corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.11.15
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Revelation 6

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 6

Revelation 6:1. φωνὴ. So already Beng., Griesb., Matth., after decisive testimonies. The poor variations φωνῆς (Elz.), φωνῶν, φωνήν ( א), are modifications.

After ἔρχου, neither βλέπε (Elz.) nor ἴδε ( א, Beng.) is to be read. So according to A, C, 10, 17, al., ed. Compl., Genev., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Also, in Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:8, the insertion is to be deleted.

Ver 2. καὶ εἶδον is improperly omitted in most minusc. as superfluous.

Revelation 6:4. αὐτῳ before λαβεῖν (Elz., Griesb., Tisch.), omitted in A as superfluous, has sufficient testimony in C, א, Vulg.; Lach. [W. and H.] has inserted it in brackets.

Instead of the unattested ἀπὸ τ. γ. (Elz.), read ἐκ τ. γ. (C, א, 2, 4, 6, al., Vulg., Syr., Andr., Lach., Tisch.). Nevertheless, even the mere τῆς γῆς is a reading to be held in high esteem, in favor of which is the testimony of A, and which may have been the mater lectionis.

σφάξουσιυ Elz., σφάξωσι. ( א). But A, C, justify here the reading of the fut. (Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]; cf. Winer, p. 271).

Revelation 6:6. In the Elz. text, in accord with A, C, א, 6, 12, 17, Vulg., ὡς is to be inserted (Lach.), which was omitted even by Tisch., 1873, because it was inconvenient.

Revelation 6:7. It is not improbable, that with Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.], in accord with A, א, Vulg. the reading is: φωνὴν τ. τετ. ζ. λέγοντος (incorrectly, Elz., λέγουσαν), as the reading preferred by Tisch., etc., τοὺ τετ. ζ. λέγοντος (4, 6, 7, 8, al., Syr., Copt., Aral.; cf. C: τὸ τέταρτον ζῶον λέγοντος), may be an adaptation to the mode of speech (Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5).

Revelation 6:8. Instead of ἀκολουθεῖ (A, Elz., Beng., Tisch.), the reading is probably ἠκολούθει (B, C, א, 2, 4, 6, al., Vulg., al., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]).

For μετʼ αὐτοῦ, א has the easier αὐτῳ

ἐδόθη αύτοῖς. So, correctly, Elz., Lach., Tisch., 1859 [W. and H.], after A, C, א. The reading αὐτῳ (2, 4. 6, al., Vulg., Syr., al., Griesb., Beng., Matth., Tisch., 1854) arises from Revelation 6:2; Revelation 6:4.

Revelation 6:10. ἐκραξαν. So A, C, א, 2, 4, 6, al., Beng., Griesb., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Without authenticity, Elz.: ἐκραζόν.

ἐκ τῶν κατοῖκ. So, according to decisive witnesses, Matth. already. Incorrectly, Elz. (cf. Beng., Griesb.): ἀπὸ.

Revelation 6:11. The μικρόν after χρόνον (Elz., Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]) is very strongly attested by A, C, א, Vulg. It is lacking, it is true, in B, 2, 4, 6, al., Aeth., Ar., Compl., and is rejected by Beng. Griesb., Matth. Tisch.; but any transfer from Revelation 20:3 is highly improbable, although it could readily have been omitted, because it seems difficult to make the further determination ἕως πληρ., κ. τ. λ., accord with the brevity of the appointed time,

πληρωθῶσιν. So Beng., Treg., Lach., according with A, C, Vulg, al., Compl. Emendations are: πληρώσονται (Elz.), πληρώσωσιν ( א, 2, 3, 4, 8. al., Matth., Tisch.), πληρώσουσιν (28). Revelation 6:15.; The πᾶς before ἐλευθ. (Elz.) is, in accord with decisive witnesses, erased already by Beng.

The seals of the book of fate were opened by the Lamb (cf. Revelation 5:1 sq.). Ch. 6 describes the opening of the first six of the seven seals, and reports the contents of the book thus unsealed. With Revelation 6:17, the contents of the sixth seal are exhausted. Against Vitr., who finds in ch. 7 the second vision that is thought to proceed from the sixth seal, it may be noted already here, that the opening of each seal always brings with it only one vision.(1994) Concerning the seventh seal, cf. Revelation 8:1 sqq.

The seals are to be regarded not as belonging to the transitions of the book, but to the book itself; what is manifested at their opening serves, therefore, not as a significant type of what is contained only in the book itself, but by the opening of the seals the contents of the book are revealed.(1995) The visions presented after the opening of the seals, also, are not, as Heinr. thinks, figures portrayed in the transitions of the book,—which is in no way conceivable in the first four, to say nothing of the last three seals; but they are significative images and events, which, proceeding from the unsealed book itself, signify future things(1996) to the gazing prophet.(1997) Ew. says, incorrectly, that the horsemen (Revelation 6:2-3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:8) “proceed from a narrow place.” They go forth from the unsealed book itself.

As the seven epistles, by a plain change in the form of composition,(1998) were classified into three and four, so the seven seals—apart from the fact that, by ch. 7, the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1 sqq.) is separated from the first six—fall into four (Revelation 6:1-8) and three (Revelation 6:9 sqq.). But Bengel’s decision is arbitrary; viz., that the former class of four seals refer to what is visible, and the latter of three to what is invisible.(1999) Still more arbitrarily, Alcasar thought that the first four seals represented “the conversion and happiness of the Jews who would believe in Christ;”(2000) but the last three, “the unhappiness and punishment of Jews rebelling against Christ.” In the first four seals, appear allegorical figures, horsemen on horses: in the last three, there are certain occurrences not portrayed in an allegorical way. Besides, the first four seals are placed in a certain relation to the four beings which surround God’s throne (Revelation 4:6 sq.); while every time, when a seal is opened, one of the four beings says to John, ἔρχου. But this must not be carried into minute details. Thus Beng. places in the east what is indicated in the first seal, as the first beast has his place to the east of God’s throne, etc.; while Grot. finds it very suitable for his conception of the four beings, that, e.g., in the third seal, which treats of famine, and that, too, of that which occurred at the time of the Emperor Claudius, the third being, viz., Paul, speaks, for Agabus had prophesied to him of this famine.(2001) But it would have been more consistent for Grot, to have regarded Agabus the third being. To the fourth seal, which threatens sicknesses, Grot. says, that the fourth being suits, viz., James, who, in his epistle, speaks of sicknesses.

