Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 11:14

The second woe is past; behold, the third woe is coming quickly.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Times of the Gentiles;   The Topic Concordance - Earthquakes;   Witness;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Antichrist;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Order;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Gentiles;   Judah, Kingdom of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Witness;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The seconds wo is past - That which took place under the sixth trumpet, and has been already described.

The third wo cometh - Is about to be described under the seventh trumpet, which the angel is now prepared to sound.

Of the three woes which were denounced, Revelation 8:13, the first is described, Revelation 9:1-12; the second, Revelation 9:13-21. These woes are supposed by many learned men to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. The first wo - the seditions among the Jews themselves. The second wo - the besieging of the city by the Romans. The third wo - the taking and sacking of the city, and burning the temple. This was the greatest of all the woes, as in it the city and temple were destroyed, and nearly a million of men lost their lives.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

The second woe is past - That is, the second of the three that were announced as yet to come, Revelation 8:13; compare Revelation 9:12.

And, behold, the third woe cometh quickly - The last of the series. The meaning is, that what was signified by the third “woe” would be the next, and final event, in order. On the meaning of the word “quickly,” see the notes on Revelation 1:1; compare Revelation 2:5, Revelation 2:16; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20.

In reference now to the important question about the application of this portion of the Book of Revelation, it need hardly be said that the greatest variety of opinion has prevailed among expositors. It would be equally unprofitable, humiliating, and discouraging to attempt to enumerate all the opinions which have been held; and I must refer the reader who has any desire to become acquainted with them to Poole‘s Synopsis, in loco, and to the copious statement of Prof. Stuart, Cove. vol. 2, pp. 219-227. Prof. Stuart himself supposes that the meaning is, that “a competent number of divinely-commissioned and faithful Christian witnesses, endowed with miraculous powers, should bear testimony against the corrupt Jews, during the last days of their commonwealth, respecting their sins; that they should proclaim the truths of the gospel; and that the Jews by destroying them, would bring upon themselves an aggravated and an awful doom,” 2:226. Instead of attempting to examine in detail the opinions which have been held, I shall rather state what seems to me to be the fair application of the language used, in accordance with the principles pursued thus far in the exposition. The inquiry is, whether there have been any events to which this language is applicable, or in reference to which, if it be admitted that it was the design of the Spirit of inspiration to describe them, it may be supposed that such language would be employed as we find here.

In this inquiry it may be assumed that the preceding exposition is correct, and the application now to be made must accord with that - that is, it must be found that events occurred in such times and circumstances as would be consistent with the supposition that that exposition is correct. It is to be assumed, therefore, that Revelation 9:20-21, refers to the state of the ecclesiastical world after the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks, and previous to the Reformation; that Revelation 10:1-11 refers to the Reformation itself; that Revelation 11:1-2, refers to the necessity, at the time of the Reformation, of ascertaining what was the true church, of reviving the Scripture doctrine respecting the atonement and justification, and of drawing correct lines as to membership in the church. All this has reference, according to this interpretation, to the state of the church while the papacy would have the ascendency, or during the twelve hundred and sixty years in which it would trample down the church as if the holy city were in the hands of the Gentiles. Assuming this to be the correct exposition, their what is here said Revelation 11:3-13 must relate to that period, for it is with reference to that same time - the period of “a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” or twelve hundred and sixty years - that it is said Revelation 11:3 the witnesses would “prophesy,” “clothed in sackcloth.”

If this be so, then what is here stated Revelation 11:3-13 must be supposed to occur during the ascendency of the papacy, and must mean, in general, that during that long period of apostasy, darkness, corruption, and sin, there would be faithful witnesses for the truth, who, though they were few in number, would be sufficient to keep up the knowledge of the truth on the earth, and to bear testimony against the prevailing errors and abominations. The object of this portion of the book, therefore, is to describe the character of the faithful witnesses for the truth during this long period of darkness; to state their influence; to record their trials; and to show what would he the ultimate result in regard to them, when their “testimony” should become triumphant. This general view will be seen to accord with the exposition of the previous portion of the book, and will be sustained, I trust, by the more particular inquiry into the application of the passage to which I now proceed. The essential points in the passage Revelation 11:3-13 respecting the “witnesses” are six:

(1)who are meant by the witnesses;

(2)the war made on them;

(3)their death;

(4)their resurrection;

(5)their reception into heaven; and,

(6)the consequences of their triumph in the calamity that came upon the city.

I. Who are meant by the witnesses, Revelation 11:3-6. There are several specifications in regard to this point which it is necessary to notice:

(a) The fact that, during this long period of error, corruption, and sin, there were those who were faithful witnesses for the truth - people who opposed the prevailing errors; who maintained the great doctrines of the Christian faith; and who were ready to lay down their lives in defense of the truth. For a full confirmation of this it would be necessary to trace the history of the church down from the rise of the papal power through the long lapse of the subsequent ages; but such an examination would be far too extensive for the purpose contemplated in these notes, and, indeed, would require a volume by itself. Happily, this has already been done; and all that is necessary now is to refer to the works where the fact here affirmed has been abundantly established. In many of the histories of the church - Mosheim, Neander, Milner, Milman, Gieseler - most ample proof may be found, that amidst the general darkness and corruption there were those who faithfully adhered to the truth as it is in Jesus, end who, amidst many sufferings, bore their testimony against prevailing errors. The investigation has been made, also, with special reference to an illustration of this passage, by Mr. Elliott, Hover Apoca. vol. 2, pp. 193-406; and although it must be admitted that some of the details are of doubtful applicability, yet the main fact is abundantly established, that during that long period there were “witnesses” for the pure truths of the gospel, and a faithful testimony borne against the abominations and errors of the papacy. These “witnesses” are divided by Mr. Elliott into:

(1) the earlier Western witnesses - embracing such men, and their followers, as Serenus, bishop of Marseilles; the Anglo-Saxon church in England; Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons from 810 to 841 a.d., on the one side of the Alps, and Claude of Turin on the other; Gotteschalcus, 884 a.d.; Berenger, Arnold of Brescia, Peter de Bruys, and his disciple Henry, and then the Waldenses.

(2) the Eastern, or Paulikian line of witnesses, a sect deriving their origin, about 653 a.d., from an Armenian by the name of Constantine, who received from a deacon, by whom he was hospitably entertained, a present of two volumes, very rare, one containing the Gospels, and the other the Epistles of Paul, and who applied himself to the formation of a new sect or church, distinct from the Manicheans, and from the Greek Church. In token of the nature of their profession, they adopted the name by which they were ever after distinguished, Paulikiani, Paulicians, or “disciples of the disciple of Paul.” This sect continued to bear “testimony” in the East from the time of its rise until the eleventh or twelfth centuries, when it commenced a migration to the West, where it bore the same honorable character for its attachment to the truth. See Elliott, 2:233-246,275-315.

(3) Witnesses during the eleventh and twelfth centuries, up to the time of Peter Waldo. Among these are to be noticed those who were arraigned for heresy before the councils of Orleans, Arras, Thoulouse, Oxford, and Lombers, in the years 1022,1025,1119,1160,1165, respectively, and who were condemned by those councils for their departure from the doctrines held by the papacy. For a full illustration of the doctrines held by those who were thus condemned, and of the fact that they were “witnesses” for the truth, see Elliott, it. 247-275.

