Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 6:15

Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains;
New American Standard Version

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Nave's Topical Bible - Dens;   Despondency;   Escape;   Judgment;   Wicked (People);   The Topic Concordance - Day of the Lord;   Earthquakes;   Seals;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Caves;   Riches;   Rocks;  
Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Anger;   Apocalyptic;   Darkness;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Chief;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Beast;   Captain;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Arts;   Captain;   Cave ;   Chiliarch ;   Eschatology;   Mount Mountain ;   Mount, Mountain ;   Rock ;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Cave;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Engedi;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ascension;   Bondman;   Captain;   Freedman;   Number;   Revelation of John:;  
Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for December 30;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The kings of the earth, etc. - All the secular powers who had endeavored to support the pagan worship by authority, influence, riches, political wisdom, and military skill; with every bondman - all slaves, who were in life and limb addicted to their masters or owners.

And every freeman - Those who had been manumitted, commonly called freedmen, and who were attached, through gratitude, to the families of their liberators. All hid themselves - were astonished at the total overthrow of the heathen empire, and the revolution which had then taken place.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And the kings of the earth, and the princes, and the chief captains, and the rich, and the strong, and every bondman and freeman, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains; and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of their wrath is come; and who is able to stand?

It is the presence of the Lamb in this scene that separates it from all similar prophecy in the Old Testament. Furthermore, the total assembly of all citizens of earth does the same thing. Read Matthew 24:29,30 in connection with this; and it is starkly clear that the same Great Day is in both prophecies. That a visible coming of Christ is taught here is certain, because the unbelieving populations would never acknowledge the existence of the Lamb of God on the Throne on the basis of any other evidence than his appearance in glory.

Like many others, Caird rejects the idea of the actual end of the world being depicted here on the basis that, "The inhabitants of the earth would hardly still be hiding and calling to the mountains to fall on them."[55] Despite this objection, Christ himself represented the great judgment (Matthew 25) as a time when there would actually be dialogue between the King and both the saved and the lost, and all of this upon the very occasion of their being assigned their eternal destiny. A similar thing is in view here. Therefore, far from being an objection to interpreting this as the final Great Day, the cries of earth's inhabitants is a proof of that very thing, because it identifies the occasion with that of Matthew 25.

The thing that is actually in the way of many interpreters accepting this as the final judgment day was stated thus by Love, "One would have difficulty with later scenes in Revelation,"[56] in which the world still stands. Therefore, it is the understanding of Revelation as some kind of in-sequence story of the earth that prevents many from understanding this reference to the judgment. When all the "judgment references" are understood as successive references to the "same day," the difficulty disappears.

Kings ... captains ... princes ... rich ... strong ... Six classes of mankind are mentioned, but they stand for all people. "Under the symbolism of these six classes, John sees the entire godless world seized with sudden fear."[57] Fear of what? They do not fear death, because death is what they are praying for. It is the Lamb of God whose sudden appearance in glory has signaled the close of earth's probation. Instantaneously, there's not an infidel anywhere in the universe anymore. It is this colossal scene that requires our understanding of it as the Second Advent and judgment. Just how the accompanying language of stars falling, mountains moving, sun being darkened, etc., must be interpreted, we do not pretend to know; but one thing is sure:

God will bring his purpose to pass, and he will do so though it means that this world order, and indeed this whole mighty universe, pass away.[58]

The essential reality underlying all the symbolism of these verses is simply, "The terror which John foresaw when God would invade the earth when time was coming to an end."[59] "The swift agony of being crushed to death is preferable to being left face to face with the indignation of an outraged God."[60]

Of all the incredible postulations advanced by scholars regarding the meaning of this passage, that of Caird wins the prize. He wrote:

There is no need to find a place in John's theology for any concept of the wrath of the Lamb! It is not a phrase which he (John) uses, but one on the lips of the terrified inhabitants of earth![61]

