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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Revelation 8

 

 

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Verse 1

Revelation 8:1. σιγὴ, silence) Silence is opposed to a voice. The more frequent voices are in this book, for instance, ch. Revelation 7:10 and foil, verses, the more remarkable is this silence of awful expectation, preceding the clang of trumpets. D. Lange interprets it as the keeping rest [sabbatism] of a thousand years (Hermen. Einleit. pp. 30, 68, etc.), by an error (I am compelled to speak the truth), which introduces great confusion. Neither is the silence a sabbath, nor is the half-hour the millennium. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 407 and following.


Verse 2

Revelation 8:2. (90) ἑπτὰ σάλπιγγες, seven trumpets) By these trumpets the kingdom of the world is shaken, until under the trumpet of the seventh angel, after the most formidable hindrances, it is reduced to the Lord and to His Christ. The trumpets of the first, the second, the third, and the fourth angel, are closely connected with one another; and so likewise the trumpets of the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh angel, which alone have woe, woe, woe.


Verse 3

Revelation 8:3. καὶ ἄλλος ἄγγελος ἦλθε, καὶ ἐστάθη ἐπὶ τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου ἔχων λιβανωτὸν χρυσοῦν· καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ θυμιάματα πολλἁ, ἵνα δώσῃ ταῖς προσευχαῖς τῶρ ἁγίων, κ. τ. λ., and another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it [simultaneously] with the prayers of saints, etc.) Respecting the angel who offers the prayers of the saints, the Hebrews, in Elle Shemoth Rabba, sect. 21, speak after this manner: When the Israelites pray, they are not all found to pray altogether, but each synagogue (or congregation, בנסת) prays separately, first this synagogue, then another; and when all the synagogues have finished all their prayers,

אותן עטרות ונותנין בראשו של הק״ ב״ה״ שנא׳ עדיך בל בשר יבואו ואין עדיך אלא עטרה שנא׳ כי כלם כעדי תלבשי׃

The angel who presides over the prayers, bears all the prayers which they have prayed in all the synagogues, and forms them into crowns, and places them (instead of נותנין I think that נותנן should be read) on the head of God S. B., as it is said in Psalms 65:2, all flesh shall come as thy crown (for עדיך is so explained in that passage, as is more plainly apparent from what follows; whereas in reality it ought to be explained, to thee): but the word עדיך denotes nothing but a crown, as it is said, Isaiah 49:18, and thou shalt clothe thee with them as with a crown.—Christopher Cartwright, in Mellif. Hebr., lib. iii. c. 8. Therefore the Hebrews say that there is an angel who presides over the prayers of their assemblies: the Apocalypse only says, that there is an angel who offers incense, while the saints pray: ταῖς προσευχαῖς, Revelation 8:3-4, is the Ablative case, denoting accompaniment, as Romans 11:11; Romans 11:30-31, τῷ αὐτῶν παραπτώματι, τῇ τούτων ἀπειθείᾳ, τῷ ὑμετέρῳ ἐλέει. We have noted down more examples from other quarters at Chrysost. de Sacerdot., p. 514. There are some who here understand σύν: you might as conveniently understand ἐ πί; but neither of the two is necessary. Nay, rather the Ablative case put absolutely, ταῖς προσευχαῖς, has greater force. The incense of the angel, and the prayers of the saints on earth, are simultaneous: but the prayers of the saints are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, not through the angel. [See what is the character of genuine prayer. It is the prayer of saints, which the incense of the angel accompanies, and Christ Himself renders acceptable in the presence of the Father. Dost thou then pray in such a manner, that thy prayers may come as a memorial before GOD?—V. g.] Under the name of angels, Thummius, in adm. de Error. Wigel, p. 280, affirms that created angels are pointed out in the New Testament, and especially in the Apocalypse: and in this very passage this is acknowledged by Nic. Selneccer in his Commentaries on the Ap., by L. and Andr. Osiander, by Beza, Hogelius, p. 277; also by Chemnitius, Part iii. Exam. Cone. Trid., f. 189, whom on this account Melch. Kromajec. in Ap. p. 111, praises, and Arnd. de V. C. i. ii. c. 35. To these are to be added D. Joach. Lange and Dimpelius. The liturgy [divine service performed] in heaven, with its effect in the world, is here set forth.— ἐπὶ τὸ) A skilful variety of cases: the angel stood ἐ πτοθυσιαστηρίου, by the said of [near—at] the altar; and offered the incense ἐ πτθυσιαστήριον, upon the altar.


