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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 2

Instead of the rec. ἐφεσίνης, Revelation 2:1, Griesbach already, according to preponderating testimonies, has written ἐν ἐφέσῳ. In this way, the designation of place is to be read in the superscriptions of all seven epistles: cf., Revelation 2:8, the variation ἐκκλ. σμυρναίων; likewise Revelation 3:14. But it is doubtful whether, instead of τῆς (2, 3, 6, 7, al., Verss., Griesb., Tisch., etc.), Lach. has correctly written τῶ (cf. already Beng.). This τῷ, Lach. has, besides, in Revelation 2:1, where A, C, testify to it; also Revelation 2:8 (where, however, C has neither τῷ nor τῆς). Yet the authority of A, which C once contradicts, and with which, at least once, it does not agree, seems too weak to compel the removal of the scarcely unnecessary τῆς, which is certain also in most MSS. א has it throughout. Bengel’s opinion (Gnomon on Revelation 2:1) that the τῷ, (Revelation 2:1; Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:18), or the τῆς, was chosen in accord with the contents of the epistle, is refuted by the testimonies which allow it to be read only in the way proposed by Lach.

Revelation 2:2. The σου after κόπον (rec.) is absent in A, C, Vulg., al., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], and is defended by B, א, not against exegetical considerations.

Instead of ἐπειράσω (Erasm., rec.) read ἐπείρασας, according to A, B, C, א, 2, 6, 7, al., with Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Instead of the rec. φάσκοντας εἷναι ἀποστόλους, read λέγοντας ἑαυτοὺς ἀποστόλους, according to A, B, א, 18, 25, al. (cf. Revelation 2:20), with Griesb., Lach. [W. and H.]; and that, too, without the addition of εἷναι (cf. Revelation 2:9), which Beng., Matth., Tisch., have according to 6, 7, 8, 9, al., Verss., Primas, Andr.

Revelation 2:3. The rec., with its two pairs of members, καὶ ἐβαστ. κ. ὑπομον. ἔχεις and καὶ διὰ τ. ὄνομ. μ. κεκοπίακας καὶ οὐ κέκμηκας, originates from an interpreter. According to a more correct reading, the parallelism of members falls away, as it should be καὶ ὑπομονὴν ἔχεις, καὶ ἐβάστασας διὰ τὸ ὀνομά μον (A, B, C, 2, 3, 4, al., Verss., Beng., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), καὶ οὐ κεκοπίακες (A, C, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), for which latter form (cf. Revelation 2:4, ἀφῆκες in C), Beng. has written κεκοπίακας, Mill (Prol., 1109) and Griesb. have preferred ἐκοπίασας (2, 3, 4, א, al., Andr., Areth.), which, however, is introduced because of the aor. ἐβαστ.

Revelation 2:5. Rec., ἐκπέπτωκας (Andr.), against A, C, 2, 4, al., Verss., Areth., which have πέπτωκας (Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch.) [ πέπτωκες, W. and H.].

The ταχύ (Var., τάχει, Erasm., Steph., 1, 3, Beng.) in Complut., Steph., 2, against A, C, א, Vulg., al., Lach., Tisch., originates from a comparison with Revelation 2:16; Revelation 3:11, etc.

Revelation 2:7. The false form νικοῦντι is received by Lach. It is, of course, noteworthy that this is found also at Revelation 2:17 in A nay, even there, according to Lach., also in C so that it can scarcely be a slip of the pen.

Instead of ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ παραδείσου (rec.), read ἐν τῳ παραδ., according to all important witnesses (Beng., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

The omission of the μου after θεοῦ (rec., Lach., Tisch., IX. [W. and H.]) is favored by A, C, א; on the other hand (Beng., Griesb., Matth., Tisch.), 2, 4, 6, 7, al., Vulg., Syr., Aeth., Orig., Cypr., al., are for its reception, as well as what is decisive, viz., the circumstance that the theological interests would be easily opposed to the μου; as, e.g., Arethas expressly remarks, with a reference to John 20:17, that the expression τ. θεοῦ μου contains nothing offensive. Cod. 26 (Wetst.) has changed the not-favored μου into σου.

Revelation 2:9. τὰ ἔργα καὶ. Rec. ( א) against A, C, 19, Vulg., Copt, Aeth. (Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]). Also, in Revelation 2:13, the addition has entered from Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:19; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:8; Revelation 3:15.

Before the τῶν λεγ., an ἐκ is to be supplied in the rec. (A, B, C, א, 2, 6, 7, al., Verss., Beng., etc.).

Revelation 2:10. Instead of μηδὲν (Vulg., rec., א, Beng., Tisch.), read μή, (A, B, C, 8, Andr., Lach. [W. and H.].

The particle δή, after ἰδού (2, 4, 6, 8, al., Areth., Compl., Matth., Tisch.), may be regarded as a stylistic addition which does not correspond to the literary character of the Apoc. Lach. agrees with the rec. ( א, Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]), which does not have the δή.

The rec. ἕξετε (Vulg., א: ἕξεται; Beng., Griesb., Matth., Tisch.) can stand against the reading ἔχητε (A, Lach. [W. and H.]) the less, as C also, by its ἔχεται (according to Wetst.: ἔχετε), testifies to this.

Revelation 2:13. The omission of the καὶ before ἐν τ. ἡμ. (2, 4, 6, 7, al., in Wetst., five codd., b. Matth., א, Syr., Aeth., Ar., Compl., Beng., Matth., Tisch., against A, C, Vulg., rec., Lach.), and, afterwards, the omission of the ὅς in some few codd. in Wetst. and Beng. (so Luth.; cf., also, Ewald), should serve for a relief of the construction which essentially depends thereon, whether after the ἡμέραις, ἐν αἰς (Andr., rec., Beng., Griesb.), or αίς (2, 4, 6, 9, al., in Wetst., four codd. in Matth.; so Matth., Tisch.), or ἐμαῖς (Erasm., Luth.), or, finally, all this fall away (A, C, Vulg., Copt., Treg., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]). It is possible for the αίς to fall away because of the preceding ἡμέραις, but the addition is more probably meant to aid the construction.

Revelation 2:14. The ὅτι (A, א, rec., Tisch., IX.) comes from Revelation 2:4; Revelation 2:20.

τῷβαλ. So Beng., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], according to A, C. A correction is τὸν, B (rec.); through reiteration from ἐδίδασκεν, arise the var. ἐν τῷ, B (Luther), “through Balak.” Cf., also, Winer, p. 213.

Revelation 2:15. The art. before νικολ. (rec., א, Tisch. IX.) is to be deleted (A, C, 6, 11, al., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Instead of μισῶ (rec, Beng.), read ὁμοίως, C, A, א, many minusc., Vulg., Syr., Andr., Areth., al., Beng. in Gnom., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. The compounds, ὁμοίως μισ. and ὁμ. ἣν μισ. (cf. Wetst., Beng.), are also found.

Revelation 2:16. After ( μεταν., the οὗν (A, C, minusc., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]) is absent in the rec., but also in א, Tisch. IX.

Revelation 2:17. The gloss φαγεῖν ἀπὸ, before τοῦ μαν. (rec. against the prevailing testimonies), is in no way supported by Arethas (cf. Matth.).

For ἔγνω (rec.), read οἱδεν (A, B, C, א, 2, al., Beng., etc.).

Revelation 2:18. The αὐτου, after ὀφθαλμ. (cf. Revelation 1:14), is to be erased (A, C, Lach.). Likewise, Revelation 2:19, the καἱ before τὰ εσχ.

Revelation 2:20. From Revelation 2:14, ὀλίγα is introduced (rec, א: πολύ); against A, C, many minusc., Verss., Beng., Griesb., etc. Instead of the explanatory ἐᾷς (rec.), read ἀφεῖς (A, C, א, minusc., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), whence, also, the emendations, ἀφίης, ἀφῆκας, are derived.

The rec.: γυν. ἰεσαβ. (Beng., Treg. [W. and H.]) is sufficiently supported by C, א, Vulg., and, in an exegetical respect, to be decidedly preferred to the reading σου ἰεσ. (many minusc, in Wetst., and Matth., Griesb., Tisch.).

The rec.: τὴν λέγουσ. is, like the variation λέγει (in Wetst.), an interpretation of the correct λέγουσα (A, C, א, Beng., Griesb., etc.).

-g0- λέγουσα-g0-. So, according to A, C, א, many minusc, Syr., Copt., Compl., already Beng., Griesb. The rec: διδάσκειν καὶ πλανᾶσθαι (Vulg.: docere et seducere) is an alteration which Areth. more correctly attains by his διδ. κ. πλανᾶν.

Revelation 2:21. Instead of καὶ οὐ θέλει ( οὐκ ἠθέλησεν, A), μετανοῆσαι ἐκ τῆς πορν. αυτ. (A, C, minusc, Verss., Beng., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]), the rec. has the ἐκ τ. πορν. αὐτ. before καὶ οὐ, and then only μετανόησεν. The shortest, and perhaps original, reading is that of א1: ἵνα μεταν. ἐκ τ. πορν. ταύτης.

Revelation 2:22. The ἐγώ before βάλλω (rec.) is incorrect (A, C, 2, 4, al., Beng., Griesb., etc.). The καλῶ in the א is a clerical error.

For κλίνην, A has the poor gloss φυλακὴν.

The modification ἑργ. αὐτῶν (rec.) is found already in A, against B, א, 2, 3, etc.; αὐτῆς is rejected already by Beng. and Griesb.

Revelation 2:24. Instead of καὶ λοιπ. (rec), read τοῖς λοιπ. (A, C, al., Beng., Griesb., etc.; cf. the variations καὶ τοῖς λοιπ.). The καὶ before οἵτινες is incorrect (A, C, א, Vulg., al., Beng., Griesb., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

The fut. βαλῶ (rec., א; cf. Vulg., Primas) is an explanation of the correct reading βάλλω (A, C, al., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]).

Revelation 2:27. συντρίβεται. So, correctly, (A, C, א), the recensions and later editions. The var. συντριβήσεται (2, 3, 4, 6, al., Vulg., Syr., Compl.) is an inept explanation (cf. Luth., Soll er sie zerschmeissen), which Areth. wishes to justify exegetically by making the ὡς not comparative but final.