Caird went on to insist that the wicked of earth are such that a lie has become their second nature. Therefore, this must be a lie which they speak on the occasion envisioned here. Our view is that the wrath of the Lamb is central to the theology of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and of all apostles of Jesus Christ. As for the inhabitants of earth shouting another lie at the Second Advent, who could believe such a thought? It will be the supreme moment of truth for all mankind; and the terrors of the occasion for the wicked will in no sense be merely psychological, nor the result of some "paranoiac delusion to which they have surrendered themselves."[62]

The great day of their wrath ... Any theology which fails to take into account the ultimate wrath of God against wickedness and injustice is a false theology. The so-called theology of our own times has reduced God to the status of an overindulgent grandfather image who is too lazy, too indifferent, or too full of love to punish anything or anybody, no matter what crimes of lust and blood may rage under his very nose. Subscribers to this brand of theology are to be identified absolutely with those who, in this great passage, suddenly behold the truth and cry for the rocks and mountains to hide them.

This glimpse of the Second Advent and final judgment is brief and fragmentary, as must needs be with all such glimpses; but the picture will be filled out in subsequent chapters of Revelation where are to be found other visions of the Great Day. These successive presentations of that ultimate day of wrath and glory actually provide the most logical and convenient divisions of this complicated prophecy.

The events of Revelation 7, about to be prophesied, are actually prior in the time sequence to this judgment scene. "It is isolated in form and content from its context."[63] The whole of Revelation 7 may therefore be understood as a parenthetic interruption of the terrible judgment scene for the purpose of comforting the faithful. More about this apparent dislocation of Revelation 7 will be given in the notes on it; but we are including here Moffatt's words on the design of it:

It is a consoling rhapsody or rapture designed to relieve the tension by lifting the eyes of the faithful over the foam and the rocks of the rapids on which they were tossing to the calm, sunlit pool of bliss. The parenthesis consists of two visions, one on earth, one in heaven.[64]

[55] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 92.

[56] Julian Price Love, Layman's Bible Commentary, Revelation (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1961), p. 69.

[57] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 131.

[58] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, Vol. 20, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 112.

[59] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 15.

[60] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 394.

[61] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 92.

[62] Ibid.

[63] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 394.

[64] Ibid.

Revelation 7:1


The visions of this chapter actually relate to conditions with God's church during the entire period of the seals and leading up to the final judgment depicted at the end of Revelation 6. They are introduced here retrospectively for the encouragement of the saints. The first vision (Revelation 7:1-8) shows their protection and safety during the calamities and misfortunes of their earthly pilgrimage, and during the divine visitations of God's wrathful judgments upon the wicked. The second (Revelation 7:9-17) shows their state of bliss in the presence of God himself. Of course, no Christian has yet entered such a state of bliss; but the vision of how it will be at last is a great comfort indeed to Christians suffering the outrages of a vicious persecution. In the sense of this bliss depicted here as a state of the saints in eternity, this part of the chapter is proleptic (anticipating the future); but with reference to the occurrence of this vision in John's sequence it is retrospective, actually pertaining to the hope available to the Christians suffering under the six seals.

The biggest problems for the commentators wrestling with the meaning of this chapter are: (1) the identity of the two groups, the 144,000, and the innumerable multitude; (2) the meaning of their being "sealed"; and (3) what is meant by the great tribulation. Fortunately for those who really know their New Testament, none of these problems presents any great difficulty. We shall determine the answer to these questions before beginning the exegesis of the chapter.

