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 Main Index : Commentaries : Geneva Study Bible : Revelation Index : Chapter 11

Revelation, Chapter 11
Chapter 10 | Chapter 12
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Matthew Henry
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11:1 And there 1 was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and 2 measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

    (1) The authority of the intended revelation being declared, together with the necessity of that calling which was particularly imposed on John after which follows the history of the estate of Christ his Church, both conflicting or warring, and overcoming in Christ. For the true Church of Christ is said to fight against that which is falsely so called, over which Antichrist rules, Christ Jesus overthrowing Antichrist by the spirit of his mouth: and Christ is said to overcome most gloriously until he shall slay Antichrist by the appearance of his coming, as the apostle teaches in (2Th 2:8). So this history has two parts: One of the state of the Church conflicting with temptations until Chapter 16. The other of the state of the same church obtaining victory, thence to Chapter 20. The first part has two sections most conveniently distributed into their times, of which the first contains a history of the Christian Church for 1260 years, what time the gospel of Christ was as it were taken up from among men into heaven: the second contains a history of the same Church to the victory perfected. These two sections are briefly, though distinctly propounded in this chapter, but both of them are discoursed after in due order. For we understand the state of the Church conflicting, out of Chapters 12 and 13, and of the same growing out of afflictions, out of Chapters 14 to 16. Neither did John unknowingly join together the history of these two times in this chapter, because here is spoken of prophecy, which all confess to be but one just and immutable in the Church, and which Christ commanded to be continual. The history of the former time reaches to (Re 11:2-14), the latter is set down in the rest of this chapter (Re 11:15-19). In the former are shown these things: the calling of the servants of God in (Re 11:4) the conflicts which the faithful must undergo in their calling, for Christ and his Church, thence to (Re 11:5-10) and their resurrection, and receiving up into heaven to (Re 11:11-14). In the calling of the servants of God, two things are mentioned: the begetting and settling of the Church in two verses, and the education of it in two verses. The begetting of the Church is here commended to John by sign and by speech: the sign is a measuring rod, and the speech a commandment to measure the Temple of God, that is, to reduce the same to a new form: because the Gentiles are already entered into the Temple of Jerusalem, and shall shortly defile and overthrow it completely.
      (2) Either that of Jerusalem's, which was a figure of the Church of Christ, or that heavenly model in (Re 11:19) but I like the first better, and the things following all agree to it. The sense therefore is, you see all things in God's house, almost from the passion of Christ, to be disordered: and not only the city of Jerusalem, but also the court of the Temple is trampled under foot by the nations, and by profane men whether Jews or strangers: and that only this Temple, that is, the body of the Temple, with the altar, and a small company of good men who truly worship God, do now remain, whom God sanctifies and confirms by his presence. Measure therefore this, even this true Church, or rather the true type of the true Church, omitting the rest, and so describe all things from me, that the true Church of Christ may be as it were a very little centre, and the Church of Antichrist as the circle of the centre, every way in length and breadth compassing about the same, that by way of prophecy you may so declare openly, that the state of the Temple of God, and the faithful who worship him, that is, of the Church, is much more upright than the Church of Antichrist.
    11:2 3 But the a court which is without the temple b leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the 4 Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot 5 forty [and] two months.
      (3) As if he should say, it is not your place to judge those who are outside, (1Co 5:12) who are innumerable: look to those of the household only, or to the house of the living God.
      (a) He speaks of the outer court, which was called the peoples court, because all men might come into that.
      (b) That is counted to be cast out, which in measuring is refused as profane.
      (4) To profane persons, wicked and unbelievers, adversaries to the Church.
      (5) Or a thousand, two hundred and sixty days, as is said in (Re 11:3): that is, a thousand two hundred and sixty years, a day for a year, as often in Ezekiel and Daniel, which I noted before (see Geneva "Re 2:10"). The beginning of these thousand two hundred and sixty years, we account from the passion of Christ, by which (the partition wall being broken down) we were made from two into one (Eph 2:14). I say, one flock under one shepherd in (Joh 10:16) and the end of these years precisely falls into the reign of pope Boniface the eighth, who a little before the end of 1294, entered Rome in the feast of Saint Lucie (as Bergomensis says) having put in prison his predecessor Coelestinus, whom by fraud, under colour of Oracle, he deceived: for which cause it was well said of him, "Intravit ut vulpes, regnavit ut leo, mortuus est ut canis." That is, "He entered like a fox, reigned like a lion, and died like a dog." For if from 1294, you subtract the number of years Christ lived on the earth, you will find there remains just one thousand two hundred and sixty years, which are mentioned in this place and many others.
    11:3 And 6 I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall 7 prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
      (6) I would rather translate it "illud" than "illam" the temple than the city: for God says, I will give that temple, and commit it to my two witnesses, that is, to the ministers of the word, who are few indeed, weak and contemptible: but yet two, that is, of such a number as one of them may help another, and one confirm the testimony of another to all men, that from the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be made good among men; (2Co 13:1).
      (7) They will exercise their office enjoined by me by the space of those 1260 years, in the midst of afflictions though never so lamentable, which is figuratively shown by the mourning garment.
    11:4 These 8 are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
      (8) That is, the ordinary and perpetual instruments of spiritual grace, peace and light in my Church, which God by his only power preserved in this Temple. See (Zec 4:3).
    11:5 9 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
      (9) The power and surety of the holy ministry, which is truly evangelical, is declared both in earth and in heaven, protecting the administers of it, and destroying its enemies, in this verse, divine power, most mightily showing itself forth in heaven, earth and the sea in (Re 11:6) as it is described in (2Co 10:4) according to the promise of Christ in (Mk 16:17). This is the second place (as I said before) of the combats which the servants of God must undergo in the executing of their calling, and of the things that follow the same combats or conflicts are these things to overcome, in these two verses: to be overcome and killed in (Re 11:7) After the slaughter follow these things, that the carcasses of the godly, laid abroad in (Re 11:8) and being unburied, are scorned, together with cursing and bitter abhorrance (Re 11:9) and that therefore congratulations are publicly and privately made in (Re 11:10).
    11:7 10 And when they shall have c finished their testimony, 11 the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall 12 overcome them, and kill them.

