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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

Revelation 1:1. ἀποκάλυψις) The Latin Fathers term it the Revelation, and they do so with propriety: for matters before covered are revealed in this book. No prophecy in the Old Testament has this title: it was reserved for the Revelation of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, [and for it] alone. It is a Manifesto, as the term is, and that of the kingdom of Christ.— ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, of Jesus Christ) The title is prefixed by [uninspired] men, ἀποκάλυψις ἰωάννου τοῦ θεολόγου. This title is ancient indeed,(1) but it presupposes doubts respecting the writer of the Apocalypse, which arose a long time after the age of the apostles; it also presupposes the introduction into the Church of the surname, “the Divine,” and its being assigned to John; and it implies that there were other Apocalypses, from which this true one was to be distinguished. The surname, Divine [as attributed to John], almost supersedes that of Apostle. It is indeed John, the apostle, who wrote this book; but the Author(2) is Jesus Christ. By prefixing the name John, the ancients wished to distinguish the true Apocalypse from the many apocryphal books. Apocryphal gospels and epistles presuppose others that are canonical, and so apocryphal apocalypses presuppose a genuine Apocalypse. Artemon. de Init. Evang. Joh., p. 88, 140, and following, affirms, and not without reason, that no one ever rejected the Apocalypse before Caius, a Roman presbyter, and the Alogi, but that it was received by all. The Lord taught the apostles many things before His departure; but those which were unsuitable for present narration He brought together into the Apocalypse. On which account, in the Æthiopic New Testament, the Apocalypse is not inappropriately placed immediately after the four Evangelists.— δεῖξαι, to show) This verb again occurs, ch. Revelation 22:6. And thus the parts of this book everywhere have reference to one another. Altogether, the structure of this book throughout breathes a Divine art. And it is in a certain measure its peculiarity, that it comprises in a perfect compendium future things in great number, and in this number things widely differing; things close at hand, far distant, and intermediate; very great and very little; dreadful and salutary; things repeated from old prophecies and new; long and short; and those interwoven with each other, opposed to one another and in agreement, mutually involving and evolving one another; having reference to each other from a little or a great interval, and so at times as it were disappearing, broken off, suspended, and afterwards un expectedly and most seasonably returning into sight; and to these things, which are the subject of the book, the structure of the book itself accurately corresponds. Therefore, in all its parts, it presents an admirable variety, and most beautiful involutions, and at the same time the greatest harmony, which is strikingly illustrated by the very irregularities, which appear to interrupt its course. And all this is done with such an amount of exactness, that in no book more than in this would the addition, or taking away, of even a single word or clause (ch. Revelation 22:18-19), have the effect of marring the sense of the context and the comparison of passages together, and of turning aside the most sacred boundary lines of the book. And this is especially remarkable, that when it gives but a slight indication of the greatest things out of the ancient prophets, whereas it more copiously explains those that are new, it still keeps the most exact proportion. And since these things are so, a true and full analysis, whatever it is, will not fail to appear too ingenious, and therefore to incur the suspicion of those who love simplicity, and especially deserve to attain to the knowledge of the truth. But in truth the Apocalypse proceeded from the mind of GOD, if one may use the expression; and, amidst the greatest simplicity, it most worthily represents His πολυποίκιλον, manifold wisdom, in the economy of so many ages of the New Testament. And therefore he who wishes to reject an interpretation on account of the various matters which flow into that interpretation from the context, will violate that very simplicity, which is especially in accordance with the Scriptures. This is certainly to be guarded against, that the acuteness of man should not think this subject given to it as a field for its exercise, and should not, from observing the nice and accurate adjustment which exists in one or two points, reduce all things into a system pleasing to itself. We ought to keep to that which is written, to that alone, to that altogether; and so to observe, as it is shewn.— τοῖς δούλοις αὐτοῦ, to His servants) He, who does not permit the things which must come to pass to be shewn to him, is wanting in the duty of a servant. Would that those holy men would think of this, who are so intent upon everything which is most excellent, that they regard the shewing of these things as a hindrance; whereas it is able to advance the servants of Jesus Christ in every good work.— δεῖ γενέσθαι, which must come to pass) There are those, who acknowledge that some use in teaching or comforting may be derived from this book (which use not even Bossuet would deny), but so acknowledge it, that they proceed no further. They not only put aside meanwhile a part of the special prophetical sense, as the venerable D. Weisman has done, with the greatest sobriety, in his dissertation respecting the excellent teaching of the Apocalypse as to faith and morals (in the same way as Theological Systems cite the Apocalypse in every passage or article); but in reality they entirely reject the whole of the prophetic sense, and applaud themselves for so doing. And not only do they themselves fail to enter into the understanding of this book, but they also prohibit, deter, and jeer at those who are entering. But let them take care, lest they offend, or err from the very scope of the book. These things which have reference to teaching and exhortation are contained in other books; but the Apocalypse especially shows the things which must come to pass; and that too with such seriousness, that a very great oath is interposed, ch. 10. We ought not to invert this scope: in short, we ought not to separate the things which God hath joined together, namely, the knowledge of future events, and therefore of future times, and repentance, watchfulness, etc. Holy men of all times, martyrs, etc., have had a perpetual succession of expectations arising out of the Apocalypse; and although, in the particular hypothesis,(3) they were not then able to discern the times, yet in the general thesis they had a most real and present advantage from it, whilst their error was not injurious to them. Do others defend the general and fundamental truth set forth by Christ in the Gospel? They do well. But they ought not so to conduct themselves, as though the Apocalypse had not the same Author, throughout all parts of the book; and that too a glorified Author. No one of those who make a wholesome use of the rest of Scripture, pays respect to the Apocalypse without singular advantage: if he does not find that of which he was in search, he finds that which he was not seeking. The things which must come to pass, are shewn in this book. If any one, in reading this hook, shall weigh (it may be by the use of Concordances) the usage of the verb γίνομαι (some tenses of which, for instance γενέσθαι in this passage, Sylburgius ad Clenard. p. 470, derives from the unused form γενέομαι), he will retire from the consideration, not without delight. There come to pass sorrowful things, there come to pass joyful things, great and many. This book represents those things which come to pass, absolutely; that is, the sums and series of events, through so many ages, to the very coming of Jesus Christ. To that event Daniel, to that John, extends his view, each from his own age.— ἐν τάχει, quickly) A regard for Christianity brings with it a regard for the times also.—Paulus Antonius, in the Antithetical College, p. 930. Respecting quickness, I would have you by all means see the note on ch. Revelation 6:11 : from which it will be evident, that the interpretation of the celebrated D. Lange, respecting the event of the seals, etc., as being about to be quick, after many ages have intervened [and not until then], is too weak.—Tom. i. Gl. Chr. Part i., or Comm. Apoc. fol. 22. The final time itself is at hand, Revelation 1:3 : and that approach gives quickness even to the advent and rise of the things nearer at hand, and not merely to their event and progress. The whole book ought to be taken as one word, pronounced in one moment. With the exception of definite times, which are of sufficient extent, all things are most truly done ἐν τάχει, quickly. Such a quickness is signified, ch. Revelation 11:14; 2 Peter 1:14, and in many places.— ἐσήμανεν, signified) The Apocalypse abounds with Hebraisms, in simple words, μάχαιρα, comp. Genesis 49:5, where now are mentioned מכרות, κ. τ. λ., and in words entirely Hebrew, as ἀβαδδὼν, σατανᾶς, ἁρμαγεδών: also in construction, as ἀπὸ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, μάρτυς πιστός, κ. τ. λ., ἀπὸ ὢν, κ. τ. λ.; so that a proper name is put, in the Hebrew manner, undeclined ( ἄκλιτον), and without the article. And here it is not said, ἀπέστειλε, but ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας, although the verb δεῖξαι preceded. And in this John seems to have in his mind the Hebrew סִמֵּן, to which the Greek word δεῖξαι may answer: for he often joins Hebrew and Greek words. The LXX. use σημαίνειν to express a great sign of a great thing: Ezekiel 33:3. See also John 12:33.