All seven epistles (chs. 2 and 3)(892) not only like one another in their dependence upon the same fundamental thought,(893) viz., the advent of the Lord, since they explain and apply it, as often as presented,(894) in a manifold way; but they are also skilfully planned and forcibly elaborated according to a scheme.(895) The epistles naturally fall into three chief divisions,—title, body of the epistle, and conclusion. Since what are properly the superscriptions proceed from the command of the Lord, in whose name John is to write, the titles contain after the uniform introductory formula τάδε λέγει, expressed after the manner of the ancient prophets,(896) such a self-designation of Christ speaking to the churches as agrees with the visionary revelation,(897) or with the designation of the Lord placed at the head of the book,(898) and by its consolations, warnings, and threats, is significant with respect to the contents themselves of the epistles.(899) What is properly the epistle is always opened with a prominent presentation of the fact that the Lord knows all the relations of his churches ( οἱδα, κ. τ. λ.); then, connected with this are praise and reproof, the statement of present and future perils and troubles, and an admonition to repentance, encouragement, consolation, warning, threats, in accordance with the circumstances presented.(900) The conclusion is always divided into two parts, and has a decidedly very general significance, so that each individual epistle calls to mind the more general meaning(901) found in the whole seven. The two members of the conclusion contain exhortations directed to every one who has ears to hear the address of the Spirit to the churches, and a promise to victors, pointing to the final completion of Christ’s kingdom; so that thus, even in these closing verses, there is an intimation of the goal before all Apoc. prophecy,—the coming of the Lord. It is, besides, to be remarked concerning both these members,(902) that in the first three epistles the exhortation precedes and the promise follows,(903) while in the last four epistles the order is reversed;(904) so that the number seven seems intentionally resolved into three and four, as also elsewhere, although no consequence dare be inferred therefrom concerning the relation of the churches to each other.(905)


Verse 1

Revelation 2:1. Ephesus, vying with Smyrna (Revelation 2:8) and Pergamos (Revelation 2:12) for the precedence in Asia, is called πρώτη μητρόπολις(906) (first metropolis). But neither does this political relation determine the precedency of the three churches, nor is Ephesus named at the head of them all as the proper residence of John, as Hengstenb. asserts under the presumption of the Apostolic-Johannean authenticity of the Apoc.: cf. on Revelation 1:11.

At Ephesus, which, in the times of the Apostle Paul, was the chief city of Ionia, lying on the Cayster and near the sea, known for its worship of Diana,(907) and especially distinguished for its trade and fine Grecian culture,(908) and at present in ruins, alongside of which is the village of Ajosoluk,(909) Paul had collected a congregation of Jews, and especially of heathen, and had cherished it with great love.(910) At his departure he spoke of the dangerous errors with which the churches would be visited,(911) of which there is still no trace in the Epistle to the Ephesians, not even in Ephesians 4:14; Ephesians 5:6. At the time of 1 Timothy 1:3, Timothy was superintending the church there: many expositors who regard the “angel” of the church as the bishop imagine, therefore, under a double error, that our Apocalyptic epistle is directed to Timothy.(912) Cf. also Introduction, sec. 3. The designation of the Lord, in whose name the prophet writes, is from Revelation 1:13; Revelation 1:16, only that instead of ἔχων we find now κρατῶν τ. ἑπτ. ἀστ., so that Christ is presented as though he held the stars fast,(913) protecting and supporting them, so that it depends only upon him,(914) if possibly by an act of judgment he cast them out of his hand.(915) So, also, is the περιπατῶυ, κ. τ. λ., in comparison with Revelation 1:13, where Christ appears altogether in the midst of the candlesticks. Yet even in the περιπατεῖν there does not lie so much the idea of walking to and fro, as rather that his presence is a living and actual one.(916)

The entire designation of Christ, which in general expresses his essential relation to the churches, occurs on that account fittingly in the first of the seven epistles, which, indeed, form not a mere aggregate of accidental individualities, but, as the number seven already shows, an important unity. Even in the manifestation of Christ, what first meets the eyes of the seer is how the Lord is in the midst of the candlesticks.(917) In no way, therefore, does “this item inwardly and strictly cohere with the metropolitan position of the Ephesian congregations as the universal type of the apostolical church.”(918)


Verses 1-7

Revelation 2:1-7. The epistle to the church (the angel of the church, cf. Revelation 1:20) at Ephesus.


Verse 2

Revelation 2:2. τὰ ἕργα σου are not “Christian deeds of heroism against false teachers,” as Hengstenb. thinks;(919) who, partly because of the otherwise inexplicable Revelation 2:4, partly in order not to maintain a repetition with respect to the ὑπομονή, Revelation 2:3, and partly because of Revelation 2:6,(920) understands all of Revelation 2:2-3, as referring to conduct towards false teachers, the κόπος as work against them, while the ὑπομονή, Revelation 2:2, signifies “active” and Revelation 2:3 “passive” patience in suffering, which true confessors experience because of their zeal against them. All this is arbitrary. By τὰ ἔργα σου, the external activity in general, whereby the Church manifests its inner life, is designated. The works (“fruits,” Matthew 7:16 sqq.) cannot be evil (Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:22; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:15; Revelation 16:11; Revelation 18:6; cf. Romans 2:6 sqq.). It is the entire—and here praiseworthy(921)—conversation of the church,(922) including their bearing under suffering,(923) that is here meant. This is shown by what follows, where the works are more accurately explained in a twofold respect, καὶ τὸν κόπον κ. τ. ὑπο΄. σου and καὶ ὅτι οὐ δύνῃ βαστ. κακ.(924) Just because the σου does not stand after κόπον, but only after ( τ. κοπ. καὶ) τ. ὑπο΄ονὴν (Revelation 1:14), these two ideas cohere the more intimately, but not as hendiadys;(925) while as the second point the καὶ οὐ δύνῃ, κ. τ. λ., is rendered prominent.(926) Just as in 1 Corinthians 15:58, the κόπος of believers with their firm steadfastness is required for realizing the ἔργον of the Lord, both are here mentioned; viz., the κόπος, i.e., the toilsome labor,(927) and the ὑπο΄ονή, i.e., the necessary patient perseverance, as a chief item in the ἕργα.(928) The κόπος, together with the ὑπο΄ονή refers to all wherein believers fulfil their peculiar holy task with divine and spiritual power and endurance,—a work which, in its most manifold forms, is always combined with hardship ( κόπος), and therefore cannot be fulfilled without ὑπο΄ονή, as this is essentially and necessarily conditioned by the antagonism between the kingdom of Christ and the world.

The second commendation(929) is, that the Lord knows the “works” of the church at Ephesus, that it “cannot bear them which are evil” ( κακούς without the article). Concerning the form δύνῃ,(930) cf. Wetstein and Winer. The βαστάζειν makes us think of the κακοί as a heavy burden.(931) The expression κακούς(932) designates those meant properly according to their perverted and worthless nature, which, however, in the sense of the prophet, already according to the O. T. view, cannot be estimated otherwise than by the measure of the positive divine norm. Thus “they which are evil” are in some sort of contradiction to the divine truth, whereby the inner and outward life of believers is determined; hence the actual intolerance towards them, or(933) the necessary hatred of their godless nature.(934)

καὶ ἐπειρασας τ. λεγ. ἑαυτ. ἀποστόλους, κ. τ. λ. The praiseworthy conduct of the church towards those that are evil, who are here more accurately designated as false teachers, is still further acknowledged (until ψευδεῖς). πειράζειν, synonymous with δοκιμάζειν(935) and correlate with τό δοκίμιον, δοκίμον γένεσθαι,(936) is more the practical putting to the test, the trial from living experience. In 1 John 4:1, where the question is treated solely with respect to a definite confession, δοκιμάζειν properly occurs: in this place, on the other hand, the πειράζειν indicates that works especially(937) come into consideration. Hence the connection of our false apostles with the false prophets, 1 John 4,(938) is inapposite.

Those here meant call themselves apostles, and yet are not; so the result of the proof is that they are found liars. Those men must, therefore, like the false apostles at Corinth,(939) have professed themselves as sent immediately from the Lord himself.(940) If in so doing they should have appealed to their intercourse with Christ as long as he was on earth,(941)—which, however, is not indicated,—it would of course follow that “that was the apostolic age.” But, at any rate, this declaration has sense only at the time which occurs about the Pauline period, i.e., possibly up to the destruction of Jerusalem; but not at the end of the first century, where a trace nowhere occurs of a false teacher laying claim to apostolic authority.

As to the character of the false teachers, cf. Revelation 2:6.—[See Note XXVIII., p. 155.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXVIII. Revelation 2:2

Hengstenberg calls attention to the danger incurred, when any special duty is incumbent upon the Church, of so concentrating all energies upon it that other spheres are neglected, and to the excuse for this neglect given by conscience on the ground of its activity in the one direction. So intent was the church of Ephesus in properly withstanding errorists, and in its toilsome labors in this cause, that love was vanishing, though the earnestness originally prompted by love remains. A superficial legal orthodoxism, and a zeal in good works, are. gradually supplanting the life-communion with Christ which is the soul and centre of a normal church life. Alford agrees with Dust., that the τὸν κόπον καὶ τὴν ὑπομονήν are epexegetical of τὰ ἔργα. Concerning the hardship implied in the τὸν κόπον, cf. Matthew 26:10; Luke 11:7; Luke 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:27; Galatians 6:17. It and its derivative κοπιάω are especially applied to the service of ministering the word, John 4:38; Romans 16:12; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 1 Corinthians 15:58 (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:12); 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 10:15; 2 Corinthians 11:23; 2 Corinthians 11:27; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Galatians 4:11; Philippians 2:16; Colossians 1:29; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:8; 1 Timothy 4:10; 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 6:10; and are most suitable to the interpretation of the ἀγγέλος, as the bishop or pastor of the church. Hence the practical point of Trench: “How of ten does labor which esteems itself labor for Him stop very short of this! Perhaps, in our day, none are more tempted continually to measure out to themselves tasks too light and inadequate than those to whom an office and ministry in the church have been committed. Others, in almost every other calling, have it measured out to them. We give to it exactly the number of hours which we please. We may well keep this word κόπος, and all that it signifies, viz., labor unto weariness, in mind.” The note of the same author on οὐ βαστάσαι κακούς is also pertinent: “The infirmities, even the sins, of weak brethren, these are burdens which we may, nay, which we are commanded to bear (cf. Galatians 6:2, where the same word βαστάζειν is used): it is otherwise with false brethren (Psalms 119:115; Psalms 109:21-22; 1 Corinthians 5:11).”


Verse 3

Revelation 2:3. As in Revelation 2:2 ( καὶ ἐπείρασας, κ. τ. λ.) that is amplified which was briefly indicated by the words καὶ ὅτι οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς, so now, also, the first point of the acknowledgment ( τ. κοπ. κ. τ. ὑπομ. σου) is developed on a definite side, and that, too, so that not only with ὑπομονὴν ἕχεις the above ὑπομονὴν σου is again taken up, but also the ἐκβάστασας διὰ τ. ὅν. μου(942) is placed in a significant antithesis to the οὐ δύνῃ βαστάσαι κακούς, and by the καὶ οὐ κεκοπίακες(943) it is indicated that the κόπος of believers furnished with the right ὑπομονή has resulted neither in succumbing nor weariness. Beng.: “I know thy labor; yet thou dost not labor, i.e., shalt not be broken down by labor.”(944)


Verse 4-5

Revelation 2:4-5. In sharp antithesis to the praise,(945) follows ( ἀλλὰ) the declaration of what the Lord has against the church;(946) viz., that it has left, i.e., given up, its first love.(947) The πρώτην is not to be taken as comparative, nor is it to be inferred in the sense in itself correct, that the Greek superlative has a comparative force;(948) rather, the love is regarded as actually the first, i.e., that which was actually present at the beginning of the life of faith.(949) This ἀγάπη certainly is not “the sedulous care and vigilance with fervor and zeal for the purity of the divine word against false prophets,”(950) which is impossible already, because of Revelation 2:2 ( δύνῃ pres.). Opposed to this, but just as inappropriate, is the explanation of Eichhorn: “You are restraining the wicked teachers too captiously and severely.” The reference appears specially to apply to the care of the poor;(951) it is altogether difficult to regard it alone of brotherly love,(952) but of that only so far as it is the manifestation of love to God and Christ, which the indefinite expression may suggest. Züllig and Hengstenb. have properly recalled Jeremiah 2:2. The lovely description of the fellowship of believers with God as that of a bridal or marriage relation(953) is particularly applicable to the foundation of the grace of God appearing in Christ,(954) and still to be hoped for from him.(955) Against this exposition an appeal cannot therefore be made(956) to Revelation 2:2-3; since even where the first love has vanished, and works springing only from the purest glow of this first love are no longer found (Revelation 2:5), the power of faith and love to the Lord is still sufficient for the works praised in Revelation 2:2-3.

