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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 10

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4100. A.D. 96.

This chapter contains a solemn preparation for the sounding of the seventh trumpet.

(1,) It represents a mighty angel coming down from heaven with a little open book in his hand, and on his crying aloud, seven thunders utter their voices, but John is forbidden to write what they uttered, Revelation 10:1-4 .

(2,) The angel solemnly swears by the eternal God, the Creator of all things, that the mysterious dispensation of Providence in time should end with the seventh trumpet, Revelation 10:5-7 .

(3,) John is commanded to take and digest in his mind the contents of the open book, as a preparation for his uttering further predictions concerning the future state of the church and of the world, Revelation 10:8-11 .

The foregoing chapters have given us a prophetic description of the first two periods, or of the state of the world and the church under the persecutions of Rome heathen; of the troubles occasioned by the invasions of the northern nations, which broke the power of the Roman empire, and divided it into several new governments; and finally of the rise and progress of the Mohammedan religion and empire, which caused so many evils throughout the greatest part of the world, both in the eastern and western empires. This tenth chapter seems to be an interval between the second and third periods, in which the scene of the vision alters, and preparation is made for a new prophecy, representing a new state of the world and church, for a new period of forty-two months, a time, times, and half a time, or twelve hundred and sixty days; being the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when the mystery of God shall be finished. The scene of the vision is represented to be different from that of the foregoing: it is not now before the throne of God in heaven, as in the fourth chapter, but on earth, as is the first scene, chap. 1.

Verses 1-2

Revelation 10:1-2. And After my former vision, related in the foregoing part of this prophecy, another scene was opened unto me introductory to a further revelation concerning the state of the church and the world. For I saw another mighty angel Another, different from that mighty angel mentioned Revelation 5:2; yet he was a created angel, for he did not swear by himself; come down from heaven Or divinely commissioned, Revelation 10:6; clothed with a cloud In token of his high dignity; and a rainbow upon his head A lovely token of the divine favour, and a symbol of God’s covenant and mercy toward penitent sinners; and his face was as it were the sun Nor was this too much for a creature, for all the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, Matthew 13:43. Or this might be an emblem of the light of the gospel about to be diffused. And his feet as pillars of fire Bright and shining as flame. Intimating, perhaps, that the faithful, in the period about to be opened, should suffer persecution, and yet be preserved from the rage of their enemies. And he had in his hand His left hand, for he swore with his right, Revelation 10:6; βιβλαριδιον , a little book, different from the βιβλιον , or book, mentioned before: and it was open, that all men might freely read and consider it. It was indeed a codicil to the larger book, and properly cometh under the sixth trumpet, to describe the state of the western church after the description of the state of the eastern: and this is, with good reason, made a separate and distinct prophecy, on account of the importance of the matter, as well as for engaging the greater attention. And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left on the earth To show the extent of his power and commission. This angel set his right foot on the sea toward the west, his left on the land toward the east, so that he looked southward. By the earth, says Sir I. Newton, the Jews understood the great continent of Asia and Africa, to which they had access by land; and by the isles of the sea they understood the places to which they sailed by sea, or the several parts of Europe: and hence, in this prophecy, the earth and sea he considers as put for the nations of the Greek and Latin empires. In this sense the angel’s putting his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth, will represent him as standing with one foot on Asia, and another on Europe, to signify that the prophecies which he was to reveal would relate to the empires of the east and west.

Verses 3-4

Revelation 10:3-4. And he cried with a loud voice Uttering the words recorded Revelation 10:6; as when a lion roareth With a voice strong and awful, as the roar of a lion, signifying, some think, that the gospel would be openly, resolutely, and efficaciously preached and published, in order to effect the subsequent reformation of the church from the errors and superstitions that had now overspread it. And when he had cried Or, while he was crying, seven thunders uttered their voices In distinct audible sounds, each after the other, as from the clouds of heaven, and loud as thunder. Doubtless those who spoke these words were glorious heavenly powers. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices Having understood the things they expressed; I was about to write To record what was spoken by them. And I heard a voice from heaven Doubtless from him who had at first commanded him to write, and who presently commands him to take the book, namely, Jesus Christ, saying, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not These are the only things, of all which he heard, that he is commanded to keep secret. So some things peculiarly secret were revealed to the beloved John, besides all the secret things written in this book. And as we know not the subjects of the seven thunders, so neither can we know the reasons for suppressing them. Vitringa indeed, by these seven thunders, understands the seven great croisades, or expeditions of the western Christians for the conquest of the Holy Land, and Daubuz the seven kingdoms which received and established the Protestant reformation by law. On which Dr. Apthorp observes as follows: “As heaven signifies the station of the supreme visible power, which is the political heaven, so thunder is the voice and proclamation of that authority and power, and of its will and laws, implying the obedience of the subjects, and at last overcoming all opposition. The thunders are the symbols of the supreme powers, who established the Reformation in their respective dominions.” But, as Bishop Newton remarks, “Doth it not savour rather of vanity and presumption than of wisdom and knowledge, to pretend to conjecture what they are when the Holy Spirit hath purposely concealed them.” Suffice it that we may know all the contents of the opened book, and of the oath of the angel.

