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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 1

Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and RevelationNewell's Commentary

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Introduction

Appendix 1

Hymns of Christ’s singers through the night of the dark ages:

For They Saw The Morning Star!

3rd Century-Clement of Alexandria:

“Shepherd of Tender Youth” (earliest Christian hymn).

4th Century-Ambrose of Milan:

“The dawn is sprinkling in the east
Its golden shower, as day flows in;
Fast mount the pointed shafts of light;
Farewell to darkness and to sin.”

5th Century-Claudianus Mamertus:

“Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s triumph!”

Anatolius of Constantinople:

(a) “Fierce was the wild billow,”
(b) “The day is past and over.”

6th Century-Gregory the Great:

“O Christ, our King, Creator, Lord!”

St. Hilary of Aries:

“Thou art the world’s true Morning Star!”

Venantius Fortunatus:

“The royal banners forward go!”

7th Century-Andrew of Crete:

“Christian, dost thou see them?”

8th Century-Stephen of St. Sabas:

“Art thou weary?”

9th Century-Rabanus Maurass:

“Come, O Creator, Spirit Blest!”

Joseph of the Studium:

“Jesus, Lord of life eternal”;
also, “Safe home, safe home.”

Theodistus of the Studium:

“Jesus, Name all names above!”

10th Century-Metrophanes of Smyrna:

“O Unity of three-fold light.”

11th Century-Hermanus Contractus:

“Come, Holy Ghost, in Love!”

Peter Damiani:

“There not waxing moon, nor waning,
Sun nor stars in courses bright;
For the Lamb, to that glad city
Shines an everlasting light.”

12th Century-Unknown Author:

“The strife is o’er, the battle done;
He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from Heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumps tell! Hallelujah!”

Adam of St. Victor:

“Earth blooms afresh in glorious dyes;
In Christ’s arising all things rise;
A solemn joy o’er nature lies;
Alleluia;”

Bernard of Cluny:

“Jerusalem, the Golden.”

Unknown Author:

“Fairest Lord Jesus” (The Crusader’s Hymn).

13th Century-Thomas of Celano: (Dies irae, dies ilia!)

“May I find grace, O Lord, with Thee?
So the thief upon the tree;
Hope, too, Thou hast breathed in me”

14th Century-Unknown Author:

“Jesus is the Name we treasure.”

Jacobus de Benedictus: (Stabat Mater)

Mechtilde of Helffde:

“If the world were mine and all its store
And were it of crystal gold;
Could I reign on its throne forevermore, From the ancient days of old,
An empress noble and fair as day,
O gladly might it be;-
That I might cast it all away:
Christ, only Christ for me!”
“For Christ, my Lord, my spirit longs,
For Christ, my Saviour dear:
The joy and sweetness of my songs
The whilst I wander here.”

As the great truths of grace began to be recovered more fully, the “Song of the Lord” burst more and more fully forth; until the Reformers took down the Church’s harps from the willows of the “Babylonian Captivity” of over a thousand years.

Appendix 2

"Elders" are mentioned twelve times in The Revelation. That they are individuals and not a symbolic company, is evident, it seems to me, for several reasons:

1. The Revelation is an unsealed book. When symbols or signs are shown they are plainly said to be such: e.g., chapter 12:1-3.

2. If the twenty-four elders are representative or symbolic, then the four living creatures must be also; but we all believe that four means four when applied to the living creatures; just as to the cherubim in Ezekiel 1:1-28.

3. The language used concerning the elders compels our belief that they are individuals. "One of the elders saith unto me" (chapter 5:5). "One of the elders answered" (7:13). "The twenty-four elders sit before God upon their thrones" (11:16).

4. Any one who takes the first mention of these elders (4:4) as anything other than twenty-four individuals, must have thorough proof for it, and that scriptural and not conjectural. "I saw four and twenty elders sitting" is a very definite statement indeed! We have found no Bible proof they are other than twenty-four individuals.

5. We know from 1 Chronicles 24:7-19 that the orders of the priests of Aaron’s house were divided into twenty-four courses. In the following chapter, moreover, those who "prophesied" with harps, psalteries and symbols according to their service by the hands of the king were also twenty-four (1 Chronicles 25:9-30). Furthermore, the military forces under King David were marshalled "of every course twenty and four thousand." These changed month by month-twenty-four thousand monthly (1 Chronicles 27:1-15). Even before this (1 Chronicles 23:4) we find twenty-four thousand of the Levites who were "to oversee the work of the house of Jehovah" (although in this case the twenty-four thousand were chosen out of thirty-eight thousand-verse 3).

Darby says, "The number 24 represents twice 12. One might perhaps see here the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles-the saints in the two dispensations." (Coll. Writ. Proph. Vol. 11, page 22.) This is better than to make them "represent" the Church; but it leaves them symbolic rather than actual elders.

We can only assume, not prove, that "the elders" are of our race at all. The cherubim are not; nor the seraphim nor the "chief princes" (Daniel 10:13). Because the term "elders" is so often mentioned (over 200 times) in Scripture, both in connection with Israel and the Church, many are willing to assume that the elders are human beings. But the elders do not testify of their own salvation at all: although they celebrate that of others, as in 5:8, 9 (R. V.).

Inasmuch as God had "elders" over His people Israel, and "elders" were also to be appointed in each Church, (Titus 1:5); and inasmuch as twenty-four seems God’s governmental order, we do not see why it may not be that there are "elders" over God’s creation; that they were created so; and they are twenty-four in number; and that just as the four zoa express in heading up, the four genera of God’s creation,-beast, cattle, man and eagle (Revelation 4:7; Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:24; Genesis 1:26), so these "elders" were created and associated by God with His government. When Christ, with His Bride, the Church, comes to reign in power, in Revelation 19:1-21, we hear no more of these twenty-four elders: for God then subjects all to the Man: Psalms 8:1-9 is fulfilled. The elders, as all other heavenly beings, have their place, but under Christ and the Church.

Appendix 3

Idolatry: Especially the Worship of a Man by His Fellows.

1. Definition: Idolatry is man’s placing a visible object of worship before his eyes to protect him from God, thus silencing his conscience that he may indulge his lusts. God’s "invisible things are clearly seen" by all His responsible creatures. In idolatry, man deliberately "changes the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man," and of lower creatures-even to "creeping things" (Romans 1:23). Idolatry is man’s deliberate, determined putting away from the thoughts of the concept of the holy God, and choosing and "changing" therefore a concept that will not judge his sin, and the setting up an "image" of that concept, a "likeness," as an outward object with which the bodily senses may be occupied. This effectually excludes God.

2. History: Idolatry was unknown before the flood. The cherubim were placed at the gate of Eden, with "the flame of a sword." Thus was man kept from the tree of life, that he might not live forever in his sinful state; and thus, perhaps, was he restrained from that hideous insult to God which idolatry ever is, just as in Israel’s case, "Israel served Jehovah all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, and had known all the work — that he had wrought for Israel" (Joshua 24:31). Not until after the apostasy that preceded the flood (and which the flood judged) do we find record of man’s being permitted to throw off all knowledge by means of idolatry. Probably the earliest idolatry spoken of in Scripture is in the same chapter (Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:14).

From "beyond the river" (Euphrates)-that is, from Mesopotamia, more particularly from Babel (later Babylon), and still more definitely from the daring acts of Nimrod, the "mighty destroyer" whose wife, Semiramis, (one of the most able and wicked women of the human race) was, upon her death deified as "queen of heaven," do we trace the beginnings of idolatry, which eventuates in Satan-worship by means of "the image of the Beast," seen in Revelation 13:1-18. From Babylon, idolatry extended to every land, for Babylon became "a land of graven images — mad over idols." "Babylon hath been a golden cup in Jehovah’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunk of her wine; therefore the nations are mad" (Jeremiah 50:38; Jeremiah 51:7). Idolatry spread thence to every nation, and God was blotted out from man’s knowledge. Read Isaiah 44:12-20. God’s sad and awful irony concerning the idolator!

And see the obscene stories and idols of every "mythology," to show that it has always been as in Exodus 32:1-35 and Numbers 25:1-18.

3. Why man gladly makes a god of a fellow-man (as in Revelation 13:1-18):

a. He can see, a man, and "the invisible things of God" (of whom he is afraid) are thus escaped. Especially is this escape from God easy if the man worshipped be possessed of overwhelming power, dazzling greatness, or mysterious wisdom.

b. Man has to do with the infinite-he must: "God hath put eternity in man’s heart"; "his everlasting power and divinity" are clearly seen. Man wishes himself God. He hearkened to Satan’s "ye shall be as gods, knowing," in Eden. Men therefore, in their weakness, are avidly ready to accept the claims of some other man in power and position, and with daring enough to assert himself a god. It is what every natural heart would like to be!

c. To worship man, thus gratifies and satisfies man’s pride. Men unknowingly worship their imagined selves when they worship a fellow-man.

d. Conscience is thus escaped, for the blaspheming self-deifier relieves his mind and heart as to God; not, of course, in the way of priesthood (for God is hated and banished, and the desire is to escape Him!) but in the way of presumption, for if our man-god defies God and is suffered, other men also can cast fear away-not independently, but leaning on their idol!

Thus is attained the first great end of idolatry-release from "the glory of the invisible God": that glory being now exchanged for the "likeness" of the god man has chosen. This "likeness" is held in the idolater’s mind; he forms his "images" after that "likeness." [This is the claim of all idolaters, that they "do not worship the idol, but the concept behind the idol." Paul tells us they "sacrifice to demons, and not to God" (1 Corinthians 10:1-33). And the awful hideousness of the idols they make reveals the true character of the demons they worship!

It should be remembered, however, that even the deepest idolaters, who have "refused to have God in their knowledge," yet "know the ordinance of God, that they that practice such things are worthy of death" (See Romans 1:28-32). The state of the heathen is wilful and guilty. Do not lose sight of this for one moment! The terrible calamities, for example, upon China, and the horrible degredation of India-what is it but the "indignation" of Jehovah, the true God, the living God, an everlasting King, pouring out upon idolaters His wrath (See, carefully, Jeremiah 10:1-10). It is like a flash of divine jealousy-it is that. See the eleventh verse of this chapter, the one Aramaic (or earth-language) in a whole Hebrew book: "Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens."]

e. Those who thus deify man are set free to practice all "human" lusts. The "wheel of nature" may revolve without restraint. And this is the second great end of idolatry. The awful course of Romans 1:21-31 is repeated in all idolatry. The moment Israel could look on a calf, and say, "These be thy gods, O Israel," they were set free to "rise up and play"-which means obscenities that cannot be written! God being thus blotted from the mind by "the likeness of an image," lusts were let loose. The unholiest doings of the human race this moment are connected with religion without God.

4. It should be noted, solemnly, that God "gives up" idolaters to their idols. "They that make them shall be like unto them." See Psalms 115:1-18 -a great lesson! The "covetous man, who is an idolater," also: the "likeness" he holds in his mind is treasure; the "image," gold coin, stocks, bonds. He becomes like a coin-metallic, hard, cruel, harsh. The "likeness" held in the Romish mind is the (imagined) "queen of heaven"; the "image," pictures and statues of "the Virgin"; these Romanists also become like unto their Babylonian "goddess." To say the very least, their inner hearts are feminized, and lose the sense of the all-holy God; to say the most, they become so vile that they are the scandal of history. But ah, what will Revelation 13:1-18 bring forth, when men take Satan’s Christ so deep into their hearts that "they worship the dragon" because he gives his authority unto their darling, the Man of Sin!

5. The story of the Gentile powers shows:

A. That authority in the hands of unregenerate man leads constantly to the assumption of divine prerogatives. For neither the conscience’s fear of God, nor regard for the welfare of man, can stem the flood of nature’s pride let loose by irresponsible power, when vested in man.

B. That self-deification is able to destroy all good qualities. See Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 3:1-30, or Darius in chapter 6 as examples of that constant exaltation of self to divine honors by Gentile kings, with which every reader of history is familiar; notably, in the Roman emperors, from Julius Caesar on. What streams of martyr-blood have flowed from refusal to offer incense to the Emperor! (Read "Foxe’s Book of Martyrs"-a book every Christian parent should early read to his children.)

C. That the spirit of self-deification can only eventuate, as in Revelation 13:1-18, in the open Antichrist of the last days. And you must be prepared, by Scripture study, for this, for it is already stealing on the world!

If you doubt this, see Lenin in Russia,-already held a god! Or Mussolini’s daring and growing claims in Italy, and Hitler’s in Germany. Or, sad to admit, the rush to grasp power, exalt self, and compel subjection at any cost of abandoned promises, and political, moral and domestic safeguards-when the opportunity is given, in the United States of America!

Appendix 4:

Bullingerism

This teaching has been so fully answered, both in England and America, and its deadly dangers so fully worked out, that a discussion of it is practically unnecessary here. See, for example, the brief, but able and clear tract by Mr. W. Hoste of England: Bullingerism (Light and Liberty Publishing Company, Fort Dodge, Iowa). He also combatted Dr. Bullinger in England when he was yet alive. Also the various comments made by the Editor D. M. Panton in the magazine The Dawn (C. J. Thynne & Company, London); and those by Dr. James M. Gray in The Moody Monthly (Chicago). The recent righteously firm and unanswerable booklet Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth (Loizeaux Bros., New York) by Dr. H. A. Ironside, is not being answered by Bullinger votaries,-except by petitio principii,-begging the question that their rejection of water baptism is correct, the final teaching of Paul; and that those who disagree with them are ignorant or cowards. They do not answer the arguments made against them; instead they accuse their objectors.

Consider, regarding Bullingerism:

1. It subjects Scripture to rigid rules of outline and interpretation invented by the human mind. It does lean upon "its own understanding," rather than upon the Holy Spirit.

2. It assumes, with unbelievable pride, that it knows "truth," of which the whole Church has been ignorant since Paul. In other times, when men really recovered truth, as at the Reformation, or in Wesley’s or in Darby’s day, a mighty work of the Holy Spirit accompanied the Word, which resulted in the conversion of thousands, and the real edification in love of God’s Saints. Bullingerism causes divisions; ministers "questionings" and defeats unity. I have watched it for thirty-six years deceive, puff up, release from prayer and burden for souls, make men once zealous to reach the lost compass sea and land to make one proselyte to "no water-baptism," "only prison epistles," "Gospels not for us," etc., etc.

3. Bullingerism is probably the most subtle of all the doctrines that lead, eventually, to that great denial of eternal judgment, which is sweeping the world. The "soul-sleep" that Bullinger taught "lets down the bars"; being direct trifling with God’s plainest of words regarding the disposition He makes of both the saved and the lost at death: that the believer "departs to be with Christ," being "absent from the body he is present with the Lord"; and that the lost proceed, as did the rich man of Luke 16:1-31, at once to Hades. Bullinger says: "Hades,-we might call it Gravedom. There is not a place where the rendering grave would not be appropriate" (for Hades). Now Matthew 16:18 at once proves this utterly false! Church saints’ bodies have been buried in graves constantly; but Hades, the region at the earth’s center (Matthew 12:40; Acts 2:27, R.V.), since our Lord’s resurrection, has not admitted one saint into its gates: "The Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it" (the Church). I am persuaded that all Bullingerites are candidates for some form of denial of eternal punishment. There are those of California who teach that even Satan will be restored: making God, in Revelation 20:10, a liar! "Buy the truth and sell it not!"

The more a man knows who teaches vital error, the more dangerous he is. Especially is he dangerous if he holds some,-even a great deal, of truth; for, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."

When I was in England first, in 1899, it was my great blessing to be closely associated with the best Christians there. Mr. Bullinger was at that time writing very busily. But all those devoted Christians said, "He seems to be a brainy man, but we do not trust him." How well his fruits have proved their discernment!

It is my firm belief that one of three paths will be followed by all Bullinger followers: a. They will be delivered from it by divine grace; or, b. They will become so occupied with endless discussions about "dispensational" distinctions and divisions, that they will become fruitless for God, either at home or abroad; or, c. They will go on to the logical conclusion of setting aside this Scripture and that, in accordance with their "dispensational" claims, to the position of the Knoch (Concordant) faction of California: who have even printed their (per)version of the Scriptures, to gainsay the Words of God concerning eternal punishment.

Imagine Martin Luther being told that his beloved Galatians and Romans (by which, under God, he shook Europe), "Those are not ‘Church Epistles,’-they do not belong to us." I should not care personally to be the "dispensationalist" to tell Luther that! Or Rutherford-imagine telling him that the Church is not the Bride of Christ! (Have you read his Letters?) Or content John Bunyan with words and questions such as these? Or tell Whitefield, weeping over 20,000 souls in his mighty sermon on "Ye must be born again," that John’s Gospel, where he got his message, is "not for us"? God gave him thousands of souls by that message, and no peddler of "soul-sleep" teaching could stand before him!

George Whitefield read through Matthew Henry’s Commentary twice-on his knees! What this shallow age needs is a long, steady acquaintance with such as Matthew Henry, [Matthew Henry was godly, as were the Puritans; though both are servants of a legal theology, alas!] and the Puritans, and Spurgeon, and Darby’s "Collected Writings"-and even with John Calvin’s 51 volumes of commentaries! But they, conceiving themselves dispensationally "beyond" these really great men of God,-will they read these works?

We trow not. They will, instead, be more and more occupied with the "air-tight-compartments" of the clever and heady Companion Bible,-because it makes people think they are advancing, in their Scripture "dividing," and dispensational distinctions, in divine things,-whether the Holy Ghost unifies in love God’s saints or not; and whether revival showers come or not!

Appendix 5:

Why The Church Will Not Be In The Great Tribulation

We mean by The Church, the Body of Christ, which includes all "born-again" people from Pentecost to Christ’s second coming. "Ye are the body of Christ — In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, — and were all made to drink of one Spirit. Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might present the church to himself, a glorious church — one body and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling." (1 Corinthians 12:27; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 5:25; Ephesians 5:27; Chapter 4:4.) Note, that we do not mean by "The Church" the religious profession the world knows by that name; but the true Body of Christ only, which will be also His Bride.

We mean by The Great Tribulation that "time of trouble" on earth spoken of by Daniel, Jeremiah, and other prophets, and our Lord, and the Apostles, as so terrible in character that "there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never shall be" (Mark 13:19). Its duration will be brief,-3½ years, or 42 months (shortened somewhat "for the elect’s sake"); and it will immediately precede the Lord’s return to earth to set up His kingdom on earth, as "Son of man" (Matthew 24:29; Matthew 13:41-43).

1. We know that the most of the Church cannot go through The Tribulation; for the vast majority of it, during the nearly two thousand years has already gone to be with Christ, to return with Him at His second coming. I wish we might let that sink deep into our hearts! Why should a small number at the end be subjected to a test and trial that the rest, even "carnal" saints, have entirely escaped? (1 Corinthians 8:1-13).

2. We do not deny, but rather continually affirm, that the Church is always subject to suffering-indeed, that for Christ’s sake we are killed all the day of grace long, accounted as "sheep for the slaughter" (Romans 8:1-39). Such instances, for example, as the Boxer martyrdom in 1900 and the Russian situation prove that the Church is always subject to suffering; in fact, that is the program for it: as witness the early martyrs!

3. It is only from divine wrath, not human, that we affirm the Church of God to be absolutely and forever delivered, and that not only from the "great day of wrath" at Christ’s second coming (Revelation 19:1-21) and from the eternal wrath at the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:1-15); but we also affirm that the Church has no share in the woes that come directly from God’s indignation, which occur upon the Lamb’s taking the sealed book in heaven (Revelation 5:1). Now why do we affirm that? Because the Church is under grace, under eternal favor. I mean God’s elect, those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, sanctified by the Holy Ghost, believing the truth. Those in Christ HAVE their redemption, the forgiveness of all their trespasses. They have been made meet already to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. They have not been appointed unto wrath in any sense. They are not of the world; they have been made alive together with Christ, and raised up with Him and made to sit with Him in the heavenlies, with an eternal outlook of kindness from His hand in Christ Jesus. All wrath for them from God was forever over at the cross when Christ cried, "It is finished!"

Now these are the facts about the Body of Christ-not perfected saints only, but all the saints. There is no exception. God will not and cannot turn from His acceptance of those in His Son. Wrath has passed over forever for the Church. They have been fore-ordained to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. They shall be so conformed so that Christ may be "the first-born among many brethren." This is the plain declaration of the God of all grace. This was a sovereign act of His own, not contingent upon their response to it; but, on the contrary, God Himself undertaking to work in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure, and to perfect that which concerned them. It was of the carnal Corinthian Christians that Paul said they should be confirmed unto the end, that they should be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let me emphasize the fact that Paul calls them babes in Christ, saying, "Ye are yet carnal." But Paul says God is going to confirm them unto the day of Jesus Christ. Paul addresses this epistle to "all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place." Therefore, it covers this whole age, and it covers "carnal" Christians! [If it be argued that some of God’s own are on earth during the wrath-days of The Great Tribulation, and therefore why not the Church-saints? the answer is, that it is perfectly evident to a thoughtful reader of prophecy regarding Israel, and especially the Psalms, that there will be souls who seek Jehovah, (and that in times of great trouble) to whom the finished work of Calvary is not yet revealed. Their consciences are not yet purged; the sense of sin and even of divine wrath-the wrath upon Israel oppresses them: the "fountain for sin and uncleanness" having not been nationally opened to Israel (Zechariah 12:11-14; Zechariah 13:1). Yet the saints of the Church cannot be meant here, for the blood of Christ is declared to have so cleansed,-not only from guilt, but from "dead works," the conscience of the believer that he serves gladly and freely the Living God (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 13:15). The Psalms present the consciousness, not of an Ephesian Christian, but of a godly Israelite longing for his Messiah’s (second) coming as Deliverer and King.]