Verse 2

Revelation 1:2. ὅσα εἶδε, whatever things he saw) See App. Crit., on this passage, Ed. ii.(4) ὅσα εἶδε, whatever things he saw), John bare record of, since in this very book he bare record of all things which he saw, and nothing but what he saw. He does not, however, say that he bears record, but that he bare record: because at that time, when the book was read in Asia, he had now completed the writing of it. Lampe ought not, on account of the tense of the verb ἐμαρτύρησε, bare record, to have doubted whether John was the writer of Revelation 1:1-3.—Medit. auecd. in Apoc., pp. 255, 257. Comp. Revelation 1:9, note. The particle τὲ, which does not belong to this place, has influenced him and other interpreters, who refer the verb bare record to the Gospel and Epistles of John. Moreover, as in the Apocalypse seeing and record (testimony) are commensurate, so are the measure of faith and prophecy (Romans 12:3; Romans 12:6), or, in other words, knowledge and interpretation, in the case of those who rightly handle this book. D. Antonius, in the same college, wisely discusses the Last things, especially from the Apocalypse, in such a manner as at once to check the antiprophetical disease, and the itching for one’s own interpretation of prophecy.


Verse 3

Revelation 1:3. ΄ακάριος, blessed) There are some who wretchedly handle this most sacred book with restless curiosity. And from this it comes to pass that others, running into the contrary extreme, are unwilling to hear even the name of the Apocalypse, by which they ought to be stirred up: and on account of the singular multitude of unfortunate interpretations and conjectures which are without accomplishment, they distrust the book itself. Thence, whereas they wish to know all things, they reject the only method of knowing those things which the Lord shews as about to happen. Hence they esteem the endeavour to investigate the truth in this book as useless labour; they consider sloth as moderation, silence as prudence, and they regard and inquire about anything in preference to this, just as though it had been written: Blessed is he who does not read, and they who do not hear, etc. Let them see that they do not, in devising every pretext for refusing the heavenly gift, show weariness towards God (Isaiah 7:12-13), and that they be not found UNGRATEFUL towards Christ. But rather, Blessed is he who reads, and they who hear and keep; especially in our times, which are not far distant from a great change of affairs, as we shall see. It is better, in inquiring into the times, if only faith, hope, and love have the chief place in our heart, to attempt as much as possible, and to incur ridicule (Genesis 37:19), than, with the brave spirits of the world, to despise admonitions which appear paradoxical, and to be crushed with the accomplishment of the events, Daniel 2:34; Daniel 2:45, compared with Matthew 22:44, at the end; or, after the manner of the Jews, to be repeatedly expecting events already long accomplished. The Jews curse those who reckon the times of the Messiah: the Apocalypse blesses the good hearers of prophecy, which comprises the near approach of the time and the calculation of the intermediate times. The mournful variety of interpretations, it is true, increases daily: whence it happens that a kind of cloud is spread over the eyes of many, so that, although the truth is clearly placed before them, they admit it either less, or certainly not more, than they do specious inventions. And yet there are not wanting aids to understanding, in the case of all who rightly employ them, without throwing away the hope of understanding them.

I. The foundation of all is a pure text, restored from the best copies.

II. This book is most closely jointed: it arranges a multiplicity of subjects by means of seven epistles, seals, trumpets, and vials; it divides each of these sets of seven into a set of four, and of three; it interprets many things of itself, and declares what are the seven stars; the seven candlesticks; the Lamb, and His seven horns and seven eyes; the incense; the dragon; the three spirits, like frogs; the heads and horns of the beast; the waters, where the whore sits; the fine linen; the testimony of Jesus; the second death; the Lamb’s wife. It supplies us with most convenient formulæ: the first woe is past, etc.; the number of a man, the measure of a man, which is that of an angel, etc.

III. The comparing of the ancient prophets is of service; and the evidence of the predictions of Jesus and the Apostles in the other books of the New Testament, and especially the evidence of the letter of the Apocalypse itself, and its own peculiar character, attempered with prophetic tropes. We will explain this particular point somewhat more fully.

1) The Lord Jesus has comprised in the Apocalypse the Remainder [Supplement] of the old prophecy, which belongs to the times subsequent to His Ascension and the coming of the Comforter, and the end of the Jewish system. And thus the book reaches from the old Jerusalem to the new Jerusalem, all things being reduced to one sum and to harmonious order; and it has great similarity to the ancient prophets. The beginning and the conclusion agree with Daniel; the description of the male child, and the promises given to Sion, agree with Isaiah; the judgment of Babylon, with Jeremiah; the fixing of the times, again, with Daniel, who followed Jeremiah; the architecture of the holy city, with Ezekiel, who followed Isaiah; the emblems of horses, of candlesticks, etc., with Zechariah. From these prophets many things more fully described by them are now repeated in a summary manner, and often in the same words. Therefore reference must be had to them. Nevertheless the Apocalypse has a kind of αὐτάρκειαν (self-completeness), and is of itself sufficient for its own interpretation, although you may not yet understand the old prophets, where they speak of the same things: in fact, this often supplies a clue for the understanding of those. Often also, under the agreement which there is between the Apocalypse and the old prophets, there lies concealed a certain difference; and the Apocalypse derives its stock from some ancient prophet, on which it inserts a new scion. Thus, for instance, Zechariah mentions two olive trees; John also has the same, but in a different meaning. Daniel has a beast with ten horns; John also has the same, but not altogether in the same sense. Here the difference in the words, the emblems, the circumstances, the times, ought studiously to be observed. But the plan of the Tabernacle erected and described by Moses is also of great value. For those heavenly things, unto the example and shadow of which the Levitical priests served, are accurately exhibited in the Apocalypse: Hebrews 8:5.

