the Fourth Week of Lent
Whedon's Commentary on the Bible Whedon's Commentary
by Daniel Whedon
INSTEAD of a permanent order of prophets, as in the Old Testament, we are presented in the New, once for all, with a permanent prophecy. The Apocalypse furnishes us all the prediction we need during the Christian ages. It answers to the inquirer, from the primitive age to the present, the great question, “What is the structure of the Christian dispensation from the time of its establishment even down to its emergence into eternity?” It thence furnishes the true form of New Testament eschatology; the true order and shaping of the last events of human and earthly history within the sphere of the kingdom of Christ, from the first advent to the second. The book has been very much misinterpreted; so much so, that with some it is an established maxim that “the Apocalypse either finds its interpreter mad or makes him so.” Yet it may with truth be affirmed, that all who have accepted the above eschatological view have, in the great outline, essentially agreed, however they may have varied in subordinates. The Messianic dispensation, from the time of the first advent to the second, is found by all such interpreters to consist in a series of struggles between the powers of evil and the powers of good, until the final triumph of the righteous cause. The Apocalypse has ever been, therefore, the beacon of the final subjection of the world-power to Christ. It is the book of sure hope, the charter of ultimate victory. Under this view of the book we can enter upon its interpretation with a trust that, whatever be the error of our particular interpretations, our whole cannot be far from right.
The organic structure of the New Testament, we may add, requires the Apocalypse. Without that book the New Testament is an unfinished volume; it has hardly even “a lame and impotent conclusion,” but rather no conclusion at all. This is a general but strong argument against all doubts of its canonicity and of its place in the canon.
AUTHORSHIP OF THE APOCALYPSE.
The testimony to the authorship of the Apocalypse by John, on historical grounds, is early, abundant, and uncontradicted within the Church. During the first century after its publication it is either directly affirmed to be the apostle’s, or quoted as his by a dense body of writers. We may name Papias, John’s contemporary; Justin Martyr, (between A.D. 139 and 161;) Melito, bishop of Sardis, (about A.D. 171;) Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, (about 180;) and Irenaeus, (about 180.) Next we have Tertullian, (about 220,) Hippolytus, bishop of Ostia. (about 240,) Clement of Alexandria, (about 200,) and Origen, (about 233.) To these add Jerome, Augustine, Basil the Great, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Ambrose.
Of two of these successive witnesses we give the explicit testimony: Justin Martyr says:
“A certain man among us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, in a revelation made to him, prophesied that those believing in our Christ will spend a thousand years in Jerusalem, and after that the universal, and, to speak comprehensively, the eternal, resurrection and judgment of all together, shall take place.”
Irenaeus, (whom we have elsewhere called the grand-pupil of John,) in numerous passages gives “John the disciple of the Lord,” “who leaned upon his bosom,” as author of the Apocalypse. So, speaking of the antichristic number, 666, he says that number is found “in all the good and ancient copies, and is attested by those who have seen John face to face.” We see at once that Irenaeus gives the testimony heard by himself of John’s own personal acquaintances, who had discussed the matter of the true text with the apostle himself, and with no other John than the apostle.
It is certain that the publication of the Apocalypse must have been an event of great public notoriety among the Churches of Asia Minor. It came from the great survivor of the apostolic body known throughout the Christian world the disciple who leaned upon the bosom of Christ himself. It was addressed to the seven principal Churches in tones of imperative apostolic warning. It no doubt went the public round of those seven great Churches, being publicly announced and read in their congregations. It furnished the great programme of the future of the Messianic Church. With the friends and contemporaries of John, therefore, both the authorship and date of the Apocalypse must have been matters of profound interest and perfect knowledge. It must have been an event for half a century. When, therefore, Irenaeus tells us that his information came from John’s own interviewers, we have a rarely sure authority. It is no guess, no conjecture, but an immediate knowledge. And this, be it noted, applies to our coming discussion of the date, as well as to the authorship.
An argument is drawn against John’s authorship from the difference of its style from that of John’s Gospel and Epistles. We discuss this point further under the head of DATE. While it is fully admitted that the diversity of style is very great, that fact is not with out its explanations, as there shown. But while these diversities are undeniable, scholars have, on the other hand, found many traces of underlying identity. These identities justify the belief that the diversities of style arise from the diversity of conditions. The identity, especially of the theology of the Apocalypse with that of the Gospel and Epistles, has been discussed at great length, and shown with great clearness, by Gebhardt, in his work, “The Doctrine of the Apocalypse.”