To there proof (Revelation 2:4) is added the call to repentance, and, in case this do not occur,(957) the threatening of judgment. The remembrance(958) of the first better condition, whence as from a moral elevation the church had fallen,(959) should cause a penitential return and the doing of the first works, as they formerly gave testimony to that first love (Revelation 2:4). In this line of thought, the πόθεν πέπτωκας cannot mean “the loss of salvation you have experienced.”(960) The threat ( κιν. τ. λυχν., κ. τ. λ.) is expressed, not only in accordance with the designation of the speaking Lord, Revelation 2:1, but also ( ἐρχ. σοι) in connection with the prophetic fundamental thoughts of the entire book, as both are inwardly combined with one another, as Christ is the one who is to come, according to his relation described in Revelation 2:1(961) to his church (and the world). But since John states the particular judgment upon an individual congregation as a coming of the Lord, which yet is not identical with his final coming, the peculiar goal of all prophecy, the prophet himself shows how he associates the individual preliminary revelations of judgment with the full conclusion in the final judgment, as well as distinguishes them from one another.(962) But the distinction dare not be urged in such a way that the eschatological reference of the ἔρχο΄αι vanishes.(963)

Concerning the dat. incomm. σοί,(964) cf. Winer, p. 147.

κ. κινήσω τ. λυχνίαν σου, κ. τ. λ., designates, according to the rule underlying the whole representation,(965) nothing else than: “I will cause thee to cease to be the church.”(966) Ewald, unsatisfactorily: “I will withdraw my grace and kindness from thee.” Grotius, incorrectly: “I will cause thy people to flee another way; viz., to those places where there will be greater care for the poor.”(967) Zeger, and many others who regard the angel as the bishop of the church, incorrectly: “I will take the church from thee, that thou no longer preside over it.”


Verse 6

Revelation 2:6. Not for the purpose of alleviating the pain of the church concerning the reproof of Revelation 2:4,(968) but because the Lord’s love for his church gladly recognizes what is to be properly acknowledged, and once more, but in a new and more definite way, makes prominent in opposition to Revelation 2:4 sqq. ( ἀλλά) the one point of commendation already in Revelation 2:2. Just because the church was rejected for no longer having the first love to their Lord, is it once more expressly acknowledged that it is still so far of one mind with him, as to hate the wicked works which he hates. Thus Revelation 2:6 has enough that is peculiar, as not to appear a mere repetition of Revelation 2:2, and contains no marks whatever whereby Revelation 2:2-3, are to be understood in the sense of Hengstenberg.

With τοῦτο ἔχ. neither ἀγαθόν, nor the like, is used to complete the construction: the explanation of the τοῦτο in ὄτι ΄ισ., κ. τ. λ., shows that the common possession is commendable.

The ΄ισεῖς is not “a strong expression for censuring,”(969) but is just as earnestly meant as the ΄ισῶ.(970) But it is justly remarked already by N. de Lyra,(971) that the hatred is directed not against the persons, but against the works.(972)

Concerning the Nicolaitans,(973) as well concerning their name as also their conduct, it is possible to judge only by a comparison with Revelation 2:14 sqq. Irenaeus,(974) Hippolyt.,(975) Tertullian,(976) Clemens Alex.,(977) Jerome,(978) Augustine,(979) and other Church Fathers derive the sect from a founder Nicolaus, and that, too, the deacon mentioned in Acts 6:5, of whom they have more to relate as they are more remote from him in time. That this is derived entirely from this passage, and is of no more importance than that according to which the Ebionites are represented as springing from a certain Ebion,(980) is shown, first, from the fluctuation of the tradition which also knew how to defend that church officer, so highly commended in Acts, from the disgrace of having founded a troublesome sect,(981) and, secondly, from the circumstance that the patristic tradition, from the very beginning, refers to Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:14 sqq. Nicolaus of Acts 6 was thought of because none other of that name was known.(982) Since Chr. A. Heumann,(983) and J. W. Janus,(984) the opinion has become almost universal, that the designation νικολαἰται (from νικᾶν and λαός) suggests the Hebrew name Balaam (from בֶלַע and עָם, i.e., swallowing-up, or destruction, of the people), whereby the Balaamite nature of those Nicolaitanes is to be indicated. To this Revelation 2:14-15, refer.(985) Yet it cannot be positively decided whether John found the word used already in this sense, or was himself the first to frame it. A comparison may be made with the name Armillus given to antichrist,(986) i.e., ἐρη΄όλαος.(987)

The Nicolaitans are of course not identical(988) with the κακοί mentioned in Revelation 2:2, since the latter expression is very general: yet, at all events, they belong to “them which are evil;” and the idea, which in itself is highly improbable, must not be inferred,(989) that in Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:6, two entirely different kinds of false teachers are meant, of whom the former may be regarded disciples of John,(990) or Jewish teachers,(991) or strict Jewish Christians,(992) while the Nicolaitans, who, according to De Wette, etc., are again distinct from Balaamites,(993) as those of a more heathen tendency, viz., false teachers who surrendered themselves(994) to a false freedom.(995) Tertullian and other Church fathers, N. de Lyra, and the older expositors, connect the Nicolaitans with the Gnostics; Hengstenb. also regards them identical with the deniers of the Son, in the Epistles of John, by referring the warning in John 5:21(996) to the ethnicizing ways of the false teachers there antagonized. But for all this, there is no foundation. What especially contradicts Hengstenberg’s conjecture is the fact that the (Gnostic) false teachers of the Epistles of John are attacked just as decidedly because of their false doctrines, as the Nicolaitans of the Apoc. because of their evil deeds.(997) That the aberrations are practical, which even Hengstenb. emphasizes, but without ground alleges also of the false teachers in 1 John, is shown already by Revelation 2:2 ( κακούς). We shall therefore have to think of the Nicolaitans as ethnicizing libertines.(998) This is not contradicted by the fact that they assumed apostolic authority; for if they possibly professed to vindicate their Christian freedom in the Pauline sense, they might likewise wish to be apostles like Paul.(999) [See Note XXIX., p. 155.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXIX. Revelation 2:6. τῶν νικολαϊτῶν

The argument in the long and thorough discussion in Gebhardt (pp. 206–216) is to prove the distinction between the Nicolaitans and those errorists mentioned in Revelation 2:2, “them which say they are apostles,” etc., referring to Judaizing teachers, the conflict with whom is now in the background, while, with Dust., he regards the Nicolaitans as ethnicizing teachers of an Antinomian type. He traces the two classes, as prophesied already by St. Paul in his charge to the elders of Ephesus, Acts 28:29-30, the latter verse referring to those here mentioned. Sieffert (Herzog, R. E.): “Gentile Christian Antinomians who abused Paul’s doctrine of freedom.” Schultze (in Zöckler’s Handbuch): “A Gnostic Antinomianism, against which Paul had contended in the Epistle to the Colossians, and especially Jude, and Peter in his Second Epistle; and whose adherents John means in his First Epistle, by the name of antichrists, combining with false gnosis docetic error and a heathen life, as the head of whom Cerinthus appeared (Iren., i. 26; Euseb., iii. 28).”


Verse 7

Revelation 2:7. ἕχων οὐς ἀκουσάτω, κ. τ. λ. Formula for exciting attention.(1000) The singular οὐς by no means points, in distinction from the plural,(1001) to “the spiritual sense of understanding,”(1002) but designates with entire simplicity the organ of hearing without respect to its being double. In like manner, in Luke 11:34. The reference made in the summons is altogether general;(1003) even to those who still are outside the churches, belongs what is said to the churches, because the entire book of Revelation, no less than the seven epistles which form an entire part thereof, proclaims the coming of the Lord as something final to the whole world. John himself, as a true prophet, makes prominent the universal reference of his prophecy.(1004)

τὸ πνεῦ΄α is neither this “divine vision,”(1005) nor Christ who has the Spirit,(1006) but the Holy Ghost,(1007) who inspires John, and thus makes him a prophet.(1008) The revelation of Christ(1009) can therefore be designated also as an address of the Spirit, because the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ,(1010) and speaks in Christ’s name.(1011) Yet this is conceivable only if we regard(1012) neither the seven epistles as merely a dictation of Christ, which John had only to write down, nor the entire book of Revelation as a mere report prepared by John of a series of pictures represented to him; but rather recognize the specific prophetic activity whereby he, as a man taught of Christ himself through his Spirit, thought and wrote not under a suppression, but a glorification, of his entire moral individuality.

The promise belongs, in its universality, to the victors; as the preceding summons to hear, to every one who has an ear. The hearer is through the prophecy to learn to be victor, and thus to be saved.(1013) νικῶν,(1014) as well as δίκαιος,(1015) is impossible. According to Revelation 3:21(1016) and Revelation 12:11,(1017) the νικᾶν at the close of all seven epistles(1018) designates nothing else than the faithful perseverance of believers, as maintained in the struggle with all godless and antichristian powers. So, also, the sacred reward of blessedness is promised the “victor,” who is represented in many forms, abiding faithful to him patiently and to the end, maintaining and adhering to the words and commands of the Lord, etc. Cf. especially the concluding promises of the epistles, with the descriptions in chs. 19, 21, 22

The δώσω αὐτῳ with the inf. φαγεὶν has a somewhat different meaning from when (as, e.g., Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:28) a definite object follows: it means, “I will grant him to eat;”(1019) not, “I will give him to eat.”

The ξύλον τῆς ζωῆς, κ. τ. λ., is not the gospel whose fruit is blessedness,(1020) nor the Holy Ghost who assures of eternal life,(1021) nor Christ himself whose fruits are all spiritual blessings,(1022) and who in the holy supper gives his flesh to be eaten;(1023) but the antitype of the tree of life that was in the midst of the original earthly paradise,(1024) the tree of life which is to refresh the blessed citizens of the new Jerusalem.(1025) In accordance with Genesis 2:3, as also this passage, the place of blessedness where the tree of life is to be found is called paradise.(1026) The addition τοῦ θεοῦ ΄ου is not without meaning, since God is the Lord of paradise, the one from whom the new Jerusalem descends, who will dwell with men, from whose throne and that of the Lamb proceeds life,(1027) upon communion with whom, therefore, the future blessedness and glory of believers depend. Besides, the mediatorship of Christ is intimated by τ. θ. ΄ου, since Christ who himself rewards the victor ( δώσω), and himself sits with God upon the throne, in whom is the source of life, nevertheless speaks of his God and the God of believers;(1028) both being in accordance with the indivisible fundamental view of the entire N. T., that Christ through his obedience is exalted, through his conflict has conquered, and through his sufferings has entered into the glory which was his own from eternity, and whereof he now makes his believers partakers, since he as Priest, King, and Victor makes them priests, kings, and victors.(1029) As to the Apocalyptic statement of the thought, Revelation 2:7 b, cf. the Book of Enoch, xxxi. 1–5, xxiv. 1–11; Text. XII. Patr., p. 586; Schöttgen on this passage.