Other expositors,(2002) because of the signs of victory of the first seal compared with the victorious leonine strength and courage of the first lion-like being, and because of the persecutions of Christians, have mentioned thereon that the second being is like an ox, i.e., an animal for sacrifice, and more of such arbitrary interpretations. In accord with the allegorical meaning of the four beings who represent the living creation, especially the earthly, out of which their significant forms are fashioned,(2003) and in accord with that which is reported concerning the visions themselves,(2004) is the relation between the four beings and the first four visions of the seals, which in the constant ἔρχον of the individual beings, and in the voice (Revelation 6:6) sounding in the midst of the four beasts, stamps the fact that visions are revealed which pertain to the earthly world, and that, too, to the whole of it.(2005)


Verse 1

Revelation 6:1. καὶ εἷδον ὅτε, κ. τ. λ., does not mean, “I was a spectator when the Lamb opened a seal:”(2006) the opening of the seal is not designated as the object of the εἶδον.(2007) De Wette(2008) and Ebrard attach such a wide significance to the εἶδον, that it may include the hearing mentioned directly afterwards; the meaning is that the prophetic “beholding” properly consisted in “hearing.” It is more correct to say that what John sees when the seal is opened, he describes first in Revelation 6:2, where the repeated καὶ εἱδον refers back to Revelation 6:1. As in the vision itself, so also in its description, something heard is yet interposed.

μιαν. The cardinal number does not stand here for the ordinal,(2009) but here, as directly afterwards in the ἐνὸς τ. τ. ζ., it is only expressed that one of the seals (beasts) is spoken of. The order of succession is not marked until afterwards (Revelation 6:3; Revelation 6:5; Revelation 6:7).(2010)

ὡς φωνὴ βροντῆς. Loose construction. The voice of thunder belongs to all four beings, because they are alike superterrestrial.(2011) To the one of the four beings who speaks first, this voice is expressly ascribed, only because it is the first to speak. The thunder note of the voice has nothing to do with the contents of the first seal.(2012)

ἔρχου. Even if the addition καὶ βλέπε were genuine,(2013) a parallelizing of these words with John 1:40; John 1:47 would be inapplicable, and a critical inference as to the composition of the Apoc. by the Evangelist John would be without foundation.(2014) Not even is the note of Schöttgen(2015) here applicable: “This formula, occurring in the Holy Scriptures only in John, is the well-known בא וראה of the rabbins.

They employ it, however, as often as at the close of a disputation one approaches who makes a declaration concerning the subject.” The command ἔρχου(2016) is very simple, and is seriously meant: “John is to come up;” viz., to see accurately what proceeds from the unsealed book. This is written immediately afterwards.


Verse 2

Revelation 6:2. John saw “a white horse, and he that sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering and to conquer.” The entire form is that of a warrior, and that, too, of one victorious, and triumphing in the certainty of victory. All the individual features of the image harmoniously express this. The horses of the Roman triumphers were white.(2017) On white horses, therefore,(2018) appear not only Christ himself, but also his hosts triumphing with him.

That the weapon of the horseman is a bow, not a sword, has scarcely a symbolical significance. The symbol would be distorted if Wetst. were correct in saying that by the bow, with which work is done at a distance, the intention is to indicate that the reference is properly to a victory, occurring at a distance from Judaea, of the Parthian king Artabanus II.,(2019) who made war upon the Jews in Babylon; but if this were the meaning, the entire form of the horseman, which, in the manner proposed, is to represent that king, must have appeared at a greater distance. Arbitrary is also the explanation of Vitr.: “A bow, not a sword, in order to withdraw our thought from Roman emperors to Christ.” If, as by Vitr., importance be laid upon the fact that the bow is pre-eminently peculiar to Parthian and Asiatic warriors in general, and not to the Roman, we dare not find in the bow an emblem of Christ; in order, then, to explain not so much the bow mentioned as rather the supplied darts of the numerous apostles and evangelists through whose forcible preaching Christ won his victory.(2020) Instead of the bow, in Psalms 45:6, the darts are mentioned, and that, too, beside the sword (Revelation 6:4), in a description which may have floated before John.(2021) In this passage, what is ascribed to the bow can indicate nothing further than that the warrior equipped therewith may meet his foes also at a distance.

ἐδύθη αὐτῷ στέφανος. The crown—whose meaning, in connection with what immediately follows, is indubitable(2022)—is given the warrior, because it is to be marked in the beginning directly, by this going forth, that he already goes forth as a νικῶν, and, therefore, that the goal of his going forth καὶ ἵνα νικήσῃ is undoubtedly reached. א has even the interpretation: καὶ ἐνίκησεν.

The true meaning of this passage is suggested by the statement: κ. ἐξῆλθεν νικῶν καὶ ἳνα νικήσῃ, especially in connection with the succeeding forms of horsemen, but also still further in connection with the fundamental idea of the entire Apoc., particularly the parallel passages Revelation 19:11 sqq., where, in perfect correspondence with the harmonious plan of the book, the form of a horseman comes forth still more gloriously, and at the same time is expressly explained. If we regard only the forms of horsemen proceeding from the three following seals, which, according to the unambiguous hints in the text, are the very personifications of the shedding of blood (Revelation 6:4), famine (Revelation 6:6), and death (Revelation 6:8), nothing is nearer than the opinion that even the first horseman is a personification, yet not of Christianity,(2023)—to which not a single feature of the picture leads, even apart from the fact that, except in the person of Christ, a personification of Christianity is scarcely conceivable,—but of victory, or of war on the side of victory;(2024) with which it would well agree, that, in Revelation 6:3 sqq., war should be represented in its other sides and consequences. So, already, Bengel,(2025) Herder, Eichh., Ew. ii., of whom the latter, like Wetst., limits the idea of the horseman to Judaea. According to this conception, De Wette(2026) judges, with entire consistency, that the similar image of a horseman, referring to Christ,(2027) is intended to be antithetical in its relation to the present; there at the end, Christ with his “spiritual victory,” in opposition to the “vain boast of victory” of the warrior here at the beginning. But in the text there is no trace whatever of such contrast; that the victor here represented had, and wished to win, only a vain worldly victory, has as little foundation as it is unsatisfactory for Christ’s victory to be called only a “spiritual” one, as even the external ruin of Babylon belongs essentially thereto. With correctness, most expositors(2028) regard the horseman of the first, identical with that of Revelation 19:11 sqq. The characteristic attributes are essentially synonymous. Yet in the one case we stand, of course, at the glorious end of the entire development of the kingdom of Christ, while here the Lord first goes forth to bring about that end; but just because only he can go forth to conquer, who is already a victor ( νικῶν),(2029) even here the form of the Lord is essentially the same as at the end. Since the very appearance of Christ reveals all the visions which proceed from the unsealed book of fate, it is indicated that he guides and determines the course and end of all the events portrayed in the succeeding visions; in the prophetic figures, also, which John beholds, as well as in the things portrayed, the Lord is the beginning and end, the First and Last, who will triumph over all enemies ( ἵνα νικήσῃ), as he is already properly victor ( νικῶν) over them. To any special victory of Christ, as possibly the results of the preaching at Pentecost,(2030) the νικῶν, even because of the present form, cannot refer; in the sense of the Apoc., as also of the whole N. T., Christ is absolute victor over all that is hostile, just because he is Christ, i.e., the Son of God, who has suffered in the flesh, and arisen and ascended into heaven, or because he is the Lamb of God who possesses God’s throne. The νικῶν presupposing the ἐνίκησα, Revelation 3:21 (Revelation 5:5), and including in itself already the ἳνα νικήσῃ, designates also the true ground upon which believers in Christ are “to conquer,” and can conquer, and have to expect from the Lord a victor’s reward.(2031) Thus the triumphing image of Christ at the beginning of all the visions, proceeding from the book of fate, is in harmony with the fundamental idea and paracletic tendency of the entire Apoc.

