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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 11

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

A reed (καλαμος). Old word for a growing reed (Matthew 11:7) which grew in immense brakes in the Jordan valley, a writer's reed (3 John 1:7), a measuring-rod (here, Revelation 21:15; Ezekiel 40:3-6; Ezekiel 42:16-19).

Like a rod (ομοιος ραβδω). See Revelation 2:27; Mark 6:8 for ραβδος.

And one said (λεγων). "Saying" (present active masculine participle of λεγω) is all that the Greek has. The participle implies εδωκεν (he gave), not εδοθη, a harsh construction seen in Genesis 22:20; Genesis 38:24, etc.

Rise and measure (εγειρε κα μετρησον). Present active imperative of εγειρω (intransitive, exclamatory use as in Mark 2:11) and first aorist active imperative of μετρεω. In Ezekiel 42:2 the prophet measures the temple and that passage is probably in mind here. But modern scholars do not know how to interpret this interlude (Revelation 11:1-13) before the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15). Some (Wellhausen) take it to be a scrap from the Zealot party before the destruction of Jerusalem, which event Christ also foretold (Mark 13:2; Matthew 24:2; Luke 21:6) and which was also attributed to Stephen (Acts 6:14). Charles denies any possible literal interpretation and takes the language in a wholly eschatological sense. There are three points in the interlude, however understood: the chastisement of Jerusalem or Israel (verses Revelation 11:1; Revelation 11:2), the mission of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3-12), the rescue of the remnant (Revelation 11:13). There is a heavenly sanctuary (Revelation 7:15; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 14:15, etc.), but here ναος is on earth and yet not the actual temple in Jerusalem (unless so interpreted). Perhaps here it is the spiritual (Revelation 3:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19). For altar (θυσιαστηριον) see Revelation 8:3. Perhaps measuring as applied to "them that worship therein" (τους προσκυνουντας εν αυτω) implies a word like numbering, with an allusion to the 144,000 in chapter 7 (a zeugma).

Verse 2

The court (την αυλην). The uncovered yard outside the house. There were usually two, one between the door and the street, the outer court, the other the inner court surrounded by the buildings (Mark 14:66). This is here the outer court, "which is without the temple" (την εξωθεν του ναου), outside of the sanctuary, but within the ιερον where the Gentiles could go (carrying out the imagery of the Jerusalem temple).

Leave without (εκβαλε εξωθεν). Literally, "cast without" (second aorist active imperative of εκβαλλω.

Do not measure it (μη αυτην μετρησηις). Prohibition with μη and the first aorist active (ingressive) subjunctive of μετρεω. This outer court is left to its fate. In Herod's temple the outer court was marked off from the inner by "the middle wall of partition" (το μεσοιτοιχον του φραγμου, Ephesians 2:15), beyond which a Gentile could not go. In this outer court was a house of prayer for the Gentiles (Mark 11:17), but now John is to cast it out and leave to its fate (given to the Gentiles in another sense) to be profaned by them.

They shall tread under foot (πατησουσιν). Future active of πατεω, here to trample with contempt as in Luke 21:24, even the holy city (Matthew 4:5; Isaiah 48:2; Nehemiah 11:1). Charles thinks that only the heavenly city can be so called here (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10; Revelation 22:19) because of Revelation 11:8 (Sodom and Gomorrah). But the language may be merely symbolical. See Daniel 9:24.

Forty and two months (μηνας τεσσερακοντα κα δυο). Accusative of extent of time. This period in Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7. It occurs in three forms in the Apocalypse (forty-two months, here and Revelation 13:5; 1260 days, Revelation 11:3; Revelation 12:6; time, times and half a time or 3 1/2 years, Revelation 12:14 and so in Daniel). This period, however its length may be construed, covers the duration of the triumph of the Gentiles, of the prophesying of the two witnesses, of the sojourn of the woman in the wilderness.

Verse 3

I will give (δωσω). Future active of διδωμ. The speaker may be God (Beckwith) or Christ (Swete) as in Revelation 2:13; Revelation 21:6 or his angel representative (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12). The idiom that follows is Hebraic instead of either the infinitive after διδωμ as in Revelation 2:7; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 6:4; Revelation 7:2; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:15; Revelation 16:8 or ινα with the subjunctive (Revelation 9:5; Revelation 19:8) we have κα προφητευσουσιν (and they shall prophesy).

Unto my two witnesses (τοις δυσιν μαρτυσιν μου). Dative case after δωσω. The article seems to point to two well-known characters, like Elijah, Elisha, but there is no possible way to determine who they are. All sorts of identifications have been attempted.