      (10) That is, when they have spent those 1260 years mentioned in (Re 11:2-3) in publishing their testimony according to their office.
      (c) When they have done their message.
      (11) Of which after Chapter 13, that beast is the Roman Empire, made long ago of civil, ecclesiastical: the chief head of which was then Boniface the eighth, as I said before: who lifted up himself in so great arrogancy, (says the author of "Falsciculus temporum") that he called himself, Lord of the whole world, as well in temporal causes, as in spiritual: There is a document of that matter, written by the same Boniface most arrogantly, shall I say, or most wickedly, "Ca. unam sanctam, extra de majoritate & obedientia." In the sixth of the Decretals (which is from the same author) many things are found of the same argument.
      (12) He shall persecute most cruelly the holy men, and put them to death, and shall wound and pierce through with cursings, both their names and writings. That this was done to very many godly men, by Boniface and others, the histories do declare, especially since the time that the odious and condemned name amongst the multitude, first of the brethren Waldonenses or Lugdunenses, then also of the Fraticels, was pretended, that good men might with more approbation be massacred.
    11:8 And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the 13 street of the great city, which d spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, 14 where also our Lord was crucified.
      (13) That is, openly at Rome: where at that time was a most great crowd of people, the year of Jubile being then first ordained by Boniface to the same end, in the year 1300, an example of which is read in chapter 1 "Extra, de poenitentys & remissionibus." So by one act he committed two wrongs against Christ, both abolishing his truth by restoring the type of the Jubile, and triumphing over his members by wicked superstition. O religious heart! Now that we should understand the things of Rome, John himself is the author, both after in the seventeenth chapter almost throughout, and also in the restriction now next following, when he says, it is that great city (as he calls it) (Re 17:18) and is spiritually termed Sodom and Egypt: and that spiritually (for that must here again be repeated from before) Christ was there crucified. For the two first names signify spiritual wickednesses: the latter signifies the show and pretence of good, that is, of Christian and sound religion. Sodom signifies most licentious impiety and in the most confident glorying of that city, as it were in true religion, being yet full of falsehood and ungodliness. Now who is ignorant that these things do rather, and better fit Rome, than any other city? The commendations of the city of Rome for many years past, are publicly notorious, which are not for me to gather together. This only I will say, that he long since did very well see what Rome is, who upon leaving, used these verses: "Roma vale, vidi, Satis est vidisse: revertar, Quumleno, meretrix, scurra, cinadus ero." "Now farewell Rome, I have seen thee, it was enough to see: I will return when as I mean, bawd, harlot knave to be"
      (d) After a more secret type of meaning and understanding.
      (14) Namely in his parts, as also he said to Saul in (Ac 9:5 )
    11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies 15 three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
      (15) That is, for three years and a half: for so many years Boniface lived after his Jubile, as Bergomensis witnesses.
    11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth 16 shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets 17 tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
      (16) So much the more shall they by this occasion exercise the hilarity of their Jubile.
      (17) The gospel of Christ is the affliction of the world, and the ministry of it, the savour of death to death, to those that perish, (2Co 2:16).
    11:11 18 And after 19 three days and an half 20 the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they 21 stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
      (18) The third passage, as noted before, is of the rising again of the prophets from the dead, and their carrying up into heaven. For their resurrection is shown in this verse: their calling and lifting up into heaven, in the verse following.
      (19) That is, what time God shall destroy that wicked Boniface.