As little as the emblem of the bow, does the horse in itself or its white color have any special significance; any exposition that in such matters seeks any thing more than such emblems whereby the entire form of the horseman is characterized as that of a victorious warrior, and which proceeds to a special interpretation of the individual characteristic features, instead of regarding the unity of significance in the entire image, must result in what is arbitrary and frivolous. This is contrary to all the expositors, who understand by the white horse the Church,(2032) and that, too, the apostolic primitive Church, in its purity and peaceful condition prior to persecutions, which are found in the second seal,(2033) as Beda, Andr., Areth., N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., Calov., etc. [See Note XLVIII., p. 234.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLVIII. Revelation 6:2. ἰππος λευκός

Luthardt: “That is, the Word of God, which was the first in the history of N. T. times to pass victoriously through the world, and whose words flew far like arrows, and penetrated the heart (Psalms 45:6).” Alford: “The νικῶν might be said of any victorious earthly power whose victories should endure for the time then present, and afterwards pass away; but the ἳνα νικήσῃ can only be said of a power whose victories are to last forever.… We must not, on the one hand, too hastily introduce the person of our Lord himself; or, on the other, be startled at the objection that we shall be paralleling him, or one closely resembling him, with the far different forms which follow. Doubtless, the resemblance to the rider in Revelation 19:11 is very close, and is intended to be very close. The difference, however, is considerable. There he is set forth as present in his triumph, followed by the hosts of heaven: here he is working in bodily absence, and the rider is not himself, but only a symbol of his victorious power, the embodiment of his advancing kingdom as regards that side of its progress where it breaks down earthly power, and makes the kingdom of the world to be the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ. Further, it would not be wise, nor, indeed, according to the analogy of these visions, to specify. In all cases but the last, these riders are left in the vagueness of their symbolic offices. If we attempt, in this case, to specify further, e.g., as Victorinus: ‘The white horse is the word of preaching sent with the Holy Spirit into the world. For the Lord says, This gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come,’—while we are sure that we are thus far right, we are but partially right, seeing that there are other aspects and instruments of victory of the kingdom of Christ besides the preaching of the word.” If the word “preaching” be limited to public discourses, or even to the public reading and private study of the word, Alford is quite right. But just as the sacraments are only the visible word, and are efficacious because of the word of God joined with them, so every agency for the diffusion of Christ’s kingdom may be reduced to the word of God under some form. Gebhardt (p. 238) regards the rider on the white horse as a personification of victorious war. His objection to the view adopted by Düsterdieck, that the Lamb could not have opened the seals, and at the same time have been represented in what the seal portrays, is not very formidable, and, at most, would not interfere with the conception above proposed of the Word as rider.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLIX. Revelation 6:2-8

Alford regards the four seals, in their fulness, as contemporaneous, the ἵνα νικήσῃ not being accomplished until the entire earth is subjugated, although “they may receive continually recurring, or even ultimate, fulfilments, as the ages of the world go on, in distinct periods of time, and by distinctly assignable events. So far, we may derive benefit from the commentaries of those who imagine that they have discovered their fulfilment in successive periods of history, that, from the very variety and discrepancy of the periods assigned by them, we may verify the facts of the prevalence of these announced judgments hitherto, throughout the whole lifetime of the Church.”


Verse 3-4

Revelation 6:3-4. When the Lamb(2034) opens the second seal, John is again commanded, and this time by the second of the beings, to come; it is therefore presupposed, that after the vision of the first seal had ended, and the first image of a horseman had vanished, he had again withdrawn, and taken his original place.(2035) The form proceeding from the book of fate after the opening of the second seal ( ἐξῆλθεν, cf. Revelation 6:2) is that of personified shedding of blood. This is so obviously indicated by the red color of the horse,(2036) whereby it was granted ( ἐδόθη, cf. Revelation 3:21) to take peace away from the earth with the effect of a slaughtering of one another by the dwellers upon earth,(2037) and by the corresponding emblem of a great sword which was given ( ἐδόθη, cf. Revelation 6:2),(2038) that expositors are united concerning the essential significance of the vision.(2039) The more accurate determination of the intention of the threatening manifestation is given partly from the words ἐκ τῆς γῆς, and partly from the connection of the whole, decided already in the first sight of a seal. As ἐκ τῆς γῆς does not mean “from the land of Judaea, and the places in which there were Jews,”(2040) certainly the vision as a prophecy post eventum cannot refer to the Jewish war, and the rapine and strifes of factions which occurred during its continuance, especially in Jerusalem.(2041) Since, on the other hand, because of the connection of λαβ. τ. εἰρ. ἐκ τῆς γῆς and ἀλλήλους σφάξουσιν, only the κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς(2042) can be regarded as subject to ἀλλήλους σφάξ., who kill one another, those massacred cannot be Christians, i.e., the discourse cannot be in reference to the persecutions of Christians; for then also, in reference to the combination of the first four seal-visions, it is entirely arbitrary to assert that the last three horsemen occupy a hostile position towards the first.(2043) Incorrect, therefore, are all expositions which in the second seal-vision find the persecution of Christians; as well those specially expounding it,(2044) as those holding it more or less in general.(2045) On the contrary, as in Matthew 24:7-8, wars in the world are regarded as the first presage of the parousia of Christ, the ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων, so there appears here the personification of the shedding of blood, which is to occur on earth in consequence of the Lord’s approach for the glorious and victorious end. Even sanguinary war serves the Lord at his coming. Believers, too, are of course alarmed by the πειρασμός which is thus proclaimed by the second seal-vision;(2046) but their Lord not only preserves them, but at the signs of his coming they are to be the more confident in their hope, since their redemption approaches.(2047)


Verse 5-6

Revelation 6:5-6. The meaning of the third seal-vision is to be determined according to the same norm as that of the second. The black color of the horse designates not the grief of those who have been afflicted by the plagues indicated by the entire image of the horseman,(2048) especially not the grief of the Church over heresy, as it is symbolized by the horse and horseman; but the black color must correspond to the destructive character of the image of the horseman itself.(2049) Yet it is not perceptible how, by this color, the particular nature of the plague announced, viz., famine, is expressed:(2050) it is sufficient to regard the black color(2051) as an indication that the figure appearing therein is one of a plague, a servant of divine judgment.

