Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Revelation 10

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-11

Rev 10:1-11



Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:14

Preliminary Note: In the first four trumpet visions we saw the overthrow of pagan Rome--a work finished in A.D. 476 ; in the fifth and sixth the Mahometan scourge and the destruction of the Greek or Eastern Empire--completed in the taking of Constantinople in A.D. 1453; the seventh trumpet, which is the announcement of the end of the world, is recorded in Revelation 11:15-18. The things pictured in this section, 10:1 to 11:14, come between the sixth and seventh trumpets. This must be the time that includes the restoration of genuine Christianity. Departures from true teaching began early, grew rapidly after the Roman Emperor, Constantine, recognized Christianity as the true religion. The selection of a universal bishop (pope) in the sixth century made a complete apostasy. Something more than eight centuries till the fall of Constantinople did not improve the church as 9:20 and 21 show. The visions of this section were intended to encourage Christians then that truth would be restored; and to assure us, through the facts of history, that it has been.


Revelation 10:1-11

1 And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; --In this vision John sees an angel coming down from heaven to earth. Like the one mentioned in 5:2, this one is a "strong" angel, probably indicating the greatness of the work he was to do. The description is somewhat similar to that of Christ in 1:13-15, and some expositors think the angel represents Christ. Others think it refers simply to the power of. Christ manifested in the work of the Reformation. Another view is that the angel represents Martin Luther as the leading character in giving the Bible back to the people. Perhaps it is only necessary to say that the angel may signify some great movement that had the approval of heaven, whatever may have been the agencies by which accomplished.

Clothed with a cloud indicates glory, and means that the work would be glorious. (Exodus 16:9-10; Exodus 24:16.) The rainbow upon his head was a symbol of peace and mercy pointing to the character of the work to be accomplished. The face appearing as the sun naturally suggests the idea of light, which harmonizes with the vision of an open book. The work of the Reformation really consisted in giving the people the word of God--flooding the mind with divine light. It is uncertain just what may be signified by feet "as pillars of fire," but the expression harmonizes with the dazzling appearance of the heavenly messenger. The scene was profoundly impressive, and doubtless prepared John’s mind to give the closest attention to what the angel commanded.

2 and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth; --What is signified by the "little book" has puzzled expositors much ; but, if applying this vision to the Reformation movement is correct, then it is easy to understand that a book would be involved, for the Reformation largely pertained to the work of giving back to the people the word of God. The fact that the book was "open" clearly indicates that something was to be made known, or the book itself had a message of some kind. However, the text does not inform us what the book contained. The words "little" and "open" show that this book is different in some way from the "sealed" book of 5:1. Verse 11, compared with 11:1-13, makes it probable that the "little book" contained the revelation that was made to John about the restoration of the true church. The thoughts of this glorious work would be sweet, but experiences in doing it would be most bitter. Such are the facts as history shows.

John saw the angel placing one foot on the sea and the other upon the earth. On the significance of this expression commentators offer various views. The simplest and most plausible is that it intimates the general effect of the work the angel announced--applicable to the entire world rather than limited work signified by the preceding trumpets. The symbol is certainly a proper one to indicate a diffusion of knowledge.

3 and he cried with a great voice, as a lion roareth: and when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.--What the angel cried is not mentioned, but it was with a voice that roared like a lion. This may have been to indicate the power with which the great Reformation work should be done. As already mentioned, this work mainly had to do with a book. This meant the translation of the Bible and placing it in the hands of the people. Just preceding the Reformation the art of printing was discovered, and the Bible was the first book printed. Since the church in its apostatized condition was opposed to the distribution of the Bible among the people, naturally such distribution created a great disturbance, and produced the most bitter opposition to the reformers. Martin Luther, being the recognized leader in the work of placing the Bible in the hands of the people, of course came in for all the hatred and bitterness that a corrupt church could bring against one considered a heretic. The most natural application of the "seven thunders" is that they were uttered against the voice of the angel. That means that when the angel uttered his voice and John was authorized in the symbol to "measure the temple of God," the power opposed thundered against it with vehemence. All this plainly indicated that when the Reformation began the Roman Pope hurled against it his condemnation. What was done to Luther and his writings as well as other reformers are matters of history too well known to need recounting. ’To say the least, then, this application corresponds with the facts of history. The preaching of the word and defending the liberty to obey it resulted in the papal bulls of excommunication. In his life of Wickliffe, p. 198, Le Bas says: "The thunders which shook the world when they issued from the seven hills sent forth an uncertain sound, comparatively faint and powerless, when launched from a region of less elevated sanctity." (Quoted by Elliott, Vol. II, p. 112.) The term "seven" may here mean full or complete, and indicates the full condemnation the Roman pontiff pronounced against the reformers. Or, as suggested by some expositors, it may indicate that the thunders came from the seven-hill city. This would also identify the thunders with the papal authority.

D’Aubigné’s History, Vol. II, pp. 114, 115, gives an account of a papal bull against Luther in which his writings that contained certain doctrines were to be burned, and Luther given sixty days to retract or be condemned as an obstinate heretic. Luther wrote Pope Leo X a letter in which he said, "Farewell, Rome." He denounced the Pope and on December 10, 1520, he publicly burned the bull the Pope had issued against him. (Ibid., p. 150.) Surely the papal thunders had uttered their voices.

4 And when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.--It is perfectly clear that John at first understood that the voices of the thunders were a part of the symbolism that was to be recorded, for his commission definitely required him to write what he saw. (Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:19.) It is also clear that the voices were speaking words, but strong like the voice of a lion. He was in the act of writing what the thunders said when a voice from heaven forbade it. This shows that God would not allow them to be recorded as a part of the revelation. To do so might have left the impression that they came from God; refusing them a place in the record shows that they came from some power which was in fact against God’s will. This the apostate church of that day certainly was. The thunders claimed to be of heaven, but were not. In other passages in this book where John is commanded to write, the language shows plainly that the purpose was to give the faithful and true words of God. (Revelation 14:13; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5.)

The word "seal" sometimes means to approve (John 3:33); it might also signify to hide or keep secret; but here to "seal up" with the additional words "write them not" simply means not to record them, for the reason that they are not true.

5 And the angel that I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his right hand to heaven,--These words show that John observed the angel as he assumed a position in accord with the solemn announcement he was about to make.

6 and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein,--The oath by him that liveth forever refers to God. It indicates that the angel was assuring John he had God’s endorsement and verification of the truth of what he was about to say. The certainty of this was in the fact that God was able to confirm it, for he was the Creator of heaven, earth, and sea and everything in them. This was to give assurance to the churches then, and to others since, that the work depicted in this vision would actually be accomplished in spite of all the anathemas, excommunications, and papal thunders that could roar from the head of an apostate church. We should not forget that all these visions were intended, directly or indirectly, to protect and sustain the true people of God in facing the sufferings, persecutions, and death that might be inflicted by their enemies.

that there shall be delay no longer:7 but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God, according to the good tidings which he declared to his servants the prophets.--The margin, as well as the King James, says "time" shall be no longer. Certainly the literal meaning of the Greek word is "time." But we know that time did not end when the angel made his declaration, for two reasons: one is, that we are already several centuries this side of the Reformation; the other is, that the other features of this vision present things that were to occur before the seventh angel sounded. "Delay" no longer would mean that certain things would have to begin at once. If it meant that the Reformation--restoring the open Bible to the people--was to begin without delay,that was true in fact. But the seventh verse seems to connect the question of time--the period in view--with the sounding of the seventh trumpet. This was to bring the end, and has not yet transpired. (11:15.) The Greek expression may be given thus: "time shall be not yet." That still presents a difficulty, for something must be added to complete the thought. Does it mean that a certain period of time will not end yet--until a specified work is done? Or, at a designated event, time shall not be prolonged? The latter seems the more probable view of the words. With this view accepted, the passage will yield this general thought: From the time that the Reformation began, the work to be accomplished through the Bible laid open to the world would not end till the seventh angel sounded; or, in other words, when that time comes the work for God in redeeming man will be finished and time or opportunity will not be prolonged beyond that event. Another way to express it is that "then is finished the mystery of God."

The angel also told John that finishing the mystery (divine purpose) of God was to be according to the good tidings declared by the prophets. That means it would be according to the promises about the overthrow of the "man of sin" and the final glorious triumph of the church. (Daniel 7:24-28; 2 Thessalonians 2:4-9.) From 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 we learn that the coming of the Lord will be at the judgment, when the wicked shall "suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord." But when he comes (according to 2 Thessalonians 2:8) he will destroy or slay the lawless one--"man of sin"; hence, the end of time, the purpose of God finished, and the judgment, will all be at the same time.

Knowing Paul’s promise that the "man of sin" would be destroyed by the Lord at his coming, some reformers were led to conclude that the return of the Bible to the people would soon bring that event. Elliott’s Commentary (Vol. II, pp. 135-145) gives a number of examples, beginning with Luther himself. But, like many since, they probably expected the Bible to affect more people than it did. They were right in the fact that Christ will slay the "man of sin" at his appearing, but mistaken about his coming being soon, as we now know. Others since have also been mistaken in like ideas.

8 And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard it again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel that standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.--John himself now becomes a part of the scene--he is commanded to take the book out of the angel’s hand. This, doubtless, indicated that he was to have some important part in the work of restoring the scriptural doctrine and practice. But as he had been dead about fourteen hundred years when the Reformation began, he did not do any of that work personally. Being one of the number through whom the true gospel was first promulgated, the restoration of that gospel gave him back his position of authority as one who ruled under Christ as King. (See Matthew 19:28.)

9 And I went unto the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the little book.--These words show that John obeyed the voice he heard from heaven.

And he saith unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey.--The command to eat the book was strange instruction; its double effect was equally strange. Of course, all this was to be carried out in the symbolic scene, and must represent some remarkable events on earth. To eat a book cannot be understood literally. We often speak of devouring a book by which we mean to give deep and earnest meditation upon its contents. The thoughts would give him joy, but practicing the teaching would bring persecutions, sufferings, and possible death. A similar thought is expressed by Jeremiah: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy words were unto me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart." (Jeremiah 15:16.) This figure is based upon the fact that some food that is pleasant to the taste may give pain to the stomach.

10 And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter.--This verse states that the effect which the angel said would follow his eating the book happened just as was said. This occurred in the symbol ; the things represented are implied in the next verse.