(4) The Waldenses and Albigenses. The nature of the testimony borne by these persecuted people is so well known that it is not necessary to dwell on the subject; and a full statement of their testimony would require the entire transcription of their history. No Protestant will doubt that they were “witnesses” for the truth, or that from the time of their rise, through all the periods of their persecution, they bore full and honorable testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. The general ground of this claim to be regarded as Apocalyptic witnesses, will be seen from the following summary statements of their doctrines. Those statements are found in a work called The Noble Lesson, written within some twenty years of 1170. The treatise begins in this manner: “O brethren, hear a Noble Lesson. We ought always to watch and pray,” etc. In this treatise the following doctrines are drawn out, says Mr. Elliott, “with much simplicity and beauty: the origin of sin in the fall of Adam; its transmission to all people, and the offered redemption from it through the death of Jesus Christ; the union and cooperation of the three persons of the blessed Trinity in man‘s salvation; the obligation and spirituality. of the moral law under the gospel; the duties of prayer, watchfulness, self-denial, unworldliness, humility, love, as ‹the way of Jesus Christ;‘ their enforcement by the prospect of death and judgment, and the world‘s near ending; by the narrowness, too, of the way of life, and the fewness of those who find it; as also by the hope of coming glory at the judgment and revelation of Jesus Christ. Besides which we find in it a protest against the Roman Catholic system generally, as one of soul-destroying idolatry; against masses for the dead, and therein against the whole doctrine of purgatory; against the system of the confessional, and asserted power of the priesthood to absolve from sin; this last point being insisted on as the most deadly point of heresy, and its origin referred to the mercenariness of the priesthood, and their love of money; the iniquity further noticed of the Roman Catholic persecutions of good people and teachers that wished to teach the way of Jesus Christ; and the suspicion half-hinted, and apparently half-formed, that, though a personal antichrist might be expected, yet Popery itself might be one form of antichrist.”

In another work, the Treatise of Antichrist, there is a strong and decided identification of the anti-Christian system and the papacy. This was written probably in the last quarter of the fourteenth century. “From this,” says Mr. Elliott (ii. 355), “the following will appear to have been the Waldensian views: that the papal or Roman Catholic system was that of antichrist; which, from infancy in apostolic times, had grown gradually by the increase of its constituent parts to the stature of a full-grown man; that its prominent characteristics were - to defraud God of the worship due to Him, rendering it to creatures, whether departed saints, relics, images, or antichrist; - to defraud Christ, by attributing justification and forgiveness to antichrist‘s authority and words, to saints‘ intercession, to the merits of people‘s own performances, and to the fire of purgatory; to defraud the Holy Spirit, by attributing regeneration and sanctification to the opus operation of the two sacraments; that the origin of this anti-Christian religion was the covetousness of the priesthood; its tendency, to lead people away from Christ; its essence, a ceremonial; its foundation, the false notion of grace and forgiveness.” This work is so important as a “testimony” against antichrist, and for the truth, and is so clear as showing that the papacy was regarded as antichrist, that I will copy, from the work itself, the portion containing these sentiments - sentiments which may be regarded as expressing the uniform testimony of the Waldenses on the subject:

“Antichrist is the falsehood of eternal damnation, covered with the appearance of the truth and righteousness of Christ and his spouse. The iniquity of such a system is with all his ministers, great and small: and inasmuch as they follow the law of an evil and blinded heart, such a congregation, taken together, is called antichrist, or Babylon, or the Fourth beast, or the Harlot, or the Man of Sin, who is the son of perdition.

“His first work is, that the service of “latria,” properly due to God alone, he perverts unto antichrist himself and to his doings; to the poor creature, rational or irrational, sensible or insensible; as, for instance, to male or female saints departed this life, and to their images, or carcasses, or relics. His doings are the sacraments, especially that of the eucharist, which he worships equally with God and Christ, prohibiting the adoration of God alone.

“His second work is, that he robs and deprives Christ of the merits of Christ, with the whole sufficiency of grace, and justification, and regeneration, and remission of sins, and sanctification, and confirmation, and spiritual nourishment; and imputes and attributes them to his own authority, or to a form of words, or to his own performances, or to the saints and their intercession, or to the fire of purgatory. Thus he divides the people from Christ, and leads them away to the things already mentioned; that so they may seek not the things of Christ, nor through Christ, but only the work of their own hands; not through a living faith in God, and Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; but through the will and the work of antichrist, agreeably to the preaching that man‘s salvation depends on his own deeds.

“His third work is, that he attributes the regeneration of the Holy Spirit to a dead outward faith; baptizing children in that faith, and teaching that by the mere outward consecration of baptism regeneration may be procured.

“His fourth work is, that he rests the whole religion of the people upon his Mass; for leading them to hear it, he deprives them of spiritual and sacramental manducation.

“His fifth work is, that he does everything to be seen, and to glut his insatiable avarice.

“His sixth work is, that he allows manifest sins without ecclesiastical censure.

“His seventh work is, that he defends his unity, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the secular power.

“His eighth work is, that he hates, and persecutes, and searches after, and robs and destroys the members of Christ.

“These things, and many others, are the cloak and vestment of antichrist; by which he covers his lying wickedness, lest he should be rejected as a pagan. But there is no other cause of idolatry than a false opinion of grace, and truth, and authority, and invocation, and intercession; which this antichrist has taken away from God, and which he has ascribed to ceremonies, and authorities, and a man‘s own works, and to saints, and to purgatory” (Elliott, it. 354,355).

It is impossible not to be struck with the application of this to the papacy, and no one can doubt that the papacy was intended to be referred to. And, if this be so, this was a bold and decided” testimony “against the abominations of that system, and they who bore this testimony deserved to be regarded as “witnesses” for Christ and his truth.

If to the “testimony” thus briefly referred to, we add that of such men as Wycliffe, John Huss, and Jerome of Prague, and then that of the Reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melancthon, and their fellow-laborers, we can see with what propriety it was predicted that even during the prevalence of the great apostasy there would be a competent number of “witnesses” to keep up the knowledge of the truth in the world. And supposing that this is what was designed to be represented, it is easy to perceive that the symbol which is employed is admirably appropriate. The design of what is here said is merely to show that during the whole of the period of the papal apostasy whenever it may be supposed to have begun, and whenever it shall cease, it is and will he true that the Savior has had true “witnesses” on the earth - that there have been those who have “testified” against these abominations, and who, often at great personal peril and sacrifice, have borne a faithful testimony for the truth.

(b) The number of the witnesses. In Revelation 11:3, this is said to be “two,” and this has been shown to mean that there would be a competent number, yet probably with the implied idea that the number would not be large. The only question then is, whether, in looking through this long period, it would be found that, according to the established laws of testimony under the divine code, there was a competent number to bear witness to the truth. And of this no one can doubt, for, in respect to each and every part of the period of the great apostasy, it is possible now to show that there was a sufficient number of the true friends of the Redeemer to testify against all the great and cardinal errors of the papacy. This simple and obvious interpretation of the language, it may be added, also, makes wholly unnecessary and inappropriate all the efforts which have been made by expositors to find precisely two such witnesses, or two churches or people with whom the line of the faithful testimony was preserved: all such interpretations as that the Old and New Testaments are referred to, as Melchior, Affelman, and Croly suppose; or that preachers are referred to who are instructed by the law and the Gospel, as Pannonins and Thomas Aquinas, supposed; or that Christ and John the Baptist are referred to, as Ubertinus supposed; or that Pope Sylvester and Mena, who wrote against the Eutychians, are meant, as Lyranus and Ederus supposed; or that Francis and Dominic, the respective heads of two orders of monks, are intended, as Cornelius k Lapidc supposed; or that the great wisdom and sanctity of the primitive preachers are meant, as Alcassar maintained; or that John Huss and Luther, or John Huss and Jerome of Prague, or the Waldenses and Albigeuses, or the Jewish and Gentile Christians in Aelia, are intended, as others have supposed.

According to the obvious and fair meaning of the language, all this is mere fancy, and can illustrate nothing but the fertility of invention of those who have written on the Apocalypse. All that is necessarily implied is, that the number of true and uncorrupted followers of the Saviour has been at all times sufficiently large to bear a competent testimony to the world, or to keep up the remembrance of the truth upon the earth - and the reality of this no one acquainted with the history of the church will doubt.