Clothed (περιβλημενους). Perfect passive participle of περιβαλλω as often before (Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:13; Revelation 10:1, etc.). But Aleph A P Q here read the accusative plural in -ους, while C has the nominative in -ο. Charles suggests a mere slip for the nominative, but Hort suggests a primitive error in early MSS. for the dative περιβεβλεμενοις agreeing with μαρτυσιν.

In sackcloth (σακκους). Accusative retained with this passive verb as in Revelation 7:9; Revelation 7:13. See Revelation 6:12 for σακκος and also Matthew 3:4. The dress suited the message (Matthew 11:21).

Verse 4

The two olive trees (α δυο ελαια). The article seems to point to what is known. For this original use of ελαια see Romans 11:17; Romans 11:24. In Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 4:3; Zechariah 4:14 the lampstand or candlestick (λυχνια) is Israel, and the two olive trees apparently Joshua and Zerubbabel, but John makes his own use of this symbolism. Here the two olive trees and the candlesticks are identical.

Standing (εστωτες). Masculine perfect active participle agreeing with ουτο instead of εστωσα (read by P and cursives) agreeing with ελαια κα λυχνια, even though α (feminine plural article) be accepted before ενωπιον του κυριου (before the Lord).

Verse 5

If any man desireth to hurt them (ε τις αυτους θελε αδικησα). Condition of first class, assumed to be true, with ε and present active indicative (θελε) "if any one wants to hurt" (αδικησα first aorist active infinitive). It is impossible to hurt these two witnesses till they do their work. The fire proceeding out of the mouths of the witnesses is like Elijah's experience (2 Kings 1:10).

Devoureth (κατεσθιε). "Eats up (down)," present active indicative of κατεσθιω.

If any man shall desire (ε τις θεληση). Condition of third class with ε and first aorist active subjunctive of θελω as in Luke 9:13; Philippians 3:12, but MSS. also read either θελε (present active indicative) or θελησε (future active, condition of the first class like the preceding one. The condition is repeated in this changed form, as less likely to happen and with inevitable death (δε αυτον αποκτανθηνα, must be killed, first aorist passive infinitive of αποκτεινω with δε).

Verse 6

To shut the heaven (κλεισα τον ουρανον). First aorist active infinitive of κλειω. As Elijah did by prayer (1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:17).

That it rain not (ινα μη υετος βρεχη). Sub-final use of ινα μη with the present active subjunctive of βρεχω, old verb to rain (Matthew 5:45), here with υετος as subject.

During the days (τας ημερας). Accusative of extent of time. In Luke 4:25; James 5:17 the period of the drouth in Elijah's time was three and a half years, just the period here.

Of their prophecy (της προφητειας αυτων). Not here the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10) or a particular prophecy or collection of prophecies (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 22:7), but "the execution of the prophetic office" (Swete).

Over the waters (επ των υδατων). "Upon the waters." As Moses had (Exodus 7:20).

Into blood (εις αιμα). As already stated in Revelation 8:8 about the third trumpet and now again here.

To smite (παταξα). First aorist active infinitive of πατασσω, used here with εξουσιαν εχουσιν (they have power), as is στρεφειν (to turn).

With every plague (εν παση πληγη). In 1 Kings 4:8, but with reference to the plagues in Egypt.

As often as they shall desire (οσακις εαν θελησωσιν). Indefinite temporal clause with οσακις and modal εαν (= αν) and the first aorist active subjunctive of θελω, "as often as they will."

Verse 7

When they shall have finished (οταν τελεσωσιν). Merely the first aorist active subjunctive of τελεω with οταν in an indefinite temporal clause with no futurum exactum (future perfect), "whenever they finish."

The beast (το θηριον). "The wild beast comes out of the abyss" of Revelation 9:1. He reappears in Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:8. In Daniel 7:3 θηρια occurs. Nothing less than antichrist will satisfy the picture here. Some see the abomination of Daniel 7:7; Matthew 24:15. Some see Nero redivivus.

He shall make war with them (ποιησε μετ' αυτων πολεμον). This same phrase occurs in Revelation 12:17 about the dragon's attack on the woman. It is more the picture of single combat (Revelation 2:16).

He shall overcome them (νικησε αυτους). Future active of νικαω. The victory of the beast over the two witnesses is certain, as in Daniel 7:21.

And kill them (κα αποκτενε). Future active of αποκτεινω. Without attempting to apply this prophecy to specific individuals or times, one can agree with these words of Swete: "But his words cover in effect all the martyrdoms and massacres of history in which brute force has seemed to triumph over truth and righteousness."