2) The Lord foretold many things before His passion; for instance, Matthew 13:22, and those which follow; John 14:15; but He did not foretell all things: for it was not yet the befitting time. Many things predicted by the Spirit of Christ are contained, in a scattered form, in the Epistles of John and the other apostles; namely, according as the necessity of those primitive times required. Now the Lord comprises all in one short book, having reference to the earlier ones, presupposing them, explaining, continuing, and interweaving them. It is altogether right, therefore, that we should compare them; but not to bring into comparison the fulness of these with the brevity of those.

In the Evangelists Christ predicted the things which were about to happen before the dictation of the Apocalypse to John, and added a description of the Last things: in the Apocalypse he also mentioned intermediate events. From both, one whole as it were is made up.

3) In this book there is set forth to view, not only a summary and key of prophecy, both that which has long preceded and that which is recent, but also a supplement, the seals having been before closed. Therefore it cannot but contain many things now for the first time revealed, and not found in the remaining books of Scripture, as Gomarus and Cluverus admit. They therefore show little gratitude towards a revelation of such dignity as this, and reserved too for Christ’s exalted state, who, if anything is for the first time revealed in it, or is described in more exact and definite terms, are on that account more slow to value it, and more cautious in receiving, or more bold in rejecting it. The importance of the argument, and the shortness of the book, prove that every word is of the greatest significance.

ἀναγινώσκων καὶ οἱ ἀκούοντες, he who reads and they who hear) One person, and, in the first instance, he, by whom John sent the book from Patmos into Asia, used to read publicly in the churches and many used to hear. Scripture highly commends the public reading of itself: Deuteronomy 31:11; Nehemiah 8:8; Jeremiah 36:6; Luke 4:16; Acts 15:21; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Timothy 4:13. There would be more edification, if teachers would speak less of themselves, or, at any rate, if Scripture were more fully read to the multitude who are unlearned.— τῆς προφητείας, of the prophecy) In relation to Jesus Christ, it is a revelation; it is a prophecy in relation to John; and it is not until he is mentioned that the word prophecy is introduced. Prophecies support their claims by their own, and therefore by Divine authority; this is especially the case with the Apocalypse, which, on this account, does not quote the old prophecies, unless in a summary way, and that once only: ch. Revelation 10:7. In the other books of the New Testament the prophecies of the Old Testament are quoted, and for this reason, that their fulfilment may be proved; in the Apocalypse they are not quoted. Hence it came to pass, that when Surenhusius, for instance, had deduced quotations from the Old Testament, through each of the Evangelists, through the Acts of the Apostles, through the Pauline and General Epistles, he had nothing to bring forward as a quotation in the Apocalypse. In like manner Franc. Junius brought his Parallels to an end, thus writing at the conclusion: There are indeed innumerable words, many sentiments, and not a few arguments throughout the whole book of the Apocalypse, which, with the greatest dignity, savour of the Old Testament; but their interpretation does not appear to belong to the present subject; both because the passages of Scripture ARE NOT ADDUCED BY NAME (expressly), or is any particular authority alleged, from which they are drawn, but, for the most part, two, three, or more passages are most skilfully and elegantly joined together; and also because, if any one should attempt this, he must of necessity undertake the interpretation of the whole book of the Apocalypse.


Verse 4

Revelation 1:4. ἀπὸ ) Erasmus introduced ἀπὸ τοῦ .(5) This is the first of those passages in which the reviewer says, that I cannot at all be defended. And yet the reading approved of by me, ἀπὸ , is an early one. See App. Crit. Ed. ii. on the passage: When I pray, will they be moved, who, in their ignorance, esteem the press of Stephens of more value than all the traces of John in Patmos?ἀπὸ ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, from Him, who is, and who was, and who cometh) In this salutation, James Rhenferd, in his Dissertation respecting the cabalistic(6) style of the Apocalypse, seeks for a description of the Ten Sephiroth,(7) three superior, and seven inferior: and he has proved that there is some resemblance; but he has brought forward from the Cabalistic writers nothing which does not exist in a purer form in the writings of John. Comp. Lamp. Comm. on the Apoc., p. 253. The Hebrew noun יהוה is undeclined; and of that noun this is a periphrasis, ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, as we shall see presently at Revelation 1:8. And therefore the periphrasis also is used without inflexion of case. The article , three times expressed, gives to the Greek paraphrase of a Hebrew noun the form of a noun.— ἑπτὰ, seven) The Jews, from Isaiah 11:2, speak many and great things respecting the Seven Spirits of the Messiah.—Lightfoot.


