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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
Revelation 11



Other Authors

Questions For Revelation Chapter Eleven

LWhat was given to John?

2.Tell what it was like.

3.Who stood before him?

4.What was he t() measure first1

5.What other items to be measured1

6.Tell what he was not to measure.

7.To what was it given?

8.What was to be trodden under foot.

9.For how long was it to be1

10.To whom will God give power?

11.For how long will they prophesy?

12.How will they be clothed through this time1

13.What ()ther names are given to these beings?

14.Where do they stand?

15.Against whom will they issue fire?

16.With what effect?

17.Who else must be killed in same manner?

18.Tell what power these witnesses have.

19.Haw can they affect waters?

20.Upon what can they bring plagues?

21.What will they finish ?

22.Then what shall ascend from the pit?

23.Against what will he make war?

24.With what result?

25.Where will their dead bodies lie?

26.Were these names literal?

27.What else had happened there?

28.Who shall see their dead bodies?

29.For how long will they see this? .

30.What will they prevent from being done?

31.Tell what the dwellers on earth will do.

32.Why will they do all this?

33.What finally entered these bodies?

34.After how long a time?

35.What were they able to do then?

36.How did this affect those who saw it?

37.What was heard then?

38.Tell what the voice was saying.

39.What happened then?

40.By whom was this beheld?

41.What happened the same hour?

42.What portion of the city fell?

43.How many were slain?

44.How were the others affected?

45.What did it cause them to do?

46.Tell what is now about due.

47.What was now sounded?

48.From where were voices then heard?

49.What transformations did they announce?

50.Tell what Christ is to do.

51.What did the24elders then do?

52.To whom did they give thanks?

53.Tell what existence they ascribed to God.

54.What work did they also ascribe to him?

55.How were the nations affected?

56.What time had come?

57.Tell the two rewards about to be rendered.

58.What was opened in heaven?

59.Tell what was seen.

60. What were heard?

Verse 1

Revelation 11:1-19

Verse1. The reed given unto John

was a measuring rule and is a symbol

of the word of God. This is clear from

the fact that the angel gave it to John

who was one of the apostles. We

know the word of God is the divine

standard for it is required in1Peter

4: 11that, "If any man speak, let him

speak as the oracles of God." At the

time predicted by this chapter the

apostasy ("falling away") was an Esther -

tablished fact. The Bible was vir-

tually taken from the people and the

religious lives of men and women were

judged by the decrees of Rome instead

of by the word of God. This verse is

a symbol of the true standard of the

measurement as the apostles were

given the authority to execute ( Matthew -

thew19: 28). The temple of God

means the church ( 1 Corinthians 3:16,

17). The altar was the center of wor-

ship in the Mosaic system, and it is

referred to here as a symbol of the

worship under that of Christ. Them

that-worship therein means Christians,

whose personal lives must be measured

(regulated) by the word of God and

not by the decrees of Rome.

Verse 2

The court in the old temple was the part that was open to the people generally. It is referred to in our passage as a symbol of the treatment that was imposed upon the institution of God by its enemies. Under the Mosaic system the temple was under the jurisdiction of the Jews. and that is why those on the outside are called Gentiles.

institution is always meant (if no Exodus -

ception is stated). That is because it

was by the union of church and state

that such a complete control was Obadiah -

tained over all the lives of the people.

That is what is meant by the predic-

tion that they were to tread under foot

these arrangements of God. It is im-

portant to note that they did not tread

under foot the temple nor the altar.

That is because all through the Dark

Ages there was a true church in Exodus -

istence in spite of the corruptions of

Rome, although it was obscured more

or less from the full public view.

Forty and two months. This is the

first time this unit of time has ap-

peared in this book, but it will reap-

pear many times under various fig-

ures. It refers to the period of the

apostasy or Dark Ages as it is famil-

iarly termed by the teachers in the

brotherhood. In literal terms it means

1260 years and the various forms in

which it is stated will all sum up to

that figure by observing the rule in

prophetic language that the month

has30 days. The exact number of

years that requires the60 is reached

by the dates on which the full rule of

Rome began and ended. Some of the

details of that subject are not available

to me at present, but we may be sure

that the figure is correct from the fact

that each of the various forms in

which it is stated brings out the same

1260. And as to the correctness of the

calculation we have historical verifica-

tion of the round number in the words

of Edward Gibbon, author of The Deuteronomy -

cline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Hewas an infidel and would have no