(c) The condition of the “witnesses” as “clothed in sackcloth,” Revelation 11:3. This has been shown to mean that they would be in a state of sadness and grief; and they would be exposed to trouble and persecution. It is unnecessary to prove that all this was abundantly fulfilled. The long history of those times was a history of persecutions; and if it be admitted that the passage before us was designed to refer to those above mentioned as “witnesses,” no more correct description could be given of them than to say that they were “clothed in sackcloth.”

(d) The power of the witnesses, Revelation 11:5-6. Of this there are several specifications:

(1) They had power over those who should injure or hurt them, Revelation 11:5. This is represented by “fire proceeding out of their mouth, and devouring their enemies.” This has been shown to refer to the doctrines which they would proclaim, and the denunciations which they would utter, and which would resemble consuming fire. This would be accomplished or fulfilled if their solemn testimony - their proclamations of truth - and their denunciations of the wrath of God should have the effect ultimately to bring down the divine vengeance on their persecutors. And no one can doubt that this has had an ample fulfillment. That is, the effect of the testimony borne; of the solemn appeals made; of the deuunciations of the judgment of heaven, has been to show that that great persecuting power that oppressed them is arrayed against God, and must be finally overthrown. In order to see the complete fulfillment of this, it would be necessary to trace all the effect of the testimony of the witnesses for the truth from age to age on that power, and to see how far it has been among the causes of the ultimate and final overthrow of the papacy.

Of course, it may be said that in an important sense it is all to be traced to that, since if they had forborne to bear that testimony, and to protest against those corruptions and abominations, that colossal power would have stood unshaken. But the solemn appeals made from age to age by the friends of truth, amidst much persecution, have contributed to weaken that power, and to prepare the world for its ultimate fall as if fire from heaven fell upon it. The causes of the decline of the papal power were, therefore, laid far back in the solemn truths urged by those persecuted “witnesses”; and the calamities which have ravaged Europe for these three hundred years, and the changes now occurring which make it so certain that this mighty power hastens to its fall, may all be the regular results of the “testimony” for the truths of a pure gospel borne long ago by the people that dwelt amidst the Alps, and their fellow-sufferers in persecution.

(2) they “have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy,” Revelation 11:6. This has been shown to mean that they would have power to cause blessings to be withheld from people as if the rain were withheld. The reference here is probably to the spiritual heavens, and to that of which rain is the natural emblem the influences of truth, and the influences of the Divine Spirit on the world. So Moses says, in Deuteronomy 32:2, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, and my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” So the psalmist Psalm 72:6, “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” So Isaiah Isaiah 55:10-11, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, so shall my word be,” etc. Compare Micah 5:7. The meaning here, then, must be, that spiritual influences would seem to be under their control; or that they would be imparted at their bidding, and withheld at their will. This found an ample fulfillment in the history of the church in those dark periods, in the fact that it was in connection with these “witnesses,” and in answer to their prayers, that the influences of the Holy Spirit were imparted to the world, and that the true religion was kept up on the earth. “It is an historical fact,” says the author of The Seventh Vial (p. 130), “that during the ages of their ministry, there was neither dew nor rain of a spiritual kind upon the earth, but at the word of the witnesses. There was no knowledge of salvation but by their preaching - no descent of the Spirit but in answer to their prayers; and, as the witnesses were shut out from Christendom generally, a universal famine ensued.”

(3) they had power over the waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, Revelation 11:6. That is, as explained above, calamities would come upon the earth as if the waters were turned into blood, and this would be so connected with them, and with the treatment which they would receive, that these calamities would seem to have been called down from heaven in answer to their prayers, and in order to avenge their wrongs. And can anyone be ignorant that wars, commotions, troubles, disasters have followed the attempts to destroy those who have borne a faithful testimony for Christ in the dark period of the world here referred to? The calamities that have befallen the papal communion from time to time may have been, and seem to have been, to a great degree, the consequence of its persecuting spirit, and of its attempts to quench the light of truth. When the oppressed and persecuted nations of Europe had borne it long, and when attempts had long been made to extinguish every spark of true liberty, the spirit of freedom and revenge was roused. The yoke was broken; and in the wars that ensued rivers of blood flowed upon the earth, as if these “witnesses” or martyrs had, by their own power and prayers, brought these calamities upon their oppressors. A philosophic historian carefully studying human nature, and the essential spirit of Christianity, might find in these facts a sufficient explanation of all the calamities that have come upon that once colossal power - the papacy - and a full demonstration that, under the operation of these causes, that power must ultimately fall - as if in revenge called down from heaven by the martyrs for the wrongs done to them who had borne a faithful testimony to the truth.

II. The war against the witnesses, Revelation 11:7. There are several circumstances stated in regard to this which demand explanation in order to a full understanding of the prophecy. Those circumstances relate to the time when this would occur; to the government by which this war would be waged; and to the victory:

(a) The time when the war referred to would be waged. The whole narrative (compare Revelation 11:3, Revelation 11:5) supposes that opposition would be made to them at all times, and that their condition would be such that they could properly be represented as always clothed in sackcloth; but it is evident that a particular period is here referred to, when there would be such a war waged with them that they would be for a time overcome, and would seem to be dead. This time is referred to by the phrase “when they shall have finished their testimony” Revelation 11:7; and it is to the period when this could be properly said of them that we are to look for the fulfillment of what is here predicted. This must mean, when they should have borne full or ample testimony; that is, when they had borne their testimony on all the great points on which they were appointed to bear witness. See the notes on Revelation 11:7. This, then, must not be understood as referring to the time of the completion of the twelve hundred and sixty years, but to any time during that period when it could be said that they had borne a full and ample testimony for the truths of the gospel, and against the abominations and errors that prevailed.

In this general expression there is not, indeed, anything that would accurately designate the time, but no one can doubt that this herd been done at the time of the Reformation. In the preceding remarks it has been shown that there was a succession of faithful witnesses for the truth in the darkest periods of the church, and that to all the great points pertaining to the system of religion revealed in the gospel, as well as against the errors that prevailed, they had borne an unambiguous testimony. There is no impropriety, therefore, in fixing this period at about the time of the Reformation, for all that is necessarily implied in the language is fulfilled on such a supposition. Faithful testimony had been borne during the long period of the papal corruptions, until it could be said that their special work had been accomplished. The earlier witnesses for the truth - the Paulicians, the Waldenses, the Vaudois, and other bodies of true Christians - had borne an open testimony, from the beginning, against the various corruptions of Rome - her errors in doctrine, her idolatries in worship, and her immoralities, until in the end of the twelfth century - the same century in which, according to Mr. Gibbon, the meridian of papal greatness was attained - they proclaimed her, as we have seen, to be the antichrist of Scripture, the Harlot of the Apocalypse. Thus did they fulfil their testimony; and then was the war waged against them, with all the power of apostate Rome, to silence and to destroy them.

This war was commenced in the edicts of councils, which stigmatized the pure doctrines of the Bible, and branded those who held them as heretics. The next step was to pronounce the most dreadful anathemas on those who were regarded as heretics, which were executed in the same remorseless and exterminating manner in which they were conceived. The confessors of the truth were denied both their natural and their civil rights. They were forbidden all participation in dignities and offices; their goods were confiscated; their houses were to be razed and never more to be rebuilt; and their lands were given to those who were able to seize them. They were shut out from the solace of human converse; no one might give them shelter while living, or Christian burial when dead. At length a crusade was proclaimed against them. Preachers were sent abroad through Europe to sound the trumpet of vengeance, and to assemble the nations.

The pope wrote to all Christian princes, exhorting them to earn their pardon and win heaven rather by bearing the cross against heretics than by marching against the Saracens. The war, in particular, which was waged against the Waldenses, is well known, and the horror of its details is among the darkest pages of history. The peaceful and fertile valleys of the Vaudois were invaded, and speedily devastated with fire and sword; their towns and villages were burnt; while not one individual, in many cases, escaped to carry the tidings to the next valley. To all the cruelties of these wars, and to all the open persecutions Which were waged, are to be added the horrors of the Inquisition, as an illustration of the fact that “wars” would be made against the true witnesses for Christ. Calculations, more or less accurate, have been made of the numbers that Popery has slain; and the lowest of those calculations would confirm what is said here, on the supposition that the reference is to the papal power.

