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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 10

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 10

Revelation 10:1. ἄλλον before ἄγγ. (A, C, א, Vulg., Elz., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]) is omitted in a number of minusc., MSS., and deleted by Matth.; the transposition ἄγγ. ἄλλον (16, Primas) also occurs; both upon the ground that in what precedes, either no angel, or at least no “mighty” angel, can be found to whom the one here mentioned may be compared. Cf. De Wette. ἰρις. The art. lacking in Elz. is entirely certain (A, C, א, minusc., Beng., Griesb., etc.). ἐπὶ τὴν κεφ. So A, C, Treg., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The gen. τῆς κεφ. (Elz., Beng., Griesb., Matth.) is a modification supported only by א. On the other hand, in the Elz. edition (Revelation 10:2) the acc. τὴν θάλ., τὴν γ., occurs instead of the original gen.

Revelation 10:2. καὶ ἔχων. Thus, already, Griesb. in accordance with decisive witnesses, instead of the modification καὶ εἱχεν (Elz.).

Revelation 10:4. The interpretation ὅσα in א (quae, Primas), instead of ὅτε, concurs in testimony against the addition τὰς φωνὰς ἑαυτῶν in Elz.

αὐτὰ: A, C, א, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Without witnesses: ταῦτα (Elz.).

Revelation 10:6. The omission of the words καὶ τ. θάλ. κ. τὰ ἐν αὐτῃ in A, ׳א, depends upon an easily explained oversight. They belong to the completeness of the formal discourse, and are sufficiently defended by C, Vulg., etc. Lach. has parenthesized them, οὐκέτι ἔσται. So A, C, al., Griesb., etc. Incorrectly, Elz.: οὐκ ἔσται ἔτι.

Revelation 10:7. τοὺς ἑαυτ. δούλους προφ. A, C, א, al. (Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]) assure the acc. The dat. (Elz., Beng.) is a modification.

Revelation 10:8. λαλοῦσαν

λέγουσαν. A, C, א, 7, 14, Vulg., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The unauthorized nom. is a modification (Elz., Beng., Griesb., Matth.). τοῦ ἁγγε. The art. is received already by Griesb., according to decisive witnesses in the Elz. text.

Revelation 10:11. καὶ λέγουσῖν μοι. A, 8, 9, 13, al., Areth. (cf. also Vulg.), Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The sing. λέγει (Elz., Beng., Griesb.) is modifying. א has, besides the plural, several interpretations.

It is manifest that in ch. 10 an interlude begins, which occurs here between the sixth (finished in Revelation 9:21) and seventh (beginning in Revelation 11:15) trumpet-visions, just as the scene interposed in ch. 7 between the sixth and seventh seal-visions. But in this passage the relation is the more difficult, especially from the fact that the interlude, not so definitely circumscribed as that of ch. 7, proceeds from the continuous course of the proper main visions, since, at any rate, one part of what is described from Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:13 belongs to the second woe, whose conclusion is marked in Revelation 11:14, but whose first part was contained in the sixth trumpet-vision.(2684) This must be firmly maintained, as a matter of course, against De Wette, etc., who find the second woe in Revelation 9:13-21, yet without supporting further false consequences upon this error contrary to the context, but especially against Hengstenb., according to whom the entire conception of the section, Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:14 (and still further of Revelation 11:15 sqq.), coincides with the view that the episode extends from Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:13, and that Revelation 11:14 immediately joins Revelation 9:21. But if something were not contained within this episode that belongs to the second woe, Revelation 11:14 could not stand in its place, but must immediately follow Revelation 9:21.

Ebrard commits an error opposite to that of Hengstenb., since he(2685) finds the second woe only within the episode,(2686) and so conceals the entrance of the episode into the course of the trumpet-visions, that he does not reckon the sixth trumpet-plague in the second woe. Cf., besides, Vitr., who, on the other hand, identifies the sixth trumpet-vision with the second woe, and reckons it as continuing until Revelation 11:16.(2687)

In another form, the question recurs to the relation of the interlude to the main course of the visions, if the subject considered be how far the prophecy (Revelation 10:11) extends, which John is to proclaim as a consequence of having eaten the book offered him by the angel (Revelation 10:2; Revelation 10:8 sqq.). Prior to the exposition of the details, it may be remarked concerning the meaning of the entire section, Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 11:14 : (1) The essential reference of the interlude in which an angel from heaven brings John a little book, in order that he may eat it and then prophesy anew, is determined by a formal address of the angel himself, confirmed by an oath (Revelation 10:7), viz., that forthwith at the seventh sound of the trumpet, as also the entire course of the visions hitherto leads us to expect, the end is to come. (2) Immediately with the sounding of the seventh trumpet, coincides the speedy approach of the third woe (Revelation 11:14). If it were conceded that the part of the second woe described in ch. 11 referred to the destruction of Jerusalem (cf. Revelation 10:8), it would be obvious how precisely John distinguishes the proper final catastrophe, to which the chief course of the visions extends, from that act of judgment still falling in the second woe, but at the same time also preserves the inner connection between this special act of judgment and that final fulfilment,(2688) i.e., the eschatological character of the judgment on Jerusalem, by representing both in the one consequence of the woe.


Verse 1-2

Revelation 10:1-2. An angel comes down from heaven with an open little book in his hand.