Verse 8

Revelation 2:8. The self-designation of the Lord(1037) corresponds to the admonition and promise, Revelation 2:10-11.

ἔζησεν contains by its combination with ἐγεν. νεκρός the intimation that the life is a new one succeeding a victory over death.(1038) The aor. ἔζησεν(1039) marks the historical fact of the resurrection, as the precise fact of death is designated by ἐγεν. νεκρ.; cf. the aor. Revelation 1:5, Revelation 3:9. An analogy is furnished by Josephus, Life, 75: “Of the three crucified who were taken down, two died notwithstanding the care: δὲ τρίτος ἔζησεν” (the third lived).


Verses 8-11

Revelation 2:8-11. The epistle to the church at Smyrna.

Smyrna, eight geographical miles north of Ephesus, on a bay of the Aegean Sea, and the river Meles, was already in ancient times, as it is to the present, an important place of business. After Old Smyrna had been destroyed by the Lydians, New Smyrna, twenty stadia from the old place, was built, according to Pausanias by Alexander the Great, according to Strabo by Antigonus, and afterwards by Lysimachus,—a very beautiful city.(1030)

Of Christian life at Smyrna we have, except in the Apoc., the earliest statement in the Epistle of Ignatius,(1031) at the beginning of the second century. At that time Polycarp was bishop of Smyrna,(1032) of whose martyrdom in the year 168 the church of Smyrna itself has made the record.(1033) Many, especially the Catholic expositors,(1034) regard Polycarp the angel of the church(1035) mentioned in this epistle; which, however, is in a chronological respect untenable, even if it should be admitted that the Apoc. was composed under Domitian, although Polycarp “had served Christ” for eighty-six years.(1036)

ὐπὸ ἀποστόλων κατασταθεἰς εἰς τὴν ʼασίαν ἐν τῇ ἐν σμύρνῃ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἐπίσκοπος (“Polycarp—appointed bishop by the apostles in Asia, in the church at Smyrna”). Cf. iii. 36. Tertullian, Praeser. Haer., 32: “It is reported that Polycarp was placed, by John, in the church of the Smyrnæans.”


Verse 9

Revelation 2:9. τ. θλὶψιν. Altogether general.(1040) To this, affliction, imprisonment, and death (Revelation 2:10), disgrace and need, belong. If it be possible for the πτωχεία to be connected with the θλῖψις, and to originate from the fact that Christians were despoiled of their property,(1041) yet, also,(1042) that on account of their poverty the Christians were utterly helpless when their Jewish enemies possibly supported their calumnious charges before the heathen rulers with money;(1043) yet this inner connection of θλῖψις, πτωχεία, and βλασφη΄ία is in no way indicated, and the simple admission is sufficient, that, besides the troubles occasioned by Jews and heathen, the Church was under the burden of poverty. To this it is immediately added parenthetically, in a consolatory antithesis: ἀλλὰ πλούσιος εἰ, viz., in spiritual goods or in God.(1044) To endeavor to find here an allusion to the name Polycarp(1045) (rich in fruit), is arbitrary. In what the βλασφη΄ία which Christians had to suffer consisted, can only be conjectured with any certainty if the λέγοντες ʼιουδαίους εἶναι ἑαυτούς,(1046) from whom they went forth,(1047) are regarded not as Christians(1048) but as actual Jews; which the wording and the historical relations, as they were still at the time of the apologists, support. The carnal pride of the Jews, and their godless zeal for the law,(1049) were already, at the time of Paul, the cause of their unbelief, and hostility to Christians which they published in false and calumnious charges, among which was the one brought of old,(1050) viz., of exciting seditions, which generally had the greater weight with the heathen,(1051) as this occurred at a time in which the Roman rulers, because of the war in Judaea, had to be doubly watchful and suspicious in all places.(1052) Even the martyrdom of Polycarp occurred with the essential participation of the Jews.(1053)

As, to the proud claim of those who boasted of the theocratic name of Jews, the judgment is added that they are not,(1054) so also what is positively said concerning their true nature, ἀλλὰ συναγωγὴ τοῦ σατανᾶ, contains a sharp opposition to the claim of being the συναγωγὴ κυρίου(1055) which essentially concurs with the former boast. But they are rather the synagogue of Satan, because they do the antichristian works of Satan,(1056) to which also belongs the βλασφημεῖν with its lies and hatred.(1057) The expression συναγωγή, which in the N. T. only once in James(1058) designates the Christian congregational assembly,—yet even there is combined not with τοῦ θεοῦ, etc., but with ὑμῶν,—has in itself a significative antithesis to the true ἐκκλησία τ. θεοῦ or τ. κυρίου. We can scarcely suppose that John could have changed the expression ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, which was a fixed designation for the Christian Church, as it is used even of the O. T. people of God, into ἐκκλησία τοῦ σατανᾶ.(1059) There is an allusion of similar severity in Hosea,(1060) when he writes בֵּית אָוֶן instead of בֵּית־אֵל.


Verse 10

Revelation 2:10. In reference to the θλῖψις which is to follow the present (Revelation 2:9), an exhortation to fearless, faithful perseverance unto death, and a corresponding promise of life, are made. Troubles of many kinds ( plural) impend; especially mentioned is imprisonment(1061) for some of the church,(1062)—the chief thing in all the persecutions in which the civil authorities were active,(1063)—and a view of the same is disclosed, even unto death for Christ’s sake.(1064) The mention of imprisonment shows, still more than that of death, that the assault of heathen magistrates who, according to Revelation 2:9, were incited by the Jews, is here contemplated. The Lord therefore comprises both forms of antichrist. As the proper author of the afflictions, διάβολος is therefore mentioned,(1065) the personal first enemy of Christ and his kingdom,(1066) who uses Jews and heathen as his instruments. The significance of the name (slanderer) is not here to be emphasized:(1067) otherwise we should expect in Revelation 2:9 διαβ., and in Revelation 2:10 σατ.

ἵνα πειρασθῆτε καὶ ἔχητε, κ. τ. λ. Both the temptation and the oppression(1068) belong to the intention of the Devil. Thus the πειρασ΄ός appears not as a divine trial,(1069) but(1070) as a temptation intended on Satan’s part for their ruin,(1071) in connection with which, of course, it must be firmly maintained,(1072) that the Devil’s power is exercised only under the Divine control.(1073) Under this presumption, to the καὶ ἔχητε θλίψιν, which as the πειρασθῆτε is entirely dependent on ἵνα, the ἡ΄ερῶν δέκα is added. For the Lord fixes a limit of duration to the troubles which are to come upon his believers.(1074) Only a few expositors have understood the ἡ΄ερ. δέκα of ten actual days,(1075) but even these in the sense that the short period of the calamity is intended as a consolation. But the number is purely of a schematic nature,(1076) and signifies not a long(1077) but a short time.(1078) [See Note XXX., p. 156.] The entire period of the universal tribulation is schematically represented by forty-two months.(1079) The chief misinterpretations are known already by N. de Lyra: that the ten days are ten years, in which are reckoned the persecution under Domitian(1080) and that under Decius;(1081) that the ten persecutions of Christians are meant;(1082) that the ten days correspond to and signify the Ten Commandments, and that the persecution of the entire Church will continue as long as the Ten Commandments are in force, i.e., until the end of the world, etc.

Without any external combination, the admonition γίνου πιστός follows, which in the limitation ἄχρι θαν. reaches farther than has been thus far represented by the θλῖψις. With reference to the still future maintenance of fidelity, the γίνου and not ἴσθι properly stands.(1083)

The promise, having its pledge in the Lord’s own life after death (Revelation 2:8), has essentially no other meaning than that which is given the victor in Revelation 2:11, as the victory is won only by fidelity unto death.

The καὶ which introduces the promise places it in connection with the preceding requirement.(1084)

τ. στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς. Appositive genitive,(1085) so that life itself appears as the crown.(1086) The expression στέφανος does not mean here the crown of a king, neither in the sense that the coming kingdom of the faithful is indicated,(1087) nor in this, that the king’s crown designates in general only “something exceedingly precious and glorious;”(1088) but the figure of the victor’s crown(1089) is derived from the games, and in the mouth of the author of the Apocalypse, as well as of the Apostle Paul,(1090) is open to no objection whatever.(1091)

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXX. Revelation 2:10. ἡμερῶν δέκα

So Alford: “The expression is probably used to signify a short and limited time (Genesis 24:55; Numbers 11:19; Daniel 1:12. See also Numbers 14:22; 1 Samuel 1:8; Job 19:3; Acts 25:6).” Also Trench. Luthardt: “A human measure, so that it is endurable.” Stier: “Whatever may be the fact with regard to these uncertain historical circumstances, the general meaning of this word will assure us that all times of tribulation are measured before the Lord, and that they will be cut short for salvation (Matthew 24:22).” Plumptre, however, following Bähr’s Symbolik: “The number ten, the representative of completeness, and here, therefore, of persecution carried to its full extent, and lacking nothing that could make it thorough and perfect.”


Verse 11

Revelation 2:11. The promise, which, in addition to the general command to hear,(1092) is contained in the concluding verse, is framed in accordance with what precedes.(1093) The victory recalls the struggle with the afflictions of persecution,(1094) through which there has been a victorious battle in their fidelity unto death.(1095) The victorious warrior reaches peace before the throne of God and the Lamb,(1096) or, as here said in reference to Revelation 2:10,(1097) “He shall not be hurt of the second death.” On οὐ μή, cf. Winer, p. 471.

ἀδικηθῇ as Revelation 6:6, Revelation 7:2-3, and often Luke 10:19. ἐκ, causal, as Revelation 8:11.(1098)

The second death designates eternal damnation in hell,(1099) eternal after temporal death. The expression is derived from Jewish theology,(1100) but is pervaded with a meaning specifically Christian, since they incur the second death, who have no part in the marriage of the Lamb, and therefore are outside of Christ.(1101) [See Note XXXI., p. 156.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXI. Revelation 2:11. ὲκ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ δευτέχρου

Cremer: that “to which they are appointed whose names are not written in the book of life, and which follows the general resurrection (Revelation 20:12-15), must be a judgment which comes as a second and final sentence, and which is something still future before the first resurrection, for the partakers of that resurrection are not affected by it (Revelation 20:6). Their perfect freedom from all the consequences of sin, and the full realization of their salvation, is also expressed in Revelation 2:11.” Gebhardt: “The second death, the intensified death, is the coming of sins to the eternal death, from which there is no resurrection; or to perdition (comp. Revelation 17:8; Revelation 17:11), which consists, not in the ‘destruction of the wicked,’ but in the definite loss of happiness, in eternally restless pangs, and perpetual consciousness of consummated death.” Trench quotes the gloss of Augustine: “Vita damnatorum est mors,” and notes, “The δευτέρος θάνατος of this book is the γέενα of Matthew 5:29; Mark 9:43-49; Luke 12:5.”


