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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Revelation 10

 

 

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Verse 1

PART THIRD.

THE ANGELOPHANIC APOCALYPSE, Revelation 10:1 to Revelation 22:7.

1. THE ANGELOPHANY.—Descent of the World-Angel, Revelation 10:1-2.

1. And—Of the three “woe trumpets,” the first two are given in the last chapter, and the third (being the seventh of the seven trumpets) now remains to be given. But as this is the great historic trumpet, it must be preceded by a grand prelude—a presentation of a World-Angel on the scenes, announcing the wonderful contents of the trumpet, (chap. 10,) and a miniature set of symbols, shadowing in summary its events, Revelation 11:1-13. Then (Revelation 11:14-19) the trumpet sounds, and premonitions are given by heavenly voices of the glorious results to take place under that sounding. The seventh trumpet begins with the first overthrow of antichrist by Christ, Revelation 12:1, and continues through a series of such overthrows until the final judgment at Revelation 20:11. The entire contents of the seventh trumpet are, comprehensively, the world-wide contest between Christ and antichrist, in which the latter is successively overthrown. The symbols under which the opposing sides in the war are presented may be seen in the following

CONTRASTS OF THE WAR.

CHRISTIC.

ANTICHRISTIC.

1. The man child, Christ, Revelation 12:5.

The dragon, Satan, Revelation 12:3.

2. The Lamb, Revelation 5:6

The beast, Revelation 13:1.

3. The twenty-four elders, Revelation 4:4.

The two-horned Lamb.

4. Jerusalem, the Church, the capital of Christ, Revelation 20:4.

Babylon, Rome, the antichurch, the antichristic capital, Revelation 18:2.

5. Bride, the Lamb’s wife, Revelation 21:9.

Antichrist’s harlot, Revelation 15:1

6. Souls of saints enthroned, Revelation 20:4.

Souls of saints beneath altar, Revelation 6:4.

7. New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:1.

Lake of fire, Revelation 20:15.

These antithetic objects, carefully noted, serve to fix, reciprocally, each other’s meaning, and verify the truth of the exegesis. The hostile presentation of antichrist and his group are Revelation 12:13. The three overthrows of antichrist are Revelation 14:1 to Revelation 20:3.

Another mighty angel—In addition to the strong or mighty (for the Greek word is the same in both passages) angel who heralded the second commission, Revelation 5:2. Though this angel suggests Gabriel, as that does Michael, yet it might be rather considered as a purely symbolical personality, representing the divine providence over the world—”God in history”— overruling wrong and finally bringing out the triumph of right.

But there seem to be grave reasons for supposing this angel to be, not a symbol, but a personal representative, of the third Person in the adorable Trinity. In favour of this view we submit the following points:—

1. The three apocalypses are then dispensed by the three Personalities of the Trinity. We have thereby a Christophany and a virtual Pneumatophany, dominated by a central Theophany. 2. The description of the person of the angel exalts him to the representatively divine. The splendour of his appearance is described in terms far superior to those employed of any beings but the other two divine Personalities. He resembles the first in his sunlike face and his feet of burning brass. His tread upon earth and sea indicates his world-wide domain. His voice of seven thunders is counterpart to the “seven lamps” of Revelation 4:5, “which are the seven spirits.” 3. His office is that of the revealing Spirit. It is divine world-wide, world-enduring prediction. He is the commissioner of our New Testament seer, giving him the volume of the future to be amalgamated into his personal being, constituting him the prophet. He pronounces the sentence (Revelation 10:11) declaring John’s universal commission. Come down—Literally, descending out from heaven. The heaven is the upper sky over-arching the plane of mystical vision, as the earth and sea are below it. See note on Revelation 4:11. His face was as the sun; his head is wreathed with a rainbow; his chest is clad with a cloud; and from beneath its skirts his legs and feet are seen to descend as pillars of fire. Thus the grandest phenomena of nature combine to represent his majesty.