11 And they say unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.--The teaching here would be the same whether the little book represents the Bible or the special things revealed in the eleventh chapter regarding the measurements of the temple and worship. The work of restoring a pure worship was based upon giving the people the open Bible; the things named in Revelation 11:1-13 are a symbolic description of how that restoration would be effected, and the time during which it would continue. Learning from this vision what was to be done and its glorious benefits would be as pleasant to the weary mind as honey is to the taste. But doing the work would bring the bitterest experiences of persecution. This the reformers soon learned, as history abundantly shows.

As already mentioned, John would again prophesy when his teachings would be proclaimed. The work of bringing that to pass began with the reformers, but was completed later by a restoration to apostolic purity and simplicity. Peoples, nations, tongues, and kings show that the gospel was still to be universal for rulers and subjects. This implies one church, for the truth preached by the apostles had to be preached again. Not a new church, but a restoration of the original

Commentary on Revelation 10:1-11 by Foy E. Wallace

The seven thunders—Revelation 10:1-6.

This angel from heaven here designated as another mighty angel is a reversion to Revelation 5:2 where the first strong angel made the loud proclamation concerning the sealed book, asking “who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?’ Here in the hand of this second mighty angel is the open book, no longer sealed, or closed, the seven seals of it had also been opened and proclaimed -- Revelation 5:5. [Scroll down for identification of this angel]

1. Clothed with a cloud: This angel was wearing a cloud as apparel, or a garment, and was arrayed and encompassed with the phenomenal majesty of a heavenly messenger. He was invested with the credentials of divine authority, which his vestures symbolized. (Exodus 16:10; Exodus 33:9; Numbers 11:25; Psalms 18:11; Matthew 17:5; Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7) This display was not for the execution of judgment, but rather to be clothed and attired with the glory befitting his portfolio and comparable to his commission. Compare the similar symbols of official robes in Exodus 40:34-38 and Leviticus 16:2, and the “woman arrayed with the sun” in Revelation 12:1 of the next scene.

2. A rainbow upon his head: The rainbow is the symbol of divine covenant. (Genesis 9:12-17) It represented assurance against judgment, promise of help, a pledge of divine presence. (Ezekiel 1:28; Revelation 4:3; Revelation 10:7) It was a sign that this angel was a messenger of mercy, not of judgment, bringing good tidings, not evil forebodings.

3. His face as the sun: The sun is the light of the universe and is the source of all physical radiance. Seeking a term of grandeur and splendor to portray the One to come, the prophet Malachi selected the flaming orb of the day, and likened the Redeemer to the “sun of righteousness.” (Malachi 4:2) What the sun is to the solar system, Jesus Christ is to the soul. The rise of this sun of righteousness presaged a new day. With its appearance the darkness vanished and turned to day, the tomb itself yielded to his power and surrendering to his orders, released its seal. One mighty to save had come, who was the Redeemer of men, who brought to nought the power of death and of the devil to deliver all who through the fear of death were subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

This angel clothed with a cloud, with a face as the sun, was the herald of the “Sun of righteousness” who would turn the night of persecution into the day of victory. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

4. His feet as pillars of fire: The feet are symbolic of the messenger. “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.” (Romans 10:15) “I turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” (Psalms 119:59) “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15)

The feet of this strong angel were as “pillars of fire"-- like the pillar that led Israel (Exodus 13:21-22) out of Egypt, and was always the symbol of the presence and the guidance of the angels of God. (Exodus 14:19; Exodus 23:20; Exodus 32:34) Describing the feet of this angel as “pillars of fire” denoted that his feet were illuminated with divine guidance to give light to them that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death. (Luke 1:79)

The identity of the mighty angel—Revelation 10:1; Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:7; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 14:14; Revelation 19:11.

1. The open book of Revelation 10:8-11 is the sealed book of Revelation 5:1. The Lamb took that book from the One who sat on the throne—Revelation 5:7. After the opening of the seals, the book was given to John, thus identifying the angel of chapter 10 with the Lamb of chapter 5.

2. The description of the angel of chapter 10 corresponds to that of the Son of man in chapter 1.

3. He appears as Lord in Revelation 11:3, exercising a power and authority not ascribed to created beings.

4. The representation of Christ under various figures and forms interspersed in the apocalypse agrees with his presentation as an angel rather than arguing against it. He is the Son in chapter 1. He is the strong Angel, in Revelation 5:1-2. He is the Lion in verse 5. He is the Lamb in verse 6. In Revelation 6:2, He is the Rider; in Revelation 14:1, He is the Lamb on Mount Zion; in verse 14, He is the Son on the cloud; and in Revelation 19:11, He is the Rider of white horse again. In these premises, arguments that the Christ could not be symbolized by an angel appear to be without foundation.

5. It is consistent with the purpose of the interlude that he should appear not as a judge, or king enthroned, but as the sun-countenanced, rainbow-crowned angel of the covenanted people.

5. In his hand a little book opened: This book in Revelation 5:7 was “sealed and no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth was able to open it.” (Revelation 5:2) But the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”--the Lamb in the midst of the throne--“hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5) It was therefore no longer sealed, no longer a mystery, but now an open book. When it was sealed it seemed large. Unknown things are greater in seeming proportion than the things that are known. They become simplified and minimized in proportion to the knowledge of them. When the seals within the book were loosed, or revealed, it became an open book, and it was a little book compared with knowing and not knowing its contents.

6. Right foot upon the sea . . . left foot upon the land: The land and the sea were the territories of their persecutors. Later the Jewish persecutors of Palestine were described as “the beast of the land” and the Roman persecutor was designated“the beast of the sea.” The sea beast was said to exercise authority over the land beast, based on the universal sway of Rome’s power. But the mighty angel stood with one foot on the land, the other on the sea, declaring his power over both as Lord of the land and of the sea.

7. A great voice as a lion roareth: The Lamb in the midst of the throne, once slain, who was the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who had conquered to open the book and loose its seals, now came as the “mighty angel” to announce the near end of the things in the book; and when his “loud voice” heralded the angel’s proclamation, seven thunders uttered their voices, as signs of revolutionary events that would presage the end.

Thunder was regarded as the voice of God. (Job 37:2; Psalms 18:13; Psalms 81:7; Isaiah 30:31-32) Thunder attended the inauguration of the law. (Exodus 19:16) When the people heard God’s voice, they said it thundered. (John 12:29) It was a symbol of divine power in the executions of vengeance on evil-doers. (2 Samuel 2:10; 2 Samuel 22:14; Isaiah 29:6) And that was its significance here.

8. Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered and write them not: The book of seven seals was opened, and its seals were loosed; the trumpets of the seven angels were sounded; but the seven thunders were sealed up and John was commanded to write them not. The things which the seven thunders uttered and which John was ready to transcribe, related to the things of the future not disclosed in the seals nor proclaimed in the trumpets, neither contained in the vials yet to be poured. They were things outside the realm of revelation, beyond all human knowledge or finite information. The sealing up of the thunders signified that there is a category of the infinite in God’s dealings with men and nations which can never be revealed. Much therefore, after all the seals were loosed and all the trumpets had sounded and all the woes were pronounced and all the vials poured, must remain enfolded and unrevealed.

There are in the nature of things of the infinite and the hereafter not within the scope of God’s revelation to man. It is in keeping with the principle revealed to Moses, that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) There are things connected with the counsels and purposes of God, and the reasons for his dispensations with reference to them, which are hidden in his own bosom, not to be pried into by any man or order of men. What the voices of the seven thunders uttered cannot be known, and for any man to undertake to explain what John was forbidden to write, would be presumption. The voices of the thunders evidently belonged to that region of “visions and revelations of the Lord” to which Paul referred as “unspeakable words not lawful for a man to utter.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-21) The command of the voice from heaven to seal up and write not, with no conditions, restrictions or limitations of time has in it a finality that prohibits the explanation that makes the voices of the thunders the mystic symbols of imperial edicts and papal bulls of the medieval centuries, and the continuous revelation of the history of Christianity to the end of the world.

9. That there should be time no longer: The words of finality spoken by the angel required that they be sealed with the binding force of an oath. In the Old Testament God is said to have sworn by himself. (Genesis 22:16; Isaiah 45:23; Psalms 110:4; Psalms 89:35; Psalms 132:11) In the New Testament Peter refers to God having “swornwith an oath” to David. (Acts 2:30), and Paul declares in Hebrews 6:18 that God “confirmed by an oath” his immutable counsel, in which it was “impossible for God to lie.” So if the voice from heaven was Christ himself, or “another mighty angel” there was nothing inconceivable or incompatible that he should sware by the eternal Creator of heaven itself, and the earth and the sea, “and the things that therein are.”

Standing on the sea and the earth, as if to survey the full sweep of all human powers, Roman and Jewish, the angel proclaimed that there should be time no longer. The time for the seventh angel to sound the seventh trumpet was near, and the culminating events would be no longer delayed. This angelic proclamation did not refer to the end of all time, but rather to the end of the events signified in the vision. The word time here means delay, the time, or delay, of these events was about to end. In chapter 6:9-10 the souls under the altar cried “how long, 0 Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” In the response to this prayer, in verse 11, “it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season”--that is, wait for a time, until the vision “should be fulfilled.” That “little season” was about to end with the approaching proclamation of the seventh angel, the time should be no longer. The prayer of the martyrs for avenging judgment was about to be answered and would speedily come with no more delay. In chapter 8:3 the prayers of all the saints are seen superadded to the cry of martyrs. The visions of the seven seals and the seven trumpets, with their intermissions, have been unfolded, and the vision having reached “the days of the seventh angel” there should be no more delay.

The days of the seventh angel—Revelation 10:7.

1. Days of the voice: This was a reference to the end of the Jewish state (Matthew 24:3), which was politically the end of the old Jewish dispensation, the days when the last trumpet was about to sound the note of doom--when he shall begin to sound--hence, in the days of the last events fulfilling these visions. They were fulfilled in that generation as foretold by the words of Jesus to his disciples. (Matthew 23:36 and Matthew 24:34)

2. The mystery of God finished: This mystery of God is that divine plan of Ephesians 1:9-10, which was to reach its fulfillment “in the dispensation of the fulness of times,” and here the reference is to the “finish” of all events connected with its success. (Matthew 24:14) And it was accomplished for Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world as a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”

In verse 31, of this discourse of Matthew 24:1-51, the Lord said that after these events of the destruction of Jerusalem he would “send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet” to “gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” These statements in Matthew and Revelation are parallel in meaning and alike had reference to the universal expansion of the kingdom of Christ, after the fall of Judaism and the end of the Jewish state. The destruction of Jerusalem, the demolition of the temple, the downfall of Judaism, and the end of Jewish state, which politically and practically ended the Jewish dispensation, were all a part of the divine mystery. The Mosaic law had been “nailed to the cross,” “abolished” and “taken away”; but the Jewish state continued, and in that sense the Jewish dispensation functioned, until “the days of the voice of the seventh angel” which sounded the final doom. This was all in and part of “the mystery of God," the divine scheme of things, which was “finished” in the culmination of these events.