Verse 5

Revelation 1:5. ἀπὸ ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ, μάρτυς, κ. τ. λ.) In this book apposition is frequently used between an oblique case and a nominative. We have collected examples in the App. p. 778 [Edit. ii. p. 488]. In this manner the Hebrews decline a nomenclature consisting of many words by only prefixing Mem, for instance: and in like manner the French, by the use of the preposition de, etc. Moreover Luke also has, ἐν τῷ αἵματί μου, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυνόμενον, ch. Revelation 22:20.— τῶν νεκρῶν) The editions read, ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν.(8) It is only in the Apocalypse that my text shows a reading sometimes different from the printed editions. I have stated the reason at full length in the App. p. 788 [Ed. ii. p. 498 and following], and in either Defence [App. Crit. Ed. ii. P. iv. N. iv. and bx.]— ἀγαπῶντι(9)) This is the reading of the most ancient Alex. and of six others, not to be despised, and probably of a greater number, who have been overlooked by ancient collators. Others read ἀγαπήσαντι, on account of the following words, λούσαντι and ἐποίησεν: and it is preferred by Wolf. But the present participle includes the force of the præter-imperfect also. οἱ μισοῦντες, οἱ ̔ ἀγαπῶντες, οἱ φιλοῦντες, οἱ δοξάζοντες, they who hated, who esteemed, who loved, who honoured: 2 Samuel 19:6; Lamentations 1:2; Lamentations 1:8. Thus Matthew 2:20, οἱ ζητοῦντες, they who were seeking; 2 Peter 1:19, φαίνοντι denotes a light which WAS SHINING, for it is followed by Aorist 1st, διαυγάσῃ and ἀνατείλῃ. Thus θεωροῦντες and ὤν the imperfect, John 9:8; John 9:25, and repeatedly. And the use of the word ἀγαπῶντι in the present with the force of a præterite was so much easier, because two aorists follow. And so the present is used for the præterite, when the præterite follows, ch. Revelation 13:12. But ἀγαπῶντι is strictly a present, and denotes perpetual love, as John 3:35, πατὴρ αι απα τὸν υἱὸν, καὶ πάντα δεδωκεν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ, The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand: where the present and præterite are joined together. In the German translation of the Apocalypse I have designedly translated it, who loves us. And such passages, as I understand, displease many. But the style of John and the taste of the present day are as widely apart as the east and the west. In translating, I do not seek to gratify fastidious ears, but I scrupulously follow John, who wrote altogether in accordance with the sense of the Hebrew. This is a part of the reproach of Christ.(10)αὐτοῦ) I have everywhere written αὐτοῦ, with a soft breathing,(11) even where it has a reflexive sense, following the example of Erasmus, who indeed, in his editions, almost indiscriminately edits αὐτοῦ, by way of concession to prejudices, as I imagine, and αὐτοῦ, even in a reflexive sense, from MSS. The reason has been mentioned once for all in the Appar. p. 453 [Ed. ii. p 93], (Buttigius agreeing with me in his preface to the New Testament); and it must be supposed to have been mentioned in each particular passage. Compare therefore on this passage also Appar. Crit. Ed. ii. p. 504. As with the Hebrews ך and other suffixes have both the relative and reciprocal force of the third person: so the writers of the new Testament use αὐτοῦ in either sense indiscriminately. And so in this passage, ch. Revelation 1:5, αὐτοῦ altogether refers to Jesus Christ, who hath washed us in His own blood.


Verse 6

Revelation 1:6. καὶ ἐποίησεν) The meaning to be expressed was, ὃς ἀγαπᾷ ἠμᾶς καὶ ἐποίησε· but the former verb with the postpositive(12) article [the relative ὃς] has passed into the participle; the other verb has remained, and with it the article ( = ὅς) which has been absorbed must be understood.— βασιλείαν, ἱερεῖς) Since Wolf has quoted my one edition [as if it were the only one], in reference to many readings, although they are disapproved of by himself (and I believe that he did this with the best intention), I wish the reader to remember, that the same readings are found in other editions cited by me at their proper place. I think it necessary to give this admonition once for all, lest my edition of the text should too frequently appear to be unsupported by other editions. See App. Ed. ii. We shall see a similar variety of readings below, ch. Revelation 5:10; but whether βασιλεῖς or βασιλείαν be the genuine reading in that passage, βασιλείαν is undoubtedly the true reading here.(13) For in that passage four animals speak, and twenty-four elders, wearing crowns, whose dignity is conspicuous: in this, the address is made in the name of all the faithful: these Christ makes priests to GOD and His Father; and the whole body of these priests forms a kingdom, which rejoices in the King Himself. βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα is used, Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9, where ἱεράτευμα, as στράτευμα, an army, is a collective noun [a noun of multitude]. The Apposition, a kingdom, priests, has the same force: although, among the citizens of the kingdom, the priests have the privilege of a pre-eminently near admission to the presence of the King. The priests of David were his sons: 2 Samuel 8:18.


Verse 7

Revelation 1:7. (14) ἔρχεται) namely, ἐρχό΄ενος. He who is to come, cometh. His glorious advent at the last day is meant.— ἐξεκέντκσαν, pierced) The Saviour and Judge both exhibited Himself, and will exhibit Himself, with most evident marks of the nails and spear in His raised and glorified body. Then the disdain and reproaches of His enemies, especially of the Jews, which He for so long has borne and still bears with wonderful long-suffering, will be for ever refuted.— κόψονται, shall wail) without doubt through fear, as of an enemy, or even through a feeling of penitence in the case of some.


Verse 8

Revelation 1:8. τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω) We ought not here to read and pronounce ω as ω μέγα; for ω μέγα is opposed to ο μικρῷ. ω, as the last letter of the Greek alphabet, is here opposed to the alpha. John wrote in Greek. This passage is one of great solemnity: in which a few, with Apringius, add ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος,(15) for the sake of explanation, as is thought, in the Notes assigned to Vatablus, namely, from the parallel passages. But let us look to the parallel passages. They are four (not reckoning the 11th verse, on which we shall speak below).

I.) τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, Alpha and O: ch. Revelation 1:8.

II.) πρῶτος καὶ ἔσχατος, The First and the Last: ch. Revelation 1:17, Revelation 2:8.

III.) τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος, Alpha and O, The Beginning and the End: ch. Revelation 21:6.

IV.) τὀ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, πρῶτος καὶ ἔσχατος, ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος, Alpha and O, The First and the Last, The Beginning and the End: ch. Revelation 22:13.

Therefore, in the beginning of the book, one clause is used, first concerning the Father, ch. Revelation 1:8, comp. with ch. Revelation 4:8, then concerning Christ, ch. Revelation 1:17. At the end of the book the language becomes more copious, and two clauses are used concerning the Father, sitting upon the throne, ch. Revelation 21:6, and three concerning Christ, as coming, ch. Revelation 22:13. We shall presently see, that one sentiment is frequently expressed in this book in Greek and Hebrew. And that is the case here also. The Father is called τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, in Greek. He also, in the mind of John, who thinks, as we shall presently see, in Hebrew, is The Beginning and The End, which is expressed in Hebrew by א and ת, the first and the last letter of the Hebrews. And the same takes place with respect to Christ.