Verse 2

2. A little book—In contradistinction to the book of Revelation 5:2, which was the full volumen or roll, which contained the entire prophecies of the apocalypse. From this little book no part of the predictions issue. It is simply a symbol of the seer’s renewed commission, which he swallows to indicate that the prophecy is within, and part of him, body, soul, and spirit.

Foot… sea… earth—Each foot stands not upon the “margin” of sea and earth, but the centre of each. Nor are we to narrow the terms, with Dusterdieck and others, to the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Earth and sea, to the seer, are a vast plain, and the form of the angel is so immense that his feet claim domain of both. He is the World-Angel, proclaiming the world’s destinies.

Open—Symbolizing revelation.


Verse 3

2. World-Angel announces that the seventh trumpet’s sounding will finish earthly history, Revelation 10:3-7.

3. A lion roareth—The most majestic sound sent forth from living nature. But the voice of the representative Angel is at once reverberated by a voice of a diviner tone. Seven thunders has in the Greek the definite article.

They are co-ordinate, therefore, with the seven spirits, the seven stars, the seven churches, as a divine symbol. As these thunders are also a voice which uttered unrevealable mysteries, they seem to be the voices of none but the divine Spirit himself. The psalmist says, God thundereth marvellously with his voice. And is it not the true meaning that the lion-like roar of the representative Angel is answered by the loftier roar of God’s own voice? The literal words are: and when he cried, uttered the seven thunders their own voices. That is, the very own voices of the seven thunders were the divine response to the cry. Then as “the seven lamps” are the light, and “the seven eyes” are the omniscience of the Spirit, so “the seven thunders” are the expression of his omnipotence.

Seven thunders uttered—On this mysterious passage we suggest: 1. The thunders were the utterances of that Spirit which convinces the world of sin and judgment. 2. As co-ordinate with the seven seals and trumpets, they were, being thunders, far more terrible than either. 3. They must be interpreted in close connexion between the cry of the angel preceding and his oath which follows. They must be a response to the first and be responded to by the latter. The cry was a wail of woe at man’s doom; the thunders might have been a menace of wrath at man’s sin. 4. Hence we understand the Holy Spirit as uttering the demands of absolute justice for sin; describing in terms too deep for human language the guilt of sin, the awfulness of the final sentence and doom, and the demand which absolute justice makes that execution should be immediate. To this the angel-oath responds that judgment, if not immediate, if even long delayed, is sure; for the angel swears that the seventh trumpet shall reach that result.


Verse 4

4. About to write—A phrase which suggests that the apostle was immediate reporter and recorder of all he heard and saw.

A voice from heaven—One of the monitory directions occurring along the course of the apocalyptic movements. The thunders were God’s prophetic voice; these were divine directions for the panorama.

Seal up… write them not—As if the blank space were really contained in the seer’s scroll, and could there be sealed even though by him unwritten.

The seer seems about, in his simplicity, to undertake an impossible task; namely, to translate the uttered meanings of the thunders into human words. If the full import of death, judgment, and eternity could come upon our souls it would be too much for us; we would be struck by it to the earth, as Saul of Tarsus was overthrown. Only by divine mental exaltation could John receive the uttered conceptions; and when obedience induces him to purpose the writing, divine wisdom excuses and peremptorily forbids the attempt.


Verse 5-6

5, 6. Hand to heaven—The angel in Daniel 12:7 swore with both hands uplifted: in Genesis 14:22, Deuteronomy 32:40, and Ezekiel 20:5-6, and here, with but one hand upraised.

Who created… therein—The oath of God’s representative World-Angel fittingly ranges over the wide creation.

Time no longer—Our English translators seem to have understood the Angel as announcing the close of sublunary time. And that would make good sense, for he really does announce the judgment day. But the antithesis which that supposes between the terms time and eternity, seems not to exist in New Testament language. The real meaning is, that no delay or protracted time should intervene between the terminus of the sounding of the seventh trumpet and the judgment day. The consummation should, without delay, take place in the days of its sounding.