εἰδον

καταβαίνοντα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. A difficulty has been found in that John, whose own standpoint from Revelation 4:1 is in heaven, sees an angel descend from heaven. Eichh., therefore, explains very arbitrarily: “In the heavenly theatre wherein the whole drama is being represented, he descended from that part which expressed heaven, to that which imitated the earth.”(2689) Hengstenb. obliterates that precise presentation from a standpoint taken in the vision: “It is most natural that John, from the earth, saw the mighty angel descend from heaven.” Nevertheless he does not admit, with De Wette, that here, as in Revelation 7:1 sqq., the seer has exchanged his standpoint in heaven(2690) for one on earth,—yet without understanding how the seer descended,—but Hengstenb. does not allow the application of any distinction between the one standpoint and the other: “That John is in heaven, is to be understood positively, and not exclusively.” As, according to John 3:13, Christ was “at the same time in heaven and on earth,” so, in a certain respect, such twofoldness of existence is peculiar to all believers, according to Philippians 3:20. But the question here is not concerning ethical citizenship in heaven, but concerning the locality fixed for ecstatic consciousness. Ewald properly maintains the heavenly standpoint of the seer, which is here as unobjectionable as in Revelation 6:12 sqq., Revelation 7:1 sqq., Revelation 8:5; Revelation 8:7-8; Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1 sqq., 13. sqq. Cf., concerning this, Introduction, sec. 1.

ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρὸν. The angel distinguished from other angels by the ἄλλον is, as little as the one mentioned in Revelation 7:2 or Revelation 8:3, Christ himself.(2691) The very form of the oath, Revelation 10:6, is not appropriate to Christ.(2692) When, on the other hand, Hengstenb. judges: “It would be presumption for a created angel to make such professions,” because only God himself “could grant the Church what is here granted it,” he mistakes the announcement by the angelic messengers for the granting, i.e., the accomplishment; and when Hengstenb. afterwards remarks that “the appearance of Christ as an angel is in the same line with his state of humiliation,” and he therefore swears by Him who had sent him, this neither agrees with the preceding judgment, nor is in itself correct, because we can in no respect think of the heavenly Christ as in the form of humiliation. More correctly, therefore, have the older expositors explained, who regarded the mighty angel as the Lord himself in so far as they found in his entire appearance, and his individual attributes, a glory which belonged to no mere angel.(2693)

The more accurate determination, however, of the angel, transcends the text:(2694) we can inquire only concerning the relation indicated by the ἄλλον. De Wette, Hengstenb., etc., propose a contrast with the trumpet-angels;(2695) but partly because of the designation ἄλλ. ἄγγ. ἰσχυρόν, and partly because of the parallel of the book with the sealed book, ch. 5, the reference to the ἄγγ. ἰσχυρόν (Revelation 5:2) appears to be nearer.(2696) [See Note LXIII., p. 308.] περιβεβλημένον νεφέλην

πυρός. With correctness, Beng., Ew., etc., proceed to comprehend the four special points of the description in their unified significance. These are, however, emblematic attributes which must be understood in the concrete biblical sense. Thus the parallel of the Horatian Nube candentes humeros amictus augur Apollo(2697) appears purely accidental and inwardly remote; and as the entire description has as its intention something more definite than to represent in general the brilliancy of the angel’s form, so the clothing him in a cloud has not only the external purpose to subdue to a certain extent that brilliancy.(2698) The cloud characterizes the angel as a messenger of divine judgment.(2699) With this agree “the feet as pillars of fire,”(2700) while the rainbow, the sign of the covenant of grace,(2701) on the head of the angel, makes the angel appear as a messenger of peace, and the face shining like the sun(2702) is an expression of the heavenly δόξα belonging thereto. The apparently contradictory emblems perfectly agree with the message which the angel himself formally announces, Revelation 10:7; for if the O. T. promise confirmed by him is directed to final joy and eternal peace, the fulfilment, nevertheless, does not occur without the dreadful development of a judgment which the seventh trumpet is yet to make known. Just as, therefore, in this μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ the terrors of the act of judgment precede its blessed fulfilment, so also the appearing of the heavenly messenger proclaims both at the same time.

The wrong interpretation of the emblematic attributes of the angel(2703) coincides in many expositors with the fact that they regarded the angel Christ; as Beda: “The face of the Lord shining, i.e., his knowledge manifested by the glory of the resurrection, and the feet of him about to preach the gospel, and to announce peace illumined with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and strengthened like a pillar.” Zeg., Aretius, etc., interpreted the clouds as Christ’s flesh.

καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεωγμένον. Concerning the relation of this little book to the book, ch. 5, what is said in Revelation 10:8 sqq. first affords a judgment. From a comparison with Revelation 10:5, the result is reached, that it was the left hand of the angel which held the book.(2704) But this is designated here a small book, by the diminutive form, not for the reason that only an inconsiderable volume is adapted for being eaten,(2705)—to such reflection, even a βιβλαρίδιον must appear too large,—also not in comparison with the large form of the angel,(2706) but corresponding with the contents, which constitute only one part of the βιβλίον, ch. 5(2707) This book is brought to the seer opened, in contrast with the sealed book, which could be opened only by the Lamb, because John is to understand its full contents, to take the book into himself (cf. Revelation 10:9), and then to prophesy.