      (20) That is, the prophets of God shall in a manner rise again, not the same in person (as they say) but in spirit: that is, in the power and efficacy of their ministry, which John expressed before, in (Re 11:5,6) So the prophecy that is spoken of Elijah, is interpreted by the angel to be understood of John the Baptist (Lu 1:17). For the same Boniface himself, who sought to kill and destroy them, was by the fire of God's mouth (which the holy ministry shows and exhibits) devoured and died miserably in prison, by the endeavour of Satra Columensis and Nagaretus a French knight, whom Philip the fair King of France sent into Italy but with a very small power.
      (21) That is, the most grievous heat of afflictions and persecution shall stay for a while, for the great amazement that shall arise on that sudden and unlooked for judgment of God.
    11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, 22 Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; 23 and their enemies beheld them.
      (22) They were called by God into heaven, and taken out of this wicked world, into the heavenly Church, which also lies hidden here in the earth, to exercise their calling secretly: of whom this wretched world was unworthy; (Heb 11:38). For the church of the wicked is by comparison called the earth, or the world: and the Church of the godly, heaven. As it was in ancient times among the godly Israelites: so among the Jews in the days of Manasseh and other kings, when the earth refused the heirs of heaven, we read that they lay hidden as heaven in the earth.
      (23) Yet they could not hinder the secret ones of the Lord (as the Psalmist called them) (Ps 83:3) but they prospered in his work.
    11:13 24 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, 25 and e gave glory to the God of heaven.
      (24) Bergomensis said, in 1301, "This year a blazing star foretelling great calamity to come, appeared in heaven: in which year during the feast of St. Andrew, a great earthquake occurred as never before: it continued for many days, and overthrew many stately houses." This he said of the year following the Jubilee: which John many ages before, expressed word for word.
      (25) They were indeed broken with present astonishment of mind, but did not earnestly repent as they ought to have done.
      (e) Glorified God by confessing his name.
    11:14 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 (Re 9:12).
    11:15 27 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, 28 The kingdoms of this world are become [the kingdoms] of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
      (27) Of whose sounding the trumpet Christ expressly foretold in (Re 10:7) and this is the second part of this chapter, containing a general history of the Christian Church, from the time of Boniface to the consummation of the victory declared by voice from heaven. In this history there are three branches: a preparation by the sound of the angels trumpet: a narration by the voice of heavenly angels and elders and a confirmation by sign.
      (28) The narration has two parts: an acclamation of the heavenly creatures in this verse, and both an adoration by all the elders in (Re 11:16) and also a thanksgiving in (Re 11:17-18). The sense of the acclamation is, "Now the Lord has entered his kingdom and has restored his church in which most mightily recovered from the profanation of the Gentiles, he may glorify himself." Namely that, which the Lord ordained when he first ordained his Church, that the faith of the saints does now behold as accomplished.
    11:16 29 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
      (29) As before in (Re 7:11). This giving of thanks is altogether of the same content with the words going before.
    11:18 30 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

      (30) A speech of the Hebrew language, as if to say, as Gentiles being angry, your inflamed wrath came on them, and showed itself from heaven, occasioned by their anger and fury.
    11:19 And the temple of God was 31 opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
      (31) This is the confirmation of the next prophecy before going by signs exhibited in heaven, and that of two sorts, of which some are visible, as the passing away of the heaven, the opening of the temple, the ark of the covenant appearing in the temple, and testifying the glorious presence of God, and the lightning: others apprehended by ear and feeling, which bear witness in heaven and earth to the truth of the judgments of God.

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