Dusterdieck, indeed, remarks that the trumpet is not supposed to be sounding during the whole period that its events are transpiring. Like the opened seal, the trumpet momentarily announces a new series of events. That, if true, affects no interpretation. The days of the voice would then be the period the announcing voice indicates. Yet it may be said, that as the seal remained open through its whole period, so the trumpet remained sounding. The trumpets, too, in the ancient temple service were not mere announcers, but a continuous music; and the trumpets at Jericho continued their regular blowing until the city “fell down flat.” So in the days of the voice of the seventh angel shall the mystery be complete; and forthwith, the judgment day shall reveal it.


Verse 7

7. When he shall begin to sound—Rather, whenever he is about to sound; whensoever that sounding shall take place, and how long soever it may continue. Alford and other premillennialists deny that οταν, when, here means whenever, and insist that the mystery is finished when the trumpet begins to blow. Which, in the fact, is not true; for the dragon and beast commence their career at that point. That Alford’s Greek is at fault Mr. Glasgow clearly shows. Robinson’s New Testament Lexicon thus defines ‘ οταν: “When, with the accessory idea of uncertainty, possibility, i.q., whensoever, if ever, in case that, so often as.” On the other hand, οτε signifies more strictly when, as when an actual event truly takes place.

We render the oath as follows: That there should be delay no further, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to sound, the mystery of God shall have been finished. The antithesis lies between the further delay, and the closing with the close of the trumpet period.

The purpose of the oath is to express, not the immediacy of the second advent, but its surety. The absolute justice demanded by the seven thunders, however slow, is certain. This slowness appears in the deliberate phrases in the days, whenever, and μελλει, is about to, wrongly translated shall begin. Yet sure as that trumpet shall sound it shall be followed by no delay, for the mystery is closed, and the case is made up for final judgment.

Mystery of God—In his plan of retribution to the righteous and the wicked. Perhaps there is a slight reference to the mystery as uttered by the seven thunders and sealed up by divine command, as above recorded.

Prophets—The mysteries of divine judgment are the burden of prophecy from Enoch to John.


Verse 8

3. The third prophetic commission bestowed on St. John , vv8-11.

8. The object of the appearance of the commissioning angel to John now becomes apparent. It is to give him HIS THIRD COMMISSION to unfold to the world the prophetic volumen which the angel’s utterances have indicated. The voice which I heard, in Revelation 10:4. Go—The seer is standing on the plane of vision, note Revelation 5:14; the angel’s feet are on the lower ground of earth and sea. It might be easy for him to move to the level of the angel’s hand, and take the little book.


Verse 9

9. Eat it up—Receive it within thee, and assimilate within and to thyself. Be impregnated with the prophetic power, as the great final seer of the New Testament.


Verse 10

10. In my mouth sweet—Since it is sweet to possess the prophetic gift in the mouth.

In my belly bitter—From the bitterness of the scenes and events which the prophetic gift discloses in the future. Gratifying and honourable was the prophetic office; painful and trying its exercise among men.


Verse 11

11. He said—Alford prefers the reading they say: the meaning is the same. The direction, as in Revelation 10:8, was divine. And the plural divine Unanimity from which John receives the commission seems to confirm the thought that it comes from the Trinitarian Unity.

Again—As over against the entire previous apocalypse. He had, instrumentally, prophesied through the seven-church cycle, the seven-seal cycle, and six of the trumpet-cycle. But so all-comprehending is this SEVENTH TRUMPET that a fresh order is given to commence again.

Before—See note on Revelation 22:16. The grandeur of the audience before which he was to prophesy is now unfolded. Not in person, but in the record, he is to be a world-wide and world-long prophet.

Many peoples—That prophecy should be heard among many unorganized peoples; be accepted by many organized and powerful nations; be translated into many tongues; and rule in power over many kings. And the number four expresses the earth-wide extent of his prophetic office. How wonderfully have the terms of this commission been fulfilled! For it is plain that the prophecy refers not to oral utterance, but to the written record which the seer was now in the process of preparing. And wonderful is the fulfilment of this four-fold extension, in the spreading of this prophecy in our own day to the four great quarters of the globe.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 10:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-10.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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