First, the special emblem ascribed to the horseman ( ἕχ. ζυγὸν, κ. τ. λ.), in addition to the unambiguous exclamation χοῖνιξ σίτου, κ. τ. λ., makes us recognize in the third figure of a horseman the personification of famine.

ζυγόν. As to the expression, ζυγός means properly the beam which unites the two scales, cf. Proverbs 16:11; as to the subject itself, since by the weighing of the grain which otherwise is measured, famine is represented, cf. Leviticus 26:26, Ezekiel 4:16.

ὡς before φωνὴν(2052) corresponds with the circumstance that, to John, the person from whom the voice proceeds(2053) remains unknown.(2054)Audivi ut vocem,” a Latin would say; i.e., “I heard (something) like a voice.” That the cry sounds forth “in the midst of the four beings,” is, in itself, natural, since the unsealing of the book of fate occurs at the throne of God, which is in the midst of the four beings;(2055) but as it is not without significance that the four beings, as representatives of the living creatures on earth, cry out to John, ἕρχου, so is it likewise significant that in the midst of those beings the cry sounds forth, which accompanies the figure of a plague pertaining to living creatures(2056) The first half of the call sounds just as when any thing is offered for sale.(2057) The gen. δηναρίου is that of the price.(2058) The second sentence contains a command which prescribes to the horseman, not only as the personification of the famine, but as the bearer of the visitation, the limit of the plague ordained by the Lord. Oil and wine are to grow as ordinarily: μὴ ἀδικήσῃς, i.e., “Do them no harm, injure them not;”(2059) although wheat and barley, and therefore the unconditionally necessary means of subsistence, are to be so dear that a day-laborer for his daily labor receives a denarius,(2060) nothing more than daily food for himself,—a choinix of wheat, which is a man’s(2061) daily nourishment. If, therefore, the famine indicated do not reach the utmost extreme of hunger,(2062) yet the grievousness of the plague is obvious to every one who has learned to know the life of the people, viz., of the lower classes, in the neighborhood. That oil and wine remain exempted, is, of course, a mitigation of the famine; but on the other hand, by the plentiful presence of these two means of nourishment, even though in Oriental life they are luxuries far less than among us, the πειρασμός lying in the famine which had entered is essentially strengthened, and the critical force also of these plagues in an ethical respect, which belong to the signs preceding Christ’s coming,(2063) intensified.

The reference of Revelation 6:5-6, to the famine under Claudius,(2064) or to any other particular dearth,(2065) is decidedly contrary to the sense of the text; since here, as also in Revelation 6:3-4, and Revelation 6:7 sqq., no special fact is meant, especially not one predicted only after its occurrence, but rather, in accord with the fundamental prophecy (Matthew 24:7), a certain kind of plagues is described,(2066) which precede the coming of the Lord. Purely arbitrary is the allegorizing interpretation, e.g., in Beda,(2067) Vitr.,(2068) C. a Lap.,(2069) Stern,(2070) etc. N. de Lyra understands by the black horse, the Roman army; by the horseman, Titus; by the wheat and barley, Jews; by oil and wine, Christians. The acme of arbitrary interpretation is attained by those who, as even Böhmer, understand the wheat and barley properly, and the wine and oil figuratively as a designation of Christians. Any such distinction would have been indicated by the omission of the art. with σίτου and κριθῶν, whereas, on the other hand, it is found with ἕλαιον and οἶνον. But although the art. in the latter case designates simply the class as a whole, this is lacking in the former case just as naturally; since there not the kind of fruit as such, but a quantity, is mentioned, which therefore allows no other designation than that of the mass, which in simple composition is given as χοῖνιξ σίτου.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLVIII. Revelation 6:2. ἰππος λευκός

Luthardt: “That is, the Word of God, which was the first in the history of N. T. times to pass victoriously through the world, and whose words flew far like arrows, and penetrated the heart (Psalms 45:6).” Alford: “The νικῶν might be said of any victorious earthly power whose victories should endure for the time then present, and afterwards pass away; but the ἳνα νικήσῃ can only be said of a power whose victories are to last forever.… We must not, on the one hand, too hastily introduce the person of our Lord himself; or, on the other, be startled at the objection that we shall be paralleling him, or one closely resembling him, with the far different forms which follow. Doubtless, the resemblance to the rider in Revelation 19:11 is very close, and is intended to be very close. The difference, however, is considerable. There he is set forth as present in his triumph, followed by the hosts of heaven: here he is working in bodily absence, and the rider is not himself, but only a symbol of his victorious power, the embodiment of his advancing kingdom as regards that side of its progress where it breaks down earthly power, and makes the kingdom of the world to be the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ. Further, it would not be wise, nor, indeed, according to the analogy of these visions, to specify. In all cases but the last, these riders are left in the vagueness of their symbolic offices. If we attempt, in this case, to specify further, e.g., as Victorinus: ‘The white horse is the word of preaching sent with the Holy Spirit into the world. For the Lord says, This gospel shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come,’—while we are sure that we are thus far right, we are but partially right, seeing that there are other aspects and instruments of victory of the kingdom of Christ besides the preaching of the word.” If the word “preaching” be limited to public discourses, or even to the public reading and private study of the word, Alford is quite right. But just as the sacraments are only the visible word, and are efficacious because of the word of God joined with them, so every agency for the diffusion of Christ’s kingdom may be reduced to the word of God under some form. Gebhardt (p. 238) regards the rider on the white horse as a personification of victorious war. His objection to the view adopted by Düsterdieck, that the Lamb could not have opened the seals, and at the same time have been represented in what the seal portrays, is not very formidable, and, at most, would not interfere with the conception above proposed of the Word as rider.