4. We find also that Paul was sent by Christ to reveal not only the Church’s heavenly calling, and destiny, but also to reveal that Gospel which belongs to this day of salvation, the essence of the message of which is that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself at the cross, not reckoning to them their trespasses; and hath committed to His saints of this "day of salvation," the "ministry of reconciliation" in such a sense that the word of reconciliation has been "placed in us." That is the meaning of the Greek word-God has placed in us the word of reconciliation, the business of telling others regarding reconciliation. Unto us this word belongs. "We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beg you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God." That is the attitude of the Apostle Paul, and of the saints of God of this age, the whole age long! Nor is there any hint that it has ever changed. It cannot change. The saints, as sinners, having found Christ, can do nothing but proclaim Christ to others. So that no matter how much we may be moved to arouse men by warnings of eternal judgment, we must ever return to the message of the cross; of the grace of God. The Church has no other commission, and the Church is God’s house and the pillar and stay of the truth in this age. So long as she is on earth we do not find any Scripture, any warrant for the idea that God will have two witnessing bodies with different messages on earth at the same time, one of present grace and one of present judgment! Let us keep this carefully in mind.

5. We find in Scripture that God may reveal to His servants, as to Enoch, judgments in which they will personally have no part. See the Apostle Jude, wherein Enoch prophesies of the Lord’s second coming in wrath upon the ungodly. But Enoch was translated, and never saw that wrath. Though he knew about it, he did not see it. It was revealed to Enoch that he should be translated. Enoch becomes, therefore, a type of the Church which is to be translated from judgment, even as Noah was a type of the Israelitish remnant that will go through the judgment and come out into the new kingdom on earth when the Lord Jesus returns. We need not be surprised, therefore, that the Lord has told His Church, by the Apostle John especially, of the end-horrors which they will not themselves enter, nor even see, except from above. The principles of evil are on now-"the mystery of lawlessness," many antichrists: but not the manifestation, "the Anti-Christ": that is restrained.

6. You remember the passage: "We that are left unto the coming of the Lord shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep." This great Thessalonian revelation proves at once two blessed things: first, that the proper Christian expectation is to be alive when Christ comes: "We that are alive," says Paul by the Spirit. Second, that so far from there being any time of wrath in store for believers alive when Christ comes, there will be such a naturally expected advantage from being left unto the coming of the Lord that a special revelation was necessary to assure the Church that those fallen asleep would not be behind, but should really rise first! Now if a portion of the Church is to share the fearful horrors of The Great Tribulation, the only cry of any intelligent saint should be, "How much better to die in the Lord and escape all this!" But God has as surely put the hope of the rapture of translation into the breast of His instructed saints, as He put it into Enoch’s breast. "We will together be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." The Spirit moved Paul to write that. That is the hope which we ought all to share. "We shall all be changed in a moment," in "the twinkling of an eye" we shall be caught up. Now this is the hope, and this is written into the hearts of the saints.

7. C. I. Scofield very aptly calls attention to Christ’s new promise given in John 14:1-31, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also." Now will you notice that this promise has absolutely nothing to do with the Son of man’s work of setting up a kingdom on earth! It is a new announcement. It is the anticipatory announcement of the heavenly prospects of the Church of God. It is our Lord’s first intimation to His saints of this special phase of His coming. Our Lord, on the Mount of Olives, you remember, had given them a view of the dispensation with special reference to His coming to earth in judgment (Matthew 24:1-51 and Mark 13:1-37). Our Lord there looks on the disciples as Jews (which they primarily were), and those passages must be read in the light of that fact. ["The whole effect of Christ’s coming, with regard to the Jews, to 24:31, then to all his servants till His coming, to 25:30; then to the nations preparatory to His kingdom, 25:31-46." (Darby)] For instance, in Matthew 24:1-51 the Lord Jesus says concerning The Great Tribulation, "There shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be." And in connection with that, "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on a sabbath," because a Jew could only journey so far on the sabbath day by their custom (Acts 1:12) without breaking the law; and I want to remind you the Jews will not then be under grace. They will not yet know grace in that awful tribulation time that is coming. They will be in spirit under the solemn sabbath restrictions, as in Maccabean days. But Paul said to the Colossians, "Let no one judge you in respect of a sabbath day, which was a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s. You are not under the law, but grace." The folks who talk about the Church going through The Tribulation do not realize Church truth; they do not realize the absoluteness of God’s grace. I say that kindly, but I say it with much emphasis. I cannot teach anything else, and be true to the Gospel of the Grace of God! The constant use of such words as "look for his appearing," "wait for God’s Son," "love his appearing," in the Epistles shows how the Spirit kept this hope alive in the hearts of God’s saints. It was the expectation of the actual appearing of the Lord Jesus, "I go, I will come, I will receive you unto myself!"

8. Now the Thessalonian saints were in danger, like those of today, of getting their eyes off the real hope of Christ’s personal and imminent return, the hope of translation into the air, and upon conditions round about them. So Paul writes his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, upholding their faith which he established in his First Epistle. Let us quote this most important passage. "Now we beseech you brethren, in behalf of (the preposition here in the Greek means "in behalf of" not merely "concerning"-it is a plea for); the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him." (He wrote them about it in the First Epistle. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Now he would exhort them to hold fast what he wrote them in the First Epistle.) "To the end that ye be not quickly shaken from your mind" (the mind that he got them in by writing the First Epistle- 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18 -where he said, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words"). Now note 2 Thessalonians 2:2 "Be not quickly shaken from your mind" (into which my First Epistle brought you) "nor yet be troubled, either by spirit (either your own "feelings," or else an evil spirit, as in a false prophet) "or by word" (any wrong preaching or instruction) "or by epistle" (purporting to come from me) "as (teaching) that the day of the Lord is present."

Now it is not "the day of Christ" as in the old version. The Revised Version reads day of the Lord. But "is present" follows: as 1 Corinthians 3:22; Romans 8:38. That is, the great and terrible day when the Lord comes down (Revelation 19:1-21) with the armies of heaven to execute vengeance and set up His kingdom and tread His enemies under His feet. "Don’t believe," says Paul, "the day of the Lord is now present." "Let no man beguile you in any wise"- (they will try it; they are trying it now). "For that day will in no wise be" (that day of the Lord) "except the falling away come first, and the man of sin be revealed" -Antichrist. [There is a great deal of controversy over what is meant by "the falling away." The Greek phrase (apostasia) is an expression used just once in Scripture. In my judgment Church days are not meant here. In these days I know there is a great deal of falling away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1-16); and Paul writes in his last epistle, 2 Timothy 3:1-17: "The days will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine." But that is not what the Spirit of God meant by "the apostasy." The falling away is, I am perfectly convinced, described in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 and Revelation 13:1-18. It is the whole world falling clear away from God to worship the Devil,-all except the elect, who were written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. It will be the elect of that day, not the Church. For the Church has nothing to do with earth things, having been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world! God will always have His witnesses, His saints. There is coming an awful apostasy, a falling away of the human race to the god of this age. They shall worship the dragon because he will give his power to the wild-beast-Satan’s burlesque of the resurrection. There is the reversal of everything that is divine. Satan has the place of God, and the Beast is Satan’s Christ; and the False Prophet becomes an awful parody of the Holy Spirit. Now that is coming! And that, I think, is what God means by "the apostasy." Everything else is preliminary, is not the real apostasy.] against another. He pleads for the day of Christ-when we are caught up to meet Him: "Don’t let anybody move you away from that hope!" Watch for it! "We that are alive," "we that are alive," "we that are alive!" That is God’s inspiration-it is the Holy Ghost who puts that into your heart, believer! We that are alive, that are left-we shall all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. That is the hope of the Church. Paul pleads for that.

It is described by the Spirit as "our gathering together unto him," the rapture or translation into the air with which they had been told to "comfort one another." And he warns against their expecting to see the day of the Lord while on earth. Now look at that. Don’t you watch for the day of the Lord. The apostasy is coming, but "we that are alive" are looking for Christ’s coming for us. A temple of God has to be built by the returned Jewish nation, as we find elsewhere, and a great falling away from God to Satan, and the man of sin has to sit there, setting himself forth as God, before the day of the Lord, the great and terrible day, could take place. But their hope, the Church’s hope, was being caught up to be with Christ. They were not to look for the other, the day of the Lord, although they were informed of it, as Enoch was informed of the wickedness that was coming. He looked for translation; and by faith Enoch was translated!

9. We find that The Great Tribulation is not once mentioned by Paul in his epistles which govern the churches (Romans to Philemon) nor in Hebrews; nor are the saints warned of it. The last days are indeed spoken of; perilous times were plainly in Paul’s view, and the turning aside to Satan from the truth planted by him. But this brings us to emphasize again that the days of The Great Tribulation are quite another thing from a departure from the gospel of grace, or even from the inspiration of the Bible, as in modernism. If there had been the remotest possibility that the Church would see those wrath-outpourings, Paul would have warned them of it. But he speaks in exactly the opposite way. See his words to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:32, "chastened of the Lord that they might not be condemned with the world."

10. The 70th week of Daniel, lasting seven years, has two halves, in neither of which the Church can be on earth. There is no other place The Tribulation can come but in the 70th week of Daniel 9:27. Careful students of the Scripture -are agreed about that. In this prophecy of Daniel we read that in the middle of that week, when three and one-half years are up, he (that is, that "prince," that last prince of the Roman Empire) "will cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." He will stop the Jewish worship like Antiochus Epiphanes, his famous prototype of the time of the Greek reign of the Seleu-cidae, in the second Century before Christ (Daniel 11:29-30; Daniel 1:1-21 Maccabees). This Antichrist, this last prince, however, will come and place himself there in the Jewish temple that they are going to build. Antiochus Epiphanes, in his rage because Rome turned him back from conquering Egypt, came to Jerusalem and "did his pleasure." He sacrificed a sow and strewed its broth in the Holy of Holies of their temple. Now this last Roman "prince" will do worse than defile. He will set himself forth there as God: and this is the thing that will make Israel desolate-"the abomination that maketh desolate." The word "abomination" in Scripture is God’s word for a pagan god, or for a demon that is worshipped. There was the "abomination" Ashtoreth, of the Sidonians; and Chemosh, the "abomination" of the Moabites, and Molech, the "abomination" of Ammon. God calls these various heathen gods abominations. Now there is an abomination-thing to sit "where he ought not." When therefore ye shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet," (Matthew 24:1-51) sitting in a place he ought not, then let the remnant (of Israel) flee: Let him that is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in his house. For God will have given matters over to the enemy for the "hour," as He did in Gethsemane (Luke 22:53). There is coming this 70th week of Daniel, in the middle of which it was prophesied by Daniel and by our Lord Jesus Christ, that the Antichrist would thus take charge of things. Now I said that neither in the first half of this week of seven years, nor in the last half could the Church be here. Why?

11. In Revelation 11:1-19 we see the first half of this 70th week. You will remember from your study of The Revelation that we come to Jewish things in chapter 11. John has to "prophesy again," and the scene is Jerusalem of the last days: "Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. And the court which is without the temple leave without, and measure it not; for it hath been given unto the nations: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." This refers to the last half of the seven years. The next verse refers to the first half, "And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." Now 1260 days are three and one-half years exactly. Well, you say, it may be the same time as the other in the preceding verse. Come to chapter 13 and read of the last emperor, the Wild-Beast, the Antichrist. You will find he "prospers and does his pleasure" for forty-two months, but it is during the second, not the first half of the seven years. I cannot believe that his way is open, until the "two witnesses" are out of the way. He does not fully get his "hour," with his ten kings, until then (Revelation 17:12).

During the first half, Revelation 11:1-19, God’s "two witnesses," clothed in sackcloth and operating at Jerusalem, preclude the possibility of the Church’s presence and testimony on earth. How? First, the whole earth becomes subject to a testimony which is not the gospel, not "the ministry of reconciliation"; and subject to two persons who are not of the Church. Here we have two witnesses that are of God, of course, but not preaching the gospel, nor grace, as does the Church. "And they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." This is Old Testament ground. Let us quote their description and see.

These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth. And if man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed. These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire.

I said that the whole earth becomes subject, under these two witnesses, to a testimony which is not the gospel. You cannot change the gospel ministry-it is "God so loved the world," "whosoever will." You cannot change that; you cannot mix it up. If the Church is here she must preach the gospel and that only. She must preach the gospel of grace. For the Church to leave the gospel of grace, salvation to poor sinners, and turn to anything else is to desert her commission. Any preacher who leaves this and turns for example to prophecy only, or to any other "specialty," dries up. The Church of God has a commission to go forth to every part of the earth, preaching the gospel to every creature. You cannot change that commission. Just because you find certain "saints" in the tribulation-time, do not imagine they must be the Church of God. That is to have the same kind of a veil about you that some folks have about the law of Moses. Because, for instance, God gave the Jews a seventh day sabbath such people must turn the first day of the week into a Jewish sabbath! But we cannot change the true interpretation of Scripture. We will not listen to those who would plunge the Church of God into a place where it cannot be scripturally!

The whole earth, I repeat, becomes subject to a testimony which is not the gospel, and to two persons who are not of the Church. The present days of "no difference" between Jew and Gentile in God’s sight, are past at that time, for the testimony has reverted to Jerusalem and the prophets are of the Old Testament. And they deal with a nation which does not even know Jehovah their God, but speak of Him as the "God of heaven" (Revelation 11:13). They do not even know Jehovah any more. And they (these prophets) are clothed in sackcloth-a wholly Jewish, Old Testament attitude. Personally, I believe Elijah is one of them. The Lord Jesus said, as also Malachi, that Elijah would return to Israel before the "great and terrible day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:11).

Further, they "smite the earth with every plague as often as they shall desire." Here we have grace ended and judgment beginning. The attention of the whole earth is wholly taken up by these "two witnesses," and consequently there is no place nor time for the Church or for a grace testimony. Really, Church saints present there would hinder God. God wants the whole earth then to listen to these witnesses at Jerusalem. Try to imagine how it will be! All the telegraph wires and radios fairly humming with news about these two terrible prophets that cannot be killed-no man can destroy them. They send out fire from their mouths upon any one who wants to kill them, and such persons shall die. They have (so the news will go) smitten this nation, that nation, from afar off, with plagues, shutting up the heaven that it does not rain, turning the water into blood. I’d like to know how you would have got along with the gospel down in Egypt when Moses was swinging out his rod over the Nile and turning it into blood, or when the frogs were hopping out. No place for the gospel there! God was doing something else down in old Egypt, and as God dealt with Egypt so God is going to deal with this whole world. And for people to say the Church is there is sad blindness. It’s a lack of discernment of the purposes of God, of His grace, or of the position of the Church of God. God does not mix things. If God has "two witnesses" there clothed in sackcloth, and the whole world subject to them, and they smiting the earth with every plague as often as they desire, where is there place for "Whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely?" That is over-something else is on. God is laying the foundation at Jerusalem in "the remnant" of fear of Jehovah again. We must remember that God has a deep and solemn work to do in the Jewish nation, ere He can take Israel’s side against the nations (as He will do when He comes to earth: see Zechariah 12:14). This nation Israel has lost the fear of God and given itself up to covetousness and to idolatry. Now God is going to take Israel’s part as He did in Egypt against Pharaoh. Terrible plagues are about to fall on the whole earth; but judgment is beginning with God’s people Israel. The "sinners in Zion will be afraid" at that time!

You remember that these two prophets of God are killed by the Wild-Beast, and through three and one-half days their bodies lie there unburied "in the street of the great city," and all nations come to celebrate this awful thing! The Lord’s "two witnesses" are slain at "Jerusalem that killeth the prophets."

And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies three days and a half, and suffer not their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And they that dwell on the earth rejoice over them and make merry; and they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth (Revelation 11:1-19).

Where are the churches? They are not there! The people are occupied with something entirely different. "And they shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth." The whole earth was in their hands for judging and tormenting. Where is the ministry of reconciliation in that day? Where are the ambassadors that were formerly pleading in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God? That day is gone! People with discernment see that. God is doing something else then: judgment is on. And Israel and the nations are involved in it-not the Church!

And after the three days and a half the breath of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that beheld them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them.

Praise God, heaven can take folks up that the earth cannot stand! "And they went up into heaven in the cloud; and their enemies beheld them"-the whole earth at public enmity with God! The Church of God has gone away. Evil is now unrestrained.

And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell; and there were killed in the earthquake seven thousand persons; and the rest were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.

No, as I said, Israel of that day do not yet know Him as "Jehovah their God." The Jewish nation does not know Him today. "They gave glory to the God of heaven." That is His name outside of Jerusalem, in Persia or in Babylon. See Daniel and Nehemiah 11:1-36. Now let us look at another passage describing the second, or last half of Daniel’s 70th "week." Turn to Isaiah 60:2: "Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples." Now the expression "gross darkness" is God’s term for judicial blindness. Darkness, in a certain way, covers the earth now; even in "Christendom." Not "gross darkness," however, as in this verse. See Jeremiah 13:15, where God describes vividly this expression "gross darkness": "Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud; for Jehovah hath spoken." Jeremiah is pleading with the nation of Israel who are sinning away their day of grace. "Give glory to Jehovah your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the mountains of twilight. And, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." "Gross darkness," therefore, in the Hebrew, is God’s description of a state of things when there is no light left. Judicially God has withdrawn the light. "Behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples." It will be a spiritual darkness like the physical darkness of the ninth plague in Egypt; "thick darkness that may be felt" (Exodus 10:21). People forget that. They think the Church will be there; but that is because of their thoughtlessness. And I want to tell you something about those who say that. They very soon begin to minify God’s great future purposes about Israel. They begin to grow blind to the power and vision of the Old Testament concerning the coming kingdom; and they lose sight of the Church’s distinct and separate calling-distinct from Israel and all earthly things. God will still deal with Israel. God says if the order of the heavens can be changed, then His purposes concerning Israel "from being a nation before him forever" can be changed. God says He is going to make a covenant with them in the future and you have to believe that. And Israel means Israel, and Jerusalem means Jerusalem. When God’s light "ariseth" after that "gross darkness" it will be on His earthly people. (Read Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1.)

In Isaiah 60:1 we read: "Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee:" This is a prophetic message about Jerusalem, beyond The Great Tribulation, when the Lord Jesus comes back. The glory of Jehovah will rise upon Israel: "For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will arise upon thee (Jerusalem) and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Those that have read prophecy with the Spirit of God, know of what I am speaking. Oh, the awful darkness that is coming! People forget that; they think The Tribulation is just the wilful career of the last Roman emperor. Alas, far more, it’s God-given judicial blindness! "Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples." There is no way of escaping this. The Church is gone, or gross darkness would not, could not, be written of the world! As long as the Church of God is here you cannot write those words "gross darkness covers the peoples." God said to Lot, "Haste thee, for I cannot do anything till thou be removed." Nothing in the way of judgment. Abraham said to Jehovah, "Wilt thou slay the righteous with the wicked? Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Earth will be given up to believe the lie (for the definite article is before it) (2 Thessalonians 2:1-17). There is no place for the "ministry of reconciliation" then whatsoever! The earth turns to Devil-worship and knows it. Our Lord said, "When the Son of man cometh" (as Son of man, note, by which name He is coming back to reign on earth) "shall he find faith on the earth?" And you cannot answer that by any other answer than "No." You say, do you mean to teach that there will be no one on earth when He comes back as the Son of man, who has faith? I mean exactly that. Israel, the remnant of Israel-God must pour upon them the spirit of grace and supplication ere they "look unto him whom they pierced." They must see Christ. They must look on Him. "They shall see the sign of the Son of man in heaven." Christ has said, "When the Son of man comes (as the Son of man) will he find faith?" No. He will find those that are going to have faith, but they have to see first like Thomas. What an awful state, and what a terrible thing for people to be teaching that the Church is going to be here when God says there will not be faith.

