In this chapter is shown how it will fare with "the
holy city," till the mystery of God is fulfilled; in the twelfth,
what will befal the woman, who is delivered of the man - child; in
the thirteenth, how it will be with the kingdom of Christ, while
the "two beasts" are in the height of their power. And there was
given me - By Christ, as appears from the third verse. And he
said, Arise - Probably he was sitting to write. And measure the
temple of God - At Jerusalem, where he was placed in the vision.
Of this we have a large description by Ezekiel,
Eze 40:1 - Eze 48:35; concerning which we may observe,
Ezekiel's prophecy was not fulfilled at the return from
the Babylonish captivity.
Yet it does not refer to the "New Jerusalem," which is
far more gloriously described.
It must infallibly be fulfilled even then "when they are
ashamed of all that they have done," (Eze 43:11).
Ezekiel speaks of the same temple which is treated of here.
As all things are there so largely described, St. John is
shorter and refers thereto.
2: But the court which is without the temple - The old
temple had a court in the open air, for the heathens who
worshipped the God of Israel. Cast out - Of thy account.
And measure it not - As not being holy In so high a degree.
And they shall tread - Inhabit. The holy city - Jerusalem,(Mt 4:5). So they began to do, before St. John wrote. And
it has been trodden almost ever since by the Romans, Persians,
Saracens, and Turks. But that severe kind of treading which is
here peculiarly spoken of, will not be till under the trumpet of
the seventh angel, and toward the end of the troublous times.
This will continue but forty - two common months, or
twelve hundred and sixty common days; being but a small part of
the non - chronos.
3: And I - Christ. Will give to my two witnesses - These seem
to be two prophets; two select, eminent instruments. Some have
supposed (though without foundation) that they are Moses and
Elijah, whom they resemble in several respects. To prophesy
twelve hundred and sixty days - Common days, that is, an hundred
and eighty weeks. So long will they prophesy, (even while that
last and sharp treading of the holy city continues,) both by
word and deed, witnessing that Jesus is the Son of God, the heir
of all things, and exhorting all men to repent, and fear, and
glorify God. Clothed in sackcloth - The habit of the deepest
mourners, out of sorrow and concern for the people.
4: These are the two olive trees - That is, as Zerubbabel
and Joshua, the two olive trees spoken of by Zechariah,(Zec 3:9,4:10), were then the two chosen instruments in
God's hand, even so shall these. be in their season. Being
themselves full of the unction of the Holy One, they shall
continually transmit the same to others also. And the two
candlesticks - Burning and shining lights. Standing before the
Lord of the earth - Always waiting on God, without the help of
man, and asserting his right over the earth and all things
5: If any would kill them - As the Israelites would have
done Moses and Aaron, (Nu 16:41).
He must be killed thus - By that devouring fire.
6: These have power - And they use that power.
See verse 10. (Re 11:10)
To shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophesying
- During those "twelve hundred and sixty days." And have power
over the waters - In and near Jerusalem. To turn them into blood
- As Moses did those in Egypt. And to smite the earth with all
plagues, as often as they will - This is not said of Moses or
Elijah, or any mere man besides. And how is it possible to
understand this otherwise than of two individual persons?
7: And when they shall have finished their testimony - Till
then they are invincible. The wild beast - Hereafter to be
described. That ascendeth - First out of the sea,(Re 13:1), and then out of the bottomless pit, (Re 17:8).
Shall make war with them - It is at his last ascent, not out of
the sea, but the bottomless pit, that the beast makes war upon
the two witnesses. And even hereby is fixed the time of "treading
the holy city," and of the "two witnesses." That time ends after
the ascent of the beast out of the abyss, and yet before the
fulfilling of the mystery. And shall conquer them - The fire no
longer proceeding out of their mouth when they have finished
their work. And kill them - These will be among the last martyrs,
though not the last of all.
8: And their bodies shall be - Perhaps hanging on a cross.
In the street of the great city - Of Jerusalem, a far greater
city, than any other in those parts. This is described both
spiritually and historically: spiritually, as it is called
Sodom (Isa 1:9 )&c.
and Egypt; on account of the same abominations abounding there,
at the time of the witnesses, as did once in Egypt and Sodom.
Historically: Where also their Lord was crucified - This possibly
refers to the very ground where his cross stood. Constantine the
Great inclosed this within the walls of the city. Perhaps on
that very spot will their bodies be exposed.