Verse 7-8

Revelation 6:7-8. The fourth form of horseman is recognizable not only by the entire description, but also his name is expressly mentioned: ὄνομα αὐτῷ θάνατος. The text is thus as contradictory as is possible to all allegorizing interpretations of mortal heresy,(2071) of the complete falling away from Christ as spiritual death,(2072) of the Saracens and Turks,(2073) of the Roman people with the Emperor Domitian, whom “Hell follows,” because immediately after his death he entered it.(2074) Incorrect, also, as in Revelation 6:5-6, is the limited reference of the whole to any special case, as possibly to the diseases and rapine which occurred at the time of the Jewish war in consequence of the famine (Revelation 6:5-6),(2075) or to the devastations made by the flavi Germani, and other nations of the migration.(2076) As already by the ancient prophets, in addition to the sword(2077) and hunger,(2078) pestilence(2079) and also wild beasts(2080) were called grievous divine judgments, so the Lord also enumerates pestilences ( λοι΄οί) among the signs of his coming. Yet it does not follow thence that the horseman, who has the name θάνατος, is the plague;(2081) but it corresponds with those types, that death personified, just as the shedding of blood personified, and famine personified, should enter because of the Lord’s going forth to his victorious goal, and that the means mentioned (Revelation 6:8) should ascribe to him deadly efficacy. This horse has the color which agrees with his work. χλωρός designates not only the fresh green of the grass,(2082) but also the greenish pallor of fear(2083) and of death.(2084)

καθήμενος. The loose but forcible construction in which the preceding nom. is absorbed by the following dat. ( ὄν. αὐτῷ θαν.), as in Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21.

καὶ ἅιδης ἠκολούθει ΄ετʼ αὐτοῦ. The ΄ετά with ἀκολ. as Luke 9:48. To understand Hades by metonymy for the inhabitants of Hades, the host of those swept away by death,(2085) is an assumption which not only gives a monstrous idea, but also especially avoids the correct reading ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς. The incorrect explanation, as well as the incorrect reading αὐτῷ, depends upon the failure to recognize the fact that Hades, i.e., the place belonging to death,(2086) because filled by the agency of death, is represented here like death itself, as a person following death. The idea of locality, which especially belongs to Hades, is also in Revelation 1:18 decisive as to the idea of death; conversely here and in Revelation 20:13 sqq., Hades is personally considered, which suits better the idea of death. But to regard Hades only as the place of torment for the damned,(2087) is only possible if the plagues indicated in Revelation 6:8 are misunderstood as though pertaining to unbelievers alone. The contrary is decided partly by the entire tendency of all four seal-visions, and partly, especially in this place, by the express extension of the dominant power granted death and hell following it, to the fourth part of the earth, and therefore of all inhabitants of the earth, believers—who have patiently endured and hoped for the coming of the Lord—as well as unbelievers.(2088)

τὸ τέταρτον. The schematic number gives the idea of a considerably great portion of the whole; a still greater part is designated by the schematic three.(2089)

ἐν, as a designation of the instrument or means,(2090) stands properly with ῥο΄φαίᾳ, λι΄ῷ, and θανατῷ; while to θηρίων, as the beasts themselves are active, ὑπό is attached,(2091) which in other cases also is combined in classical Greek with the active.(2092) The ῥομφαία, Revelation 6:8, has as little to do with the ΄άχαιρα, Revelation 6:4, as the λι΄ός concurs with the famine, Revelation 6:5-6; on the contrary, such means to kill are to be ascribed to Death personally portrayed with Hell, as already in the O. T. are threatened as destructive means of punishment prior to God’s judgment. Because of the juxtaposition of ἐν θανάτῳ with ἐν ῥο΄φαίᾳ and ἐν λι΄ῷ, the θανάτῳ is readily taken specially as a designation of the plague, especially as the LXX., in similar connections, use θάνατος where the Heb. text has דֶבֶר;(2093) but if John had wished to designate this precise idea, the expression λοι΄ός(2094) would scarcely have escaped him. As in Revelation 2:23, the general conception must be maintained also in this passage,(2095) which also appears the more suitable as the ἐν θανάτῳ occurs in a certain exclusive way to the two preceding conceptions which are likewise furnished with the prep. ἐν, while the attached ὑπὸ τ. θηρίων τ. γ., as also the change of prep. shows, connects it again with a certain independence to the three preceding conceptions. [See Note XLIX., p. 235.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XLIX. Revelation 6:2-8

Alford regards the four seals, in their fulness, as contemporaneous, the ἵνα νικήσῃ not being accomplished until the entire earth is subjugated, although “they may receive continually recurring, or even ultimate, fulfilments, as the ages of the world go on, in distinct periods of time, and by distinctly assignable events. So far, we may derive benefit from the commentaries of those who imagine that they have discovered their fulfilment in successive periods of history, that, from the very variety and discrepancy of the periods assigned by them, we may verify the facts of the prevalence of these announced judgments hitherto, throughout the whole lifetime of the Church.”


Verses 9-11

Revelation 6:9-11. We might expect that also the fifth seal would bring a vision of the same kind as the three preceding seals and the one succeeding; viz., a representation of such dispensations of God as proclaimed and prepared the final coming of the Lord. Those expositors who, in all the individual members of the Apoc., find only individual prophecies of definite events in the history of the world and the Church, have interpreted the contents of the fifth seal also accordingly. If, e.g., according to Vitr., the fourth seal has introduced us to the appearance of the Saracens, the fifth seal speaks of the times of the Waldenses, and extends to the century of the Reformation. The martyrs who cry for vengeance are the Waldenses, Albigenses, etc. The white robes given them designate their vindication by the Reformation, even though, ere the final judgment come, this, too, must deliver up its martyrs (Revelation 6:11). Bengel knew how to find the same reference, even by a computation; for if in the year A.D. 97 or 98, in which John received his revelation, the martyrs who were slain by heathen Rome cried for vengeance, and it was told them that they must wait yet “a chronus,” i.e., a space of 1, 1111/9) years, their fellow-servants who were afterwards to become martyrs (through Papal Rome) are the Waldenses of the year 1208 (i.e., 97 + 1111).

The meaning of the fifth seal-vision in connection with that preceding and following, and corresponding with the idea of the entire book, does not lie in the fact that any special future event is prophesied, whereof the preceding seals treat as little as those which follow; but in that both the cry of the souls of the martyrs for vengeance on account of the shedding of their blood, and also the answer given them, stand in most definite relation to what is even in the seal-visions the invariable goal of Apocalyptic prophecy, viz., the prophetic announcement that the Lord cometh. Already the circumstance, that, to the gazing prophet, the martyrs whose blood has been shed show themselves, contains a sign of the coming of the Lord.(2096) But if the martyrs cry for vengeance, there is in this a certainty that a day of judgment is impending, which their unbelieving persecutors have called forth by their ungodly deeds. Finally, the divine answer (Revelation 6:11) contains the certain assurance of the future final judgment; it is only added thereto, that all they who, like those already offered, are to endure the martyr’s death, must first be slain, and, consequently, the sign of the final judgment already fulfilled on those crying for vengeance be fulfilled also on these. In its more immediate relation to the preceding seal-visions, the present mentions, that, after the fulfilment of what is announced in Revelation 6:8, the final judgment will not immediately follow; but the meaning of the fifth seal is stated too narrowly, and regarded too unimportant, if thereby we only find something expressed which is self-evident already from the preceding visions.(2097)

εἶδον ὑποκάτω τοῦ θυσιαστηριοῦ τάς ψυχὰς, κ. τ. λ. The question, how John could have seen the souls, is asked only when it is forgotten that it is not a seeing of sense, but of a vision, which is here treated; the explanation that the souls had a body(2098) is not only false, but also entirely unnecessary.