The fourth passage, consisting of three clauses, affords us a remarkable handle [argument]. Its third clause is never used without the first; therefore its use is to explain the first. The second is sometimes used without the first; therefore, as in Isaiah, so in the Apocalypse, it has its own signification by itself. The first and the third are applied to the Father also, ch. 21; the second, to Christ alone, ch. Revelation 1:17. Alpha and the Beginning is God; as He Himself, the Creator and Author of all things, proposes, declares, and promises such great things. ω and the End is the Same; as He brings the Apocalypse, especially in the trumpet of the seventh angel, to its accomplishment, completion, and most desired and glorious end. And thus also is Christ. The first and last of anything, in Scripture phraseology, is the thing itself, or the very whole. See 1 Samuel 3:12; Ecclesiastes 10:13; 2 Chronicles 35:27. The Greeks say in a proverb, prow and stern. Therefore Alpha and ω, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, is One and all, and always the Same. Comp. Psalms 8 at the beginning and the end, where the Design and the Accomplishment are described. Thus, in a grand sense, the end depends upon the origin. Under this majestic title, Alpha and ω, etc., the Apocalypse contains in the beginning the Protest of God against the dragon, and of Christ against the beast and other enemies; and in the end, the triumph gained over the enemies. For, as the book advances, the enemies arise to assail, but are utterly destroyed, so that they nowhere appear. It is also a Protest against all false gods and false christs, who are about to come to nothing. For before the first revelation of God in creation, and after the last revelation of Him in the final consummation, there is no other God; all false gods have both been set up and removed in the intermediate time: and so, before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and after His coming to judgment, there is no other Christ; all false christs have had their being in the intermediate time. And when all things shall be made subject unto the Son of God, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that made all things subject unto Him, that God may be all in all: 1 Corinthians 15:28.— κύριος, the Lord) The whole of this passage is majestic; and the magnificent and full title of God here employed, requires fuller consideration.

§ 1. We will only lay down the rudimentary principle: and in this, many observations will flow together, which may neither entirely please any one (for I do not even satisfy myself), nor entirely displease; and therefore they are subjoined for the selection and more mature examination of any one who pleases.

§ 2. The title has four parts [members]:

1) κύριος, the Lord.

2) θεός, God.

3) ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, Who is, and who was, and who is to come.

4) παντοκράτωρ, the Almighty. It will be convenient to examine these parts in inverted order.

§ 3. The fourth, παντοκράτωρ, the Almighty, in the old Testament answers to two Hebrew words: for in Job it is often put for שדי, but absolutely, not in apposition with other Divine names: therefore a parallelism is not to be fixed there. See below, § 24, respecting the passage in Exodus 6. The other word, which the title παντοκράτωρ comprises in the other passages, is Sabaoth.

§ 4. Sabaoth is not a Divine name in the nominative case, but it enters into the nomenclature of God, when He is called Jehovah of Sabaoth, God of Sabaoth, Jehovah God of Sabaoth, that is, of hosts.

§ 5. This title does not occur in Genesis: its first beginnings are found in Exodus 7:4, I will bring forth Mine armies, My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt; and ch. Exodus 12:41, All the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. There appeared to Joshua, when he had passed over the Jordan, One who called Himself by this title, the Captain of Jehovah’s army: Joshua 5:14-15. Thence, in the books of Samuel and Kings, in the Chronicles, in the Psalms, in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and most of the minor prophets, before the Babylonish captivity and after it, this expression concerning the Lord God of Sabaoth is of very frequent occurrence. The LXX. translators rendered it in various ways; but they chiefly employ the epithet παντοκράτωρ, and say, κύριος παντοκράτωρ, κύριος θεὸς παντοκράτωρ. This word is nowhere found in the other books of the New Testament, except at 2 Corinthians 6:18, and that in an express quotation of a passage in Isaiah. In the Apocalypse alone it is of frequent occurrence.

§ 6. The word Sabaoth denotes armies or great forces, and particularly indeed those of the Israelites; but generally all in heaven and in earth, because Jehovah is the God of all: and thence παντοκράτωρ expresses the Almighty [All-swaying]. To Him alone all warfare is subservient; and the whole agency of that warfare is stirred up and comes to its height in the Apocalypse.

§ 7. Since these things are so, the Third part, ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, cannot but answer to the Hebrew יהוה: for the epithet, παντοκράτωρ, is never used, unless either θεὸς or יהוה immediately precede. The former precedes, with an interval between, in the present: therefore יהוה is immediately preceding. Moreover either the three clauses taken together, ὢν, καὶ ἦν, καὶ ἐρχόμενος, answer to the name יהוה, or the third, ἐρχόμενος, undoubtedly does so.

§ 8. He who יהוה, shall be, is called ἐρχόμενος; and yet He is not called ἐσόμενος, but with great skill, ἐρχόμενος, lest there should appear to be any detraction from His present being, and that His coming may be more clearly expressed. About to be, in Hebrew הבא, coming; comp. John 16:13; and so other languages.

§ 9. There is great dispute as to the manner in which the name יהוה is to be read, and how widely its signification extends. Some, because the points of the name אלהים frequently, and of the name אדני very frequently, are added to it, introduce other vowels, and, for instance, read it as יִהְוֶה Iihvaeh.

§ 10. But even if the name יהוה always had vowels belonging to the other names of God, and never its own, attributed to it in our copies, yet it might be read Jehovah, equally with Iihvaeh. But many things prove that Jehovah even must be the reading.

§ 11. The Hebrews were careful never to pronounce the name יהוה, except with the greatest purity; wherefore, where the prefixes introduced a change of vowels, they very frequently substituted the name אדני, having vowels approaching very closely to יהוה. But wherever יְהֹוָה is written, it is evidently to be read Jehovah. On this one account alone they retained Scheva under Jod: as also the Chaldean paraphrasers do, in that very contraction in their writing, which represents the name Jehovah and Adonai. As יֱהֹוָה is written by means of the points of the name אלהים, so by means of the points of the name אדני it might be written יֲהֹוָה, unless it were of itself to be pronounced יְהֹוָה. Proper names, as Jehojakim, and many others, which are formed from the name יְהֹוָה, and Greek forms of writing this name, being spread abroad among those of foreign lands, have been long ago collected by the learned.

§ 12. There is an incomparable and admirable compounding of the name יהוה from יְהִי Shall be, and הִוֶֹה Being, and הָוָה Was. This paraphrase of the Divine Name by three tenses flowed on to the most ancient Greek poets and to the Talmudical writers. Passages are given in Wolf, T. iv. Curar. in N. T. p. 436. But the Apocalypse has the greatest strength.

§ 13. The second part, θεὸς, presents no difficulty. The name θεὸς, derived from θέω, I place, bespeaks the Author of all things. But the first, κύριος, requires some mention.

§ 14. Jo. Pearson, in his Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed, p. 261, endeavours to bring the matter to this, that the word κύριος, inasmuch as it answers to יהוה, is derived from κύρω, I am. But the instances which he brings forward from the Tragic writers in particular, all imply a kind of fortuitous being; so that κύρω, or rather κυρῶ, answers to the verb ὑπάρχω, no more than it does to the verb τυγχάνω in meaning, and to the verb קרה in its very sound. He who shall thoroughly perceive the force of the noun κῦρος, by which it not only denotes moral influence, but also natural stability and firmness, will readily acknowledge that the noun κύριος is a suitable word for translating the noun יהוה, the threefold expression of time being set aside; and that it certainly denotes Him who is.