3. As declared to the prophets: These things were all declared to the Old Testament prophets and witness borne in the prophecies to their fulfillment. (Romans 16:25-26; 1 Peter 1:10-12) These were the things that were “manifested in last times”--the end of the Jewish world. (1 Peter 1:20) The old prophets contemplated all of the things pertaining to the kingdom of Christ, both of its inauguration and its expansion. (Genesis 49:1; Isaiah 2:2-5; Micah 4:1-4; Daniel 2:42-45; Daniel 10:14; Zechariah 14:1-21) The revelations made known to the prophets were a declaration in advance of the things to come--a witness to them--and found fulfillment in the events herein disclosed.

The eating of the little book—Revelation 10:8-10.

1. The voice from heaven: The voice again is the voice of verse 4; and from heaven identifies it with the voice from midst the throne, chapter 9:13. It was the voice of direct authority from God, not through any agents, angels, creatures, elders or mediaries of the visions--but from God himself.

2. In the mouth sweet--in the belly bitter. The symbol of eating a book is found in the apocalypses of Ezekiel, with the same effects as described in this vision. (Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 3:7; Ezekiel 3:14). The eating of this little book was in the mouth sweet as honey, as the precious flavor ascribed to the words of God. (Psalms 19:10; Jeremiah 15:16) The effects of eating the book were both sweet and bitter.

John said: In my mouth sweet--in my belly bitter. The assurances and promises of victory and of reward were “sweet as honey.” The contemplation of such triumphs produced the sweetness of joy and rejoicing; but the realization of the awful pronouncements fraught with fearful woes, turned the sweetness to bitterness in the belly, by reason of further contemplation on the tragic sufferings and sorrow, trials and tribulation they all would be called upon to endure in faithfulness, even in martyrdom, to receive the promised crown.

The commission to evangelize—Revelation 10:11.

1. Thou must prophesy again: Here is the clear indication that John survived the Patmos revelation. He survived the castastrophe of Jerusalem, to go among the nations, peoples, tongues, kings, proclaiming the passing away of the old things of Judaism and the end of the old system, preaching again the word that concerns the people of all nations. He would himself fulfill Matthew 24:31.

2. Before peoples, nations, tongues and kings: To apply the expression prophesy again to the further things in the Revelation does not fit the language used by the angel, before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. The statement is comparable to the words of Jesus to Saul on the Damascus road in that commission to be executed by Paul, the apostle, recorded in Acts 9:15 : “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.”

Furthermore, to make prophesy again mean to continue what he was then doing, and in the same way, would be a disregard for proper use nd meaning of words. The passage indicates that John left the scene of these visions and became an active evangelist in many countries, among many peoples and tongues.

Commentary on Revelation 10:1-11 by Walter Scott



Revelation 10:1-3. — And I saw another strong angel coming down out of the Heaven, clothed with a cloud, and the rainbow upon his head, and his countenance as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, and having in his hand a little opened book. And he set his right foot on the sea, and the left upon the earth, and cried with a loud voice as a lion roars. And when he cried the seven thunders uttered their own voices. Things are drawing to a close. The half-week of sorrow (three years and a half) is nearly spent, but its last hours reveal the world in mad and open rebellion against God, and His saints on whom the Beast and the Antichrist wreak their fury. Before, however, the last dregs of the Lord’s vengeance are drunk by the Gentile and Jewish apostates and their dupes this consolatory vision breaks through the dark clouds of judgment. It is a stern reminder to the world that, in spite of the raging of the wicked, the government of the earth is the just claim of the Creator and one about to be made good in power. But the vision is also one eminently fitted to strengthen and console believers, and especially suffering saints, for the same power which will crush the enemy exalts the sufferers to honor.

The vision is easily read. It is one of the most profound in the book, yet withal exceedingly simple in its main features. The mysteriousness of the Trumpet visions here disappears.

Revelation 10:1Another strong angel carries us back in thought to Revelation 5:2, but the only thing common to both references is the epithet “strong.” In the earlier text a created being endowed with might is referred to, whereas in the passage before us an uncreated Being of divine majesty and power is witnessed. It is the Lord Himself. We have had already a vision of the Lord in angelic, priestly intercession (Revelation 8:3); here He asserts in angelic power His undisputed claim to the dominion of the earth.

Revelation 10:1Coming down out of the Heaven,” not simply “from” it as a point of departure, but “out ” of it as being His native home (1 Corinthians 15:47, R.V.; John 3:13, last clause); the Heaven” fixes a definite locality. The insertion of the preposition from and the omission of the definite article the in the text of the Authorized Version may seem to some veriest trifles, but for those maintaining the verbal inspiration of the Sacred Scriptures, as we trust all our readers do, an unwarranted interpolation, or the omission of an inspired letter or part of one, jot and tittle (Matthew 5:18), must be regarded as a distinct loss. God warns and threatens in unusually solemn terms against tampering with the inspired Word, either in adding to it (Revelation 22:18) or in taking from it (Revelation 22:19).

In the descent of the strong angel to earth is intimated the close of providential dealing. The former scene of prophecy was viewed as having its source in Heaven; here the scene of operation is openly shown to be on earth. The whole prophetic scene under Heaven is openly and publicly occupied. The Lord in thus coming out of His place to establish His worldwide kingdom on earth changes the point of view, which in the vision is earth, not Heaven.

Revelation 10:1Clothed with a cloud. In the ancient oracles the cloud figures largely as representing the presence and majesty of Jehovah. There is great fulness and boldness in the symbols employed to set forth the glorious majesty of the Lord, symbols, too, which in their interpretation leave little room for discussion. “Clothed with a cloud” is a public sign of His majesty.

Revelation 10:1. — “The rainbow upon his head. The same rainbow (*In chapter 4 the appearance of the rainbow is “like in appearance to an emerald,” the never-tiring green, so restful to the eye.) as previously witnessed by the Seer (Revelation 4:3). In the earlier reference a rainbow encircles the throne and its august Occupant, here the rainbow with its many and variegated colours and glories rests on the head of the angel. The use of the definite article the in our text (R.V.) connects the scene of chapter 10 in some of its essential features with that of chapter 4. It is the same rainbow, “this crest of divinity” which surrounds the throne (Revelation 4:1-11) and the head (Revelation 10:1-11). Amidst the apocalyptic scenes of judgment God’s remembrance of mercy is constant and unfailing. The bow in the cloud, (“The rainbow could not, consistently with the mythology of the heathen, constitute a part of the regalia of any particular deity. They had such exalted notions of it, they thought it was not properly a bow, but a goddess. The Greeks supposed Iris to be the daughter of Thoumas and Electra. The Romans considered her as a particular favourite of Juno. Among the Peruvians the highest acts of worship were paid to the rainbow; in the celebrated temple of the sun at Cusco, an apartment was dedicated entirely to the worship of the rainbow, and an order of priests set apart to perform the customary services.” — “Lectures on Prophecies of John,” by Robert Culbertson, vol. 1, p. 387. The bow of an archer round the head of some of the heathen deities is different from the rainbow. The heathen could neither open the clouds nor bind them up, and hence adds the above writer: “They were not therefore entitled to wear this badge of distinction.” The rainbow is pre-eminently a symbol exclusively used of the divine Being or of His throne (see also Ezekiel 1:28).) that ancient token of divine goodness (Genesis 9:1-29), here reappears, and just at the time and season when most needed.

Revelation 10:1“His countenance as the sun, and his feet as pillar of fire.” Substantially the description here is that of the glory of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:15-16. There, however, the feet of the glorious One are mentioned before His countenance. Both descriptions apply to the same blessed Person in different connections. In the former (Revelation 1:1-20) the expression of His character and glory as man are set forth. In the latter (Revelation 10:1-11) the majesty of angelic strength and glory are witnessed. Supreme majesty and government are reflected in His face, while “His feet as pillars of fire” indicate stability and firmness, the unbending holiness of His judicial action.

Revelation 10:2. — He set his right foot on the sea, and the left upon the earth. Three times in the course of this vision the angel is seen standing on the sea and the earth, and in each instance the mention of the sea precedes that of the earth (vv. 2, 5, 8), whereas in other parts of the Apocalypse the order is reversed (Revelation 7:1-3; Revelation 14:7; Revelation 5:13; Revelation 12:12, etc.). This latter is certainly the natural order, i.e., the earth and the sea. We have already remarked upon the force of these symbols; the earth denoting the civilized portion of the globe, the sea referring to the masses of mankind in an unformed, uncivilized condition. But in our passage the sea, the turbulent heathen, is first named. Is it random or divine precision that the right foot is set down on the rebellious nations and peoples, and the left on the professed scene of light and government? How firm the tread of the angel! How complete the action! How thorough the subjugation of all to Him! He set those pillars, or columns, of fire on all beneath the sun. Right and might, both in exercise, are characteristic of the significant act of the angel as He takes possession of the whole scene under Heaven.

Revelation 10:3. — He cried with a loud voice as a lion roars.” Accompanying the act of the angel we have His voice of majesty and power causing intense terror throughout the whole earth (Hosea 11:10; Joel 3:16). It is the voice of Christ. “He doth send out His voice, and that a mighty voice” (Psalms 68:33). We have here the roar of the lion of the tribe of Judah. He was named as such in conjunction with the Lamb in that heavenly and magnificent scene unfolded in chapter 5. But there we witness the action of the lamb; here that of the lion.

Revelation 10:3When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their own voices. (*The seven thunders seem to answer to the seven times in which the voice of Jehovah is heard (Psalms 29:3-9). The seven thunders point to “the perfection of God’s intervention in judgment.”) The cry of the angel was a cry to Jehovah which is immediately answered. The answer is one of power and judgment. Thunder is God’s voice in judgment, the expression of His authority therein (1 Samuel 7:10; Psalms 18:13; Job 26:14). “The seven thunders” intimate a full and perfect response to the angel’s cry. The seven” gives precision and definiteness to the answering voices of the thunders. It was not a crash like the thunder of nature, but these thunders intelligently expressed the mind of the God of judgment, they “uttered their own voices.”