In opposition to this body of early historical evidence there is nothing of a historical character to present. The Alogi, a small heretical sect, denied the apostolic authorship, because they held it a production unworthy of John. In the third century, Caius of Rome rejected it because he interpreted it to teach Chiliasm, that is, the premillennial advent. On the same grounds Dionysius, successor of Origen at Alexandria, and Eusebius the historian, entertained doubts of its apostolic origin. But none of these testify to the fact on historical grounds. Whether the book is obscure, and unworthy an apostle, or teaches erroneous doctrine, are matters of opinion; in which we are as competent to judge as either of these eminent scholars. Our conclusion as to the authorship is to be ruled by authentic witnesses who testify to a fact they know; but in regard to its worthiness or its interpretation we are not ruled by the opinions of men who know no better than we. Historically, therefore, the testimony in favour of John’s authorship of the Apocalypse is not only overwhelming but uncontradicted.
DATE OF THE APOCALYPSE.
On the question of date the historic testimony is as unanimous as on the question of apostolic authorship. The pretence that it was written in the time of Nero or Galba has not a single testimony in all the Christian literature of the first three we might say, of the first five centuries. There is not a single author of the first three centuries that gives any other date than the reign of Domitian.
First comes the decisive testimony of one who certainly knew the true date, Irenaeus, the grand-pupil of John, whom we have already adduced as quoting the words of the personal friends of John whom he knew. In regard to the real name symbolized by 666, he tells us: “If it were necessary for this name to be at the present time proclaimed, it would have been uttered by him who saw the apocalypse; for it was not seen a long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.”
The opponents of the Domitianian date, very unjustifiably styling this the “Irenaean tradition,” heroically assume that all the other testifiers to the same date derive their knowledge of the date from Irenaeus, so that the testimony of all “is reduced to the testimony of one man.” Ask them for their proof of such derivation, and their helpless reply is, that “it is the same tradition.” But how that proves that this “same tradition” came through the same one man, is what they can adduce nothing to show. In our remarks on Irenaeus’s testimony to John’s authorship we noted how widely notorious both authorship and date must have been to John’s contemporaries, and so the same “one tradition” must have come down to the generation of Irenaeus through thousands of different channels. The so-called “Irenaean tradition” was the sole tradition of the whole Church. The foolish fable of the Neronian date has no existence in literature until the sixth century. Its revival in modern times, on the most fantastic grounds, is a discredit to biblical criticism. The real object of these pseudo-criticisms is to identify John’s conception of the recovery of the beast of Revelation 13:1 from death with a vulgar superstition of the Roman populace that Nero, after his assassination, had a resurrection from the dead a superstition which closer research shows really not to have existed. (See our closing notes to chapter 17.) Against this imaginary derivation from Irenaeus there are decided proofs. 1. No witness, except Eusebius the historian, refers to Irenaeus as his author. 2. Variations and subordinate additions show independence of testimonies. 3. The corroborations which we shall soon give from secular history, of the Domitianian date of John’s Patmos residence could not, at any rate, have come down through Irenaeus.
Clement of Alexandria says, “After the tyrant died, John returned from the island of Patmos to Ephesus.” Clement does not in this clause mention Domitian by name; but we know from Eusebius, who quotes these words from Clement, that Domitian was the “tyrant” that Clement meant. For Eusebius introduces the quotation by saying, that John “addressed the Churches of Asia, on his return from his banishment to the isle of Patmos, after the death of Domitian.”
Origen alludes to the imperial banisher of John in a remarkably similar manner: “The emperor of the Romans, as tradition teaches, condemned John for testifying on account of the word of truth, to the island of Patmos. And John narrates the things in regard to his testimony, not telling who condemned him, saying these words in his Apocalypse: ‘1 John, etc.
Revelation 1:9.’” Origen here notes John’s silence about his banisher, not as though it were doubtful who he was, but as a forbearance on the part of the apostle. See our note on the passage. John names his banishment, but, forbearingly, not his banisher. That Origen knew “the tradition” of Domitian there can be no reasonable doubt; and there is no reason to suppose that he knew any other, or that any other existed. By “emperor of the Romans,” therefore, he meant Domitian.
Victorinus, Bishop of Pettau, and martyr under Diocletian, third century, says, “This John saw, when he was in the island of Patmos, being condemned to the mines by Domitian Caesar.”
In the fourth century the Domitianian date is, for the first time, apparently contradicted by Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, who uses the phrases, “after he was ninety years old,” “after his return from Patmos, which took place under Claudius Caesar;” that is, about the year A.D. 54. On this we may note: 1. It helps not the advocates of Nero a particle. 2. It gives the name of an emperor which almost nobody advocates. 3. Epiphanius has a low character for accuracy with scholars. 4. The passage contradicts itself; for John (who is universally held as younger than the Saviour) was scarce half ninety years old in the time of Claudius. Finally, it gives nearly the true Domitianian date; for John was probably not far from ninety on his return from his banishment by that emperor. The real fact seems to be, that Epiphanius himself had the Domitianian date in view, but twice misrecollected the name of the emperor of that date.