§ 15. As often as the noun θεὸς is appended to the noun κύριος, the latter answers to the proper noun יהוה; and this is its meaning in the present passage also.

§ 16. Now, since mention is so often made of God in the Old Testament, and in all the instances which occur, these titles only, amounting to three at the most, Jehovah, God, Almighty, are accustomed to be used in one place, what reason is there for the use of four here in the Apocalypse, the word κύριος being prefixed to the other three?

§ 17. The Apocalypse often expresses a thing in a twofold manner, in Hebrew and in Greek, as ναὶ, ἀμήν· ἀβαδδὼν, ἀπολλύων· διάβολος, σαταιᾶς· κατἡγωρ, κατηγορῶν. The names of enemies are expressed in the twofold idiom: and previously the name of the Lord God Himself is expressed in a twofold manner.

§ 18. In the Divine title which we are considering, the first and second members are put by themselves in Greek; but the third and fourth members, which have the same meaning as the two former, are only used for this purpose, that they may bring to the memory of the reader the Hebrew יהוה צבאות. For although the noun יהוה itself might be expressed by Greek letters, yet it never was so expressed among the people of God. The God of the Jews and Gentiles is described by a Greek and Hebrew name.

§ 19. The first and third members are parallel, each having the force of a proper name; to the first is added θεὀς, to the third παντοκράτωρ, each of them being an appellative.

§ 20. Thus far have we considered this passage separately: it now comes to be compared with the parallel passages. For here the expression employed is ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, and ἦν καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, ch. Revelation 4:8; and afterwards, ὢν καὶ ἦν; and finally, ὤν. See below on ch. Revelation 11:17, Revelation 19:1.

§ 21. When God appeared to Moses in the bush, He called Himself אהיה, I will be. In Exodus 3:14 He supplies this reason for His name: I will be what I will be, as He had said to Moses at the 12th verse of the same chapter, I will be with thee. Afterwards He Himself expresses the name, commanding Moses to say, אהיה I WILL BE hath sent me. The Verb אהיה becomes a Noun, as ἦν, the Article being prefixed: and ἦν itself is a befitting phrase, as in Aristotle, εὐθὺς τὸ ἔσται καὶ τὸ μέλλεα, ἕτερον, l. ii. de gener. et corrupt, c. 11.

§ 22. This Name having been proclaimed to Moses, throughout the same vision, and afterwards throughout the whole writing of the Old Testament, the name יהוה is mentioned. אהיה of the first person might have appeared suitable there, where the Lord is speaking of Himself, and יהוה of the third person, where angels and men are the speakers. And yet Moses was commanded to say, אהיה I WILL BE hath sent me; and the Lord also calls Himself יהוה Jehovah: and the name אהיה is not afterwards repeated, whereas the name יהוה is of constant occurrence. It is plain therefore that the name יהוה adds to the meaning of the name אהיה something beyond the mere difference between the first and third person; since first of all the Lord called Himself I shall be, and presently afterwards He began to call Himself by the habitual title, He shall be—Being—He was.

§ 23. The name יהוה is read of old, before the times of Moses, and mentioned in such a manner that we may be assured that Moses did not, from an idiom arising not until his own time, introduce the expression into the times of Enoch, Abraham, etc.: Genesis 4:26; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 14:22; Genesis 15:2; Genesis 15:7, etc.

§ 24. Again, it is plain that this revelation was made to Moses, and by the instrumentality of Moses to the Israelites, by which revelation the name Jehovah became known to them in a new way. We lately quoted the passage, Exodus 3:15. A second is to be added, Exodus 6:3 : I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, באל שדי, as a God abounding in all good things: but under My name Jehovah I was not made known to them. In which passage ב is prefixed to the word אל, and, as denoting the aspect under which one is regarded, may be befittingly rendered by the French en, as, for instance, they say, Vivre en Chrétien. When God appeared to Abraham, He called Himself אל שדי, Genesis 17:1 : and from this Isaac and Jacob often so called Him. At that time also He was called Jehovah, but by a less solemn use. It was not until the time of Moses that He Himself ordered that this should be His name for ever, and that this should be the memorial of Him from generation to generation: Exodus 3:15. Then He made for Himself an eternal name, by the transaction itself: Isaiah 63:12. Let the passage he looked to, Exodus 15:3, and the whole of that song.

§ 25. יהוה is used from הוה, to be: and this name of Himself may be regarded either absolutely, as He who is from eternity to eternity is in Himself; or relatively, as He becomes known to His people in His character as He who is, by accomplishing His promise by the work itself.

§ 26. In the former sense, the name יהוה was celebrated, even in the days of the Patriarchs; but under the other sense, which was added not until the time of Moses, the Lord made Himself known to the Israelites, by that great work of leading them forth from Egypt.

§ 27. By such means He admirably, as it were, contracted the meaning of His name יהוה, so that, just as God, although being the God of all, yet was no other, and was called no other, and wished to be called no other, than the God of Israel, so יהוה, He who is, was no other than He who is to Israel, or, in other words, who affords and exhibits Himself to Israel. He truly said, I will be to you, as He afterwards said, I will not be to you: Hosea 1:9. In a similar manner, as often as God performed some remarkable work, we read that He or His name was known: Psalms 76:1; Psalms 83:18; Isaiah 52:6; Ezekiel 39:7.

§ 28. Therefore in the time of Moses He called Himself as it were afresh, אהיה, I will be. He does not say, I will be what I was, I will be what I am; but אהיה אשר אהיה, I will be what I will be: where there is implied the declaration of a benefit to be almost immediately bestowed. That is, I will be to the Israelites the character which, by the very fact, I will be in regard to their fathers, both what I said to them I would be, and what it behoves Me to be to them, namely, by now at length fulfilling the promise which I formerly gave. And thus the meaning of the future prevailed in אהיה, including both a recapitulation of the revelations and promises of God, which had been given to the fathers, and a declaration of the event now to be exhibited, by the bringing the people out of Egypt.

§ 29. The name אהיה, afterwards swelling out into the name יהוה, transmitted at the same time the same meaning of the future to the name יהוה, so that in the very form of the name the future might be conspicuous, and from thence there might be an advance to the present with the past.