(1) The 144,000 are identified as "servants of God" (Revelation 7:3), and the innumerable multitude are called "followers of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14); therefore, these could not be two different classes of persons but the same group. God does not have any servants who are not also followers of the Lamb. The notion that the 144,000 are literally fleshly Jews can exist only in those who are unaware that the church of Jesus Christ is the true and only Israel of God, beside which there is no other. The New Testament witness to this truth is extensive and overwhelming. All of Romans chapters Romans 9-11; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9,10; Romans 2:28,29; Galatians 3:29; 6:16; Philippians 3:3; James 1:1, etc., leave no doubt at all on this question. There is also the mountain fact that Christ himself referred to his church as "the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:18), a truth also evident in the inspired declaration that "there is no distinction between Jew and Greek" (Romans 10:12). Once it is clearly fixed in the mind that God does not recognize any distinction (or difference) between a racial, literal Jew and any other person on earth, the importing of a racial status into this chapter becomes impossible. The church itself is often perplexed quite needlessly by racial considerations, but these were destroyed in Christ. All talk of what God is going to do with the Jews is futile, misleading, and contrary to everything in the New Testament. God does not any more have a special plan for racial Jews than he does for the Italians, the Dutch, the English, or the Japanese. "The servants of God" in this dispensation are those "in Christ"; all are invited; none are excluded; and neither races, nations, states, nor languages has any bearing whatever regarding either the favor or disfavor of Almighty God.

John's mention of the twelve tribes, even naming each one, has led some to see in the 144,000 the saved of the Mosaic dispensation, and in the innumerable multitude the saved of the Christian dispensation; but this would leave out the saved of the patriarchal period. To make any such distinction also raises problems relative to the higher status of the innumerable multitude (in heaven), and also leads to the inference that the 144,000 are exempted from the great tribulation. Neither of these views fits into the picture at all. Therefore, we confidently conclude that the 144,000 and the innumerable company are one and the same, the redeemed of the earth.

But why are the two groups presented under such radically different figures? The mention of the twelve tribes recalls the marching formation of the ancient Israel in the wilderness, therefore suggesting the embattled, struggling church during their earthly trials. This led Pieters to the deduction that we have in these two figures "The Church Militant and The Church Triumphant."[1] Scholarly support for this understanding is extensive, as indicated by this summary from Ray Summers:[2]

The 144,000 are the church universal, the saints of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. "There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile."[3]

These were the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16).[4]

The Israel of the first vision is coextensive with the whole church. The two visions depict the same body under widely different conditions.[5]

That they (both visions) are the whole body of the church, Jew and Gentile, in spite of some difficulty, is most conformable to the conceptions of the New Testament in general.[6]

The 144,000 are not believers descended from literal Israel, but from the spiritual Israel, that are referred to.[7]

These men (quoted here) represent the very best in the study of Revelation for the last hundred years.[8]SIZE>

However, it is not the concurrence of scholarly opinion that is determinative; it is the overwhelming teaching of the rest of the New Testament.

(2) Regarding the meaning of being "sealed." We may dispense with the notion that something literal, bodily, or external is meant. God does not brand people in the manner of cattlemen branding their herds. Nothing but fancy could envision such a thing as that pretended by a false Christ in Syria who declared, "that he had God's name sculptured between his eyebrows; the wrinkles resembled the Arabic hieroglyph for Allah."[9]

Paul settled this question with the word that, "Ye are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Ephesians 1:13). It is nothing short of amazing that most scholars miss this, vainly seeking to find the answer in Ezekiel 9:4, some other Old Testament passage, or in the myths and folklore of paganism. It is simply inconceivable that the sealing here mentioned by John is anything different from the sealing mentioned by Paul. Since the "seal" is given only to baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, this also makes positive our identification of the 144,000 as Christians (See Acts 2:38ff). McGuiggan thought that, "Since the people sealed here were already Christians, something else must be meant by the sealing";[10] but it is obvious that "sealing" here is a figure for their conversion to Christianity. It is an error to suppose that this "sealing" implies any special protection against some isolated event, like "the great tribulation," or that this was some special preparation or protection for some special class, such as the martyrs. See under (3), below for discussion of "the great tribulation." Caird and many others mistakenly applied this sealing "to the martyrs."[11]

Gettys properly observed that:

We need not suppose that this sealing was one act at one particular moment in time, but that it is one fact for all ages, as all believers are redeemed in Christ once for all.[12] (And we might add, "one at a time.")