καὶ ἔθηκε

τῆς γῆς. By the angel’s placing his feet of fire upon the sea and the earth, he shows not only that “his intelligence belongs to the earth and the sea (the islands);”(2708) but more definitely according to the analogy presented in Psalms 8:7; Psalms 108:10; Psalms 110:1, and corresponding to the entire meaning of the angelic form, he thus represents the power of God in judgment, whose messenger he is, as extending over the whole earth.(2709) The significant meaning, in this passage, of the angel in general, and of his course especially, is, however, to be understood only when the sea and the earth are interpreted no more allegorically than the angel himself. C. a Lap. thinks, in accord with Alcas., of heathen and Jews, to whom Christ preaches, i.e., causes the gospel to be preached. Hengstenb. abides by his interpretation of the sea as the sea of peoples, and the earth as the cultivated world, as Beng. by his interpretation of Europe and Asia. If the question be in general, concerning a particular sign that these allegorizing explanations do not belong to the text, it is answered in that they either do not at all(2710) explain the not indifferent course of the angel, who puts his right foot upon the sea and his left upon the earth, or that they do so with entire impropriety.(2711) John, as an inhabitant of Asia Minor, could not well, unless an entirely vague idea be entertained of him, regard the sea otherwise than in the definite form of the Mediterranean; while the place on earth on which the angel sets his foot is naturally the Asiatic main land. If the question be now concerning the idea lying in the setting-up of pillars of fire, as such, it is of course a matter of indifference as to what part of the sea and earth the seer could naturally have had in mind for his concrete contemplation; but it cannot be without more definite reference, if the region towards which the so significant form of the angel is directed be indicated by the accurately described posture. The angel stands with his right foot on the sea, with his left on the earth; and this is naturally to be concretely represented from the precise horizon of the seer, in the given way, if the angel look towards the south, towards the region of Jerusalem. But how well this agrees with his message (Revelation 10:6 sqq.) and the contents of the book brought him, will be clear when the result is reached as to how the message of the angel refers especially to the judgment on Jerusalem. This applies also against Ew. ii., who explains: The angel put his right, i.e., his first (?), foot upon the Mediterranean, and then the left upon the land, i.e., Italy and Rome. Then only the more remote goal of the prophecy now beginning (ch. 13 sqq.) would be indicated, while the important reference to the nearest object of the prophecy, Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1 sqq.), would in an incomprehensible way be lacking.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LXIII. Revelation 10:1. ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρὸν

Alford: “This angel is not, and cannot be, our Lord himself. Such a supposition would, it seems to me, entirely break through the consistency of apocalyptic analogy. Throughout the book, angels are the ministers of the Divine purposes, and the carriers-out of the apocalyptic course of procedure, but are everywhere distinct from the Divine Persons themselves., In order to this their ministry, they are invested with such symbols and delegated attributes as beseem in each case the particular object in view; but no apparent fitness of such symbolical investiture to the Divine character should induce us to break through the distinction, and introduce indistinctness and confusion into the book. When St. John means to indicate the Son of God, he indicates him plainly; none more so. When these plain indications are absent, and I find the name ἄγγελος used, I must take leave to regard the agent as distinct from him,—however clothed, for the purpose of the particular vision, with his delegated power and attributes.”


Verse 3-4

Revelation 10:3-4. At a mighty call of the angel, seven voices of thunder sounded what John, however, was forbidden to write.

καὶ ἔκραξε

μυκᾶται. What the angel called, the text in no way indicates; at any rate, Beng. is incorrect in saying that what is described in Revelation 10:6 may have been expressed by this cry. Only in general, the threatening character(2712) of this cry is to be recognized already from the fact that the mighty voice belonging to the strong angel(2713) is compared expressly with the roar of the lion,(2714) as in the immediately succeeding and, as it were, responsive voices of thunder.

The word μυκᾶσθαι properly expresses the bellowing of the bull,(2715) yet in Theocritus(2716) there is also found ΄ύκη΄α λεαίνης. [See Note LXIV., p. 308.] αἱ ἑπτὰ βρονταὶ. The art., which suggests some particular thunder, cannot refer to Revelation 4:5.(2717) Ewald’s explanation, “All seven thunders of the heavens seem to intimate that the whole heaven must be considered as having exclaimed with an unheard-of and terrible clamor,” has no biblical foundation, and proceeds from the later Jewish conception of seven heavens, as it ascribes to each heaven a special thunder. Heinr. says, too indefinitely: “Seven mightier thunders,” but is correct in making a comparison with the seven spirits of God,(2718) and the seven angels;(2719) for here, where the question is concerning a definite manifestation by thunder, this occurs not only in the concrete number seven,—to which, besides, a certain outward occasion may have been given in the sevenfold description of the Divine voices of thunder, Psalms 29,(2720)—but their sound is regarded also by John as a significant speech ( ἐλάλησαν), as each thunder uttered its special voice ( τ. ἑαυτῶν φωνάς) which brought an intelligible revelation to the prophet.