Revelation 10:4. — “And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write, (“The intimation here plainly is that John was employed in writing during the intervals of his vision.” — “Stuart on the Apocalypse.” page 585. We question this statement.) and I heard a voice out of the Heaven saying, Seal what the seven thunders have spoken, and write them not. The prophet was about to record the words of the thunders. He heard and understood. This vision is full of voices. That of the angel of the thunders, and another “out of Heaven.” This was a voice of authority, “Seal what the seven thunders have spoken, and write them not.” Those to us unrevealed communications were to be sealed. It was not the time to make them known. The exact import of these revelations has not been disclosed; probably they are embodied in the after communications directly concerning the end. There are two commands addressed to the Seer: first, to seal up the sayings of the thunder; second, to write them not (compare with Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:9). It may be, as in the case of the Hebrew prophet, that this part of the apocalyptic vision, containing the unwritten words of the angel and of the seven thunders, is “closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” Sealing these prophetic revelations supposes that the end is a long way off. If the end is near, then the prophecies are not to be sealed. In one case the words are sealed, for the end is far off (Daniel 12:9); in another the sayings are not sealed, for the end is nigh (Revelation 22:10).


Revelation 10:5-7. — And the angel whom I saw stand on the sea and on the earth lifted up his right hand to the Heaven. And sware by Him that lives to the ages of ages, Who created the Heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be no longer delay. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the Trumpet, the mystery of God also shall be completed, as He has made known the glad tidings to His own bondmen the prophets. One of the most sublime of apocalyptic actions is here recorded. How strengthening and how consolatory! We turn from the din and angry strife amongst the nations to the eternal purpose of God respecting this earth. It belongs by native right and purchase to Christ. What a sight! Sea and earth under His feet, the book of closing prophecy in His left hand, while He lifts up His right to Heaven, (In Daniel 12:7 the man in linen swears holding up both hands.) and swears by the ever-living God and Creator (“The description of this angel has been admired by every classical scholar. Abstracted from its spiritual meaning, and considered merely as a literary production, it stands unrivalled by anything we meet with in all the pages of Grecian and Roman literature.” Here is another eloquent tribute. “Be pleased to observe the aspect of this august personage. All the brightness of the sun shines in his countenance; and all the rage of the fire burns in his feet. — See his apparel. The clouds compose his robe, and the drapery of the sky floats upon his shoulders; the rainbow forms his diadem, and that which compasseth the Heaven with a glorious circle is the ornament of his head. — Behold his attitude. One foot stands on the ocean, the other rests on the land. The wide extended earth and the world of waters serve as pedestals for those mighty columns. — Consider the action. His hand is lifted up to the height of the stars, he speaks, and the regions of the firmament echo with the mighty accents, as the midnight desert resounds with the lion’s roar. The artillery of the skies is discharged at the signal; a peal of sevenfold thunder spreads the alarm, and prepares the universe to receive his orders. — To finish all, and give the highest grandeur, as well as the utmost solemnity to the representation, he swears by Him that liveth for ever and ever.” — “Hervey’s Meditations.”) that there should be no longer delay. It is not “no longer time” as in the Authorised Version and retained in the Revised Version. The translators have corrected their blunder by substituting for “time” delay in the margin. Either the text or margin is right, for both cannot be. After the accomplishment of the oath of the angel at least a thousand years run their course ere time ceases and eternity opens; hence it cannot mean that there shall be no longer “time.” Tregelles, Stuart, Darby, Kelly, and a host of others competent to judge, read “no longer delay.” The meaning is that “man’s day,” which commenced with the Ascension of the Lord and is closed up by His Advent in power, is drawing to an end. The age of secret, providential dealing with evil is about to close. For 2000 years God has not openly interfered in the government of the world. The Church is a ruin, and the world a wreck. It is the time when the will of man is everywhere rampant. It is, too, the time of God’s patience with evil, the era of His long-suffering with men. There will be no longer delay in setting up the kingdom and taking the government of all creation into His own hands. Man’s day is to be closed up in sharp and severe judgment, and the Lord’s reign and kingdom set up. The oath of the angel not only assures us of this, but guarantees the immediate execution of it. There is to be no longer delay in bringing the present age with all its evil to an end.

Revelation 10:7. — “In the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound the Trumpet, the mystery of God also shall be completed.” What is signified by the mystery of God? (The mystery of His will (Ephesians 1:9). The mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:16). The mystery of Christ and the Church ( Ephesians 5:32 ). The mystery of God (Colossians 2:2). The mystery of the seven stars (Revelation 1:20). The mystery of the woman and the beast (Revelation 17:7). The mystery of Israel (Romans 11:25). These and other mysteries are distinct from the mystery of God in the passage before us. Mystery signifies something previously unknown but now revealed: when made known it ceases to be a mystery of course; it is then “an open secret.” All the mysteries are unfolded in the New Testament. The word “mystery” does not occur in the earlier oracles.) Does it not seem strange that Satan has been allowed for 6000 years to wrap and twist his coils around the world, to work evil and spoil and mar the work of God? What havoc he has wrought! He is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air. God’s saints have ever been the objects of his fiercest malignity. Is it not a mystery why God, the God of righteousness and holiness, allows evil to go unpunished and His own people to be crushed and broken on every hand? Truly this is the mystery of God. Is it that He is indifferent to the wrong, indifferent to the sorrows of His people? Nay, that were impossible. God bears with evil till the hour of judgment arrives, when He will avenge the cry of His elect, and come out of His place to punish the wicked. The checks and restraints upon evil now are unseen as to their source, and are only of partial application. Everything in the world and in the Church is out of order save what God by His Spirit produces.

Now, however, this mystery of God is about to be finished, and God by His Son, the Heir of all things, will wrest the government of the world from the iron grasp of Satan, confine him as a prisoner in the abyss for 1000 years, finally casting him into the lake of fire for eternity, and then rule and reign in manifested power and glory. Evil now tolerated and allowed, spite of numerous checks to hinder its coming to a height, will then be openly punished. The mystery is at end. Christ is about to reign.

This is indeed glad tidings proclaimed to His prophets of old, not declared by them (although they did that as their books testify), but to them, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants, His prophets” (Amos 3:7). The public intervention of God on behalf of His afflicted saints to crush the power of evil, to expel the usurper Satan from the earth which he has been, so far, permitted to destroy morally and physically, and to set up the world in more than primitive beauty and order: such is God’s decree. This was the glad tidings which roused the energies, stimulated the faith, brightened the hope, and gladdened the hearts of the prophets of God in all ages. The same blessed hope with added glories is our strength to-day.

Not exactly when the seventh angel sounds, but in the days of the voice of the angel, the mystery of God shall be completed.


Revelation 10:8-11. — And the voice which I heard from the Heaven (was) again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the little book which is opened in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the earth. And I went to the angel, saying to him to give me the little book. And he says to me, Take and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the hand of the angel, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth as honey, sweet; and when I had eaten it my belly was made bitter. And (he) says to me, Thou must prophesy again as to peoples, and nations, and tongues, and many kings. The prisoner of Patmos again hears the voice from “the Heaven,” the dwelling of God. The limbs of John may have been fettered, and the wild waves of the sea dash against his rocky prison, but the island was no lonely place for the man whose soul was wrapped up in the visions of God, whose ears heard the songs of the redeemed, and the spoken worship of angels, and who was personally addressed out of Heaven again and again. He is commanded to go to the angel and take out of his hand the little opened book. Instantly he complied. The Speaker was none other than God Himself, and hence obedience was prompt and unqualified. The majesty of the angel had no terrors for John. Undismayed by the divine dignity and grandeur of the all-glorious One Who held the book in His hand the Seer goes in the authority of the Creator and asks for the book. The soul who is obedient, who yields unquestioning submission to the expressed will of God, is for the time omnipotent. He walks and acts in the strength of the Creator, the Maker of Heaven and earth. Fear! He knows it not. The invisible God, seen by faith, makes him invincible in the path of obedience, “immortal till his work is done.”

A further command is given by the angel. The first command was from Heaven to take the book, the second was from earth to eat it. Why bitter in the belly, and sweet in the mouth? Prophecy is both bitter and sweet. We are here dealing with symbols. There should be no more difficulty in understanding the prophet eating the book than in Jeremiah eating the words of Jehovah (Jeremiah 15:16). To eat is to make the thing one’s own, to incorporate it into one’s being (John 6:49-58). The Christian prophet eating the roll, and finding it both sweet and bitter, reminds us of a similar symbolic action by the Jewish prophet (Ezekiel 2:8; Ezekiel 3:1-3). The first effect of prophetic communication, the roll in the mouth, was sweetness, the sweetness of honey; but as the revelations are weighed, the judgments they announce considered, the next effect is to cause bitterness and sorrow. Prophecy both gladdens and saddens, as it contains announcements both of joy and grief.

Finally, the Seer was to recommence his prophetic ministry, not to “peoples, and nations, and tongues, and many kings,” but concerning them. He was to prophesy of them. This we find him doing in the following chapter; hence the last verse of chapter 10 naturally leads us into new scenes and circumstances, of which this later prophetic ministry treats. Its character we shall now, through grace, examine.

Commentary on Revelation 10:1-11 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 10:1. The drama of the book of Revelation is proceeding down through the centuries, until we are about to arrive at the revolution known in history as the Reformation. But the full development of that mighty movement will be preceded by some items preparatory to it. Now is another time when the reader should again read carefully the "General remarks" at the beginning of this book. But the oppression from the power that was created through the union of church and state has exhausted the patience of the Almighty and he will soon inaugurate the work that is destined to dissolve the unrighteous monster and return to the people their right to act upon their own responsibility. The preliminary events necessary for the main performance are due to begin soon, which will be indicated by some of the symbols of this chapter•. The angel in this verse came down from heaven and the description shows he was coming on behalf of the Lord to impart some predictions about to be carried out. Clothed with a cloud agrees with the fact that he was from the courts of heaven, because the clouds are frequently used in connection with heavenly events (Revelation 1:7; Revelation 14:14; Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Rainbow upon his head signifies the dignity and grandeur of his mission. His face like the sun denotes great light which was especially appropriate since his mission was to announce the shedding of Gospel light on those who had been deprived of it because of the Dark Ages. Pillars of fire. Thayer explains this to mean. "Flames rising like columns." It denotes a penetrating brilliance that belongs only to heavenly beings.