12. We know certain things have to take place at Christ’s coming. There is the rapture, the translation of the saints, the judgment-seat of Christ when each saint comes before the Lord to have his works examined and to be rewarded. And afterwards comes the presentation of the Church to Himself, "a glorious church not having spot or wrinkle." Then comes the marriage in heaven of Revelation 19:1-21. That all takes time. And yet these folks would have us believe that that is all just an instant’s work at the second coming! But from the time He comes for the Church in the air, has them all judged there for their works, gives them their rewards, and then presents them to Himself in that wonderful day of the marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:1-21), until He comes on down with them and the armies of heaven, God gives us no dates whatsoever. But Scripture shows there will be at least seven years between His coming for His Church and His coming with them. Because, as we saw in Revelation 11:1-19, the two witnesses fill the first half, and the Wild-Beast the latter half of the closing seven years of "Gentile times"; and in neither half are the Church and the Gospel of Grace possible! [The Lord says in Matthew 24:29 that "immediately" after the tribulation the sun should be darkened, and He would come in glory. But at the close of the 1260 days of the "two witnesses," other things entirely happen!]

13. Now, again, let me ask a few questions. Why should a heavenly company, already made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, be asked to "await their Lord from heaven," unless His imminent coming be really their hope?

Again, what spiritual result is secured by giving up the hope of the imminent return of the Lord? Are those who give up this doctrine the more stable and steadfast for it? Are they more filled with the Spirit?

Does the doctrine of the Church going through the tribulation give joy? God’s word says, "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." A dear friend of mine said publicly to me many years ago that he had abandoned the hope of the imminent coming of the Lord. I went to see him the next day and talked earnestly for hours with him. I finally said, "Mr.-, how did you come to give this hope up?" He told me that he had promised a friend to re-examine the Scriptures in the light of certain arguments against Christ’s imminent coming for the whole Church. "I read the New Testament from the viewpoint of those arguments" he said, "and one day I got down on my knees in my own parlor, weeping bitter tears, and gave up a hope that had been very dear to me." I said, "Mr-, do you expect me to give it up because you did? God gave me this same vivid hope years ago, and it was more wonderful than the experience of my conversion by far, and I cannot give it up." A friend told me recently that when she believed in a partial rapture she actually hoped to die, so as to "depart and be with Christ," and be safe. Legalism is at the bottom of all this post-tribulation talk.

Again-is zeal for souls increased by giving up the imminent hope of the Lord’s coming? In a trip around the world I found the most earnest missionaries were expecting Christ vividly, and not looking to go through the tribulation. The most earnest seekers of souls I know are those that believe that Christ may come for His Church at any time.

Again-why do the post-tribulationists keep claiming that men who held Christ’s imminent coming while on earth, made some statement to them, "just before death," declaring the opposite?

Robert Cameron, of Watchword and Truth, whose later life was largely a proselyting campaign for post-tribulationism, used to claim that Dr. Brookes, of St. Louis, had given up this hope "before he died, in an interview with him!" But both the last books and the later associates of Dr. Brookes deny this. Others claimed that Prof. W. G. Moorehead gave it up, etc., etc. Someone told me that R. A. Torrey weakened. I challenged him. He could produce no proof whatever! Mrs. Torrey, when told that a Canadian magazine had claimed that her husband had given up the hope of Christ’s imminent coming for the whole Church, was much distressed, and wrote the editor to publish her denial of such a false report. (Which request that journal has never granted. Why?) A certain church paper published a letter from a western woman saying, "Poor old Blackstone, who wrote ‘Jesus Is Coming!’-he has got to be over ninety and he is still holding on to the same old ideas." Well, praise the Lord! She claimed that Dr. Scofield, "if he could only come back would be one of the first to revise all his ideas." When alive, did Dr. Scofield have to resort to a woman to prove Scripture to him? Nor could he be so faithless to the vision God had given him as to "revise his ideas."

Again-why do people claim to be teaching the truth when they are dividing the saints? The post-tribulation- ists are propagandists that are not publishing the glad tidings of Christ’s second coming. They are seeking to turn away those who have received these tidings as the great hope of their life, to their theory concerning it.

Again-who have been the teachers and preachers of Christ’s imminent coming? We have such men as John Darby, who was probably the greatest interpreter of Scripture since Paul, with such early Brethren as C. H. Mackintosh, J. G. Bellett, Wm. Kelly, and the rest, a marvelous coterie. Then you have C. H. Spurgeon. It is idle to claim that he was not looking for Christ’s coming. He split no hairs such as the post-tribulationists do, but boldly and constantly proclaimed the second coming of Christ as an actual and a daily possibility. D. L. Moody was a wonderful witness to any truth God revealed to him; and his sermon on "The Second Coming of Christ" is a classic. He was looking for the Lord’s coming. George C. Needham, beloved Irishman; Wm. E. Black-stone, whose life has been to look for his Lord; James H. Brookes, a mighty warrior, now with the Lord; A. B. Simpson, of whom Moody said, "Everything he says reaches my heart." All these were looking for Christ’s appearing. It was the hope of their lives. H. M. Parsons, of Toronto, now with Christ; and Dr. Weston, yet in Toronto, faithful witnesses alike. Grand old I. M. Haldeman, of New York, as well as J. Wilbur Chapman, now with Christ. A. T. Pierson, of wonderful penetration in the meaning of Scripture; A. J. Gordon; George E. Guille lately among us, now with Christ, devoted, gentle, sane, yet a contender for Christ’s imminent coming; our Brother Ironside, whose praise is among the real churches of Christ; Lewis Sperry Chafer at Dallas; A. C. Gaebelein, of New York, Editor of Our Hope, perhaps the most persistent, faithful witness for over fifty years to the imminent return of our Lord for all His saints, that the Church has had in America.

To these names should be added that of James M. Gray, late President of the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago and Editor of the Moody Institute Monthly. In the pages of the latter, Dr. Gray has often borne witness to the teaching of Holy Scripture that the translation of the Church which is the body of Christ shall precede the tribulation. See particularly the issue of August, 1931, page 583. See also his books, Prophecy and the Lord’s Return, My Faith in Jesus Christ, The Teaching and Preaching That Counts, and chapter 10 of Bible Problems Explained.

Then there are the godly (and there are many) among the Holiness people, and also the Pentecostal people, those who seek to live a life of prayer and praise continually. Where do you find such saints aligned? They are all looking for the blessed hope; and they believe it can be in their day or they would not be looking for it. Where can the post-tribulationists find such witnesses as these? It has cost very much along every line of sacrifice for these witnesses to hold fast the imminent hope of Christ’s coming, and along with it the infinitely precious doctrines of grace (for the two go always together).

Then there are a host of faithful witnesses to Christ’s imminent coming, in Great Britain, Scandinavia, the mission fields, and Australasia.

Mr. George H. Pember of England (now with Christ) was one of the most honest men in writing that I have ever read, as well as a very able man, author of several books. But Mr. Pember was forced by the logic of his position to claim that the Body of Christ was not the whole Church at all, but just certain surrendered folks! And that arouses the query in our minds, What people have been surrendered enough to be in the Body of Christ? And, who is going to settle it? As we have said, the Corinthians were the Body of Christ, and they were carnal Christians. Mr. Pember gives a little over half a page of one large book to the whole subject of divine sovereign election, and claims that it does not concern salvation at all! Well, brethren, you cannot be rid of Spurgeon, Darby, Edwards, Calvin, Luther, Augustine, or Paul, as easily as that!

14. The final and unanswerable argument that the Church cannot be in The Great Tribulation is revealed in our Lord’s own outline of The Revelation: Chapter 1:19. Here we have: First, "The things which thou sawest," (the vision of Christ among the churches in chapter 1). Second, "The things which are," (the letters to the seven churches with their plain outline of the Church’s history in chapters 2 and 3). Third, "The things which shall come to pass after these things," (the rest of Revelation, from chapter 4, onward).

In both the King James and Revised Versions an utterly inadequate translation is given of the last phrase of this divine outline. The Greek expression is meta tauta. "Meta" is a Greek preposition meaning "after"; "tauta" is a neuter plural pronoun meaning "these," or "these things." To translate this phrase "meta tauta" by the adverb "hereafter" is not to translate it at all! That is shown in chapter 4:1, where this remarkable phrase meta tauta both opens and closes the verse-a remarkable thing! [Liddell and Scott say meta with the accusative of place signifies "after, or next after;" and of Time, "after, next to;" and of Rank, "next to, next after." Winer (the dean of Greek grammarians, says meta with the accusative signifies after in regard to time, and is the opposite to pro, "before."

Thayer wholly agrees: "Meta with the accusative denotes sequence, i.e. the order in which one thing follows another; a. in order of Place-after, behind; b. in order of Time-after." Thus among some thirty instances of the phrase meta-tauta which he adduces, see examples in Luke 17:8; Acts 7:7; John 5:1; and then all the occurrences in The John 5:1; Revelation 4:1 (2); Revelation 7:9; Revelation 9:12; Revelation 15:5; Revelation 18:1; Revelation 19:1; Revelation 20:3.]

Let us read this verse:

"After these things (meta tauta) I saw, and behold, a door opened in heaven, and the first voice that I heard, as of a trumpet speaking with me, one saying, Come up hither, and I will show thee the things which must come to pass after these things" (meta tauta),-that is, after Church things.

a. No one would dream of translating meta tauta at the beginning of this remarkable verse by "hereafter." It would make no manner of sense. We must translate it, "after these things I saw."

b. But the use by the Spirit of God of this same phrase at the end of this verse compels us to believe that the things set forth after 4:1 happened just as really after the things of the preceding chapter as the vision of 4:1 happened after those of chapters 1, 2 and 3.

The messages to the seven churches have been formally and fully closed at the end of chapter 3 and what follows these Church things is given from chapter 4, onward.

Indeed, as all commentators have recognized, we have in Revelation 1:19, a three-fold division answering to the past, present, and future; and, as Govett remarks, "The last division of the Book begins on the completion of the first two, and not till then."

But we find The Great Tribulation not in the first three chapters, but beginning in Chapter 13:1. Now the Lord said this would occur after the things of chapters 1-3.

We repeat finally that a weak grasp of the real character and scope of divine grace; failure or refusal to accept Paul as the revelator to the Church of God; and consequently dimness of view of the character, security and coming glory of the whole Church, and a lingering legalism that does not perceive that our Lord in the sermon on the mount was speaking as the Great Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:1-22, backing up Moses, and speaking to Israel, just as really as Moses on Sinai did, and not to the Church of God at all, which was yet future (Matthew 16:1-28):-I say, all these elements enter into the deadly untruth that the saints of the Church are subject, any of them, to the wrath-time of The Tribulation.

Let the members of the Body of Christ remember that they are one with their Head, that judgment is past and only glory is beyond. That, however much men may distress them (for "in the world ye shall have tribulation,") The Great Tribulation, the "time of temptation that is to come upon the whole world" shall not touch them! "Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial that is to come upon the whole earth to try them that dwell upon the earth."

Let us beware of confusing the Bema, or "judgment-seat of Christ" after the Church is caught up, with divine judgment for guilt, as such. Christ bare our sins on the cross, with their entire guilt, and put it all away forever. "To them that wait for him (all His Church) he will appear a second time, APART FROM SIN, unto SALVATION." Remember, "They that are CHRIST’S, at His Coming."

15. Another proof the Church cannot be on the earth during the last half of Daniel’s 70th week-the Great Tribulation, is seen in the character of our warfare. "We wrestle against the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). But Satan and his whole host are cast altogether out of heaven, in Revelation 12:1-17,-before the beginning of the Great Tribulation! Then warfare in the "heavenly places" will be closed. The Church of necessity will have been removed from the warrior scene. Then earthly conflict,-"the time of Jacob’s trouble," will begin (Jeremiah 30:7).

It must be most carefully noted that that warfare, which Church-saints carry on now in "the heavenlies" against Satan and his host, is transferred to Michael and his angels, in Revelation 12:1-17! And the result of the expulsion of Satan and his angels from heaven is announced in the words: "Neither was their place found any more in heaven — he was cast down to earth, and his angels were cast down with him"

Note now the facts that make it impossible that the Church should be on earth after Satan is cast down:

1. The "Great voice in heaven" of Revelation 12:10 proclaims a new state of things, essentially opposite to the present time: the salvation, power and kingdom of God COMES: with the authority of His Christ in execution, as not before. While the Church was on earth "wrestling" with the "principalities and powers in the heavenlies," she suffered with Christ, but Christ now speaks with a "Get thee hence, Satan!" that banishes him utterly from all heavenly position whatever!

2. The accusations before God of Satan are thus ended. That peculiar position of "Accuser," which is so fully shown in our Lord’s words to Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan obtained you (plural, all of them!) to sift you as wheat; but I made supplication for thee (so in danger from self-confidence) that thy faith fail not,"- is now over. When Satan is "cast down," all his accusing work is past, thank God! while the saints, whom he "accused before God," are found in the heavens, from which he has been cast out.

3. The "heavens" are called to "rejoice" (12:12)- and those who "are tabernacling in them." (Compare "the camp of the saints" (20:9). These are evidently, it seems to us, the Church saints, and all the saints who have "overcome Satan" because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony,-loving not their lives even to the death."

4. The object of Satan’s rage when cast down is,-not the Church, but "the Woman that brought forth the Man-Child,"-that is, Israel, which, after the Rapture, represents God on earth. The Church, being heavenly in calling and destiny, has disappeared from the scene! Otherwise she, being "the fulness" of Christ Himself, because His very Body (Ephesians 2:22-22) would be more the object of Satan’s attack than Israel: because Satan is more jealous of her! But she is above,-in the heavenlies, where Satan’s place is no more found! [If it be objected that we ourselves are now on earth, and yet carry on a warfare "in the heavenlies," and that therefore Satan can carry on such a conflict, even after being "cast down to earth"; the answer is simple: the saints are in Christ, they share His risen life, and their walk and warfare is by the indwelling Spirit "sent down from heaven,"-so that they are constantly and actually connected with heaven, in a Risen Christ!

Satan has no such connection,-no connection whatever with heaven, when once he is castout of it. He is as much an "earthly" power as any earthly monarch. Having, indeed, still a spirit’s ability to "walk up and down the Earth (Job 1:1-22), and terrible power and energy,-yet he is no longer capable of heavenly warfare. This is evident at once in his impotence in Revelation 19:19-21; Revelation 20:1-3; where his false Christ and his armies gather "to make war" against Him that sits on the white horse, but make no war at all! They are at once "taken," and cast into the lake of fire, with no power of battle at all! And Satan himself makes no fight with angelic power, as before in heaven, but is "bound," and "cast into the abyss!" (Revelation 20:1-3).]

Verses 1-20

Chapter 1: Opening Message- Revelation 1:1-20

The Revelation of Jesus Christ: which God gave Him. This expression is the true title to the book. It is a communication or unfolding of the details of future things by our Lord Jesus Christ. These opening statements are startling: (1) God gave Jesus Christ this apocalypse, or "revelation." (2) It was that He might show it unto His servants (literally bondservants). (3) Jesus Christ communicated it "by his angel." (4) It was "His servant John" to whom it was communicated (5) John faithfully "bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw."

We have, first, God; then Jesus Christ; then, His angel; then, His servant John, and finally Christ's servants,-to whom the Revelation comes. Furthermore, we note that John bears witness to two things:

(1) "the word of God," and (2) "the testimony of Jesus Christ." "The word of God" is evidently God's word to Christ in which He communicated to Him this apocalypse, or revelation; and "the testimony of Jesus Christ" is our Lord's faithful communication of what God gave Him to tell us.

First, there can be no doubt, that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Father, in Hebrews 1:8, addresses Him as God, saying, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." Our Lord claimed worship, and plainly says that "all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father" (John 5:23). And in a comparison of Revelation 1:8 with Revelation 22:13, all doubt vanishes.

But, secondly, we must remember and believe Christ's own words in Matthew 24:36 : "Of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only." Compare Mark 13:32, and also His parting words after the resurrection, in Acts 1:7, "It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority."[ This word authority (often translated "power" in the old version) it the Greek word exousia, used first in Matthew 7:29, "He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes"; again, Matthew 21:23, "By what authority doest thou these things?" and again, Matthew 28:18, "All authority is given unto me," etc. It is used 21 times in The Revelation, its last occurrence being in Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right (exousia) to come to the tree of life," etc. "Power (exousia) means authority to do a thing" (Liddell and Scott). That seems to me to be the primary meaning of this word in Scripture.]

Again, in Hebrews 10:12-13, "He … sat down on the right hand of God, henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet." The word here used means, "to await from the hand of another." Taken in connection with the preceding verses, it indicates a state of constant expectancy: certain of the event, but leaving the time in the hands of the Father. When our Lord came to earth, we read (Philippians 2:7) He "emptied himself." He left His glory, His wisdom, and His power, absolutely in the hands of the Father. This did not subtract an iota from His Deity, but placed Him where He could say to the Father (Psalms 22:9-10), "Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother's breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb." So He spoke on earth, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing." Now, of course, our Lord has entered into His glory, and all authority has been committed unto Him in heaven and on earth.

Nevertheless, these plain words are before us as we enter upon The Revelation: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him." This revelation must have been communicated to Him after His ascension to heaven, by the Father who has "set within his own authority" times and seasons. We believe:

1. That the times and seasons are yet within the Father's authority-of course by the glad consent of the Song of Solomon 2:1-17. That the book of The Revelation contains the details of the carrying out of the divine decree that all Christ's enemies should be put under His feet-all things, save the Father, subjected unto Him (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

2. That the Father has not revealed "the day and the hour," so that we are waiting and watching and expecting, along with our Lord, the Father's giving Him His Kingdom, which He "went into a far country, to receive … and to return" (Luke 19:12).

Our Lord said in Gethsemane, "Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matthew 26:53-54). He left it to the Father to grant Him, as He pleased, weakness, shame and suffering, or resurrection, power, and glory. And this was perfect obedience!

Christ will, of course, occupy the eternal throne, for He is God, yet it will be "the Throne of God and of the Lamb," an infinitely beautiful and gracious arrangement. For our Lord will not retire from us into the Godhead, although He is and will continue to be, "God blessed forever": but He will be a man, and as such will reign on "the Throne of God and of the Lamb" forever!

To show unto his servants (literally bondservants). This revelation is written not exclusively to the Church, but to all willing subjects of Christ. This will include the spared remnant of Israel, also those among the nations that attach themselves to them in the awful time of trouble; in fact, all companies of God's saints. Although written "for the churches" (Revelation 22:16), the book of The Revelation is not addressed to the Church, the assembly of God, the Body of Christ, as such, as are Paul's Epistles. The Revelation is a prophecy, testified to the churches, for their information as to "the things that are to come," and for warning and correction.

No wonder, then, that those not subject to Christ should find difficulty with the book of The Revelation! It is a remarkable fact, that although our Lord Jesus said in the upper room, "No longer do I call you servants; … but I have called you friends"; and although Paul tells the church saints, in Galatians 4:7, "Ye are no longer bondservants, but full-age sons:"-nevertheless all the apostles in their writings call themselves bondservants of Jesus Christ! If we are having difficulty with this blessed closing book of God's holy Word, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ as His servants. The book was written to bondservants.

The things which must shortly come to pass. "The things,"-this is definite. It describes events. Do not then look for vague "symbols." "Must come to pass"- here is certainty, necessity. Man dreams of "development," "progress," "achievement." God says, "The rulers of this world are coming to nought" (1 Corinthians 2:6). Believe God; doubt man. Satan is the prince of this world and the God of this age. He deceiveth the whole world. Let us not be deceived. The things we are about to study in The Revelation "must come to pass," and, "shortly."

"Shortly" surely indicates imminence. We have the same Greek expression in Romans 16:20, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Greek: en tachei). He is not yet bruised, but we are expecting it! The same phrase is used in Revelation 22:6, "The things which must shortly come to pass." This shuts out the "historical" interpretation of the book,-that is, making the seals, trumpets, vials, etc., apply to the events of the past church centuries. In fact, the strictly prophetic part of The Revelation does not begin till the churches are out of the scene,-that is, after chapter 4. I firmly believe that unless we reject utterly the idea that this part of The Revelation has been "gradually fulfilling itself" in the present age, we shall miss the meaning of the book. Remember Paul's explanation of the doctrine of the Jewish remnant in Romans 9:27-28, "The Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short." The present dispensation must not in any sense be confused with God's future dealing with the Jewish remnant after the true Church has been taken to heaven. Strictly speaking, the true Church has nothing to do with the present age, any more than it has to do with this world. Judgment for her is past; her citizenship is in heaven; she is one with Christ; she is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and may be caught up at any moment. Although she is informed in Revelation about "the things which must shortly come to pass" on earth, she will not be in them; even as Enoch was taught of the Lord's coming and judgment (Judges 1:14), but yet was not to pass through it; and as Abraham was taught concerning the destruction of Sodom, while he himself dwelt on the mountain away from the place of judgment.

It is absolutely necessary for us to distinguish, as members of the Body of Christ, between what is said about us (in the epistles), and what is told to us, as friends, by our Lord, in The Revelation.

"Shortly," moreover, not only means imminency, but also rapidity of execution when action once begins. "Things which in their entirety must soon come to pass"-in God's speedy time, although He seems to delay; for the same Greek expression is translated "speedily" in Luke 18:7-8.