That the altar underwhich(2099) John sees the souls of those slain is to be regarded after the manner of an earthly burnt-offering,(2100) is indicated especially by the ἐσφαγμένον,—the uniform word for the slaying of animals for sacrifice,—and the αἰμα, Revelation 6:10, as it is accordingly also the expression of the whole, affording what is simplest, and, in every respect, most applicable. As the blood of the sacrifices was sprinkled at the foot of the altar of burnt-offerings,(2101) so also those souls who have offered themselves to the Lord(2102) are under the altar, upon which they can be represented as offered in a way very similar to that in which, in Revelation 8:3 sq., the prayers of saints on earth appear as a heavenly offering of incense. But it is incorrect, when De Wette fully explains this passage from Revelation 8:3 sqq., by regarding the altar in this place as an incense-altar, “beneath which the souls of the martyrs lie, because they are awaiting the hearing of the prayers which are offered in the incense.” The latter reference of the ὑποκάτω τ. θυσ., in itself strange, is, besides, in no way based upon Revelation 8:3. The occasion because of which the souls are regarded under the altar is given by the fact that the blood of sacrifices, to which the martyrs are regarded as belonging, was shed under the altar. But hence it does not follow, that by the expression τ. ψυχὰς τ. ἐσφ., nothing else properly is designated than blood, the bearer of physical life, and that the entire representation is only a dramatizing of the thought: Their blood demands vengeance, according to Genesis 4:10;(2103) the souls are here, without doubt, as Revelation 20:4, the spirits of those whose bodies have been slain upon earth.(2104)

Without any support are the allegorizing interpretations of ὑποκάτω τ. θυσ., as “in the communion of Christ.”(2105) It is also utterly contrary to the meaning of the entire vision, if any dogmatic result be derived concerning the abode of souls after death, in connection with which the ὑποκατ. τ. θυσ. is, with complete arbitrariness, variously interpreted: “in the solitary place of eternal praise;”(2106) “reserved as to their bodies until the day of judgment, in the most holy place.”(2107) What has been cited in this respect from rabbinical writings,(2108) corresponds not even as to the form of the conception.

διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἣν εἰχον. Already it has been noted on Revelation 1:9, that as τ. θεοῦ belongs to τ. λόγον,(2109) just so the ἰησοῦ placed there and in Revelation 12:17, Revelation 19:10, Revelation 20:4, with τ. ΄αρτυρίαν, is not an objective but a subjective gen. Accordingly the ΄αρτυρία in this passage is not to be understood as a testimony borne by the martyrs and sealed with their blood,(2110) but as one given them.(2111) This is required, even apart from the parallelism of the preceding τ. λογ. τ. θ., by the addition ἣν εἱχον, whereby the idea is presupposed that the martyrs have first received(2112) the μαρτυρία “which they had.”(2113) [See Note L., p. 235.] Cf. the similar τηρεῖν, Revelation 12:17; John 14:21. The μαρτυρία ( ἰησοῦ) is here identical, therefore, with that of Revelation 1:9, and throughout the entire Apoc. it remains generally unchanged; but in this passage the ἑσφαγμ. and the addition ἣν εἰχον entirely change the force of the διά from what the same word has in Revelation 1:9, because of an entirely different connection.

ἔκραξαν. That it is not precisely the αἱ ψυχαὶ τῶν ἐσφ.,(2114) but, according to a very easy mode of presentation, rather οἱ ἐσφαγμένοι, which is regarded as subject,(2115) follows not necessarily from the masc. λέγοντες,(2116) but indeed from the entire mode of expression, Revelation 6:10-11.(2117)

ὡς καὶ αὐτοί. For this, of course, Hengstenb.’s false interpretation of τ. ψυχάς, Revelation 6:9, affords no aid.

φωνῇ ΄εγάλῃ, cf. Revelation 1:10.

ἕως πότε. עַר־מָתַי, 1 Samuel 16:1; cf. Habakkuk 1:2; Psalms 13:2; Psalms 79:5. Every attempt to supply(2118) breaks the immediate connection with οὐ κρίνεις, κ. τ. λ.

δεσπότης. On the voc. use of the nom., see Winer, p. 172. The correlate to δεσποτής—the expression only here in the Apoc.—is δοῦλος.(2119) All belonging to the Lord are his servants;(2120) hence the future martyrs are called σύνδουλοι. Cf. also Revelation 19:10. The one meant as “Lord” is not Christ,(2121) but God. “The martyrs cry to God as their owner.”(2122) But because he is this, there can be no doubt that the punishment here expected(2123) has begun; only the question ἕως πότε, κ. τ. λ., proceeds from the longing of the martyrs for that judgment. And the martyrs may the more confidently expect that judgment from their Lord, as he is ἅγιος and ἀληθινός. His holiness(2124) is the essential ground from which the δίκαιαι κρίσεις(2125) energetically proceed. But it is improper to refer the ἀληθινός, which is exchanged with ἀληθής, to God’s truthfulness or fidelity to his promises,(2126) while, on the other hand, God is called δεσπ. ἀληθινός, because he is the Lord who in truth deserves this name, the “true Lord,”(2127) who, therefore, will also doubtless do in every respect as is fitting for such a Lord to do to his faithful servants. [See Note LI., p. 236.] οὐ κρίνεις καὶ ἐκδικεῖς, κ. τ. λ. Concerning the following ἐκ,(2128) cf. Revelation 18:20, Revelation 19:2; Psalms 43:1; 1 Samuel 24:13.(2129)

The dwellers “on the earth”(2130) are here, by virtue of the connection,(2131) according to the generic view, “all nations,”(2132) in contrast with the servants of God.(2133)

Concerning the ethical estimation of the expressed longing of the martyrs, which contains neither censurable impatience nor a vindictive feeling, Beda already remarked: “These things they did not pray from hatred towards enemies for whom in this world they entreated, but from love of justice with which they agree as those placed near the Judge himself.”(2134) Especially in accordance with the text, Beng. says, “They have to do with the glory of the holiness and truth of their Lord.” What the martyrs express as their longing, is in reality pledged by the fact that their δεσπότης is ἅγιος καὶ ἀληθινός; the κρίνειν and ἐκδικεῖν are the infallible attestation of his nature, which has been just before praised. But the longing which the martyrs express in their way is, in its foundation, nothing else than that which belongs to the entire Church.(2135)

καὶ ἐδόθη

στολὴ λευκή. The singular στολὴ λ., which even with the mere αὐτοῖς would not be irregular,(2136) is immediately afterwards made necessary by the expressly individualized ἑκάστῳ.