Revelation 10:2. The angel had a little book which indicated that the events about to be predicted would not take long and hence would not require a large book to record them. The book was open which signified that the things about to happen were to be made known; that their account was not a sealed book as the one in chapter 2. It denoted further that the Bible which had been closed to the people by Rome would soon be opend again so that all might read. The sea and earth comprise the entire surface of the globe and the symbol means that all the world would be affected by what was soon to occur and which would be announced presently.

Revelation 10:3. The angel’s voice was like that of a lion in that it was strong and itself heard far and near. We know from the context that the angel’s cry was the announcement that the Bible was again to be given to the people. Of course that would be unwelcome news to the heads of the apostate church and it was natural for them to protest. That called for seven thunders from the "seven-hilled" city of Rome.

Revelation 10:4. Not realizing the deception there was in the protests, John was about to write down what the thunderous voices said. (We remember he was told in Revelation 1:19 to write the things that should be thereafter•.) But the Lord understood the motive of the seven voices coming from the headquarters of the "man of sin," and He caused a voice to instruct John not to record them but to seal them up.

Revelation 10:5. In lifting up his hand the angel mentioned before (in verse 2) was preparing to make an oath. (There is no inconsistency in this, for• he was an angel of God and man only is forbidden to make oaths.)

Revelation 10:6. Should be time no longer. Much misuse has been of this passage. It is not uncommon to hear• a preacher making an earnest plea to his audience to obey the Gospel while the time is here. That soon the angel of God would place one foot on land and the other on the sea and declare that "time shall be no longer•." They thus make the phrase mean that the last day of the earth has come and hence it will be "the end of time." In the first place the events concerning which the angel uttered the phrase were several centuries prior to the second coming of Christ. In the second place the Bible does not teach there will ever be an end of time, for the word means the same as the word "eternity," and both words simply mean "duration" which is something that had no beginning and will never have an end. The word in our• passage does not mean "time" as being the opposite of "eternity," but it has the same meaning the word would have if a moderator announced to the speaker that his time was up. The Englishman’s Greek New Testament renders the word "delay." The passage means that the events being predicted--the events getting ready for the Reformation--were about due to start and that there would be no longer delay in the matter.

Revelation 10:7. The mystery of God refers to the work of the Reformation that was to restore the Bible to the people. The seventh angel has not yet sounded, but he soon will because the preceding verse says there was not to be any further delay. By the time this seventh angel gets his message sounded the complete work of the Reformation will be done, that is, the prediction will be completed. Of course an inspired prophet speaks of things in the present tense even though he is speaking of events long in the future. John was seeing this vision in the first century and the Reformation came in the sixteenth, but an inspired angel can speak of such an event as having taken place. Such is the meaning of this verse when it says that when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished. (See Revelation 11:15.)

Revelation 10:8. This little book is the one mentioned in verse 2 which contains predictions of things about to begin. John was the human agency of God for delivering the message to the world, and hence it was appropriate for him to receive the book at the bidding of the angel. We note two angels are involved in this episode, the one that held the book and the other one that sounded the instructions to John.

Revelation 10:9. In obedience to the instructions of the angel John went and requested the other angel to give him the little book. As the angel delivered it to him he told him to eat it up. This was a symbol and indicated that John was to be inspired to report to the people. A similar instance of such a symbolic inspiration of a prophet is in Ezekiel 3:1-3. The book produced two opposite effects upon the prophet although he had only one body to absorb it. There was nothing inconsistent in John’s personal attitude toward the word of God, but the world would not take the same stand in view of the unpleasant things it contains in its teachings. Therefore John was required to have a bodily experience that represented both his and the people’s reaction to the word. See the note about "prophets acting" at 1 Kings 20:35 in Volume 2 of Bible Commentary.

Revelation 10:10. John took the book and ate it with the results that he was told what would happen within his body.

Revelation 10:11. We are sure that the effects of eating the book included the reactions of the world, for this verse refers to the subject in direct connection with his eating it. The instruction explains why he was to eat the book, and why it had the mentioned effects, namely, that he was to prophesy again before many peoples, etc. Incidentally, this last statement shows that the one in verse 6 that there should be time no longer, does not mean that the end of the world had come.

Commentary on Revelation 10:1-11 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 10:1

The big thing in this chapter is "the little book open," which beyond any reasonable doubt is the New Testament. Of all the books ever heard of in the history of the world, there is only one small book continuing to remain open in spite of the most vigorous efforts of hell and the devil to close it, and deserving to receive the supernatural guardianship of one of God’s most mighty and glorious angels. If there is even another candidate for such a unique status, this writer has never heard of it.

It is nothing short of phenomenal that most of the commentators on Revelation appear to be blind to the glorious vision of "the little book open." Many refer to this chapter as a consolatory vision for "the church," despite the church’s not even being mentioned in the whole chapter; whereas, the little book or its equivalent pronoun occurs eleven times in as many verses!

What is the true significance of this? The Lord, through John, had just revealed the final impenitence and violent rebellion of the human race against God as history moves toward the terminal of the final judgment; and the persecuted and suffering Christians who first received this prophecy would naturally have been concerned with the question of what about the preaching of the word of God? especially of the New Testament, during such events, which, for all that they certainly knew were even then descending upon them. This chapter addresses that question. It is the apocalyptic counterpart of such great promises of the Lord Jesus Christ as these:

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away (Matthew 24:35).

The gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world (Mark 14:9).

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all nations; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).

The word that I spake, the same shall judge him (man) in the last day (John 12:48).

Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name unto all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

Ye shall be my witnesses ... to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

All history is the record of the fulfillment of these blessed promises of the Lord. These promises are found in the first five books of the New Testament, and the chapter before us is the inspired revelation of the reason why this fulfillment was possible. It shows that the holy providence of the Lord Jesus Christ which was pledged to the church in the promise of his being with them "always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:18-20), also includes the exercise of that same providence in the preservation of the sacred New Testament, which is the unique origin, nourishment, and vitality of the church. Christ’s promise to be with his church necessarily includes also his promise of being with the New Testament, without which the church could not possibly exist. This chapter makes that truth plain.

Right here is the reason why vicious and unbelieving scholars, devoting their total lives to the purpose of downgrading or destroying the New Testament, are foreordained to frustration and defeat. Let them look up from their mythology, folklore, Armenian and Mandaean eschatology, Babylonian creation stories, and the poetry and philosophy of pagan literature; let them desist from their silly word-counting games, their bizarre subjective guesses, and all their other devices, and let them behold the Rainbow Angel with the New Testament open in his hand! Open forever more, until day breaks and shadows flee! Will the enemies of the New Testament prevail? Ask the Rainbow Angel. Consult this chapter.

This chapter must not be understood as sequential chronologically to the six trumpets, but rather as a consolatory vision of the way it is with God’s word throughout the entire Christian dispensation. Nothing of any greater relevance or significance for our own times, and for all times, appears elsewhere in this prophecy.

Despite this, the reading of the indexes of the whole period of writings by the Ante-Nicene authors reveals only two references to this chapter; and both of them omit any reference to "the little book open." Half a hundred volumes were searched with regard to comment on this chapter; and only the following authors got the point about this little book:

The little book is the word of God, his gospel in which the mystery of salvation is set forth.[1]

It is the word of God which is seen in the hands of this colossal figure (the Rainbow Angel).[2]

The little book contains the gospel of God’s mercy.[3]

The little book has reference to the gospel.[4]

The little book open is that gospel which is the sword of the Spirit, the weapon of the church, the word of God open to all, hidden only to those whom the god of this world has blinded.[5] Bede unequivocally identified the little book as the New Testament.[6]

Origen, quoted in Speaker’s Commentary, identified it as the book of Scripture.[7]

Davis identified it as the book that is so little that it can be carried in one’s vest pocket and so cheap that it can be bought for a few pennies.[8]

Speck saw it as the Bible.[9]

Gaebelein understood it to mean the Old Testament.[10]

The main point of the open booklet is the open Word or Gospel.[11]

We are thankful for these but distressed that so many miss this, usually identifying the little book as some portion of this prophecy, failing to see that one part of God’s word could not possibly be more important than the rest of it. Thus, no portion of the New Testament could be elevated, as in the hand of this mighty angel, to a status higher than that pertaining to all of it. It is inconceivable that a glorious angel of Almighty God would be commissioned to look after a few passages in Revelation, as distinguished from the rest of the New Testament. We now turn to the text itself.

And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, arrayed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire; (Revelation 10:1)

I saw another strong angel ... Some take this being to be Christ himself; but, as Earle wrote, "It is generally agreed that another mighty angel would not refer to the Son of God."[12] Still it is true that this angel’s description resembles that of the glorified Christ (Revelation 1:16). Some have identified this angel as Gabriel,[13] or Martin Luther;[14] but it is our view that the rank and importance of this celestial being is to be stressed rather than his personal identity, which is not given. "Of all the angels who inhabit the pages of John’s book, only three are called mighty.[15]

Coming down out of heaven ... "This event is not to be interpreted as an extension of the sixth trumpet-vision which was introduced in Revelation 9:13."[16] "The very nature of the last two verses of the preceding chapter shows that the account reaches its conclusion there."[17]

This is the beginning of a new vision of God’s providential guardianship of the word of God, especially the New Testament, throughout this entire dispensation of the grace of God. It will be noted that John here appears to be on earth, contrasting with other occasions in Revelation when he was in heaven. "This illustrates the fluidity of apocalyptic thought; one can move from heaven to earth in vision without explanation."[18]

Cloud ... rainbow, ... "This is a description of the great angel emphasizing his rank and glory. Lenski called him "The Rainbow Angel."[19]

[1] William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 151.

[2] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, Vol. 20, The Revelation of St. John (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 138.

[3] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 126.

[4] R. H. Banowsky, The Revelation of the Holy City (Fort Worth, Texas: J. E. Snelson Printing Company, 1967), p. 48.

[5] W. Boyd Carpenter, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 582.

[6] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 273.

[7] Ibid.

[8] W. M. Davis, Studies in Revelation (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation Publishing House, n.d.), p. 25.