He sent and signified (them) by his angel unto his servant John; who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw. The manner of the communication of The Revelation to John by Jesus Christ is remarkable. He "sent and signified by his angel."[ Many other angels are seen besides this revealing one whom our Lord calls "mine angel": the whole "innumerable company" in Revelation 5:11 and Revelation 7:11; four in Revelation 7:1; "another," Revelation 7:2; the seven trumpet angels in Revelation 8:2; "another" in Revelation 8:3; "another strong angel," Revelation 10:1; six successive special angels in chapter 14; seven angels with the seven last plagues, chapters 15, 16; another heralding Babylon's final destruction in Revelation 18:1-3; the "strong angel" who illustrates that destruction, Revelation 18:21; the "angel standing in the sun," who invites the birds to Armageddon, Revelation 19:17; the angel that binds Satan, Revelation 20:1-3; and the scene of Revelation 21:9.] This angelic agency of course does not refer to the title and introduction (Revelation 1:1-8); nor to the great personal vision of Christ (Revelation 1:9-20); nor to the messages to the seven churches (chapters 2, 3). Also the thrice repeated "I come quickly," and the "I Jesus have sent mine angel," are spoken directly by the Lord. Indeed Revelation 22:6-10, and again 10-20 may well have been spoken by the Lord Himself; while the closing verse, like the opening of the book, is the Spirit-inspired utterance of the apostle. Like Revelation 1:4-7 it is more apostolic than seer-like in form, and so, more intimate to our hearts.

The manner of angelic communication to John, like other phases of inspiration, is beyond our faculties. Much, indeed, like John, Daniel "heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision" (Daniel 8:16).

The Revelation concerning, as it does, governmental matters on earth, which are in angelic hands until the Millennium, is committed largely to direct angelic ministry.

John speaks of "all things that he saw." Speculation upon inspiration is vain. God tells us it was "in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1). John, in The Revelation writes much as Daniel wrote. Both deal with God's government of this world. We may know the whole is authoritative. We shall find here "what the Spirit saith to the churches," and also the awful tribulation time itself, the Holy Spirit reminding us by His especial witness, that all is taking place according to God (Revelation 14:13); and, at the end, Jesus Himself speaking, attesting all (Revelation 22:16), although it had been testified by His angel: "I Jesus have sent mine angel."

Blessed is he that readeth. This is directly contrary to the attitude toward The Revelation which very many Christians have. A special blessing is pronounced on the readers of this book, also on they that hear the words of the prophecy. Living oracles give and support life (John 6:63). Note that it is the words that are to be read and heard. God is especially particular concerning this one prophetic book of the New Testament, as we shall note at its close (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:9, Revelation 22:10, Revelation 22:18, Revelation 22:19). Doubtless the public reading and hearing of this book of The Revelation to the assembled saints is especially in view. "Give heed to reading," is Paul's command to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:13); and this was public reading. It ought to be practiced everywhere. [Dean Alford, himself an English churchman, says: "If the words are to be understood as above, they form at least a solemn rebuke to the practice of the Church of England, which omits with one or two exceptions the whole of this book from her public reading. Not one word of the precious messages of the Spirit to the churches is ever heard in the public service of a church never weary of appealing to her scriptural liturgies. Surely it is high time that such an omission should be supplied."]

And keep the things that are written therein. Now the sense of the word "keep" is its primary one of "watching over," "guarding as a treasure," as well as its secondary one, "to give heed to." We cannot "keep" a prophecy as men might "observe" a law. The prophecy will be fulfilled, whether we pay attention to it or not. But there is divine blessing if we give heed to it and jealously guard its very words!

For the time is at hand. No dates are set for this "time of patient grace," this "day of salvation," the "acceptable year of the Lord," in which the Church finds herself. And although from Revelation 4:1-11 onward, the Church is to be on high, we must remember that the whole book of The Revelation is included by our Lord in Revelation 22:16 : "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches." "The time is at hand" should be in the heart of every believer, every day! "Prophecy annihilates time, and all intervening and even opposing circumstances, and sets one down on the threshold of accomplishment," (W. Scott). The first use of the Greek word translated "at hand" should instruct us. Compare Matthew 24:32-33, "nigh," "near." The words are repeated in Revelation 22:10, which see. In John 11:54-55 you have "near," of place; and "at hand," of time; and note in this latter verse that the Jews were getting ready for the event! Despite all the arguments of those who have said, "My Lord delayeth his coming," the only attitude of obedience is, to "watch": for we know not the day nor the hour! They are no friends, but deadly foes, who put this and that "event" between the believer and his Lord's coming.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace. First, regarding the writer of this book: it was John, the beloved disciple. There is no real doubt that John the apostle was the writer.

Fausset well says, "John-the apostle: for none but he (supposing the writer an honest man), would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole survivor and representative of the apostles, and eye witness of the Lord, he needed no designation but his name, to be recognized by his readers."

John writes as a Seer more than as an Apostle in Revelation. There is no speaking with personal apostolic authority (except in this salutation of Revelation 1:4-7; and the benediction of Revelation 22:21) as Paul in his epistles, and Peter, and John himself elsewhere. Instead of speaking authoritatively in the Spirit, we find John falling at the feet of the glorified Son of God in this chapter. He is hearing His voice as Judge, and seeing visions of Him as such, for the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, whether it be in the present house of God on earth, the churches; or toward the elect nation, Israel; or toward the earth's peoples and nations. John in The Revelation is merely the writer. Twelve times in this book he is told to write. Therefore we need to give the more earnest heed to The Revelation. There are those who seek to evade (to their own sorrow) the authority with which Paul was invested. But there is no way of evading the direct words and actions of the divinely-appointed Judge, Christ Himself, here at the end of God's Book.

The "seven churches" indicate representative assemblies, both as to history, and as to spiritual state. Other important assemblies (like the Colossians within a few miles of Philadelphia and Laodicea), are not mentioned, although doubtless John was familiar with all of them and had labored among them. Let us, therefore, at once take these seven churches as representing all the assemblies of the Church's history; even as Paul writes to seven cities of the Church's calling (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians). [The teaching of some that the seven churches of Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22 represent Jewish assemblies in tribulation times arises from Satanic delusion. It is always coupled with other fantastic and heretical dispensational doctrines (as Bullingerism with subtle denial of eternity of punishment). Govett well says, "These seven churches were prophetic of the things which ARE, not of the things that were to be."]

Note the blessed announcement to us, "Grace … and peace." As our Lord so lovingly speaks at the close (Revelation 22:16), "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches." Let us see that we keep the sweet taste of grace and peace as we read of the bitter things that are coming upon the earth. If at any point throughout the terrible things which you read in these Revelation chapters, you cannot stop and look up with perfect confidence saying, "I am under grace, and God has announced peace to me," then you are falling into unbelief. Flee to the eighth of Romans, and to the second of Ephesians, where you belong! Your Lord will have His servant John write many things for you which are not about you. Paul is your apostle. Any of you who are believers are not appointed unto wrath-any kind or degree of wrath. Israel and the nations will experience wrath; but you, who are in Christ, are already glorified (Romans 8:29-30)!

From him who is and who was and who is to come. This is the Eternal One, the self-existent Source of all being, and the One to whom all moral beings are responsible. How different this name of God from Paul's greetings: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father," for Paul's task was to set forth our sonship and its blessed privileges. Or, as John himself writes (1 John 1:3-4): "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: and these things we write, that our joy may be made full."

The Revelation is not dealing with the unutterably glorious standing of the Church as the Body of Christ and of the saints as full-grown sons of God, and of our heavenly calling and walk. These things are not to be forgotten for a moment by the believer who reads The Revelation. The Revelation is "obviously distinct from the other parts of the New Testament, in that God is reverting a great deal to the principles on which He had acted in Old Testament times."

It is at once manifest that God is spoken of here as "the Administrator of the world,"-indeed, of all creation; and the third and second Persons of the Deity are likewise connected here with government, rather than salvation. It is of the highest importance to see this.

We read, consequently, of the Holy Spirit, not as "the one Spirit" dwelling in all the members of the one body, but, from the seven Spirits that are before his throne.

There is, of course, but one blessed Spirit: yet He is spoken of here as seven-fold; for He is the executive person of the Godhead, and acting in The Revelation in a purely governmental way. In this character His place is "before the throne of God" in heaven, as we read in Revelation 4:5 : "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Now if we turn to Isaiah 11:1-16, we find that upon our Lord's return as King, upon the throne of David, the Spirit rests upon Him in His governmental offices in exactly a seven-fold way: first, as to His Deity-"the Spirit of Jehovah"; second, of wisdom; third, of understanding; fourth, counsel; fifth, might; sixth, knowledge; seventh, "the fear of Jehovah" (begetting that fear). And also in Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:6; Zechariah 4:10, we again read of the governmental operation of the Spirit of God: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" … "these seven shall rejoice, … the eyes of Jehovah, which run to and fro through the whole earth."

We find our Lord Jesus Christ, although the second person of the Trinity, mentioned last, in Revelation 1:5, for God desires immediately to emphasize certain things concerning Him; and it is He who is to rule on earth.

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. He was that, first, when He was on earth, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:13, "Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;" or, as our Lord says in John 7:7, "The world … me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil." But He is evermore the witness to the truth, as we shall see in His searching messages to the seven churches, covering the present time, as well as when He afterwards carries out faithfully what is written in the seven-sealed book of judgment on the world. ["He was the faithful witness because all things that He heard of the Father He faithfully made known to the disciples. Also because He taught the way of God in truth and cared not for man, nor regarded the person of men. Also, the truth which He taught in words, He confirmed by miracles. Also because the testimony to Himself on the part of the Father, He denied not, even in death. Lastly, because He will give true testimony of the works, good and bad, at the Day of Judgment."-Richard of St. Vincent, 12th century.]

Next He is called the firstborn of the dead. Others who were raised, like Lazarus, were brought back into this earthly life merely to die again; Christ, into "newness of life," in eternal victory over death. The Greek word for firstborn (prototokos) is a most important one to lay to heart, indicating, as it does, the fact of His divine personal dignity and precedence. This is the explanation of the same word in Colossians 1:15, "the firstborn of all creation"; which does not for a moment mean that our Lord was a creature, but that He is the head, object and heir of all creation. The very next verse declares that "all things have been created through him, and unto him"! And inasmuch as the book of The Revelation is to reveal all things actually subjected to Him, we must connect Psalms 89:26-27; Psalms 89:37, with our Lord. God the Father speaks of Christ thus: "He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father … I also will make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth";-just as the very words, "the faithful witness" are found in Psalms 89:37 of this great Psalm!

This leads us to the third designation of Christ in Revelation 1:5 : the ruler of the kings of the earth. Ruler, not prince: our Lord is not one of the princes of the earth, but the ruler of them all, as will be brought forth in The Revelation.

This characterizes the whole book of The Revelation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not seen in His work of redemption-that is Romans; nor in His office as High Priest and Advocate on high-that is Hebrews and 1 John; but the first great question in The Revelation is, Who shall rule,-Satan and man? or God by Christ? Keep this in mind through all our study.

But ere we enter upon Christ's stern offices of judgment, John is given to speak a most tender word to our very hearts: Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood. Remember,-do not forget!-the words of John 13:1 : "having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Jude, after a brief story of the apostasy of Christendom, stands at the portal to The Revelation and speaks, as we are about to enter this great book, "beloved … keep yourselves in the love of God." Note in Revelation 1:5 that the loving is in the present tense, and the loosing in the past (aorist). The loosing was done once for all at Calvary; the loving goes on forever!

And he made us to be a Kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father. Notice again that John does not here speak of us as the Body of Christ, and members one of another-which of course we are-but as a kingdom. It is unfortunate that the old version here calls us "kings." The word in the Greek is in the singular number, "kingdom." The reference to us as a kingdom is entirely consistent with the whole book of Revelation. We must connect this passage with Revelation 5:9-10, where the four living ones and the four and twenty elders sing a new song concerning Christ, who has just taken over the seven-sealed book: "Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them … unto our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon the earth." Both these passages, of course, look forward to the millennial reign of chapter 20, after which the earth will pass away.

Notice that we have been made priests unto Christ's God and Father, for Christ is the heir, and we inherit through and in Him. It is intensely interesting, and solemnly instructive also, that we are not only a kingdom, but priests. Of course, all believers have this priestly function now, as in Ephesians 2:18 : "through him (Christ) we have our access in one Spirit unto the Father"; and we are today those to whom God looks to pray "for all men; for kings and all that are in high place" (1 Timothy 2:1-2), as well as for one another, for all saints, and for the salvation of others. We are also to be offering up "a sacrifice of praise to God continually," through our Great High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 13:15). But The Revelation looks forward to the exercise of royal priesthood! When our Lord Jesus shall return to earth to reign, the full Melchizedek priesthood will come in: "He shall be a priest upon his throne"-and we with Him!

No wonder, then, that John utters the adoring words, to him be the glory and the dominion unto the ages of the ages. Amen. He speaks thus of Christ, who is God. Otherwise the words are blasphemy. It is deeply solemn to note that the first of the many ascriptions of praise in this wonderful book of The Revelation is given to Christ, who "loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood." Let us be forever rejoicing in it. Also the first use of God's great particular designation of eternity, "unto the ages of the ages," is in thus ascribing eternal glory and dominion to Christ. [This remarkable phrase, first used by Paul in Galatians 1:5 (Greek), occurs 21 times in Scripture, 14 of these being in The Revelation (including Revelation 14:11, where the definite article is omitted, because it is there introduced as connected with eternal judgment; whereas in Revelation 20:10 it is included, as denoting what has already been introduced).]

And now we come to what we may properly call the first great TEXT of the book of The Revelation: Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

We call it a text, or theme, because all preceding our Lord's glorious advent to this earth in chapter 19 leads up to that event. Next, He reigns on earth 1000 years. And, after the last judgment, the New Creation is seen, and we have in Revelation 21:5, the second great TEXT: "Behold, I make all things new." But note that in the last chapter of The Revelation, our Lord will three times emphasize His personal coming as the object of all thought and hope: "Behold, I come quickly!" "Behold, I come quickly!" "Yea: I come quickly!" (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20).

Those who understand the place our Lord's personal return to this earth holds in Scripture, find The Revelation unfolding itself to them. To others it is merely a "book of symbols"-vague, objectless.

Now it is not the rapture of the Church, when we shall be "caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," that is seen in Revelation 1:7, although doubtless that rapture is involved and included. It is rather the public revelation, or epiphany to the whole world that is referred to, because that event brings in the kingdom toward which The Revelation looks.

The Greek word, "parousia," beginning with Matthew 24:3, is used sixteen times in the New Testament as a general term for Christ's presence as against His absence now in heaven. "Parousia" is the opposite of "apousia," (absence). Both Greek words appear in Philippians 2:12,-"not in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence (apousia)." Compare the same word in 2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 2 Corinthians 10:10.

However, the term "parousia," applied to our Lord's coming, covers His arrival in the upper air, His taking the Church up thither, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; our each appearing before His bema, or awarding-seat there (1 Corinthians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and the marriage of the Lamb of Revelation 19:6-10. During this period we are spoken of as "tabernacling in the heavens" (Revelation 13:6).

During this time we shall find chapters 6 to 16 under fulfilment, including The Great Tribulation, which will cover the last three and a half years before our Lord's public coming spoken of in Revelation 1:7.

This public manifestation is called in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 "the manifestation of his coming": literally, the epiphany (epiphaneia) of His parousia,-so vividly translated by Rotherham: "the forth shining of His arrival." Our Lord arrives in the upper air first, taking up His saints; then, after the terrible events on earth culminating in The Great Tribulation, we read in Matthew 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (the revelation of Himself to the spared remnant of Israel according to Zechariah 12:10); and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." This is the great, manifested coming of Revelation 19:11-16.

This public manifestation is that phase of our Lord's coming with which The Revelation deals. The rapture of the Church is secret, instantaneous, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."

Furthermore, the Lord must have come for His saints in order to come with them. For we read in Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested (this is public), then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory."

It is of the very first importance that we distinguish the rapture of the saints from their manifestation at Christ's revelation. To be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord and the joy of His presence is certainly different from "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

"Behold, he cometh" is the one vivid point, the common expectation. It is motion from a place to a place. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven." He is now the Man, glorified, at the right hand of the Father. "From thence he shall come."

Now, this advent, or arrival, of Revelation 1:7, is an exact fulfilment of the promise given the disciples in Acts 1:11 : "This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven." There, in Acts 1:9, "as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." He went up with a visible, tangible body. He went up in their sight; a cloud covered Him from vision. Exactly thus will He be manifested.

But note quickly that this coming with clouds of Revelation 1:7 is not describing the rapture of the Church essentially. We are, indeed, to be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, but He is the Lord from heaven, and we, "accepted in the Beloved," being one with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies, are not connected with clouds or earth; therefore the rapture will take us as heavenly ones into the presence of our heavenly Lord, into the midst of the clouds with which He will afterwards come, and we with Him.

Every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him-that is, the whole earth and especially the Jewish nation. Zechariah's prophecy (Zechariah 12:10), and John's words (John 19:37), prove this. See also Matthew 24:30.

"Every eye" shall see His public manifestation as Son of man, beheld from the earth's surface. It is not the rapture of the Church, when "we shall see him even as he is," and "be like him" (1 John 3:2). There is no mourning there! It is, however, the exact fulfilment of Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:29-30 : there is the darkening of the sun, moon and stars, just before; then the sudden bursting on the scene "as lightning" of the arrival, the presence (parousia) of Christ, His holy angels, and all His saints! "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

First, black night-the withdrawal of all creature light; next, the sudden appearance of the Son of man, but, as "the sign," for He must be seen by the remnant of Israel and the "sign" is this vision of Himself, when "they look on him whom they pierced." Then comes the most utter "mourning of sorrow" ever known on earth, for this nation who crucified Him.

We must remember that it is back to the Mount of Olives, whence He went away, that He will come. Just before His feet "stand upon" that mountain (Zechariah 14:4-5), He will make Himself seen in His glory, yea, in His love, to Israel, beleaguered by the hostile nations of earth. Read Zechariah 14:1-2. Jerusalem will be taken-half made captives, the residue spared. Then comes Christ: "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east." "And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with thee." There must be, however, a little space for this mourning (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1). It is at that time that "a nation shall be born in a day." Israel, like Thomas, must see before they believe, but they shall see! So the weeping of the spared of Israel will be penitential grief over this Messiah whom in their blindness they pierced. But the fountain "for sin and for uncleanness" will at that time be opened to them (Zechariah 13:1), and they will cry, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him" (Isaiah 25:9).

But what about the tribes of the earth? [We must read "earth," instead of confining the term to the land of Israel. See all the occurrences of the Greek word ge„, beginning with the first verse of the Bible (Septuagint). Of some 260 occurrences of this word in the New Testament, none, perhaps, but Luke 21:23 indicates Palestine in anything like an absolute way, and this not really so in view of "Jerusalem" in Luke 21:20, and "Judea" in Luke 21:21; while in the same chapter, verses Luke 21:25,Luke 21:33, and Luke 21:35, the meaning of age, is evidently the whole earth. Always when indicating Palestine, the word ge„ is modified,-as, "land of Judah," "land of Israel," Matthew 2:6; Matthew 2:20; "land of Canaan," Acts 13:19. So also we see "land of Sodom," "land of Egypt" (Acts 13:17).] Their mourning will be because of utter loss, despair and terror. "And men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty" (Isaiah 2:19); for "the day of the Lord" shall come upon them "as a thief," "suddenly as a snare" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; Luke 21:34-35). That day is "the death knell of the world's gayeties and pleasures, the turning of their confidence to consternation, the conversion of their songs to shrieks of horror and despair."

Even so, Amen. Here we have the Greek word "nai," which means "entire assent," "yea!" and the Hebrew "Amen," which means, "be it done." Both words are found in 2 Corinthians 1:20, and also in the next to the last verse of The Revelation. In Revelation 1:7 they are in the apostle's mouth, and should be in the mouth of every believer, Jew or Gentile, as a response to the prophecy of our Lord's coming. In Revelation 22:20 the "nai" meaning "yes," "yes indeed," "truly," is in the mouth of Christ; the response, "Amen," meaning, "let it be so," "I consent from my heart," is in the mouth of His apostle, representing us all!

And now we come to Revelation 1:8, where God sets His own seal upon this book of The Revelation; and we beg deep consideration of this great verse. God as the great I AM is attesting this last book in a most unusual and solemn way.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. It is evident that God speaks here as God. Our Lord Jesus Christ takes the same titles in Revelation 22:13 : for He is the second person of the deity. Yet it is fitting that here in chapter one, after the announcement of our Lord's coming, and of the general contents of The Revelation (in view of the character each Person of the Trinity takes), there should be a solemn seal upon all by God as GOD. It is fitting also that this seal should cover the revelation made of Himself to men in connection with earth in all the former Scriptures. [We do not find the name Father in this great verse, for that name was revealed to and is held by the Church, which is not connected with earthly government, but is altogether heavenly in calling, character, and destiny.]

Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, call attention instantly away from every creature-claim-God is all! The expression "From aleph to tau" (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet), was used by the Hebrew rabbis to signify completely, entirely. Men dream of "evolution"-that is, a beginning without God. It is Satan's lie in toto. They also dream of "development," that is, "progress" without God;-even prating of "eternal advancement," though they "die like gnats." God, the I Am, declares Himself to be the Alpha and the Omega: not a beginning and an end, but the only One: "the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth … I, Jehovah, the first and with the last" … "I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God" … "from the time that it was, there am I." Take a tonic for spiritual anaemia from the forties of Isaiah!

"The Lord God." Here we have two names of God from the Old Testament. Adonai is the title of absolute authority, as "Lord of lords, the great God," in Deuteronomy 10:17; or Micah 4:13, "the Lord of the whole earth"; or, Lord also of heaven's hosts, Isaiah 10:33. God's children know and acknowledge His lordship.

Then "God." This is "El" or "Elohim": the mighty One, beginning with Genesis 1:1.

Then we have the Jehovah name of self-existence: "who is and who was and who is to come." See Exodus 3:13-15. [Scofield has an excellent note on the name Jehovah. See his comment on Genesis 2:4, in his "Bible."] But it is not mere self-existence that is seen here: it is God in absolute present existence,-"who is"; but looking back to His former revelations of Himself and His purposes,-"who was"; and also able, and ready, and about to, make good all in the future that He has been and spoken in the past,-"who is to come."

It is striking that when the dispensation changes and God, after the trumpet of the seventh angel, takes His "great power," manifestly to reign, the twenty-four elders worship God as the One "who art and who wast" (Revelation 11:17): for at that moment they have entered into eternity, so to speak; they are with God, and God at last begins to rule in public righteousness, which, of course, will be forever. So the words "who is to come" are no longer needed.

"The Almighty." There is nothing more profitable than to meditate upon the names and titles of Deity. Although the name Jehovah seems to have been known and called upon even before the flood (Genesis 4:26), even the patriarchs did not understand its meaning as Jehovah revealed it for Israel. It was by the name Almighty He asked Abram and the patriarchs to walk (Genesis 17:1): "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Exactly the same counsel is given by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1. All power is in God, not in the creature. [Scofield's note (Genesis 17:1) on the "Almighty God" is as weak and dangerous as his note on "Jehovah" is excellent. To be the "all-sufficient" One involves, indeed, almighty power. But such verses as Job 21:20; Job 37:23; Psa_63:14; Isaiah 13:6 and Joel 1:15 do not easily reconcile with so limited a definition as "all-sufficient, the nourisher and satisfier of his people." It is significant that Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:18, calls "the living God" of Hosea 1:10 "the Lord Almighty" (Greek, panto„krator): and it is also in connection with His tender attitude to them as "a Father, toward His "sons and daughters." It is this word panto„krator that is used eight times in The Revelation. It is too bad that so excellent a commentator as Dr. Scofield should say, "The primary name El or Elohim sufficiently signifies all-mightiness." It plainly does not; or God would not have used the more specific and most awe-inspiring Hebrew name, El Shaddai, Almighty, or its Greek equivalent, panto„krator. The other occurrences of "Almighty" in The Revelation are Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7, Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 21:22. Present limitless power, the majesty of it, and the worship it deserves, accompany this name throughout Scripture, and especially in The Revelation.

After writing this note, I found to my horror, but I confess not to my surprise, the following: "In order to corroborate the doctrine (of sex in deity) just mentioned, certain Theosophists have invented a new derivation for the Hebrew Shaddai, which in our versions is correctly rendered ‘Almighty.' They suppose it to be connected with a word shad, which signifies a woman's breast. But such a derivation is impossible, and, so far as we are aware, has never been proposed by an unbiased scholar. More than one Christian scholar has taken up this Theosophical derivation of Shaddai, and explained the word as meaning first ‘full-breasted,' and then ‘bountiful.' The irreverent use of one of the grandest titles of the Most High should have checked them." (Pember: THE CHURCH AND THE MYSTERIES. Page 413.) The Babylonian doctrine of "the motherhood of God," source of all abominations, is what is subtly brought in here. The true derivation of Shaddai is Hebrew, yDv from root ddv to be strong, mighty: in adjective form used only of God (Gesenius). To miss this meaning of The Almighty is to endanger the consent of our hearts to His righteous judgments. ]

It is necessary for us to become thoroughly acquainted with God's introduction of Himself in this book of The Revelation, for it characterizes Him throughout the book. The little son of a presiding judge might sit in a court room, and when the judge enters, delightedly exclaim, "That's my father!" but he would have no desire to interrupt the proceedings! Indeed, he would glory in the pronouncements of his father as judge; and in the judge just because he was his father.

So with the saints: they are willing, yea, they rejoice, that judgment should begin even at the house of God, as it indeed does do in the seven churches.

And now we come to the first of the three great visions of Christ in the book of The Revelation: the first is as the risen, glorified Son of God judging during the present age the spiritual state of the assemblies-"churches" -on earth, as His light-bearers. The second is as the Lamb in heaven "as it had been slain" taking the book of government and judgment from the hand of God on the throne. The third is as the King of kings and Lord of lords returning to earth in the Great Day of Wrath to establish the millennial kingdom. May God especially help us, for we are on holy ground here:

I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.

I John. These words are used in Revelation 22:8. Compare "I, Daniel," Daniel 8:15; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:2. As Daniel was known throughout the Babylonian and Persian empires, among both Jews and Gentiles, and took this for granted, so John, the last of the apostles and well-known of all Christians, takes for granted the intimate knowledge of himself and affection for himself that history and tradition assert, especially in the very region to which the Church epistles were addressed. ["The time of John's death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history; and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120." McClintock and Strong, quoting Lampe.]

Your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus. Again we remark that John writes The Revelation not as an apostle exercising authority, but as a Seer, unfolding that unveiling of the future which Christ gave him. How humble and loving is his attitude. There is absolutely no "ecclesiastical dignity" here! Note the order: trouble and trial-tribulation-first; then the kingdom assured to us, and then the patient waiting for that kingdom's manifestation. Compare Acts 14:22 : "through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God;" 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 : "your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure … to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." (Note here it is not The Great Tribulation, but the ordinary trials of Christians.) We are in Christ as to our risen life, standing and fellowship; but that life becomes the life "of Jesus" when manifested in our body; and is hated of the world; so that we are "delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). [If we "learn Christ" and hear Him, as those that are taught in Him, it will be "as truth is in Jesus," separating us utterly from the "manner of life" of this world, and therefore incurring their hatred. See Ephesians 4:20-23. The common loose quotation, "the truth as it is in Jesus," wholly misses the truth!]

Was in the isle that is called Patmos. Where The Revelation was written, we cannot say. Irenaeus says in Ephesus, but the visions were received on a small, rocky, barren island in the Aegean Sea, fifty or more miles from Ephesus, probably in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, A.D. 81-96, who had banished John thither.

For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. The "word of God" is the larger term setting forth that insisting upon God's claims on men and warnings to them to which all the prophets bear witness. The testimony of Jesus is the gospel, John's peculiar message being that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God"-dying, rising, interceding and about to return as Lord over all. "Art thou a king, then?" asked Pilate of Christ. For saying "yes" our Lord was crucified. For witnessing the same, His apostles and martyrs suffered. It is striking that John mentions the kingdom ("tribulation, kingdom and patience") in verse nine. The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right!

I became in the Spirit on the Lord's Day. Now, first, as to the "Lord's day." It was the first day of the week, in which, although banished, John had spiritual fellowship with the believers who gathered on that day to remember the Lord (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, John 20:19-26). The words do not mean "the day of the Lord," in the sense of His advent and 1000 years' reign, as some teach. First, the adjective form is the same as in the words "the Lord's supper" in 1 Corinthians 11:20; and, second, it is too early in the book to refer to "the great and terrible day of the Lord"; and third, the church age is directly addressed in the letters to the seven churches in 1:19: "the things which are."[Alford's trenchant note (Gr. Test., in loc.) should dispose of all objections. Whatever originates in Germany (Wetstein) with "modern interpretation" and is spread in other lands needs to be thrice inspected!]

"I became in the Spirit." The reading "was in the Spirit," as if denoting simply a devotional state or even a conscious "communion of the Holy Ghost," is impossible here, as also in Revelation 4:2. ["Not merely ‘I was,' but I became in the Spirit, that is, in a state of spiritual ecstasy or trance, becoming thereby receptive of the vision or revelation to follow." (Alford)

"‘I was,' Greek, I came to be, I became, in the Spirit,-in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut out, and the inner and higher life and spirit being taken full possession of by God's Spirit, so that an immediate communication with the invisible world is established." (Fausset)

"‘I became in the Spirit on the Lord's day': ‘in the Spirit' is a state into which he entered." (Darby)

See also Winer. Dean Alford protests further: "They must be bold indeed who can render it, ‘I was transported by the Spirit into the day of the Lord's coming,' in the face of the absence of a single precedent in the universal usage of the early Church!"]

And I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. Compare Revelation 4:1, where the same voice speaks again after the same manner. "It is important to apprehend that the general object of this book is the revelation of the relations of God, as ruler, with the world, viewed as introducing into it Jesus as heir. It will be seen how much of difficulty this removes" (Darby). It is the same blessed person who said, "Come unto me," and who took young children in His arms; upon whose loving bosom John himself leaned his head at the supper; but the circumstances are absolutely different. The trumpet accompanied divine manifestations and commands- Exodus 19:13; Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:19. It emphasized authority, whether for solemnity, alarm, or gladness- Numbers 10:1-10; Leviticus 25:9; Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We must recognize the lordship of Christ. Note that it is Christ's voice in Revelation 1:10, "as of a trumpet."

Saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Note that the book is to be sent to each church individually. There was then no "synod," "convention," "conference," or "diocese" of Asia! What follows, then, belongs to this church age, represented by these assemblies. The churches addressed were then existent. We have not therefore come to the part of the book which deals either with Israel or the earth or the Day of the Lord. Our Lord indeed will be speaking to these churches with trumpet authority; yet it will be "what the Spirit saith to the churches," and it will be "as many as I love, I reprove and chasten."

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. The Lord spake behind His servant. John was evidently wrapped in thoughts of communion, of that "fellowship … with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" which he constantly had, and desired all saints to share (1 John 1:3-4). But the Lord has other plans for His servant on this Lord's Day! Note that it is the voice he turns to see. Our Lord is ever the Word of God.

I saw seven golden candlesticks (literally, lamp-stands). John is about to learn how the Lord judged of that which bore His name on the earth. There are seven-not seven in one, as with Israel (Exodus 25:31-40). Each church is independently responsible to the Lord although all are governed by Him and addressed by the one Spirit. "The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light. The light is the Lord's, not the Church's; from Him she receives it." Moreover, the candlesticks are of gold, which in scripture types stands for the glory of God, which the churches were set to maintain. ["The candlestick of the Jewish sanctuary was the one only-its six branches set into the central stem,-and it spoke of Christ, not of the Church. The seven candlesticks (of The Revelation) are for lights, not in the sanctuary (where Christ alone is that), but in the world. And while there is a certain unity, as representing, doubtless, the whole Church, yet it is the Church seen, not in its dependent communion with Christ, but historically and externally, as ‘churches.' Each lampstand is set upon its own base, stands in its own responsibility." (Grant) ]

In this wondrous vision of the glorified Lord in the midst of the candlesticks, the churches, mark how all the description sets forth His Judgeship, which is His character until the New Creation comes, in chapter 21.

And in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man. How infinitely precious to the heart is His appearance as connected with us, although glorified with the glory which He had "with the Father before the world was!" Yet Paul never calls Christ "son of man": He takes that name only when He claims what is due Him on earth.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot. This is the robe of the priest and of the judge. Also, it is the aspect of the priest, not in priestly services, but in judging character. It was the high priest's business to see that the candlestick was "kept in order" in the old sanctuary through the night,-"from evening to morning" Leviticus 24:3-4.

These candlesticks (Revelation 1:12), all bear light, for they are the churches or assemblies of saints still recognized by the Lord, and consequently still having the right to the oil of the Holy Spirit, and to Christ as light. Nevertheless, our Lord's attitude is in the dignity of priestly judgment rather than as Intercessor, or even using the "snuffers," with which the high priest kept bright the lamps of the Jewish candlestick. Here in The Revelation He is judging each church's use of its light,-that is, dealing with the churches according to their responsibility to burn brightly, rather than seeing to it from His side that they do thus burn.

Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The correct rendering of Isaiah 11:5, is, "And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins." Our Lord in The Revelation scene is girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The girdle at the loins means service. When Christ returns to reign, as in Isaiah 11:1-16, it will be both in majesty and in service: therefore the double girdle. But in The Revelation He is not serving, but stands as a priestly judge: therefore the girdle at the waist only; and it is of gold, setting forth His divine glory. Contrast John 13:4-5. Jesus "girded … to wash the disciples' feet." This is the same Lord, for He keeps cleansing us yet, but in an entirely different office than portrayed in The Revelation.

And his head and his hair were white as white wool … white as snow. Here is the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7:9-10; Daniel 7:13; Daniel 7:22. Notice Daniel says that the Ancient of Days sat on the throne, and also that the Ancient of Days came. As we find in Revelation 5:6-7, "in the midst of the throne … a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, … he came," and took the book, etc. All must honor the Son even as they honor the Father.

White,-the color of deathlessness and of eternity as well as of holiness. John seems to have been given to see His head and hair and eyes at first with some withholding of the forth shining of His brightness, in order that he might distinguish them.

His eyes were as a flame of fire. Not yet a flame of fire, as in Revelation 19:12, in the great and terrible day, for it is yet the dispensation of grace; but they are none the less searching.

His feet like unto glowing brass,[The Greek word here rendered "glowing brass" is the despair of scholars-chalcolibanus. Alford simply transliterates it, as some others also do. Gold would stand for the glory of God, silver for redemption. "His feet like unto glowing brass" indicates wrath-judgment upon sin by the holiness of God, by which route-Calvary-our Lord overcame. He stands here among the churches on earth. He is gracious, but He must judge according to the glory which He died to secure for God.] as if they had been made fiery in a furnace (literal translation). The only metal I ever looked upon which absolutely dazzled my sight was a piece of fine brass. Brass is a composite metal, produced through fire.

His voice as the voice of many waters. Here is resistlessness, the effect of the multitude of the attributes of deity! It is not the trumpet sound, calling to attention, so much as the infinitude of the voice. Read Psalms 29:1-11.

He had in his right hand seven stars. In the midst of the overwhelming glory of Christ's presence the seven stars are thrust upon John's attention. "In his right hand"-the place of power and authority, as well as possession.

Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. This is His word, the word of God at Christ's mouth: living, active (Hebrews 4:12). It is peculiarly through this word, spoken by the Spirit that He will judge and administer among the churches.

His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Now the Seer is given to look fully upon the face of the glory of Christ, and we read, "when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead." So also Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13); Moses and Aaron, often; Joshua (Joshua 5:1-15); Job (Job 42:1-17), and all to whom it was given to view God's glory. Let all who deny the Deity of Christ behold His beloved disciple at His feet "as one dead,"- at one sight of Him glorified. It is also to be noted that having seen Christ thus, John is no more afraid, - not even of the throne in heaven!

And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not;-the same grace yesterday, today and forever! He is the One who evermore speaks to His own, "It is I; be not afraid."

Now follows a three-fold utterance that should banish all our fears forever:

1. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. These are the words of God! Or the Jews were right, "He blasphemeth" (John 10:33-38; John 8:58-59). Again in Revelation 22:13 :-He is the Eternal One, the Self-Existent One. He is God, though He is man.

2. And I became dead, and behold, I am alive unto the ages of the ages (literal translation). Peter writes, "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." For forty days after His resurrection He had been with the disciples, not yet glorified, even eating and drinking with them, again and again (Acts 10:40-41). To know by His own word from out that glory in which He now stood that the One whom John had seen dead and pierced was alive forevermore,-"this same Jesus,"-would be comfort unutterable to His apostle's heart! He speaks first as the deity. Secondly of His death as a divinely ordained event,-"I became dead"; and thirdly of His humanity for all eternity! "Alive" is used in the New Testament only of those in the body. It is supremely important that we hear our Lord announcing His being alive in His risen body, "unto the ages of the ages," whether as "the Lamb" in heaven, "the King" coming in the Day of Wrath, "Christ" reigning with His saints, Him who sits on the Great White Throne (John 5:22; John 5:27), or the Lamb "on the throne of God and of the Lamb" forevermore!

3. And I have the keys of death and of Hades. Death held the bodies and Hades the spirits of men in Old Testament times. Since Christ's resurrection death briefly holds the bodies, though Hades [Hades is literally, "the unseen": yet it is a place, with gates. It is in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40. It is the Hebrew sheol; as we see by comparing Psalms 16:10 with Acts 2:27. Men went down into it- Genesis 37:35, R. V. Spirits, not bodies, went there,-except in "the new thing" that God did in the judgment of Koran, Numbers 16:30-33, R. V. There was "a great gulf" there, fixed by God, separating His own from "the pit wherein was no water": for Christ had covenanted to shed His blood for His "prisoners,"-which made them "prisoners of hope"; and God promised Christ He would "render double" unto them,-not only delivering them from the pit,-as was Lazarus, in Abraham's bosom as a child of faith delivered,-but also bringing them up from the "stronghold," in which they waited. See Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:11-12. When Christ ascended, after the three days there in "the lower parts of the earth," He led up His "captives,"-the Old Testament saints,-in His ascension (see Ephesians 4:8-10) so that they are now "spirits of just men made perfect," in their proper place in heaven, awaiting the Lord's second coming and the resurrection. It is blessed, and sad, to reflect upon the countless hosts waiting with eagerness our Lord's coming: and the prattling ones who "do not believe in it,"-and the frightful terror awaiting them! Note that our Lord's words in Matthew 16:18 refer to the gates of a literal region,-in this earth's center: into which gates the saints of the Church were never even to enter.] does not hold the spirits, of God's saints.

Christ's words should banish fear. One who has the keys of all is speaking, commissioning "his servant John" with His tender hand still laid upon him, but in the character of the eternally Living One now alive unto all the ages, and having the keys!

Our Lord has a character, an office, to maintain, of which many Christians think lightly, or not at all. He is the One ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead; for God "will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). It will not do to forget this, or we will lose that fear of God which is "the beginning of wisdom." We have been commanded to "have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29). We are indeed in a dispensation of grace, God "not reckoning trespasses," and gladly accepting all who believe. But God has seen fit to give this revelation, this apocalypse, to Jesus Christ, that He might show it unto His servants, and if you or I neglect or slight this one great prophetic book of the New Testament, who can say where we will end? Unitarianism, Universalism, and no-hellism are rolling like tidal waves over the land. "Blessed is he that readeth" The Revelation, and keeps its every word inviolate!

Write therefore. You see it is in view of this vision of the glorified Christ, the Son of God, of Revelation 1:1-20, and of those declarations concerning Himself which we have just been considering, that John is to write: "Write therefore." Judgment, like salvation, is connected solely with the person of Christ. I beseech you, study The Revelation with this before you: God is bringing again the firstborn into the earth, and that as the Heir (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 1:6). It will be vain to become occupied with "sevens," "hundred-forty-four-thousands," "six-sixty-sixes," the restoration of the Roman Empire, the person of the Antichrist, the two wild beasts, the "millennium," or even the new Jerusalem; unless, along with God the Father, who has subjected all things unto Him, Christ is ever before our eyes! No doubt, having put down all enemies, "then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him" (1 Corinthians 15:1-58). That does not mean that the throne of God and of the Lamb will cease, for it will be forever and ever and ever!

We now have our Lord's own outline of the book of The Revelation. Let no one misunderstand it (for it is very simple and plain); nor dare dispute it; nor think to substitute for it his own vain thoughts!

The Lord's outline: 1. The things which thou sawest-that is, the vision which we have just beheld of Christ Himself. 2. The things which are (are on). 3. The things which shall come to pass after these things (literal translation). This last has but one possible meaning,-those things which succeed in time the things that are now on, or the Church things.

We shall have occasion to recur from time to time to this divine division of the contents of this book. [We shall remark again and again that the word "hereafter" is no real translation at all of the Greek phrase met a taut a which closes verse 19 and opens and closes 4:1. The phrase means, "after these things."]

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. A mystery (Greek, musterion) denotes not what is beyond our understanding, but simply what must be revealed to be understood: it signifies a hitherto hidden truth, veiled perhaps, under a symbol, but now revealed. "The correlative of mystery is revelation."

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches. We have seen that these seven churches were chosen by the Lord to represent assemblies of the whole church age. Seven is completeness: they represent all the assemblies and they are fully in Christ's control. Not only is He "head over all things to the church, which is his body," the real Church, but also all local assemblies, and whether faithful or not, they lie in His direct and exclusive ownership and dominion.

