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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 21

 

 

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Verse 1

Revelation 21:1. οὐρανὸν καινὸν, κ. τ. λ.) The new heaven and the new earth preserve the name of heaven and earth because of the former ones: therefore the substantives precede in the former clause only; and there follows, for the first heaven and the first earth, etc. It is not a flourishing state of the Church in the last time which John here describes, but he speaks of all things entirely new and perfect for eternity. Augustine says: There are many obscure things in this book; but in these words, where he says, God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, that which is spoken concerning the future world and immortality, and the eternity of the saints (for it is only then and there that these things will cease to be), is spoken with such light, that we ought neither to seek nor to read anything plain in the sacred writings, if we shall think these things obscure: lib. xx. de Civ. Dei, c. 17.— παρῆλθε) But in Revelation 21:4, ἀπῆλθον, as ch. Revelation 9:12. To pass away is something more in sound than to pass by, [as the Greek ought to be translated in Revelation 21:1, not passed away, as Engl.]

[223] Death, sorrow, crying, and pain, altogether pass away; the former heaven and the former earth pass by, giving way to a new heaven and a new earth.


Verse 2

Revelation 21:2. ἱερουσαλὴμ) It is not without reason that John always writes in his Gospel ἱεροσόλυμα, of the old city; in the Apocalypse always ἱερουσαλὴμ, of the heavenly city. ἱερουσαλὴμ is a Hebrew name, the original and more holy one: ἱεροσόλυμα, afterwards in ordinary use, is a Greek name, and rather used in a political sense. St Paul observes the same difference, when refuting Judaism, Galatians 4:26 (comp. the same Epistle, Revelation 1:17-18, Revelation 2:1); Hebrews 12:22, although at other times he uses them indiscriminately, and says to the Romans and Corinthians, for the sake of σεμνότητος [dignity] and to win their favour, ἱερουσαλήμ.— εἶδον, I saw) The more recent Editions have incorrectly introduced the name of John in this verse.(224) It was the beginning of an ecclesiastical section [used in the services of the Church]; but the text itself most closely connects together the new heaven, the new earth, and the new Jerusalem. The new city has no connection with the millennium, as Lange and some others judge, Comm. Apoc. f. 241, etc.; but it belongs to the state of perfect renovation and eternity, as is shown by the series of visions, the magnificence of the description, and the opposition to the second death: ch. Revelation 20:11-12, Revelation 21:1-2; Revelation 21:5; Revelation 21:8-9, Revelation 22:5.— καταβαίνουσαν, coming down) This may be taken in vision, respecting the act of descending: in the reality signified, without reference to that act, it may be understood of the state of the Divine συγκατάβασις to men. For in Topographies, words which convey the idea of motion, often signify a condition, and among them this very verb of descending: Psalms 104:8; Joshua 15:3; Joshua 15:10, etc. The whole city is inclusive and included; in so far as it includes the inhabitants, it descends.


Verse 3

Revelation 21:3. ἰδοὺ) It is unnecessary to understand the verb ἐστί, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men: for ἰδοὺ even by itself points out the fact, as for instance ch. Revelation 19:11, and repeatedly.—(225) μετʼ αὐτῶν) Vigilius of Thapsus, under the name of Idacius Clarus, has, with them, on the earth. John saw the city coming down out of heaven from God, but he does not add, to the earth.


Verse 5

Revelation 21:5. καινὰ πάντα ποιῶ(226)) A more ancient reading is, καινὰ ποιῶ πάντα; and καινὰ ποιῶ answers to the single word חַדֵּשׁ, and ought not to be separated. This is a word implying publication, and not command.


Verse 6

Revelation 21:6. τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, ἀρχὴ καὶ τὸ τέλος) A glorious title of God. The former clause is explained by the latter.