§ 30. יהוה is the same precisely as ἐρχόμενος καὶ ὢν καὶ ἦν. So suitable was the language of the Old Testament. But in the Apocalypse the order is inverted by an elegance of construction not to be despised, except by the supercilious; and in ch. Revelation 4:8 He is said to be ἦν καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐρχόμενος, where, in the natural order of the times, the four beasts celebrate the praises of the Lord in a summary form of expression, as He has exhibited Himself, and does, and will exhibit Himself. But here, ch. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 1:8, both by the pen of John, and by His own mouth, He is styled ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχόμενος; and so by a fresh idiom, but one which is founded on the Divine nature itself, the ὢν, as the principal and radical word, is placed first, with a remarkable prelude and token of that change, by which subsequently both the ἐρχόμενος and the ἦν, as we have noticed, § 20, betake themselves to [pass into] the ὢν.


Verse 9

Revelation 1:9. ἐν τῇ θλίψει, in tribulation) This book has most relish for the faithful in tribulation.(16) The Asiatic Church, especially since its most flourishing time under Constantine, set too little value upon this book. You can scarcely find any trace of a quotation from the Apocalypse in the doctors of Constantinople: where it is quoted in the works of Chrysostom, this very fact is a proof of interpolation. The African Church, more exposed to the cross, always valued this book very highly.— καὶ βασιλείᾳ καὶ ὑπομονῇ, and in the kingdom and in patience) These things are also joined together, 2 Timothy 2:12. Patience of hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3) has abundant nourishment in the Apocalypse. The order of the words is worthy of notice: affliction, and the kingdom, and patience: together with the first and third of these, the second also is given.— ἐγενόμην ἐν τῇ νήσῳ) γενέσθαι ἐν ῥώμῃ, is to arrive at Rome, 2 Timothy 1:17. John therefore in this passage conveys the idea, that he had been conveyed to the Isle of Patmos, and that, after his arrival, he had heard and seen these things, which he relates. Nor does the past time here used prevent us from thinking that the Apocalypse was written in Patmos: for the ancients, in writing, adapted the tenses of the verbs to the time at which the writing was read, and not to that at which it was written: Acts 15:27, We have sent. This appears an unimportant observation, but it applies a remedy to great errors.— τῇ καλουμένῃ, which is called) There are some who omit this participle; and rightly so, as it seems.(17) Whether you read it or not, Patmos; although near to Asia, was not known to all the inhabitants of Asia: therefore John mentions that Patmos is an island. But Cyprus, a celebrated island, is mentioned by itself, Acts 13:4; nor is it called the island Cyprus; much less, the island which is called Cyprus.— πάτμῳ, Patmos) (John) was there in the time of Domitian and Nerva. Artemonius (in L. de Init. Ev. John, 350) thinks that the opinion held respecting the life of John, as continuing until the close of Domitian’s reign, or the commencement of Trajan’s, is false indeed, and had its origin in a confounding of two Johns. But Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero: and John long survived Peter: John 21:22. But he wrote the Apocalypse not long before his death. For you cannot say that one part of it was written under Claudius, another under Domitian or Nerva, since it is one Apocalypse, one prophecy, one book. Nor is Epiphanius, who thinks that it was published under Claudius—that is, before the death of Peter under Nero—alone of the ancients to be preferred to Irenæus and all the rest. The title of the Syriac version is still more recent. But you will ask, Why does John use more Hebraisms in the Apocalypse than in the Gospel? Was it not at the time of his writing the Apocalypse that he became accustomed at length to the Greek language? For he wrote the Gospel before the destruction of Jerusalem, but the Apocalypse after it. But in fact the whole style of John, and especially in the prophetical parts, takes its form, not from accustomed habit, but from Divine dictation, the resources of which are boundless.


Verse 10

Revelation 1:10. ἐγενόμην) A sentence consisting of three members: ἐγενόμην· ἐγενόμην· καὶ ἤκουσα: Revelation 1:9-10.— ἐν τῇ κυριακῇ ἡμέρᾳ, on the Lord’s day) That there is a Lord’s day, and that it is so called, is plain even from this passage: moreover, that the Lord’s day is that day which was called by the Gentiles the day of the Sun, which is the first day of every week, and which is opposed to the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, is clear from the universal stimony of Christian antiquity. We may also learn the reason of this title from the Scripture itself of the New Testament. Many seek the origin of the title in the fact of the Lord’s Resurrection on that day. This indeed is true, but it cannot have been the principal or the only reason. The days of the Lord’s Nativity, of His Baptism, Transfiguration, Cross, Resurrection, Ascension, and Coming in glory, are all remarkable. Which of these is in the highest sense the Lord’s day? The Lord’s Supper is the supper of the Lord: the Lord’s day is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ; under which name the style of the apostle denotes the one day of His coming, which also is spoken of absolutely as the day, or that day. The opinion of the ancient Christians is not at variance with this view; respecting which opinion these things are read in Jerome on that passage, at midnight, Matthew 25 : Let us say something, which perhaps may be useful to the reader. There is a tradition of the Jews, that Christ will come at midnight, in consonance with the time in Egypt, when the passover was celebrated, and the destroying angel came, and the Lord passed over the tents [of Israel]: the door-posts of our foreheads, too, have been consecrated with the blood of a Lamb. Whence I suppose, also that the apostolical tradition has continued, that on the eve of the passover it is not permitted to dismiss the people before midnight, expecting the coming of Christ: and when that time shall have passed, security being now presumed upon, all keep the festival. The Lord was expected on every Lord’s day, although the solemn expectation of His Coming was especially celebrated before the Paschal Lord’s day. The seventh day is a memorial of the creation: the first day is a memorial of the final consummation. The former is the day of Jehovah: the latter, the day of the Lord. Undoubtedly, whoever perceives beforehand in his mind, that the first day of the week is called the Lord’s day, because that is the day of the Lord’s coming, he then, and not till then, perceives with what remarkable propriety it happened to John, that he should, on the Lord’s day, both see and describe the Lord as coming.