motive for verifying the word of God,

but he was an authentic historian

whose ability and accuracy were un-

questioned and I shall quote from him

as follows: "In the long period of

twelve hundred years, which elapsed

between the reign of Constantine and

the reformation of Luther, the worship

of saints and relics corrupted the pure

and perfect simplicity of the Christian

model; and some symptoms of degen-

eracy may be observed even in the first

generation which adopted and cher-

ished this pernicious innovation."—-

Volume2 , Chapter28 , Page615. The

forty and two months of our verse

gives us the1260 by multiplying forty-

two by thirty.

Verse 3

Verse3. The word power is not in

the Greek and is not necessary for the

thought, which is that God would see

that His two witnesses could speak.

The two witnesses are the Old and New

Testaments, the documents that Rome

took away from the people. To prophesy

is from PROPHETEUO and Thayer's Genesis -

eral definition Isaiah , "Speak forth by di-

vine inspiration." Hence it includes

the making of predictions and any

form of speech that will impart infor-

mation that is in harmony with the

will of God. The word in our passage

means that the Old and New Testa-

ments would continue to exist and

offer their information through the

period designated. In symbolic lan-

guage a day stands for a year (Ezekiel

4: 6), hence the number of days named

with words corresponds with the1260

years. Clothed in sackcloth symbolizes

a condition of mourning, and it is used

in this verse to refer toithe mistreat-

ment the word of God would receive

all through the Dark Ages.

Verse 4

Verse4. Olive oil was the chief

source of artificial light in Bible times

( Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2). Olive

oil requires olive trees and hence since

the word of God is the only source of

spiritual light. directly available to

Prayer of Manasseh , it is symbolized by olive trees.

The phraseology in the last part of the

verse is drawn from Zechariah 4:11-14.

Verse 5

If any man will hurt them,

fire proceedcth, etc. Both sentences of

this verse mean the same. We know

that no one was ever literally injured

by the Bible, hence we must under-

stand this to be a symbol. Its mean-

ing is that God is jealous for his word

and will inflict vengeance upon all who

oppose it. In times of "special provi-

dence" He caused various judgments

to come upon men who mistreated the

divine word. Otherwise the time will

come when eternal punishment will be

inflicted upon all who have not given

the word of God the respect it deserves.

Verse 6

This verse is to be understood in the light of the preceding one. God is so jealous of his word that if He deems it called for he will inflict such judgments as these upon those who mistreat His word.

Verse 7

Finished their testimony does not mean they quit testifying for they will not do that while the world stands. It means when their testimony has been made complete—when the New Testament is all written. When John was writing it had not all been composed yet, for the book he was writing was to be a part of that Volume. About the~time the whole Bible was composed and confirmed, which was after all the apostles had passed from life, was the time that Rome became alarmed at the influence of the Bible. Also that was near the time that the union of church and state arrived at its great height, in which it obtained such power as to control all the people under its dominions. We understand the beast to be Satan operating through the power of Rome. Shall kill them is figurative because the Bible never was actually killed, but as far as its opportunity for control over the lives of men was concerned the Book was slain. Let the reader remember that it is the two witnesses of verse3that the present verse is dealing with.

Verse 8

Dead bodies must be understood in the light of the comments on the preceding verse. We know the literal truth is that Rome was the institution that mistreated the Bible and took it away from the people. For that reason the symbols in this verse must be interpreted accordingly. The city is the domain of the apostate church, and the reference to Sodom and Egypt is made because of the wickedness that was in those places and their enmity against the Lord. The Lord's crucifixion also is laid to the same kind of elements that plotted the attack upon the Bible.

Verse 9

The Bible continued to be a prohibited book all through the Dark Ages or the1260 years. That is the period represented here by three days and a half. The term is obtained by reducing three and a half years to days (1260), then remembering that a day in symbolic language stands for a year. Not suffer . . . put in graves. A refusal to give burial to a body that has been slain would indicate much disrespect for the body. The figure is used to denote the low esteem the church of Rome had for the word of God.