It is not until the sixth century that the Neronian fable appears. The unknown writer of the subscription to the Apocalypse of the Philoxenian Version (Syriac) says, “The revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the island of Patmos, whither he was banished by the Emperor Nero.” A statement made for the first time six centuries after date, would be considered valueless by any critical historian. This passage, therefore, so far as this discussion is concerned, has no existence. It furnishes not the slightest proof of any existing tradition or opinion in the Church favouring that date. The ignorant writer names Nero just because Nero was, traditionally, the standard Roman persecutor, the first to be thought of when a persecutor is to be mentioned.
There are two remarkable passages in the early Church writers, which have been so manipulated to prove the Neronian date that it is necessary to notice them. The first is from Eusebius, who says: “It was at Rome that Peter was crucified with his head downward, that Paul was beheaded, and John was banished to the island.” Now this says nothing about the date of the three events, but only the place, namely, Rome. And Tertullian:
“Happy that Church in which the apostles poured forth their whole doctrine and their blood; where Peter imitated the passion of his Lord; where Paul was crowned with the martyrdom of the Baptist; and where the apostle John, after he had been immersed in hot oil and suffered nothing, was banished to the island.” Not a word is here said of date, but only of place. The locality of all these events is said to be Rome; their time is unmentioned.
DATE OF THE PATMOS RESIDENCE.
Besides these direct proofs, the records of the date of John’s banishment and return even more decisively fix the date of the writing.
First, it is in Domitian’s reign alone, that history finds the custom of banishing individuals for religious reasons; and it is uniformly agreed that the banished were restored at, or after, the close of his reign. Under Nero the punishment was immediate execution, not banishment. The Pagan historian of these times, Dion Cassius, says: “Nerva” (the successor of Domitian) “released those that had been condemned, and restored those that had been banished for impiety;” that is, for rejecting paganism. Eusebius, the historian, says: “They marked the time accurately, namely, in the fifteenth year of Domitian, relating that, besides many others, Flavia Domitilla, who was niece of Flavius Clemens, one of the then aristocracy of Rome, was, on account of her testimony to Christ, banished for punishment to the Pontian island.” Tertullian, with a slight inaccuracy, varies from the unanimous account of all other writers, and makes Domitian restore those whom he had banished. Victorinus, in a passage above quoted, says that John was “condemned to the mines by Domitian Caesar.” Eusebius, in his Chronicon, says that John’s banishment was in the fourteenth year of Domitian’s reign. We need, however, quote no further on this point; for with the exception of the untrusty Epiphanius, who dates the banishment under Claudius, (which nearly nobody now believes,) all before the sixth century, both pagan and Christian writers, date the banishment under Domitian. But if John resided in Patmos under Domitian, he wrote the Apocalypse under Domitian.
Against the Domitianian date certain passages are quoted from the book itself; but it is fatal to this argument that it is obliged to assume certain peculiar interpretations of those passages interpretations which are entirely inadmissible. Thus, because the city of Jerusalem and temple are mentioned, Revelation 11:1, and the tribes in Revelation 7:4-8, it is assumed by these interpretations that Jerusalem, the literal city, was not yet destroyed. But is it not a wonderful blunder to assume that because a thing is mentioned, it really exists at the time of mention? Is a thing never named or described after it has been once destroyed? But the use of Jerusalem and temple and tribes as apocalyptic symbols, no more proves the literal existence of the city than the descriptions of Babylon prove that that great capital then existed in all its power and glory. See our notes on those two passages.
Another equally fallacious argument is derived from the assumption that the “beast” of Revelation 13:1, etc., represents Nero. It is assumed that the “kings” of Revelation 17:10 are Roman emperors; and, counting in Julius Caesar, who preceded Augustus, the sixth who now “is” would be Nero. (See our notes.) Then the date of the book must be under Nero, and the wounded head must be identified with Nero’s suicide. It is, in fact, to maintain this fabulous identification, that the historical proofs of the Domitianian date are so unscrupulously outraged by the false “criticism.”
The earlier date has been, finally, deduced from the strong and youthful style of the Apocalypse. There is confessedly a great difference in style between the Apocalypse and John’s Gospel and Epistles. From this marked contrariety one class of critics has denied that both were by the same writer; and others would infer that the Apocalypse was much the earlier written. The answer to either one of these two inferences would refute the other.
