Page images
PDF
EPUB

the books were opened, as in Daniel, vii. 10. The dead are judged by their own actions, as recorded in the books, a final and conclusive proof of the value of “works " in the scheme of salvation. And the Book of Life was opened. It was promised “to him that shall overcome" in the Church of Sardis, I will not blot his name out of the book of life” (R. iii. 5). It is called the book of life of the Lamb at R. xiii, 8, and again at R. xxi. 27. The martyrs were given to understand that their names are in the Book of Life of the Lamb, and the names of all the elect, who are destined to heaven, are in the Book of Life. See R. xx. 15. Nevertheless, all are judged according to their works. See 2 Cor. v, 10. See also next verse.

13. Και έδωκεν η θάλασσα τους νεκρους τους εν αυτή, και ο θάνατος και ο αδης έδωκαν τους νεκρούς τους εν αυτοίς, και εκρίθησαν έκαστος κατά τα έργα αυτών.

13. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell gave up their dead that were in them, and they were judged every one according to their works.

Not only are they judged who die in the final cataclysm, when heaven and earth pass away, but the past gives up its dead also. Death itself, even Hades, gives up its dead. Death and “hell” followed the red horse, where death stands for pestilence and Hades for limbo (R. vi. 8). The Seer makes a clear distinction between Hades and the pool of fire. Josephus in his discourse to the Greeks “Concerning Hades" says, “ Hades wherein the souls of men are confined until a proper season, which God hath determined, when He will make a resurrection of all men from the dead" (v.). The souls of the dead from Hades, united with their bodies, given up by death, are judged according to their works. It is hinted that the Abyss and Hades are distinct places. At R. ix. I a fallen angel is given the key of the bottomless pit, tris åßúooov. Our Lord held the key of " Hades" (R. i. 18). Smoke came out of the Abyss as from a furnace (R. ix. 2). Apollyon is the angel of the Abyss (R. ix. 11). The two witnesses are slain by “the Beast from the abyss” (R. xi. 7). The Beast (Nero) came up out of the Abyss, and went to destruction (R. xvii. 8). An angel came down from heaven with the key of the Abyss (R. XX. I). Satan is cast into the Abyss (R. xx. 3). Satan is “loosed out of his prison ”-ins pularns (R. XX. 7). The Abyss is therefore a prison, like Hades. The Seer mentions Hades in connection with men, and the Abyss in connection with demons. He seems to have three places in view, the prison of men= Hades, the prison of demons, the Abyss, and the final place of the demons and the damned “the pool of fire burning with brimstone” (R. xix. 20).

"Exactos, each one, individually, is judged according to his works. So Matt. xvi. 27; Rom. ii. 6; 1 Pet. i. 17.

14. Και ο θάνατος και ο αδης έβληθησαν εις την λίμνης του πυρός, ούτος ο θάνατος και δεύτερός έστιν, η λίμνη του Trupós.

14. And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire : this is the second death.

That adns is but a temporary habitation is shown here by its being cast into the pool of fire, with death, at the day of judgment. Death and Hades—personified-were looked upon as the enemies of man. “And the enemy death shall be destroyed last” (1 Cor. xv. 26). “And when this mortal hath put on immortality . . . Death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor. xv. 54). See Osee xiii. 14.

The pool of fire, into which the Beast, the false prophet, Satan, and the damned were cast (R. xix. 20, xx. 9-15), is the Second death, the eternal one; εις τους αιώνας των αιώνων (R. XX. 10).

“The pool of fire” is mentioned twice in the Greek, above.

15. Και εί τις ουχ ευρέθη εν τη βίβλω της ζωής γεγραμμένος, έβλήθη εις την λίμνην του πυρός.

15. And whoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the pool of fire.

This vision accords with the words of our Lord: “ Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. xxv. 41).

So ends the Revelation of the history of the Church and the world. The period from the end of the millennium to the end of the world-about four hundred years of which has already elapsed-is dismissed in a few lines, as a period in which the Church will be attacked on all sides. To this period doubtless belong the seven thunders, which the Seer was ordered to seal up and “write them not" (R. X. 4). But we have in the predictions regarding the last three ages of the Church, Sardis, Philadelpbia, and Laodicea, a good deal of information as to the state of the Church and the world in our own day, and in the last days.