From the year 1540 to the year 1570, comprehending a space of only thirty years, no fewer than nine hundred thousand Protestants were put to death by the papists, in different countries of Europe. During the short pontificate of Paul the Fourth, which lasted only four years (1555-1559 a.d.), the Inquisition alone, on the testimony of Vergerius, destroyed a hundred and fifty thousand! When he died, the indignant populace of Rome crowded to the prison of the Inquisition, broke open the doors, and released seventeen hundred prisoners, and then set fire to the building (Bowers‘ History of the Popes, 3:319, edit. 1845). Those who perished in Germany during the wars of Charles the Fifth, and in Flanders, under the infamous Duke of Alva, are reckoned by hundreds of thousands. In France several million were destroyed in the innumerable massacres that took place in that kingdom. It has been computed that since the rise of the papacy, not fewer than fifty million of persons have been put to death on account of religion! Of this vast number the greater part have been cut off during the last six hundred years; for the papacy persecuted very little during the first half of its existence, and it was in this way that it was not until the witnesses had “completed” their testimony, or had borne full and ample testimony, that it made war against them. Compare The Seventh Vial, pp. 149-157. For a full illustration of the facts here referred to, see the notes on Daniel 7:21. There can be no reasonable doubt that Daniel and John refer to the same thing.

(b) By whom this was to be done. In Revelation 11:7, it is said that it would be by “the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit.” This is undoubtedly the same as the fourth beast of Daniel (Revelation 11:7. That is, they would gain a temporary victory over them, and the witnesses would seem for a time to be dead. The subsequent statement shows, however, that they would revive again, and would again resume their prophesying. Compare the notes on Revelation 9:20. The victory over them would appear to be complete, and the great object of the persecuting power would seem to have been gained. A few facts on this subject will show the propriety of the statement that “when they had finished,” or had fully borate their testimony, a victory was obtained over them, and that they were so silenced that it might be said they were killed. The first will be in the words of Milner, in his account of the opening of the sixteenth century (History of the Church, p. 660, ed. Edin. 1835): “The sixteenth century opened with a prospect of all others the most gloomy, in the eyes of every true Christian. Corruption both in doctrine and in practice had exceeded all bounds; and the general face of Europe, though the name of Christ was everywhere professed, presented nothing that was properly evangelical. The Waldenses were too feeble to molest the popedom; and the Hussites, divided among themselves, and worn out by a long series of contentions, were reduced to silence. Among both were found persons of undoubted godliness, but they appeared incapable of making effectual impressions on the kingdom of antichrist. The Roman pontiffs were still the uncontrolled patrons of impiety; neither the scandalous crimes of Alexander VI., nor the military ferocity of Julius II., seemed to have lessened the dominion of the court of Rome, or to have opened the eyes of people so as to induce them to make a sober investigation of the nature of true religion.”

The language of Mr Cunninghame may here be adopted as describing the state of things at the beginning of the sixteenth century: “At the commencement of the sixteenth century, Europe reposed in the deep sleep of spiritual death, under the iron yoke of the papacy. That haughty power, like the Assyrian of the prophet, said in the plenitude of his insolence, ‹My hand hath found as a nest the riches of the people; and as one gathereth eggs, I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped.‘” And in a similar manner, the writer of the article on the Reformation, in the Encyclopaedia Britannica - in a statement made, of course, with no reference to the fulfillment of this passage - thus speaks of that period: “Everything was quiet; every heretic was exterminated, and the whole Christian world supinely acquiesced in the enormous absurdities inculcated by the Roman Catholic church.” These quotations will show the propriety of the language used here by John, on the supposition that it was intended to refer to this period. No symbol would be more striking, or more appropriate to that state of things, than to represent the witnesses for the truth as overcome and slain, so that, for a time at least, they would cease to bear their testimony against the prevailing errors and corruptions. It will be remembered, also, that this occurred at a time when it might be said that they had “fulfilled” their testimony, or when, in a most solemn manner, they had protested against the existing idolatries and abominations.

III. The witnesses dead, Revelation 11:8-10. The preceding verse contains the statement that they would be overcome and killed; these verses describe their treatment when they would be dead; that is, when they would be silenced. There are several circumstances referred to here which demand notice:

(a) The “place” where it is said that this would occur - that “great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified,” Revelation 11:8. In the explanation of this verse, it has been shown that the language used here is such as would be properly employed, on the supposition that the intention was to refer to Rome, or the Roman Catholic communion. A few testimonies may serve to confirm the interpretation proposed in the notes on Revelation 11:8, and to show further the propriety of applying the appellation “Sodom” and “Egypt” to Rome. Thus among the Reformers, “Grosteste perceived that the whole scheme of the papal government was enmity with God, and exclaimed that nothing but the sword could deliver the church from the Egyptian bondage” (D‘Aubigne). Wycliffe compared the Roman Catholic priest-craft to “the accursed sorceries with which the sages of Pharaoh presumed to emulate the works of Yahweh” (LeBas‘ Wycliffe, pp. 68,147).

Luther, in a letter to Melancthon, says, “Italy is plunged, as in ancient times in Egypt, in darkness that may be felt.” And of Zuingle in Switzerland, they who longed for the light of salvation said of him, “He will be our Moses, to deliver us out of the darkness of Egypt.” Any number of passages could be found in the writings of the Reformers, and even some in the writings of Romanists themselves, in which the abominations that prevailed in Rome are compared with those in Sodom. Compare Elliott, ii. pp. 386,387, notes. Assuming this to be the correct interpretation, the meaning is, that a state of things would exist after the silencing of the witnesses which would be well represented by supposing that their dead bodies would lie unburied; that is, that there would be dishonor and indignity heaped upon them, such as is shown to the dead when they are suffered to lie unburied. No one needs to be informed that this accurately represents the state of things throughout the Roman world. To the “witnesses” thus persecuted, downtrodden, and silenced, there was the same kind of indignity shown which there is when the dead are left unburied.

(b) The exposure of their bodies, Revelation 11:8. That is, as we have seen, they would be treated with indignity, as if they were not worthy of Christian burial. Now this not only expresses what was in fact the general feeling among the papists in respect to those whom they regarded as heretics, but it had a literal fulfillment in numerous cases where the rites of Christian burial were denied them. One of the punishments most constantly decreed and constantly enforced in reference to those who were called “heretics,” was their exclusion from burial as persons excommunicated and without the pale of the church. Thus, in the third council of Lateran (1179 a.d.), Christian burial was denied to heretics; the same in the Lateran council 1215 a.d., and the papal decree of Gregory IX, 1227 a.d.; the same again in that of Pope Martin, 1422 a.d.; and the same thing was determined in the council of Constance, 1422 a.d., which ordered that the body of Wycliffe should be exhumed, and that the ashes of John Huss, instead of being buried, should be collected and thrown into the lake of Constance. It may be added that Savonarola‘s ashes were in a similar manner east into the Arno, 1498 a.d.; and that in the first bull entrusted to the cardinal Cajetan against Luther, this was one of the declared penalties, that both Luther and his partisans should be deprived of ecclesiastical burial. See Waddington, p. 717; D‘Aubigne, 1:355; Foxe, v. 677.

