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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Revelation 15

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

Here the apostle,

(1,) Has a vision of seven angels prepared to execute the divine judgments on the antichristian kingdom, and on all that uphold it, with the triumphant song of the church on that occasion, Revelation 15:1-4 .

(2,) Their coming forth out of the temple, and receiving vials full of divine wrath, which they were to pour out for that purpose, Revelation 15:5-8 .

The prophecy proceeds, in this and the following chapters, to open further the appointed punishment of antichristian Rome for her oppression of the truth, and persecution of the saints. This chapter represents the solemn manner in which preparation is made for the execution of these judgments, as the next describes the actual execution of them. The happy state of God’s faithful servants, and the joyful thanksgivings with which they celebrate the goodness of God in the protection of their cause, are very elegantly represented, to encourage their constancy and perseverance. God’s judgments upon the kingdom of the beast, or antichristian empire, have been hitherto denounced, and described only in general terms, under the figures of harvest and vintage. A more particular account of them follows under the emblem of seven vials. These must necessarily fall under the seventh trumpet, and the four last of them, at least, under the third wo; so that as the seventh seal contained the seven trumpets, the seventh trumpet comprehends the seven vials. Not only the concinnity of the prophecy requires this order, for otherwise there would be great confusion, and the vials would interfere with the trumpets, some falling under one trumpet, and some under another; but, moreover, if these seven last plagues, and the consequent destruction of Babylon, be not the subject of the third wo, the third wo is nowhere described particularly, as are the two former woes. Before the vials are poured out, the scene opens with a preparatory vision, which is the subject of this chapter. As seven angels sounded the seven trumpets, so seven angels are appointed to pour out the seven vials, angels being always the ministers of Providence; and in order to show that these judgments are to fall upon the kingdom of the beast, the true worshippers of God and faithful servants of Jesus, who had escaped victors from the beast, are here described as praising God for their deliverance from its tyrannical power.

Verse 1

Revelation 15:1. And I saw a sign in heaven, great and marvellous Such as fixed my attention, and will demand that of the reader: seven angels (doubtless holy angels) having the seven last plagues Hitherto God had borne with his enemies with much longsuffering, but now his wrath will go forth to the uttermost. But even after these plagues the holy wrath of God against his other enemies does not cease, Revelation 20:15.

Verses 2-4

Revelation 15:2-4. I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire It was before clear as crystal, (Revelation 4:6,) but is now mingled with fire Emblematical of the judgments whereby God’s enemies were about to be devoured; and them that had gained Or were gaining, as τους νικωντας rather means; the victory over the beast and his image And not submitted to his tyranny or religion, having steadfastly refused, though at the expense of their property, liberty, and lives, amidst so many who were devoted to him, to receive his mark, and the number of his name

Expressions which seem to mean nearly the same thing; standing on the sea of glass Which was before the throne; having the harps of God

Given by him, and appropriated to his praise. And they sing, &c. Like unto the people of Israel after their deliverance and escape out of Egypt, when, having passed through the Red sea, they stood on the shore; and, seeing their enemies overwhelmed with the waters, sung the triumphant song of Moses. So these, having passed through the fiery trials of this world, stand on a sea of glass, and, seeing the vials ready to be poured out upon their enemies, sing a song of triumph for the manifestation of the divine judgments, which is called the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, because the words are, in a great measure, taken from the song of Moses and other parts of the Old Testament, and applied in a Christian sense; but chiefly because Moses was the minister and representative of the Jewish Church, as Christ is of the church universal: therefore it is also termed, the song of the Lamb. Saying, Great and marvellous are thy works We acknowledge and know that all thy works, in and toward all the creatures, are great and wonderful; just and true are thy ways With all the children of men, good and evil. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord Stand in awe of thee, revere thy justice and thy power, and fear to offend thee; and glorify thy name Honour and praise, love and serve thee; for thou only art holy And in thy presence the holiness of all other beings disappears, as utterly unworthy to be mentioned. Or, as the words may be rendered, thou only art gracious, and thy grace is the spring of all thy wonderful works, even of thy destroying the enemies of thy people. Accordingly, in the 137th Psalm, that clause, for his mercy endureth for ever, is subjoined to the thanksgiving for his works of vengeance, as well as for his delivering the righteous. For all nations shall come and worship before thee Shall serve thee as their king, and confide in thee as their Saviour with reverential joy: a glorious testimony this to the future conversion of all the heathen. The Christians are now a little flock; and they who do not worship God, an immense multitude. But all the nations, from all parts of the earth, shall come and worship him, and glorify his name. For thy judgments shall be made manifest And then the inhabitants of the earth will, at length, learn to fear thee.

Verses 5-7

Revelation 15:5-7. After that I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle In which was the ark of the testimony in heaven, was opened Namely, the most holy place, disclosing a new theatre for the coming forth of the judgments of God, now made manifest. And the seven angels came out of the temple From the immediate presence of God, to denote that their commission was immediately from him; having the seven plagues Already mentioned; clothed Like the high-priest, but in a more august manner; in pure and white linen To signify the righteousness of these judgments; and having their breasts girded To show their readiness to execute the divine commands; with golden girdles As emblems of their power and majesty. And one of the four living creatures The representatives of the church; gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials Bowls, or censers; the Greek word signifies vessels broader at the top than at the bottom; full of the wrath of God By which it is intimated that it is in vindication of the church and true religion that these plagues are inflicted; who liveth for ever and ever A circumstance which adds greatly to the dreadfulness of his wrath, and the value of his favour; and that he is to be regarded as the most formidable enemy, as well as the most desirable friend, to immortal beings.

Verse 8

Revelation 15:8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God In the same manner the tabernacle, when it was consecrated by Moses, and the temple, when it was dedicated by Solomon, were both filled with a cloud, and the glory of the Lord; which cloud of glory was the visible manifestation of God’s presence at both times, and a sign of God’s protection. But in the judgment of Korah, when the glory of the Lord appeared, he and his companions were swallowed up by the earth. So proper is the emblem of smoke from the glory of God, or from the cloud of glory, to express the execution of judgment, as well as to be a sign of favour. Both proceed from the power of God, and in both he is glorified. And no man Not even those who ordinarily stood before God; was able to enter into the temple As neither Moses could enter into the tabernacle, nor the priests into the temple, when the glory of the Lord filled those sacred places; a further proof of the majestic presence and extraordinary interposition of God in the execution of these judgments: till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled Or were finished: till they had poured them out by the divine command.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Revelation 15". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/revelation-15.html. 1857.