Verse 8

Their dead bodies lie (το πτωμα αυτων). Old word from πιπτω (to fall), a fall, especially of bodies slain in battle, a corpse, a carcase (Matthew 14:12), here the singular (some MSS. πτωματα, plural) as belonging to each of the αυτων (their) like στοματος αυτων (their mouth) in verse Revelation 11:5. So also in verse Revelation 11:9. No word in the Greek for "lie."

In (επ). "Upon," as in verse Revelation 11:6, with genitive (της πλατειας), the broad way (οδου understood), from πλατυς (broad) as in Matthew 6:5, old word (Revelation 21:21; Revelation 22:2).

Of the great city (της πολεως της μεγαλης). Clearly Jerusalem in view of the closing clause (οπου--εσταυρωθη), though not here called "the holy city" as in verse Revelation 11:2, and though elsewhere in the Apocalypse Babylon (Rome) is so described (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:18; Revelation 18:19; Revelation 18:21).

Which (ητις). Which very city, not "whichever."

Spiritually (πνευματικως). This late adverb from πνευματικος (spiritual) occurs in the N.T. only twice, in 1 Corinthians 2:14 for the help of the Holy Spirit in interpreting God's message and here in a hidden or mystical (allegorical sense). For this use of πνευματικος see 1 Corinthians 10:3. Judah is called Sodom in Isaiah 1:9; Ezekiel 16:46; Ezekiel 16:55. See also Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:23. Egypt is not applied to Israel in the O.T., but is "an obvious symbol of oppression and slavery" (Swete).

Where also their Lord was crucified (οπου κα ο κυριος αυτων εσταυρωθη). First aorist passive indicative of σταυροω, to crucify, a reference to the fact of Christ's crucifixion in Jerusalem. This item is one of the sins of Jerusalem and the disciple is not greater than the Master (John 15:20).

Verse 9

Men from among (εκ των etc.). No word for "men" (ανθρωπο or πολλο) before εκ των, but it is implied (partitive use of εκ) as in Revelation 2:10 and often. See also Revelation 5:9; Revelation 7:9 for this enumeration of races and nations.

Do look upon (βλεπουσιν). Present (vivid dramatic) active indicative of βλεπω.

Three days and a half (ημερας τρεις κα ημισυ). Accusative of extent of time. Hημισυ is neuter singular though ημερας (days) is feminine as in Mark 6:23; Revelation 12:14. The days of the gloating over the dead bodies are as many as the years of the prophesying by the witnesses (Revelation 11:3), but there is no necessary correspondence (day for a year). This delight of the spectators "is represented as at once fiendish and childish" (Swete).

Suffer not (ουκ αφιουσιν). Present active indicative of αφιω, late form for αφιημ, as in Mark 1:34 (cf. αφεις in Revelation 2:20). This use of αφιημ with the infinitive is here alone in the Apocalypse, though common elsewhere (John 11:44; John 11:48; John 12:7; John 18:8).

Their dead bodies (τα πτωματα αυτων). "Their corpses," plural here, though singular just before and in verse Revelation 11:8.

To be laid in a tomb (τεθηνα εις μνημα). First aorist passive of τιθημ, to place. Μνημα (old word from μιμνησκω, to remind) is a memorial, a monument, a sepulchre, a tomb (Mark 5:3). "In a country where burial regularly took place on the day of death the time of exposure and indignity would be regarded long" (Beckwith). See Tobit 1:18ff.

Verse 10

They that dwell upon the earth (ο κατοικουντες επ της γης). Present active articular participle of κατοικεω, "an Apocalyptic formula" (Swete) for the non-Christian world (Revelation 3:10; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:14; Revelation 17:8).

Rejoice (χαιρουσιν). Present active indicative of χαιρω.

Over them (επ' αυτοις). Locative (or dative) case with επ as in Revelation 10:11.

Make merry (ευφραινοντα). Present middle indicative of ευφραινω, old verb (ευ, φρην, jolly mind), as in Luke 15:32; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 18:20. Jubilant jollification over the cessation of the activity of the two prophets.

They shall send gifts to one another (δωρα πεμψουσιν αλληλοις). Future active of πεμπω with dative αλληλοις. Just as we see it done in Esther 9:19; Esther 9:22; Nehemiah 8:10; Nehemiah 8:12.

Tormented (εβασανισαν). First aorist active indicative of βασανιζω, for which see Revelation 9:5. This is the reason (οτ) of the fiendish glee of Jew and Gentile, who no longer will have to endure the prophecies (Revelation 11:3) and dread miracles (Revelation 11:5) of these two prophets. "Such a sense of relief is perhaps not seldom felt today by bad men when a preacher of righteousness or a signal example of goodness is removed" (Swete).