It is admitted that the style of the Apocalypse is much more rhapsodical, abounding in Hebraisms, solecisms, and defiances of grammatical rules. The Gospel and Epistles, as exhibiting more Greek culture and a calmer spirit, are plausibly inferred to be the later productions. Yet this single difficulty cannot be allowed to invalidate the solid historical demonstrations, both that the Apocalypse is John’s and that it was written late in life. An illustrative parallel may be drawn, as one instance, from the case of Thomas Carlyle. Early in life his biography of Schiller was written in chaste, calm, Addisonian English; but with this his history of the French Revolution and all his other later productions stand in most violent contrast. It was in his mature life and old age that his style grew bold and wild, and often grotesque and paroxysmal. There was not only the appearance of two contrasted styles, but of two very opposite minds. The one was the style of the pure quiet thought of the age of Queen Anne, the other was steeped in the most intense and turbulent spirit of modern Germany. Now John’s Gospel and Epistles were written in his best Greek to win his Ephesian audience to the history and doctrines of Jesus. On the contrary, in the Apocalypse he is an emulator of the prophets of the Old Testament. His soul as well as his style is Hebraized. Both from the mental frame into which his inspiring theme wraps him, and from set purpose, he forces and tortures language to express his colossal conceptions in the grandest and most energetic forms. He does not, like Carlyle, possess himself of a new and foreign style and mind; but rather returns to the style and mind of his youth, before Grecian culture had softened his Hebraism the era when Jesus surnamed him a “son of thunder.” We do not hesitate, therefore, to recognise in the Apocalypse both the venerable age and the renewed youth of the last of the apostles.
SACRED NUMBERS OF THE APOCALYPSE.
That certain numbers have a symbolical significance is now admitted by all eminent commentators. The frequent coincidence of the same number in the numbering of actual literal objects, of course proves nothing; but when we are within the sphere of symbols, and where numbers are a matter of the author’s pure choice, an element of significance found repeatedly occurring furnishes the probable reason of the particular selection. For a brief complete ascertainment of the symbols 3, 4, 7, 12, the reader is referred to our note, Sacred Numbers, at the close of Luke 6:0. Here we may first note:
THE CREATIONAL NUMBER, FOUR.
The first four of the seven seals, of the seven trumpets, and the seven vials, are creational; that is, connected closely with the physical frame of the earth. See our notes. The remaining divine threes of each of these three sevens mount higher, and refer to the spiritual interests of man. The fours symbolize the world in the aspects of sin and woe; the threes present the consequent retribution and redemption. The former presuppose Adam, the fall, and the ruin; the latter auspicate Christ, the judgment, and the renovation. So also Revelation 7:1, four angel guardians over physical objects, four winds, four corners; and, Revelation 20:8, four corners of the earth. See following passages for enumerations of four particulars:
Revelation 7:9; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 10:11; Revelation 11:9; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 13:7; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15. To some of these instances we would not attribute a creational character, from their single intrinsic nature; but there is, perhaps, no one in which it may not well be found after the law has been ascertained by induction from a sufficient number of instances.
THE NUMBER SEVEN.
Seven is the prince of sacred numbers. That it is viewed as a combination of the creational four and the trinitarian or divine three, thus symbolizing the totality of the world and God, is clear from the seven seals, trumpets, and vials. How it dominates in the Apocalypse is shown in our note closing Luke vi, enumerating no less than fifteen series measured by that number. Dr. Pusey (Daniel, p. 167) suggests that the adoption of this number has also a basis in the development of the human bodily system. He quotes plentiful authorities showing the ancient opinion that human life advances by seven-year stages. Plutarch tells us that “Heraclitus and the Stoics say that man’s perfection begins about his second seventh year.” Solon has left a poem describing the seven-year advancing stages of life to the tenth, agreeing with the psalmist in his limitation; but other thinkers counted to the twelfth, making eighty-four years the natural limit. Modern law makes thrice seven the period for attaining manhood.
But is there not another corporeal basis for the number seven? Some thinkers tell us that our seven-day period of labour and repose is the true measure suited to man’s constitution. More or less would not adjust well to his nature. Our impression is, that most men feel this to be the fact. Whatever other concordant reasons there may be, then, the week has truly a fixed physiological basis. “The sabbath was made for man.” It might seem, then, that the parable of the divine creational rest was framed as basis for the sabbath law in the decalogue. Whatever physical basis the seven-day cycle of the Mosaic cosmogony possesses, it seems quite clear that that cycle is prepared and adjusted for the decalogue, not the decalogue to the cycle. As man is the miniature image of God, so man’s repose is miniature of God’s parabolic repose, and man’s little week is the miniature of God’s stupendous week. Yet the week, in accordance with all these facts, has an astronomical basis in its being the approximate quarter of a month.