(c) The mutual congratulations of those who had put them to death; their exultation over them; and the expression of their joy by the interchange of presents: “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them,” etc., Revelation 11:10. The language used here is expressive of general joy and rejoicing, and there can be no doubt that such joy and rejoicing occurred at Rome whenever a new victory was obtained over those who were regarded as heretics. Patens remarks on the passage in Luke 15:32, “It was meet that we should make merry,” etc., that “when heretics are burnt, papists play at frolicsome games, celebrate feasts and banquets, sing Te Deum laudamus, and wish one another joy.” And so too Bullinger, in loco. But there was special rejoicing, which accorded entirely with the prediction here, at the close of the sessions of the Lateran council 1517 a.d., in the splendor of the dinners and fates given by the cardinals. The scene on the closing of the council is thus described by Dr. Waddington: “The pillars of the papal strength seemed visible and palpable; and Rome surveyed them with exultation from her golden palaces. The assembled princes and prelates separated from the council with complacency, confidence, and mutual congratulations on the peace, unity, and purity of the church.” Still, while this was true of that particular council, it should be added that the language used here is general, and may be regarded as descriptive of the usual joy which would be felt, and which was felt at Rome, in view of the efforts made to suppress heresy in the church.

(d) The “time” during which the witnesses would remain “dead.” This, it is said Revelation 11:9, would be for “three days and an half,” during which time they would “not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves”; that is, there would be a course of conduct, and a state of things, as if the dead were left unburied. This time, as we have seen (notes on Revelation 11:9), means probably three years and a half; and in the application of this we are to look for some striking event relating to the “witnesses,” when they should have “finished their testimony,” or when they had fully borne their testimony, that would fully correspond with this. Now it happens that there was a point of time, just previous to the Reformation, when it was supposed that a complete victory was gained for over over those who were regarded as “heretics,” but who were in fact the true witnesses for Christ. That point of time was during the session of the council of Lateran, which was assembled 1513 a.d., and which continued its sessions to May 16,1517.

In the ninth session of this council a remarkable proclamation was made, indicating that all opposition to the papal power had now ceased. The scene is thus described by Mr. Elliott (ii. 396,397): “The orator of the session ascended the pulpit; and, amidst the applause of the assembled council, uttered that memorable exclamation of triumph - an exclamation which, notwithstanding the long multiplied anti-heretical decrees of popes and councils, notwithstanding the yet more multiplied anti-heretical crusades and inquisitorial fires, was never, I believe, pronounced before, and certainly never since - ‹Jam nemo reclamat, nullus obsistit ‘ - ‹There is an end of resistance to the papal rule and religion; opposers there exist no more:‘ and again, ‹The whole body of Christendom is now seen to be subjected to its Head, that is, to Thee.‘” This occurred May 5,1514. It is, probably, from this “time” that the three days and a half, or the three years and a half, during which the “dead bodies of the witnesses remained unburied,” and were exposed to public gaze and derision, are to be reckoned.

But it was with remarkable accuracy that a period of three years and a half occurred from the time when this proclamation was made, and when it was supposed that these “witnesses” were “dead,” to the time when the voice of living witnesses for the truth was heard again, as if those witnesses that had been silenced had come to life again; and “not in the compass of the whole ecclesiastical history of Christendom, except in the case of the death and resurrection of Christ himself, is there any such example of the sudden, mighty, and triumphant resuscitation of his church from a state of deep depression, as was, just after the separation of the Lateran council, exhibited in the protesting voice of Luther, and the glorious Reformation.” All accounts agree in placing the beginning of the Reformation in 1517 ad. See Bowers‘ History of the Popes, iii. 295; Murdock‘s Mosheim, iii. 11, note. The effect of this, as compared with the supposed suppression of heresy, or the death of the witnesses, and as an illustration of the passage before us, will be seen from the following language of a writer in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “Everything was quiet; every heretic exterminated; and the whole Christian world supinely acquiescing in the enormous absurdities inculcated in the Roman Catholic church, when, in 1517, the empire of superstition received its first attack from Luther.” Or, in the language of Mr. Cunninghame, “At the commencement of the sixteenth century, Europe reposed in the deep sleep of spiritual death, under the iron yoke of the papacy. There was none that moved the wing, or opened the mouth, or peeped: when suddenly in one of the universities of Germany the voice of an obscure monk was heard, the sound of which rapidly filled Saxony, Germany, and Europe itself, shaking the very foundations of the papal power, and arousing people from the lethargy of ages.”

The remarkable coincidence in regard to time - supposing that three years and a half are intended - will be seen from the following statement. The day of the ninth session of the Lateran council, when the proclamation above referred to was made, was, as we have seen, May 5,1514; the day of Luther‘s posting up his theses at Wittemberg (the well-known epoch of the beginning of the Reformation), was October 31,1517. “Now, from May 5,1514, to May 5,1517, are three years; and from May 5,1517, to October 31 of the same year, 1517, the reckoning in days is as follows:

d May

d 5-31- 27

d August

d 31- 31

d

d June

d 30- 30

d September

d 30- 30

d

d July

d 31- 31

d October

d 31- 31

d

d

In all - 180, or half of 360 days, that is, half a year; so that the whole interval is precisely, to a day, three and a half years” (Elliott, 2:402,403). But, without insisting on this very minute accuracy, anyone can see, and all must be prepared to admit, that, on the supposition that it was intended by the Spirit of God to refer to these events, this is the language which would be used; or, in other words, nothing would better represent this state of things than the declaration that the witnesses would be “slain,” and would be suffered to “remain unburied” during this period of time, and that at the end of this period, a public testimony would be borne again for the truth, and against the abominations of the papacy, as if “the Spirit of life from God should again enter into them, and they should stand upon their feet,” Revelation 11:11.

IV. The resurrection of the witnesses, Revelation 11:11. Little need be added on this point, after what has Been said on the previous portions of the chapter. We have seen (notes on Revelation 11:11) that this must mean that a state of things would occur which would be well represented by their being restored to life again; and if the previous illustrations are correct, there will be little difficulty in admitting that this had its fulfillment in the commencement of the Reformation. As to the time when they would revive, we have seen above how remarkably this accords with the commencement of the Reformation in 1517; and as to the correspondence of this with what is here symbolized, nothing would better represent this than to describe the witnesses as coming to life again. It was as if “the Spirit of life from God entered into” those who had been slain, and “they stood upon their feet” again, and again bore their solemn testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus. For:

(a) it was the same kind of testimony - testimony to the same truths, and against the same evils - which had been borne by the long array of the confessors and martyrs that had been put to death. The truths proclaimed by the Reformers on the great doctrines of grace were the same which had been professed by the Waldenses, by Wycliffe, by John Huss, and others; and the abominations of image-worship, of the invocations of the saints, of the arrogant claims of the pope, of the doctrine of human merit in justification, of the corruptions of the monastic systems, of the celibacy of the clergy, of the doctrine of purgatory, against which they testified, were the same.

(b) That testimony was borne by people of the same spirit and character. In what would now be called personal religious experience there was the closest resemblance between the Waldenses and the other “witnesses” before the Reformation, and the Reformers themselves - between the piety of Huss, Jerome of Prague, Wycliffe, and Peter Waldo; and Luther, Melancthon, Zwingli, Calvin, Bucer, Latimer, Ridley, and Knox. They were men who belonged to the same spiritual communion, and who had been moulded and fashioned in their spiritual character by the same power from on high.

(c) The testimony was borne with the same fearlessness, and in the midst of the same kind of persecution and opposition. All that occurred was as if the same “witnesses” had been restored to life and again lifted up their voice in the cause for which they had been persecuted and slain. The propriety of this language, as applied to these events, may be further seen from expressions used by the “witnesses” themselves, or by the persecuted friends of the truth. “And I,” said John Huss, speaking of the gospel-preachers who should appear after he had suffered at the stake, “and I, awaking as it were from the dead, and rising from the grave, shall rejoice with exceeding great joy.” Again, in 1523, after the Reformation had broken out, we find Pope Hadrian saying, in a missive addressed to the Diet at Nuremberg, “The heretics Huss and Jerome are now alive again in the person of Martin Luther” (The Seventh Vial, p. 190).