[9] Willie Wallace Speck, The Triumph of Faith (San Marcos, Texas: Mrs. H. E. Speck, 1958), p. 117.

[10] Arno C. Gaebelein, The Revelation (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1961), p. 67.

[11] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 322.

[12] Ralph Earle, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 559.

[13] Robert H. Mounce, Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 207.

[14] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 146.

[15] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 125.

[16] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 573.

[17] Ibid.

[18] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 141.

[19] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 310.

Revelation 10:2

and he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth;

This verse introduces the principal theme in this chapter; namely, "the little book open" in the hand of a mighty angel. Pieters titled this chapter, "The Great Angel and the Little Book,"[20] and we would like to change that by the addition of a single word: "The Great Angel and the Little Book Open."

And he had in his hand a little book open ... See introduction to this chapter for our arguments positively identifying this little book as the New Testament of God’s will. No other book, whether large or small, in the history of the whole world, could deserve the importance indicated in the powerful scenes of this vision. Behold this mighty and glorious angel so tall and glorious, standing with one foot in the ocean and another upon the continent; and what is he doing? He is holding a little book open! What does that say about the importance of that little book? No other function than that of holding open the little book is ascribed to this glorious being. Not even the words of the seven thunders which he uttered, or caused to be uttered, were recorded, perhaps by design that nothing should detract from the all-important thing the angel was doing.


[20] Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 131.

Revelation 10:3

and he cried with a great voice, as a lion roareth: and when he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices.

It would be impossible to design a pageant which could any more emphatically and gloriously stress and glorify a little book with the effective impact of such a vision as this.

And he cried with a great voice ... The world-shaking power and importance of this angel, and what he was doing, are further emphasized by this.

When he cried, the seven thunders uttered their voices ... We shall not find out what these voices said; but the very fact of the reverberating thunders attending the words of this angel emphasizes even more dramatically his eternal authority and power to keep on doing what he is depicted as doing here, keeping that "little book open"! There’s hardly anything in this prophecy any more important. Some have wondered why these were mentioned at all, since John was forbidden to convey the message they spoke; but, as is often true in the Bible, what is concealed is as significant as what is revealed.

For example, the shepherds who heard the announcement of Jesus’ birth are not identified by name, number, race, age, or whether they owned or merely tended their flock; and the very absence of specific details endows them perfectly as symbols of all mankind. So it is here. The voice of the seven thunders, by the omission of any specific message, is endowed with a symbolism infinitely beyond any specific message. This mighty angel crying with a loud voice, accompanied by the reverberating thunders, is the impact of God’s word upon the world. What happens? The voice of the seven thunders rolls through the centuries. Mighty consequences follow the preaching of the word of God. Thus, the utterances of these thunders being first mentioned, and then their messages hidden, are by no means a meaningless part of the vision.

What did the thunders say? People have no right to ask such a question; but the proof that they do ask it is seen in the volumes of answers people have given. One famous writer has a total of five pages in fine print on the subject. We shall conclude with a single quotation from Pieters:

So far as I have learned the views of expositors, most of them do . not attempt any explanation; and those who do attempt it produce nothing worth repeating. This must therefore remain among the unexplained and unexplainable passages of the book.[21]


[21] Ibid.

Revelation 10:4

And when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

Eller called this verse, "a puzzler, but a passage not to hang up on!"[22] As for the reason why the incident was given at all, see under preceding verse. Another possible view was given by Morris:

The Revelation conveyed the messages to John himself, for he clearly understood them; and Paul speaks of such experiences (2 Corinthians 12:4).[23]

In harmony with such a view, we might conclude that the messages had the purpose of encouraging the apostle John, which also seems to have been the purpose underlying Paul’s similar experience.

Another important deduction which appears to be valid in this connection is, until people know what these thunders said (and they shall never know), there should be an end of dating events foretold in this prophecy. We simply do not have all of it. "God has kept back some things from us; let us beware of proceeding as though all has been revealed."[24]

[22] Vernard Eller, The Most Revealing Book in the Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974), p. 112.

[23] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 139.

[24] Ibid.

Revelation 10:5

And the angel that I saw standing upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his right hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created the heaven and the things that are therein, and the earth and the things that are therein, and the sea and the things that are therein, that there shall be delay no longer:

Lifted up his right hand and sware ... Here is another reason for holding this angel to be someone other than Christ. A vision of Christ taking an oath would not fit in here, or anywhere. In this oath, sworn by the eternal God himself (by the angel), it is inherent that some great truth of universal and everlasting significance is about to be announced; and it is exceedingly important to realize this, because of its bearing on the meaning of the last clause in Revelation 10:6, "that there shall be delay no longer."

If there is to be no delay, why then do we seem to get exactly that, a delay?

The delay is only apparent. What we have in Revelation 10 does not intervene chronologically between the sixth and seventh trumpets. It is simply a description of the present dispensation from a different viewpoint.[25]

Barclay thought that the meaning here is as the writer of Hebrews had it, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come, and shall not tarry."[26] However, the great oath was not that the delay would be brief, but that there would be "no delay." We must go back to the last two verses of Revelation 9 to find what this means. When, after all of God’s warning judgments have fallen upon people, and when their state of rejection against God is final and complete, the final judgment of the Second Advent will occur then. Therefore, the events of Revelation 10 are not an "interlude" in time, but only in a literary sense. "The sounding of the seventh trumpet would usher in the finish of God’s mystery."[27] "Redemption will be finished at the Second Coming of Christ."[28]

We have interpreted this verse as it stands in our version (ASV), but before leaving it, the fact should be noted that the KJV should be followed here, that "there should be time no longer." Roberts pointed out that "the word from which delay comes is [@chronos], which literally means time."[29] It would appear that the reasons behind the change are theological and philosophical, rather than textual. All of the manuscripts and cursives that have come down through the ages to us have time instead of delay except the Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and a few cursives, of which there are hundreds.[30] In this connection, it should also be remembered that both Sinaiticus and Vaticanus are of the same family of manuscripts, thus being practically but one witness instead of two. This shows the superiority of the KJV above subsequent versions in a very important particular, namely, that the KJV scholars believed they were translating God’s word and accordingly had a higher regard for the text; whereas, in subsequent versions and translations, the translators took into consideration their own theological and philosophical views in choosing a rendition. This is a prime reason why the KJV must never be abandoned as a checking device against subsequent renditions. In this instance, the interpretation is not affected, because there being "time no longer" would also include the meaning that there would be no delay; but the awesome grandeur of the angel’s words in the KJV are lost in our version.

The commentators who keep explaining why this should be rendered "delay" overlook the simple truth that the state of rebellion evident in Revelation 9:20-21 is represented as continuing until the very end; and thus the pronouncement that there should be no delay between that state and the end is meaningless.

None of these commentators attempts to say why this fact should be announced with an oath (and such an oath). What is announced is that time itself shall cease to exist. The clock of time shall stop.[31]

As Eller expressed it:

Sorry, the time has run out. The ball game is over. John is decidedly not one of those modern scholars who believes that human history never will involve an accounting but will simply go on forever.[32]

[25] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 151.

[26] William Barclay, The Revelation of John (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976),p. 55.

[27] Ray Summers, Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1961), p. 161.

[28] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 560.

[29] J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: The R. B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 85.

[30] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 275.

[31] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 318.

[32] Vernard Eller, op. cit., p. 113.

Revelation 10:7

but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then is finished the mystery of God, according to the good tidings which he declared to his servants the prophets.

In the days of the voice of the seventh angel ... These words appear to mean merely "when the seventh angel sounds." It is a stylized or idiomatic way of saying it. Certainly we reject the notion of Wordsworth to the effect that "This verse points to a brief respite, during which men may yet repent."[33]

Then is finished the mystery of God ... Lenski correctly described this mystery as:

God’s scheme of redemption. The eschatological mystery of the world’s history. The glorious completion of the divine kingdom. The glorious consummation of God’s kingdom.[34]

The theology of mystery has been extensively discussed by this writer in his book entitled The Mystery of Redemption.

There is that about the gospel which is not accessible to the mind of men. (There is still a mystery, and it is not even finished yet.) Left to ourselves, we would never have worked out that God would save men as he does. It had to be revealed.[35]

According to the good tidings declared ... These words make certain the identification of the mystery here as the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, both the facts of its being called the "good tidings," and its being "declared" unto the prophets are proof of it. "The very word here rendered declared means preached the gospel."[36]

Prophets ... These are those men of both the Old Testament and the New Testament "through whom God spoke to his people."[37]

[33] As quoted by Plummer, op. cit., p. 275.

[34] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 319.

[35] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 141.

[36] Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), p. 101.

[37] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 145.

Revelation 10:8

And the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard it again speaking with me, and saying, Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel that standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

The voice from heaven ... is a frequent reference in this prophecy. Although no definite speaker is identified here, the message is to be understood as coming from God.

Go take the book which is open in the hand of the angel ... Hinds pointed out that, "John himself now becomes a part of the scene,"[38] a very important truth to remember when we come to interpret Revelation 10:11.

Which is open ... It is nothing less than amazing that this fact of the book’s being open, and continuing so, which is so repeatedly emphasized in this chapter should be so completely ignored by so many writers. For example, Wilbur M. Smith wrote, ’"The little book which John is told to take and eat is never opened; and hence its exact nature must be a matter of dispute."[39]

Go take ... This command was repeated in Revelation 10:9, where its repetition has the effect of denying John’s request that the angel "give" him the little book, and symbolizing the profound truth that the word of God must, in a sense, be taken by every man for himself. Some other person cannot give to any man the knowledge and understanding of the word of God that he should exercise himself to acquire. "Study to show thyself approved unto God!"

[38] John T. Hinds, op. cit., p. 150.

[39] Wilbur M. Smith, Wycliffe Bible Commentary, New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971), p. 1074.

Revelation 10:9

And I went unto the angel, saying unto him that he should give me the little book. And he saith unto me: Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey.

Give me the little book ... See under preceding verse. "Take it, and eat it up ..." It is futile to search for John’s "source" either in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 2:9 to Ezekiel 3:4) or anywhere else except in this vision "which God gave him" (Revelation 1:1). Nothing truly like this vision is found anywhere but here. The meaning inherent in taking a book and eating it up is simply that of mastering its contents; and this, of course, means digesting its contents also. Both Ladd and Morris missed this, causing them to interpret the bitterness that came later as something "internal, and within the believer himself."[40]

It shall make thy belly bitter ... Hendriksen’s interpretation of this is correct, referring it to the suffering and cross-bearing which is ever the portion of those who faithfully proclaim the gospel. "That gospel is in itself glorious and sweet; but its proclamation is ever followed by bitter persecutions."[41] We agree with Hendriksen that this meaning is "very clear."

