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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
Revelation 7

 

 

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Verses 12-17

12–7:17.] OPENING OF THE SIXTH SEAL, AND ITS ATTENDANT VISIONS. And herein (Revelation 6:12-17) Immediate approach of the great day of the Lord, Matthew 24:29 (98): (Revelation 7:1-8) gathering of the elect out of the four winds, Matthew 24:31; (Revelation 7:9-17) vision of the whole glorified church, Matthew 25.

The interpretation of this sixth seal is a crucial point in Apocalyptic exegesis. We may unhesitatingly set down all interpretations as wrong, which view as the fulfilment of this passage any period except that of the coming of the Lord. See the grounds of this below. And I saw when he opened the sixth seal, and a great earthquake took place (we have no word but “earthquake” for σεισμός, but it does not by any means cover the meaning. For here the heavens are shaken (against Düsterd.), and the sea, and the dry land. See Haggai 2:6-7, and the comment in Hebrews 12:26 f. Compare also Zechariah 14:4-5), and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair (see ref. Isa. The cloth meant is the cilicium: see note on Acts 18:3. This answers to Matthew 24:29,— εὐθὺς δὲ μετὰ τὴν θλῖψιν τῶν ἡμερῶν ἐκείνων ὁ ἥλιος σκοτισθήσεται.…, and to ὁ ἥλιος μεταστραφήσεται εἰς σκότος, in Joel 2:31), and the whole moon (i. e. not the moon in her crescent or her incomplete form, but entire; as we say, the full moon) became as blood (so Matt. l. c., καὶ ἡ σελήνη οὐ δώσει τὸ φέγγος αὐτῆς; and Joel 2:31, καὶ ἡ σελήνη εἰς αἷμα, πρὶν ἐλθεῖν τὴν ἡμέραν κυρίου τὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἐπιφανῆ), and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth (so Matt. l. c., καὶ οἱ ἀστέρες πεσοῦνται ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ), as a fig-tree casteth her unripe figs ( ὄλυνθος, τὸ μὴ πεπαμμένον σῦκον, Hesych. De W. explains it to mean, the winter figs, which almost always fall off unripe) when shaken by a great wind (so Matt. again, l. c., καὶ αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν σαλευθήσονται. It is remarkable, that in Matt., when the description has finished, the next words are ἀπὸ τῆς συκῆς μάθετε τὴν παραβολήν. The similitude from the fig-tree, though a different one, rises to the mind of the Apostle as he sees in vision the fulfilment of his Master’s words which were so shortly followed by a similar illustration. The imagery itself, as that in the beginning of the next verse, is from Isaiah 34:4). And the heaven parted asunder as a scroll when rolled up (the stars having fallen from it, the firmament itself was removed away, as an open scroll which is rolled up and put by. So also almost verbatim, Isaiah 34:4), and every mountain and island were moved out of their places (cf. again Matthew 24:35, ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσεται: the whole earth is broken up by a change as total as any of those previous ones which have prepared it for its present inhabitants. Cf. ch. Revelation 16:20; and Nahum 1:5, τὰ ὄρη ἐσείσθησαν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ οἱ βουνοὶ ἐσαλεύθησαν, καὶ ἀνεστὰλη ἡ γῆ ἀπὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ ἡ σύμπασα καὶ πάντες οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ). And the kings of the earth and the great men (the word μεγιστᾶνες belongs to later Greek. It serves here to designate the great civil officers, statesmen and courtiers, as distinguished from the next following) and the chief captains (see reff., especially those in Acts, where the officer in command of the garrison at Jerusalem is so called) and the rich men and the strong men (hitherto the enumeration has comprised all those who from their circumstances would have most ground for trust in the permanence of the existing state of the earth: these last, the ἰσχυροί, being perhaps the physically strong, cf. Ps. 32:16: or perhaps all those who on account of any ἰσχύς, physical or intellectual, are of the number of the sturdy or stout-hearted. The word is commonly used by the LXX as an epithet or even as a name ( ὁ ἰσχυρός) of Jehovah: but also as here: see reff. Now, the catalogue becomes more general) and every man, bond and free, hid themselves in ( εἰς, pregn.; ran for shelter into) the caves and in the rocks of the mountains (see reff. Isa., from which the imagery comes), and say to the mountains and to the rooks, Fall upon us and hide us from the countenance (see ref., and cf. Psalms 33:16, πρόσωπον κυρίου ἐπὶ ποιοῦντας κακά) of Him that sitteth upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (the imagery is from Hosea 10:8, further impressed by our Lord’s solemn saying on the way to Calvary, Luke 23:30 :—the meaning, that all these shall seek death or annihilation in terror of the coming day, when they shall have to stand before God): because the great day (we have no way in English of expressing the ἡ μεγάλη without an awkward periphrasis. The art. lifts the adjective out of its mere epithetal office, and makes it almost a title—the day, that great day: cf. Acts 8:10, where the people say of Simon Magus, οὗτός ἐστιν ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ καλουμένη μεγάλη. This name, ἡ ἡμ. μεγάλη, if properly considered, should have kept expositors firm here to the great verity of this part of the Apocalyptic visions, and prevented them from going in omnia alia as they have done) of His wrath is come (the virtually perfect sense of the aor. ἦλθεν here can hardly be questioned. Yet even here an account may be given of the aoristic use: see note on ch. Revelation 11:15), and who is able to stand (reff., and Malachi 3:2)? We are thus brought to the very threshold itself of the great day of the Lord’s coming. It has not yet happened: but the tribes of the earth are troubled at its immediate approach, and those terrible signs with which all Scripture ushers it in, have taken place. We are now then arrived at the time described in Matthew 24:30; the coming itself of the Son of man being for a while kept in the background, as hereafter to be resumed. He is seen as it were coming: but before the vengeance is fully accomplished, the elect of God then living on the earth must be gathered, as Matthew 24:31, out of the four winds of heaven, from among the inhabitants of the earth. To this ingathering the sealing in our text is the necessary preliminary. The correspondence between the series of prophecies holds even in the minutest particulars, and where they do not correspond, their very differences are full of instruction. See these pointed out as we proceed.


Verses 1-8

1–8.] The sealing of the Elect. [And] after this (these words, μετὰ τοῦτο, shew that the opening of the sixth seal is complete, and that what is now to follow,—viz. the two visions each introduced with similar words, μετὰ τοῦτο ( ταῦτα) εἶδον,—comes in by way of episode. They represent two great events, the sealing of the elect on earth, and the great final assemblage of the saints in heaven. The great day of the Lord’s judgment is not described; it is all but brought before us under the sixth seal, and is actually going on in the first of these episodes (see below): but only that part of it which regards the saints appears to us, and that only by its result—their gathering in to heaven) I saw four angels (not, as many interpreters, bad angels; nor does it necessarily follow that we are to adopt the analogy of ch. Revelation 16:5 and to regard them as “angels of the winds:” but simply angels, to whom this office is committed. This is all that is declared to us in the text, and it is idle to enquire beyond it. All allegorizing and all individualizing interpretations are out of the question) standing upon the four corners ( ἐπί with accus. at the first appearance, as indicating the coming into that position, “sensu prægnanti;” see on ch. Revelation 4:2) of the earth (i. e. North, South, East, and West, the cardinal points from which the winds blow) holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind may not blow on the earth nor on the sea, nor against any (or a, i. e. any) tree (the three disjunctives, μήτε, merely couple, without any climax), and I saw another angel (as before, simply an angel; not as has been fancied, our Lord, nor the Holy Spirit; cf. τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν below) coming up from the rising of the sun ( ἀναβαίνοντα, because the rising of the sun is low on the earth’s horizon, whereas the Apostle was in heaven, looking down on the earth: and ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου, as naturally agreeing with the glorious and salutary nature of his employment. Cf. Ezekiel 43:2; Malachi 4:2. The allegorical interpretations which have been given are entirely uncountenanced in the text), having the seal ( σφραγῖδα, though anarthrous, is defined by the possessive gen. following) of the living God ( ζῶντος, as giving to the seal solemnity and vital import): and he cried with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was gives (reff.) to injure (viz. by letting loose the winds, which they as yet held in) the earth and the sea, saying, Do not ye injure the earth nor the sea nor the trees, until we (not I: see Matthew 24:31, cited below) shall have sealed the servants of our God (the God alike of the speaker and of those addressed) upon their foreheads (the noblest, as well as the most conspicuous part of the human frame).

This vision stands in the closest analogy with Matthew 24:31, where immediately after the appearing of the sign of the Son of man and the mourning of the tribes of the earth, we read καὶ ἀποστελεῖ τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ μετὰ σάλπιγγος φωνῆς μεγάλης, καὶ ἐπισυνάξουσιν τοὺς ἐκλεκτοὺς αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν τεσσάρων ἀνέμων, ἀπʼ ἄκρων οὐρανῶν ἕως ἄκρων αὐτῶν. The judgment of the great day is in fact going on in the background; but in this first and general summary of the divine judgments and dealings, in which the sighs of Creation and of the Church for Christ’s coming are set before us, only that portion of its proceedings is described which has reference to these two. When the strain is again taken up, the case and reference are different.

The questions now arise, 1) who are these that are sealed? and 2) what is the intent of their being sealed? 1) Those who have followed the preceding course of interpretation will have no difficulty in anticipating the reply. They are, primarily, those elect of God who shall be living upon earth at the time here indicated, viz. that of the coming of the Lord: those indicated in Matthew 24:31, above cited. (On the import and reason of the use of Israel and its tribes, I shall speak below.) As such, they are not identical with, but are included in, the great multitude which no man can number of Revelation 7:9 ff. But they are also symbolical of the first-fruits of the Church: see notes on ch. Revelation 14:1 ff.


Verse 4

4.] And I heard the number of the sealed, an hundred and forty-four thousand sealed (the number is symbolical of fixedness and full completion, 12 × 12, taken a thousand fold. No one that I am aware of has taken it literally, and supposed that just this particular number and no more is imported. The import for us is that the Lord knoweth and sealeth His own: that the fulness of their number shall be accomplished and not one shall fail: and, from what follows, that the least as well as the greatest of the portions of his Church, shall furnish its quota to this blessed company: see more below) from every tribe (i. e. from the sum of the tribes; from every tribe, all being taken together. This is evident from what follows. For this accumulative sense of πᾶς with an anarthrous substantive, see reff. and Winer, edn. 6, § 18. 4) of the sons of Israel (this has been variously understood. By many, and even by the most recent Commentator, Düsterdieck, these sealed ones are taken to represent Jewish believers: the chosen out of the actual children of Israel. I need hardly say that such an interpretation seems to me to be quite inconsistent with the usage of this book. Our rule in such cases must be, to interpret a term, where it may possibly be ambiguous, by the use of the same term, if we can discover any, in a place or places where it is clear and unmistakeable. Now in the description of the heavenly Jerusalem, ch. Revelation 21:9 ff., we have the names τῶν δώδεκα φυλῶν υἱῶν ἰσραήλ inscribed on its 12 gates. Can there be any doubt as to the import of those names in that place? Is it not that the city thus inscribed is the dwelling-place of the Israel of God? Or are the upholders of the literal sense here prepared to carry it out there, and to regard these inscribed names as importing that none but the literal descendants of Israel dwelt within? (For observe that such an inference could not be escaped by the fact of the names of the 12 Apostles being inscribed on its foundations: those being individual names, the others collective.) It seems certain, by this expression being again used there “totidem verbis,” that the Apostle must here, as there, have intended Israel to be taken not as the Jewish nation, but as the Israel of God. Again, we have a striking indication furnished in ch. Revelation 3:12, who these children of Israel are, and to what city they belong:— νικῶνγράψω ἐπʼ αὐτὸν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς πόλεως τοῦ θεοῦ μου τῆς καινῆς ἱερουσαλὴμ ἡ καταβαίνουσα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου τὸ καινόν. These words serve to bind together the sealing here, and the vision of the new Jerusalem in ch. 21. Nor is it any valid objection to this view that the persons calling themselves Jews in ch. Revelation 2:9, Revelation 3:9, have been taken to be actual Jews. There is a wide difference in the circumstances there, as there is also in the appellation itself): out of the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand sealed, &c. &c. The points to be noticed in this enumeration are, 1) that with the exception of Judah being placed first, the order of the tribes does not seem to follow any assignable principle. It may indeed be not without reason, that Reuben, the eldest, next follows Judah, and Benjamin the youngest is placed last, with Joseph his own brother: but beyond this all is uncertainty: as any one will find, who attempts to apply to the order any imaginable rule of arrangement. So far has been generally confessed. “Nullus servatur ordo, quia omnes in Christo pares,” says Grotius. 2) That the tribe of Dan is omitted. This is accounted for by the fathers and ancient interpreters, from the idea (founded on Genesis 49:17) that antichrist was to arise from this tribe. So Areth(99) in Catena,— ἡ τοῦ δὰν φυλὴ τῆς σωτηρίας ἐκβέβληται, ἅτε μαιεύουσα τὸν ἀντίχριστον, καὶ ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ συγκροτουμένη, καὶ τούτῳ προσανέχουσα, καὶ καύχημα τοῦτον προβαλλομένη καὶ κλέος ἀκλέες καὶ ὀλέθριον: by most Commentators, from the fact, that this tribe was the first to fall into idolatry, see Judges 18; by others (Grot., Ewald, De W., Ebrard, Düsterd., al.), from the fact that this tribe had been long ago as good as extinct. Grot. quotes for this a Jewish tradition,—“jam olim ea tribus ad unam familiam Hussim reciderat, ut aiunt Hebræi, quæ ipsa familia bellis interiisse videtur ante Esdræ tempora.” Accordingly we find in 1 Chronicles 4 ff. where all Israel are reckoned by genealogies, that this tribe is omitted altogether. This latter seems the more probable account here, seeing that in order to the number 12 being kept, some one of the smaller tribes must be omitted. In Deuteronomy 33, Simeon is omitted. 3) That instead of Ephraim, Joseph is mentioned. We have a somewhat similar instance in Numbers 13:11, with this difference, that there it is “of the tribe of Joseph, namely of the tribe of Manasseh.” The substitution here has been accounted for by the “untheocratic” recollections connected with the name Ephraim (so e. g. Düsterd.). But this may well be questioned. In the prophecy of Hosea, where the name so frequently occurs, it designates Israel repentant, as well as Israel backsliding; cf. especially Hosea 14:4-8, the recollection of which would admirably fit the spirit of this present passage. I should rather suppose that some practice had arisen which the Apostle adopts, of calling the tribe of Ephraim by this name. 4) That the tribe of Levi is included among the rest, hardly appears to depend on the reason assigned by Bengel, al., that the Levitical ceremonies being now at an end, all are alike priests and have access to God: for in some O. T. catalogues, even where territorial division is in question, Levi is not omitted: the cities of the priests being mentioned under the head of this tribe. Cf. 1 Chronicles 6.

It yet remains to enquire, before passing on to the second vision in this episode, what is the import and intent of the sealing here mentioned. It has been the general view, that it was to exempt those sealed from the judgments which were to come on the unbelieving. And it can hardly be denied, that this view receives strong support from Scripture analogy, e. g. that of Exodus 12 and Ezekiel 9, especially the latter, where the exempted ones are marked, as here, on their foreheads. It is also borne out by our ch. Revelation 9:4, where these sealed ones are by implication exempted from the plague of the locusts from the pit. It is again hardly possible to weigh fairly the language used in this place itself, without coming to the same conclusion. The four angels are commanded not to begin their work of destruction, until the sealing has taken place. For what imaginable reason could such a prohibition be uttered, unless those who were to be sealed were to be marked out for some purpose connected with that work? And for what purpose could they be thus marked out, if not for exemption? The objection brought against this view by Düsterd., that so far from being exempt from trials, the saints in glory have come out of great tribulation, is grounded on the mistake of not distinguishing between the trials of the people of God and the judgments on the unbelieving world. In the latter, the saints have no part, as neither had the children of Israel in the plagues of Egypt. And indeed the very symbolism here used, in which the elect are pointed out under the names of the 12 tribes, serves to remind us of this ancient exemption. At the same time, exemption from the coming plagues is not the only object of the sealing. It serves a positive as well as a negative purpose. It appropriates to God those upon whom it has passed. For the seal contains His own Name, cf. ch. Revelation 3:12, Revelation 14:1. And thus they are not only gathered out of the world, but declared to be ready to be gathered into the city of God. And thus the way is prepared for the next vision in the episode.


Verses 9-17

9–17.] The great multitude of the redeemed in heaven. The opening of the sixth seal introduced the coming of the Lord. The first vision of the episode revealed the gathering together of the elect from the four winds. But before the seventh and last seal can be opened, and the book of God’s purposes be unrolled, not only must all things on this earth be accomplished, but the whole multitude of the redeemed must be gathered in to the joy of their Lord. Then, and not till then, shall we know even as we are known, and read the mystery of God’s ways without hindrance. Accordingly, in this sublime vision we are admitted to a sight of the finished state of glory, in which the seventh seal shall be opened. After these things (see above on Revelation 7:1. The term indicates separation from that which went before, and introduces a second and distinct vision in the episode) I saw, and behold a great multitude, which (construction, see reff.) no one could (the past ἐδύνατο represents the classical ἂν δύναιτο: not that the attempt was actually made, but that if made it was sure to fail) number, out of every nation (see ch. Revelation 5:9) and (all) tribes and peoples and tongues (observe, that this very specification, of a multitude without number, carries us on past the first or millennial resurrection, indicated in the two former parables of Matthew 25 (see notes there), and past the final judgment sublimely described at the end of that chapter: οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον is the point at which our vision takes up that prophecy. We have οἱ δίκαιοι, in their robes of righteousness, made white in the blood of the Lamb, already, Revelation 7:15-17, in the midst of those pleasures for evermore which always stand in Scripture for a description of the employments of the life everlasting) standing before the throne and before the Lamb (by these words the vision is fixed as belonging to that heaven itself which has been previously described, ch. 4. The celestial scene becomes filled with this innumerable throng: its other inhabitants remaining as before) clothed in white robes (see ch. Revelation 6:11, note: and below, Revelation 7:14), and palm-branches in their hands (bearing the palm-branch was a mark of festal joy, cf. John 12:13; 1 Maccabees 13:51; and this practice extended beyond the Jews, cf. Paus. Arcad. 48, οἱ δὲ ἀγῶνες φοίνικος ἔχουσιν οἱ πολλοὶ στέφανον· εἰς δὲ τὴν δεξιάν ἐστι καὶ πανταχοῦ τῷ νικῶντι ἐστιθέμενος φοῖνιξ. Remember also Virgil’s “palmæ, pretium victoribus,” Æn. v. 111. As regards the palm-branch being also called φοῖνιξ, we have the authority of Pollux (Wetst.), τοῦ μέντοι φοίνικος καὶ ὁ κλάδος ὁμωνύμως φοῖνιξ καλεῖται): and they cry (the pres. expresses their unceasing occupation) with a loud voice, saying, Salvation ( σωτηρία, the praise of our salvation: the ascription of the salvation which we have obtained) (be) to our God who sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb.


Verse 11-12

11, 12.] The choir of angels, as in ch. Revelation 5:11, respond to the ascription of praise. And all the angels were standing ( εἱστήκειν is in sense imperfect, just as ἕστηκα is in sense present: this latter importing “I have placed myself,” = “I stand,” and the former “I had placed myself,” = “I was standing”) round the throne and the elders and the four living-beings, and fell before the throne on their faces (then they were in the vision in the similitude of men) and worshipped God, saying, Amen: the blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honour and the power and the might (observe the sevenfold ascription) be to our God unto the ages of the ages. Amen.


Verses 13-17

13–17.] Explanation of the vision. And one of the elders answered (on this use of ἀπεκρίθη, see reff.) saying to me (the elders symbolizing the Church, one of them fitly stands out as the interpreter of this vision in which the glorified Church is represented), These that are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and whence came they (‘ad hoc interrogat, ut doceat,’ Bede(100) The questions are those ordinarily put when we seek for information respecting strangers. Wetst. compares the τίς; πόθεν εἶς ἀνδρῶν; of Homer; and the “Qui genus? unde domo?” of Virgil. Both enquiries are answered in Revelation 7:14)? And I said to him, My Lord (the address is one of deep reverence as to a heavenly being. See the limits of this reverence in ch. Revelation 19:10, Revelation 22:8-9), thou knowest (see ref. Ezek., from which the form of expression comes. The σὺ οἶδας must not with Ebrard be forced to mean, “I know well, but thou knowest better:” but must be taken in its simple acceptation, “I know not, but thou dost.” And this again need not mean that the Apostle had no thought on the subject, but that he regarded himself as ignorant in comparison with his heavenly interlocutor). And he said to me, These are they that come (not, as E. V., “that came:” nor again must the present be put prominently forward, that are coming, as if the number in the vision were not yet complete: still less is it to be taken as a quasi-future, “that shall come,” cf. ἔπλυναν and ἐλεύκαναν below;—but as in the expression ὁ ἐρχόμενος, the present is merely one of designation. Their description, generically, is, that “they are they that come,” &c.) out of the great tribulation (the definite art. ought not to be omitted as in E. V. It is most emphatic: “out of the tribulation, the great one.” And in consequence some, e. g. Düsterd., have explained the words of that last great time of trial which is to try the saints before the coming of the Lord. But to limit it to this only, is manifestly out of keeping with the spirit of the vision. I would rather understand it of the whole sum of the trials of the saints of God, viewed by the Elder as now complete, and designated by this emphatic and general name: q. d. “all that tribulation”), and they washed their robes (the aor. is that so often used of the course of this life when looked back upon from its yonder side: they did this in that life on earth which is now (in the vision) past and gone by) and made them white (the reff. are full of interest) in the blood of the Lamb (i. e. by that faith in the atoning blood of Christ of which it is said, τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν, Acts 15:9; and 1 John 1:7, τὸ αἷμα ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ.… καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. See also Ephesians 5:25-27. Several of the ancient Commentators have misunderstood this: e. g. Areth(101),— φαμὲν ὡς ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος αὐτῶν ἡ ὑπὲρ χριστοῦ ἔκχυσις πάσης ἀπήλλαξεν αὐτοὺς κηλῖδος. τῷ γὰρ οἰκείῳ αἵματι βαπτισθέντες λευκοὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ τοιούτου λουτροῦ ἀνέβησαν πρὸς τὸν ἑαυτῶν βασιλέα χριστόν: and, though differently, Joachim:—“sed cum sancti martyres in sanguine suo baptizati sint, quomodo sanguini Christi ascribitur quod abluti sunt, et non potius proprio sanguini quem pro Christo fuderunt? sed sciendum est, quod postquam empti sumus sanguine Christi, et ejus sacratissimo cruori communicare concessi, etiam sanguis noster sanguis ejus effectus est.” Similarly Lyra: “merito dicitur sanguis Agni, quia est sanguis membrorum ejus, in quibus dicit se persecutionem pati.” Ansbert ambiguously, “eas in sanguine agni candificant, subaudis, in Christi passionibus habitum mentis exornant.” And Ewald has fallen into the same mistake: “sanguine Christi, i. e. cæde quam ob Christi doctrinam, Christi et in hac re exemplar secuti, passi sunt.” Observe, we must not separate the two acts, washing and making white, as Hengstb., interpreting the former of the forgiveness of sins, the latter of sanctification: the latter is only the result of the former: they washed them, and by so doing made them white. The act was a life-long one,—the continued purification of the man, body, soul, and spirit, by the application of the blood of Christ in its cleansing power). On this account (because they washed their robes white in Christ’s atoning and purifying blood: for nothing that has spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, can stand where they are standing: cf. again Ephesians 5:27; none will be there who are not thus washed) they are before the throne of God (in the presence of His throne: seeing Him (Matthew 5:8; 1 Corinthians 13:12) as He sees them), and they serve Him by day (gen. sing.) and by night (“more nostro loquens æternitatem significat,” Bed(102)) in His temple (as His priests, conducting the sweet praises of that heavenly choir, Revelation 7:10, and doing what other high and blessed service He may delight to employ them in): and He that sitteth on the throne shall spread His habitation over them (it is exceedingly difficult to express the sense of these glorious words, in which the fulfilment of the O. T. promises, such as Leviticus 26:11; Isaiah 4:5-6; Ezekiel 37:27, is announced. They give the fact of the dwelling of God among them, united with the fact of His protection being over them, and assuring to them the exemptions next to be mentioned. In the word σκηνώσει are contained a multitude of recollections: of the pillar in the wilderness, of the Shechinah in the holy place, of the tabernacle of witness with all its symbolism. These will all now be realized and superseded by the overshadowing presence of God Himself). They shall not hunger any more, nor yet (the repeated οὐδέ is exclusive, and carries a climax in each clause) thirst any more, neither shall the sun ever light upon them, no, nor any (reff.) heat (as, e. g., ὁ καύσων, the sirocco, which word is used in Isaiah 49:10, from whence this whole sentence is taken): because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne (the ἀνὰ μέσον is somewhat difficult to express in its strict meaning. In ref. Matt., it has the sense of among: in ref. Mark, that of through the midst of: in ref. Isa., of between. It seems to imply at least two things, between or in the midst of which any thing passes, or is situate. And in order to apply this here, we must remember the text and note at ch. Revelation 5:6, where we found reason to believe that ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ θρόνου, κ. τ. λ., imported in the middle point in front of the throne. If so, the two points required for ἀνὰ μέσον would be the two extreme ends of the throne to the right and to the left. See, besides reff., Exodus 11:7; Leviticus 27:12; Leviticus 27:14; Judges 15:4; Judges 3 Kings Revelation 5:12; Ezekiel 22:26) shall tend them (as a shepherd his flock), and shall guide them to the fountains of the waters of life (cf. ch. Revelation 22:1. ζωῆς is prefixed for emphasis, as σαρκός in 1 Peter 3:21, οὐ σαρκὸς ἀπόθεσις ῥύπου. It is not found in the place of Isaiah, which runs thus: ὁ ἐλεῶν αὐτοὺς παρακαλέσει, καὶ διὰ πηγῶν ὑδάτων ἄξει αὐτούς. See Psalms 23:2): and God shall wipe away (see reff.) every tear out of their eyes.

All is now ready for the final disclosure by the Lamb of the book of God’s eternal purposes. The coming of the Lord has passed, and the elect are gathered in. Accordingly, THE LAST SEAL IS NOW OPENED, which lets loose the roll.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 7:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-7.html. 1863-1878.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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