THE NUMBER TEN seems to symbolize the human universality of our race, usually in its secular and even profane aspect. Ten utterances are given by Moses (Genesis i) as uttered by Elohim in bringing the world to becoming the home of man. It is remarkable that both genealogies of the race, from the creation to the flood, and from the flood to Abraham, contain ten generations. Ten were the plagues of Egypt revealing Jehovah to the profane world. Ten were the commandments, the law for all the world. Ten the toes of Daniel’s image ultimately representing the nations of the world; and ten the horns of the apocalyptic beast symbolizing the same universality. Ten were the virgins of the parable representing our probationary race. Ten multiplied by seven represents a similar universality. See our introductory note to Luke 10:0. Seventy was the number of deacons representing a universal ministry; seventy was, with the Jews, the symbolic number of the nations of the earth. Ten raised to a cube, and usually multiplied into some other number, serves to increase the whole number to a magnitude required by the subject. See notes on Revelation 7:4; Revelation 9:16; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 20:4.
Whether the Apocalypse in its number of 1260 days uses “a day for a year,” has been a much-mooted question. Symmetry requires something like such a symbolism. Where a beast symbolizes a nation, a symbolic reduction of number is required. For, how monstrous would be the making the life of a beast 1260 years! The rude proportion is: As a beast to a nation so 1260 days to 1260 years. So in Ezekiel 4:1-8 the proportion was: As Ezekiel’s tile was to Jerusalem, so was a day to a year. Wordsworth rightly makes the 42 months, or 1260 days, an adverse period; but not only does this number in its various forms symbolize the adverse, but also the extension or magnitude of the period. John’s great numbers are usually the exact for the inexact. Such are the 144,000 of chapter 7; the 200,000,000 of Revelation 9:16; the 7,000 of Revelation 11:13; the 1,000 of Revelation 20:2. Daniel’s seventy weeks were very nearly literal; the symbol existing not in the events predicted, but, if at all, only in the weeks, or rather, literal heptads. Hence both the Jewish and Christian expositors have looked for an exact period of seventy years. In the Apocalypse, however, the analogy appears to be in favour of viewing the 1260 days as an approximation to a definite period of extended centuries. See notes on Revelation 12:14; Revelation 13:5.
STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK.
A comparison of passages will show that John received THREE DISTINCT COMMISSIONS to prophesy, from three distinct donors, producing what may, not improperly, be styled three apocalypses.
The FIRST COMMISSION (Revelation 1:19) is given by Christ himself in a CHRISTOPHANY or personal appearing; and hence we have, in chaps, 2, 3, what we may call the Christophanic apocalypse.
The SECOND (Revelation 4:1) is bestowed by a THEOPHANY, or present God; and hence we have, in Revelation 4-9, the Theophanic apocalypse.
The THIRD (Revelation 10:11) is bestowed by a personally appearing angel, (chap. 10,) and hence the remainder of the book is the ANGELOPHANIC apocalypse.
The first, or CHRISTOPHANIC part, is Christ’s messages dictated to John, and addressed to the seven representative Churches of Asia, and through them to all the Churches of the Christian ages.
The second, or THEOPHANIC part, is a prophetic presentation of the then future of the Christian dispensation, exhibited not in chronological history, but in a few pictorial phases, through a cycle of six opening seals succeeded by a celestial sealing.
The third, or ANGELOPHANIC part, presents, in a fuller and more definite chronological order and completeness the same Christian dispensation, exhibiting the struggles of Christ and Antichrist, down through the days of divine triumph to the final judgment and eternity. This third part consists of the great historical Seventh Trumpet, preluded by the six previous trumpets. As a whole, the six-seal series and the seven-trumpet series go over the same cycle of time; the former by phases, the latter, first (in the six trumpets) by phases and then (in the seventh) by consecutive history. The seventh trumpet is the true historic consecutive Apocalypse. It deals in chronological events and movements. Yet it is not so specifically minute as to mention any single human individual in history. There is no mention of Nero, nor Charlemagne, nor Napoleon, nor of the Crimean war; the curiosity that looks into the Apocalypse as a fortune-telling record of particular contemporaneous events or personages is the source of a large amount of the discredit resting on this book. Those who expect to find contemporaneous events exhibited large as life in this book forget how great a space so small a map as the Apocalypse has to cover. When Alcibiades was boasting of the large estates he was to inherit, Socrates laid before him the map of Greece, and brought him to modesty by asking him to point out his broad acres. We need a similar modesty in estimating our own magnitude in the Apocalypse.