Verse 10

The teaching of the Bible stands in the way of the evil desires of men who wish to profit by a misuse of the religion of Christ which they profess to follow. It torments them as the verse states it, and therefore it would be a cause for rejoicing among such people to have it put out of the way. Two prophets are other terms for the Old and New Testament. It was a custom to exchange gifts upon occasions of special rejoicing which was a form of mutual congratulations. (See Nehemiah 8:12 and Esther 9:22.)

Verse 11

After three days and a half means after the Dark Ages of1260 ( Revelation 11:9). Spirit of life is figurative on the same principle as being dead in verse7. The apostate church took the Bible away from the people and "slew" it. Luther and his co-workers gave it back to the people which put "life" back into it.

Verse 12

This is another symbolical passage for in fact the Bible was already in heaven. "For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven" ( Psalm 119:89). The passage gives a symbolical performance that was to notify the enemies of the word of God that the forces of Heaven were recognizing it and were ready to welcome its renewed power on the earth. We know that such is the purpose of the verse for the closing statement is and their enemies beheld them.

Verse 13

Earthquakes in symbolic language stand for revolutions in governments and the powers that be. When the work of the reformers got underway it caused many disturbances among the rulers of the world, who had been holding undisputed sway over the people through the past centuries. The numerical units that are mentioned—tenth part and seven thousand —are too exact to be taken literally. The meaning is that a great part of the former tyrannies was overthrown. Remnant . . . gave glory to God. When the work of the reformers became an established fact, it convinced some of the leaders that they had been in the wrong and were thus led to acknowledge their mistake. Were affrighted means they were compelled to feel a greater respect for God and his Book than they had before.

Verse 14

Second woe is past. The first was the scourge of the Dark Ages, the second was the dissolving of the union of church and state which was connected with the giving of the Bible back to the people. The third woe (not to God's people but to the enemies) is the resumption of power by the several kings and rulers, who had been deprived of their royal rights by the dominating power in Rome, that forced all people to be subject to its dictates.

Verse 15

Kingdoms of the world are not asked to become part of the kingdom of Christ. That would be virtually another union of church and state. What happened was a change in the attitude of the earthly kingdoms. Before the Reformation the kings on those thrones could not reign as Christ would have wished them to and as they personally would have been inclined. They had to take their instructions from Rome and rule their subjects as that head dictated. After the delusion was lifted by the insight into the scriptures that was afforded them through the work of the reformers, they learned that they could permit their subjects to regulate their own religious life as they believed Christ wished them to. It is in that sense that the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord. Such a revolution was a woe to the "man of sin" in Rome for it meant the end of his arrogant rule. It is the third woe already predicted and now announced by the sounding of the seventh angel. He shall reign for ever and ever. Christ never ceased to be a king from the time He ascended to his Father"s right hand ( 1 Peter 3:22), and will continue to be king until the time of His second coming ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-25). But He was not recognized as king by these earthly rulers while they were under the control of Rome.

Verse 16

These are the four and twenty elders of Revelation 4:4. They rejoiced to see the triumph of Him who was and is the saving virtue of both of the organized systems of religion given into the world by the Lord.

Verse 17

Taken to thee thy great power refers to the triumph of righteousness over evil when the word God was given back to the people of the various kingdoms1

Verse 18

Nations were angry. That is that part of them that still wished to profit by the deception of the people. Thy wrath is come means that God"s vengeance had come upon the apostate church for abusing His word. The time of the dead also hath come, meaning the dead whose souls John saw under the altar ( Revelation 6:9). They cried for vengeance or judgment and were told that "their time" would come. Now that time has come and God has judged the apostate church by separating her from the advantages of temporal power. At the same time He gave reward to his faithful servants by having His word placed again in their hands. Destory them which destroy the earth refers to the same evil men described before who planned to destroy (corrupt in the margin) the earth.

Verse 19

This verse is a symbol that is very significant. The Bible had been denied the people for1260 years but is now restored to them. That is like letting the servants of God "in" on a great intimacy with the Lord. The original law was laid up by the ark in the Most Holy Place ( Exodus 25:16; Deuteronomy 10:2). The people were never permitted to see into that place where the book of God was deposited. Likewise the people under Rome were shut off from seeing the Book through the years of the apostasy. But the work of the Reformation broke through that and forced open the privacy and gave them another view of the law. As an illustration of such a privilege John was given a view into the place where the ark was which he calls the ark of his testament or holy law. The ltghtnings and other things named refer to the commotions that were caused by the Reformation.


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

Bibliography Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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