The opinion that by the offering of the white robe,(2137) something peculiar is to be communicated to the souls of martyrs, besides the blessedness which is self-evident,(2138) is not only in itself indefinite,—for, what is this special reward to be?—but is also contrary to the context; not because this giving of white garments, as also the entire scene Revelation 6:9-11, is nothing more than “a poetic fiction,”(2139)—for the fifth seal-vision is this no more than are the rest,—but, because the giving occurs within the vision, it is an integrant part of the vision, and not an objective, real fact. The consideration that the souls of martyrs are already blessed, and, therefore, as all the blessed, they wear already white garments,(2140) is therefore entirely out of place, because dependent upon a ΄ετάβασις εἰς ἄλλο γένος.(2141)

As the gift of the white robe designates the already present blessedness and glorification of those who have been offered for the sake of Christ, so also the fulfilment of their prayer is promised them in the final revelation of the Lord’s judgment which is to be awaited, but, of course, in such a way that they are to wait for it in their blessed repose until the end which is no longer distant (Revelation 6:11).

καὶ ἐῤῥέθη αὐτοῖς ἵνα, κ. τ. λ. Concerning the ἵνα, cf. Winer, p. 314 sqq.

ἀναπαύσωνται designates not the mere cessation from the cry (Revelation 6:10),(2142) but has the more complete sense of the blessed rest, as Revelation 14:19,(2143) which, as also the white robe indicates, has been imparted to the martyrs, after having struggled in their earthly life, even unto death, and overcome.(2144)

ἔτι χρόνον ΄ικρὸν. Bengel’s reckoning concerning the length of the “chronus” is thwarted already by the correct reading, χρ. ΄ικρόν,(2145) whose meaning corresponds with the entire view of the Apoc.(2146)

ἕως πληρωθῶσιν, κ. τ. λ. A definition of the “little season” from its actual contents, and at the same time in accord with the preceding question ἕως πότε, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 6:10. The relation according to the context of πληρωθῶσιν comprises the words οἱ ΄ελλ. ἀποκτ., κ. τ. λ.: “should be fulfilled,” viz., as to their number,(2147) must be only those who are still to suffer a martyr’s death, just as the number of those who in Revelation 6:10 have called is already full. The completeness is therefore not to be understood of that sum and these martyrs,(2148) but to be limited to the future martyrs. Thus this explanation of πληρωθ. is simpler and more significant than that preferred by De Wette, according to whom πληροῦσθαι(2149) means either only “to finish life,” or at the same time is to have the secondary sense of a moral fulfilling.(2150) Hengstenb adopts the easier reading πληρώσωσιν.(2151)

οἱ σύνδουλοι αὐτων. Beng., incorrectly: “The first martyrs were mostly of Israel; their fellow-servants were, in following times, from the heathen, their brethren outside of Israel.” The future martyrs are rather fellow-servants of those mentioned in Revelation 6:9 sqq., because of their identical relation to the δεσπότης (Revelation 6:10), than brethren because of the fellowship of all believers with one another.(2152) The καὶ before οἱ συνδ. marks the fate impending also over the fellow-servants; the succeeding καὶ serves as a simple connective of a still further designation.(2153)

αὐτοῖς ἑκάστῳ ἐῤῥ.

αὐτοῖς

οἱ συνδ. αὐτ. κ. οἱ ἀδελφ. αὐτ.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

L. Revelation 6:9. τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἢν εἶχον

The interpretation of our author is thus criticised by Lange: “There is an exegetical obscureness here. The testimony is a specific term. The gospel which a man receives from Christ is not, in itself, a specific testimony or witness. It becomes testimony by faithful confession; and then, doubtless, Christ confesses himself to the man by whom he is confessed. Here, however, the holding fast of confessors to their confession is denoted.” So Alford: “The testimony is one borne by them, as most commentators; not one borne to them by the faithful Witness, as Düterdieck and Ebrard most unnaturally; for how could the testimony borne to them before the Father, by Christ, be the cause of their being put to death on earth?”

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LI. Revelation 6:10. ἀληθινός

Liddell and Scott give, as the ordinary meaning of this word in classical Greek, when applied to persons, “truthful, trusty.” So, in Cremer, the second and very frequent meaning: “That which does not deceive, which bears testing.” “Here it is too evidently intended of subjective truthfulness, for the other meaning even to be brought into question; and it is wonderful that Düst should have insisted on it.”


Verses 12-17

Revelation 6:12-17. The sixth seal-vision. As the visions portrayed, Revelation 6:3-8, have presented the signs of his coming, announced by the Lord himself in his eschatological discourse (Matthew 24:6 sqq.), and as, also, the fifth seal-vision stands in close connection with Matthew 24:9, so the sixth vision brings what is found in Matthew 24:7 ( σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους), and especially the signs predicted in Matthew 6:29, which(2154) refer to the immediate entrance of the day of judgment itself.(2155) Incorrect, therefore, because of the connection with what precedes, not only does that explanation appear to be, according to which the entire description, Revelation 6:12-17, refers to the Jewish-Roman war, and the “great day of wrath,” Revelation 6:17, is regarded as nothing else than the destruction of Jerusalem;(2156) but, also, that which seems to be directly the opposite, yet which actually depends upon a similarly arbitrary treatment, as well as also, in many particular interpretations, the harmonious exposition of allegorizing expositors from Victorin. to Hengstenberg,(2157) who in the earthquake, the darkening of the sun, etc., find figurative prophecies of certain events pertaining to the development of the Church, etc. If the reference of the entire vision be limited to the destruction of Jerusalem, it is, of course, more natural in Revelation 6:12 ( ἥλ. ἐγ. μελ., κ. τ. λ.) to think of an eclipse of the sun and moon at the time of Claudius,(2158) than, with Böhmer, to interpret sun and moon as prophecy and the law; but even Grot. cannot adequately represent the context, since he refers to the falling of the stars, Revelation 6:13, as a prognostic of terrible events derived from the notions of the time, and on οὐρανὸς ἀπεχ., κ. τ. λ., he has to remark: “Because of thick clouds, the heavens cannot be seen.”(2159) In arbitrariness of allegorical interpretation, Böhmer(2160) vies with Victorin., Beda, Vitr., Hengstenb., etc. The earthquake, Revelation 6:12, is made to signify “great revolutions in political or ecclesiastical spheres;”(2161) the sun becoming black is intended to be “the blasphemed Christ,”(2162) “prophecy,”(2163) “worldly emperors and kings;”(2164) the blood-red moon, “the Church reddened by the blood of martyrs,”(2165) “the law,”(2166) “spiritual princes;”(2167) the fallen stars, “the fallen, exalted church-teachers,”(2168) the “Jews who desert the true Church for corrupt Judaism, which is signified by the earth;”(2169) the mountains and islands are “prophets and philosophical pursuits,”(2170) etc. The whole refers, according to Vitr., to the destruction of the papal dominion, and the fearful disturbances in the political governments of Europe which were attached to the Papacy.(2171) Hengstenb. is distinguished from these interpreters only by indecision. The earthquake, the eclipse of sun and moon, the falling of the stars, etc., are to him figurative of “grievous and disturbed times,” which impend by God’s judgment over his enemies. “Heaven,” e.g., he says on Revelation 6:13, “is the heaven of princes, the entire magisterial and sovereign estate. The stars are individual princes and nobles.” This figurative explanation is regarded as necessary “because the falling from heaven of the stars, generally so called, would destroy every thing, while, in what follows, the races of the earth appear as still existing;” to which Ebrard objects: “The shaking down is only from the standpoint of the appearance to human vision; while the human eye sees the stars sinking as stars to earth, yet must they in reality sink, and pass far from the earth in the void expanse.”

