. According to Vitringa, Revelation 7:1-8 belongs properly before Revelation 6:12-17 , because in Revelation 7:1-8 it is described how the one hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel, i.e., of the true Israel in the mystic sense, the true Church of the purer evangelical profession, [2215] are to be placed in security from the judgments stated in Revelation 6:12-17 , and to be introduced by the angels mentioned in Revelation 7:1 , while in Revelation 7:9-17 the same sealed persons appear as an innumerable multitude in heavenly glory, after the execution of the judgment, Revelation 6:12-17 (Revelation 7:1 sqq). Hengstenb, also carries us back, in Revelation 7:1 , to the point where no judgment whatever has come upon the world, therefore, before the six seals, and regards the declaration made as to how the spiritual Israel (Revelation 7:4 sqq.), with whom all believing Gentiles are “affiliated,” consequently the entire Christian communion of saints, are rendered secure against all the judgments that come upon the world; but yet, since the guilt of the world is not something “absolutely alien” to the children of God, as they also have sin, and consequently notwithstanding the sealing, must suffer with the world, it is stated in Revelation 7:9-17 , how “the best comes at the end,” i.e., the one hundred and forty-four thousand secured against the sorrows appear as a “relatively” innumerable multitude, who are consoled and refreshed before God’s face after their victorious endurance of suffering. The contradictions involved in this mode of explanation are obvious: those who by the sealing are rendered secure against the sufferings, endure the sufferings; the numbered are innumerable; those from the twelve tribes of Israel are of all lands and languages: and upon such contradictory propositions depends the supposition that what is beheld in ch. 7 after the six seal-visions ( μετὰ ταῦτα , Revelation 7:1 , and again in Revelation 7:9 ), in reality should belong before all those visions, [2216] a supposition against which, therefore, the text in every way conflicts. Ew., in common with most interpreters, [2217] has correctly acknowledged the prospective position of ch. 7 to the seventh seal; only as far as he maintains a retrospection of Revelation 7:9 sqq. to Revelation 6:11 , as he regards the innumerable multitude as the completed band of martyrs spoken of in the fifth seal. Yet, as Ew. aptly remarks, the section Revelation 7:9-17 , thus understood, has an identical relation with the first vision to the seventh seal, in which retributive punishment is to be expected, inasmuch as in Revelation 7:1-8 the sealing, i.e., the securing of Israel, [2218] before the beginning of the judgments is represented; while in Revelation 7:9 sqq., it is indicated that meanwhile that has happened which was still to be expected after Revelation 6:11 , and before the entrance of the day of judgment, viz., the completion of the number of the martyrs. Thus Ewald’s view makes its claim not so much with respect to the relation which he gives in general to ch. 7, as rather because of the determination of the innumerable multitude in itself, and its connection with the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed. The sealed also he now interprets more correctly.

[2200] Cf. also C. a La

[2201] Cf. already Beng.

[2202] Eichh., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard, etc.

[2203] Vitr.

[2204] Ewald.

[2205] Hengstenb.

[2206] C. a Lap., Stern, Vitr., Beng., Eichh., Heinr., Ew. i., De Wette, Bleek, also his Introduction to the N. T. , p. 610, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Hilgenfeld, etc.

[2207] Cf. Matthew 24:20 sqq.

[2208] Cf. only the epistles, chs. 2 and 3.

[2209] Cf. already Revelation 7:14 .

[2210] Alcas., Grot., Wetst., Heinr., Böhmer, etc.

[2211] Jewish Christians, Revelation 7:4 sqq.

[2212] “Syria was full of Christians.”

[2213] Cf., viz., the particulars in Revelation 7:1 ; Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 7:11 ; Revelation 7:14 ; Revelation 7:16 .

[2214] Cf. Introduction, p. 13 sqq.

[2215] The Evangelical are meant in distinction from Roman Catholics.

[2216] Hengstenb.

[2217] Cf. Aleas., Beng., Eichh., De Wette, Rinck, Ebrard, Christiani, etc.

[2218] Ew. ii.: “The elect,” Matthew 24:22 ; Matthew 24:24 ; Matthew 24:31 .

That those mentioned in Revelation 7:9 are identical with the one hundred and forty-four thousand, Revelation 7:1-8 , and that in both places Jewish and heathen Christians are meant, [2219] De Wette especially has attempted to prove: 1. “Because no reason can be conceived why only Jewish, and not heathen Christians, should be kept from those plagues.” If this be in itself correct, it will show that even though in Revelation 7:4-8 only Jewish Christians be meant, yet the heathen Christians are not inferior in that which their sealing actually signifies. 2. “The writer of the Apoc. makes no distinction between Jewish and heathen Christians, and sometimes designates Christians as Israel, sometimes as the elect of all nations and tongues, [2220] or of the earth.” [2221]

Only the latter assertion is correct and self-evident, and not the former, with which especially the controversy concerning Revelation 7:4 sqq. is connected, that “Israel,” without any thing further, designates in the Apoc. the entire Israel of God; [2222] in this passage, the name Israel can the less be understood otherwise than in the most immediate sense, i.e., to the exclusion of heathen Christians, as the individuals belonging to the individual tribes of Israel are mentioned directly afterwards. [2223] 3. “Just as the kingdom of God is regarded as Jerusalem, [2224] and its gates are marked with the names of the twelve tribes, [2225] so Israel is to him, viz., the true Israel of God, [2226] Christian people. [2227] Just so the twelve tribes, Matthew 19:28 , James 1:1 .”

But it is something different when the kingdom of God, in its heavenly completion, is designated by the name of the ancient city of God, and in general, where a vivid description thereof occurs, this is given with the express features of the O. T. Church of God, while, at the same time, the tenor of the description as a whole, as well as in its individual parts, shows how in individual points, to whose higher significance the typical substratum of historical relations is transformed, from when the name of Israel is used, under the special representation of the twelve tribes, concerning those, as is undoubtedly the case in Revelation 7:1-8 , who are to be sought on earth. 4. “Those here designated are called, Revelation 7:3 , absolutely, the servants of God; and in Revelation 14:1 sqq. they appear as redeemed, either from the earth or from men.”

All these designations suit Israel, [2228] which comprises the servants of God in a pre-eminent sense; but if in Revelation 7:1-8 only the Jewish and not also the heathen Christians appear as the servants of God, the sealing communicated with respect to this relation, in like manner as in respect to only Jewish Christians, [2229] must show upon what ground this occurs, and how, in fact, there is in the text no trace of the seeming slight to heathen Christians. 5. “Those coming forth, Revelation 7:9 , are not such as have been preserved from the calamities, but have escaped from the same, Revelation 7:14 ; hence their coming forth belongs to a later period, and a parallel occurs between this passage and the former, only in the manner wherein here what is spoken of is the preservation, and there the deliverance as its consequence.”

This proposition depends upon the false presumption that the “sealing” is a preservation from calamity, upon the transformation of the present ἐρχόμενοι , Revelation 7:14 , into a preterite, and the confused conception of Revelation 7:14 in general. [2230]

[2219] Cf. also Kliefoth, p. 539: “All servants of God who are to be at the end of days.” In Comment . il. p. 108: the one hundred and forty-four thousand are the entire body that is to be protected, the œcumenical people of God; “and in distinction from these are the multitude of many individuals whom even that protection could not save from death.”

[2220] Revelation 5:9 , Revelation 7:9 .

[2221] Revelation 14:3 .

[2222] Galatians 6:16 .

[2223] From the fact that the tribe of Dan is lacking, the inference is not impossible, that the designation of Israel, together with the names of the tribes mentioned, is intended figuratively or mystically, i.e., the entire assembly of believers is designated, even the heathen Christians added to the spiritual Israel by adoption (Hengstenb.). Why, then, should not the spiritual Dan belong to the spiritual Israel? But if Israel proper be meant, the proper Dan would not be mentioned if the tribe were as good as dead. See on Revelation 7:4-8 .

[2224] Revelation 20:9 , Revelation 21:2 .

[2225] Revelation 21:12 .

[2226] Galatians 6:16 .

[2227] Cf. Revelation 18:4 .

[2228] Cf. on Revelation 14:1 sqq.

[2229] Cf. Numbers 1:0 .

[2230] For, on Revelation 7:14 , De Wette remarks that those mentioned there are delivered, “by their steadfastness,” from the distress which they still had to endure notwithstanding their “sealing.”