9: Three days and a half - So exactly are the times set
down in this prophecy. If we suppose this time began in the
evening, and ended in the morning, and included (which is no
way impossible) Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the weekly festival
of the Turkish people, the Jewish tribes, and the Christian
tongues; then all these together, with the heathen nations,
would have full leisure to gaze upon and rejoice over them.
10: And they that dwell upon the earth - Perhaps this
expression may peculiarly denote earthly - minded men. Shall
make merry - As did the Philistines over Samson. And send
gifts to one another - Both Turks, and Jews, and heathens,
and false Christians.
11: And great fear fell upon them that saw them - And now
knew that God was on their side.
12: And I heard a great voice - Designed for all to hear.
And they went up to heaven, and their enemies beheld them - who
had not taken notice of their rising again; by which some had
been convinced before.
13: And there was a great earthquake and the tenth part
of the city fell - We have here an unanswerable proof that this
city is not Babylon or Rome, but Jerusalem. For Babylon shall
be wholly burned before the fulfilling of the mystery of God.
But this city is not burned at all; on the contrary, at the
fulfilling of that mystery, a tenth part of it is destroyed by
an earthquake, and the other nine parts converted. And there
were slain in the earthquake seven thousand men - Being a tenth
part of the inhabitants, who therefore were seventy thousand
in all. And the rest - The remaining sixty - three thousand were
converted: a grand step toward the fulfilling of the mystery of
God. Such a conversion we no where else read of. So there
shall be a larger as well as holier church at Jerusalem than
ever was yet. Were terrified - Blessed terror! And gave glory
- The character of true conversion, (Jer 13:16).
To the God of heaven - He is styled, "The Lord of the earth,"
verse 4, (Re 11:4) when he declares his right over the earth
by the two witnesses; but the God of heaven, when he not only
gives rain from heaven after the most afflicting drought, but
also declares his majesty from heaven, by taking his witnesses
up into it. When the whole multitude gives glory to the God
of heaven, then that "treading of the holy city" ceases. This
is the point so long aimed at, the desired "fulfilling of the
mystery of God," when the divine promises are so richly fulfilled
on those who have gone through so great afflictions. All this is
here related together, that whereas the first and second woe went
forth in the east, the rest of the eastern affairs being added
at once, the description of the western might afterwards remain
It may be useful here to see how the things here spoken of, and
those hereafter described, follow each other in their order.
The angel swears; the non - chronos begins; John eats the book; the many kings arise.
The non - chronos and the "many kings" being on the decline, that treading" begins, and the "two witnesses" appear.
The beast, after he has with the ten kings destroyed Babylon, wars with them and kills them. After three days and an half they revive and ascend to heaven. There is a great earthquake in the holy city: seven thousand perish, and the rest are converted. The "treading" of the city by the gentiles ends.
The beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies are assembled to fight against the Great King.
Multitudes of his enemies are killed, and the beast and the false prophet cast alive into the lake of fire.
while John measures the temple of God and the altar with the worshippers, the true worship of God is set up. The nations who had trodden the holy city are converted. Hereby the mystery of God is fulfilled.
Satan is imprisoned. Being released for a time, he, with Gog and Magog, makes his last assault upon Jerusalem.
14: The second woe is past - The butchery made by the
Saracens ceased about the year 847, 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
year 755 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, (Re 12:12).
15: And the seventh angel sounded - This trumpet contains
the most important and joyful events, and renders all the former
trumpets matter of joy to all the inhabitants of heaven. The
allusion therefore in this and all the trumpets is to those used
in festal solemnities. All these seven trumpets were heard in
heaven: perhaps the seventh shall once be heard on earth also,(1Th 4:16).
And there were great voices - From the several citizens of heaven.
At the opening of the seventh seal "there was silence in heaven;"
at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, great voices. This alone
is sufficient to show that the seven seals and seven trumpets
do not run parallel to each other. As soon as the seventh
angel sounds, the kingdom falls to God and his Christ. This
immediately appears in heaven, and is there celebrated with
joyful praise. But on earth several dreadful occurrences are to
appear first. This trumpet comprises all that follows from these
voices to (Re 22:5).
The kingdom of the world - That is, the royal government over
the whole world, and all its kingdoms, (Zec 14:9).