Other commentators who discerned this exceedingly important truth that the sealing here is that of the Holy Spirit are:

The Spirit has sealed him (the Christian, Ephesians 1:13), for he certifies that we are sons of God (Romans 8:16).[13]

We are sealed with the Holy Spirit by the means of grace, Word, and sacrament.[14]

All Christians were sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it.[15]SIZE>

This identity of the seal also makes it clear that no special group within the church, such as the martyrs, is meant, and that the sealing does not anticipate any isolated or unique event, but that it is for all tribulations, hardships, and struggles of the Christian life.

(3) The meaning of "the great tribulation." This is merely another name for the whole Christian life, any Christian life, in any and all ages of the church. The notion that Great Tribulation should be capitalized and understood as a reference to one particular period of suffering and persecutions for Christians is false, unscriptural and illogical. Jesus indeed mentioned "a great tribulation" (Matthew 24:21) as being greater than any that preceded it or that would come after it, having reference to the overthrow of Jerusalem; but he did not call even that "The Great Tribulation." Mark's gospel refers to that event as "that tribulation" (Revelation 13:24). What then is the great tribulation? It is that which includes and contains all tribulations of God's people upon the earth. "Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). "Because ye are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. They will persecute you" (John 16:19,20).

In this context, we also note the superstition to the effect that martyrs are in some special sense greater than ordinary Christians, or that martyrdom has any special effect upon destiny. There is not a word in the whole New Testament that supports any such notion. In fact, there have been periods in church history during which faith in Christ was even more difficult than in the days of the martyrdoms. Fidelity to Christ is difficult under all conditions; and there is no more glory in heaven for martyred saints than for those who patiently endured unto death, despite the scorn and hatred of an unbelieving world. A martyr's crown may be won by a single resolute and heroic act (and glorious indeed it is); but it is equally noble, and just as difficult, to win the crown through patient endurance of all the hatred vented against a true Christian throughout a long life that ends at last from natural causes. We reject much of the writings on the prophecy because they exalt the martyrs above other Christians and make of them a special quality of Christian. It is not likely that John himself was a martyr; and we certainly may not suppose that Paul and Peter who were martyrs outrank him in any way, or received any special favors in their Christian life.

Before proceeding with the study of the text, the position of this chapter in the whole sequence of visions should be noted. Most commentators refer to it as "a parenthesis,"[16] "an interlude,"[17] or as "an interruption of John's portrayal of the flow of events."[18] Despite the truth in such opinions, the chapter is very important.

Instead of being secondary, this vision is essential. The things in view are not a matter of chronology, but of importance. Revelation 7 is so important that unless it is understood, the rest of the visions will not be properly apprehended.[19]

The events of this chapter are not those which chronologically follow the events of Revelation 6, but they are a view of how it is with God's servants during those events of both the succeeding and preceding chapters.

[1] Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 125.

[2] Ray Summers, Worthy is the Lamb (Nashville: The Broadman Press, 1961), pp. 147-149.

[3] Donald W. Richardson, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (New York: Pillar Books, 1964), p. 88.

[4] David Smith, The Disciples Commentary on the New Testament, Vol. V (New York: Rav Long and Richard R. Smith, Inc., 1932), p. 632.

[5] H. B. Swete, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1951), p. 99.

[6] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), pp. 535,539.

[7] R. H. Charles, Revelation of St. John, Vol. II, International Critical Commentary (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920), pp. 206,209.

[8] Ray Summers, op. cit., p. 147.

[9] James Moffatt, Expositor's Greek New Testament, Vol. V (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1967), p. 397.

[10] Jim McGuiggan, The Book of Revelation (West Monroe, Louisiana: William C. Johnson, 1976), p. 112.

[11] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 97.

[12] Joseph M. Gettys, How to Study the Revelation (Philadelphia: The John Knox Press, 1955), p. 55.

[13] William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 133.

[14] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John's Revelation (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 250.

[15] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 112.

[16] J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: R.B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 69.

[17] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 110.