V. The ascension of the witnesses, Revelation 11:12; “And they ascended to heaven in a cloud.” We have seen (notes on this verse) that this means that events would take place as if they should ascend in triumph to heaven, or which should be properly symbolized by such an ascent to heaven. All that is here represented would be fulfilled by a triumph of the truth under the testimony of the witnesses, or by its becoming gloriously established in view of the nations of the earth, as if the witnesses ascended publicly and were received to the presence of God in heaven. All this was fulfilled in the various influences that served to establish and confirm the Reformation, and to introduce the great principles of religious freedom, giving to that work ultimate triumph, and showing that it had the favor of God. This would embrace the whole series of events after the Reformation was begun, by which its triumph was secure, or by which that state of things was gradually introduced which now exists, in which the true religion is free from persecution, in which it is advancing into so many parts of the world where the papacy once had the control, and in which, with so little molestation, and with such an onward march toward ultimate victory, it is extending its conquests over the earth. The triumphant ascent of the witnesses to heaven, and the public proof of the divine favor thus shown to them, would be an appropriate symbol of this.

VI. The consequences of the resurrection, ascension, and triumph of the witnesses, Revelation 11:13. These are said to be, that there would be “in the same hour a great earthquake; that a tenth part of the city would fall; that seven thousand would be slain, and that the remainder would be affrighted and would give glory to the God of heaven.”

(a) The earthquake. This, as we have seen (notes on Revelation 11:13), denotes that there would be a shock or a convulsion in the world, so that the powers of the earth would be shaken, as cities, trees, and hills are in the shocks of an earthquake. There can be little difficulty in applying this to the shock produced throughout Europe by the boldness of Luther and his fellow-laborers in the Reformation. No events have ever taken place in history that would be better compared with the shock of an earthquake than those which occurred when the long-established governments of Europe, and especially the domination of the papacy, so long consolidated and confirmed, were shaken by the Reformation. In the suddenness of the attack made on the existing state of things, in the commotions which were produced, in the overthrow of so many governments, there was a striking resemblance to the convulsions caused by an earthquake. So Dr. Lingard speaks of the Reformation: “That religious revolution which astonished and convulsed the nations of Europe.” Nothing would better represent the convulsions caused in Germany, Switzerland, Prussia, Saxony, Sweden, Denmark, and England by the Reformation than an earthquake.

(b) The fate of a part of the city: “And the tenth part of the city fell.” That is, as we have seen (notes on Revelation 11:13), of what is represented by the city, to wit, the Roman power. The fall of a “tenth part” would denote the fall of a considerable portion of that power; as if, in an earthquake, a tenth part of a city should be demolished. This would well represent what occurred in the Reformation, when so considerable a portion of the colossal papal power suddenly fell away, and the immediate effect on the portions of Europe where the Reformation prevailed, as compared with the whole of that power, might well be represented by the fall of the length part of a city. It is true that a much larger proportion ultimately fell off from Rome, so that now the number of Romanists and Protestants is not far from being equal; but in the first convulsion - in what passed before the eye in vision as represented by the earthquake - that proportion would not be improperly represented by the tenth part of a city. The idea is, that the sudden destruction of a tenth part of a great city by an earthquake would well represent the convulsion at the breaking out of the Reformation, by which a considerable portion of the papal power would fall.

(c) Those who were slain, Revelation 11:13; “And in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand.” That is, as we have seen (notes on Revelation 11:13), a calamity would occur to this vast papal power, as if this number should be killed in the earthquake, or which would be well represented by that. In other words, a portion of those who were represented by the city would be slain, which, compared with the whole number, would bear about the saint proportion which seven thousand would to the usual dwellers in such a city. As the numbers in the city are not mentioned, it is impossible to form any exact estimate of the numbers that would be slain on this supposition. But if we suppose that the city contained a hundred thousand, then the proportion would be something like a fourteenth part; but if it were half a million, then it would be about a seventieth part; if it were a million, then it would be about a hundred and forty-fifth part; and, as we may suppose that John, in these visions, had his eye on Rome as it was in the age in which he lived, we may, if we can ascertain what the size of Rome was at that period, take that estimate as the basis of the interpretation.

Mr. Gibbon (2:251,252) has endeavored to form an estimate of the probable number of the inhabitants of ancient Rome; and, after enumerating all the circumstances which throw any light on the subject, says: “If we adopt the same average which, under similar circumstances, has been found applicable to Paris, and indifferently allow about twenty-five persons for each house, of every degree, we may fairly estimate the inhabitants of Rome at twelve hundred thousand.” Allowing this to be the number of the inhabitants of the city, then the number here specified that was slain - seven thousand - would be about the one hundred and seventieth part, or one in one hundred and seventy. This would, according to the purport of the vision here, represent the number that would perish in the convulsion denoted by the earthquake - a number which, though it would be large in the aggregate, is not probably too large in fact as referring to the number of persons that perished in papal Europe in the wars that were consequent on the Reformation.

(d) The only other circumstance in this representation is, that “the remnant were affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven,” Revelation 11:13. That is, as we have soon (notes on Revelation 11:13), fear and consternation came upon them, and they stood in awe at what was occurring, and acknowledged the power of God in the changes that took place. How well this was fulfilled in what occurred in the Reformation, it is hardly necessary to state. The events which then took place had every mark of being under the divine hand, and were such as to fill the minds of people with awe and to teach them to recognize the hand of God. The power which tore asunder that immense ecclesiastical establishment, that had so long held the whole of Europe in servitude; which dissolved the charm which had so long held kings, and princes, and people spell-bound; which rent away forever so large a portion of the papal dominions; which led kings to separate themselves from the control to which they had been so long subjected, and which emancipated the human mind, and diffused abroad the great principles of civil and religious liberty, was well adapted to fill the mind with awe, and to lead people to recognize the hand and the agency of God; and if it be admitted that the Holy Spirit in this passage meant to refer to these events, it cannot be doubted that the language used here is such as is well adapted to describe the effects produced on the minds of people at large.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-11.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

The second Woe is past: behold, the third Woe cometh quickly.

Most commentators hold to the view expressed by Eller that, "The vision has brought us through the fortunes of the church to the end-time, and up to the end itself ... No. 7 is the end."[81] Our view does not correspond with this. We have already gone through the end in the Second Woe; and exactly like the seventh seal, this seventh trumpet does not depict any earthly development whatever. Why then should it be called a Woe at all? Because it dramatizes the eternal consequences and the irrevocable finality of the rejection of God on the part of rebellious people; and that is indeed "Woe" enough. "The significance of the judgment day (already past) with respect to God and Christ, and both believers and unbelievers is pointed out."[82] Plummer supported this view thus:

This verse brings us to the end of the world, just as the sixth seal led to the same termination; and both are followed by the seventh which gives a reference to the eternal peace of heaven.[83]

[81] Vernard Eller, op. cit., p. 121.

[82] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 159.

[83] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 293.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

The second woe is past,.... Not in John's time, only in a visionary way; the meaning is, that the second woe trumpet, which is the sixth, will now have done sounding, when the four angels, bound in the river Euphrates, shall have been loosed, and they, with their horsemen, shall have done what they were designed to do; when the two witnesses shall have been slain, and are raised again, and ascended to heaven; and the things attending, or following thereon, as the earthquake, and slaughter, and the conversions of men, are accomplished.

And behold the third woe cometh quickly; immediately, upon the passing of the other; namely, the sounding of the seventh trumpet, as follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

26 The second woe is past; [and], behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

(26) He passes to the second history, which is the second part of this chapter. John calls these the second and third woe, see (Revelation 9:12).
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

The second woe — that under the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:12-21), including also the prophecy, Revelation 11:1-13: Woe to the world, joy to the faithful, as their redemption draweth nigh.

the third woe cometh quickly — It is not mentioned in detail for the present, until first there is given a sketch of the history of the origination, suffering, and faithfulness of the Church in a time of apostasy and persecution. Instead of the third woe being detailed, the grand consummation is summarily noticed, the thanksgiving of the twenty-four elders in heaven for the establishment of Christ‘s kingdom on earth, attended with the destruction of the destroyers of the earth.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-11.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Is past (απηλτενapēlthen). Second aorist active indicative of απερχομαιaperchomai See Revelation 9:12 for this use and Revelation 21:1, Revelation 21:4. The second woe (η ουαι η δευτεραhē ouai hē deutera) is the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:12) with the two episodes attached (10:1-11:13).