In accordance with the command, Revelation 1:11, John wanted to write down what the thunder had said; the ἤ΄ελλον γρ., I was on the point of writing,(2721) which does not suit the standpoint of proper vision, since within this any writing is inconceivable,(2722) is explained from the standpoint of the composition of the book; but the exchange of these two standpoints is without difficulty, when considered as referring to the prophet now writing out his vision, and as based, indeed, upon the essential identity of the Divine revelation, which guides the writing, as well as the gazing, prophet, when he receives, in respect to this revelation, another command: καὶ ἤκουσα, κ. τ. λ. The καὶ has neither here, nor anywhere else, an adversative meaning, but simply connects the new point, whose inner opposition to the preceding is not precisely marked.(2723)

φωνὴν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. The expression does not compel us to regard John no longer in heaven;(2724) also from the standpoint which John occupies from Revelation 4:1 (cf. Revelation 10:1), he could designate a voice sounding from the depth of heaven as a φων. ἐκ τ. οὐρ. That the voice belonged to Christ,—as Beng. infers from the command, Revelation 1:11, which here suffers an exception,—remains an ingenious conjecture. Ew. ii. proposes the angel-attendant of Revelation 1:1. See in loc.

The heavenly voice demands a complete silence concerning all that the thunders had uttered: σφοάγισον

καὶ μὴ αὐτὰ γράψῃς. The sealing is to occur just by the not writing; compare the reverse relation, Revelation 22:10. Contrary to the text, therefore, is every explanation that finds(2725) in this passage a sealing that is in any way conditional,(2726) and entirely improper is the question as to what were the contents of the voices of the thunders. Beda regarded them identical with the seven trumpets; Zeg., as the oracles of all the prophets—before Christ; Hengstenb.(2727) thinks: “what is announced later concerning the destruction of the enemies of the kingdom of God, and the final victory, must be essentially identical with what is here previously kept secret.” Others have tried to conjecture from the context, if not the contents, yet the subject and character, of the utterance of the thunders. Hofm. has offered what is, in every respect, the strangest suggestion, when he imagines how the seven thunders had expressed the blessed mystery of the new world. Beng. considered the voices of thunder as those which mightily proclaim the praise of God. The other expositors have more correctly maintained the threatening significance of the voices of thunder; but their relation to the call of the angel is arbitrarily stated by Herd.: “The thunders declared their curses, but John was forbidden to write them, as they are not to disturb the angel’s glad message;” and by Eichh.: “The thunders had announced the sad contents of the little book, in order that the glad message might remain for the angel.”(2728) The seven thunders are referred to definite individual facts by Vitr., who understands the seven crusades; and by Ebrard, who thinks of the seven acts of God which will occur before the beginning of the seventh trumpet, and whereby God obtains for his people rest, and for himself glory before his enemies. Better than all the exegetes who have even attempted to discover something concerning the contents of the voices of thunder, did S. Brigitta esteem the text, of whom the legend says, that she wanted to know what the voices of thunder announced to John; she therefore prayed for a special revelation from God, and received it, whereby it was revealed to her that the thunder prophesied terrible judgments upon the persecutors of the Church.(2729)

The question has also been asked, why John did not dare write the utterance of the thunders. Incorrectly, Züll.: “Because unbelievers would not be converted;” but it is neither certain that the thunder-voices had any such tendency, nor is the presumption in itself correct.(2730) Ew. mentions the contents of the voices of the thunder as “exceeding human comprehension;”(2731) but John not only understood that declaration, but also regarded it intelligible to others, as he wanted to write it. De Wette says only, that thereby the mysteriousness is to be increased. Volkm. recognizes only a literary reason: for writing, or rather for announcing, there is no longer time, as now the second part, the realization, comes.(2732) Yet there is still time sufficient to refer to new announcements (Revelation 10:6; Revelation 10:11); for they follow as such, and not as realizations. It is well simply to acknowledge what is most obvious; viz., that the holy wisdom of God has given no account as to why this special revelation has not been made universal(2733)

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LXIV. Revelation 10:3. μυκᾶται

The application of the word to thunder is very forcibly illustrated by the μύκημα in Æschylus, Prometheus, 1062:—

μὴ φρένας ὑμῶν ἠλιθιώσῃ

βροντῆς μύκημʼ ἀτέραμνον.”

“Quickly from hence depart,

Lest the relentless roar

Of thunder stun your soul.”

PLUMPTRE’S Translation.


Verses 5-7

Revelation 10:5-7. The angel swears that immediately, viz., in the time of the seventh trumpet, which is at once to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished.

ἦρε τ. χεῖρα αὐτ. τ. ὁεξιὰν εἰς τ. οὐρανὸν. The angel can raise(2734) only his right hand, because his left holds the little book, Revelation 10:2. The significance of the gesture is derived from the form of the oath. He raises his hand to heaven as to the high and holy place where the Eternal, and Almighty dwells,(2735) who even himself, in swearing by himself, raises his own hand to heaven.(2736)

Concerning the ἐν in connection with ὤ΄ωσεν, cf. Matthew 5:34 sqq.; Winer, p. 364.

τῷ ζῶντι εἰς τ. αἰων.