In thy mouth it shall be as sweet as honey ... The interpretation that would make this sweetness due alone to the sweet promise of forgiveness and eternal life, and the following bitterness to be due to the awesome revelations of God’s wrath and judgment upon the wicked is incorrect. There is no need whatever for the revelation of God’s wrath upon the wicked to be a source of bitterness to persecuted, suffering, dying Christians. Such is a false theological conception. Origen’s notion that "The book of Scripture is very sweet when first perceived, but bitter to the conscience within,"[42] is also a false conception. The true meaning of this passage cannot turn upon the subjective response of the believer, but upon the turn of events which follow the proclamation of the truth. "The eating up" of God’s word, and obeying it, which is necessarily included, brings nothing but joyful release and tranquillity to the conscience. Hinds grasped this fundamental truth: "The thoughts from eating the book would give him joy; but practicing the teachings would bring persecutions, sufferings and possibly death."[43]

Of course, the metaphor here is based upon the fact that some foods which taste good produce sickness or pain later. The sweet taste of God’s word is a frequent Old Testament metaphor (Psalms 19:9-10; Psalms 119:103). It should not be forgotten that "eating the book" means, "The complete mastering of the contents, digesting it."[44]

[40] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 143.

[41] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 151.

[42] As quoted by Plummer, op. cit., p. 276.

[43] John T. Hinds, op. cit., p. 151.

[44] W. Boyd Carpenter, op. cit., p. 583.

Revelation 10:10

And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and when I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter.

This verse merely says that John found the experience of sweetness, followed by bitterness, to be exactly as the angel had promised. Speck mentioned in this context "the bitter price people paid for reading the Scripture and rebelling against the authority of the Medieval Church,"[45] one of many illustrations that could be cited. Tyndale, it will be recalled, paid with his life for the precious sweetness of "eating the book" and making it available to others by his translation of it into our native tongue. There is not an English-speaking person on earth today who does not owe a deep debt of gratitude to God for William Tyndale.


[45] Willie Wallace Speck, op. cit., p. 127.

Revelation 10:11

And they say unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.

And they say unto me ... "It is best to take this expression as an indefinite plural, or the equivalent of the passive ’it was said.’"[46]

Thou must prophecy again ... John himself is part of the vision here, not merely in his person, but as an embodiment of the New Testament. It is not merely John who will continue to sound out the Word through the ages, but all of the apostles, and by extension the whole church of God throughout the dispensation, who will continue to prophesy, or proclaim God’s truth. The reference here is not to the release of the Book of Revelation, either in part or whole, but to the proclamation of "the whole counsel of God." We regret Roberts’ missing this in the comment that, "This explains the little scroll. It means that Revelation is divided into two grand divisions ... the little scroll is the second part, consisting of Revelation 12-16."[47]

Over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings ... The ASV margin here has "concerning" instead of "over"; and a great many scholars prefer that meaning, a preference apparently due to their thinking of Revelation as primarily a book "concerning" world history; but the true meaning of the place is "before" many peoples, etc., as in the KJV. Lenski unequivocally affirmed that the KJV is correct here,[48] and we believe he is right in this judgment, and that the reason so many have missed it is that they tend to think about the "predictions" that John is about to write; "but this is an idea that results from their misconception of this vision."[49] Of course, Revelation, in a certain sense, is "concerning" many peoples, etc.; but far more is involved here than this single prophecy. All of God’s word is to be proclaimed "unto all nations" (Luke 24:47); and we are certain that that mandate is the commission to John which is reiterated in this verse.

This concludes the consolatory vision of God’s word being proclaimed throughout history, no matter what evil men do; and the next consolatory vision (Revelation 11:1-13) will detail symbolically the fortunes of the church throughout her history. However, it should be remembered that both these consolatory visions are in a sense parenthetical. As soon as they have been related, the judgment scene will be depicted, an event that connects chronologically with the end of Revelation 9.

[46] Robert H. Mounce, op. cit., p. 217.

[47] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 87.

[48] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 302.

[49] Ibid.

Commentary on Revelation 10:1-11 by Manly Luscombe

Introduction--There was a pause after the sixth seal. Paul Rogers wrote, “This chapter was written to assure the faithful that the hour for the final woe has come and the mystery must be fulfilled. Just as there is a pause between the opening of the sixth and seventh seals to heighten expectancy, so now there is an interlude between the blowing of the sixth and seventh trumpets. During the pause two events take place, the presentation of the little book and the ministry of the two witnesses. There is no corresponding interlude between the sixth and sevenths bowls.” (3, 44)

1 I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. A mighty angel comes from heaven. The angel is “mighty” showing that this angel has great strength. There are four symbols used to describe this angel. Cloud - Commentaries are in great disagreement as to the meaning of the cloud. Some believe it could symbolize the coming of God as he did in Psalms 104:3. Jesus left this earth with clouds and will return in clouds. Some believe that the mighty angel is one of the archangels - Michael or Gabriel. Rainbow - From the time of Noah and the flood, the rainbow has represented the promise of God. God made a promise and the rainbow is the sign of that covenant. Face like the sun - Jesus is the light of the world. (John 8:12) Jesus came to bring light to a dark world. The gospel is the light of life. This symbol is used in 1:16 to describe Jesus. Feet like pillars of fire - With one foot on the sea and one on land, showing that all mankind is involved. Fire is often a symbol of passion, fervor, and zeal. The fire represents the burning message of the gospel.

2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,… In his hand was a “little book open.” Several comments are needed here. Little book - Most commentators believe this is not the size of the volume, but the simplicity of the message. This is NOT a big, difficult, hard to understand book. It is little, small, and easy to learn the message from God. Open - The Word of God is always open. The invitation of the gospel is not closed. I have aided people in obeying the gospel at all hours of the day and night. At worship services we extend a formal invitation, but responding to the gospel call is not limited to those moments. This little book is the gospel, the New Testament. Here are some reasons I reach this conclusion. The book is always open. The Gospel is always open to all who will obey it. John was told to “take” the book. It is not thrust on anyone. They must choose to take it. John was instructed to “eat” the book. The Bible cannot be just read. It must be chewed, swallowed, and digested. After eating the book, John was told to prophesy. A prophet is one who speaks the message of God. John has eaten the book. Now, he can speak. Before a preacher or teacher can teach the Word, it must be studied, and digested. This book is called the “mystery of God” in verse 7.

3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” The angel cries with a loud voice. The sound was like a lion roaring. Then seven thunders utter their voices. John is about to record what he has heard from the seven thunders. A voice from heaven told John not to write. They were to be sealed, kept secret, not revealed. There has been much speculation about the reasons for keeping this information sealed. Many have also tried to speculate about the content of these seven thunders. There is simply no way for us to know what the thunders said. There is no information given on that subject. However, there are some logical guesses about why they were sealed and not revealed to us. Since the little book is the New Testament, the gospel of Christ, the will of God is complete. We do not need this information to obey God, serve God and live eternally with Him.

NOTE: There are many things of curiosity, things we wonder about, things we would like to know, but are not needed for us to please God. God did not reveal ALL THINGS to us. He did reveal all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)

5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer,…The mighty angel lifts his hand toward heaven and swears by the God of heaven. God is the one who created all things. Therefore, when all things are about to end, God is the one to whom the angel speaks. The message is simple: “Time will be no longer.” Our ability to measure time is based upon the solar system. We measure days as the earth rotates; we measure months by the orbit of the moon; we measure a year by the earth’s orbit of the sun. When the sun, moon and earth are burned up, there will be no time. We will lose all sense of days, months and years. Eternity for Christians is only one day long. There is no night there. We will never enter the second day of heaven. There will come a point where the time of opportunity will end. The little book will be closed. The offer of the gospel will cease.

7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. The “mystery of God” will be finished. I have titled this work “Revelation: Book of Mystery” not because it is beyond our ability to understand. It is a book of mystery because it deals with things we have not yet experienced. When this world ends and time shall be no more, the mystery will be completed. Study Colossians 1:26-28 about the mystery of the gospel.

8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.” A. John is told to take the book. The voice is either God or Christ here. John is given a simple command. It is not difficult. John is expected to obey the command - as stated.

9 So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” John hesitates to take the book. He walks up to the mighty angel and asks for the book. The angel responds, “Take it, and eat it.” It is clear that expects His commands to be obeyed - period. No changes. John wanted to change the command from “take” to “ask for” and it was not allowed. The further instruction is that the book was to be eaten (chewed, swallowed and digested) before it can be of value. Many just read. While this is a good place to start, it is not the end of what we must do as we seek to understand and apply the Word of God to our lives. In John’s mouth it would taste sweet, but in the stomach there would be bitterness. The symbolism is clear. Many hear the gospel, understand the message of salvation, forgiveness and redemption. They obey the gospel, are baptized, and begin living the Christian life. It is wonderful to know that they are forgiven. We are filled with joy and delight, knowing that they are saved. Then, along comes some bitterness. Some calamity, hardship or persecution enters our life. Now the gospel has some “acid reflux,” a burning, and bitterness. When the gospel becomes bitterness, when living the Christian life becomes heartburn, many abandon the faith they once proclaimed and confessed.

10 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. It happened just as it had been explained to John. He took the book and ate it. In his mouth it was sweet and pleasurable, but in his stomach it was a bitter pill to swallow.

11 And he said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.” Now that the book is digested, it is time to expound the message to all people. Before we can teach others, we must digest the meat of the Word. This does not mean that we must understand every detail, answer every false teaching, and explain every difficult passage. It does mean that the Word must become part and parcel with us.

NOTE: John is not just watching a movie. He is an active participant in this vision. When no man was found to open the seals, John wept. Here John takes, eats, and digests the Word of God, then he must teach the gospel to all people of all nations.

Sermon on Revelation 10:1-11

The Little Scroll

Brent Kercheville

The Mighty Angel (Revelation 10:1-2)

John sees another mighty angel coming down from heaven. The description of this angel shows us that he is not like the previous angels we have read about in this book. This mighty angel is wrapped in a cloud. Clouds consistently carry the symbolism of judgment in the scriptures.