THE PREDICTION, THE AGENTS, AND THE APPARATUS.
The object of the Apocalypse, mainly, is prediction. And these predictions appear in a series of pictures, or symbolical images, presented to the seer and represented to us by him in words. But a large part of the book is occupied with a description of the agents, and of the apparatus or machinery, as we may call it, by whom and by which these pictures are presented to view. These three parts the agents, the apparatus, and the prediction must be distinguished from each other by the reader. The agents are, Christ, God, the angel of chap. x, and various angels. The apparatus consists of the sceneries and inanimate objects, the seals, the trumpets, the vials, etc. Thus in the second part the fourth and fifth chapters are entirely occupied with the agents and apparatus and their action, by which the “seals” are to be brought out and the predictions the seals contain are to be brought to view. It is the revealed contents of the seals which are the true predictions. Very erroneous conclusions result when an agent or apparatus is mistaken for a predictive symbol. Sad errors are produced, for instance, when the angel of chap. x is taken as symbolizing an event in human history. Yet in the word apparatus there is no depreciation. For this part of the book is sublimely significant of the overruling providence of God in the system of the world. The Apocalypse becomes thereby a panorama, on a finite human scale, of the divine administration. The apocalyptic panorama represents the divine administration, as an orrery represents the solar system. It is a minute model of the divine government during the Messianic dispensation until it merges into eternity.
In our Commentary, while differing in some subordinate views, we agree with the body of evangelical commentators in the most important eschatological results. Rejecting the immense mass of complex ingenuities with which the text has been overlaid by the ultra-historical school, we still gauge the progress of the world by some great epochal points, and attain a clearness in our view of the whole. Our division into Three Apocalyptic Commissions must sustain itself by the evidences of co-ordination furnished by the threefold statement and by the results. In our own explication of xiv-xvi we think the evidences will appear to most readers conclusive. Our view of the Seventh Trumpet, as furnishing a perfectly consecutive history to the end, we believe to be both maintainable and very important in its conclusions. Our hope, on the whole, is, that we have furnished an elucidation, by the light of which the book will be read by a large class of minds with easy understanding and fresh interest. Our ministry generally have almost dropped the Apocalypse from study or public use. And yet we have been impressed with the belief, that, relieved from the burdens that have been laid by complex and questionable commentary upon it, the book is full of inspiring topics and vivid illustrations for the pulpit.
DATES OF COMMENCEMENT OF THEIR REIGNS.
B.C. 31. AUGUSTUS. Christ born, four years before the Vulgar Era.
A.D. 14. TIBERIUS.
A.D. 30. Christ crucified.
37 . CALIGULA. Conversion of Paul.
41 . CLAUDIUS.
54 . NERO who was deposed and committed suicide.
60-62. St. James’s Epistle and martyrdom. Book of Hebrews written.
66. Peter and Paul martyred.
68 . GALBA reigned six months.
69 . OTHO reigned two months.
69 . VITELLIUS reigned eight months.
70 . VESPASIAN. Destruction of Jerusalem.
79 . TITUS. John’s three Epistles. Epistle of Jude.
81 . DOMITIAN. Apocalypse written about A.D. 95.
96 . NERVA. Restores John from Patmos.
98 . TRAJAN. Death of John.
PLAN OF THE APOCALYPSE.
1. Title of the book Revelation 1:1-3,
2. Dedication to the Churches, Revelation 1:4-8 Revelation 1:1-8
THE CHRISTOPHANIC APOCALYPSE Revelation 1:1 to Revelation 3:22
1. The Christophany and first prophetic commission Revelation 1:9-20
2. Epistles successively to the seven churches Revelation 2:1 to Revelation 3:22
THE THEOPHANIC APOCALYPSE Revelation 4:1 - Revelation 9:21
I. THE THEOPHANY GOD ENTHRONED IN STATE Revelation 4:1-6
The Beasts, or Cherubim The four and twenty Elders Revelation 4:7-11
II. PRELUDE TO OPENING THE SEVEN SEALS Revelation 5:1-14
1. The book and unaccepted challenge for its opening Revelation 5:1-4
2. Challenge accepted and book taken by the Lamb Revelation 5:5-7
3. Successive songs of praise to the Lamb by beasts, elders, angels, and all creation Revelation 5:8-14
III. OPENING OF THE SEVEN SEALS Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 8:1
A. The Seal-Cycle. The six-seal cycle briefly pictures the phases of the Messianic age down to the final dissolution; the seven trumpet cycle pictures and narrates more fully the same course of time to the final judgment.