Verse 8

Revelation 21:8.(227) τοῖς(228)) The Dative expresses the Hebrew ל: that is, as far as relates to the fearful, etc. So the word αὐτῶν, their, shortly afterwards, coheres with this.—(229) φαρμακοῖς, sorcerers) φάρμακον is a word of middle signification; but it is often used, together with its derivatives, to signify injurious medicine, witchcraft, which often sets itself off as salutary to men and beasts, but it is most pestilential, whether taken by itself, or even when joined with an express compact or secret intercourse with devils. Hence it is joined with idolatry, Galatians 5:20.

τῆς ζωῆς, of life) No death now remains, ver. 8.—V. g.


Verse 11

Revelation 21:11. φωστὴρ) Hesychius, φωστὴρ, θυρίς. Isaiah 54:12, שמשתיך; the LXX., τὰς ἐπάλξεις σου, in the plural number. But φωστὴρ in the singular (comp. Genesis 6:16) means a part in a building which is open to the air, or admitting the light of the sun ( שמש), as windows are, or spaces between the ( ἐπάλξεις) battlements of the walls: or, φωστὴρ is λύχνος, Revelation 21:23. φωστὴρ is not compounded of φῶς and τηρῶ, but it is a word derived from its own root.


Verse 12

Revelation 21:12. ἔχουσα) Respecting the nominative case see Apparat. p. 778.(230)τεῖχος πυλῶνας, a wallgates) An inverted Chiasmus: comp. Revelation 21:12-13 with Revelation 21:14.— ἐπὶ) Here it is said ἐπὶ πυλῶσιν ὀνό΄ατα But Ezekiel 48:31, αἱ πύλαι ἐπʼ ὀνό΄ασι τῶν φυλῶν τοῦ ἰσραήλ. ἐπὶ ( עַל) has a variety of meaning; it does not mean a higher place only.


Verse 16

Revelation 21:16. (231) ἐπὶ σταδίων δώδεκα χιλιάδων) Thus the Latin Translator reads; for he has, per stadia duodecim millia: but if he had read, ἐπὶ σταδίους δώδεκα χιλιάδας, he would have had to translate, per stadia, duodecim millium.(232) Stupendous magnitude! Alexandria is said by Josephus to have had a length of XXX. stadia, a breadth of not less than X. stadia. According to the same, the circuit of Jerusalem is defined by XXXIII. stadia; that of Thebes, according to Dicæarchus, by XLIII. stadia; that of Nineveh, according to Diodorus Siculus, by CCCC. stadia. Herodotus, in his first Book, says that Babylon had CXX. stadia in each side, and CCCCLXXX. stadia in its circuit, and that its wall was L. cubits thick and CC. cubits high. All the cities in the world are mere villages in comparison with the new Jerusalem. ἐπὶ has here a distributive force, as in tactics, ἐφʼ ἑνὸς, ἐπὶ τεττάρων, ἐπʼ ὀκτὼ, singly, in parties of four [by fours], in parties of eight [by eights]. See Budœus Comm. Linguæ Gr. col. 881. And thus ἐπὶ is used in this verse, but not in the following, and signifies that 12,000 stadia [that is, more than 250 German miles at the least.—V. g.] is the extent of each side of the city, not of the whole circuit.

ἀποστόλων, apostles) They, to wit, belonged to these, who had practised the craft of fishermen at the Lake of Gennesareth.—V. g.