Verse 11

After the (μετα τας etc.). The article τας (the) points back to Revelation 11:9.

The breath of life from God (πνευμα ζωης εκ του θεου). This phrase (πνευμα ζωης) occurs in Genesis 6:17; Genesis 7:15; Genesis 7:22 of the lower animals, but here there is clearly an allusion to Ezekiel 37:5; Ezekiel 37:10 (also 2 Kings 13:21), where the dead bones lived again.

Entered into them (εισηλθεν εν αυτοις). Second aorist active indicative of εισερχομα with εν rather than εις after it (cf. Luke 9:46). The prophecy has here become fact (change from future πεμψουσιν to aorist εισηλθεν).

They stood upon their feet (εστησαν επ τους ποδας αυτων). Ingressive second aorist active indicative of ιστημ (intransitive). Reference to Ezekiel 37:10, but with the accusative in place of genitive there after επ as in 2 Kings 13:21.

Fell upon (επεπεσεν επ). Second aorist active indicative of επιπιπτω with repetition of επ. The same prophetic use of the aorist as in εισηλθεν and εστησαν.

Beheld (θεωρουντας). Present active articular participle of θεωρεω. "The spectators were panic-stricken" (Swete).

Verse 12

Saying (λεγουσης). Present active predicate participle of λεγω, feminine genitive agreeing with φωνης, though some MSS. have the accusative φωνην λεγουσαν, either construction being proper after ηκουσαν (they heard). There is a little evidence for ηκουσα like Revelation 12:10 (24 times in the book). Cf. John 5:28.

Come up hither (αναβατε ωδε). Second aorist active imperative of αναβαινω. The ascension of these two witnesses is in full view of their enemies, not just in the presence of a few friends as with Christ (Acts 1:9).

They went up (ανεβησαν). Second aorist active indicative of αναβαινω.

In the cloud (εν τη νεφελη). As Jesus did (Acts 1:9) and like Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). Their triumph is openly celebrated before their enemies and is like the rapture described by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

Verse 13

There was (εγενετο). "There came to pass" (second aorist middle indicative of γινομα). Earthquakes are often given as a symbol of great upheavals in social and spiritual order (Swete) as in Ezekiel 37:7; Ezekiel 38:19; Haggai 2:6; Mark 13:8; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 6:12; Revelation 16:18.

Fell (επεσεν). Second aorist active indicative of πιπτω, to fall. Only the tenth (το δεκατον) of the city fell. Cf. το τριτον (the third) in Revelation 8:7-12, perhaps a conventional number.

Were killed (απεκτανθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of αποκτεινω as in Revelation 9:18.

Seven thousand persons (ονοματα ανθρωπων χιλιαδες επτα). This use of ονοματα (names of men here) is like that in Revelation 3:4; Acts 1:15 and occurs in the papyri (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 196f.).

Were affrighted (εμφοβο εγενοντο). "Became terrified," old adjective (εν, φοβος, fear) as in Luke 24:5; Acts 10:4; Acts 24:5. "A general movement toward Christianity, induced by fear or despair--a prediction fulfilled more than once in ecclesiastical history" (Swete).

Gave glory (εδωκαν δοξαν). First aorist active indicative of διδωμ, when they saw the effect of the earthquake, recognition of God's power (John 9:24; Acts 12:23; Romans 4:20).

Verse 14

Is past (απηλθεν). Second aorist active indicative of απερχομα. See Revelation 9:12 for this use and Revelation 21:1; Revelation 21:4. The second woe (η ουα η δευτερα) is the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:12) with the two episodes attached (Revelation 10:1-11).

The third woe (η ουα η τριτη, feminine as in Revelation 9:12) is the seventh trumpet, which now "cometh quickly" (ερχετα ταχυ), for which phrase see Revelation 2:16; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20. Usually pointing to the Parousia.

Verse 15

There followed (εγενοντο). "There came to pass." There was silence in heaven upon the opening of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), but here "great voices." Perhaps the great voices are the ζωα of Revelation 4:6; Revelation 5:8.

Saying (λεγοντες). Construction according to sense; λεγοντες, masculine participle (not λεγουσα), though φωνα, feminine. John understood what was said.

Is become (εγενετο). "Did become," prophetic use of the aorist participle, already a fact. See εγενετο in Luke 19:9.

The kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ (του κυριου ημων κα του Χριστου αυτου). Repeat η βασιλεια from the preceding. God the Father is meant here by κυριου (Lord), as αυτου (his) shows. This is the certain and glorious outcome of the age-long struggle against Satan, who wields the kingdom of the world which he offered to Christ on the mountain for one act of worship. But Jesus scorned partnership with Satan in the rule of the world, and chose war, war up to the hilt and to the end. Now the climax has come with Christ as Conqueror of the kingdom of this world for his Father. This is the crowning lesson of the Apocalypse.

He shall reign (βασιλευσε). Future active of βασιλευω. God shall reign, but the rule of God and of Christ is one as the kingdom is one (1 Corinthians 15:27). Jesus is the Lord's Anointed (Luke 2:26; Luke 9:20).

Verse 16

The four and twenty elders (ο εικοσ τεσσαρες πρεσβυτερο). They follow the living creatures (verse Revelation 11:15, if correctly interpreted) in their adoration, as in Revelation 4:9. Though seated on thrones of their own (Revelation 4:4), yet they fall upon their faces in every act of worship to God and Christ (Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 19:4). Here επ τα προσωπα αυτων (upon their faces) is added as in Revelation 7:11 about the angels. The elders here again represent the redeemed, as the four living creatures the forces of nature, in the great thanksgiving here (ευχαριστουμεν, present active indicative of ευχαριστεω).

Verse 17

O Lord God (Κυριε ο θεος). Vocative form κυριε and nominative form ο θεος (vocative in use). See Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8 for this combination with ο παντοκρατωρ (the Almighty). For ο ων κα ο ην (which art and which wast) see Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 16:5.

Thou hast taken (ειληφες). Perfect active indicative of λαμβανω, emphasizing the permanence of God's rule, "Thou hast assumed thy power."

Didst reign (εβασιλευσας). Ingressive first aorist active indicative of βασιλευω, "Didst begin to reign." See this combination of tenses (perfect and aorist) without confusion in Revelation 3:3; Revelation 5:7; Revelation 8:5.

Verse 18

Were wroth (ωργισθησαν). Ingressive first aorist active indicative of οργιζομα, "became angry." The culmination of wrath against God (Revelation 16:13; Revelation 20:8). Cf. Psalms 2:1; Psalms 2:5; Psalms 2:12; Psalms 99:1; Acts 4:25. John sees the hostility of the world against Christ.

Thy wrath came (ηλθεν η οργη σου). Second aorist active indicative of ερχομα, the prophetic aorist again. The Dies Irae is conceived as already come.

The time of the dead to be judged (ο καιρος των νεκρων κριθηνα). For this use of καιρος see Mark 11:13; Luke 21:24. By "the dead" John apparently means both good and bad (John 5:25; Acts 24:21), coincident with the resurrection and judgment (Mark 4:29; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 20:1-15). The infinitive κριθηνα is the first aorist passive of κρινω, epexegetic use with the preceding clause, as is true also of δουνα (second aorist active infinitive of διδωμ), to give.

Their reward (τον μισθον). This will come in the end of the day (Matthew 20:8), from God (Matthew 6:1), at the Lord's return (Revelation 22:12), according to each one's work (1 Corinthians 3:8).

The small and the great (τους μικρους κα τους μεγαλους). The accusative here is an anacoluthon and fails to agree in case with the preceding datives after δουνα τον μισθον, though some MSS. have the dative τοις μικροις, etc. John is fond of this phrase "the small and the great" (Revelation 13:16; Revelation 19:5; Revelation 19:18; Revelation 20:12).

To destroy (διαφθειρα). First aorist active infinitive of διαφθειρω, carrying on the construction with καιρος. Note τους διαφθειροντας, "those destroying" the earth (corrupting the earth). There is a double sense in διαφθειρω that justifies this play on the word. See Revelation 19:2. In 1 Timothy 6:5 we have those "corrupted in mind" (διαφθαρμενο τον νουν). God will destroy the destroyers (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Verse 19

Was opened (ηνοιγη). Second aorist passive indicative of ανοιγω, with augment on the preposition as in Revelation 15:5. For the sanctuary (ναος) of God in heaven see Revelation 3:12; Revelation 7:15; Revelation 15:5; Revelation 21:22.

Was seen (ωφθη). First aorist passive indicative of οραω.

The ark of his covenant (η κιβωτος της διαθηκης αυτου). The sacred ark within the second veil of the tabernacle (Hebrews 9:4) and in the inner chamber of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 8:6) which probably perished when Nebuchadrezzar burnt the temple (2 Kings 25:9; Jeremiah 3:16). For the symbols of majesty and power in nature here see also Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 16:18; Revelation 16:21.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 11". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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