[18] Charles M. Laymon, The Book of Revelation (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1960), p. 94.

[19] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 245.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that no wind should blow on the earth, or on the sea, or upon any tree. (Revelation 7:1)

After this I saw ... "It is dangerous to assume that the order in which John writes is the order in which the things he describes will happen."[20] The exact chronology of Revelation is the great unresolved problem with the whole prophecy. In Revelation 6:8, the ravaging horsemen had authority to destroy the fourth part of the earth; but in this chapter (Revelation 7:1,3), the destructive forces are restrained from hurting the earth. "After this," therefore means merely that John saw this vision at a later time than when he saw the ones already described.

Four angels standing at the four corners of the earth ... These are God's angels, not demons, or the devil's angels. "The unmodified term angels is never used to indicate devils."[21]

The four corners of the earth ... There is no need to dwell upon the alleged ignorance of the sacred writers concerning the shape of the earth. Nothing that John either knew or did not know had anything to do with what he saw. We who know all about the globe still speak of the four corners of the earth and the ends of the earth; and "North, south, east and west make exactly four and will continue to do so."[22] We have no patience with those writers who can find nothing in this except, "the cosmology of the Babylonians, the influence of the Syriac Apocalypse of Peter, or of Pseudo-John, or of the Questions of Bartholomew."[23] The blessed apostle himself gave us his source; namely, God himself through Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1).

Holding the four winds of the earth ... The function of these angels was that of restraining the destructive forces represented by the winds. The thought is parallel with that of the limitations imposed upon the horsemen of the seals, who could hurt only one fourth of the earth.

No wind shall blow ... The prohibition here is not total, but the restraint of destructive forces. The thought is parallel with the Saviour's promise that a sparrow may not fall without God's knowledge and concern (Matthew 10:29). The total restraint of all atmospheric motion would not be a blessing, but a disaster. The restriction of destructive forces in these verses primarily teaches that the present order of creation shall be providentially preserved until the complete fulfillment of God's redemptive purpose on earth. The thought is parallel with the following from the Old Testament:

While the earth remaineth, cold and heat, and seedtime and harvest, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22).

Plummer understood this whole chapter as the logical answer to the closing words of Revelation 6, "Who shall be able to stand?" thus connecting Revelation 7 with the final judgment scene there related.[24] This is correct and has the effect of applying Revelation 7, not to some specific event of history, but to the whole earthly probation of the saints. "The sealing extends throughout the whole New Testament era."[25] Here is the prophetic equivalent of Jesus' promise to be with his church "even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20), and of Paul's, "all things work together for good to them that are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:25). The immense comfort of persecuted saints in such glorious promises is exactly the comfort graphically pictured in these two magnificent visions of Revelation 7.

Roberts identified the four angels here with the four horsemen of Revelation 6,[26] but we refrain from doing this for two reasons: (1) they were already holding, or restraining the winds, before the great angel appeared and (2) the "we" used by the other angel seems also to include the four.

[20] Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1975), p. 78.

[21] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 245.

[22] Ibid., p. 246.

[23] Martin Rist, The Interpreter's Bible, Vol. XII (New York and Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 417.

[24] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), pp. 205,206.

[25] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 249.

[26] J. W. Roberts, op. cit., p. 70.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the king's of the earth, and the great men,.... The Roman emperors, and other principal magistrates, governors of provinces and cities:

and the rich men; among the commonalty; these three may design perhaps more particularly the emperors, nobles, and senate of Rome: and

the chief captains; or captains of thousands, that had the command of the Roman legions

and the mighty men; the soldiers that were under them, men of strength, courage, and valour;

and every bondman, and every freeman; which takes in all the inhabitants of the Roman empire, of every state and condition, and which was an usual distinction among the Romans: these

hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; where, through their cruel persecutions, they had forced multitudes of Christians to flee, and therefore, "lex talionis", the law of retaliation was righteously inflicted on them; and not to take notice of any other, this was remarkably true of their kings or emperors Dioclesian and Herculius Maximianus, who were emperors together, in the height of their imperial glory and grandeur, the one being at Nicomedia, and the other at Milan, did, on one and the same day, of their own accord, abdicate the empire, and divested themselves of their imperial crown and government, and retired to a private life; pretending in public, that old age, and the weight of business, were the cause, but to their friends they owned, that it was through despair, because they could not extinguish the Christian religionF16Contur. Magd. cent. 4. c. 16. p. 909. Vid. Eutrop. l. 9. . Some ascribed this to frenzy and madnessF17Euseb. Hist. l. 8. c. 13. & de Vita Constantin. l. 5. c. 25. ; but the true reason was, that the wrath of the Lamb was let into their consciences, and which they could not bear, and which obliged them to take this step, to the amazement of the whole world. Maximinus, who succeeded them, being overcome by Licinius, laid aside his imperial habit, and hid himself among the common people, and skulked about in fields and villagesF18lb. l. 9. c. 10. . Maxentius, another emperor, fled from Constantine, the instrument of the wrath of the Lamb, and the pouring it out upon his enemies, and fell into the river Tiber, from the Mylvian bridge, where he perished; and which was the very place in which he had laid snares for ConstantineF19Ib. c. 9. & de Vita Constant. l. 1. c. 38. Vid. Aurel. Victor. de Caesaribus. .

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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.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

10 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

(10) The event of the sign before: that there is no man who will not be amazed at that worldwide upheaval, fly away in fear and hide himself in this verse, and wish to die, because of the exceeding horror of the wrath of God, and of the Lamb, at which before he was amazed. Now this confusion is not on the part of the godly but of the wicked, whose portion is in this life; (Psalm 17:14). Not that sorrow which is according to God, which works repentance to salvation, of which a man shall never repent him, but that worldly sorrow that brings death; (2 Corinthians 7:9) as their wishes declare: for this history of the whole world, is separated from the history of the Church, as I have showed before. {See (Revelation 4:1) }
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

hid themselves — Where was now the spirit of those whom the world has so greatly feared? [Bengel].

great men — statesmen and high civil officers.

rich men  …  chief captains — The three oldest manuscripts, A, B, C, transpose thus, “chief captains  …  rich men.”

mighty — The three oldest manuscripts, A, B, and C read, “strong” physically (Psalm 33:16).

in — literally “into”; ran into, so as to hide themselves in.

dens — “caves.”

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

The princes (οι μεγιστανεςhoi megistānes). Late word from the superlative μεγιστοςmegistos in lxx, Josephus, papyri, in N.T. only in Mark 6:21; Revelation 6:15; Revelation 18:23, for the grandees, the persecuting proconsuls (Swete).

The chief captains (οι χιλιαρχοιhoi chiliarchoi). The commanders of thousands, the military tribunes (Mark 6:21; Revelation 19:18).

The rich (οι πλουσιοιhoi plousioi). Not merely those in civil and military authority will be terror-stricken, but the self-satisfied and complacent rich (James 5:4.).

The strong (οι ισχυροιhoi ischuroi). Who usually scoff at fear. See the list in Revelation 13:16; Revelation 19:18. Cf. Luke 21:26.

Every bondman (πας δουλοςpās doulos) and freeman (και ελευτεροςkai eleutheros). The two extremes of society.

Hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains (εκρυπσαν εαυτους εις τα σπηλαια και εις τας πετρας των ορεωνekrupsan heautous eis ta spēlaia kai eis tas petras tōn oreōn). Based on Isaiah 2:10, Isaiah 2:18. First aorist active indicative of κρυπτωkruptō with the reflexive pronoun. For the old word σπηλαιονspēlaion see Matthew 21:13; Hebrews 11:38. ΟρεωνOreōn is the uncontracted Ionic form (for ορωνorōn) of the genitive plural of οροςoros (mountain).

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Of the earth

See on Revelation 6:10.

Great men ( μεγιστᾶνες )

Rev., princes. See on high captains, Mark 6:21.