Verses 5-7

Revelation 10:5-7. And the angel, &c. But though I was not allowed to reveal what the seven thunders had uttered, yet the angel proceeded to give a further revelation of the dispensations of Divine Providence toward the world and the church in general; and, to confirm the truth and certainty of his revelation, he took his oath in the most solemn manner: he lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever By the eternal God, before whom a thousand years are but as a day is with us; who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, &c. And consequently has the sovereign power over all; therefore all his enemies, though they rage a while on the earth and on the sea, yet must give place to him: That there should be time no longer Greek, οτι χρονος ουκ εσται ετι , that the time shall not be yet; (so Lowman and Bishop Newton understand it;) that is, that the lime of the glorious state of the church, though sure to take place in its due time, should not be yet; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel Who was yet to sound; the mystery of God In his providence toward his church; should be finished Or completed. The mystery of God is his counsel or design, which begins in the present conversion and happiness of man on earth, will terminate in diffusing that felicity over all the world, and will complete it in a state of immortality; as he hath declared Ως ευηγγελισε , according to the good news which he hath published; to his servants the prophets And then the glorious state of the church should be no longer delayed. So long as the third wo remains on the earth and the sea, the mystery of God is not fulfilled. And the angel’s declaration that it shall be fulfilled, confirmed by a solemn oath, is made peculiarly for the consolation of holy men, who are afflicted under that wo. Indeed the wrath of God must be first fulfilled by the pouring out of the vials, and then comes the joyful fulfilling of the mystery of God.

Verses 8-10

Revelation 10:8-10. And the voice said, Go up to the angel standing upon the sea and the earth, and take the little book which is open To signify that its contents were not to be kept secret like those of the seven thunders, but revealed for the instruction, direction, encouragement, or warning of mankind, as well as those of the larger book; for it was a kind of second prophecy added to the former, and as it concerned kings and nations, so it was to be made public for their use and information. And I went unto the angel As I was directed; and said With boldness, in consequence of the divine command; Give me the little book. And he said, Take it, and eat it up As Ezekiel did that which was shown to him upon a like occasion; that is, consider its contents carefully, and digest them well in thy mind: and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey The knowledge of future things was, at first, pleasant, but the sad contents of the little book afterward filled his soul with sorrow. As this prophecy was to reveal the providences of God during the period of the seventh trumpet, in which, as there was a revelation of great opposition to true religion, and persecution of the faithful professors of it, so was there also a revelation of divine protection during the time of trial, and of a sure accomplishment of the promises concerning the glorious and happy state of the church in the end. The consideration of such a dispensation of Providence might well occasion a mixture of joy and grief in the apostle’s mind, as it must do in the minds of all who understand and reflect upon it.

Verse 11

Revelation 10:11 . And he said Thou hast not yet finished the whole of thy work, in what thou hast already recorded of the visions of the Lord: but thou must again prophesy before, or to, many peoples and nations, &c. Mede infers from hence, that the apostle is about to go over the same period of time that he had before been discoursing of, giving an account of the state of the church as he had just done of the state of the empire. But the new descriptions and new events to which the subsequent prophecies refer, that are introduced here, and which constitute the following chapters, are sufficient, without any peculiarity of interpretation, to justify the expression, Thou must prophesy again. Besides, as Bishop Newton observes, if the prophecy begin here again anew, the subject be resumed from the beginning, and all that follows be contained in the little book, then the little book contains more matter than the larger book; and part of the sealed book is made part of the open book, which is contrary to the regularity and order of the Apocalypse, and in a great measure destroys the beauty and symmetry of the different parts: for it is evident and undeniable that the seventh trumpet is the seventh part of the seventh seal, as the seventh seal is the seventh part of the sealed book, and consequently can be no part of the little open book, which ends, as we shall see, with the sixth trumpet, and immediately before the sounding of the seventh.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 10". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/revelation-10.html. 1857.
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