The grounds upon which an attempt is made to show the identity of those mentioned in Revelation 7:1-8 with those meant in Revelation 7:9-17 , by understanding in both passages Jewish and heathen Christians together, are, therefore, not such as stand the test: [2231] the text leads to the opposite view, because, in Revelation 7:1-8 , what is said has reference to Israel with its tribes, but in Revelation 7:9 sqq. to all nations and tongues, because the number of one hundred and forty-four thousand there, although not literal but schematic, furnishes the idea of numerability, while here (Revelation 7:9 ) the innumerability of the great multitude is especially emphasized; and also because what is spoken of there is the sealing, which is not mentioned here. The question therefore is: Who are those mentioned in Revelation 7:1-8 , and who those in Revelation 7:9 sqq.? The distinction is sometimes made between Jewish Christians (Revelation 7:1 sqq.) and Gentile Christians (Revelation 7:9 sqq.); [2232] or Jews to be converted at the end of the world, [2233] and Gentile Christians; [2234] or Jewish and Gentile Christians still living at the end of the world on the judgment day, and those who have died the death of the godly before the judgment day: [2235] but in connection with all these explanations, [2236] we see neither any firm foundation in the text, nor the meaning and relation of the visions in connection with the whole. The latter is lacking also in Bengel, who, however, has correctly discerned the chief point, that Revelation 7:1-8 treat only of believers from Israel, and Revelation 7:9 sqq., of the glorified of all nations, Gentiles and Jews.

[2231] Cf. Bleek, who in his Beitr. , p. 186, has recalled his former view of the identity of those expressly mentioned (Revelation 7:1 sqq. and Revelation 7:9 sqq.).

[2232] Eichh., etc.

[2233] Cf. Romans 11:25 .

[2234] C. a Lap. Cf. Hofmann.

[2235] Stern, Rinck, Ebrard.

[2236] To be silent concerning what is utterly wonderful, as in Aretius: “In Revelation 7:1 sqq., they are meant who publicly profess Christ, as Christians in almost all Europe; Revelation 7:9 sq., they who do not publicly profess Christ’s name, as innumerable Christians in Asia and Africa, whom Christ preserves. How he does this without external preaching, he himself knows.”

Especially as to the “sealing,” the generally received explanation of it as the protection, or guaranty as to security, from the imminent plagues that were to come upon the world, necessarily results from the symbol in itself, or from its use in the N. T., and especially the Apoc. mode of statement, as little as that received meaning is justified by the facts; for the servants of God do not remain entirely untouched by all the sufferings whereby judgment comes upon the world. But as the seal serves for the attestation, as, e.g., of a document, [2237] and, in general, for confirmation, so in this passage the sealing of those who already are servants of God designates nothing else than the immutable firmness of their ἐκλογή , [2238] which is not to be affected even by the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΌς [2239] of the last great ΘΛῖΨΙς . [2240] Striking analogies to this interpretation of the ΣΦΡΑΓΊΖΕΙΝ are 2 Corinthians 1:22 ; Ephesians 1:13 ; Ephesians 4:30 . [2241] To the servants of God, therefore, upon whose forehead the seal of the living God is impressed, the Divine warrant is thereby given that in the greatest tribulations they remain the servants of God, until they have been preserved in their fidelity unto the end, and are victoriously conducted to eternal glory in God’s kingdom. The seal designates, therefore, not preservation from tribulation, but preservation in tribulation from a fall .

[2237] Cf. Esther 8:8 .

[2238] Cf. Matthew 24:22-24 , where especially the εἱ δυνατόν is to be observed.

[2239] Cf. Revelation 3:10 .

[2240] Cf. Revelation 7:14 .

[2241] Cf. also Romans 15:28 ; John 3:33 ; John 6:27 ; 1 Corinthians 9:6 ; Romans 4:11 .

But even with this conception of the σφραγίζειν , the difficulty arises, that if the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed of Israel are not also of the Gentiles, the latter seem subordinated to the former in an inexplicable way. [2242] This difficulty is thus removed in accordance with the context: 1. While, in respect to the servants of God from Israel, the guaranty is given in advance by the special act of sealing, that the tribulation (of the seventh seal) now entering is not to turn them from their heavenly Lord (Revelation 7:1-8 ), the same thing is represented in respect to the servants of God from the Gentiles, in that (Revelation 7:9-17 ) an innumerable multitude of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, therefore of Jews and Gentiles, appear as those who “have come out of great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14 ), and now stand as triumphant victors before the throne of God for no other reason than because they have persevered unto the end in the same fidelity as the sealed from Israel. 2. But that this is thus said in a twofold way, first of Israel alone, and then of all true servants of God, including those of Israel, has its foundation in the fact that inasmuch as the judgment to be expected, in the seventh seal, although only one comprising all enemies, yet contains two chief acts: viz., first, the punishment inflicted upon the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where the Lord was crucified, i.e., Jerusalem; [2243] then the judgment upon the spiritually so-called Babel, i.e., Rome, in the tribulation with which the Lord comes in judgment upon unbelieving Israel, the one hundred and forty-four thousand servants of God are to be kept in security, even though they are to suffer; thus the vision, Revelation 7:1-8 , looks towards what the seventh seal is to bring upon unbelieving Israel. [2244] But that also the servants of God from the Gentiles, together with the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from Israel, are to come out of great tribulation, and to enter glory as faithful warriors of Christ, the other vision states, which thus refers to the tribulation with which the Lord shall visit Babylon. [2245] At the critical point, therefore, between the sixth and seventh seals, before the seventh seal, which is to show the coming itself of the Lord, is opened, the double vision of ch. 7 enters, whereby testimony is given, in the most express way, that all the tribulation impending over the true servants of God is not to occasion their fall, but that from this tribulation, which brings judgment upon the world, they are to come to eternal glory. 3. That in this sense a special sealing was given the servants of God from Israel, and not the Gentile Christians, is natural, because the concrete form of the people of Israel with its individual tribes suggests the more definite idea of a complete mass, and, therefore, of one to be comprised in a (schematic) number; but if the look turns to the servants of God from the heathen, the limitation vanishes, the multitude appears innumerable (Revelation 7:9 ), and the idea of a special sealing imparted to all individuals would be entirely untenable. 4. But if what is said in Revelation 7:9 sqq. be not only of the servants of God from the heathen, but in the innumerable multitude wherein the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed are to be regarded as included, this depends upon the fact, that, even though a special reference to the Israelites has a good foundation, yet the final equality and fellowship of all believers in heavenly glory must be made prominent.

[2242] Volkm. and similar critics see here the decided Judaism of John.

[2243] Cf. Revelation 11:8 .

[2244] Cf. Revelation 8:1 to Revelation 11:14 .

[2245] Ch. 12 sqq.

Verse 1

Revelation 7:1 . τέσσαρας ἀγγέλους . We must here think neither of wicked angels, [2246] nor of angels of the wind, after the analogy of the angel of the water, Revelation 16:5 , [2247] but of angels in general, to whom the office here described has been given, Revelation 7:2 , [2248] just as angels afterwards appear with trumpets and vials. Without any foundation are the allegorical interpretations, as in Beda, [2249] and N. de Lyra, who proposes Maximian, Severus, Maxentius, and Licinius, [2250] while the other angel, Revelation 7:2 , is regarded as Constantine.


γῆς . The position of the angels corresponds with their occupation: κρατοῦντας

γῆς . The four corners of the earth ( τὰς τέσσ . γών , τοὺς τέσσ . ἀν .) are the points from which the four winds of the earth go forth. [2251] John beholds the four angels as they still hold the winds, [2252] to prevent them from blowing ( ἽΝΑ ΜῊ ΠΝΈῌ ἈΝ ., Κ . Τ . Λ . ); but according to what immediately follows, the situation is such that the angels are ready to let loose the winds as soon as the purpose of the other angel, who is already rising up (Revelation 7:2 sqq.), is accomplished.

If also “the four winds of the earth” be interpreted allegorically, although the expression sounds as unallegorical as possible, of which examples have just been given, then also the earth, the sea, and the trees must be understood figuratively. For thus Grot, says on Τ . Γῆς : “viz., Judaea;” on ἈΝΈΜΟΥς : “The winds signify any sort of calamity.” The “sea” is “a great people, such as is that of Jerusalem especially;” the trees designate “what come from trees, as cities, but especially the temple:” in general, the times of peace under King Agrippa are meant. Böhmer regards the “earth” as Jews, the “sea” as heathen; therefore he says that the Christians still to be mentioned are designated by the “trees.” According to Beng., the earth is Asia, the sea Europe, the trees Africa. Hengstenb. also regards “the four winds of the earth” as symbols of the Divine judgments, viz., those described in ch. 6; the “sea” designates masses of people; the “trees” are magnates, Revelation 6:15 .

But every kind of allegorizing is without the least foundation in the text. The winds which in their proper naturalness are, besides, expressly designated as “the four winds of the earth,” are not once personified here, as in Zechariah 6:1 sqq., where, however, what is said dare not be taken as an allegory in the strict sense, but as in Revelation 6:4 an actual shedding of blood, and in Revelation 6:12 an actual earthquake, so here actual winds are meant, storms which are to have the mastery of the whole earth, as they are also ready to break loose from all four ends of the earth. But in the fact, that, after the dreadful signs of the sixth seal have led immediately to the day of the final judgment, now as the description of this judgment is to be expected in the seventh, last seal a visitation of like character, as in the sixth seal, is again set forth, and its infliction restrained until after the sealing of the servants of God from Israel, the intimation is already given that the actual occurrence of the final catastrophe will not be until after the course of a still further manifestation of preliminary afflictions, as they proceed from the seventh seal in long and connected sequence. [2253]

[2246] Aret., Zeger, Laun., Calov., Beng., Rinck, etc.

[2247] Alcas., C. a Lap., Stern, Heinr., Züll., De Wette.

[2248] Vitr., Ewald, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2249] τέσσ . άγγ . = “the four principal kingdoms of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans;” κρατ . τ . ἀνεμ . = “They allow no one to breathe according to the pleasure of his own right;” γῆ = “diversity of provinces;” δένδρ .: “diverse quality of men.”

[2250] “Hindering the doctors of the Church from preaching the word of God.” Cf. similar interpretations of κρατ . τ . τεσσ . ἀνέμ .; e.g., in Aret., who regards the wicked angels as the Pope, the Turks, etc.

[2251] Cf. Jeremiah 49:36 ; Zechariah 6:1 sqq.; Daniel 7:2 .

[2252] κρατ . Cf. Revelation 2:1 , Revelation 3:11 .

[2253] Cf. Introduction, p. 12 sqq.

Verses 2-3

Revelation 7:2-3 . ἄλλον ἄγγελον . That an angel not an archangel [2254] is to be thought of, [2255] not Christ, [2256] to be silent concerning the Holy Spirit, [2257] results not only from the appellation ἌΓΓΕΛΟς , but especially from the fact that this ἌΛΛΟς ἌΓΓ . is designated in the clearest way by the contrast with the angels mentioned in Revelation 7:1 , as of a different nature. The mode of expression also, Revelation 7:3 , Τ . ΔΟΥΛ . Τ . ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ , suits most simply the mouth of an angel, not of Christ. [2258] Cf. especially Revelation 8:3 , Revelation 10:1 , Revelation 14:6 ; Revelation 14:8-9 ; Revelation 14:17 , Revelation 18:1 .

ἈΝΑΒΑΊΝΟΝΤΑ ἈΠῸ ἈΝΑΤΟΛῆς ἩΛΊΟΥ . John, therefore, sees how the angel comes forth, [2259] while the first four angels stand already in their places as he looks upon them; the angel now entering will take part in the act. The expression and ἉΠῸ ἈΝΑΤ . ἩΛΊΟΥ admits of no allegorical meaning; the annexed ἩΛΊΟΥ renders impossible the interpretation of the ἈΝΑΤΟΛΉ , with a vague allusion to Luke 1:78 , as referring to Christ, [2260] so as to make the sense that the other angel is sent by Christ or God. [2261] The quarter of the heavens, the east, is designated; but not because of the look towards Judaea, [2262] or to “Patmos, and especially the Christian lands where the light of the gospel first shone,” [2263] which is here out of place; not “because the Hebrews always turned first towards the east,” [2264] whereby properly nothing is explained; not because the throne of God whence the angel proceeds [2265] is regarded as in the east, [2266] for that is nowhere indicated in the Apoc.; nor because, as plagues have their origin in the east, “for the earth (Revelation 8:7 ) is Asia,” so also the sealing: [2267] but because it is appropriate and significant that the angel, coming for a victorious employment which brings eternal life, should arise from that side from which life and light are brought by the earthly sun. [2268] The angel himself, who does not descend from heaven, but rises from the horizon, [2269] is represented after the manner of the rising sun.

ἝΧΟΝΤΑ , cf. Revelation 1:16 .

ΣΦΡΑΓῖΔΑ ΘΕΟῦ ΖῶΝΤΟς . Without meaning [2270] is the metonymy accepted by Grot.: “The sealed constitution of the King.” The angel has a seal (in his hand) which he will press upon the foreheads of the servants of God. The gen. θεοῦ ζ . designates simply, that the seal belongs to the living God; that it “has been delivered by God,” [2271] is, therefore, self-evident, but not expressed. The attempt has been made to conjecture the legend of the seal. Beda, C. a Lap., Grot., Böhmer, regard it the sign of the cross; with more probability, Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Ebrard, etc., propose the name of God and of the Lamb. [2272] But since the text says nothing, nothing can be inferred. [2273] As the definite article is absent, the idea is left open that there are different seals of God for different purposes. In this passage, the mark made by the seal, upon the foreheads of the servants of God, does not mean what the χάραγμα indicates, which the worshippers of the beast receive upon the forehead or the right hand, [2274] viz., the belonging to one Lord and serving him; [2275] for they who receive the seal are already “servants of God.” The question is as little as to the fact of their being recognized and outwardly shown to be servants of God, or “that they receive the letter and seal to their being servants of God,” [2276] as that they are rendered secure from the approaching sufferings, but that, notwithstanding the approaching suffering, they are guaranteed their perseverance in the state of being servants of God; therefore the suffering does not come until the sealing of the servants of God has occurred. It is significant, with respect to this purpose of the sealing, that the seal belongs to the living God, whereby it is not said that he is the true and actual, and hence not that it is only his seal which is valid, [2277] but that he as the living also gives life. [2278] Yet the conception of the glory, for which the sealed are preserved, is that they attain to eternal life in the sight of the living God. [2279]

ἜΚΡΑΞΕΝ ΦΩΝῇ ΜΕΓΆΛῌ . The call with a strong voice is in general peculiar to heavenly beings; it does not always have a special purpose. [2280] Beng refers the loud cry of the angel to the fact that he wished to restrain the four angels who desired to make a beginning of the affliction; Hengstenb. finds therein the certainty of the command that has been given.

The most probable idea is, that the call is to penetrate to the ends of the earth where the angels stand.


ΑὐΤΟῖς , as Revelation 3:8 .

ἘΔΌΘΗ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Concerning the aor. in the sense of a plusquampf., cf. Winer, p. 258. On the conception of ἘΔΌΘΗ , cf. Revelation 6:4 . The ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ , injuring, [2281] would occur if the angels would let loose the winds which they still hold; the command ΜῊ ἈΔΙΚΉΣΑΤΕ , Κ . Τ . Λ . , still hinders this. [2282] It is contrary to the context to regard the ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ as consisting rather in holding fast the winds, because, had the winds blown, they would have “cooled off,” [2283] or “blown away,” [2284] the approaching plagues; according to Herder, the restraining of the winds is to be regarded an ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ , as thereby “the sultriness of death” is occasioned before the irruption of the plagues. From the fact that in what follows, the letting loose of the devastating winds is not reported, the view that just this restraining of the winds is destructive [2285] follows as little as the necessity of understanding the winds as a figurative designation of retributive visitations of all kinds. [2286] For, that it is not devastating tempests, but other plagues of many kinds, which proceed from the opening of the seventh seal, has in a formal respect its foundation in the fact that the succeeding seal -vision cannot justly be regarded and be treated further as a matter from the simple visions occurring between the last two seals; but a difficulty actually arises only if, hindered by a mechanical literalism, it cannot be seen that the holy fantasy of the prophet sees in Revelation 7:1 sqq. the storm impending, which afterwards, however, is not seen in its approach, because (Revelation 8:1 sqq.), in place of the desolating winds, hail and fire, and other plagues, come forth.

It is noticeable that in Revelation 7:2 , the trees are not especially mentioned, as in Revelation 7:1 ; Revelation 7:3 , because it is self-evident that they belong to the earth; [2287] there lies therein, however, a manifest hint that neither the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, are to be understood figuratively. Hengstenb. asks, indeed, how the sea, if it be meant in the proper sense, could be injured by winds; he does not consider that the specification in which the trees, as objects most easily injured by storms, are especially made prominent with the simplicity of nature, [2288] is meant only to serve [2289] to make visible how the entire earth, from whose four ends the winds are to rage, will be injured.

ἌΧΡΙ ΣΦΡΑΓΊΣΩΜΕΝ . “ Until we shall have sealed .” Cf. Winer, p. 279. The plur. indicates that the angel has associates, who need not be further mentioned. [2290] With the whole train of thought of Revelation 7:1 sqq., Hengstenb. conflicts when he advances the opinion that the four angels are to help in the sealing. The older interpreters, as Calov., refer the plur. to the Father and the Son, from both of whom the Holy Ghost (the seal) proceeds. [See Note LII., p. 255.] ΤΟῪς ΔΟΎΛΟΥς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ . “This noble designation pertains especially to saints from Israel. Genesis 50:17 ; Isaiah 61:6 .” [2291] Yet the reference in the connection is to Israel alone, although the expression in itself, because of the art., could include also the Gentiles. [Note LIII., p. 256.] To the angel here speaking, who is to seal, belong only the definite, more accurately designated servants of God, of Revelation 7:4 sqq. The Τ . ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ is significant; the angel himself, together with his associates, is, because of his relation to the same God, a fellow-servant of those for whose service he has been sent. [2292]

ἘΠῚ ΤῶΝ ΜΕΤΏΠΩΝ ΑὐΤῶΝ . The mark which the servants of the beast have received is, like the brand of slaves in ordinary life, impressed upon the right hand or forehead: [2293] the servants of God bear the seal and name of the Lord only on the forehead. That this is the most visible place, [2294] is a reason sufficient only with respect to those servants of the beast: with respect to the servants of God, however, it is found in the fact that the noblest part of the body bears the holy mark.

[2254] Stern.

[2255] C. a Lap., Grot., Beng., Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Rinck, Ebrard.

[2256] Beda, Aret., Zeger, Calov., Böhmer, Hengstenb.

[2257] Vitr., who interprets the seal used by this “angel” as “the public profession of the purer faith” wrought by the Spirit.

[2258] Cf. already Beng.

[2259] Grot.

[2260] Grot.

[2261] Calov.

[2262] Wetst.

[2263] Stern.

[2264] De Wette.

[2265] Ew. ii.: “As though, by the Divine commission, he had commanded the sun to shine no longer with such excessive heat, but to reserve its ardor” (Revelation 7:16 ). But this supplementary fiction is in violation of the context, and Revelation 7:16 has no analogy with the situation of Revelation 7:1 sqq.

[2266] Ew. i.

[2267] Beng.

[2268] Cf. C. a Lap., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Volkm.

[2269] Beng.

[2270] Cf. Revelation 7:3 : σφραγ .

ἐπὶ τ . μετώπων αὐτ .

[2271] Eichh.

[2272] Cf. Revelation 14:1 , Revelation 3:12 .

[2273] Hengstenb.

[2274] λαμβάνειν ; Revelation 13:16 , Revelation 14:9 ; Revelation 14:11 , Revelation 16:2 , Revelation 19:20 , Revelation 20:4 .

[2275] So Ewald, etc.

[2276] Hengstenb.

[2277] De Wette.

[2278] Bengel, Ew., Hengstenb., Klief.

[2279] Cf. Revelation 2:7 ; Revelation 2:10 , Revelation 3:5 , Revelation 7:14 sqq., Revelation 22:1 sqq.

[2280] Cf., e.g., Revelation 6:1 with Revelation 5:2 .

[2281] Revelation 6:6 .

[2282] Cf. Alcas., C. a Lap., Vitr., Eichh., Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2283] Bengel. Cf. Revelation 8:7 sqq.

[2284] Rinck.

[2285] Rinck.

[2286] Hengstenb.

[2287] Ebrard.

[2288] Cf. De Wette.

[2289] Cf. Revelation 5:13 .

[2290] Bengel, Ew., De Wette, Rinck.

[2291] Beng.

[2292] Cf. Revelation 19:10 , Revelation 22:9 .

[2293] Revelation 13:16 , Revelation 14:9 , Revelation 20:4 .

[2294] Aret., Beng., Stern, etc.


LII. Revelation 7:3 . σφραγισώμεν

Beck: “Sealing, in general, serves partly for authentication or confirmation, partly for assurance. Here it is accomplished by means of the seal of the living God, the Divine, royal seal (Revelation 7:2 ). Divine sealing designates a real act, a covenant act, whereby the one who receives it is acknowledged and authenticated as belonging to God by an actual mark of discrimination (Romans 4:11 ). In the N. T. sense, the Holy Spirit is the Divine seal of the covenant, and the sealing occurs by the communication of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22 ; Ephesians 1:13 ; Ephesians 4:30 ). The idea of the living God is concentrated especially in the quickening Spirit of the new covenant. By the communication of this Spirit, man is not merely assured of, or promised, something new, but something real is given him. There is then in man a new spirit entirely different from what he previously had; a spirit such as was manifested in Christ, and which thus animates him with an entirely different inner life from what he had before, a life actually rooted and nourished in Christ and God. A result of this communication of the spirit is that they who receive it are elect (1 Thessalonians 1:4 sq.; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 ). At the same time, they are armed by the Spirit, and by his power assured against a fall and wandering astray (Revelation 3:10 ; 2 Timothy 1:7 ; 2 Timothy 1:12 ; 2 Timothy 1:14 ; 1Pe 1:5 ; 1 John 4:4 ; 1 John 5:18 ). The reference to error and a fall dare not be here excluded, as, at the crisis of the world, the wisdom, patience, and fidelity of believers will, in various ways, be expressly put to the test (Revelation 13:8-10 , Revelation 14:12 ). But, as in ch. Revelation 7:3 , the sealing is presented in direct contrast with the harm inflicted upon the world, there is in this sealing also a security, by God’s preservation, against the plagues from God, impending over the world. Cf., as analogies, Exodus 12:7 ; Exodus 12:13 ; Ezekiel 9:4 . But this does not prevent those sealed against the Divine judgments and temptations, from having still to suffer many troubles from men, of whom the greater part, even during the Divine judgment, do not come to repentance, but rather are guilty of all sorts of manifestations of godlessness. Cf. the epistles, chs. 2 and 3; also Revelation 6:11 , Revelation 13:10 ; Revelation 13:15 ; Matthew 24:9 . In the time of expectation, therefore (Revelation 6:11 ), in the nearness of God’s judgments, there occurs a sealing, i.e., an especial spiritual strengthening and providential assurance of those elected as belonging to the people of God. According to the character of the book, the sealing is typified before the sight of John; hence an angel appears with a golden seal in his hand, although the Divine sealing is the work of the Spirit of God, and not of an angel. The sealing further occurs by an impression on the forehead, and thus is externally imparted to the sealed. If we compare ch. Revelation 14:1 , where the same number, one hundred and forty-four thousand, recurs, only in another connection, it is the name of the Father of Jesus Christ that is written or impressed as a mark upon the forehead. The sealing itself is not there mentioned, since this had preceded the persecution; there the one hundred and forty-four thousand have experienced both sealing and persecution. The seal contains the name of the owner; after they have been sealed on the forehead with God’s seal, they continue to carry there God’s name. Cf. also Revelation 3:12 , Revelation 22:4 . Therefore by the seal of God on the forehead is designated the Divine disposition externally expressing itself in their personal conduct, and thereby also giving assurance externally that marks them as belonging to God. The antithesis to this mark of God is the mark of the beast on the forehead (Revelation 13:16 ).” Gebhardt: “A symbol of the Divine assurance that his servants should not be smitten by the greater plagues which were yet to come.”

Verses 4-8

Revelation 7:4-8 . καὶ ἤκουσα τὸν ἀριθμὸν τῶν ἐσφραγισμένων . The act of sealing is, therefore, to be considered as occurring between Revelation 7:3 and Revelation 7:4 . That John does not behold this act itself, but only hears the number of the sealed, probably from the other angel, Revelation 7:2-3 , [2295] corresponds with the holy moderation which is peculiar to true prophecy; for as in the innumerable company, Revelation 7:9 sqq., the sealing, in general, is such as cannot be represented, [2296] so in reference to the one hundred and forty-four thousand out of Israel, it would be in a high degree unnatural if their sealing had occurred before the eyes of the prophet. In Ezekiel 9:0 it is, likewise, not described how the mark was made upon the foreheads of the godly; but after the command for this is communicated (Revelation 7:4 ), in Revelation 7:11 it is said that it is accomplished. Yet it is not a happy fiction of John, [2297] that he says that he has only heard the number of the sealed; but the apparently insignificant circumstance testifies to the truth of the vision, and the entirely ethical nature of divine revelation in general. Nor is it possible for that to be revealed by vision to the prophet which must conflict with his proper subjectivity.

The schematic number one hundred and forty-four thousand applies, as a product of the radical number twelve, especially to believers from the twelve tribes of Israel.

ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς υἱῶν Ἰσρ . “Out of every tribe.” Cf. Winer, p. 105. The pregnant mode of expression shows that one hundred and forty-four thousand in all were sealed, and that the sealed were from every tribe. What follows (Revelation 7:5-8 ) makes the declaration more specific, upon which it is to be noted: 1. That the number of twelve thousand, fixed for each of the twelve tribes, from the very fact that it is every time the same shows that it is schematic by expressing the idea that in the divine gifts of grace all have like share, but no one from any one right. It is just as when in Ezekiel 47:14 , the Holy Land appears equally divided among all the tribes. 2. As to the representation of the tribes, neither the tribe of Levi dare be missing, [2298] nor is the fixed number, twelve, exceeded. Yet it was impracticable to include Manasseh and Ephraim under the name of Joseph, because each of those two branches of the original tribe of Joseph stands by the side of the other tribes with significative independence of age. [2299] If, also, John wanted, in general, to avoid the name of Ephraim, because of the untheocratic reminiscence connected therewith, he put instead thereof the accurately taken paternal name of Joseph, including also the fraternal tribe of Manasseh. [2300] Yet the appearance of not thirteen, but only twelve tribes, is accomplished by the omission of the tribe of Dan. [2301] Gomarus, [2302] Hartwig, and Züll. have indeed put ΔΆΝ instead of ΜΑΝΑΣΣῆ , an arbitrary decision, in no way justified by unimportant codd. (Revelation 9:13 ), because they offer ΔΆΝ instead of ΓΆΔ , [2303] and this contradicts the express testimonies of Iren., Orig., Andr., etc. Of just as little force is the play upon the name Manasseh, according to which the root of the word ( נָשָׂח , “he forgot”) is regarded as indicating that here another name, viz., Dan, is regarded as forgotten, or properly not forgotten, but “embraced or incorporated in a secret way.” [2304] The intentional omission of the tribe of Dan is explained, especially by the Church Fathers, by the fact that from this tribe the Antichrist was to come, [2305] which, however, John nowhere intimates. Others have recalled the idolatry of the Danites; [2306] but the old sin of the tribe can be no foundation for excluding all its members from eternal life. The avoidance of the name of Ephraim, that had become “offensive,” [2307] in no way favors this view, because the tribe named, of course, intentionally not as Ephraim, but Joseph, presents its twelve thousand like the rest. The simplest reason for not naming Dan lies rather in the fact that it had died out long already before the time of John; [2308] even though the more definite declaration of Jewish tradition that only the family of Husim survived from the tribe of Dan, [2309] may be nothing but a reminiscence of Genesis 46:23 . Already in 1 Chronicles 4:0 sqq., the tribe of Dan is omitted, although it is not passed over in 1 Chronicles 2:1 sqq. Cf. also Deuteronomy 33:0 , where the small tribes of Simeon and Issachar are lacking.

In the succession it is only by an artificial subtilty which often passes over into pure trifling, that a consequent intention and a mystical meaning can be found. Beda, e.g., explains, because of the secret meaning of the name: “After Judah, therefore, Reuben; i.e., after the beginnings of divine confession and praise, the performance of an action follows.” [2310] Besides, the opinion of Hengstenb. [2311] is possible, that the sons of the wives and those of the bondwomen are intentionally commingled in order to indicate that in Christ no earthly distinction is valid. But Grot. also can say, from his standpoint, “No order is observed, because in Christ all are equal.” [2312] It is natural for Judah to have the precedence, because from that tribe the Lord comes.” [2313] Reuben follows afterwards, who as the firstborn could have stood before. [2314] The succeeding names are introduced without further intention; only at the close stands Benjamin as the youngest, and finally, from an allusion to the O. T., [2315] in connection with Joseph. [2316]

[2295] De Wette, Ebrard.

[2296] See the general note on ch. 7.

[2297] Züll.

[2298] Beng., correctly: “Since the Levitical ceremonies have been abandoned, Levi again is found on an equal footing with his brethren. All are priests; all have access, not one through the other, but one with the other.”

[2299] Ewald, etc.

[2300] Cf. Numbers 13:11 .

[2301] Cf. especially Heinrichs, Excursus iii.: “Cur in recensu tribuum Israel, c. vii. 5 8, nulla tribus Daniticæ mentio fiat” (ii. 228 sqq.).

[2302] In Wetst.

[2303] Cf. also Matth.

[2304] Beng., Eichh.

[2305] Cf. Genesis 49:17 . Beda, Andr., C. a Lap., Stern.

[2306] Judges 18:0 . Wetst., Vitr., Hengstenb.

[2307] Hengstenb.

[2308] Grot., Ew., De Wette, Ebrard, etc.

[2309] Cf. Grot.

[2310] “Reuben = videns filium; filii = opera.”

[2311] Cf. Vitr., etc.

[2312] Cf. also C. a Lap., Calov., De Wette, etc.

[2313] Revelation 5:5 ; Hebrews 7:14 . Beda, Beng., Rinck, Ebrard, etc.

[2314] Cf. also 1 Chronicles 5:1 .

[2315] Genesis 35:24 ; Genesis 46:20-21 ; Deuteronomy 27:21 ; Numbers 1:10-11 ; 1 Chronicles 2:2 .

[2316] It is strange that in א , not only Gad and Simeon are forgotten, but also Joseph and Benjamin are transposed.


LIII. Revelation 7:4 . τοὺς δούλους τοῦ θεοῦ

Gebhardt emphatically dissents from the limitation of the one hundred and forty-four thousand to converted Israelites: “Neither the Jews in contrast with the Gentiles, nor the Christian Jews in distinction from the Christian Gentiles, but Christians, the true Israelites, whether Jews or Gentiles. The twelve tribes of the children of Israel are therefore identical with the people of God; only the latter are described in O. T. style, or typically, and as a living great organism.” “Where the purpose is to confirm Christians in their confidence in God, or to impress on their mind their high dignity, they are represented as the true Israel, as the numbered or chosen one hundred and forty-four thousand.” So Philippi ( Kirch. Glaubenslehre , iv. iii. 251): “The one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of all the tribes of the children of Israel are not only Christians among the Jews, upon which see Calov., Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., Klief., etc.; but rather the entire congregation of believers is meant, the true spiritual Israel, who have been preserved from all the plagues to be inflicted on the world.” Beck also argues against the view advocated by our author, but regards those sealed as elect persons among believers: “The υἱοι Ἰσραηλ here mentioned are ancient Israel as little as Jerusalem in the Apocalypse is ancient Jerusalem, or as little as, in general, the temple, altar, candlesticks, Balaam, Jezebel, Jews, etc., above, designate the ancient historical objects and persons; but the latter are only the types of that which corresponds in the Christian congregation. So the name Israelites here is likewise typical. The twelve tribes of the children of Israel, from whom the choice is made, have, in the Apocalypse, their metropolis in the New Jerusalem, which, according to Revelation 21:12 ; Revelation 21:14 , has the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on its doors, and is built upon the foundation of the twelve apostles. The name of this new Jerusalem, as the N. T. city of God, is, according to Revelation 3:12 , stamped, together with the name of the N. T. God (my God, i.e., Jesus Christ), and, therefore, with the seal of God here mentioned with respect to the children of Israel, upon those who, by fidelity to the word of Jesus Christ, have proved conquerors in the time of trial. Thus it is also expressly said of the one hundred and forty-four thousand designated in Revelation 14:3 , that they were ‘purchased from the earth ,’ or (Revelation 7:4 ) ‘from among men,’ from humanity, and, therefore, not merely from the Jewish nation; cf. Revelation 5:9 . In the Apocalypse, the entire development of the kingdom is stated universally. It has thus, also, nothing whatever to do with a particularistic national sphere, or with the history of a particular people, but with the universal national sphere, with the universal judgment and universal salvation, and, therefore, with a universal and not a partial, holy nation; cf. Revelation 10:11 . But this conception is conformable also to the N. T. fundamental view. According to this, there is awarded to ancient Israel, indeed, the first participation in universal grace (Romans 1:16 ; Romans 11:25-32 ), but no such particular preference as the sealing before the plagues, so that, therefore, all Gentile Christians must be subject thereto. The national distinction between Jew and Gentile, the distinction of the flesh, is removed in the fellowship of the new covenant (John 10:16 ; John 11:52 ). What unites them as one new people of God is the unity of faith and life on the basis of the new, spiritual type of humanity formed in Jesus Christ. Cf. Acts 15:7-9 ; Romans 2:28 . Cf. Rom 7:29 with Rom 7:26; Ephesians 2:13-15 ; Ephesians 2:18 ; Ephesians 3:3-6 ; 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; Galatians 3:26-28 ; Colossians 3:11 . Since the Christian community, formed of both nationalities, is the true bearer of the Divine covenant, the name of Israel and its twelve tribes is, accordingly, transferred to the Christian Church. Only in its unity and organization of spirit, the typical Israel finds its full expression, its fulfilment, as it formerly presented only a union and organization of people of God which was of the flesh (Romans 9:6-8 ). Cf. Galatians 4:28 ; Romans 9:24 sqq., Revelation 10:11 : Galatians 3:7 ; Galatians 4:26 ; Galatians 6:15 sq. Cf. Philippians 3:3 ; 1 Peter 1:1 , with Revelation 2:9 ; Matthew 19:28 with Matthew 8:11 sq. and Matthew 28:19 ; Revelation 18:4 ; and, finally, Revelation 21:12 ; Revelation 21:14 , the climax of the entire view.… The number of the sealed in the Apoc. comprises, therefore, neither merely converted Jews (whether of the first or the last times), nor all Christendom, or the entire number of believers, but ( ἐκ πάσης φυλῆς ) a selection from all tribes or sections of believers without distinction of Jewish or heathen origin. They are the approved spiritual Christians, the τέλειοι (Philippians 3:13 sqq.); and their sealing occurs by their receiving the new seal of the covenant, the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son in special power and fulness, so that he appears in a visible mark, characterizing their entire conduct, and secures them against the trials pertaining to the empire of the world, especially on the part of a spurious Christianity (cf. Matthew 24:21-25 ; 1 John 2:18 ; 1 John 2:20 ; 1 John 2:27 ), and against the judgments of God proceeding through the world.”

Verse 9

Revelation 7:9 . Μετὰ ταῦτα εἰδον , κ . τ . λ . The entire vision, Revelation 7:9-17 , follows, of course, upon what precedes, but it is throughout, as to its significance, inseparable from what precedes; against De Wette, who calls the vision proleptical or ideal, because here John [2317] “looks forward from the developments which he beholds in the earthly world, to their blessed fulfilment,” in connection with which nothing further is to be asked than how the saved enter heaven, whether through death, or otherwise. But even though the vision, as to its contents, be proleptical, nevertheless, wherever it occurs, its meaning and force must be determined by the connection of the entire Apoc.; and this corresponds to the parallelism in which the second vision of ch 7 stands to the first. [2318]

ὌΧΛΟΝ ΠΟΛῪΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . In contrast with the multitude out of Israel represented by a definite number (Revelation 5:4 sqq.), the great concourse from every people, and all tribes and tongues, appears here as innumerable. The contrast required by the text cannot be explained away by the fact, that, if the one hundred and forty-four thousand be identified with this great multitude, the innumerability becomes relative, with which then it is regarded as harmonizing that John, Revelation 7:4 , heard the number of the sealed, because they were innumerable by him: [2319] this expedient, however, is not allowed by the words, Revelation 7:9 , Ο ͂ Ν ἈΡΙΘ . ΑὐΤ . ΟὐΔΕῚς ἨΔ . ; cf. with reference to the ὋΝ

ΑὐΤΟΝ , Revelation 7:2 . The remark of De Wette also, that Revelation 7:4 , by its numerical statement, presents the idea of election with the antithesis of reprobation, while Revelation 7:9 refers only to the attaining of salvation without this antithesis, is inapplicable, because the idea of election lies alike in the text in both passages; since, just as the one hundred and forty-four thousand are out of Israel ( ἐκ πασ . φυλ . νἱ . Ἰσρ ., ἐκ φυλ . Ἰσυδ , κ . τ . λ .), so the innumerable multitude are out of all nations ( ἐκ παντ . ἐθ Ν .). The essential distinction is in the fact that the horizon, which in Revelation 7:4 comprised only Israel, now includes absolutely all nations and races, Gentiles and Jews, humanity in its totality. This is stated by the second formula with its four categories, which also comprises all sides in its enumeration. [2320] [See Note LIV., p. 258.] ἙΣΤῶΤΕς

ΠΕΡΙΒΕΒΛΗΜΈΝΟΥς , Κ . Τ . Λ . There is no difficulty in the use of the plural with a collective; [2321] but also the irregularity of using the nom. ΕΣΤῶΤΕς , and thus throwing the clause ἙΣΤ .

ἈΡΝΊΟΥ out of the construction, while the next words, ΠΕΡΙΒΕΒΛΗΜΈΝΟΥς , Κ . Τ . Λ . , recur to the original structure of the sentence ( ΕἾΔΟΝ ὌΧΛΟΝ ΠΟΛΎΝ ), is not inadmissible in the idiom of the Apoc. The standing before the throne of God and of the Lamb [2322] points to the eternal communion with God and the Lamb, [2323] whose heavenly glory and blessed joy are also expressed by white robes, [2324] and palm-branches in the hands of those who have finished their course. There is no foundation for the inference from the φοίνικες of a heavenly feast of tabernacles as the festival of the eternal harvest-home; [2325] but when, also, in Revelation 7:15 ( σκηνώσει ἐπʼ αὐτούς ), a reference is found to the dwelling in tabernacles, and, in connection with Revelation 7:17 ( ἐπὶ ζωῆς πηγὰς ὑδάτων ), to the fact that [2326] during the feast of tabernacles, a priest daily drew water from the wells of Siloah in order to sprinkle it beside the altar, something entirely foreign is introduced. [2327] But on the other side, also, the reference to the palm-branches, which the victors in the Grecian games bore with their palm-garlands, [2328] is excessively specific. [2329] It is entirely sufficient, without any more special reference, to regard the palm-branches as a sign of festal joy. [2330]

Κ . ΚΡΆΖΟΥΣΙ ΦΩΝῇ ΜΕΓΑΛῇ . The strength of the cry, besides being peculiar to the heavenly beings, [2331] corresponds to the impulse of their joy and gratitude. [2332]

ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . They sing praises as those who have become complete participants of salvation; and this they ascribe to their God, who sits upon the throne, as the ultimate author, and the Lamb as the mediator. The ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ is not victory in general, [2333] but the entire sum of the salvation which the blessed now perfectly possess, since they have been removed from all want, temptation, sin, and death, and have come into the presence of their God. [2334] Improperly, Grot, explains ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ metonymically, viz., “thanks for the salvation received.” The thanksgiving, however, occurs from the fact that the ΣΕΣΩΜΈΝΟΙ ascribe the ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ given them, to their God as ΣΩΤΉΡ .

[2317] Cf. Revelation 11:15 sqq., Revelation 14:1 sqq., 13, Revelation 15:2 sqq.

[2318] See general remarks on ch. 7.

[2319] Hengstenb.

[2320] Cf. Revelation 5:9 .

[2321] Winer, p. 480.

[2322] Cf. Revelation 7:15 ; Revelation 22:3 .

[2323] Grot., who refers this, in general, to the great number of Christians in Syria, remarks on ἐστῶτες , κ . τ . λ .: “i.e., having a mind not sunk to earth, but raised to heaven.”

[2324] Cf. Revelation 6:11 .

[2325] Cf. Vitr., Eichh., Heinr., Hengstenb., Böhmer.

[2326] Cf. Winer, Rwb. , ii. 9.

[2327] Against Vitr., Hengstenb., etc.

[2328] Pausanias, Arcad. , 48: οἱ δὲ ἁγῶνες φοίνικος ἔχουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ στέφανον · εἱς δὲ τὴν δεξίαν ἐστὶ καὶ πανταχοῦ τῷ νικῶντι ἐστι θέμενος φοῖνιξ .; in Wetst.

[2329] Against Ew., etc.

[2330] Cf. John 12:13 ; 1Ma 13:51 .

[2331] Cf. Revelation 7:2 .

[2332] Cf. C. a Lap.

[2333] Eichh.

[2334] Cf. Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 7:15 ; Revelation 21:4 .


LIV. Revelation 7:9 . ὄχλος πολύς

“Where the mercy and love of God are praised, Christians are represented as an innumerable multitude” (De Wette, Gebhardt). Beck, however, urges the distinction from those mentioned in Revelation 7:3-8 : “This appearance forms manifestly a contrast with what precedes. For: 1. The definite one hundred and forty-four thousand is opposed by the innumerable multitude. 2. ἐκ παντὸς ἔθνους is contrasted with ἐκ πἁσῆς φυλῆς υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ . 3.Revelation 7:14 . The οἱ ερχόμενοι ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης must have passed through the great tribulation in contrast with the elect secured therefrom already before its beginning (Revelation 7:2 sqq.). 4. Finally, there is a contrast in the placing of the great multitude in heaven (Revelation 7:9 , ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου ), while the theatre in the preceding Revelation 7:3 is the earth. Here, then, those appear who have passed through the visitation of judgment, and suffered, although they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; i.e., they have availed themselves of the cleansing efficacy offered in Christ (Revelation 7:14 ), for participation in which they were not aroused until by persecution. Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 . Of the death of martyrs, which has been conjectured, nothing is here said. By the side, therefore, of the sealed first-fruits, appear those who have not been purified until by the tribulation. From them proceeds an innumerable multitude of triumphing conquerors.… To the apostolic, Christian, germinal Church, to the elect from the Divine-covenant people, there is added the elect from all humanity. Since, however (Revelation 7:3 sqq.), the people of God itself is distinguished according to tribes, and, from these tribes, the sealed are taken only as a selection, and thus, also, among the tribes (Revelation 7:9 ) are comprised those who belong to the people of God, i.e., Jews and Christians, in like manner, the πᾶν ἔθνος includes the entire heathen world. Therefore, after the great period of tribulation (Matthew 24:21-29 ), and through it, a collection of the saved still continues, from all humanity, without distinction of religion, whether heathen, or Jewish, or Christian (cf. Romans 2:7-10 ), as well as without distinction of political relations ( λαῶν ) and languages ( γλωσσῶν ). For, since there is no section of the human world that does not furnish its contingent to those saved from the great tribulation, an innumerable multitude is formed, although relatively the elect are few (Matthew 20:16 ).”

Verses 11-12

Revelation 7:11-12 . All the angels, [2335] in response, continue the ascription of praise, Revelation 7:10 .