Is become the kingdom of the Lord - This province has been in the
enemy's hands: it now returns to its rightful Master. In the Old
Testament, from Moses to Samuel, God himself was the King of his
own people. And the same will be in the New Testament: he will
himself reign over the Israel of God. And of his Christ - This
appellation is now first given him, since the introduction of the
book, on the mention of the kingdom devolving upon him, under the
seventh trumpet. Prophets and priests were anointed, but more
especially kings: whence that term, the anointed, is applied
only to a king. Accordingly, whenever the Messiah is mentioned
in scripture, his kingdom is implied. Is become - In reality,
all things (and so the kingdom of the world) are God's in all
ages: yet Satan and the present world, with its kings and lords,
are risen against the Lord and against his Anointed. God now
puts an end to this monstrous rebellion, and maintains his right
to all things. And this appears in an entirely new manner, as
soon as the seventh angel sounds.
16: And the four and twenty elders - These
shall reign over the earth, (Re 5:10).
Who sit before God on their thrones - which we do
not read of any angel.
17: The Almighty - He who hath all things in his power as
the only Governor of them. Who is, and who was - God is frequently
styled, "He who is, and who was, and who is to come." but now he
is actually come, the words, "who is to come," are, as it were,
swallowed up. When it is said, We thank thee that thou hast
taken thy great power, it is all one as, "We thank thee that
thou art come." This whole thanksgiving is partly an enlargement
on the two great points mentioned in the fifteenth verse;(Re 11:15) partly a summary of what is hereafter more
distinctly related. Here it is mentioned, how the kingdom is
the Lord's; afterwards, how it is the kingdom of his Christ.
Thou hast taken thy great power - This is the beginning of what
is done under the trumpet of the seventh angel. God has never
ceased to use his power; but he has suffered his enemies to
oppose it, which he will now suffer no more.
18: And the heathen nations were wroth - At the breaking
out of the power and kingdom of God. This wrath of the heathens
now rises to the highest pitch; but it meets the wrath of the
Almighty, and melts away. In this verse is described both the
going forth and the end of God's wrath, which together take up
several ages. And the time of the dead is come - Both of the quick
and dead, of whom those already dead are far the more numerous
part. That they be judged - This, being infallibly certain, they
speak of as already present. And to give a reward - At the coming
of Christ, (Re 22:12); but of free grace, not of debt,
To his servants the prophets:
To his saints: to them who were eminently holy:
To them that fear his name:
these are the lowest class. Those who do not even fear God will
have no reward from him. Small and great - All universally, young
and old, high and low, rich and poor. And to destroy them that
destroyed the earth - The earth was destroyed by the "great whore"
in particular, (Re 19:2,17:2,5); but likewise in general,
by the open rage and hate of wicked men against all that is good;
by wars, and the various destruction and desolation naturally
flowing therefrom; by such laws and constitutions as hinder
much good, and occasion many offences and calamities; by public
scandals, whereby a door is opened for all dissoluteness and
unrighteousness; by abuse of secular and spiritual powers; by
evil doctrines, maxims, and counsels; by open violence and
persecution; and by sins crying to God to send plagues upon the
This great work of God, destroying the destroyers, under the
trumpet of the seventh angel, is not the third woe, but matter
of joy, for which the elders solemnly give thanks. All the woes,
and particularly the third, go forth over those "who dwell upon
the earth;" but this destruction, over those "who destroy the
earth," and were also instruments of that woe.
19: And the temple of God - The inmost part of it. Was
opened in heaven - And hereby is opened a new scene of the most
momentous things, that we may see how the contents of the
seventh trumpet are executed; and, notwithstanding the greatest
opposition, (particularly by the third woe,) brought to a
glorious conclusion. And the ark of the covenant was seen in
his temple - The ark of the covenant which was made by Moses was
not in the second temple, being probably burnt with the first
temple by the Chaldeans. But here is the heavenly ark of the
everlasting covenant, the shadow of which was under the Old
Testament, (Heb 9:4). The inhabitants of heaven saw the ark
before: St. John also saw it now; for a testimony, that what
God had promised, should be fulfilled to the uttermost. And
there were lightnings, and voices, and thunders, and an
earthquake, and great hail - The very same there are, and in the
same order, when the seventh angel has poured out his phial;(Re 16:17-21): one place answers the other. What the trumpet
here denounces in heaven, is there executed by the phial upon
earth. First it is shown what will be done; and afterwards it