Verse 17

Revelation 21:17. καὶ ἐμέτρησε τὸ τεῖχος αὐτῆς, ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων μέτρον ἀνθρώπου ἐστιν ἀγγέλου) After ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων many have added πηχῶν:(233) but we have shown in the Apparatus, see Ed. ii. on this passage, that more than one ancient witness is without this word. It is certain that they are not walls, but the measures of one wall, which are noticed: and even reeds might be understood. The 12,000 stadia show the height also of the city; the 144 either reeds or cubits give the height of the wall, which is not much less than the height of the city, or rather equal to it. For height is especially regarded in walls, as the epithets even of the Greek and Latin poets prove. The 12,000 stadia, since they are mentioned absolutely, were those in use among men: the 144 either cubits or reeds were not those of men, but angelico-human, much greater than those of men. Whether there were 144 reeds or cubits, the comparison of the 12,000 stadia exhibits the same height of wall. But yet there is a strong argument which advises us rather to take them as reeds. For it is not shown how many cubits a reed contains: and it might contain four cubits, because four cubits measure the stature of a man; or six cubits, as in Ezekiel 40:5. Therefore, if the wall was of 144 cubits, it would not be known of how many reeds also it was: and therefore the golden reed, which is called the measure, would be an unknown, that is, no measure in reality. The height of the wall was ascertained, the angel applying his reed 144 times. The measure of the reed is frequently noticed in Ezekiel in a similar argument, and by ellipsis; and in one instance, ch. Ezekiel 42:17, just as here in the Apocalypse. The Greeks have inserted πήχεις. See Meyer de Ultimis Ezech. p. 26, etc. The Hebrews often construe the numeral adjective and the substantive in the plural and singular number; for instance, וארבעת אלפים מדה, Ezekiel 48:30; Ezekiel 48:33. And thus John, ἑκατὸν τεσσαράκοντα τεσσάρων ΄έτρον. John ἀνθρωποειδῶς ἐθεώρησε, saw in human appearance, as Andreas of Cæsarea says, the angel measurer: therefore “that measuring pole,” says Grotius, “was of the same size as the stature of the human form, in which the angel appeared, and therefore the cubits also were according to that measure.” Grotius might have spared the clause respecting the cubits.


Verse 18

Revelation 21:18. ἐνδόμησις) Hesychius, δώμησις (for it is written with ω and ο) οἰκοδομή. Therefore the structure itself of the wall is here of jasper, as it is commonly of stone. ἐν, in this particular compound word, has the sense of entirely.


Verse 19

Revelation 21:19. κεκοσμημένοι, garnished) That is, built and adorned: for the very foundations are jewels; as the very gates are pearls. Concerning Adamant, see Hiller’s Syntagm. pp. 35, 36. An abbreviated expression, as in Vitruvius, l. x. c. 20, pluteum, turriculæ similitudine ornatum. Herodotus, lib. i. concerning Babylon, ἐκεκόσμητο δὲ ὠς οὐδὲν ἄλλο πόλισμα, where he calls the ditch, the wall, and the gates, the ornament of the city.


Verse 20

Revelation 21:20. σάρδιος) The most approved MSS. have here σάρδιον,(234) and the LXX. and Epiphanius. Let this be compared with the Syntagmata of Hiller, p. 86.


Verse 24

Revelation 21:24. τὰ ἔθνη) Erasmus added τῶν σωζομένων,(235) and so did innumerable editors, evidently following his authority without any further examination. If Erasmus were alive at the present day, he would immediately, in my opinion, expunge the commentary of Andreas, which he eagerly caught at as the text. He also and others, who first revised the New Testament in Greek, if they should compare the copious materials collected in these two centuries, with that scantiness with which they themselves formerly had to contend, would willingly yield to the truth, and would exhort the most eager defenders of the reading established by them, in some instances with such difficulty, either to follow or lead them to better things.— διὰ) answers to the prefix ל, Isaiah 60:3. In the LXX. it is τῷ φωτὶ, without a preposition.— φέρουσι) The present, after the future περιπατήσουσι, has the force of a future: comp. Revelation 21:26.


Verse 27

Revelation 21:27. (236) ποιῶν) Others read, ποιῶν.(237) But the article is absent also, ch. Revelation 22:15, πᾶς ποιῶν: and here also πᾶς may be understood from πᾶν, which immediately precedes.— ψεῦδος) ἐργαζό΄ενοι ψεῦδος, Sirach 51:2.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 21:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-21.html. 1897.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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