There has been much discussion of the meaning of the angels of the churches. "Angel" (Greek, aggelos) signifies "a messenger"; "apostle" (Greek, apostolos), "one sent forth." Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23) calls Titus and those travelling with him "the apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ," (literal translation).

In the sense of our Lord's words, "their angels do always behold the face of my Father" (Matthew 18:11), the meaning is evident. Their representatives (in this instance, actual heavenly beings) are called "angels."

Stars in Scripture stand for those having authority and leadership; also for teachers, both faithful (Daniel 12:3), and false (Judges 1:13). Inasmuch as the name "angel" is our Lord's interpretation of the symbol star, the name "angel" cannot be itself another emblem. It must be the actual name applied by the Lord to certain persons definitely responsible for the state of the churches addressed. Now the Greek word aggelos, translated "angel," is used of men, in Luke 7:24 -"the messengers (aggeloi) of John." In Luke 7:19 we read of these same men, "John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to the Lord … and … they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying," etc. That is, they were the representatives of John, just as in the same chapter (Luke 7:27) the same word (aggelos) is used concerning John himself, in his relationship to Christ: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face."

Again, in James 2:25, the word aggelos is used to describe the spies who came to Rahab: "she received the messengers" (aggeloi) etc.; just as we read of "the angels of God" meeting Jacob in Genesis 32:1; and, in the third verse, of Jacob himself sending "messengers" (the same Hebrew word both times-malahchim). Indeed, this word is used by Moses in Numbers 20:14, "And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom," while in Numbers 20:16 of the same chapter we read, "He heard our voice, and sent an angel," the Hebrew word being the same. Again, in Judges 6:1-40 the angel of the Lord is mentioned seven times, and the angels, or messengers, Gideon sends, twice-the same word. Sennacherib's representatives are called "messengers" in Isaiah 37:9; Isaiah 37:14; and in the same chapter, Isaiah 37:36, we read of the "angel of the Lord"-the same word.

Now we know from Daniel 12:1-13 that Michael the archangel stands for the nation of Israel. There is no hint, however, that angelic beings bear any such relationship to or responsibility for, the assemblies of God in this dispensation. Indeed, the very contrary is implied in Colossians 2:19. Christ is the only Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit the only Administrator of her affairs on earth. But men are held responsible. Paul (Acts 20:28) said to the Ephesian elders (and Christ begins with the Ephesus assembly in The Revelation): "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops"-(episkopoi, that is, over-watchers). Peter also: "The elders … I exhort … tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the overmatching willingly … neither as lording it over God's heritage, but making yourselves examples to the flock" (literal translation).

We read in 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 8:23, of those sent forth with Titus, that they were the messengers (Greek, apostoloi, apostles) of the churches; they were "the glory of Christ," while in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, concerning Satan and his ministers, that they fashion themselves into apostles of Christ: "for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light."

Therefore the angels of these churches (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22), are those appointed by the Lord, and this appointment brought about by the Holy Spirit, to represent and be held responsible by Christ for the condition of each assembly. Such "angels" may or may not be recognized or appointed by men: they are often despised by men. But they deal with the Lord directly concerning the assembly which each represents. They are capable of receiving personal, spiritual communications from Christ concerning the assembly, and are responsible to Him alone to carry out His directions.

We shall see in these seven epistles that the invasion of overlording ecclesiasticism made no difference in the relationship of the "angel" of any church to Christ. He was still able to address the church through the angel, despite Balaamites and even the woman Jezebel, and all obstacles.

As Hengstenberg says, "They were called ‘angels of the churches' because they were sent of God to the churches to be guarding them." He compares Matthew 18:10, concerning the "little ones": "in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." Thus, so long as it has its lampstand at all, the "angel," or spiritual representative of an assembly, is a "star" in the Lord's hand. [Note that the lampstand (Greek: luchnia) which represents the churches, is an entirely different word from the "torches," or "lamps," of Revelation 4:5, which is in Greek, lampas. The former are to hold a light, but the Spirit is light. Furthermore the lampstands of the churches were to lighten the darkness of this world; but the throne of God needs no illumination. The seven "torches of fire" in Revelation 4:5 are for searching, judging power, "sent forth into all the earth."]

Now, in this dispensation, the Church is God's house. [The Church here is the assembly of God, the people, not the building! The Most High in this dispensation "dwelleth not in temples made with hands." (Acts 7:48.) No building or location in Christendom is in itself holy above any other.] 1 Timothy 3:14.

Now there are in general three forms of iniquity judged in The Revelation.

First, there are the common sins of "mankind" which take the forms of idolatry, lust and violence. They are distinctly seen in Revelation 9:20-21 (compare the two great commandments of the law given to Israel, Mark 12:33).

Second, there is the awful atheistic blasphemy of the wild beast of Revelation 13:1-18, sustained by Satanic power.

But, third, there is that which makes possible the first, and provokes into being the second-that is, the corrupt ecclesiasticism or clerisy of an apostate church. This, of course, precedes the other two.

Man awaits the permission of religion to indulge himself in the sin he loves. There is too little consideration given this awful fact. Even in professedly Christian institutions of "learning," a course in "comparative religions" is calmly prescribed! Now God declares that "the things the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God"; and also that Satan is "the god of this age," and "the prince of this world"; and that we true believers "are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19).

That the devil hates the Church of God with a deadly enmity goes without saying, for the saints confess and serve the Lord Jesus Christ under whose feet the God of peace will shortly bruise Satan.

Real believers, moreover, have been raised up with Christ and made to sit in the heavenlies with Him, being united to the lowly One who now is "far above all power and dominion"; and whom Satan so fears that he will flee, if resisted in faith by saints subject to God. It is that bringing on the scene of the direct power of the Lord Jesus through the Holy Ghost (the Christian's proper warfare, Ephesians 6:10-14), which the enemy so dreads and against which he is so desperately malignant. [Satan is named eight times in The Revelation, five times in connection with the churches-six times if we include the name devil in Revelation 2:10.]

Therefore we will be foolish indeed not to look for the history of Satanic opposition in this account of the churches. And we may expect the professing church to be tempted along the same old lines,-first, of pride and self-assertion; secondly of fleshly indulgence, lust and license; thirdly of that hateful ruse called idolatry by which man seeks to hide from himself by "religious" rites his real spiritual state, while he indulges his evil propensities.

Let us study these seven messages in view of the several parts of each.

Verses 1-20

Opening Message
Revelation 1:1-20

The Revelation of Jesus Christ: which God gave Him. This expression is the true title to the book. It is a communication or unfolding of the details of future things by our Lord Jesus Christ. These opening statements are startling: (1) God gave Jesus Christ this apocalypse, or "revelation." (2) It was that He might show it unto His servants (literally bondservants). (3) Jesus Christ communicated it "by his angel." (4) It was "His servant John" to whom it was communicated (5) John faithfully "bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw."

We have, first, God; then Jesus Christ; then, His angel; then, His servant John, and finally Christ’s servants,-to whom the Revelation comes. Furthermore, we note that John bears witness to two things:

(1) "the word of God," and (2) "the testimony of Jesus Christ." "The word of God" is evidently God’s word to Christ in which He communicated to Him this apocalypse, or revelation; and "the testimony of Jesus Christ" is our Lord’s faithful communication of what God gave Him to tell us.

First, there can be no doubt, that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity. The Father, in Hebrews 1:8, addresses Him as God, saying, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." Our Lord claimed worship, and plainly says that "all should honor the Son even as they honor the Father" (John 5:23). And in a comparison of Revelation 1:8 with Revelation 22:13, all doubt vanishes.

But, secondly, we must remember and believe Christ’s own words in Matthew 24:36: "Of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only." Compare Mark 13:32, and also His parting words after the resurrection, in Acts 1:7, "It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within his own authority."[ This word authority (often translated "power" in the old version) it the Greek word exousia, used first in Matthew 7:29, "He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes"; again, Matthew 21:23, "By what authority doest thou these things?" and again, Matthew 28:18, "All authority is given unto me," etc. It is used 21 times in The Revelation, its last occurrence being in Revelation 22:14, "Blessed are they that wash their robes, that they may have the right (exousia) to come to the tree of life," etc. "Power (exousia) means authority to do a thing" (Liddell and Scott). That seems to me to be the primary meaning of this word in Scripture.]

Again, in Hebrews 10:12-13, "He — sat down on the right hand of God, henceforth expecting till his enemies be made the footstool of his feet." The word here used means, "to await from the hand of another." Taken in connection with the preceding verses, it indicates a state of constant expectancy: certain of the event, but leaving the time in the hands of the Father. When our Lord came to earth, we read (Philippians 2:7) He "emptied himself." He left His glory, His wisdom, and His power, absolutely in the hands of the Father. This did not subtract an iota from His Deity, but placed Him where He could say to the Father (Psalms 22:9-10), "Thou didst make me trust when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb." So He spoke on earth, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father doing." Now, of course, our Lord has entered into His glory, and all authority has been committed unto Him in heaven and on earth.

Nevertheless, these plain words are before us as we enter upon The Revelation: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him." This revelation must have been communicated to Him after His ascension to heaven, by the Father who has "set within his own authority" times and seasons. We believe:

1. That the times and seasons are yet within the Father’s authority-of course by the glad consent of the Song of Solomon 2:1-17. That the book of The Revelation contains the details of the carrying out of the divine decree that all Christ’s enemies should be put under His feet-all things, save the Father, subjected unto Him (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

2. That the Father has not revealed "the day and the hour," so that we are waiting and watching and expecting, along with our Lord, the Father’s giving Him His Kingdom, which He "went into a far country, to receive — and to return" (Luke 19:12).

Our Lord said in Gethsemane, "Thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?" (Matthew 26:53-54). He left it to the Father to grant Him, as He pleased, weakness, shame and suffering, or resurrection, power, and glory. And this was perfect obedience!

Christ will, of course, occupy the eternal throne, for He is God, yet it will be "the Throne of God and of the Lamb," an infinitely beautiful and gracious arrangement. For our Lord will not retire from us into the Godhead, although He is and will continue to be, "God blessed forever": but He will be a man, and as such will reign on "the Throne of God and of the Lamb" forever!

To show unto his servants (literally bondservants). This revelation is written not exclusively to the Church, but to all willing subjects of Christ. This will include the spared remnant of Israel, also those among the nations that attach themselves to them in the awful time of trouble; in fact, all companies of God’s saints. Although written "for the churches" (Revelation 22:16), the book of The Revelation is not addressed to the Church, the assembly of God, the Body of Christ, as such, as are Paul’s Epistles. The Revelation is a prophecy, testified to the churches, for their information as to "the things that are to come," and for warning and correction.

No wonder, then, that those not subject to Christ should find difficulty with the book of The Revelation! It is a remarkable fact, that although our Lord Jesus said in the upper room, "No longer do I call you servants; — but I have called you friends"; and although Paul tells the church saints, in Galatians 4:7, "Ye are no longer bondservants, but full-age sons:"-nevertheless all the apostles in their writings call themselves bondservants of Jesus Christ! If we are having difficulty with this blessed closing book of God’s holy Word, let us surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ as His servants. The book was written to bondservants.

The things which must shortly come to pass. "The things,"-this is definite. It describes events. Do not then look for vague "symbols." "Must come to pass"- here is certainty, necessity. Man dreams of "development," "progress," "achievement." God says, "The rulers of this world are coming to nought" (1 Corinthians 2:6). Believe God; doubt man. Satan is the prince of this world and the God of this age. He deceiveth the whole world. Let us not be deceived. The things we are about to study in The Revelation "must come to pass," and, "shortly."

"Shortly" surely indicates imminence. We have the same Greek expression in Romans 16:20, "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Greek: en tachei). He is not yet bruised, but we are expecting it! The same phrase is used in Revelation 22:6, "The things which must shortly come to pass." This shuts out the "historical" interpretation of the book,-that is, making the seals, trumpets, vials, etc., apply to the events of the past church centuries. In fact, the strictly prophetic part of The Revelation does not begin till the churches are out of the scene,-that is, after chapter 4. I firmly believe that unless we reject utterly the idea that this part of The Revelation has been "gradually fulfilling itself" in the present age, we shall miss the meaning of the book. Remember Paul’s explanation of the doctrine of the Jewish remnant in Romans 9:27-28, "The Lord will execute his word upon the earth, finishing it and cutting it short." The present dispensation must not in any sense be confused with God’s future dealing with the Jewish remnant after the true Church has been taken to heaven. Strictly speaking, the true Church has nothing to do with the present age, any more than it has to do with this world. Judgment for her is past; her citizenship is in heaven; she is one with Christ; she is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, and may be caught up at any moment. Although she is informed in Revelation about "the things which must shortly come to pass" on earth, she will not be in them; even as Enoch was taught of the Lord’s coming and judgment (Judges 1:14), but yet was not to pass through it; and as Abraham was taught concerning the destruction of Sodom, while he himself dwelt on the mountain away from the place of judgment.

It is absolutely necessary for us to distinguish, as members of the Body of Christ, between what is said about us (in the epistles), and what is told to us, as friends, by our Lord, in The Revelation.

"Shortly," moreover, not only means imminency, but also rapidity of execution when action once begins. "Things which in their entirety must soon come to pass"-in God’s speedy time, although He seems to delay; for the same Greek expression is translated "speedily" in Luke 18:7-8.

He sent and signified (them) by his angel unto his servant John; who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw. The manner of the communication of The Revelation to John by Jesus Christ is remarkable. He "sent and signified by his angel."[ Many other angels are seen besides this revealing one whom our Lord calls "mine angel": the whole "innumerable company" in Revelation 5:11 and Revelation 7:11; four in Revelation 7:1; "another," Revelation 7:2; the seven trumpet angels in Revelation 8:2; "another" in Revelation 8:3; "another strong angel," Revelation 10:1; six successive special angels in chapter 14; seven angels with the seven last plagues, chapters 15, 16; another heralding Babylon’s final destruction in Revelation 18:1-3; the "strong angel" who illustrates that destruction, Revelation 18:21; the "angel standing in the sun," who invites the birds to Armageddon, Revelation 19:17; the angel that binds Satan, Revelation 20:1-3; and the scene of Revelation 21:9.] This angelic agency of course does not refer to the title and introduction (Revelation 1:1-8); nor to the great personal vision of Christ (Revelation 1:9-20); nor to the messages to the seven churches (chapters 2, 3). Also the thrice repeated "I come quickly," and the "I Jesus have sent mine angel," are spoken directly by the Lord. Indeed Revelation 22:6-10, and again 10-20 may well have been spoken by the Lord Himself; while the closing verse, like the opening of the book, is the Spirit-inspired utterance of the apostle. Like Revelation 1:4-7 it is more apostolic than seer-like in form, and so, more intimate to our hearts.

The manner of angelic communication to John, like other phases of inspiration, is beyond our faculties. Much, indeed, like John, Daniel "heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, which called and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision" (Daniel 8:16).

The Revelation concerning, as it does, governmental matters on earth, which are in angelic hands until the Millennium, is committed largely to direct angelic ministry.

John speaks of "all things that he saw." Speculation upon inspiration is vain. God tells us it was "in divers manners" (Hebrews 1:1). John, in The Revelation writes much as Daniel wrote. Both deal with God’s government of this world. We may know the whole is authoritative. We shall find here "what the Spirit saith to the churches," and also the awful tribulation time itself, the Holy Spirit reminding us by His especial witness, that all is taking place according to God (Revelation 14:13); and, at the end, Jesus Himself speaking, attesting all (Revelation 22:16), although it had been testified by His angel: "I Jesus have sent mine angel."

Blessed is he that readeth. This is directly contrary to the attitude toward The Revelation which very many Christians have. A special blessing is pronounced on the readers of this book, also on they that hear the words of the prophecy. Living oracles give and support life (John 6:63). Note that it is the words that are to be read and heard. God is especially particular concerning this one prophetic book of the New Testament, as we shall note at its close (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:9, Revelation 22:10, Revelation 22:18, Revelation 22:19). Doubtless the public reading and hearing of this book of The Revelation to the assembled saints is especially in view. "Give heed to reading," is Paul’s command to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:13); and this was public reading. It ought to be practiced everywhere. [Dean Alford, himself an English churchman, says: "If the words are to be understood as above, they form at least a solemn rebuke to the practice of the Church of England, which omits with one or two exceptions the whole of this book from her public reading. Not one word of the precious messages of the Spirit to the churches is ever heard in the public service of a church never weary of appealing to her scriptural liturgies. Surely it is high time that such an omission should be supplied."]

And keep the things that are written therein. Now the sense of the word "keep" is its primary one of "watching over," "guarding as a treasure," as well as its secondary one, "to give heed to." We cannot "keep" a prophecy as men might "observe" a law. The prophecy will be fulfilled, whether we pay attention to it or not. But there is divine blessing if we give heed to it and jealously guard its very words!

For the time is at hand. No dates are set for this "time of patient grace," this "day of salvation," the "acceptable year of the Lord," in which the Church finds herself. And although from Revelation 4:1-11 onward, the Church is to be on high, we must remember that the whole book of The Revelation is included by our Lord in Revelation 22:16: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches." "The time is at hand" should be in the heart of every believer, every day! "Prophecy annihilates time, and all intervening and even opposing circumstances, and sets one down on the threshold of accomplishment," (W. Scott). The first use of the Greek word translated "at hand" should instruct us. Compare Matthew 24:32-33, "nigh," "near." The words are repeated in Revelation 22:10, which see. In John 11:54-55 you have "near," of place; and "at hand," of time; and note in this latter verse that the Jews were getting ready for the event! Despite all the arguments of those who have said, "My Lord delayeth his coming," the only attitude of obedience is, to "watch": for we know not the day nor the hour! They are no friends, but deadly foes, who put this and that "event" between the believer and his Lord’s coming.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace. First, regarding the writer of this book: it was John, the beloved disciple. There is no real doubt that John the apostle was the writer.

Fausset well says, "John-the apostle: for none but he (supposing the writer an honest man), would thus sign himself nakedly without addition. As sole survivor and representative of the apostles, and eye witness of the Lord, he needed no designation but his name, to be recognized by his readers."

John writes as a Seer more than as an Apostle in Revelation. There is no speaking with personal apostolic authority (except in this salutation of Revelation 1:4-7; and the benediction of Revelation 22:21) as Paul in his epistles, and Peter, and John himself elsewhere. Instead of speaking authoritatively in the Spirit, we find John falling at the feet of the glorified Son of God in this chapter. He is hearing His voice as Judge, and seeing visions of Him as such, for the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, whether it be in the present house of God on earth, the churches; or toward the elect nation, Israel; or toward the earth’s peoples and nations. John in The Revelation is merely the writer. Twelve times in this book he is told to write. Therefore we need to give the more earnest heed to The Revelation. There are those who seek to evade (to their own sorrow) the authority with which Paul was invested. But there is no way of evading the direct words and actions of the divinely-appointed Judge, Christ Himself, here at the end of God’s Book.

The "seven churches" indicate representative assemblies, both as to history, and as to spiritual state. Other important assemblies (like the Colossians within a few miles of Philadelphia and Laodicea), are not mentioned, although doubtless John was familiar with all of them and had labored among them. Let us, therefore, at once take these seven churches as representing all the assemblies of the Church’s history; even as Paul writes to seven cities of the Church’s calling (Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians). [The teaching of some that the seven churches of Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22 represent Jewish assemblies in tribulation times arises from Satanic delusion. It is always coupled with other fantastic and heretical dispensational doctrines (as Bullingerism with subtle denial of eternity of punishment). Govett well says, "These seven churches were prophetic of the things which ARE, not of the things that were to be."]

Note the blessed announcement to us, "Grace — and peace." As our Lord so lovingly speaks at the close (Revelation 22:16), "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things for the churches." Let us see that we keep the sweet taste of grace and peace as we read of the bitter things that are coming upon the earth. If at any point throughout the terrible things which you read in these Revelation chapters, you cannot stop and look up with perfect confidence saying, "I am under grace, and God has announced peace to me," then you are falling into unbelief. Flee to the eighth of Romans, and to the second of Ephesians, where you belong! Your Lord will have His servant John write many things for you which are not about you. Paul is your apostle. Any of you who are believers are not appointed unto wrath-any kind or degree of wrath. Israel and the nations will experience wrath; but you, who are in Christ, are already glorified (Romans 8:29-30)!

From him who is and who was and who is to come. This is the Eternal One, the self-existent Source of all being, and the One to whom all moral beings are responsible. How different this name of God from Paul’s greetings: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father," for Paul’s task was to set forth our sonship and its blessed privileges. Or, as John himself writes (1 John 1:3-4): "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also, that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ: and these things we write, that our joy may be made full."

The Revelation is not dealing with the unutterably glorious standing of the Church as the Body of Christ and of the saints as full-grown sons of God, and of our heavenly calling and walk. These things are not to be forgotten for a moment by the believer who reads The Revelation. The Revelation is "obviously distinct from the other parts of the New Testament, in that God is reverting a great deal to the principles on which He had acted in Old Testament times."

It is at once manifest that God is spoken of here as "the Administrator of the world,"-indeed, of all creation; and the third and second Persons of the Deity are likewise connected here with government, rather than salvation. It is of the highest importance to see this.

We read, consequently, of the Holy Spirit, not as "the one Spirit" dwelling in all the members of the one body, but, from the seven Spirits that are before his throne.

There is, of course, but one blessed Spirit: yet He is spoken of here as seven-fold; for He is the executive person of the Godhead, and acting in The Revelation in a purely governmental way. In this character His place is "before the throne of God" in heaven, as we read in Revelation 4:5: "seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." Now if we turn to Isaiah 11:1-16, we find that upon our Lord’s return as King, upon the throne of David, the Spirit rests upon Him in His governmental offices in exactly a seven-fold way: first, as to His Deity-"the Spirit of Jehovah"; second, of wisdom; third, of understanding; fourth, counsel; fifth, might; sixth, knowledge; seventh, "the fear of Jehovah" (begetting that fear). And also in Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:6; Zechariah 4:10, we again read of the governmental operation of the Spirit of God: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" — "these seven shall rejoice, — the eyes of Jehovah, which run to and fro through the whole earth."

We find our Lord Jesus Christ, although the second person of the Trinity, mentioned last, in Revelation 1:5, for God desires immediately to emphasize certain things concerning Him; and it is He who is to rule on earth.

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. He was that, first, when He was on earth, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 6:13, "Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession;" or, as our Lord says in John 7:7, "The world — me it hateth, because I testify of it, that its works are evil." But He is evermore the witness to the truth, as we shall see in His searching messages to the seven churches, covering the present time, as well as when He afterwards carries out faithfully what is written in the seven-sealed book of judgment on the world. ["He was the faithful witness because all things that He heard of the Father He faithfully made known to the disciples. Also because He taught the way of God in truth and cared not for man, nor regarded the person of men. Also, the truth which He taught in words, He confirmed by miracles. Also because the testimony to Himself on the part of the Father, He denied not, even in death. Lastly, because He will give true testimony of the works, good and bad, at the Day of Judgment."-Richard of St. Vincent, 12th century.]

Next He is called the firstborn of the dead. Others who were raised, like Lazarus, were brought back into this earthly life merely to die again; Christ, into "newness of life," in eternal victory over death. The Greek word for firstborn (prototokos) is a most important one to lay to heart, indicating, as it does, the fact of His divine personal dignity and precedence. This is the explanation of the same word in Colossians 1:15, "the firstborn of all creation"; which does not for a moment mean that our Lord was a creature, but that He is the head, object and heir of all creation. The very next verse declares that "all things have been created through him, and unto him"! And inasmuch as the book of The Revelation is to reveal all things actually subjected to Him, we must connect Psalms 89:26-27; Psalms 89:37, with our Lord. God the Father speaks of Christ thus: "He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father — I also will make him my firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth";-just as the very words, "the faithful witness" are found in Psalms 89:37 of this great Psalm!

This leads us to the third designation of Christ in Revelation 1:5: the ruler of the kings of the earth. Ruler, not prince: our Lord is not one of the princes of the earth, but the ruler of them all, as will be brought forth in The Revelation.

This characterizes the whole book of The Revelation. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not seen in His work of redemption-that is Romans; nor in His office as High Priest and Advocate on high-that is Hebrews and 1 John; but the first great question in The Revelation is, Who shall rule,-Satan and man? or God by Christ? Keep this in mind through all our study.

But here we enter upon Christ’s stern offices of judgment, John is given to speak a most tender word to our very hearts: Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood. Remember,-do not forget!-the words of John 13:1: "having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end." Jude, after a brief story of the apostasy of Christendom, stands at the portal to The Revelation and speaks, as we are about to enter this great book, "beloved — keep yourselves in the love of God." Note in Revelation 1:5 that the loving is in the present tense, and the loosing in the past (aorist). The loosing was done once for all at Calvary; the loving goes on forever!

And he made us to be a Kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father. Notice again that John does not here speak of us as the Body of Christ, and members one of another-which of course we are-but as a kingdom. It is unfortunate that the old version here calls us "kings." The word in the Greek is in the singular number, "kingdom." The reference to us as a kingdom is entirely consistent with the whole book of Revelation. We must connect this passage with Revelation 5:9-10, where the four living ones and the four and twenty elders sing a new song concerning Christ, who has just taken over the seven-sealed book: "Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them — unto our God a kingdom and priests, and they reign upon the earth." Both these passages, of course, look forward to the millennial reign of chapter 20, after which the earth will pass away.

Notice that we have been made priests unto Christ’s God and Father, for Christ is the heir, and we inherit through and in Him. It is intensely interesting, and solemnly instructive also, that we are not only a kingdom, but priests. Of course, all believers have this priestly function now, as in Ephesians 2:18: "through him (Christ) we have our access in one Spirit unto the Father"; and we are today those to whom God looks to pray "for all men; for kings and all that are in high place" (1 Timothy 2:1-2), as well as for one another, for all saints, and for the salvation of others. We are also to be offering up "a sacrifice of praise to God continually," through our Great High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 13:15). But The Revelation looks forward to the exercise of royal priesthood! When our Lord Jesus shall return to earth to reign, the full Melchizedek priesthood will come in: "He shall be a priest upon his throne"-and we with Him!

No wonder, then, that John utters the adoring words, to him be the glory and the dominion unto the ages of the ages. Amen. He speaks thus of Christ, who is God. Otherwise the words are blasphemy. It is deeply solemn to note that the first of the many ascriptions of praise in this wonderful book of The Revelation is given to Christ, who "loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood." Let us be forever rejoicing in it. Also the first use of God’s great particular designation of eternity, "unto the ages of the ages," is in thus ascribing eternal glory and dominion to Christ. [This remarkable phrase, first used by Paul in Galatians 1:5 (Greek), occurs 21 times in Scripture, 14 of these being in The Revelation (including Revelation 14:11, where the definite article is omitted, because it is there introduced as connected with eternal judgment; whereas in Revelation 20:10 it is included, as denoting what has already been introduced).]

And now we come to what we may properly call the first great TEXT of the book of The Revelation: Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen.

We call it a text, or theme, because all preceding our Lord’s glorious advent to this earth in chapter 19 leads up to that event. Next, He reigns on earth 1000 years. And, after the last judgment, the New Creation is seen, and we have in Revelation 21:5, the second great TEXT: "Behold, I make all things new." But note that in the last chapter of The Revelation, our Lord will three times emphasize His personal coming as the object of all thought and hope: "Behold, I come quickly!" "Behold, I come quickly!" "Yea: I come quickly!" (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20).

Those who understand the place our Lord’s personal return to this earth holds in Scripture, find The Revelation unfolding itself to them. To others it is merely a "book of symbols"-vague, objectless.

Now it is not the rapture of the Church, when we shall be "caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," that is seen in Revelation 1:7, although doubtless that rapture is involved and included. It is rather the public revelation, or epiphany to the whole world that is referred to, because that event brings in the kingdom toward which The Revelation looks.

The Greek word, "parousia," beginning with Matthew 24:3, is used sixteen times in the New Testament as a general term for Christ’s presence as against His absence now in heaven. "Parousia" is the opposite of "apousia," (absence). Both Greek words appear in Philippians 2:12,-"not in my presence (parousia) only, but now much more in my absence (apousia)." Compare the same word in 2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 2 Corinthians 10:10.

However, the term "parousia," applied to our Lord’s coming, covers His arrival in the upper air, His taking the Church up thither, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; our each appearing before His bema, or awarding-seat there (1 Corinthians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10), and the marriage of the Lamb of Revelation 19:6-10. During this period we are spoken of as "tabernacling in the heavens" (Revelation 13:6).

During this time we shall find chapters 6 to 16 under fulfilment, including The Great Tribulation, which will cover the last three and a half years before our Lord’s public coming spoken of in Revelation 1:7.

This public manifestation is called in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 "the manifestation of his coming": literally, the epiphany (epiphaneia) of His parousia,-so vividly translated by Rotherham: "the forth shining of His arrival." Our Lord arrives in the upper air first, taking up His saints; then, after the terrible events on earth culminating in The Great Tribulation, we read in Matthew 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven (the revelation of Himself to the spared remnant of Israel according to Zechariah 12:10); and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." This is the great, manifested coming of Revelation 19:11-16.

This public manifestation is that phase of our Lord’s coming with which The Revelation deals. The rapture of the Church is secret, instantaneous, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."

Furthermore, the Lord must have come for His saints in order to come with them. For we read in Colossians 3:4, "When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested (this is public), then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory."

It is of the very first importance that we distinguish the rapture of the saints from their manifestation at Christ’s revelation. To be caught up in the clouds to meet our Lord and the joy of His presence is certainly different from "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).

"Behold, he cometh" is the one vivid point, the common expectation. It is motion from a place to a place. As Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven." He is now the Man, glorified, at the right hand of the Father. "From thence he shall come."

Now, this advent, or arrival, of Revelation 1:7, is an exact fulfilment of the promise given the disciples in Acts 1:11: "This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven." There, in Acts 1:9, "as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight." He went up with a visible, tangible body. He went up in their sight; a cloud covered Him from vision. Exactly thus will He be manifested.

But note quickly that this coming with clouds of Revelation 1:7 is not describing the rapture of the Church essentially. We are, indeed, to be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord, but He is the Lord from heaven, and we, "accepted in the Beloved," being one with Him and seated with Him in the heavenlies, are not connected with clouds or earth; therefore the rapture will take us as heavenly ones into the presence of our heavenly Lord, into the midst of the clouds with which He will afterwards come, and we with Him.

Every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him-that is, the whole earth and especially the Jewish nation. Zechariah’s prophecy (Zechariah 12:10), and John’s words (John 19:37), prove this. See also Matthew 24:30.

"Every eye" shall see His public manifestation as Son of man, beheld from the earth’s surface. It is not the rapture of the Church, when "we shall see him even as he is," and "be like him" (1 John 3:2). There is no mourning there! It is, however, the exact fulfilment of Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:29-30: there is the darkening of the sun, moon and stars, just before; then the sudden bursting on the scene "as lightning" of the arrival, the presence (parousia) of Christ, His holy angels, and all His saints! "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."

First, black night-the withdrawal of all creature light; next, the sudden appearance of the Son of man, but, as "the sign," for He must be seen by the remnant of Israel and the "sign" is this vision of Himself, when "they look on him whom they pierced." Then comes the most utter "mourning of sorrow" ever known on earth, for this nation who crucified Him.

We must remember that it is back to the Mount of Olives, whence He went away, that He will come. Just before His feet "stand upon" that mountain (Zechariah 14:4-5), He will make Himself seen in His glory, yea, in His love, to Israel, beleaguered by the hostile nations of earth. Read Zechariah 14:1-2. Jerusalem will be taken-half made captives, the residue spared. Then comes Christ: "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east." "And Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with thee." There must be, however, a little space for this mourning (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1). It is at that time that "a nation shall be born in a day." Israel, like Thomas, must see before they believe, but they shall see! So the weeping of the spared of Israel will be penitential grief over this Messiah whom in their blindness they pierced. But the fountain "for sin and for uncleanness" will at that time be opened to them (Zechariah 13:1), and they will cry, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him" (Isaiah 25:9).

But what about the tribes of the earth? [We must read "earth," instead of confining the term to the land of Israel. See all the occurrences of the Greek word ge„, beginning with the first verse of the Bible (Septuagint). Of some 260 occurrences of this word in the New Testament, none, perhaps, but Luke 21:23 indicates Palestine in anything like an absolute way, and this not really so in view of "Jerusalem" in Luke 21:20, and "Judea" in Luke 21:21; while in the same chapter, verses Luke 21:25,Luke 21:33, and Luke 21:35, the meaning of age, is evidently the whole earth. Always when indicating Palestine, the word ge„ is modified,-as, "land of Judah," "land of Israel," Matthew 2:6; Matthew 2:20; "land of Canaan," Acts 13:19. So also we see "land of Sodom," "land of Egypt" (Acts 13:17).] Their mourning will be because of utter loss, despair and terror. "And men shall go into the caves of the rocks, and into the holes of the earth, from before the terror of Jehovah, and from the glory of his majesty" (Isaiah 2:19); for "the day of the Lord" shall come upon them "as a thief," "suddenly as a snare" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; Luke 21:34-35). That day is "the death knell of the world’s gayeties and pleasures, the turning of their confidence to consternation, the conversion of their songs to shrieks of horror and despair."

Even so, Amen. Here we have the Greek word "nai," which means "entire assent," "yea!" and the Hebrew "Amen," which means, "be it done." Both words are found in 2 Corinthians 1:20, and also in the next to the last verse of The Revelation. In Revelation 1:7 they are in the apostle’s mouth, and should be in the mouth of every believer, Jew or Gentile, as a response to the prophecy of our Lord’s coming. In Revelation 22:20 the "nai" meaning "yes," "yes indeed," "truly," is in the mouth of Christ; the response, "Amen," meaning, "let it be so," "I consent from my heart," is in the mouth of His apostle, representing us all!

And now we come to Revelation 1:8, where God sets His own seal upon this book of The Revelation; and we beg deep consideration of this great verse. God as the great I AM is attesting this last book in a most unusual and solemn way.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty. It is evident that God speaks here as God. Our Lord Jesus Christ takes the same titles in Revelation 22:13: for He is the second person of the deity. Yet it is fitting that here in chapter one, after the announcement of our Lord’s coming, and of the general contents of The Revelation (in view of the character each Person of the Trinity takes), there should be a solemn seal upon all by God as GOD. It is fitting also that this seal should cover the revelation made of Himself to men in connection with earth in all the former Scriptures. [We do not find the name Father in this great verse, for that name was revealed to and is held by the Church, which is not connected with earthly government, but is altogether heavenly in calling, character, and destiny.]

Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, call attention instantly away from every creature-claim-God is all! The expression "From aleph to tau" (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet), was used by the Hebrew rabbis to signify completely, entirely. Men dream of "evolution"-that is, a beginning without God. It is Satan’s lie in toto. They also dream of "development," that is, "progress" without God;-even prating of "eternal advancement," though they "die like gnats." God, the I Am, declares Himself to be the Alpha and the Omega: not a beginning and an end, but the only One: "the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth — I, Jehovah, the first and with the last" — "I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God" — "from the time that it was, there am I." Take a tonic for spiritual anaemia from the forties of Isaiah!

"The Lord God." Here we have two names of God from the Old Testament. Adonai is the title of absolute authority, as "Lord of lords, the great God," in Deuteronomy 10:17; or Micah 4:13, "the Lord of the whole earth"; or, Lord also of heaven’s hosts, Isaiah 10:33. God’s children know and acknowledge His lordship.

Then "God." This is "El" or "Elohim": the mighty One, beginning with Genesis 1:1.

Then we have the Jehovah name of self-existence: "who is and who was and who is to come." See Exodus 3:13-15. [Scofield has an excellent note on the name Jehovah. See his comment on Genesis 2:4, in his "Bible."] But it is not mere self-existence that is seen here: it is God in absolute present existence,-"who is"; but looking back to His former revelations of Himself and His purposes,-"who was"; and also able, and ready, and about to, make good all in the future that He has been and spoken in the past,-"who is to come."

It is striking that when the dispensation changes and God, after the trumpet of the seventh angel, takes His "great power," manifestly to reign, the twenty-four elders worship God as the One "who art and who wast" (Revelation 11:17): for at that moment they have entered into eternity, so to speak; they are with God, and God at last begins to rule in public righteousness, which, of course, will be forever. So the words "who is to come" are no longer needed.

"The Almighty." There is nothing more profitable than to meditate upon the names and titles of Deity. Although the name Jehovah seems to have been known and called upon even before the flood (Genesis 4:26), even the patriarchs did not understand its meaning as Jehovah revealed it for Israel. It was by the name Almighty He asked Abram and the patriarchs to walk (Genesis 17:1): "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect." Exactly the same counsel is given by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1. All power is in God, not in the creature. [Scofield’s note (Genesis 17:1) on the "Almighty God" is as weak and dangerous as his note on "Jehovah" is excellent. To be the "all-sufficient" One involves, indeed, almighty power. But such verses as Job 21:20; Job 37:23; Psalms 63:14; Isaiah 13:6 and Joel 1:15 do not easily reconcile with so limited a definition as "all-sufficient, the nourisher and satisfier of his people." It is significant that Paul, in 2 Corinthians 6:18, calls "the living God" of Hosea 1:10 "the Lord Almighty" (Greek, pantokrator): and it is also in connection with His tender attitude to them as "a Father, toward His "sons and daughters." It is this word pantokrator that is used eight times in The Revelation. It is too bad that so excellent a commentator as Dr. Scofield should say, "The primary name El or Elohim sufficiently signifies all-mightiness." It plainly does not; or God would not have used the more specific and most awe-inspiring Hebrew name, El Shaddai, Almighty, or its Greek equivalent, pantokrator. The other occurrences of "Almighty" in The Revelation are Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:17; Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:7, Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:15; Revelation 21:22. Present limitless power, the majesty of it, and the worship it deserves, accompany this name throughout Scripture, and especially in The Revelation.

After writing this note, I found to my horror, but I confess not to my surprise, the following: "In order to corroborate the doctrine (of sex in deity) just mentioned, certain Theosophists have invented a new derivation for the Hebrew Shaddai, which in our versions is correctly rendered ‘Almighty.’ They suppose it to be connected with a word shad, which signifies a woman’s breast. But such a derivation is impossible, and, so far as we are aware, has never been proposed by an unbiased scholar. More than one Christian scholar has taken up this Theosophical derivation of Shaddai, and explained the word as meaning first ‘full-breasted,’ and then ‘bountiful.’ The irreverent use of one of the grandest titles of the Most High should have checked them." (Pember: THE CHURCH AND THE MYSTERIES. Page 413.) The Babylonian doctrine of "the motherhood of God," source of all abominations, is what is subtly brought in here. The true derivation of Shaddai is Hebrew, yDv from root ddv to be strong, mighty: in adjective form used only of God (Gesenius). To miss this meaning of The Almighty is to endanger the consent of our hearts to His righteous judgments. ]

It is necessary for us to become thoroughly acquainted with God’s introduction of Himself in this book of The Revelation, for it characterizes Him throughout the book. The little son of a presiding judge might sit in a court room, and when the judge enters, delightedly exclaim, "That’s my father!" but he would have no desire to interrupt the proceedings! Indeed, he would glory in the pronouncements of his father as judge; and in the judge just because he was his father.

So with the saints: they are willing, yea, they rejoice, that judgment should begin even at the house of God, as it indeed does do in the seven churches.

And now we come to the first of the three great visions of Christ in the book of The Revelation: the first is as the risen, glorified Son of God judging during the present age the spiritual state of the assemblies-"churches" -on earth, as His light-bearers. The second is as the Lamb in heaven "as it had been slain" taking the book of government and judgment from the hand of God on the throne. The third is as the King of kings and Lord of lords returning to earth in the Great Day of Wrath to establish the millennial kingdom. May God especially help us, for we are on holy ground here:

I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a great voice as of a trumpet saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And having turned I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. And his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades. Write therefore the things which thou sawest, and the things which are, and the things which shall come to pass hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches.

I John. These words are used in Revelation 22:8. Compare "I, Daniel," Daniel 8:15; Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:2. As Daniel was known throughout the Babylonian and Persian empires, among both Jews and Gentiles, and took this for granted, so John, the last of the apostles and well-known of all Christians, takes for granted the intimate knowledge of himself and affection for himself that history and tradition assert, especially in the very region to which the Church epistles were addressed. ["The time of John’s death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history; and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120." McClintock and Strong, quoting Lampe.]

Your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus. Again we remark that John writes The Revelation not as an apostle exercising authority, but as a Seer, unfolding that unveiling of the future which Christ gave him. How humble and loving is his attitude. There is absolutely no "ecclesiastical dignity" here! Note the order: trouble and trial-tribulation-first; then the kingdom assured to us, and then the patient waiting for that kingdom’s manifestation. Compare Acts 14:22: "through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God;" 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5: "your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure — to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." (Note here it is not The Great Tribulation, but the ordinary trials of Christians.) We are in Christ as to our risen life, standing and fellowship; but that life becomes the life "of Jesus" when manifested in our body; and is hated of the world; so that we are "delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Corinthians 4:10-11). [If we "learn Christ" and hear Him, as those that are taught in Him, it will be "as truth is in Jesus," separating us utterly from the "manner of life" of this world, and therefore incurring their hatred. See Ephesians 4:20-23. The common loose quotation, "the truth as it is in Jesus," wholly misses the truth!]

Was in the isle that is called Patmos. Where The Revelation was written, we cannot say. Irenaeus says in Ephesus, but the visions were received on a small, rocky, barren island in the Aegean Sea, fifty or more miles from Ephesus, probably in the reign of the Emperor Domitian, A.D. 81-96, who had banished John thither.