The context itself should have been a sufficient protection from all these aberrations; for here, just as in the preceding seal-visions, the simple admonition is entirely valid, that every thing portrayed in Revelation 6:12-17 is the subject of a vision, and not something objectively real. In the vision, John beholds as the stars fall to the earth ( εἰς τ. γην, not “in the expanse”). The consideration, how after such an event men can still live upon earth, is here utterly strange, and contrary to the context. For the sixth seal-vision concludes with the express testimony, that—as also its entire contents, in harmony with Matthew 24:27 sqq., indicate—the day of final judgment has come, and is now present.(2172) 1 There is, therefore, actually,—i.e., if that which was shown in Revelation 6:12-17 in vision to the gazing prophet occurred at the end of days,—no further life of the human race on this earth any longer possible, as, with the destruction of the world (Revelation 6:12 sqq.), the day of the Lord begins. The signs are made known: ὅτι ἐγγύς ἐστιν ἐπὶ θύραις.(2173) Already also the unbelieving note that the day of wrath has come (Revelation 6:15 sqq.). It may accordingly be expected that the seventh seal is opened immediately after Revelation 6:17; and thus to the seer is shown the judgment itself, with its condemning and its beatifying influence. That this does not happen now,(2174) but that first of all ch. 7 is still placed before the seventh seal, and that then, again, the last seal itself brings an entire series of visions, can interfere with the clear meaning of the sixth seal-vision the less, as the further development has the correct meaning just as it has been given.(2175)

(2172) ἦλθεν, v. 17.

σεισμός. As Revelation 11:13, Revelation 16:18, Revelation 8:5.(2176) Earthquake;(2177) not indefinitely, “trembling,”(2178) for it is not at all said that by this σεισ΄ός the heavens shall be shaken.

ὡς σάκκος τρίχινος. Cf. Isaiah 50:3.

ὡς αἰ΄α. Cf. Joel 3:4.

τ. ὀλύνθους. Hesych: ὄλυνθος, τὸ ΄ὴ πεπα΄΄ένον συκον.(2179) Cf. Song of Solomon 2:13. פַנִּים Winer, Rwb., B. I., 429.

οὐρανὸς απεχωρίσθη ὡς βιβλίον ἑλισσό΄ενον. Cf. Isaiah 34:4. The idea that the firmament itself, from which the stars fall,(2180) gradually vanishes,(2181) is illustrated by the rolling-together of a book, since the heaven, the firmament, appears stretched out like tent-canvas.(2182)

πᾶν ὄρος, κ. τ. λ. As in Revelation 16:20, a quaking is indicated, overthrowing the foundations of the earth, and therefore final: no mountain, no island, remains on its old place. The destruction is complete.

Also, thereby, that terror now seizes (Revelation 6:15) all, without exception, who have to fear the judgment; and by the way in which they make known their amazement (Revelation 6:16 sqq.), especially by the express words on ὃτι ἠλθεν, κ. τ. λ., it is clearly indicated that the subject from Revelation 6:12 is the opening of the final judgment.

οἱ βασιλεῖς, κ. τ. λ. The κατοικοῦντες ἐπι τῆς γῆς, in the sense of Revelation 6:10, is here, as in Revelation 19:18, so introduced, that they appear not only collectively,(2183) but that the significant classification, at the same time, proves how no kind of earthly greatness or power, the previous cause of insolent assurance, can afford any protection whatever.(2184) Kings share the anguish with the humblest slaves.(2185) In addition to βασιλεῖς τ. γ., the proper rulers,(2186) οἱ ΄εγιστᾶνες, are first mentioned. The expression, belonging to the later Greek,(2187) presents here(2188) high civil officers, especially courtiers,(2189) in distinction from chief commanders ( χιλίαρχοι). In addition to the πλούσιοι, distinguished by wealth, are the ἰσχυροι,(2190) not “the mighty of every kind,”(2191) but(2192) such as excel in physical strength(2193)

ἔκρυψαν

ὀρέων. Those alarmed, even unto despair, seek in the mountains and rocks not so much ineffectual protection,(2194) as rather, as their own words show,(2195) death through which to escape the impending judgment of wrath.(2196)

ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ καθ., κ. τ. λ. The style is of such kind as to bear without doubt in Revelation 6:16, as well as in Revelation 6:17, traces of John’s own peculiar feeling. The ἀπὸ προσώπου(2197) is biblical; the τ. καθημ. ἐπὶ τ. θρ and the οργ. τ. ἀρνίου refer back to ch. Revelation 4:5; the expression ἡμ. μεγ. τ. . αὐτ. depends upon Joel 3:4; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:2, Isaiah 63:4, etc.; and the question τἱς δυν. σταθῆναι, on Nahum 1:6, Malachi 3:2.(2198) Yet the entire discourse, even though Revelation 6:17 be not regarded the words of John, has its truth in the mouth of unbelievers, since, just as they must recognize the Lord himself when he will appear,(2199) so also will they discern in the terrible signs (Revelation 6:12 sqq.) the commencement of the day of judgment.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 6:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-6.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology