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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 15

Verses 1-8

Revelation 15:1 . I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous: a vision very sublime, to attract the notice and study of the church. There appeared seven angels, the final ministers of divine vengeance on the beast, and his progeny. Their work seem too great for created beings; they might be the seven Spirits of God, who go forth into all the earth.

Revelation 15:2 . A sea of glass, as is noted in Revelation 4:6. A pavement of gems, like that seen by Moses, which reflected the uncreated glory. Here the choral bands sing the victories obtained over the beast, in all the wars of the Lord. But while they sing, their enemies, who murdered them on earth, weep and wail in the dungeons of outer darkness: what the poets call Pluto’s dark house.

Revelation 15:3-4 . And they sing: so is the Greek. But we should leave the Hebrew idioms, when the past and the future is designated by present time. Thus in chap. Revelation 5:9. Et cantabant canticum novum, and they sung a new song. As Moses sung sublimely when the Hebrews were delivered from Egypt, and Pharaoh and his mighty host drowned in the sea, just as the beast and his worshippers were sentenced to the abyss; so now, they sung the song of the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world, and hath redeemed them to God by his blood. Who would not fear thee, oh Lord God Almighty. Thou only art holy: all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psalms 22:27.

Revelation 15:6 . Seven angels clothed in pure and white linen. Spotless ministers of justice, as the scribes before the temple. Ezekiel 9:2.

Revelation 15:7 . One of the living creatures gave to the seven angels seven vials, full of the wrath of God. These vials are appended to the seventh trumpet, which shall finish the mystery of God. He will not hide from his saints the secret councils of his wisdom and love.

Revelation 15:8 . And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, who makes the clouds his chariots, and thick darkness his pavilion. This circumstance is often noted in the old testament. Exodus 40:35. Lev 16:2 , 1 Kings 8:10, 2 Chronicles 5:13. Isaiah 6:3. For a time the Lord hides himself, while the cloud demonstrates the reality of his presence.


What, and are all the groans and tears, and deaths of the saints come to triumphal songs at last? Has the Lord showed strength with his arm, and wrought righteousness for his people? What, are their glorified bodies, once mangled, burned, or worried by wild beasts, now glorious as the sea of glass, the pavement of gems on which they stand? Are the noble army of martyrs and confessors, once treated as the worst culprits of the earth, now ennobled as the first characters of heaven? Oh what a scene of reversion, of retribution worthy of a God.

But oh what mercy, what longsuffering and goodness in him who could bear so long with the rebellious gentiles and the progeny of the beast. What a grand display of righteousness. The Judge of all the earth will do wrong to none. He allows the worst of men, with some exceptions of those who perished speedily after embruing their hands in the blood of the saints, a time for repentance. Yes, he endures with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and his slighted equity and terrors shall be the heavier for being long delayed.

Ah, if the infidel, the blaspheming world, did but know the vials of wrath which the purest ministers of celestial visitation are preparing to pour on their heads, surely they would pause in the course of sin. If they once go to the abyss, how will they regain emancipation, and recover their steps in the walks of life. Ah, here is the work, this is the task. To-day if you would hear his voice, revolt no more, nor dare to harden your hearts, because judgment is long delayed.

Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras, Hoc opus, hic labor est…

Æneid. 6: 128, 129.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 15". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.