Verse 7

Revelation 8:7. πρῶτος) ἄγγελος(91) is supplied in the text of Andreas: for thus the beginning of the 8th discourse required with him. Erasmus followed that: Wolf defended it. But the Greek copies of the New Testament (all, as we may suppose) omit ἄγγελος. And this agrees with the very intimate connection which exists between ver. 6 and 7, especially urging on the first angel. In the mention of the following angels with trumpets, ἄγγελος is expressed, by reason of the longer intervals between the discourse and the events. That the event of the trumpets began a very short time after the writing of the book, is evident from this, that the sealing defended the servants of God against the plagues which followed, not under the seals, but under the trumpets, and under the very trumpet of the first angel. Add, that the sealing precedes the opening of the seventh seal. But the seals begin immediately after the giving of the Apocalypse: therefore the sealing also must proceed to come to pass presently after.

The trumpet of the first angel befittingly assails the Jews: and comprises the Jewish wars under Trajan and Adrian, on which the Hist. Annot. of S. R. Abbot Zeller on R. Abraham ben Dior Comment, rerum Rom., p. 69–79, are especially to be read. He copiously recounts the other writers, to which you may add Hottinger Hist. Eccl. N. T., sect. ii. p. 66, and of the ancients, Orosius, lib. vii. c. 12 and 13.— καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῆς κατεκάη) All authorities, or at least those which are entire, and have been thoroughly examined, and among them Andreas, exhibit this clause. But the book of Capnio was without it: and Erasmus follows the hiatus, and Wolf defends it. This clause is as readily omitted, as the following clause is by others, καὶ τὸ τρίτον τῶν δένδρων κατεκάη, namely, through the recurrence of the verb κατεκάη. Neither ought to be omitted:(92) and the former clause, respecting the burning of the earth, is to be retained; because the trumpet of the first angel especially refers to the earth (wherefore the passage, ch. Revelation 9:4, is not suitably compared with this one), and the earth comprises many other things besides trees and grass.


Verse 8

Revelation 8:8. ὡς ὄρος, as a mountain) A mass of barbarian nations is meant; concerning the migration and irruption of which, attended with the greatest injuries, from the third century, history is so full, that it is needless to quote particular authors. The mountain thrown into the sea is aptly expressed from the Varia of Cassiodorius, where a sufficiently obvious mention is made at the same time of the Goths and Romans.


Verse 9

Revelation 8:9. διεφθάρησαν(93)) See App. Ed. ii. The Singular number, at the beginning of a sentence, creates no difficulty: for the singular is followed by the plural also in Revelation 8:7, ἐγένετο χάλαζα καὶ πῦρ ΄ε΄ιγ΄ένα ἐν αἵ΄ατι. That is a similar instance which Wolf notices, a third part of the men were slain: ch. Revelation 9:18.


Verse 10

Revelation 8:10. τρίτος, the third) The connection of events, times, and places, proves that the Arian and Vandal calamities are here pointed out. That Arius is the star, is the true judgment of Bullinger, Nigrinus, Viegas (although, following the opinion of Lyranus and Aureolus, he enters into a disputation also respecting Pelagius), also of Forbes, Cocceius, Gulichius, Sandhagen, N. Muler, Bierman, Amelius, Horchius, Vitringa, Reinbeck, Stock, Lœseken: and before all these, Seb. Meyer thought that Arius, together with other heretics, is here pointed out. The interpretation of Brightman concerning the Arian Emperors, Constantius and Valens, is weightily refuted by Marck. If these emperors are considered as a star on account of their princely majesty, I do not see on what grounds their fall can be referred to their departure from the faith, and not rather to the loss of their imperial glory. By which very argument also James Abbadie is refuted, who, in his work published not only in French but also in Belgic, interprets the star as referring to Count Boniface, by whose invitation the Vandals seized upon Africa. Independently of this, there was a great influx of Arianism into the state also: so that we cannot be surprised that this heresy has a place among the trumpets.