ΚΑῚ ἝΠΕΣΑΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . They stood already (“had stationed themselves”) during the scene described in Revelation 7:9-10 ; now they fall down. [2336]

ΑΜΉΝ . The angels, first of all, conclude man’s song of praise, Revelation 7:10 , [2337] in order then, in their own way, to carry it farther: ΕὐΛΟΓΊΑ , Κ . Τ . Λ . This doxology is formally distinguished from that in Revelation 5:12 by the fact that in this passage every particular item appears distinctly marked by the article attached as being in complete independence. Beng. remarks, arbitrarily, that the sevenfold ascription of praise has in view the seven trumpets, and therefore in the trumpet of the first angel, ΕὐΛΟΓΊΑ , and in that of the second angel, ΔΌΞΑ , prevails, etc. With equal arbitrariness, Hengstenb.: the ΕὐΛΟΓΊΑ , which concludes Revelation 5:12 , here precedes as a sign that the present ascription of praise is connected with the former, but what a distance between Revelation 5:12 and Revelation 7:12 ! The particular explanation of Grot. on Revelation 7:11 : “For both the apostles who were at Jerusalem, and the elders, had gone forth together,” in connection with his reference of Revelation 7:9 sqq. to the multitude of Christians in Syria, is to be understood only when his observations on Revelation 4:4 ; Revelation 4:6 sqq., are recalled.

[2335] Cf. Revelation 5:11 , where, in a similar way, an innumerable multitude appears.

[2336] Cf. Revelation 5:14 , Revelation 11:16 .

[2337] C. a Lap., Beng., Heinr., Ew., Hengstenb.

Verses 13-17

Revelation 7:13-17 . The second half of the vision contains an express interpretation of the first half, Revelation 7:9 sqq.

That it is one of the elders, who gives this interpretation, [2338] corresponds with the idea of these elders as the representatives of the Church, [2339] whose innumerable multitude appears here in glory. [2340]

ἈΠΕΚΡΊΘΗ designates, like עָנָה , [2341] the speech uttered when an occasion is given, [2342] which, however, cannot be limited to a definite question. Here the ἈΠΟΚΡΊΝΕΣΘΑΙ may be referred [2343] to the (unexpressed) desire of John to learn something further concerning the multitude beheld in Revelation 7:9 ; but even without accepting any such unexpressed question of John, the simple reference of the fact of the vision, Revelation 7:9 sqq., as the occasion for the declaration of the elders, is sufficient. The form of a dialogue, [2344] with its dramatic vividness, serves to emphasize the point under consideration; for, by asking what he intends to explain, [2345] the elder brings John to the answer which comprises the acknowledgment of his own ignorance, and the expression of the wish for an explanation. Thus, then the explanation, awaited with expectancy, follows in Revelation 7:14 sqq.

ΤΊΝΕς ΕἸΣῚΝ ΚΑῚ ΠΌΘΕΝ ἯΛΘΟΝ . The elder presents the two points concerning which one unacquainted would naturally ask first. [2346] Both questions also have their answer in Revelation 7:14 , of course not in an external sense as though they had to do with names, station, country, etc., but so that the inner nature of the appearance is explained.

The address κύριε μου , which everywhere expresses real homage, even where the ΜΟΥ , which makes the reference still more earnest, is lacking, [2347] has in John’s mouth complete justification, because he stands before a heavenly being, whose superiority he acknowledges in the matter immediately under consideration by the ΣῪ ΟἿΔΑς . By this John does not say, “I, indeed, know it too, but you know it better,” [2348] but, “I do not know it, yet it may be heard from you, as you know it.” [2349]

ΟἹ -G0- ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟΙ -G0- . Incorrectly, Ew. i.: “who have just come hither;” Ebrard, etc., “those having come.” The present is to be retained, [2350] as it alone corresponds to the idea of the entire vision; [2351] for it is not individuals, as possibly martyrs, [2352] who are introduced, but to the seer there is given in anticipation a view of all faithful believers, as they are thus shown to him as those who, after the great tribulation of the last day shall be finished, shall stand before the throne of God and of the Lamb, Revelation 7:9 sqq. The explanation of the elder (in which the present ἐρχόμενοι , the aor. ἜΠΛΥΝΑΝ , ἘΛΕΎΚΑΝΑΝ (Revelation 7:14 ), again the present ΕἸΣῚΝ , ΛΑΤΡΕΎΟΥΣΙΝ , and, finally, the future ΣΚΗΝΏΣΕΙ

ἘΞΑΛΕΊΨΕΙ (Revelation 7:15-17 ), must, in like manner, be observed) is intelligible in its form of expression only by regarding the reality as not yet coinciding with what has been beheld. The vision displays that host as they are already before God’s throne, and are serving him ( εἰσὶν , λατρεύουσιν , Revelation 7:15 , pres.); they are those who (in their earthly life) have washed ( ἔπλυναν , ἐλεύκαναν , Revelation 7:14 , aor.) their robes in the blood of the Lamb. From the same standpoint, the pres. ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟΙ yields the idea, that they come before the eyes of the gazing prophet, and assemble before the throne of God. For it appears more suitable to one contemplating the standpoint of the vision in all the other points up to Revelation 7:15 a ( ἐν τ . Ν . ΑὐΤ . ), to hold fast, also, to the pres. ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟΙ , than [2353] to regard this ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟΙ in the sense of a future, and to find the allusion in the fact that that multitude was actually still upon earth, and is only still to come. Particularly opposed to this is the combination with the aor. Κ . ἜΠΛΥΝΑΝ . But from Revelation 7:15 b ( καὶ ὁ καθήμ ., κ . τ . λ .), the elder speaks not from the standpoint of the vision, but of reality. To that entire multitude, which is already presented to John in the vision as in final glory, there yet belongs first, since they are, in reality, still upon earth, the great hope of which the elder speaks: ΚΑΘ . ἘΠῚ Τ . ΘΡ . ΣΚΗΝΏΣΕΙ ἘΠʼ ΑὐΤ ., Οὐ ΠΕΙΝΆΣΟΥΣΙΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . It is throughout sufficient that the explanatory address maintains in the beginning the standpoint of the vision, and that it is not until the close that the proper situation of affairs is opened.

ἘΚ Τῆς ΘΛΊΨΕΩς Τῆς ΜΕΓΆΛΗς . Not only because of the definite article, and the discriminating predicate Τ . ΜΕΓΆΛΗς , but also because of the reference of the entire vision from Revelation 7:9 , it is impossible to understand “the great tribulation” very generally “of all trouble and labor on earth:” [2354] on the contrary, the eschatological reference is necessary whereby the ΘΛῚΨΙς , announced by the Lord in Matthew 24:21 , and also prophesied by John, which is to be expected after Revelation 6:17 , and therefore in the seventh seal, the immediate preparatory signs of which, also, are described already in Revelation 6:12-17 , is meant. [2355] The entire vision (ver 9 sqq.) thus places before the eyes the fact, that, like the sealed of Israel (Revelation 7:1 sqq.), the innumerable multitude of all believers out of all nations shall nevertheless remain faithful in that great tribulation, and therefore shall attain to heavenly glory.


ἈΡΝΊΟΝ . Concerning the relation expressed by the aor., see on ΟἹ ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟΙ . On the subject itself, Beda remarks, “He does not speak of the martyrs alone: they are washed in their own blood.” Thus he has already [2356] correctly recognized the idea at once obvious, which elsewhere is marked by the expression Τ . ἈΡΝΊΟΥ , [2357] that the whiteness of the robes has been produced by the (atoning and redeeming) blood of Christ as the Lamb of God. [2358] But the idea recognized, in general, by Beda, of the cleansing power of martyrdom, has been introduced into the text not only by expositors like N. de Lyra, who regards the blood of the Lamb as the blood of martyrs, “because it is the blood of his members,” but even by Ew. i., manifestly because of his erroneous reference of Revelation 7:9 sqq. to martyrs, as he remarks, “by the blood of Christ, i.e., the death which they endured because of Christ’s doctrine, and having followed in this the example of Christ,” etc. It is, in other respects, contrary to the nature of the figures, when Hengstenb. tries to distinguish the washing from the making white , and refers the former to the forgiveness of sins, and the latter to sanctification; such a washing, however, is designated whereby the robes are made white. The delicate feature of correct ethics is also here to be noted, which lies in the fact that they who (in their earthly life) have washed their garments white in the blood of the Lamb appear in the future life attired in white clothing. [2359] What follows also Revelation 7:15 , in its connection with ΔΙᾺ ΤΟῦΤΟ , depends upon the fundamental view which has been explained: those hosts could not stand before God’s throne, beneath the protection of his shadow, if, through the temptation of the great tribulation, they had not carried unsoiled the garments which had been made white in the blood of the Lamb.

Concerning the tenses, the present ( ΕἸΣῚΝ , ΛΑΤΡΕΎΟΥΣΙΝ , Revelation 7:15 a ) and the future ( σκηνώσει , κ . τ . λ ., Revelation 7:15-17; Revelation 7:15-17Revelation 7:15-17 ), see on οἱ ἐρχόμενοι (Revelation 7:14 ). To refer the entire discourse (Revelation 7:15-17 ) to earthly circumstances, [2360] is so manifestly contrary to the tenor of the words, that the entire conception of ch. 7, which introduces such absurdities, contradicts itself.