Four Creational Seals.
FIRST SEAL White horse of Conquest Revelation 6:1-2
SECOND SEAL Red horse of Carnage Revelation 6:3
THIRD SEAL Black horse of Scarcity Revelation 6:5-6
FOURTH SEAL Pale horse four-fold Death Revelation 6:7-8
Three Spiritual Seals.
FIFTH SEAL Cry from souls under Altar=PersecutionRevelation 6:9-11; Revelation 6:9-11
SIXTH SEAL Final earthly Dissolution and Doom Revelation 6:12-17
With counter picture of celestial reward of Saints Revelation 7:1-17
a. Winds are silenced while OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS are sealed 144,000 Revelation 7:1-8
b. Then number of NEW TESTAMENT SAINTS; too great to be numbered; with song Revelation 7:9-10
c. Surrounding circle of ANGELS, with song Revelation 7:11-12
d. ELDER’S explanation and glorious picture of their HEAVENLY STATE. Revelation 7:13-17
SEVENTH SEAL Issues no revelation, but inaugurates the Seven Trumpets Revelation 8:1-6
IV. THE SEVEN TRUMPETS Revelation 8:7 to Revelation 20:10
B. The Trumpet-Cycle. As the seal-cycle pictures the Messianic age briefly, so this trumpet-cycle both pictures (in first six trumpets) and narrates (in the seventh) the same down to judgment and eternity.
FOUR CREATIONAL TRUMPETS.
FIRST TRUMPET Plague upon Earth, hail, and fire Revelation 8:7
SECOND TRUMPET Plague upon Sea, mountain-sized fire-bolt Revelation 8:8-9
THIRD TRUMPET Plague upon Waters, star Wormwood Revelation 8:10-11
FOURTH TRUMPET Plague upon Luminaries, dimnessRevelation 8:12; Revelation 8:12
THREE SPIRITUAL (OR WOE) TRUMPETS.
An eagle appears and announces the THREE COMING WOE TRUMPETS, namely, of locust-demons, (Revelation 9:1-11,) war-demons, (Revelation 9:12-21,) and antichrist, (Revelation 12:1-17. ) Revelation 8:13
FIFTH TRUMPET Abyssmal Locust-demons emblems of infernal errors, lies, and vices Revelation 9:1-11
SIXTH TRUMPET War-horse demons emblem of Christendom’s wars Revelation 9:12-21
THE ANGELOPHANIC APOCALYPSE Revelation 10:1 - Revelation 22:21
1. THE ANGELOPHANY Descent of the World-Angel Revelation 10:1-2
2. He announces that in the sounding of the SEVENTH TRUMPET the eschatological mystery of God will be finished; that is, the trumpet will sound even to judgment and eternity Revelation 10:3-7
3. Third Prophetic Commission bestowed on John Revelation 10:8-11
I. PRELUDE TO THE SEVENTH TRUMPET Revelation 11:1-14
4. An outlined ground plan of the events of the Seventh Trumpet; that is, of the whole of Revelation 12:1 - Revelation 22:5 Revelation 11:1-13
a. The mystic Jerusalem=the pure Church ascertained by measurementRevelation 11:1-2; Revelation 11:1-2
b. The martyr two witnesses=the faithful fewRevelation 11:3-6; Revelation 11:3-6
c. Their destruction by the beast, and resurrection, triumph, and avengingRevelation 11:7-13; Revelation 11:7-13
II. SOUNDING OF THE ( third woe) SEVENTH TRUMPET Revelation 11:14
WARS OF CHRIST AND ANTI-CHRIST
[As the wars of Christ and antichrist extend from the first to the second Advent, so the SEVENTH (or THIRD WOE) TRUMPET covers the entire of that period, furnishing a consecutive HISTORY, with its regular symbolical chronology through the whole. ]