Verse 12

Revelation 2:12. The designation of Christ(1112) looks forward to the threat, Revelation 2:16.


Verses 12-17

Revelation 2:12-17. The epistle to the church at Pergamos.

Pergamos or Pergamum in Mysia, on the river Caïcus, not to be confounded with ancient Troy or Pergamum considerably distant to the north,(1102) was distinguished for the temple of Aesculapius, which was regarded as an asylum,(1103) and much visited not only because of its worship, but also because of incubationes(1104) and dream-cures,(1105) vying in glory with the temple of Diana at Ephesus, and the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi,(1106) as well as for its library. By the will of the last and childless King Attalus, this rich place(1107) tell to the Romans. According to Pliny,(1108) Pergamos was the seat of a Roman supreme court. The present Bergamo contains many relics of the ancient city. The earliest record of the Christian church at Pergamos is this in the Apoc. In conformity with Revelation 2:13, Tertullian(1109) speaks of Antipas the martyr. Eusebius,(1110) after having treated of Polycarp of Smyrna, makes mention of the martyrs in Pergamos, Carpus, Papylus, and Agathonice. The “doctores” mentioned by N. de Lyra held Carpus to be the bishop to whom John wrote. Others call the bishop of Thyatira by that name.(1111)


Verse 13

Revelation 2:13. The ποῦ κατοικ. is immediately afterwards described more accurately: ὅπου θρ. τ. σατ. This in itself does not contain a commendation, but serves as a commendation only as the church remains faithful although dwelling where Satan’s seat is, which is communicated by the more emphatic and explicit repetition at the close of ὅπου σατ. κατοικεῖ.(1113) It is a matter of importance, however, that the Lord first of all simply testifies, for its consolation, to his knowledge of the nature of his church’s abode: ὅπου θρόνος τοῦ σατανᾶ. At all events, this(1114) points to the city of Pergamos as the place of the church; and hence the explanation is incorrect, according to which the godless enemies of Christ and his believers are represented(1115) as Satan’s throne.(1116) There is nothing to support the opinion(1117) that Satan’s throne was in Pergamos as the chief abode of the worship of Aesculapius, whose symbol was the serpent; for if, on account of his serpent, John would have desired to designate Aesculapius directly as the Devil(1118) (which would have been inappropriate, as, according to 1 Corinthians 10:20, that particular ἔιδωλον can be only one δαι΄όνιον among many), he would at least have indicated it by θρ. τοῦ δράκοντος. We must first, with Andreas,(1119) think of a remarkable flourishing of idol-worship in general, if the remark of And. that Perg. was κατείδωλος ὑπὲρ τὴν ʼασίαν πᾶσαν (given to idolatry above all Asia) would have an historical foundation. That Perg. is called the seat of Satan as the abode of heathen and Nicolaitans,(1120) is partly too general, and partly contrary to the meaning of Revelation 2:14. The only correct view is the reference, understood already by N. de Lyra, to the persecution of the church, ascribed also in Revelation 2:10 to the Devil;(1121) decidedly in favor of this explanation is the ὅπου σατ. κατοικεῖ in its connection with ἀπεκτάνθη παρʼ ὑ΄ῖν. Only in Perg. had Satan been able to proceed so far as to shed the blood of martyrs. Whether this was caused by the adherence of the heathen with special fanaticism to their Aesculapius;(1122) or the fact that Perg., as the seat of supreme jurisdiction,(1123) most readily offered a theatre for persecutions;(1124) or, finally, that only particularly hostile individuals(1125) to be sought among the heathen, because not further designated,(1126) were present in Perg.,—it is not possible to decide.

καὶ κρατεῖς, κ. τ. λ. The holding fast(1127) of Christ’s name, which continues still to the present ( κρατεῖς, pres.), has already approved itself on some special opportunity ( καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω, aor.). As the κρατεῖς corresponds to the contrasted ἠρνῆσω, so τὸ ὄνομα μου is parallel with τὴν πίστιν μου. The former is the objective, and the latter the subjective nature. Christ’s ὄνομα which is held fast by believers is not “the profession of doctrine delivered by Christ”(1128) or the confession of his name,(1129) but the name of Christ appears as something in itself objective, so that one may have, hold, and lose, confess and deny it, yea, even, it may work,(1130) as the name of Christ comprises the true objective person of Christ together with his riches and glory. The κρατεῖν τὸ ὄνομα occurs in the sense of this passage, of course, only by faithful, frank confession, but not simply “in life and faith.”(1131) The corresponding inner item (Romans 10:10) is faith in the Lord: τ. πίστ. μου, objective genitive.(1132)

καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ʼαντίπας, κ. τ. λ. The correct text, with which the Vulg. in the critical recension agrees,(1133) i.e., in which before ʼαντίπας neither αἱς nor ἐν αἰς nor ἐμαῖς is to be read, but on the contrary before ἀπεκτ. there is a ὃς,(1134) is not explicable by the conjecture that the gen. ʼαντίπα may have stood originally in the text,(1135) nor by the idea that ʼαντίπας is used as indeclinable, and the form here is intended as genitive;(1136) for both conjectures, in themselves having little probability, are made doubly difficult by the nominative appos. μαρτ. ό πιστ., since here it is hard to accept the explanation which is in place in Revelation 1:5, where what is said, is of Christ himself. Grotius assumes an ellipsis and a transposition by thus analyzing the sentence: ἐν τ. ἡμ. ʼαντίπα, ὃς ʼαντίπας

ἀπεκτάνθη. Ebrard, who, however, reads αἰς before ʼαντ., explains the anacoluthon in the sentence by the supposition that the originally intended construction αἰς ʼαντίπας

ἀπεκτάνθη was abandoned, because the chief verb ἀπεκτ. is added as an explanation of the words ό μαρτ. μ. ό πιστ., and thus a relative sentence originated which contains the verb properly belonging to ʼαντίπας. But even the latter explanation does not naturally appear in the simple members of which the entire sentence consists. Primas, N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., and other catholic expositors,(1137) have correctly hit the sense by following the explanatory reading of the Vulg. “in diebus illis,” for if also the mere article cannot have directly the force of a demonstrative, yet it marks the precise days in which the church did not deny the faith: “and in the day Antipas” (namely: was) “my faithful witness who,” etc. It is designedly that the commendation of the church is still further enhanced by the circumstance especially added ( καί), that one witness, in the days when the whole church faithfully gave its testimony, was faithful even unto death. The reference to the οὐκ ἠρνήσω. τ. πίστιν μου is indicated also by the expression μαρτ. μου πίστος,(1138) as then also the παρʼ ὑμῖν and the repeated ὅπου σατ. κατοικεῖ in this connection are significant.

Of the martyr Antipas, nothing historical is known. Whether his martyrdom, noticed by Andreas, were related already perhaps from the account, contained in the later martyrologies and menologies, viz., that Antipas as bishop of Pergamos under Domitian was put to death in a glowing brazen ox, we do not know. The interpretations of the name as ἀντι- πᾶς, i.e., “Against all,” therefore, child of God, and hence enemy of the whole world,(1139) or Anti-papa,(1140) are wrecked by grammar, which teaches that ἀντίπας is similar to ἀντίπατρος.(1141) Coccejus, for this reason, wants to find in Antipas the confessor of Athanasianism, since ἀντίπατρος resembles ἰσόπατρος, and this again ὁμοούσιος. Vitringa adds, yet, that the mystical Pergamos where this mystical Antipas was slain, viz., again mystically, by banishment, or, in general, by hinderance of confession, is Alexandria, the residence of Athanasius.


Verse 14-15

Revelation 2:14-15. The reproof contrasted with the commendation(1142) refers to a few things: ὀλίγα. Hence the plural occurs not because the tolerance of the false teachers is conceived “as more than one want,”(1143) but, without noting the idea of plurality as such, designates in a certain abstract way only the general conception “a few.”(1144) What follows shows that actually only one particular thing is meant(1145) The subject of the reproof, moreover, is designated as small, not by litotes,(1146) also not with respect to atonement,(1147) but because the church itself was not so much involved in the false doctrines, as, on the contrary, only certain adherents of the same are enumerated among its members.(1148) The ἔχεις—not precisely equivalent to ἀνέχεις, “thou bearest”(1149)—contains, in accordance with the connection, the additional idea, that the unaffected part, properly the heart of the church,(1150) may have been slothful in efforts to reclaim the erring;(1151) at all events, the church as such(1152) is regarded as a whole, and hence is made responsible for containing within it the Nicolaitan false teachers, for this may always be referred to a defect of its nature with respect to the critical life of faith. Hence the call to repentance is made to the church as a whole, even though the conflict with the Lord coming to judgment pertains only to the false teachers (Revelation 2:16). The ἐκεῖ stands in inner relation with Revelation 2:13, as also the designation of the false teachers ( κρατοῦντας τ. διδ. βαλ., Revelation 2:14, and κρατοῦντας. τ. διδ. νικ., Revelation 2:15) forms an antithesis to the commendation of the church, κρατεῖς τ. ὀν ΄ου, Revelation 2:13. Even in a place where a church has held fast to the name of the Lord even unto death, is there to be room at least for such godless doctrines.

τῷ βαλάκ. Luther incorrectly according to the Var., ἐν τῷ β., “through Balak.” Nor is the dative to be regarded a dat. comm., “to please B.,” “in the interest of B.,” so that it could result only from the connection that “the people of Balak” were strictly the women of Moab(1153) whom especially Balaam had taught to lead astray the Israelites.(1154) Here no appeal dare be made to the fact that in Revelation 2:20 the acc. is construed regularly with διδάσκειν, for there the use of the acc. is conditioned also by the πλανᾷ. The dat. with διδάσκειν is Hebraizing.(1155) The entire construction is like that of, e.g., Revelation 2:7, where first the dat. and then the inf. follows the δώσω. On the other hand, a dat. comm. in the above sense seems too refined for the writer of the Apoc. Besides, it can in no way be inferred from the construction in Numbers 31:16, that Balaam immediately perverted the Moabite women: he may have given the advice referred to for leading the children of Israel astray, by means of Balak, whom he immediately taught.