All the dramatis persona of the Book are now disposed of, except the "woman clothed with the sun" at R. xii. 1, who is again referred to at R. xix. 7, 8 as the wife of the Lamb, clothed with “fine linen glittering white.” She reappears in the New Jerusalem, and is identified by the Seer's Angelic guide, at R. xxi. 9, where She is called “the bride, the wife of the Lamb."

PART VII

THE NEW JERUSALEM

We now come to the rewards of the just, symbolised in a description of heaven called the New Jerusalem. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor. ii. 9; Isa. lxiv. 4). It is impossible to symbolise the unknown and the unknowable. The Seer therefore draws a picture of the Church in bliss, into which he weaves the fulfilment of promises made to the martyrs in earlier parts of the Book, many of which are in the O.T. His picture of heaven is not material. It is the happy union of the Church with God—“the Kingdom of Heaven." The material note in it is pure symbolism and unavoidable.

CHAPTER XXI 1. Και είδον ουρανόν καινόν και γην καινήν, ο γαρ πρώτος ουρανός και η πρώτη γη απήλθον, και η θάλασσα ουκ έστιν έτι.

I. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more.

(S.= ánñndav.)

Heaven and earth mean the visible universe. The special reference to "the sea " here is taken, therefore, to refer to the inhabitants of the earth—the sea of life. The physical world and animal life are no more.

There is a reference to this “new heaven and a new earth" in Isa. lxv. 17 and lxvi. 22, and 2 Pet. iii. 13. The first heaven and the first earth “fled away, and there was no place found for them" (R. XX. 11).

“A new heaven and a new earth" are required to provide a stage for what follows.

2. Και την πόλιν την αγίαν Ιερουσαλήμ καινήν είδον καταβαίνουσαν εκ του ουρανού από του Θεού, ήτοιμασμένην ως νύμφην κεκοσμημένην το ανδρί αυτής. .

2. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven, from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The Vulgate and Douay Bibles have “And I, John.

This takes us back to Chapter XIX., where, after the fall of Rome, we are told "the marriage of the Lamb is come,” and his wife hath prepared herself (R. xix. 7). The holy city, the New Jerusalem,“ prepared as a bride " for her husband, is the Church “Triumphant.” She comes down out of heaven, where we have had glimpses of her in the visions of the throne of God.

This new vision carries out the promises to the Seven Churches. “And I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven" (R. iii. 12). The saints of God form the New Jerusalem. It is a living body. The picture drawn by the Seer of the existence of the martyrs in heaven at R. vii. ff. is kept well in view here, and repeatedly referred to.

3. Και ήκουσα φωνής μεγάλης έκ του θρόνου λεγούσης, , Ιδού η σκηνή του Θεού μετά των ανθρώπων, και σκενώσει μετ' αυτών, και αυτοί λαοί αυτού έσονται, και αυτός ο Θεός μετ' αυτών έσται, αυτών Θεός.

3. And I heard a great voice from the throne saying, Behold the tabernacle of God with men ; and he will dwell with them ; and they shall be his people ; and God himself with them shall be their God.

The great voice from the throne we have taken to be the voice of God. 'H oknu"), the tent, translated "the tabernacle," takes us back to the early history of the Jews, when the ark reposed in a tent. At R. xv. 5, 8 vaòs tñs ornvîs, the tabernacle of the temple was opened. And at R. vii. 15 we have the reference to the tabernacle with which the above connects. There an angel explains that the martyrs are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night, lv to vaộ aŭtou, in His tabernacle. But there is no real oanvn there," for the Lord God Almighty is the temple thereof and the Lamb” (R. xxi. 22), showing that we have to deal with a living New Jerusalem, “the bride."

Prophecies of the O.T. are in view also. “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Lev. xxvi. 12). See also Jer. xxiv. 7. “And my

« PreviousContinue »