For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. The "word of God" is the larger term setting forth that insisting upon God’s claims on men and warnings to them to which all the prophets bear witness. The testimony of Jesus is the gospel, John’s peculiar message being that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God"-dying, rising, interceding and about to return as Lord over all. "Art thou a king, then?" asked Pilate of Christ. For saying "yes" our Lord was crucified. For witnessing the same, His apostles and martyrs suffered. It is striking that John mentions the kingdom ("tribulation, kingdom and patience") in verse nine. The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right!

I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. Now, first, as to the "Lord’s day." It was the first day of the week, in which, although banished, John had spiritual fellowship with the believers who gathered on that day to remember the Lord (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2, John 20:19-26). The words do not mean "the day of the Lord," in the sense of His advent and 1000 years’ reign, as some teach. First, the adjective form is the same as in the words "the Lord’s supper" in 1 Corinthians 11:20; and, second, it is too early in the book to refer to "the great and terrible day of the Lord"; and third, the church age is directly addressed in the letters to the seven churches in 1:19: "the things which are."[Alford’s trenchant note (Gr. Test., in loc.) should dispose of all objections. Whatever originates in Germany (Wetstein) with "modern interpretation" and is spread in other lands needs to be thrice inspected!]

"I became in the Spirit." The reading "was in the Spirit," as if denoting simply a devotional state or even a conscious "communion of the Holy Ghost," is impossible here, as also in Revelation 4:2. ["Not merely ‘I was,’ but I became in the Spirit, that is, in a state of spiritual ecstasy or trance, becoming thereby receptive of the vision or revelation to follow." (Alford)

"‘I was,’ Greek, I came to be, I became, in the Spirit,-in a state of ecstasy; the outer world being shut out, and the inner and higher life and spirit being taken full possession of by God’s Spirit, so that an immediate communication with the invisible world is established." (Fausset)

"‘I became in the Spirit on the Lord’s day’: ‘in the Spirit’ is a state into which he entered." (Darby)

See also Winer. Dean Alford protests further: "They must be bold indeed who can render it, ‘I was transported by the Spirit into the day of the Lord’s coming,’ in the face of the absence of a single precedent in the universal usage of the early Church!"]

And I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. Compare Revelation 4:1, where the same voice speaks again after the same manner. "It is important to apprehend that the general object of this book is the revelation of the relations of God, as ruler, with the world, viewed as introducing into it Jesus as heir. It will be seen how much of difficulty this removes" (Darby). It is the same blessed person who said, "Come unto me," and who took young children in His arms; upon whose loving bosom John himself leaned his head at the supper; but the circumstances are absolutely different. The trumpet accompanied divine manifestations and commands- Exodus 19:13; Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:19. It emphasized authority, whether for solemnity, alarm, or gladness- Numbers 10:1-10; Leviticus 25:9; Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16. We must recognize the lordship of Christ. Note that it is Christ’s voice in Revelation 1:10, "as of a trumpet."

Saying, What thou seest, write in a book and send it to the seven churches: unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamum, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. Note that the book is to be sent to each church individually. There was then no "synod," "convention," "conference," or "diocese" of Asia! What follows, then, belongs to this church age, represented by these assemblies. The churches addressed were then existent. We have not therefore come to the part of the book which deals either with Israel or the earth or the Day of the Lord. Our Lord indeed will be speaking to these churches with trumpet authority; yet it will be "what the Spirit saith to the churches," and it will be "as many as I love, I reprove and chasten."

And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. The Lord spake behind His servant. John was evidently wrapped in thoughts of communion, of that "fellowship — with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" which he constantly had, and desired all saints to share (1 John 1:3-4). But the Lord has other plans for His servant on this Lord’s Day! Note that it is the voice he turns to see. Our Lord is ever the Word of God.

I saw seven golden candlesticks (literally, lamp-stands). John is about to learn how the Lord judged of that which bore His name on the earth. There are seven-not seven in one, as with Israel (Exodus 25:31-40). Each church is independently responsible to the Lord although all are governed by Him and addressed by the one Spirit. "The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light. The light is the Lord’s, not the Church’s; from Him she receives it." Moreover, the candlesticks are of gold, which in scripture types stands for the glory of God, which the churches were set to maintain. ["The candlestick of the Jewish sanctuary was the one only-its six branches set into the central stem,-and it spoke of Christ, not of the Church. The seven candlesticks (of The Revelation) are for lights, not in the sanctuary (where Christ alone is that), but in the world. And while there is a certain unity, as representing, doubtless, the whole Church, yet it is the Church seen, not in its dependent communion with Christ, but historically and externally, as ‘churches.’ Each lampstand is set upon its own base, stands in its own responsibility." (Grant) ]

In this wondrous vision of the glorified Lord in the midst of the candlesticks, the churches, mark how all the description sets forth His Judgeship, which is His character until the New Creation comes, in chapter 21.

And in the midst of the candlesticks one like unto a son of man. How infinitely precious to the heart is His appearance as connected with us, although glorified with the glory which He had "with the Father before the world was!" Yet Paul never calls Christ "son of man": He takes that name only when He claims what is due Him on earth.

Clothed with a garment down to the foot. This is the robe of the priest and of the judge. Also, it is the aspect of the priest, not in priestly services, but in judging character. It was the high priest’s business to see that the candlestick was "kept in order" in the old sanctuary through the night,-"from evening to morning" Leviticus 24:3-4.

These candlesticks (Revelation 1:12), all bear light, for they are the churches or assemblies of saints still recognized by the Lord, and consequently still having the right to the oil of the Holy Spirit, and to Christ as light. Nevertheless, our Lord’s attitude is in the dignity of priestly judgment rather than as Intercessor, or even using the "snuffers," with which the high priest kept bright the lamps of the Jewish candlestick. Here in The Revelation He is judging each church’s use of its light,-that is, dealing with the churches according to their responsibility to burn brightly, rather than seeing to it from His side that they do thus burn.

Girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The correct rendering of Isaiah 11:5, is, "And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins." Our Lord in The Revelation scene is girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle. The girdle at the loins means service. When Christ returns to reign, as in Isaiah 11:1-16, it will be both in majesty and in service: therefore the double girdle. But in The Revelation He is not serving, but stands as a priestly judge: therefore the girdle at the waist only; and it is of gold, setting forth His divine glory. Contrast John 13:4-5. Jesus "girded — to wash the disciples’ feet." This is the same Lord, for He keeps cleansing us yet, but in an entirely different office than portrayed in The Revelation.

And his head and his hair were white as white wool — white as snow. Here is the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7:9-10; Daniel 7:13; Daniel 7:22. Notice Daniel says that the Ancient of Days sat on the throne, and also that the Ancient of Days came. As we find in Revelation 5:6-7, "in the midst of the throne — a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, — he came," and took the book, etc. All must honor the Son even as they honor the Father.

White,-the color of deathlessness and of eternity as well as of holiness. John seems to have been given to see His head and hair and eyes at first with some withholding of the forth shining of His brightness, in order that he might distinguish them.

His eyes were as a flame of fire. Not yet a flame of fire, as in Revelation 19:12, in the great and terrible day, for it is yet the dispensation of grace; but they are none the less searching.

His feet like unto glowing brass,[The Greek word here rendered "glowing brass" is the despair of scholars-chalcolibanus. Alford simply transliterates it, as some others also do. Gold would stand for the glory of God, silver for redemption. "His feet like unto glowing brass" indicates wrath-judgment upon sin by the holiness of God, by which route-Calvary-our Lord overcame. He stands here among the churches on earth. He is gracious, but He must judge according to the glory which He died to secure for God.] as if they had been made fiery in a furnace (literal translation). The only metal I ever looked upon which absolutely dazzled my sight was a piece of fine brass. Brass is a composite metal, produced through fire.

His voice as the voice of many waters. Here is resistlessness, the effect of the multitude of the attributes of deity! It is not the trumpet sound, calling to attention, so much as the infinitude of the voice. Read Psalms 29:1-11.

He had in his right hand seven stars. In the midst of the overwhelming glory of Christ’s presence the seven stars are thrust upon John’s attention. "In his right hand"-the place of power and authority, as well as possession.

Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. This is His word, the word of God at Christ’s mouth: living, active (Hebrews 4:12). It is peculiarly through this word, spoken by the Spirit that He will judge and administer among the churches.

His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. Now the Seer is given to look fully upon the face of the glory of Christ, and we read, "when I saw him, I fell at his feet as one dead." So also Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13); Moses and Aaron, often; Joshua (Joshua 5:1-15); Job (Job 42:1-17), and all to whom it was given to view God’s glory. Let all who deny the Deity of Christ behold His beloved disciple at His feet "as one dead,"- at one sight of Him glorified. It is also to be noted that having seen Christ thus, John is no more afraid, - not even of the throne in heaven!

And he laid his right hand upon me, saying, Fear not;-the same grace yesterday, today and forever! He is the One who evermore speaks to His own, "It is I; be not afraid."

Now follows a three-fold utterance that should banish all our fears forever:

1. I am the first and the last, and the Living one. These are the words of God! Or the Jews were right, "He blasphemeth" (John 10:33-38; John 8:58-59). Again in Revelation 22:13:-He is the Eternal One, the Self-Existent One. He is God, though He is man.

2. And I became dead, and behold, I am alive unto the ages of the ages (literal translation). Peter writes, "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ — begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." For forty days after His resurrection He had been with the disciples, not yet glorified, even eating and drinking with them, again and again (Acts 10:40-41). To know by His own word from out that glory in which He now stood that the One whom John had seen dead and pierced was alive forevermore,-"this same Jesus,"-would be comfort unutterable to His apostle’s heart! He speaks first as the deity. Secondly of His death as a divinely ordained event,-"I became dead"; and thirdly of His humanity for all eternity! "Alive" is used in the New Testament only of those in the body. It is supremely important that we hear our Lord announcing His being alive in His risen body, "unto the ages of the ages," whether as "the Lamb" in heaven, "the King" coming in the Day of Wrath, "Christ" reigning with His saints, Him who sits on the Great White Throne (John 5:22; John 5:27), or the Lamb "on the throne of God and of the Lamb" forevermore!

3. And I have the keys of death and of Hades. Death held the bodies and Hades the spirits of men in Old Testament times. Since Christ’s resurrection death briefly holds the bodies, though Hades [Hades is literally, "the unseen": yet it is a place, with gates. It is in the heart of the earth. Matthew 12:40. It is the Hebrew sheol; as we see by comparing Psalms 16:10 with Acts 2:27. Men went down into it- Genesis 37:35, R. V. Spirits, not bodies, went there,-except in "the new thing" that God did in the judgment of Koran, Numbers 16:30-33, R. V. There was "a great gulf" there, fixed by God, separating His own from "the pit wherein was no water": for Christ had covenanted to shed His blood for His "prisoners,"-which made them "prisoners of hope"; and God promised Christ He would "render double" unto them,-not only delivering them from the pit,-as was Lazarus, in Abraham’s bosom as a child of faith delivered,-but also bringing them up from the "stronghold," in which they waited. See Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:11-12. When Christ ascended, after the three days there in "the lower parts of the earth," He led up His "captives,"-the Old Testament saints,-in His ascension (see Ephesians 4:8-10) so that they are now "spirits of just men made perfect," in their proper place in heaven, awaiting the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection. It is blessed, and sad, to reflect upon the countless hosts waiting with eagerness our Lord’s coming: and the prattling ones who "do not believe in it,"-and the frightful terror awaiting them! Note that our Lord’s words in Matthew 16:18 refer to the gates of a literal region,-in this earth’s center: into which gates the saints of the Church were never even to enter.] does not hold the spirits, of God’s saints.

Christ’s words should banish fear. One who has the keys of all is speaking, commissioning "his servant John" with His tender hand still laid upon him, but in the character of the eternally Living One now alive unto all the ages, and having the keys!

Our Lord has a character, an office, to maintain, of which many Christians think lightly, or not at all. He is the One ordained of God to be the Judge of the quick and dead; for God "will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). It will not do to forget this, or we will lose that fear of God which is "the beginning of wisdom." We have been commanded to "have grace, whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:28-29). We are indeed in a dispensation of grace, God "not reckoning trespasses," and gladly accepting all who believe. But God has seen fit to give this revelation, this apocalypse, to Jesus Christ, that He might show it unto His servants, and if you or I neglect or slight this one great prophetic book of the New Testament, who can say where we will end? Unitarianism, Universalism, and no-hellism are rolling like tidal waves over the land. "Blessed is he that readeth" The Revelation, and keeps its every word inviolate!

Write therefore. You see it is in view of this vision of the glorified Christ, the Son of God, of Revelation 1:1-20, and of those declarations concerning Himself which we have just been considering, that John is to write: "Write therefore." Judgment, like salvation, is connected solely with the person of Christ. I beseech you, study The Revelation with this before you: God is bringing again the firstborn into the earth, and that as the Heir (Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 1:6). It will be vain to become occupied with "sevens," "hundred-forty-four-thousands," "six-sixty-sixes," the restoration of the Roman Empire, the person of the Antichrist, the two wild beasts, the "millennium," or even the new Jerusalem; unless, along with God the Father, who has subjected all things unto Him, Christ is ever before our eyes! No doubt, having put down all enemies, "then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him" (1 Corinthians 15:1-58). That does not mean that the throne of God and of the Lamb will cease, for it will be forever and ever and ever!

We now have our Lord’s own outline of the book of The Revelation. Let no one misunderstand it (for it is very simple and plain); nor dare dispute it; nor think to substitute for it his own vain thoughts!

The Lord’s outline: 1. The things which thou sawest-that is, the vision which we have just beheld of Christ Himself. 2. The things which are (are on). 3. The things which shall come to pass after these things (literal translation). This last has but one possible meaning,-those things which succeed in time the things that are now on, or the Church things.

We shall have occasion to recur from time to time to this divine division of the contents of this book. [We shall remark again and again that the word "hereafter" is no real translation at all of the Greek phrase met a taut a which closes verse 19 and opens and closes 4:1. The phrase means, "after these things."]

The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. A mystery (Greek, musterion) denotes not what is beyond our understanding, but simply what must be revealed to be understood: it signifies a hitherto hidden truth, veiled perhaps, under a symbol, but now revealed. "The correlative of mystery is revelation."

The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches. We have seen that these seven churches were chosen by the Lord to represent assemblies of the whole church age. Seven is completeness: they represent all the assemblies and they are fully in Christ’s control. Not only is He "head over all things to the church, which is his body," the real Church, but also all local assemblies, and whether faithful or not, they lie in His direct and exclusive ownership and dominion.

There has been much discussion of the meaning of the angels of the churches. "Angel" (Greek, aggelos) signifies "a messenger"; "apostle" (Greek, apostolos), "one sent forth." Paul (2 Corinthians 8:23) calls Titus and those travelling with him "the apostles of the churches, the glory of Christ," (literal translation).

In the sense of our Lord’s words, "their angels do always behold the face of my Father" (Matthew 18:11), the meaning is evident. Their representatives (in this instance, actual heavenly beings) are called "angels."

Stars in Scripture stand for those having authority and leadership; also for teachers, both faithful (Daniel 12:3), and false (Judges 1:13). Inasmuch as the name "angel" is our Lord’s interpretation of the symbol star, the name "angel" cannot be itself another emblem. It must be the actual name applied by the Lord to certain persons definitely responsible for the state of the churches addressed. Now the Greek word aggelos, translated "angel," is used of men, in Luke 7:24 -"the messengers (aggeloi) of John." In Luke 7:19 we read of these same men, "John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to the Lord — and — they said, John the Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying," etc. That is, they were the representatives of John, just as in the same chapter (Luke 7:27) the same word (aggelos) is used concerning John himself, in his relationship to Christ: "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face."

Again, in James 2:25, the word aggelos is used to describe the spies who came to Rahab: "she received the messengers" (aggeloi) etc.; just as we read of "the angels of God" meeting Jacob in Genesis 32:1; and, in the third verse, of Jacob himself sending "messengers" (the same Hebrew word both times-malahchim). Indeed, this word is used by Moses in Numbers 20:14, "And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom," while in Numbers 20:16 of the same chapter we read, "He heard our voice, and sent an angel," the Hebrew word being the same. Again, in Judges 6:1-40 the angel of the Lord is mentioned seven times, and the angels, or messengers, Gideon sends, twice-the same word. Sennacherib’s representatives are called "messengers" in Isaiah 37:9; Isaiah 37:14; and in the same chapter, Isaiah 37:36, we read of the "angel of the Lord"-the same word.

Now we know from Daniel 12:1-13 that Michael the archangel stands for the nation of Israel. There is no hint, however, that angelic beings bear any such relationship to or responsibility for, the assemblies of God in this dispensation. Indeed, the very contrary is implied in Colossians 2:19. Christ is the only Head of the Church, and the Holy Spirit the only Administrator of her affairs on earth. But men are held responsible. Paul (Acts 20:28) said to the Ephesian elders (and Christ begins with the Ephesus assembly in The Revelation): "Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops"-(episkopoi, that is, over-watchers). Peter also: "The elders — I exhort — tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the overmatching willingly — neither as lording it over God’s heritage, but making yourselves examples to the flock" (literal translation).

We read in 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 8:23, of those sent forth with Titus, that they were the messengers (Greek, apostoloi, apostles) of the churches; they were "the glory of Christ," while in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, concerning Satan and his ministers, that they fashion themselves into apostles of Christ: "for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light."

Therefore the angels of these churches (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22), are those appointed by the Lord, and this appointment brought about by the Holy Spirit, to represent and be held responsible by Christ for the condition of each assembly. Such "angels" may or may not be recognized or appointed by men: they are often despised by men. But they deal with the Lord directly concerning the assembly which each represents. They are capable of receiving personal, spiritual communications from Christ concerning the assembly, and are responsible to Him alone to carry out His directions.

We shall see in these seven epistles that the invasion of overlording ecclesiasticism made no difference in the relationship of the "angel" of any church to Christ. He was still able to address the church through the angel, despite Balaamites and even the woman Jezebel, and all obstacles.

As Hengstenberg says, "They were called ‘angels of the churches’ because they were sent of God to the churches to be guarding them." He compares Matthew 18:10, concerning the "little ones": "in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven." Thus, so long as it has its lampstand at all, the "angel," or spiritual representative of an assembly, is a "star" in the Lord’s hand. [Note that the lampstand (Greek: luchnia) which represents the churches, is an entirely different word from the "torches," or "lamps," of Revelation 4:5, which is in Greek, lampas. The former are to hold a light, but the Spirit is light. Furthermore the lampstands of the churches were to lighten the darkness of this world; but the throne of God needs no illumination. The seven "torches of fire" in Revelation 4:5 are for searching, judging power, "sent forth into all the earth."]

Now, in this dispensation, the Church is God’s house. [The Church here is the assembly of God, the people, not the building! The Most High in this dispensation "dwelleth not in temples made with hands." (Acts 7:48.) No building or location in Christendom is in itself holy above any other.] 1 Timothy 3:14.

Now there are in general three forms of iniquity judged in The Revelation.

First, there are the common sins of "mankind" which take the forms of idolatry, lust and violence. They are distinctly seen in Revelation 9:20-21 (compare the two great commandments of the law given to Israel, Mark 12:33).

Second, there is the awful atheistic blasphemy of the wild beast of Revelation 13:1-18, sustained by Satanic power.

But, third, there is that which makes possible the first, and provokes into being the second-that is, the corrupt ecclesiasticism or clerisy of an apostate church. This, of course, precedes the other two.

Man awaits the permission of religion to indulge himself in the sin he loves. There is too little consideration given this awful fact. Even in professedly Christian institutions of "learning," a course in "comparative religions" is calmly prescribed! Now God declares that "the things the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God"; and also that Satan is "the god of this age," and "the prince of this world"; and that we true believers "are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19).

That the devil hates the Church of God with a deadly enmity goes without saying, for the saints confess and serve the Lord Jesus Christ under whose feet the God of peace will shortly bruise Satan.

Real believers, moreover, have been raised up with Christ and made to sit in the heavenlies with Him, being united to the lowly One who now is "far above all power and dominion"; and whom Satan so fears that he will flee, if resisted in faith by saints subject to God. It is that bringing on the scene of the direct power of the Lord Jesus through the Holy Ghost (the Christian’s proper warfare, Ephesians 6:10-14), which the enemy so dreads and against which he is so desperately malignant. [Satan is named eight times in The Revelation, five times in connection with the churches-six times if we include the name devil in Revelation 2:10.]

Therefore we will be foolish indeed not to look for the history of Satanic opposition in this account of the churches. And we may expect the professing church to be tempted along the same old lines,-first, of pride and self-assertion; secondly of fleshly indulgence, lust and license; thirdly of that hateful ruse called idolatry by which man seeks to hide from himself by "religious" rites his real spiritual state, while he indulges his evil propensities.

Bibliographical Information
Newell, William. "Commentary on Revelation 1". Newell's Commentary on Romans, Hebrews and Revelation. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wnc/revelation-1.html. 1938.
 
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