τὴν διδαχὴν βαλ. The expression διδαχὴ is not to be explained simply from the counterpart, the διδαχὴ νικ., since with the Nicolaitans an actual doctrine was the fundamental principle, which with Balaam was only an advice,(1156) but has its justification in the succeeding δς ἐδίδασκεν. The doctrine communicated to Balak is first condemned according to its ungodly and corrupt nature: βαλεῖν σκάνδαλον ἐνώπιον τ. . ἰσρ., then is stated according to its contents, so far as it refers to the present Nicolaitans: φαγ. εἰδωλ. κ. πορν. The instruction of Balaam contained a σκάνδαλον(1157) because the Israelites were thereby led to a sin against their God,(1158) viz., to participation in the idol-worship of Baal Peor and to fornication. In Numbers 25:1 sqq., mention is made not only of the eating of the sacrifices made to idols, but also of the making of sacrifices. But here Christ regarded it sufficient to state what the Israelites had in common with the Nicolaitans.(1159) οὓτως ἔχεις καὶ σύ, κ. τ. λ. “Just as Balak held the pestiferous doctrine of Balaam, so among you there are some holding the erroneous doctrine of Nicolaus.” Thus N. de Lyra with substantial correctness explains the οὓτ. καὶ σύ, while he errs only by(1160) combining the ὁ΄οίως at the close of Revelation 2:15, referring back to what precedes, with ΄ετανόησον, Revelation 2:16, as if the church at Perg. were called to repentance like the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:5). But this reference is almost still more unnatural than that proposed by De Wette,(1161) according to which the καὶ σύ is used by way of comparison with Ephesus, Revelation 2:6, and thereby a clear distinction is to be indicated between Balaamites and Nicolaitans, both of whom are considered as being in Perg. But by ὅντως

ὁ΄οίως is the Nicolaitan misconduct, consisting in φαγεῖν εἰδωλ. and πορνεῦσαι,(1162) compared with the type of Balaamite sins, while the καὶ σύ in this line of thought either points back to Balak,(1163) or, as is more probable, refers for its meaning to the ancient church of the children of Israel. As then there were in Israel many who sinned after the doctrine of Balaam, so thou hast likewise Nicolaitan offenders. But it in no way follows, that, because the name Nicolaitan recalls symbolically the meaning of Balaam’s name,(1164) therefore also the φαγ. εἰδωλ. and πορν. are to be understood, in some way figuratively and improperly,(1165) of gluttons and voluptuaries whose belly is their god,(1166) or of the visions and false teachers in general;(1167) but rather as in the times of Balaam, participation in idol-worship and fornication actually occurred, so with respect to the so-called Nicolaitans the eating of sacrifices to idols, and fornication, are seriously meant; and the very circumstance that both things also named elsewhere in apostolic times(1168) are here reproved with a passing-by of the proper idol-worship mentioned in Numbers 25:1 sqq., indicates that these were actually the wicked works of the Nicolaitans(1169) with respect to which they might have pleaded their Christian freedom.(1170) [See Note XXXII., p. 156.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXII. Revelation 2:14-15

Alford: “We may remark: (1) That it is most according to the sense of the passage to understand these sins in the case of the Nicolaitans, as in that of those whom Balaam tempted, literally, and not mystically; (2) That the whole sense of the passage is against the identity of the Balaamites and Nicolaitans, and would be, in fact, destroyed by it. The mere existence of the etymological relation [see Düst. on Revelation 2:6] is extremely doubtful.” So also Gebhardt. Trench identifies the Balaamites and Nicolaitans.


Verse 16

Revelation 2:16. The summons to repentance, and the threat in case this is neglected, is added to the reproof, Revelation 2:14-15, as in Revelation 2:5. As to the ἔρχομαί σοι, see on the former passage, and with respect to the ταχύ, cf. Revelation 1:1. The church as a whole, to whose members the Nicolaitans belong, having shared in the reproof, so also share in the admonition to repentance and the threat; for the conflict of the coming Lord, which is of course immediately directed only against the Nicolaitans ( πολ. μετʼ αὐτῶν), must cause suffering to the entire body of the church ( ἔρχ. σοι). It will nevertheless be a judging and visible coming to the entire church, if it continue to neglect the deliverance of its still curable members, and to cut off those actually dead already. It is against the idea of the coming of the Lord in general, and against the significance of the image of the sword in the mouth of the Lord in particular,(1171) if the πολε΄ήσω, κ. τ. λ., be explained: “I will raise up prophets in the church to do what the bishop neglects, and to courageously oppose themselves to the Nicolaitans,”(1172) or be supplemented “by another bishop;”(1173) so too Grot., Wetst., Vitr., Bengel, Herd., Stern, Rinck, Hengstenb., etc., offend against the latter idea, in maintaining a remembrance of the sword of the angel against Balaam,(1174) or the sword whereby the misled Israelites were swept away,(1175) or both.(1176) Already the statement expressly added after Revelation 2:16, ῥο΄φ. τοῦ στό΄ατός ΄ου, renders this impossible.


Verse 17

Revelation 2:17. δώσω αὐτῷ τοῦ μάννα. The partitive gen.(1177) has its correct meaning no less than the immediately succeeding accus.(1178)

The general sense of the promise is not to fail because of the parallel ideas at the close of all seven epistles.(1179) The expressions are, at all events, as Areth. remarks on ψηφ. λευκ., a παροι΄ία ἐπὶ τῶν εὐδαι΄όνως

ζώντων (a maxim concerning those living happily), a description of future eternal blessedness and glory. This is misapplied by those who understand the manna as directly referring to the Lord’s Supper,(1180) or to the spiritual quickening and consolation imparted to believers even during their conflict in and with the world,(1181) or as the figure of divine grace in general which becomes manifest in justification ( ψηφ. λευκ.) and the offering of sonship ( ὄν. καιν).(1182) In the latter explanation, apart from the misunderstanding of the idea νικῶν, the groundless assertion is made, that ἐπῖ is equivalent to σύν.(1183) The more specific explanation of details has occasioned much difficulty. Utterly inapplicable to the hidden manna is the allusion(1184) to the Jewish opinion, that, before the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar, the prophet Jeremiah or the king Josiah had rescued and concealed the ark of the covenant, together with the holy relics contained therein, and that the Messiah at his appearance will again bring them to light.(1185) Incorrect, too, is the view that Christ himself is the hidden manna.(1186) Christ gives it. Incorrect is the view of Grot.: “ τ. κεκρυμμ. is equivalent to τοῦ νοητοῦ (the intellectual), and designates the more exact knowledge not only of God’s commands, but also of his dispensations.” But rather,(1187) as the victor has approved himself especially in resisting the temptation to eat of what is sacrificed to idols, so he receives a corresponding reward when the Lord offers him heavenly, divine food, viz., manna, the bread of heaven,(1188)—such fruit as, like the fruit of the tree of life, Revelation 2:7, will nourish the heavenly, blessed life. This manna is hidden, because it will be manifest only in future glory when it will be enjoyed; as, in a similar way, is said immediately afterwards of the new name.(1189)

ψῆφον λευκὴν, κ. τ. λ. Without any foundation is the explanation of N. de Lyra,(1190) according to which the white stone signifies the body decorated with the endowment of brilliancy, and the new name written thereon; “then every one manifestly and bodily blessed with the endowments of a glorious body, will be enrolled in the city of the celestials.” In connection with the mention of the manna, the explanation of the white stone has been sought in the Jewish fable, that, besides the manna, precious stones and pearls were found in the wilderness;(1191) or the decoration of the high priest at the time of the giving of the manna has been recalled, as he bore upon twelve precious stones (which, however, were not called ψῆφος)(1192) the names of the tribes of Israel, so that here is indicated the priestly dignity of the complete victors.(1193) Others, likewise, in a certain connection with the mention of heavenly food, have combined the heathen custom, according to which the conquerors in the games were led to festive banquets, and otherwise rewarded with gifts of many kinds. Thus Vitruv.(1194) reports: “To the noble athletes who conquered in the Olympian, Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games, the ancestors of the Greeks appointed honors so great that not only standing in the assembly with palm and garland they receive praise, but also when they return to their states in victory, they are in triumph drawn within the walls in a four-yoked chariot, and enjoy for their whole life, from the republic, a fixed income.” The Roman emperors(1195) also established such public games, from which the victors were led ( ἐισήλασαν) in triumph to their native city, and then received the deferred rewards. Titus was accustomed even to throw into the arena small wooden balls, on which were written orders for food, clothing, money, etc.; then the contestants received what the order proffered them stated.(1196) According to this, the white stone is explained as the order for the heavenly reward,(1197) as the “ticket” to the heavenly banquet.(1198) Others, leaving out of consideration any connection between the manna and the white stone, recall the use of the lot among the Jews,(1199) as well as among the Greeks and Romans, who were accustomed to ballot with small white stones or beans, called ψῆφος, upon which names were written;(1200) still others compare it with the classical usage of rendering a favorable judgment in trials by means of white stones, and thus find in this passage a representation of Christ’s judgment preserving from condemnation, and introducing to blessedness by the sentence of justification.(1201) Many expositors, again, have combined several of these references, viz., that of election ( ἐκλογή) and justification.(1202) But against all such definite antiquarian references is the decisive circumstance that the presentation of our passage truly agrees with not one of them. Hengstenb. is correct in saying,(1203) “that the point coming here into consideration is only the fact that in antiquity many things were written on a small stone.” Besides, the white color of the stone given the victor, which in itself represents the glory of the victory,(1204) and the purity of the blessed in heaven,(1205) retains its full significance. But what properly gives the white stone its worth is the inscription which it bears: Christ gives the victor a new name, written upon the stone,—a name which no one knows except he who receives it. That the new name written upon the stone can in no way be the name of God,(1206) is proved partly from the type of the ancient prophetic promise of a new name,(1207) partly by the analogy of Revelation 19:12, where what is said is concerning the proper name of Christ, and partly also from the rule given in the limitation οῦδεὶς, κ. τ. λ. The idea in Revelation 3:12, Revelation 14:1, is of an entirely different nature. The opinion of Eichhorn also is to be rejected; viz., that the stone bore the inscription ἅγιος τῷ θεῷ καὶ τῷ αρνιῷ, which is called new in opposition to the ancient Jewish faith in God without the Lamb. But to the norms given above, corresponds the view advanced by most expositors, according to which the declaration refers to the proper name of the victor.(1208) The name is new, because it designates the new glory of believers, i.e., that which is manifested only in the future life;(1209) and only he having received the same knows it, because, as is the case likewise already in this life, the knowledge of the blessedness of eternal life is disclosed only in personal experience. But how that new name will sound, cannot be in any way answered according to this text. The answer given by most, that it is “son of God,” or “elect,” is applicable only as therein the general contents of the Christian hope are expressed.(1210) [See Note XXXIII., p. 156.]