Chief captains ( χιλίαρχοι )

See on Mark 6:21, and see on centurion, Luke 7:2.

The mighty ( οἱ δυνατοὶ )

The best texts read οἱ ἰσχυροὶ. Rev., the strong. For the difference in meaning, see on the kindred words δύναμις and ἰσχύς mightand power, 2 Peter 2:11.

Every free man

Omit every, and read as Rev., every bondman and free man.

In the dens ( εἰς τὰ σπήλαια )

Rev., caves. The preposition εἰς intoimplies running for shelter into.

Rocks ( πέτρας )

See on Matthew 16:18.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

And the kings of the earth — They who had been so in their day.

And the great men and chief captains — The generals and nobles.

Hid themselves — So far as in them lay.

In the rocks of the mountains — There are also rocks on the plains; but they were rocks on high, which they besought to fall upon them.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

Ver. 15. And the kings of the earth] Who came in to help their gods against the mighty, against Constantine, Theodosius, &c., that threw out their priests, and pulled down their temples. These kings and grandees were Maximianus, Maximinus, Maxentius, Galerius, Licinius, Jullanus, &c., and their complices, who were routed, ruined, and driven into holes and corners by the Christian emperors, and afterwards so pursued by divine justice, that they came to shameful ends. Diocletian poisoned himself, Maximinian hanged himself; Maximinus likewise and Maxentius became their own executioners; Galerius died of a loathsome disease; Julian had his death wound from heaven, and died raving and blaspheming. (Euseb. Hist., Item de Vita Const.)

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Observe here, That if this was meant of the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem, it was exceeding dreadful, and bespake all sorts of men, from the highest to the lowest, to be under a most dreadful consternation, when they saw an inevitable vengeance coming upon them for crucifying Christ, and persecuting his members, which made them run into rocks, and call upon mountains to hide them: if it be applied to the judgment of the great day, it shows the justice of Christ in forcing those to call upon the mountains to hide them, who by persecution had driven his members to hide themselves in mountains, dens, and caves, of the earth: any sort of hope will be then in vain; neither greatness nor numbers will save any from misery and terror, when that day of vengeance is come.

Learn hence, That wicked men, how numerous, how powerful and strong soever, shall fall before the wrath and indignation of Christ; if when Christ appears like an angry Lamb the greatest in the world fall before him, what will they then do when Christ shall put on the fierceness and severity of a roaring lion? Mitissima sententia quae a mitussima judice denuntiatur. If the wrath of the Lamb cannot be borne, if the unbelieving kings and potentates of the earth shall be cast down at the sight of Christ, where shall the wicked and the sinner appear? If the wrath of a king be as the roaring lion, what will the wrath of God, an angry God, be?

Let us now be cast down at the sight of sin, and we shall not be cast down hereafter at the sight of God; but when others, at his appearance, cry to the rocks to cover them, and to the mountains to fall upon them, such as have seen sin to their abasement and humiliation, shall see a Saviour to their joyful satisfaction, and spend an eternity in the rapturous contemplation and ravishing fruition of him. Amen.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. 1700-1703.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A terror shall fall upon all sorts of men, high and low; and, like men affrighted, they shall seek for themselves hiding places, where they can think themselves most secure: see Isaiah 2:19.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Hid themselves; under the judgments of God, fled, and attempted by concealment to elude the search of their destroyers.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the kings of the earth. See App-197. As regards the social fabric, the present conditions will exist when the Lord comes.

great men. Greek. megistanea. Only here; Revelation 18:23. Mark 6:21.

men, man = ones, one.

mighty. Greek. ischuros (with the texts). As in Revelation 19:18. Compare App-172.

bondman. App-190.

every. Omit.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

Kings ... laid themselves. Where was now the spirit of those whom the world so greatly feared? (Bengel.)

Great men - high officers of state.

Rich men ... chief captains. 'Aleph (') A B C h, Vulgate, 'chief captains ... rich men.'