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7 ESV)

Behold, he comes up like clouds; his chariots like the whirlwind; his horses are swifter than eagles— woe to us, for we are ruined! (Jeremiah 4:13 ESV)

For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations. (Ezekiel 30:3 ESV)

Therefore, this angel is coming to declare judgment on the earth. Further, this angel is described with a rainbow over his head. The rainbow carries the symbolism of God’s covenant. God’s judgment is about to be unleashed in keeping with God’s covenant that he made with his people. The angel has a similar description to the description of the Son of Man in Revelation 1:15-16. However, we should not think that this angel is Christ. If Revelation wanted to tell us that this is Christ, then the book would not have called this spiritual being an angel. Christ is not an angel and is extensively argued in the scriptures to be different and greater than all the angels (Hebrews 1). The similar language is simply intended to show us that this angel is sent by God to carry out judgment according to God’s word and covenant. The mighty angel has a little scroll open in his hand. We will explain what this scroll is and why the scroll is described as little later on in this chapter. The mighty angel comes down to the earth and sets his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. We will see the meaning of this imagery later in this chapter also.

Seven Thunders (Revelation 10:3-4)

The mighty angel calls out with a loud voice and the sound was like a lion roaring. When the angel called out with this loud voice, there were seven thunders that sounded. The seven thunders are apparently similar to the seven seals and the seven trumpets, containing messages of judgment. John is about to write down what the seven thunders said, but a voice from heaven calls down to John. The voice tells John, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” This is the only picture we have in the book of Revelation of some piece of information remaining sealed. It was not for humanity to know the things that the seven thunders revealed. We are not given any clues or any further information about the message of the seven thunders.

The Mighty Angel’s Oath (Revelation 10:5-7)

The scene returns to the mighty angel who has taken his stand on the sea and on the land. The angel raises his right hand to heaven and swore that there would no longer be delay. What would no longer be delayed? The mystery of God announced by the prophets would be fulfilled. When would this happen? The angel says in the days when the seventh angel blows his trumpet. Remember that we have been listening to the seven trumpets blasting judgment. We have read of six trumpets sounding so far. The mighty angel declares that when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet then it is done. The mystery of God as declared by the prophets will be fulfilled.

To gain further clarity about what is being told to us, we must recognize that this picture is found in Daniel 12. In Daniel 12:7 we see the same angel taking the same stand and taking the same oath.

And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. (Daniel 12:7 ESV)

All the elements of Daniel 12:7 and Revelation 10:5-7 are in parallel. There is only one real difference and that is the timeline. When the angel in Daniel makes his oath, he declares that it was going to be a “time, times, and half a time.” A period of time was going to pass by before these events would unfold. This is the repeated point to Daniel in Daniel 12:9. The words were shut up and sealed until the time of the end. The fulfillment of the prophecy would not happen in the days of Daniel. It would be later. It would be “a time, times, and half a time.” We will talk about the meaning of this time marker, “a time, times, and half a time,” in Revelation 11.

The angel reveals in Daniel what event his oath concerns. Notice the end of Revelation 10:7, “…when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished.” When the angel said these words to Daniel, who were the “holy people?” The holy people was a reference to the physical nation of Israel. Jump up to Daniel 12:1 and you will see the same point.

And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. (Daniel 12:1 ESV)

Notice that the angel tells Daniel that this prophecy is about his people, that is, the Jewish nation. Those who were written in the book would be delivered from this time of trouble, this great tribulation. Let’s move this message back to Revelation 10. The angel has declared that when the seventh angel blows his trumpet, the things announced by the prophets (particularly with Daniel’s prophecy in mind) will be fulfilled. The angel that told Daniel that there would be delay (a time, times, and half of time) tells John that there will not be a delay now. This angel confirms that our understanding of the locusts in Revelation 9 is correct. We noted in Revelation 9 that the locusts represent a world power destroying another nation in the scriptures (see Joel 2). The logical sense was that the locusts represented the Roman Empire coming against the Jewish nation in 70 AD. Revelation 10 validates this interpretation. We have seen many clues since chapter 6 that the physical Jewish nation was the object of God’s wrath. Jesus also prophesied this doom in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Paul also noted this coming wrath against the nation of Israel.

For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God’s wrath has come upon them at last! (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 ESV)

To sum up the picture so far in Revelation. Revelation 6 told us that there would be partial judgments culminating with final judgment against a nation. Revelation 7 declared that these judgments would not take place until the people of God were sealed. Though Christians would die, they are pictured safe in Christ. Revelation 8-9 revealed the partial judgments occurring against the Jewish nation from 66-69 AD. However, the people did not repent and the nations who saw these judgments did not repent. Therefore, we have seen this mighty angel declare that there will no longer be delay. The final judgment of shattering the nation will take place in the days when the seventh angel blows his trumpet.

The Little Scroll (Revelation 10:9-11)

The final scene in Revelation 10 concerns the little scroll. In verse 2 we saw the mighty angel holding the little scroll open in his hand. The seven seals have been released by the Lamb and the scroll is now laying open in the hand of the mighty angel. John goes up to the mighty angel and takes the scroll. The angel tells John to eat the scroll. This imagery explains why the scroll is described as a little scroll. John was going to eat this scroll. The scroll whose seals have been opened is described as little so that John can be seen eating the scroll. Why would John be instructed to eat the scroll?

This imagery of eating a scroll is also found in the scriptures. Ezekiel was also told to eat the scroll that was presented to him.

And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it. And he spread it before me. And it had writing on the front and on the back, and there were written on it words of lamentation and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. (Ezekiel 2:9 to Ezekiel 3:3 ESV)

Eating the scroll is a picture of being ready to prophesy God’s message. Notice that when Ezekiel eats this scroll he finds it to be sweet as honey in his mouth. The word of God is described as sweet. “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” (Psalms 19:10 ESV) Notice that when John eats the scroll he also finds it as sweet as honey in his mouth. However, after he had eaten the scroll his stomach was made bitter. The bitterness comes because of the judgments that are still to come.

Notice that these judgments to come is the point ofRevelation 10:11. John is told to prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings. Now the prophecies will be about the nations of the earth. These prophecies will begin in chapter 12. John has been prophesying about his own people, the Jewish nation, and its final judgment by God has been declared. However, John is not done. John must continue to prophesy and he will speak about the nations.


  • · God keeps his promises.

  • · God keeps his covenant.

  • · The prophets even back in the days of Moses declared that the physical nation of Israel would be destroyed for its rebellion against God.

  • · Jesus said that God’s wrath was ready to come against the people for their sins. The apostle Paul spoke about its doom as well.

  • · Hundreds of years or even thousands of years can pass by since the word of the Lord is spoken.

  • · The duration of time does not matter for God will keep his word.

The word of God is sweet to taste. There should be nothing sweeter to us than reading God’s word. It should be our passion. It should be our delight.



Read Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:14

1. Between the sounding of what two trumpets does this vision appear? Ans. Revelation 9:13; Revelation 11:15.

2. Describe the angel that John saw coming down out of heaven. Ans. Revelation 10:1.

3. What did he have in his hand? Ans. Revelation 10:2.

4. To what is his voice compared? Ans. Revelation 10:3.

5. What was John forbidden to write? Ans. Revelation 10:4.

6. What announcement did the angel confirm with an oath? Ans. Revelation 10:5-7.

7. What was John told to do with the little book, and what effect did it have on him? Ans. Revelation 10:8-10.

8. What then was John told he must do? Ans. Revelation 10:11.

9. He was told to measure what? Ans. Revelation 11:1.

10. What was he told not to measure? Ans. Revelation 11:2.

11. What city was to be trodden under foot, and for how long? Ans. Revelation 11:2; Matthew 27:53.

12. What were the "two" witnesses to do and for how long? Ans. Revelation 11:3.

13. Who are the "two witnesses"? Ans. Revelation 11:4.

14. What of those who desire to hurt these witnesses? Ans. Revelation 11:5.

15. The "two witnesses" have power to do what? Ans. Revelation 11:6.

16. When and how were they to be killed? Ans. Revelation 11:7.

17. What would be done with their dead bodies? Ans. Revelation 11:8-10.

18. After three days and a half what would happen to these dead bodies? Ans. Revelation 11:11.

19. Tell of their ascension. Ans. Revelation 11:12-13.

20. How many of the three "woes" were now past? Ans. Revelation 11:14.

E.M. Zerr

Questions on Revelation

Revelation Chapter Ten

1. What did John see further?

2. From where did he come?

3. How was he clothed?

4. What was upon his head?

5. State the appearance of his face.

6. And that of his feet.

7. What was in his hand?

8. In what position was it?

9. Where did he place his right foot?

10. And where the other?

11. How did he cry?

12. To what was his cry likened?

13. When he cried how many voices were heard?

14. To what did these voices belong?

15. What was John about to do?

16. On what subject was he ·going to do this?

17. From where did he hear another voice?

18. What was he to seal up?

19. When was he to write them?

20. Which angel did he again see?

21. Tell what he lifted up.

22. Towards where did he lift it?

23. What form of saying did he utter?

24. By what person did he utter this speech?

25. What great works had he done?

26. State the subject of this oath.

27. Whose mystery was going to be finished?

28. In whose days will it be done?

29. To whom had this been declared?

30. By what class of persons was it declared?

31. What voice spake to John again?

32. From where did this voice come?

33. What was John told to take?

34. In whose hand was it now?

35. Tell where this angel was standing.

36. Did John c()mply with the command?

37. Repeat his request of the angel.

38. What was John told to do with the book?

39. How would it affect his body?

40. In what way would it be sweet?

41. What did he then do?

42. ’]’ell how it affected his mouth.

43. Was its effect the same throughout?

44. How long until the effects came?

45. What work must John do again?

46. Before whom must this work be done?

47. How many angels mentioned in this chapter?

48. Tell how many voices.

49. What was announced to wait no longer?

50. What was forbidden to be revealed,

Revelation Chapter Ten

Ralph Starling

A mighty angel came from heaven with a little open book.

And John was told to take it and have a look.

He was also told to eat it up and consider

for it would taste like honey and make his belly bitter.

Was he to write some more? Never mind!

For soon there would be the end of time.

His work now was to prophecy and explaiin

to people, nations, tongues and kings.

Then when the sound of the trumpet was diminished,

The Mystery of God would then be finished.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 10". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/revelation-10.html.
Ads FreeProfile