ἁρπασαντάς τινας ἔδει πρὸς τοὺς δωτῆρας αὐτῶν ἀπενεγκεῖν καὶ λαβεῖν τὸ ἐπιγεραμμένον. Cf., in general, K. F. Hermann, d. Gottesdienstl. Alterth. d. Griechen, § 50; Not. 30 sqq. p. 254 sqq.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXIII. Revelation 2:17. μάννα. ψῆφον λευκὴν

Trench: “The words, ‘the hidden manna,’ imply, that, however hidden now, its meaning shall not remain hidden evermore; and the best commentary on them is to be found at 1 Corinthians 2:9; 1 John 3:2. The seeing Christ as he is, of the latter passage, and, through this beatific vision, being made like to him, is identical with this eating of the hidden manna, which shall, as it were, be then brought forth from the sanctuary, the holy of holies, of God’s immediate presence, where it was withdrawn from sight so long that all may partake of it; the glory of Christ, now shrouded and concealed, being then revealed to his people.” Following Züllig, he has an elaborate argument to prove that there is a reference in “the white stone” to the Urim and Thummim, on the ground that ψῆφος, in later Greek, means “a precious stone,” and λευκὸς indicates “the purest glistering white” of the diamond; both the manna and the white stone “representing high-priestly privileges, which the Lord should at length impart to all his people, kings and priests unto God.” This is refuted by Plumptre in Smith’s Bible Dictionary, article “Urim and Thummim;” and in his commentary, where he adopts Ewald’s view, “who sees in the stone or ψῆφος of the promise, the tessera hospitalis, by which, in virtue of forms or characters inscribed upon it, he who possessed it could claim from the friend who gave it, at any distance of time, a frank and hearty welcome. What I would suggest as an addition to this rises out of the probability, almost certainty, that some such tessera or ticket—a stone with the name of the guest written on it—was given to those who were invited to partake, within the precincts of the temple, of the feast that consisted wholly, or in part, of the meat that had been offered as a sacrifice. On this view, the second part of the promise is brought in harmony with the first, and is made more directly appropriate: he who had the courage to refuse that tessera to the feast that defiled should receive another that would admit him to the supper of the Great King.” On the last clause, Plumptre: “The inner truth that lies below the outward imagery would seem to be, that the conqueror, when received at the heavenly feast, should find upon the stone, or tessera, that gave him the right of entrance, a ‘new name,’ the token of a character transformed and perfected,—a name, the full significance of which should be known only to him who was conscious of the transformation, just as, in the experiences of our human life, ‘the heart knoweth his own bitterness, and the stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy’ (Proverbs 14:10).”


Verse 18

Revelation 2:18. ὑιὸς τοῦ θεοῦ. The Lord, who in Revelation 1:13 appears like a son of man, is, as the entire description (Revelation 1:13 sqq.) shows, the Son of God, although he does not there receive that precise name. But in the present epistle he expressly designates himself as such, because, especially in Revelation 2:27, this glory of his is asserted in accordance with Psalms 2. The two other designations, derived from Revelation 1:14-15, have their significance in the fact that the Lord with his eyes of flame penetrates(1216) all, and with his feet like brass treads down every thing impure and malevolent.(1217)


Verses 18-29

Revelation 2:18-29. The epistle to the church at Thyatira.

Thyatira, about nineteen hours from Pergamos, on the road thence to Sardis, not far from the river Lycus in Lydia,—now Akhissar,—was an inconsiderable city, belonging to the civil jurisdiction of Perg.(1211) A dealer in purple, Lydia of Thyatira, is mentioned in Acts 16:14; but that she founded the Christian church there,—a presumption according to which Hengstenb. immediately connects “works of love” with the “female origin of the church,”—is just as little to be asserted as there is foundation for the unfavorable supposition that Lydia may have been meant by Jezebel, Revelation 2:20.(1212) The church at Thyatira was, like the others in Asia, not purely Jewish-Christian, as Grot. thinks, in order to weaken an uncritical objection of the Alogi against the worth of the Apoc. But Revelation 2:20 rather refers explicitly to heathen Christian elements.(1213)

That Irenaeus could not have been the bishop(1214) to whom John writes, is mentioned already by N. de Lyra. C. a Lap. and others name Carpus as bishop.(1215)


Verse 19

Revelation 2:19. The works of the church ( οἰδά σου τὰ ἔργα), as the Lord knows them, are first introduced by name,—the subordination of the four items τ. ἀγάπην, τ. πίστιν, τ. διακονίαν, and τ. ὑπομονήν, is noted by the attaching of the σοῦ only to the last,(1218)—and then ( κ. τὰ ἔργα σου, κ. τ. λ.) are commended as a whole, because a progress therein is shown. Two pairs are mentioned, and that, too, in such order that their individual members correspond to one another. The ἀγάπη, which already, because it precedes, is intended to refer in an altogether general way to love to God and the brethren, and not only to love to the poor,(1219) proves itself in the διακονία, i.e., in kindness towards all needing help, especially the poor;(1220) and the πίστις, i.e., faith,—not fidelity,(1221)—proves itself in the ὑπο΄ονή, i.e., faithful and patient perseverance founded upon the hope of faith, in the midst of attacks from the hostile world.(1222)

πλεῖονα τῶν πρώτων. Cf. Matthew 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20. The church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:5), on the contrary, but in a similar way, had been reproved for a relapse.


Verse 20

Revelation 2:20. ἀλλʼ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ ὅτι ἀφεῖς, κ. τ. λ. Cf. Revelation 2:4. Grot. incorrectly paraphrases: “I wish you to dismiss that wife.” The sense of the ἀφεῖς(1223) is correctly given by the var. ἐᾷς,(1224) “that thou let alone.” Connected with τὴν γυναῖκα ἰεσαβήλ, but in an interrupted construction, is the appositive(1225) λεγ., κ. τ. λ. The juncture proposed by Winer, p. 498, λέγουσα

καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ, is too refined, while the very harshness of the former inartificial construction corresponds with John’s mode. The words καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ are to be regarded neither as a so-called hysteron proteron,(1226) nor to be combined in διδάσκουσα πλανᾷ,(1227) but the accus. τ. ὲμ. δούλους depends upon both verbs, while the infinitives πορνεῦσαι καὶ φαγεῖν εἰδ., which are used with a certain looseness of construction, are nevertheless again connected with sufficient firmness by the prevailing meaning of the διδάσκει, which in its combination with πλανᾷ appears to refer to a false doctrine.

The explanation of the expression τ. γυναῖκα ἰεσαβήλ(1228) is a matter of controversy, which essentially depends upon the fact, that, as in Revelation 2:14, neither the πορνεῦσαι nor even the φαγεῖν εἰδωλ. is to be understood figuratively or even only in a double sense.(1229) The precedency of the πορνεῦσαι does not show that at Thyatira fornication prepared the way for eating sacrifices to idols,(1230) which in itself, and in view of Revelation 2:14, is improbable, as, on the contrary, the eating of sacrifices to idols gave occasion for unchastity; neither is it to be mentioned, that “in reference to ancient Jezebel, the history expressly intends only fornication, while in reference to Balaam the temptation to eat sacrifices offered to idols is also mentioned,”(1231) for according to 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 21:25 sqq., this is not entirely correct with respect to either Jezebel or Balaam.(1232) Fornication precedes for the reasons for which (Revelation 2:21)(1233) it is alone named; viz., because it was the chief thing among the Nicolaitans in Thyatira. “The woman Jezebel” is manifestly represented as a teacher of a Balaamite or Nicolaitan character. If now “the woman Jez.” collectively is to designate a party and “personified heresy,”(1234) the body of Jews, the synagogue,(1235) cannot be meant,—an explanation which only by the most unnatural artificialness is united with the declaration that the false doctrine of Jezebel alludes to πορνεῦσαι and φαγ. εἰδωλ.,—but the Nicolaitan false teachers must be represented under the figure of Jezebel.(1236) But partly the designation τὴν γυναῖκα, which is attached to a name sufficient for that sense, partly the further limitation λεγουσα έαυτ., κ. τ. λ., which has in itself something that is individual, decides the view that a particular woman is meant; not the wife of a bishop,(1237) nor a woman who is actually called Jezebel,(1238) but some woman who under the pretence of being a prophetess had approved the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, and for that reason was designated a new Jezebel, as Ahab’s wife formerly in the O. T. church, by the introduction of the worship of Baal, and fornication,(1239) which was combined with the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, gave the greatest offence.(1240) That the woman in Thyatira did not actually have the name Jezebel, but rather that this name was understood symbolically, does not follow from the fact that in the Apoc. all names except that of the composer are of a symbolical character,(1241) for that is not the case;(1242) but from the fact that it is applied to the false doctrines and godlessness, which have been designated already by the name of Balaam, of entirely similar notoriety with that of the wife of Ahab.


Verse 21

Revelation 2:21. This misleader’s worthiness of punishment(1243) is increased by the fact that she had time for repentance, and yet will not repent. Thus by the καί this point is added to the guilt mentioned in Revelation 2:20.

ἔδωκα, κ. τ. λ., designates not the unsearchable decree of God in relation to “the speedy coming” of the Lord, that a time for repentance should still be open, but in connection with which it is predicted that the same will not be utilized;(1244) but a time of repentance is designated, the discerning of which, indeed, lies in an act of the Lord’s grace that is now past ( ἔδωκα),(1245) but which, as the pres. θέκλει μεταν. shows, is to be regarded as continuing still to the present, and that, too, fruitlessly. Thus there is no ground for the opinion(1246) that John had already before published a written rebuke. But it is correctly inferred(1247) that the woman Jezebel had for a long time already exercised her corrupt activity. Even the fact that she had been let go(1248) appears from the standpoint of Divine Providence to afford an opportunity for a time of repentance, although the church must on this account be censured.

The ὲκ after μεταν.(1249) naturally stands as a designation of the movement out of sins.

The πορνεία—not “inaccurately stated for immodest pursuits leading to inchastity”(1250)—is meant precisely as in Revelation 2:20 (Revelation 2:14). Fornication in its various forms was properly the heart of the error.


Verse 22-23

Revelation 2:22-23. The ἰδού so strongly emphasizes the succeeding threat, and makes us so to expect something new in comparison with Revelation 2:21, that the discredited ἐγώ appears in an exegetical respect entirely superfluous.

Already the βάλλω αὐτ. shows that the κλίνη is a bed which the woman takes only when so compelled. Yet the κλίνη does not designate the punishments in hell,(1251) but the sick-bed,(1252) in opposition to the bed of sensuality. But by this description of such judgment, the reference to Jezebel and her entirely different(1253) punishment is abandoned,(1254) so that even in Revelation 2:23, in the words κ. τ. τέκνα αὐτ., an allusion to the destruction of the sons of Ahab(1255) dare not be sought. The punishment of the woman and her companions, without regard to the significant designation existing in the name Jezebel, is determined in accordance with the manner of their sins. It is to be observed, however, that the expression now chosen, ΄οιχεύειν

τ. ΄οιχ. ΄ετʼ αὐτῆς, i.e., those who shared in her deeds,(1256) designates the entire conduct of the woman and her party in a double sense, embracing the πορνεία and the φαγ. εἰδωλ., since the ethnicizing disorder must be punished more than adultery in a theocratical-symbolical sense, as in fact actual fornication was what was chiefly designed. Thus the ΄οιχεύοντες ΄ετʼ ἀυτῆς are those who perform τὰ ἔργα αὐτῆς, i.e., the works taught and practised by the woman; or as in Revelation 2:23 it is again said, according to another application of the symbolical idea,(1257) τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς,(1258) and therefore not actually bastards.(1259) Incorrectly, N. de Lyra: gehenna. It is possible to think of a pest,(1260) because the LXX. have rendered the Heb. דֶּבֶר, Ezekiel 33:27, by θάνατος. Meanwhile it is sufficient to leave the matter in its universality; the entire formula ἀποκτ. ἐν θανάτῳ then in its fulness corresponds in some measure to the Hebrew mode of combining an infin. with the finite tense of its root, as, e.g., Leviticus 20:10, where the punishment of adultery is stated מות־יומַת (LXX., θανἀτῷ θανατούς θωσαν). But any allusion to this precise passage is, to say the least, doubtful. The independence of the Johannean formula, notwithstanding its adoption, of Hebraic modes of statement, lies partly in the distinction between the words ἀποκτενῶ and θανἀτῷ, and partly in the fact that by the addition of the preposition ἐν the precise idea of the means(1261) is marked.