Triumphant voices chant the anticipation of its contents Revelation 11:15-19
Events of the Seventh Trumpet commence, extending to end of book Revelation 12:1
I. PERSONALITIES OF THE WAR .
Satanophany, the Dragon incarnate in the Roman Empire Revelation 12:1-4
The star-crowned woman, the Church, assailed by Dragon Revelation 12:1-6
Michael her champion; firmamental war; Dragon cast to earth Revelation 12:7-17
First (sea-risen) Beast=Christianized Roman Empire Revelation 13:1-10
Second (earth-born) Beast=Roman hierarchy=Clergy Revelation Revelation 13:11-13
Living Image of First Beast=the Popedom Revelation Revelation 13:14-18
II. EVENTS OF THE WAR .
THE THREE OVERTHROWS OF ANTICHRIST; namely, of his Capital, his Harlot, and his Armies Revelation 14:1 to Revelation 20:3
I. FIRST OVERTHROW of Antichrist’s CAPITAL, BABYLON Revelation 14:1 to Revelation 16:21
(The overthrow of BABYLON by JERUSALEM, three chapters, 14-16. The scene of belligerent preparation is at JERUSALEM, Mount Zion, the temple. )
1. The chapter of War Menace by Jerusalem against Babylon Revelation 14:1-20
a. ANTICIPATIVE BUT INDEFINITE JOY-SONG AT JERUSALEM, ON MOUNT ZION Revelation 14:1-5
b. THREE ANGELS HOVERING OVER JERUSALEM Revelation 14:6-12
1. First angel proclaims triumphal everlasting Gospel Revelation 14:6-7
2. Second angel defines the object of these war manifestoes, Babylon Revelation 14:8
3. Third angel pours forth a volume of divine malediction against Babylon and her devotees for martyring the saints Revelation 14:9-12
c. SKY-VISION ( over Jerusalem) SYMBOLIZING THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLONRevelation 14:14-20; Revelation 14:14-20
2. The chapter of War Preparation (at Jerusalem) for Babylon’s destruction Revelation 15:1-8
The seven destroying angels in temple; presented with vials Revelation 15:1-7
Depot of divine wrath in Jerusalem temple Revelation 15:8
3. The chapter of the Destruction of Babylon by batteries of wrath poured from Jerusalem Revelation 16:1-21
a. The four creational vials upon earth, sea, waters, and sun Revelation 16:1-9
b. Fifth vial on kingdom of the beast Revelation 16:10-11
c. Sixth vial on the Euphrates, for the kings of the east Revelation 16:12
d. The three frogs Antichristic rally in behalf of Babylon Revelation 16:13-16
e. Seventh vial on the air earthquake, crash, BABYLON’S DOWNFALL Revelation 16:17-21
II. SECOND OVERTHROW of Antichrist’s HARLOT= the corrupt Church Revelation 17:1-18
1. Picture of the Harlot mounted on the Beast Revelation 17:1-6
2. Angel’s exposition of the Beast Revelation 17:7-14
3. Exposition of the Harlot and her total destruction Revelation 17:15-18
4. Song of Triumph over the accomplished destruction of Babylon Revelation 18:1-24
a. Angelic announcement of past downfall and prospective ruinRevelation 18:1-3; Revelation 18:1-3
b. Celestial rehearsal of ancient predictions now fulfilledRevelation 18:4-8; Revelation 18:4-8
c. Portraiture of her mercantile and commercial desolationsRevelation 18:9-20; Revelation 18:9-20
d. Mournful picture of her home silence and darknessRevelation 18:21-24; Revelation 18:21-24
5. Song of triumph over destroyed harlot and coming of pure bride Revelation 19:1-10
III. THIRD OVERTHROW of Antichrist’s ARMIES Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 20:3
1. Descent of the Great Captain and armies of heaven Revelation 19:11-16
2. Sun-angel calls the birds to a coming banquet Revelation 19:17-18
3. Capture and penalty of Beast and False Prophet Revelation 19:19-21
4. Capture of the real Antichrist Satan, and his thousand-year imprisonment Revelation 20:1-3
RESULT OF OVERTHROWS the thousand-year repose of victory and reign the MILLENNIUM Revelation 20:4-6
New rebellion of Satan closed by his destruction Revelation 20:7-10
THE FINAL JUDGMENT AND AWARDS Revelation 20:11 to Revelation 22:5
1. The throne, the resurrection, and vanishing earth Revelation 20:11-12
2. The final penal award the lake of fire Revelation 20:13-15
3. The final glorious award the new heaven and earth Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5
a. Visible descent of the new Jerusalem to the new earth Revelation 21:1-4
b. Divine announcement of its blessedness and conditionsRevelation 21:5-8; Revelation 21:5-8
c. Description of the heavenly city Revelation 21:9-27
d. Its river and tree of life Close of Apocalypse Revelation 22:1-5
EPILOGUE Four attestations to this Apocalypse Revelation 22:6-20
1. By ANGEL, briefly reiterating the divine endorsement Revelation 22:6
2. By JOHN, recapitulating God’s sending angel and his own over-reverence to him Revelation 22:6-9
3. By GOD, realizing the judgment as immediateRevelation 22:10-15; Revelation 22:10-15
4. By JESUS, reaffirming his own coming, denouncing corrupters of the record Revelation 22:16-19 John’s final welcome to the coming BENEDICTION Revelation 22:20-21