ὃς ἔκτισε τ. οὐρανὸν, κ. τ. λ. The pragmatic reference of this appeal to God, as the Eternal and Creator of all things, lies in the fact that the subject of the oath is the ΄υστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ, therefore something concealed in God’s eternal decree, but which, in his time, he has not only in prophecy announced,—through the ancient prophets (Revelation 10:7), and now through John (Revelation 10:11; Revelation 1:1 sqq.),—but also the Almighty Lord will infallibly bring about,(2737) and that, too, ἐν τάχει (Revelation 1:1). For the angel swears, ὄτι χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται, “that there should be time no longer.” The authentic norm for the correct explanation of this expression is given by what follows, which defines the same thing from the contrasted side, ἀλλʼ ἐν τ. ἡ΄., κ. τ. λ.). It is accordingly not an “entrance of a modern thought,”(2738) but a complete misunderstanding of the text, when many interpreters, following Beda,(2739) have understood the words χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται, of the absolute cessation of time, i.e., of the beginning of eternity. The opposite parallel, ἀλλʼ ἐν τ. ἡ΄έραις, κ. τ. λ., by virtue of its chronological nature, excludes every explanation which presents the formula χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται in any other way than chronologically. Ebrard, accordingly, is also incorrect when he understands by the χρόνος, a season of grace. On the other hand, however, the contrast, Revelation 10:7, as well as also the tenor of the formula χρόν. οὐκ. ἔστ., forbids us to recognize in this a definite, technical expression of Apocalyptic chronology, as Bengel wished, who found here a “non-chronus,” i.e., a period of more than a thousand and less than eleven hundred years, and accordingly reckoned the closing epoch of this “non-chronus” (i.e., the beginning of the thousand years’ reign) as the year 1836, since the starting-point occurred, at all events, before the year 842, the concluding year of the second woe,(2740) and apparently in the year 800, in which the reign was established. Grot., Calov., Vitr., C. a Lap., Eichh., Ew., De Wette., Hengstenb., etc., have correctly recognized the fact that the words χρόν. οὐκ. ἔσται express the immediate, and the indeed very positively defined (Revelation 10:7), beginning of that which is called in Revelation 10:7 the fulfilment of the mystery of God. But naturally, from this formal unanimity of the most expositors, there proceeds directly the greatest diversity of views, when the question is concerning the more precise reference of the formula, χρόν. οὐκ. ἔστ. according to the standard of what is said in Revelation 10:7. But Vitr. is inaccurate, even in a formal respect, when he says, “No delay of time is to intervene between the sound of the seventh trumpet, and the fulfilment of the prophetic oracles;”(2741) for the affirmative determination, Revelation 10:7, says in apposition to the words ὅτι χρ. οὐκ. ἔσται, which deny a further delay, that the (immediate, Revelation 10:6) fulfilment of the mystery of God is to occur just at the time of the seventh trumpet. The question, therefore, is not concerning a delay, perhaps still occurring between the seventh sound of the trumpet and the fulfilment of the mystery of God; but the angel swears that between the present point of time (which falls after the close of the sixth trumpet, and before the second part of the second woe, that is finished only at Revelation 11:14), and the fulfilment of the mystery of God, which is to be expected within the time of the seventh trumpet, there will be no more interval. [See Note LXV., p. 309.] What, therefore, might have been expected already after the close of the sixth seal-vision, but yet did not occur, because ch. 7 brought a special preparation,—and, besides, from the seventh seal itself the new series of trumpet-visions proceeded, ch. 8 sq.,—is not to come immediately, and that, too, in the seventh trumpet. Yet it does not actually occur in Revelation 11:16-19.(2742)

ἄλλʼ ἐν τ. ἡ΄έραις τῆς φωνῆς τοῦ ἑβδ. ἀγγ. These words in combination with the immediately succeeding ὅταν ΄έλλη σαλπίζειν, which contain an epexegetical description of the φωνῆς τ. ἑβδ. ἀγγ., appear to require an explanation like that of Bengel: “Thus the angel makes himself heard, not only at the beginning of these days, but continually throughout them.” The additional remark, “at the end of the days this trumpet acquires the name of the last trump” (1 Corinthians 15:52), is, of course, entirely without foundation in the context. But even the first statement of Bengel conflicts with the analogy of all the trumpet-voices hitherto in their proper nature (which, nevertheless, the words ὅταν ΄έλλῃ σαλπ. themselves recall); since, by the heavenly trumpet-sounds, not future things themselves, but only such manifestations as signify what is to occur on earth, are introduced. The seeming difficulty which lies, therefore, in the fact that what is said in Revelation 10:7 is of the “days” of the seventh trumpet, but which cannot be explained by regarding a continuance of the trumpet-voice during the whole of the still future period of that (actual) day, is very simply explained if it be acknowledged(2743) that in the expression ἐν τ. ἡ΄έραις τ. φων. τ. ἑβδ. αγγ. the standpoint of the vision is not purely maintained, but the reference to the events of the sixth trumpet-vision is intermingled; only from this last standpoint can we properly speak of the “days” of the last trumpet, viz., of the period in which that which is represented to the prophet by the final sound of the trumpet actually occurs.