καὶ γνώσονται, κ. τ. λ. Every judgment of the Lord upon the world is a revelation of his glory, and has the intentional result to advance and strengthen believers more and more in their knowledge. Thus the idea of the γνωσ. is entirely too general(1262) to admit of any special opposition to the false gnosis(1263) of the Nicolaitans. It is different with Revelation 2:24.

πᾶσαι αί ἐκκλ. Not only the Asiatic;(1264) but rather, as the judgment upon false teachers in Thyatira is an act which belongs to the coming of the Lord, so also this special act shares in the absolutely universal significance of Christ’s final appearance.

ὅτι ἐγώ εἰ΄ι, κ. τ. λ. A forcible designation of the person of whom so great a thing is said as εῤεύνων, κ. τ. λ. Cf. Psalms 7:10. The Son of God who executes judgment ( καὶ δέσω, κ. τ. λ.) has also the divine attribute of searching the deepest recesses of man, and thus the condition for just judgment,(1265) as he has both eyes as a flame of fire, and feet like brass.(1266)

νεφροὺς καὶ καρδίας. According to Grot. and Beng., the former is intended to designate the desires, and the latter the thoughts. But the expression designates rather the entire inner part without any distinction of the two points.

ὑ΄ῖν. An animated turn to those guilty.(1267) Cf. Revelation 2:24.

κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ὑ΄ων. Because the Lord, who recognizes the inner source of the works, sees also their worth.(1268)


Verse 24-25

Revelation 2:24-25. In opposition ( δὲ) to the Nicolaitans spoken of at the close of Revelation 2:23, the Lord now addresses that part of the church not infected by such false doctrines; by the words οἵτινες, κ. τ. λ., the rest are then expressly characterized as such as had not received this doctrine, this not godly, but satanic, gnosis. The reference to the so-called gnosis of the Nicolaitans is here clearly indicated by the expression τὰ βαθέα, even apart from the controverted formula ὡς λέγουσιν; for to become acquainted with the depths (of divinity) was an essential pretence of the Gnostics.(1269) But it is a matter of controversy, whether the expression τ. βαθέα τ. σατ. should be conceived of as a self-chosen designation of Gnostic erroneous doctrine concerning the “rest,”(1270) so that οὐκ ἔγνωσαν and ὡς λέγουσιν have the same subject, or whether the Nicolaitan Gnostics are to be regarded as the subject to ὡς λέγουσιν, so that the expression τὰ βαθέα τ. σατ. is used either entirely as it sounds in the sense of these Gnostics,(1271) or according to the analogy of the designation συναγωγὴ τοῦ σατανᾶ, Revelation 2:9, as a sarcastic transformation of the Gnostic expression concerning the depths; viz., as they say, of the Deity, but as it is rather in fact meant, of Satan.(1272) But if, in the former sense, the entire formula τὰ βαθέα τοῦ σατανᾶ were to be understood as one in itself peculiar to the Gnostics ( ὡς κεγ.), it must also be shown how it was used by them; but this does not occur. Hence the view commends itself, that the expression τὰ βαθέα τ. σατ. is to be conceived of from the Christian standpoint. At the same time it appears far more forcible if the Gnostics themselves be regarded as the subject to ὡς λέγουσιν with respect to the chief idea τὰ βαθέα, while the further determination of τοῦ σατανᾶ is made prominent, in that the question in fact is not concerning divine depths,(1273) nor divine mysteries,(1274) but the depths of Satan, as if this judgment were put in the mouths of believers at Thyatira who remained faithful, and they therefore are regarded as the subject to the ὡς λέγουσιν.

To the rest at Thyatira the Lord now says, οὐ βάλλω

ἥξω. The expression ἄλλο βάρος has been understood in two chief respects, but with very different modifications of exposition; viz., either of the burden of suffering and punishment, or of the burden of a law. The norm furnished by the context, for the explanation of an expression in itself ambiguous, lies in the words πλὴν εχ., κ. τ. λ., which in no way contain the condition of the promise οὐ βάλλω ἐρʼ ὑμ. ἄλλο βάρ(1275) but a certain limitation ( πλήν) of the preceding promise, as the πλήν is correlate to ἄλλο. If now in the words Revelation 2:25, the manifestation of Christian steadfastness in faith is required, and therefore a certain incessant legal determination is made or established, the result is that every ἄλλο βάρος must likewise be a burden of the law, which, just because it reaches farther than the limitation indicated in the closing words (Revelation 2:25), should not be laid upon believers. If now it be considered that the question at issue was with respect to fornication and the eating of sacrifices made to idols, and that just in respect to this the ancient church at the Synod of Jerusalem, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, made a definite decision, but declined all going beyond this as an intolerable burden,(1276) we could not recognize hence a clear allusion to that decree; and accordingly explain the ἄλλο βάρος of any sort of legal limitation of the holy freedom of believers, which proceeds beyond the commandment hitherto faithfully preserved by them.(1277) The ἔχετε, nevertheless, is not directly the formerly recognized and still faithfully observed prohibition to avoid fornication and the eating of what is sacrificed to idols; but the expression in its indefinite extent includes the idea that because believers have been faithful in opposition to the Nicolaitans, just in their obedience they have also had their reward, viz., the blessing of eternal life, and therefore should hold fast to this treasure,(1278) while they bear still further the burden of that commandment which was hitherto borne. If the ἄλλο βάρος, therefore, be understood of the burden of suffering, it can be explained only, with De Wette: “No other sorrow than you bear or have borne already.” For we must infer from the mention of the ὑπομονή, Revelation 2:19, that suffering was already borne; while, in case this reference were to ἂλλο βάρος, a more definite allusion to suffering previously endured would be expected. Incorrectly, Heinr.: “Punishment because of another’s fault.” Incorrectly, Grot.: “They boast of the knowledge of many things; this I do not exact of you,” as though the gnosis were the ἄλλο βάρος. Incorrectly, Beng. (whom Klief. follows): “As they had borne the burden of Jezebel and her followers sufficiently.”


Verses 26-28

Revelation 2:26-28. The promise to the victor.

The combination with Revelation 2:25, indicated by the καὶ,(1279) lies in the fact that the victory is won by the τηρεῖν ἄχρι τέλους τὰ ἕργα μου, which in meaning is nothing else than the κρατεῖν commanded in Revelation 2:25. With respect to the form of the expression, the τηρεῖν corresponds to the κρατεῖν, the ἄχρι τέλους to the ἄχρι οὗ ἂν ἥξω. The τὰ ἔργα μου find their explanation partly in opposition to the works of Jezebel,(1280) and partly in combination with Revelation 2:25; they are such works as the Lord requires by the commandment which he imposes. Incorrectly, Grotius: Metonymy, for ἔργα are said to be precepts concerning works.

Concerning the broken construction of the sentence, Revelation 2:26, as the αὐτῷ refers back to absolute preceding nominative νικῶν, κ. τ. λ., cf. Winer, pp. 170, 533.

The substantial sense of the promise δώσω

πατρός μου is that the victor is to share in the work of establishing the βασιλεία(1281) at the coming of the Lord. For just as the Son has already received ( εἰλ.) from the Father power over the heathen, that he breaks them like earthen vessels with a rod of iron,(1282) so also will they who believe in Jesus Christ be raised by him, their Mediator, through whom they have already at the present time the kingdom,(1283) to participation in the glory which then becomes manifest.(1284) The coming of the Lord completely and actually effects the victory over all that is hostile; and he who remains faithful until that coming will then receive as a reward the royal glory in its fuller development, whose possession in faith has already conditioned the victory over all temptations or persecutions on the part of the world. Incorrectly Grot., on ἐξουσ. ἐπὶ τ. ἐθν.: “I will raise him to the grade of presbyter, that he may judge concerning those who live not in a Christian but a heathen way;” and Revelation 2:27 of excommunication.(1285) The conversion of the heathen, also, we must regard neither alone,(1286) nor with the addition of the idea of the future royal dominion.(1287)

ποι΄ανεῖ(1288) according to the LXX., Psalms 2:9, for תְּרֹעֵם (break), is interchanged with תִּרְעְת (feed).

In the epistle to the church at Thyatira, this promise has its reference to the opposition to the heathen libertinism of Jezebel and her party.

κ. δώσω αὐτῷ τὸν ἀστ. τ. πρ., Revelation 2:28, cannot be like θήσω αὐτόν, κ. τ. λ.(1289) That the morning star which Christ will give to the victor is “the glorious body refulgent with the endowment of brilliancy,”(1290) is an entirely arbitrary assumption of exegetical helplessness; while still others have advanced the idea, with allusion to Isaiah 14:12, that by the morning star the Devil is to be understood,(1291) or the Babylonian, i.e., the most powerful king of the world.(1292) According to Revelation 22:16, to understand Christ himself(1293) is impossible because of the δώσω, which makes us expect(1294) a gift of the Lord. According to the analogy of Daniel 12:3, Matthew 13:43, 1 Corinthians 15:40 sqq., the expression in general designates the bright glory,(1295) the heavenly δόξα,(1296) with which the victor is to be endowed, without regarding ἀστήρ itself as used(1297) of nothing else than “brilliancy and rays of the star.”(1298) Yet it is difficult for the discourse to be in reference to a domination of the star, similar to that in what precedes.(1299) The bold poetical idea appears rather to be, that the victor beams in the brilliancy of the morning star, because he has the morning star in his possession, just as a precious stone adds its effulgence to those who wear it. [See Note XXXIV., p. 157.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXIV. Revelation 2:28. τὸν ἀστέρα τὸν πρωινόν

Luthardt, briefly: “That the new day of Jesus Christ is to break upon him.” So Stier does not approve of the application of the words, in this connection, to Christ himself, but finds in them first the messenger heralding the day, and then the beginning of participation in the heavenly kingdom. According to his scheme of interpretation, he finds the first realization of this in the Reformation. Tait: “A share in my kingdom at its first manifestation.” Plumptre, on the other hand: “The fruition of his glorious presence.… When he gives that star, he gives himself (ch. Revelation 22:16). The star had of old been the emblem of sovereignty; cf. Numbers 24:17; Matthew 2:2. It was the symbol of sovereignty on its brighter and benignant side, and was, therefore, the fitting and necessary complement of the attributes which had gone before. The king came not only to judge and punish and destroy, but also to illumine and cheer (Luke 1:8).… The conqueror in the great strife should receive light in its fulness, and transmit that light to others (Daniel 12:3).”

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 2:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-2.html. 1832.

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