The third woe (η ουαι η τριτηhē ouai hē tritē feminine as in Revelation 9:12) is the seventh trumpet, which now “cometh quickly” (ερχεται ταχυerchetai tachu), for which phrase see Revelation 2:16; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20. Usually pointing to the Parousia.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-11.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The second woe is past — The butchery made by the Saracens ceased about the year847, when their power was so broken by Charles the Great that they never recovered it.

Behold, the third woe cometh quickly — Its prelude came while the Roman see took all opportunities of laying claim to its beloved universality, and enlarging its power and grandeur. And in the year755 the bishop of Rome became a secular prince, by king Pepin's giving him the exarchate of Lombardy. The beginning of the third woe itself stands, Revelation 12:12.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-11.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

The second woe; that is, the second of the three woes referred to, Revelation 9:12, and represented by the sounding of the three last trumpets. The account of the first is contained Revelation 9:1-11, and of the second from Revelation 9:13-11:13. Some commentators refer the announcements made under the three woe trumpets, as they are called, viz., the last three of the seven, to events connected with the destruction of Jerusalem; while, on the other hand, most Protestant writers consider them as referring to the history of the Roman church. On this latter supposition, the witnesses represent the succession of the true servants of God, supposed to have continued in an unbroken line through the ages of superstition, preserving the image of true piety in the world; and that the slaying of the witnesses denotes some temporary triumph of the Roman power over the interests of true Christianity, which is yet to come. The time when it is to be expected, they infer from Revelation 11:2,3, will be in twelve hundred and sixty years from the time when the Roman church fairly entered upon its career; which epoch they place variously between A. D. 600 and 750. This would bring the events denoted by the slaying of the witnesses, between A. D. 1860 and 2010.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-11.html. 1878.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

14.] Transitional. The second woe is past (see on ch. Revelation 9:12): behold, the third woe cometh quickly (the episodical visions of ch. Revelation 10:1-11, Revelation 11:1-13, are finished: and the prophecy recurs to the plagues of the sixth trumpet, ch. Revelation 9:13-21. These formed the second woe: and upon these the third is to follow. But in actual relation, and in detail, it does not immediately follow. Instead of it, we have voices of thanksgiving in heaven, for that the hour of God’s kingdom and vengeance is come. The Seer is not yet prepared to set forth the nature of this taking of the kingdom, this reward to God’s servants, this destruction of the destroyers of the earth. Before he does so, another series of prophetic visions must be given, regarding not merely the dwellers on the earth, but the Church herself, her glory and her shame, her faithfulness and her apostasy. When this series has been given, then shall be declared in its fulness the manner and the process of the time of the end. And consequently as at the end of the vision of the seals, so here also. The sixth seal gave the immediately preceding signs of the great day—we were shewn in anticipatory episodes, the gathering of the elect and the multitude before the throne, and then the veil was dropt upon that series of visions and another began. And now God’s avenging judgments on the earth, in answer to the prayers of His saints, having reached their final point of accomplishment, and the armies of heaven having given solemn thanks for the hour being come, again the veil is dropt, and again a new procession of visions begins from the beginning. The third woe, so soon to come, is in narration deferred until all the various underplots, so to speak, of God’s Providence have been brought onward to a point ready for the great and final dénouement).

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/revelation-11.html. 1863-1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

Ver. 14. The second woe is past] Visionally past, not eventually.

The third woe] Woe to the wicked, but joy to the saints. At once the sun rises upon Zoar, and the fire falls down upon Sodom. Abraham stands upon the hill, and sees the cities burning.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-11.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

An account is here given of the angel's sounding the seventh trumpet, at the beginning of Antichrist's ruin and downfall; St. John heard great acclamations and shoutings in heaven for the victory which Christ by his witnesses had gotten over him, saying, The kingdoms of this world, that is, several kingdoms, or main bodies of kingdoms and nations, are now brought in to acknowledge Christ for their sovereign and lawgiver, who did not so before: but whereas formerly they owned another master, namely, antichrist, now they do especially own and acknowledge Christ, by professing to believe in him, and be coming a pure church to him; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Even under antichrist's reign and tyranny Christ had a kingdom; but he will have a more visible kingdom in the world, and which shall continue without any eclipse by antichrist, or any other, as it suffered before.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-11.html. 1700-1703.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 11:14. οὐαὶ δευτέρα, the second woe) This, according to D. Lange, designates the period of the rage of antichrist, consisting of 42 months. Comm. Ap. f. 221. But the four angels in the Euphrates plainly brought on the second woe. See Erkl. Offenb. p. 73, etc.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-11.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The second woe is past; that is, here endeth the misery that is like to come upon the world in that period of time which shall follow the sounding of the sixth trumpet.

And, behold, the third woe cometh quickly: the third woe signifies those calamities which should come in that period of time prophesied of by the sounding of the seventh trumpet; this makes a late learned author think that all that which went before, viz. the Gentiles treading down the outward court, the slaying of the witnesses, and their resuscitation, must be under the sixth trumpet; which period endeth not until the church’s enemies be ready to be destroyed; whose destruction is afterwards opened to us in the angels pouring out their vials.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-11.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Второе горе Шестая труба (см. пояснение к 9:12). Перерыв между шестой и седьмой трубами закончился (см. пояснение к 10:1). Покаяние Израиля вскоре возвестит вступление в Тысячелетнее Царство (Деян. 3:19-21; Рим. 11:25, 26). Но сначала придет время последнего завершающего суда.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-11.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘The second woe is past. Behold the third woe comes quickly.’

In Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20 it is Christ Who ‘comes quickly’, and we find here that the same applies to the third woe. For that final woe for mankind is indeed the arrival of the Judge of all the earth, as Heaven now declares (Revelation 11:18). While it is a joy for the people of God, for those who dwell on earth it is the final woe, and they can only plead to the mountains and the rocks to hide them from the wrath of Him Who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16).

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-11.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

5. The end of the second woe11:14

This verse is transitional (cf. Revelation 9:12). It refers to the end of the second woe (the sixth trumpet, Revelation 9:21) and ties this judgment in with the third woe (the seventh trumpet). It clarifies that God interjected the revelations of the mighty angel and the little scroll ( Revelation 10:1-11) and the two witnesses ( Revelation 11:1-13) into the chronological sequence of trumpet judgments. He did so to give supplementary, encouraging information. The final woe will follow "quickly" (Gr. tachy, "soon," cf. Revelation 2:16; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:20), on the heels of the second woe.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-11.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 11:14. The second woe is past, behold the third woe cometh quickly. At chap. Revelation 8:13 mention was made of three Woes. At chap. Revelation 9:12 the first Woe was said to be past. The sixth trumpet then sounded and was continued to chap. Revelation 9:21. From chap. Revelation 10:1 to chap. Revelation 11:13 we have had consolatory visions, and now in the verse before us the second Woe is declared to be past. The object of the verse, therefore, is to remind us of what we might perhaps have forgotten, that the second woe had closed some time before, but that nothing shall now interrupt the sounding of the seventh trumpet on the coming of the third Woe, he triumph of the Church. In the meantime it is enough to say that the triumph of the Church implies the overthrow of her enemies, and that the greater and more glorious the one the more disastrous and humiliating must be the other. Particulars in these verses still more strikingly illustrating the character of a Woe will be noticed as we proceed with the exposition.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-11.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

visions belong to the second woe, and the third woe is at hand. (Witham) --- Second woe; the persecution of antichrist. --- Third woe, or the day of judgment, is near at hand. (Pastorini)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-11.html. 1859.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

Once the righteous have been raised, the end will not be delayed, unlike what Premillennialists would have us to believe.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghc/revelation-11.html. 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

second. One of the three in Revelation 8:13.

and. Omit.

behold. App-133.

cometh = is coming.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

The second woe - under the sixth trumpet, Revelation 9:12-21; including also Revelation 11:1-13 : Woe to the world, joy to the faithful, as their redemption draweth nigh.

The third woe cometh quickly - not mentioned in detail, until there is given a sketch of the origination, suffering, and faithfulness of the Church in apostasy and persecution. Instead of the third woe, the grand consummation is summarily noticed-the thanksgiving of the 24 elders in heaven for the establishment of Christ's kingdom on earth, attended with the destruction of the destroyers of the earth.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(14) The second woe . . .—Translate, The second woe is past. (Omit the word “and,” which weakens the proclamation.) The eagle flying in mid-heaven had announced the three woe trumpets. A voice now reminds us that two of these had passed, just as at the close of the fifth trumpet a voice proclaimed that the first woe was past. We must remember, too, that the angel which descended from heaven declared that the end should not be delayed beyond the sounding of the seventh trumpet; the last woe trumpet, therefore, is the trumpet which will usher in the closing woe and the finishing of the mystery of God. Whatever view we adopt concerning the interpretation of the Apocalypse must be governed by the plainly declared fact that the seventh trumpet brings us to the very end. The next verse only serves to make this plainer.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
8:13; 9:12; 15:1; 16:1-21
Reciprocal: Song of Solomon 2:11 - GeneralEzekiel 2:10 - lamentations;  Revelation 12:12 - Woe;  Revelation 16:12 - upon

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-11.html.

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

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.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-11.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 11:14

Revelation 11:14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.

When this

second woe (which was to happen to the inhabiters of the earth) { Revelation 8:13} is past

then we are to come to the period of the second principal vision, to with, of the seven trumpets, whereof six have been sounded by their respective angels; and the seventh angel is ready to sound: whereupon quickly followeth the third woe.

Behold the third woe cometh, tacu, quickly. That Isaiah, without any delay { Matthew 5:25} without any intermission of time { Matthew 28:7} even as soon as the second woe is past, behold the third woe cometh speedily, suddenly and quickly. This third woe trumpet must be sounded by the seventh angel. The fifth angel sounded, and one woe passed. { Revelation 9:1-12} The sixth angel sounded, and the second woe passed. { Revelation 9:13; Revelation 11:14} And when the seventh angel begins to sound there shall be time no longer (as Christ hath sworn) { Revelation 10:5-7} unto the Roman anti-Christian beast, for then the forty two months of his reigning power { Revelation 13:1-5} will be expired; then the thousand two hundred and three score prophetical days of Christ sackcloth witnesses { Revelation 11:3} will be fully ended, and then the kingdoms of this world will successfully, one after another, become the Kingdom of Christ, as here followeth in Revelation 11:15; and then this third woe follows immediately, which containeth the third principal vision, to wit, the seven vials of the wrath of God, which are the seven last plagues, that are to be poured forth upon the Roman anti-Christian kingdom, mystical Babylon, the beast, the whore, and the false prophet. { Revelation 14:8-11; Revelation 15:1-7; Revelation 16:1-10; Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:8; Revelation 18:21}

Now, although I have a very honourable esteem for those godly and learned expositors of this Book of the Revelation, who have declared their judgments, and some reasons thereof; viz. that several of those seven vials have been poured out upon mystical Babylon, and upon the kingdom of the beast; yet, notwithstanding all that they have said, I do humbly confess, that I am not of their minds, but do rather think, that none of those seven vials are yet poured out. And the scripture grounds, which I humbly submit to the judgment of the judicious reader, for my opinion in this matter, are, first, because the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in Heaven, is not yet opened; out of which temple the seven angels must come, who are to pour out those seven vials of the wrath of God. { Revelation 15:5-7} The opening of the temple, is the restoring the Church of God on earth unto its apostolical constitutions, and primitive purity of worship, and spiritual gifts, and unto Christ's ecclesiastical government, which is not yet done.

Secondly, because the second woe is not yet past; and therefore the third woe (which is the seven vials of the wrath of God, as hath been fully proved) is not yet come. { Revelation 11:14} That the second woe is not yet past, is evident; for Christ's prophetical witnesses are not ascended, nor the seven thousand men of name are not yet slain by the earthquake.

Thirdly, because the seventh angel hath not yet begun to sound. { Revelation 11:15} For then, and not till then, those vials of Gods wrath and last plagues are to be poured forth one after another, as is revealed in the whole16th chapter of this prophecy. As the seventh seal ushered in the seven trumpets { Revelation 8:1-6} so the seventh angel sounding, ushers in the seven vials, and brings in the dispensation of the Kingdom of Christ (which is not yet come) and the opening of the Temple of God in Heaven (which is not yet done). { Revelation 11:15-19} And out of the temple shall come the seven angels, having those seven last plagues. { Revelation 15:5-7} And after all these things (then, and not till then) the seven angels are commanded by a great voice from heaven, saying to them, go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. { Revelation 16:1-2}

Fourth, because these last plagues come upon mystical Babylon in one day, death, and mourning and famine; and she shall be utterly burnt with fire: For strong is the Lord that judgeth her. (Compare Revelation 17:1-16 with Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:5; Revelation 18:8; Revelation 18:21). And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all; kai ou mh eureyh eti and shall not be found thenceforth, after that, at all. A great millstone cast into the sea, doth not, cannot sometimes sink and sometimes swim; but always sinks even to the bottom, and never swims, no, never riseth again at all: Song of Solomon, whensoever mystical Babylon is once cast down and fallen, by the pouring out those vials of Gods last plagues upon her, she shall never, no never rise more, but be made utterly desolate for evermore. { Revelation 18:8; Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:21}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-11.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Seventh Trumpet

Ch. Revelation 11:14. The second woe is past; behold, the third woe comes quickly.

We have now in chap. Revelation 11:15-19 the seventh trumpet, the third woe. The trumpet of the seventh angel sounds, and the blessed in heaven triumph, that now the universal dominion of their God and his Christ appears immediately in prospect, Revelation 11:15. The heavenly representatives of the church, the four and twenty elders, give thanks to the Lord, that he now comes in his kingdom to execute judgment on the ungodly world, as also on the dead (raised to life again), and to reward the righteous, Revelation 11:16-18. The catastrophe follows; the confidence of the blessed and of the elders is not put to shame; the strong angel, who in ch. Revelation 10:6-7, had declared, that at the sounding of the seventh trumpet the completion of the mystery of God should take place without delay, keeps his word, Revelation 11:19.

The conclusion of the vision of the seven trumpets points back to its beginning. In ch. Revelation 8:3-4, the prayers of the saints call for the judgment of God on the world; here the saints give thanks that the wrath of the Lord has come. In ch. Revelation 8:5 voices, and lightnings, and thunders, and earthquakes, come forth as a symbolical announcement, that the world's judgment is approaching; in Revelation 11:19 this symbolical announcement goes into complete fulfilment: amid lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and earthquakes, and great hail, the ungodly world is brought to ruin.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-11.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

II. THE SEVENTH (third Woe) TRUMPET SOUNDS; WARS OF CHRIST AND ANTICHRIST, Revelation 11:14.

14.The second woe—The three woes, announced in Revelation 8:13, are the last three of the seven judgments of the seven trumpets.

Quickly— By a rapid movement of the apocalyptic panorama, symbolizing that the fulfilment comes with a divine rapidity.

The seventh trumpet covers the entire period of consecutive historic prophecy of the book. It forms with its Angelophany and new prophetic inauguration in chap. 10, and its outline and prelude in this eleventh chapter, the entire Third Part of the book. It most properly opens with the present solemn announcements in heaven and earth. The true, clear, divine story is now to be told.

Heavenly voices chant a triumphal anticipation of its contents, 15-19.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 11:14". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-11.html. 1874-1909.