καὶ ἐτελέσθη. The annexing of the conclusion is Hebraistic, since the καὶ with the aor. corresponds to the Vav with the perf.(2744)

τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ. The contextual determination of this idea—whose character is indicated, in general, already by the correlate ideas of divine revelation ( εὐηγγέλισε), and of prophecy ( τ. προφ.) as the human announcement of the mystery revealed on God’s part(2745)—lies partly in the fact that its actual fulfilment(2746) is placed in the time of the seventh, and consequently the last, trumpet; partly in that its revelation is conceived of by the prophets as a εὐαγγελίζειν, i.e., a communication of a joyful message. Besides, it needs no special proof, that the expression τοὺς ἑαυτ. δούλ., τοὺς προφήτας(2747) can refer only to O. T. prophets,(2748) but neither to N. T. prophets,(2749) nor to Christ and the apostles,(2750) as the mystery of God revealed to these prophets, and proclaimed by them, is infinitely more than the “divine counsel concerning freeing Christians from the oppression of the Jews.”(2751) According to the contextual indication just given, the ΄υστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ, whose contents are here declared only by the general allusion to the O. T. predictions, refers to nothing but the glorious completion of the divine kingdom, the final goal whereto the deepest current of O. T. prophecy, which is on that account essentially an Apocalyptic element, tends. The next authentic explanation of the proper contents of the ΄υστ. τ. θ. is contained in the heavenly song of praise sounding forth after the seventh sound of the trumpet, Revelation 11:17 sqq.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LXV. Revelation 10:6. χρόνος οὐκέτι ἔσται

Stier: “The Greek word χρόνος applies equally to a long interval, a respite, a delay, a postponement; and we have already had several instances in which it has been so used, as, for instance, in ch. Revelation 2:21, where we find it rendered ‘space to repent;’ and ch. Revelation 6:11, where it stands for a further period of rest and expectation. Therefore the meaning is simply this: that, whereas the angel with the seal demands an interval of time before the opening of the seventh seal, which interval is to be employed in sealing the servants of God, so this angel, on the contrary, denies any further space for repentance, any respite for the ungodly, before the sounding of the seventh trumpet. He affirms that stroke is to succeed stroke, and that, in a certain limited period, all will be finished.” So, also, Beck, who, in illustration of this meaning of χρόνος, refers to its derivative χρονίζειν: Matthew 24:48, “My lord delayeth his coming;” Matthew 25:5, “while the bridegroom tarried;Hebrews 10:37, “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” “Space of time” is the uniform meaning of χρόνος both in the Apocalypse (Revelation 2:21, Revelation 6:11, Revelation 10:6, Revelation 20:3) and the Gospel of St. John (John 5:6, John 7:33, John 12:35, Revelation 14:9).


Verses 8-11

Revelation 10:8-11. At the command of the heavenly voice (Revelation 10:4), John eats the little book given him by the angel, and receives the instruction that he must once again prophesy.

φωνὴ, ἣν ἤκουσα

καὶ-g0- λέγουσαν-g0-. The construction in this correct reading(2752) is like that of Revelation 4:1, but yet unsymmetrical, as here not only the λέγων in the mind of the author is received into the relative clause by attraction, but also the πάλιν is placed before λαλοῦσαν because of the connection of the declaration just repeated with that mentioned, Revelation 10:4. If the sentence in which, in any case, the aor. ἤκουσα is intended as a plusquam-perfect, were altogether symmetrical in its reference to Revelation 10:4 (cf. Revelation 4:1), its construction in accord with the nom. φωνή would run: κ. φων., ἣν ἤκ. ἐκ τ. οὐρ. λαλοῦσαν ΄ετʼ ἐ΄οῦ, πάλιν ἐλάλησεν ΄ετʼ ἐ΄οῦ λέγουσα ( λέγων). Likewise De Wette, Ebrard.

ὓπαγε. As in Revelation 16:1, Matthew 5:24; Matthew 8:4, etc.,(2753) an actual going is represented, accordingly in Revelation 10:9 it is said ἀπῆλθα.

λάβε, cf. Revelation 5:7. John is to take this book to himself (Revelation 10:9).

απῆλθα πρὸς τὸν ἄγγ. How John, who continues to have his standpoint in heaven (cf. Revelation 10:1), could go to the angel who stands on the earth and sea, is not made perceptible to sober view, because in the vision the question is only concerning the act of going. But even if one, like De Wette, consider that John, even prior to ch. 10, “had occupied the standpoint of Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Daniel,” the difficulty of the ἀπῆλθα remains essentially the same; hence De Wette has properly reached no conclusion from this expression concerning the standpoint of John.

δοῦναι. Concerning this inf.,(2754) dependent on the λέγων, cf. Winer, p. 296.

κατάφαγε αὐτό. The eating of the book(2755) is within the entire visionary scene not to be regarded an expression intended allegorically, but as a real act of John; just as Ezekiel (Revelation 2:9 sqq.) by eating a book receives the contents of its prophetic discourses. The meaning of the visionary fact is correctly given already by Beda: “Take into your inward parts, and contain within the space of thy heart.” What Jeremiah 15:16 in figurative language calls an eating of the words of divine revelation, which must be converted by the prophet into marrow and blood,(2756) we find here, as in Ezekiel, represented in an actual visionary transaction.(2757)

καὶ πικρανεῖ

μέλι. From the fact that the angel speaks first of the bitter effect and then of the sweet taste of the little book, but John himself (Revelation 10:10) the reverse, it does not follow that “both vigorously struggled for priority.”(2758) According to the context, the “priority” belongs—not only as to order, but also as to minor dignity—to the sweetness, because the book comes first into the mouth and last into the belly. According to this most simple order, John himself reports, Revelation 10:10. The angel looks at it differently, since he speaks,—as the combination of the two expressions into one antithesis shows,—not according to the mere consequences, but with respect to the inner nature and effect. The angel intends first to prepare John for the bitter effect, but then he also says that the book will be in his mouth sweet as honey. This is also against Beng., who, by a comparison of Revelation 10:9-10, immediately infers two kinds of sweetness, one before and one after the bitterness.