I once thought that the vision, which Ezekiel relates from ch. 40, was on the day of the Sabbath, and that that day of the Sabbath might be compared with the Lord’s day mentioned in this passage; but I now of my own accord give up that idea. For indeed, in the year of the world 3374, in which Calvisius places that vision, the first day of Tisri was the Sabbath; but the vision was three years afterwards, on the tenth day of Tisri, in the middle of the week. The Lord’s day opens another inquiry. Irenæus, nearly a contemporary writer, affirms that the Apocalypse was seen πρὸς τῷ τέλει, at the end of the reign of Domitian; and, besides others, Newton vainly opposes him, in his Observ. on the Ap. p. 163. See Exeg. Germ. p. 174. But Domitian was slain in the 96th year Dion., on the 18th Sept., on the Lord’s day: and since Irenæus thus accurately marks the time of the vision by the well-known death of the persecutor, it will be most safe to depart as little as possible from the very day. But what if that Lord’s day in that year was the 3d April, that is, the paschal feast; or the 19th June: comp. Ord. Temp. p. 389 [Ed. ii. p. 334, sq.]; or the 18th of September itself? I define nothing: I follow the footsteps of Irenæus. At any rate, the fact of the Apocalypse being given before the death of Domitian supplies another observation. Apollonius of Tyana was addressing the people at Ephesus, and in the middle of his speech he exclaimed, Strike the tyrant; and again, Be of good courage, the tyrant is slain. And on that day, and at that hour, Domitian was slain at Rome. Whether Apollonius had been aware of the conspiracy against Domitian, or perceived from any other source what was taking place, the Apocalypse at the same time supplied the Ephesians with a much greater discovery of future events, to check the followers of Apollonius, and to vindicate the glory of Jesus Christ.— ἤκουσα ὀπίσω μου, I heard behind me) John’s face had been turned towards the east; and in like manner the Lord, while He appears to him, directed His face to the east, towards Asia, to which the writing was to be sent.


Verse 11

Revelation 1:11. λεγούσης) John often, according to the Hebrew custom, construes words with others that are nearer, though they cohere in sense with those that are more distant. He would have said, φωνὴν λέγουσαν· instead of which he says, σάλπιγγος λεγούσης.— βλέπεις) Some(18) prefix ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ α καὶ τὸ ω, πρῶτος καὶ ἔσχατος, καὶ. See Appar. Crit. on this passage, Ed. ii. It often occurs, that not until after the beginning of a vision, He who appears, declares who He is: Exodus 3:6. But in the present instance that impressive summary, βλέπεις, that which thou seest, and moreover the vision of John itself, was of itself equivalent to all titles; while in Revelation 1:17, presently after, the express title followed. And from this very fountain are drawn the repeated titles which occur in ch. 2 and 3. Upon the whole, on a review of the verses 8, 17, these words appear to have been introduced [by transcribers] into Revelation 1:11, rather than deemed superfluous [and so omitted by them]. Learned men in general, at the present day, do not readily deem anything superfluous, and many copyists of old were of the same opinion. Such passages are more safely decided by the copies, than by arguments: and under this head the Latin translator has special weight, wherever competent Greek witnesses, however few, prove that he is not affected with his own peculiar blemishes. Would that all would keep this closely in mind; it would be a very great advantage for the removal of many doubts. On the antiquity of the Latin translator we have spoken in the Apparatus, pp. 391, 419, etc. [i.e. P. I. § xxxii., Obs. vi. xx., Cons, viii., etc.] And this is confirmed by the remarkable agreement of the Latin Fathers with the text of the translator. That age was without numerous additions, which subsequent times have gradually introduced here, as in other places.— εἰς βιβλίον, in a book) To this book, which has such an origin, and moreover to the other books of which the body of Holy Scripture is composed, who is there that gives as much weight as the subject itself requires, preferring them to the multitude of other books? Ecclesiastes 12:12.


Verse 12

Revelation 1:12. βλέπειν τὴν φωνὴν, to see the voice) to see Him, to whom the voice belonged; or, an instance of Oratio Semiduplex.(19)


Verse 13

Revelation 1:13. ποδήρη) מעיל, Septuagint ποδήρης, of the garments of Aaron.


Verse 14

Revelation 1:14. κεφαλὴ καὶ αἱ τρίχες) ἕν διὰ δυοῖν: that is, the hair of His head. Thus John saw it.


Verse 15

Revelation 1:15. πεπυρωμένῳ) So Uffenb. and one or two others, and the ancient versions. Others read πεπυρωμένοι.(20) It is an epithet not of the feet, but of the word χαλκολιβάνου;(21) and therefore it is not repeated, ch. Revelation 2:18. χαλκός brass; λίβανος, incense: χαλκολίβανος, a species of brass, like incense. See Bochart’s Hierozoicon, at the end, where, in a full discussion, he explains it as white brass. Comp. Daniel 10:6, on shining brass. Hesychius, ἅπασα χαλκῆ, λαμπρὰ ὅλη, κρῆτες, “The Cretans express by it what is wholly of brass, shining all over.”


Verse 17

Revelation 1:17. [ ὡς νεκρὸς, as dead) Great contrition of nature usually precedes a large bestowing of spiritual gifts.—V. g.]— πρῶτος καὶ ἔσχατος, the first and the last) A most glorious title. In Hebrew ראשון אחרון, Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12; where the Septuagint renders it, ἐγὼ πρῶτος καὶ ἐγὼ μετὰ ταῦτα, πλὴν ἐμοῦ οὐκ ἔστι θεός: and again, ἐγώ εἰμι πρῶτος, καὶ ἐγώ εἰμι εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. In both passages the translators appear to have considered the word ἔσχατος as insufficient to express the dignity of the speaker, and yet in fact it answered admirably to the Hebrew. Isaiah 41:4, ἐγὼ θεὸς πρῶτος, καὶ εἰς τὰ ἐπερχόμενα ( את אחרנים) ἐγώ εἰμι. The Messiah is speaking of Himself. Comp. Isaiah 48:16. Hence in the Apocalypse the Lord Jesus applies this description to Himself, and explains it by the words which follow. Let the Form be observed:

I am the First,

and the Last:

and the Living One:

and I became dead, and

behold, I am alive, etc.

The immediate construction, The first and the Last, declares, that His Life, by the brief intervention of death, was interrupted in such a manner, that it ought not even to be considered as interrupted at all. Artemonius, in his treatise de Init. Evang. Joh., interprets the First and the Last as the most excellent and the most abject, p. 248; but if this were the meaning, the order of the events would require to be inverted, and that it should be written, The Last and the First. It is plainly a title of Divine glory, the First and the Last, in Isaiah; and in his writings Artemonius in vain endeavours so to bend the same title, that it may denote the Beginning and the End: p. 249, and the following.


Verse 18

Revelation 1:18. ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς, I became dead) It might have been said, ἀπέθανον, I died: but in this passage with singular elegance it is said, I became dead, to denote a difference of times, and of the events in them.— αἰώνων) Both the formula εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, and the word ἀμὴν, are of very frequent use in Doxologies. Therefore the copyists with ready pen completed that formula by writing this word ( ἀμὴν(22)), though there is no Doxology, as I have observed in my Apparatus. [See Ed. II. on this passage, where a memorable caution is given respecting a too great estimation of the Editions.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 1:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-1.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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