Verse 11

Revelation 8:11. καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ ἀστέρος λέγεται ἄψινθος, and the name of the star is called Wormwood) Arianism, full of bitterness. Theodoret, book ii. H. E. c. 14, respecting the Arians who drove out the bishops under Georgius of Cappadocia, says, οὕτω πικρωσ ἤλασαν αὐτοὺς, κ. τ. λ., with such bitterness they drove them out, etc. Victor, book i., respecting the Vandal persecution, thus expresses pity for Augustine, in the siege of Hippo: The sweetness of delight is changed into the BITTERNESS OF WORMWOOD. ἄψινθος is formed from α privative, and ψίνθος, which is τέρψις in Hesychius. And the Greek word, ἀψίνθιον, appears to have been changed into a word of three syllables from the Hebrew pronunciation אפסינתין or אפסינתא.


Verse 12

Revelation 8:12. ἐπλήγη, was smitten) That was done in the fifth century, when Italy and Rome, the seat of empire, were occupied and obscured by foreign nations.


Verse 13

Revelation 8:13. ἀετοῦ) Others, ἀγγέλου.(94) But see App. Crit. Ed. ii. on this passage. The Italian Version, and other most ancient authorities, widely apart from each other in age and clime, and in very great numbers, clearly vindicate the reading ἀετοῦ from all suspicion of a gloss. Another angel flying in the midst of heaven, ch. Revelation 14:6, altogether refers to the present passage: but the reading ἀετοῦ does not destroy this reference. The very appellation, an eagle, and not an angel, in this former passage, shows that it is not an angel, in the proper sense’ of the expression, who is meant; and the reference in the other passage to this former one teaches, that by the word another angel is denoted, an illustrious herald belonging to the human race, as distinguished interpreters acknowledge.— μεσουρανήματι) ΄εσουράνημα is a verbal, derived from the verb ΄εσουρανεῖν, which is said respecting a star which has risen three signs of the zodiac before the sun, and thus possesses the meridian, as Tzetzes demonstrates in his Exegesis of Hesiod, on the passage,

εὖτʼ ἂν δʼ ὠρίων καὶ σείριος ἐς ΄έσον ἔλθῃ οὐρανόν:

ἔργ. 607, 608.— οὐαὶ οὐαὶ οὐαὶ, woe, woe, woe) About the end of the fifth century there were not wanting presages of future calamities. The second woe is more disastrous than the first; the third than the second.— ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, upon the earth) D. Lange says: Bengel not only refers to past times the three woes, which refer to the vengeance yet to come upon the beast and the whore, but he also recalls the beginning of the papacy itself to the third woe, and so declares that the third woe has come a thousand years ago, and more than this. But when it is said of the second woe, Revelation 11:14, “The second woe is past; behold the third woe cometh quickly:” and immediately after the seventh trumpet follows, which refers to the completion of the judgments, and the enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, it can easily be imagined that the third woe cannot be thrown back so far.—Epicr. p. 406. I reply: The three woes have reference to the inhabiters of the earth; and I have shown that they have come long ago, and that the third woe has come, not indeed a thousand years ago, but yet almost eight hundred. The trumpet of the seventh angel, after the second woe is past, first sets forth things which are most desirable: then it describes the third woe; and when that is exhausted, a completion of the judgments is made and an enlargement of the kingdom of Christ. The interpretation of the Divine of Halle changes this order; and, without any cause, restricts the three woes denounced against the inhabiters of earth to the last times of the enemies; and accounts as the second woe the rage of the beast, which is really in the third woe. By which method the well-arranged order of the text is violently disjointed.— τῆς σάλπιγγος, of the trumpet) The singular number, put distributively for the plural, of the trumpets.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 8:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-8.html. 1897.

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