The relation of πικρανεῖ σου τὴν κοιλίαν ( ἐπικράνθη κοιλ. ΄., Revelation 10:10; cf. Revelation 8:11) and γλυκὺ ὡς ΄έλι is, in accordance with the context, to be determined according to both norms: that one and the same book is sweet and bitter according as it enters the mouth or the belly; then, that the distinction between the mouth and the belly is understood only with reference to the eating. Incorrect, therefore, are both the explanation which refers the sweetness and bitterness to the difference between the joyful and the sad contents of the book,(2759)—in connection with which a further error is readily intruded, that, with a result contrary to the context, speaks of “bitter-sweet” contents, indicating that only after a sad visitation could glorious joy enter;(2760) and also that which—in connection with a false interpretation of the little book itself, of the πάλιν προφητ., Revelation 10:11, yea even of the angel, Revelation 10:1; Revelation 10:8—regards the mouth of John not as the organ of eating (receiving), but of speaking, and then refers the bitterness to the persecutions and all the hinderances with which the evangelical preaching of John or the entire Church met.(2761) With correctness, Vitr., C. a Lap., De Wette, Stern, Hengstenb., etc., have interpreted, that, as the mouth refers to the receiving of the revelation given in the little book, so the κοιλία—not καρδία, as Cod. A reads, and Andr. explains, disturbing the clearness of the idea of the text by mingling therewith a rash interpretation—is directed to the comprehension, i.e., the further scrutiny(2762) and perception, of the revelation received. [See Note LXVI., p. 309.] How little the sweetness of the reception, as such, was hindered by the bitterness of the contents of revelation, is shown by the symbol of Ezekiel, in whose mouth the book written with mourning and woe is ὡς ΄έλι γλυκάζον.(2763) But he also went bitterly, after he had filled his belly therewith,(2764) in the heat of his spirit.(2765)

By eating the book, John is made able to proclaim its contents. Therefore Revelation 10:11 follows: καὶ λἐγουσῖν μοι, κ. τ. λ. The plur.(2766) makes the speaking subject entirely indefinite; the modified var. points to the angel.

δεῖ σε πάλιν προφ. The δεῖ designates not the inner, subjective necessity, that John now cannot help prophesying, because by eating the book he has been capacitated for prophesying,(2767) but the objective necessity depending upon the will of God, who accordingly gives his revelation.(2768) The πάλιν does not contrast John’s prophecy with that of the ancient prophets,(2769) but designates a second προφητεῦσαι of John himself, yet not a preaching after a return from exile,(2770) but the new prophecy for which the eaten book has fitted him in its relation to the prophesying practised upon the ground of previous visions. This πάλιν προφητεῦσαι occurs therefore in the succeeding part of the Apoc.(2771)

ἐπὶ λαοῖς

πολλοῖς. Incorrectly, Beng: “To nations—beyond,” in the sense that there are still many nations, etc., which are, meantime, to come before that is fulfilled which is here described prior to the transition to the second woe. ἐπί has this meaning neither in Hebrews 9:17, 1 Corinthians 14:26, nor elsewhere. Likewise incorrectly, Ebrard: “Before nations,” i.e., so that “the nations have it declared to them.” The ἐπὶ with the dat. designates, precisely as in John 12:16, the object which the prophecy grasps, i.e., concerning which the prophecy is made. The grammatical relation is precisely the same as in the construction of ἐπί with the dative accompanying verbs designating joy, astonishment, etc., concerning any thing.(2772) The occasion for the false construction of the ἐπὶ lies, in Ebrard, in the view of the contents of the book, and the range of the prophecy conditioned thereby. If the πάλιν προφητεῦσαι is completed with Revelation 11:13, and is intended for the Church, it cannot be said here, Revelation 10:11, that John is to prophesy concerning nations and kings; and if Hengstenb., who likewise(2773) finds in Revelation 11:1-13 the prophecy announced in Revelation 10:11, and refers it to the degenerate churches, yet explains correctly the ἐπὶ λαοῖς, κ. τ. λ., and compares therewith what is said of kings, chs. 16, 17, 19, this is inconsistent with his view of the little book and the πάλ. προφ., just to the extent that it is correct according to the context. Ewald—who agrees formally with Hengstenb. and Ebrard, since he also finds in Revelation 11:1-13 the contents of the eaten book, but interprets this new prophecy as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem—refers the ἐπὶ λαοῖς, κ. τ. λ., to Revelation 11:2; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 11:9; but since the prophecy Revelation 11:1-13 is actually one concerning Jerusalem, it cannot well be called at Revelation 10:11 a prophecy concerning peoples, nations, languages, and many kings.(2774) Besides, Ew. has understood the significant position of the angel, Revelation 10:2, with relation to Rome as capital of the world. The result, therefore, is not that the ἐπὶ is explained ungrammatically, but that we must seek the correct reference of the πάλιν προφητεῦσαι, which must concur with the correct view of the contents of the little book eaten. Upon this depends the ultimate determination of the view of the entire transaction in ch. 10.