Mighty, [ dunatoi (Greek #1415)]. 'Aleph (') A B C read [ ischuroi (Greek #2478)], 'strong' physically (Psalms 33:16).

In, [ eis (Greek #1519)] - ran into, so as to hide themselves in.

Dens - `caves.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
the kings
18:9-11; 19:13-21; Job 34:19,20; Psalms 2:10-12; 49:1,2; 76:12; 110:5,6; Isaiah 24:21,22
Joshua 10:16,17; Judges 6:2; 1 Samuel 13:6; Isaiah 2:10,19; 42:22; Micah 7:17; Hebrews 11:38
Reciprocal: Numbers 16:34 - fled;  Deuteronomy 28:66 - GeneralDeuteronomy 29:10 - GeneralJoshua 8:20 - and they had;  Joshua 10:2 - they feared;  Judges 8:12 - took;  Judges 20:41 - were amazed;  2 Kings 7:6 - the Lord;  2 Kings 21:12 - whosoever;  2 Chronicles 15:13 - whether small;  2 Chronicles 32:21 - the leaders;  Job 13:20 - hide myself;  Job 18:11 - Terrors;  Job 30:6 - dwell;  Job 34:22 - no;  Psalm 68:12 - Kings;  Proverbs 1:27 - your fear;  Isaiah 2:9 - the mean;  Isaiah 5:15 - the mean;  Isaiah 10:3 - And what;  Isaiah 33:14 - sinners;  Jeremiah 4:29 - they shall go;  Jeremiah 16:6 - the great;  Jeremiah 16:16 - every mountain;  Jeremiah 46:5 - and their;  Jeremiah 49:8 - Flee;  Jeremiah 50:30 - all her;  Ezekiel 7:18 - and horror;  Ezekiel 32:32 - GeneralDaniel 5:9 - greatly;  Nahum 3:11 - thou shalt be hid;  Nahum 3:18 - nobles;  Zephaniah 1:14 - the mighty;  Hebrews 10:27 - a certain;  James 5:1 - ye;  Revelation 1:7 - and all;  Revelation 11:18 - and thy;  Revelation 13:16 - free;  Revelation 19:18 - of all

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

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

The various great persons named in this verse are the men in high position who had been holding uninterrupted sway over their people. As they began to see the fading of their domination it filled them with terror. Such an attitude is symbolized by an attempt to find hiding places in dens and among the rocks.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 6:15

Revelation 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free Prayer of Manasseh, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;


the kings of the earth,

we are to understand the chief rulers of the whole Roman pagan empire, called the whole world. {Luke 2:1}

And the great men;

that Isaiah, their nobles and honorable persons, and their princes. { Nahum 3:10} And her great men (honorable men) were bound in chains. This honor have all the saints. { Psalm 149:7-9}

And the rich men;

that Isaiah, their rich merchants. { Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 23:11; Revelation 18:3; Revelation 18:15}

And the chief Captains;

that Isaiah, the chief generals, and all the great commanders in the imperial armies. { Acts 25:23}

And every bondman, and every freeman

(that had been persecutors of the Christians)

hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains;

as, { Job 29:8} They were terrified, and frightened, yes, amazed at this dispensation of God, and wrath of the Lamb our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is no darkness nor shadow of death, where the workers of Iniquity may hide themselves. { Job 34:22}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

15.Beginning with kings, and courtiers, and millionaires, and descending through all ranks, even to the slaves, our seer pictures the terror of all the profane race. His crown cannot save the king or emperor; the profane great men, whether railway kings, or statesmen, or philosophers, or literati, alike tremble.

Rich men—Whether profane merchant princes, or bank presidents, or stock gamblers, are unable to buy salvation at any price.

Chief captains—Profane military conquerors, great generals, heroic admirals and commodores, are all alike cowards before the wrath of the Lamb.

Hid themselves—In the yawning dens and under the projecting rocks produced by the convulsions, they vainly seek protection from Him who convulses.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 6:15". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.