ΕἸΣΙΝ ἘΝΏΠΙΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ Τ . Θ . Already, the fact that they are there is blessedness. Cf. Revelation 4:4 , Revelation 21:3 , Revelation 22:4 ; John 17:24 ; 1 John 3:2 ; Php 1:23 ; 1 Corinthians 13:12 . ΚΙᾺ ΛΑΤΡΕΎΟΥΣΙΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Cf. Revelation 4:8 sqq., Revelation 5:8 sqq., Revelation 22:3 . It is the glory of the priestly service in heaven; hence, ἘΝ Τῷ ΝΑῷ ΑὐΤΟῦ . [2361]

ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτάς . “Speaking after our custom, eternity is nevertheless meant.” [2362]

καὶ ὁ καθήμενος

σκηνώσει ἐπʼ αὐτούς . In accord with Leviticus 26:11 , Isaiah 4:5 , Ezekiel 37:27 , [2363] here [2364] the eternal, immediate, personal presence of God enthroned in his glory, and the holiness and blessedness of believers perfected therein, are described, viz., the shechinah of God over them, but no more, as in an earthly covering, by pillars of smoke and fire, but in its heavenly immediateness, so that the σκηνοῦν of the enthroned One harmonizes with the εἷναι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου τ . θ . of the blessed. The further description also of heavenly freedom from pain (Revelation 7:16 ), and eternal refreshment and consolation (Revelation 7:17 ; cf. Revelation 21:4 ), is given with the old prophetic features. [2365]

πᾶν καῦμα , after the special ὁ ἥλιος , is general; no kind of heat, whatever it may be, e.g., that of scorching wind. [2366]

ὅτι τὸ ἀρνίον , κ . τ . λ . Isaiah 49:10 , declares the reason: “for [2367] he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, [2368] even by the springs of water shall he guide them.” [2369] By writing instead of this, [2370] ΤῸ ἈΡΝΊΟΝ , Κ . Τ . Λ . , John designates the mediatorship of Christ, the Lamb, through whose blood especially, [2371] believers have come where they now stand, and who also feeds his own people there, [2372] and leads them unto living fountains of waters. An allusion to the position of the Lamb as mediator lies, besides, in the designation ΤῸ ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ . This formula is impossible with the entirely synonymous ἘΝ ΜΕΣῷ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ , Revelation 7:5-6 , as De Wette wishes, because there the position of the Lamb is not “in the midst of the throne,” but “in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders; [2373] but here the position of the Lamb is described entirely apart from the circle of the four beasts and the elders, and alone with reference to the throne. Only the present statement dare not stand in opposition to Revelation 5:6 . Ewald’s explanation: “towards the midst of the throne, i.e., near the throne, placed by the Divine throne,” is too vague, and ignores the peculiar significance of the ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ ; although the translation, “towards the midst of the throne,” is perfectly correct. [2374] The difficulty of the idea lies in the fact that, while in other places the ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ refers [2375] to a mass, [2376] or at least to two parts, in whose midst something is arranged, [2377] here ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ is attached to the single conception ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ , so that the simple “between,” which necessarily corresponds with the ἘΝ ΜΈΣῼ , Revelation 5:6 , is here entirely inadmissible. But the solution lies in the way indicated by Ewald: the Lamb is so placed as to be turned towards the midst of the throne; it therefore stands directly before the throne, [2378] a statement perfectly harmonizing with the description of Revelation 5:6 . If, however, the Lamb be beheld directly before the throne of God, or in the midst of the circle of representatives of believers who surround God’s throne, it always has the same position between Him who sits on the throne, and the four beings and twenty-four elders who stand around; i.e., the form of the Lamb in itself, as well as this position, designates Christ as the atoning mediator. Hence it is just as little liable to exception, that there is ascribed here to the Lamb both a ποιμαίνειν and a ὉΔΗΓΕῖΝ , [2379] as comprising the Lamb’s entire activity. [2380]

ἘΠῚ ΖΩῆς ΠΗΓᾺς ὙΔΆΤΩΝ . The emphatic prefixing of ΖΩῆς is precisely like that of ΣΑΡΚΌς , 1 Peter 3:21 . [2381] On the subject itself, cf. Revelation 22:1 .

ΚΑῚ ἘΞΑΛΕΊΨΕΙ , Κ . Τ . Λ . Cf. Revelation 21:4 ; Isaiah 25:8 . It is not without many tears that they come out of great tribulation (Revelation 7:14 ); but when they have overcome, God himself shall dry their tears, and change their weeping into joy. [2382] [See Note LV., p. 258.]

[2338] Cf. Revelation 5:4 .

[2339] Cf. Revelation 4:4 .

[2340] Cf. Ebrard.

[2341] Song of Solomon 2:10 . Ew.

[2342] Matthew 11:25 . Cf., on this, Meyer.

[2343] Beng., Hengstenb.

[2344] De Wette. Cf. Jeremiah 1:11 sqq.; Zechariah 4:1 sqq.

[2345] “He asks in order to teach.” Beda, C. a Lap., Aret., etc.

[2346] Cf. Jonah 1:8 . Virg., Aen. , viii. Revelation 14 : “Qui genus? unde domo? “More examples of the kind in Wetst.

[2347] Zechariah 1:9 ; Zechariah 4:4-5 ; Zechariah 4:13 ; Genesis 23:6 ; Genesis 23:11 ; Genesis 31:35 ; Numbers 12:11 ; John 12:21 ; John 20:15 .

[2348] Ebrard.

[2349] Beng., Ew., De Wette, Hengstenb.

[2350] Beng., Züll., De Wette, Hengstenb.; also Ew. ii.

[2351] Cf. the preliminary remarks on ch. 7.

[2352] Cf. the ἐκ τ . θλίψ . τ . μεγ . and the ἔπλυναν , κ . τ . λ .

[2353] Züll., Hengstenb.

[2354] Genesis 5:20 ; Genesis 3:16 sqq. Beng.

[2355] Cf. Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2356] Cf. Beng., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Bleek; also Ew. ii.

[2357] Cf. Revelation 5:6 .

[2358] Cf. Revelation 1:5 ; Ephesians 5:25 sqq.; 1 John 1:7 .

[2359] Cf. Revelation 3:4 , Revelation 19:8 .

[2360] Grot., on Revelation 7:15 : “Here at Pella, God kept them safe from all the very great evils which await the contumacious Jews;” on Revelation 7:16 , “They shall have whence they may live.”

[2361] Cf. the ἱερεῖς (Revelation 1:6 , Revelation 5:10 ), which pertains already to the earthly life of believers.

[2362] Beda.

[2363] De Wette, Hengstenb., etc.

[2364] Cf. Revelation 21:3 .

[2365] Cf. Isaiah 49:10 ; Isaiah 25:8 .

[2366] De Wette.

[2367] Incorrectly, LXX.: ἀλλά .

[2368] Incorrectly, LXX.: παρακαλέσει .

[2369] Inaccurately, LXX.: καὶ διὰ πηγῶν ὑδάτων ἅξει αὐτούς .

[2370] Cf. De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2371] Cf. Revelation 5:9 .

[2372] Cf. Revelation 14:1 sqq.

[2373] See on the passage.

[2374] Against Hengstenb., who defends the superficial translation “between, in the midst.”

[2375] Exodus 11:7 ; Ezekiel 22:16 ; 1 Kings 5:12 ; Judges 15:4 ; LXX.; also 1 Corinthians 6:5 . Cf., on this, Meyer.

[2376] Matthew 13:25 ; Mark 7:31 ; Isaiah 57:5 .

[2377] Cf. Winer, p. 372.

[2378] Ew. ii.: “ an der Mitte des Stuhles .”

[2379] It is, nevertheless, the proper person Christ who is understood as the Shepherd of his people. Cf. Psalms 23:1 ; 1 Peter 2:12 ; John 10:12 .

[2380] Revelation 5:7 sq.

[2381] Beng.

[2382] Cf. Psalms 126:5 sq.


LV. Revelation 7:14-17

Gebhardt: “The heavenly promises add nothing new to those already available for the earthly Christian life. It is evident that the promise of deliverance from tribulation, rest from labor, cessation from suffering, as well as perpetual joy after trial overcome, belong only to heaven. But, otherwise, the contents of future blessedness are distinguished from those in the promises only in particular symbolic features, and they are still, in nature, the same. The Christian has this blessedness at the moment of his becoming a Christian; but what he possesses and does and is here, in conflict and growth, amidst the discrepancy of his real nature with its manifestation in his life, and still more with the conduct of the world, he possesses and does and is there, in rest and realization.”

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 7". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hmc/revelation-7.html. 1832.
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