The allegorical explanations are to be rejected, as entirely in violation of the context, which betray their arbitrariness by their infinite diversity. The mighty angel, Revelation 10:1, can as little stand for the Emperor Justin, the defender of the Church against the Arians, and the Emperor Justinian,(2775) or(2776) the evangelical preachers, as whose representative others, like Beda already, understand John, or indeed the Pope,(2777) as the little book eaten by John can be the Codex Justinianus,(2778) or the N. T.(2779) The most important interpreters(2780) are unanimous in regarding the contents of this little book, which is eaten, as prophecy which is written in the Apoc. itself, and that, too, in the part which follows ch. 10. But there is controversy both as to the more accurate determination of the section which is regarded as containing the prophecy proceeding from the book that is eaten, and also, which is essentially connected therewith, as to the relation between the book that is eaten, and the seal-book, ch. 5. The opinion that both books are identical(2781) is answered already by the fact that John, after having thus far prophesied upon the ground of the book of ch. 5, now is to prophesy anew upon the ground of the little book that is eaten. Accordingly, the directly opposite view is readily suggested, that both books have nothing whatever to do with one another, but that the little book, ch. 10, contains something entirely peculiar, viz., what is described in Revelation 11:1-13 : i.e., according to Grot., Wetst., Eichh., Ew., the fate of Jerusalem; according to Hengstenb., the fate of the degenerate Church.(2782) But it is neither correct that the contents of the book of fate, ch. 5, are already fully settled in what has been hitherto given,(2783) nor is it conceivable that that book of fate should contain nothing of the fate of Jerusalem, the “degenerate Church,”(2784) which is not to be revealed to the prophet until by the little book, ch. 10;(2785) neither, if the contents of the book that is eaten be limited to Revelation 11:1-13, whether in Ewald’s or Hengstenb.’s sense, does it agree with the statement of Revelation 10:11, according to which John is to prophesy concerning peoples and many kings. The instance deduced from Revelation 10:11(2786) applies also against Vitr., who, in the little book of ch. 10, finds a part of the book of ch. 5, limits its contents likewise to Revelation 11:1-13, and interprets it as a prophecy concerning the calamities of the Western Church. The correct point in Vitr. is the view that the little book of ch. 10 comprises a part of all that which is to happen contained in the book of fate of ch. 5; viz., all that which has not, as yet, issued from the book of fate through the succession of seal- and trumpet-visions; in other words, all that from Revelation 11:1 has been written by John in consequence of the δεῖ σε πάλιν προφητεῦσαι, κ. τ. λ.;(2787) therefore not in the false sense(2788) that “the book of completion” only substantially repeats, in its way, the contents already present in the preceding “book of declaration.” This follows from what in Revelation 10:11 is said concerning the prophecy of John, which proceeds from the book which was eaten; but it admits the less a restriction to Revelation 11:1-13 (where what is said is concerning Jerusalem), and rather requires the more certainly the further reference to what is written, ch. 12 sqq., as the discourse of the angel, Revelation 10:6 sq., extending to the full end, stands in more significant parallel with the contents of the book brought by him. For it also agrees with this, that the πάλιν προφητεῦσαι of John in no way stands out of connection with the book of fate including of itself the entire prophecy concerning what was to occur; but rather not only does Revelation 11:1-13 belong in the series of the woes, but also all that from Revelation 11:15 succeeds the trumpets, which by means of the seals, from the last of which they have proceeded, belongs to the sphere of the book of fate. And when the angel, who brings the little book, looks towards Jerusalem, Revelation 10:2, it agrees with this, that the most immediate object of the new prophecy, Revelation 10:11, is in fact Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1 sq.); but the perspective opened, Revelation 10:7, extends to the ultimate end; so that from the little book, in the fulness corresponding to Revelation 10:11, there follow also the prophecies of ch. 12 sqq. Thus the little book which was brought to John opened, and was eaten by him, appears to be an inner instruction and interpretation given the seer concerning visions still impending, and which are to continue until the full end. And the more important the subjects of the prophecy that now follow,—for we come now to the proper goal, while all that precedes is only preparatory,—the more natural appears the new special preparation of the prophet.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LXVI. Revelation 10:9. ποικρανεῖ τὴν κοιλίαν

J. Gerhard (quoted by Calov.): “The pleasure of the mouth is a symbol of the pleasure which the godly derive from the revelation of divine mysteries before they fully perceive them. The dolor ventris is a symbol of the pain which they derive from the consideration of the persecution to be described in the succeeding prophecy, which antichrist will exercise against the Church at the end of the world.” Primasius: “When you have received it, you will be delighted by the sweetness of the Divine speech (Ps. 19:15), the hope of promised salvation, and the charm of Divine justice. But you will experience the bitterness when this is to be preached to both devout and undevout.” Stier: “The evangelizing to the prophets must always have been fraught with a certain degree of bitterness to human nature.” Luthardt: “Bitter poison to the belly, i.e., to man so far as he belongs to this transitory world (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:13); but so far as he is God’s, it is sweet joy (cf. Psalms 19:11), for it is a word of judgment to the world, but redemption to the Church, which, with its mouth, preaches God.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 10:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-10.html. 1832.

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