« PreviousContinue »
2 But the court which is with-| measure it not; for it is given out the temple, leave out, and unto the Gentiles : and the holy in which the temple was placed. The This expression seems to have origiwhole area was surrounded by a very nated in Dan. vii. 25, where we read substantial wall, nearly fifty feet in of “a time, times, and the dividing height. The site of the temple cov. of time," meaning one year, Ho ered nearly the northern half of this years, and a half of a year, or three area ; and the court of the Gentiles years and a half. It denoted the was the southern part of it, which time of the persecution of the church, occupied nearly as much room as all and triumph of the Roman power. the rest. It will be seen, then, that Three years and a half are just fortythe court of the Gentiles was “with two months; and forty-two months, out the temple," or outside of it. of thirty days each, (as the Jews reck
Measure it not. — This had always oned,) are just twelve hundred and been given to the Gentiles, and there- sixty days; ch. xi. 3, and xii. 6. fore needed not to be measured ; since During the forty-two months, the holy the revelator measured only that partz city was to be trodden under foot; as being peculiarly now the object of xi. 2; and the beast was to continue ; his description, which had not been xiii. 5. During the twelve hundred profaned by Gentile feet before. When and sixty days the two witnesses Ezekiel measured, he referred to the were to prophesy in sackcloth; xi. 3 ; profane place : “He measured it by and the woman was to remain in the the four sides : it had a wall round wilderness to which she fled ; xij. 6; about, five hundred reeds long, and and this appears to have been simulfive hundred broad, to make a separa- taneous with the “time, times, and tion between the sanctuary and the half a time,” mentioned chap. xii. 14. profane place ;" xlii. 20. [ It is We give no credit to the hypothesis, given unto the Gentiles. Such had that these twelve hundred and sixty been long the ordinance of God. As days were so many prophetical years, the city was being measured because a day being put for a year. We see it was to be given up to the Gentiles, no proof of this whatsoever. Neither there was no need of measuring that do we suppose that twelve hundred part to which they had been inva- and sixty days is strictly intended. riably admitted. But the whole was We regard this designation, in all its now about to be given up to them; forms, as a prophetical metaphor of “the holy city shall they tread under time. The only remark which we foot forty and two months ;” and this can make with confidence is, that in is precisely the description given by all its forms, the expression describes our Lord himself of the destruction the seasons of the persecution of the of Jerusalem by the Roman armies : church, and the triumph of the Roman “And they (the Jews) shall fall by power. Prof. Stuart says, “Is this the edge of the sword, and shall be period to be regarded as literal ; or as led away captive into all nations : merely a figurative mode of desigand Jerusalem shall be trodden down of nating a short period, by a reference the Gentiles, until the times of the to a well known period of time in the Gentiles be fulfilled;" Luke xxi. 24. book of Daniel, vii. 25; xii. 7? The It seems highly probable that the same question occurs in regard to the revelator had his mind on this pas- next verse, and some other passages sage, when he wrote the words on in the sequel. After all the investi. which we are remarking; and it serves gation which I have been able to to show that he is describing the make, I feel compelled to believe that destruction of Jerusalem as foretold the writer refers to a literal and defiby Jesus. | Forty and two months. — nite period, although not so exact that city shall they tread under foot 3 And I will give power unto forty and two months.
my two witnesses, and they shall a single day, or even a few days, of tion of Jerusalem, and not to its entire variation from it would interfere with overthrow, which is mentioned verses tise object he has in view. It is cer- 15—19. We have said, that previtain that the invasion of the Romans ously to giving a final account of the lasted just about the length of the overthrow of the city and nation of period named, until Jerusalem was the Jews, John took a momentary taken. And although the city itself retrospection of their history, espewas not besieged so long, yet the | cially that of the temple, and their metropolis, in this case, as in innu- opposition to the religion of Jesus ; merable others in both Testaments, and that opposition is portrayed under - appears to stand for the country of the treatment of the witnesses. 4th. Judea. During the invasion of Judea We do not think we are to construe by the Romans, the faithful testimony strictly the number two, as it respects of the persecuted witnesses for Chris- these witnesses; for this number, like tianity is continued, while at last that of seven, which occurs so frethey are slain. The patience of God, quently in the Apocalypse, seems to in deferring so long the destruction have been taken from the Levitical of the persecutors, is displayed by statutes. The testimony of two or this; and especially his mercy in three unexceptionable witnesses was continuing to warn and reprove them. regarded as sufficient ; Deut. xvii. 6. This is a natural, simple and easy Under that law one witness was not method of interpretation, to say the sufficient; Deut. xix. 15; but two least, and one which, although it is were susficient. Christ adopted this not difficult to raise objections against into his code for settling church disli. it, I feel constrained to adopt." culties ; Matt. xviii. 16. He was not (Com. on Rev. xi. 2. See also his condemned until there were found Hints on Prophecy, 117 et seq.) two false witnesses; Matt. xxvi. 60;
3. My two witnesses. - It has been see also 2 Cor. xiii. 1; 1 Tim. v. 19; a great difficulty with commentators Heb. X. 28. Here, then, is reason to tell who these two witnesses were. enough why the Christian witnesses Hammond calls them “the main dif- should be spoken of as two witnesses. ficulty of this chapter.” Let us exam. In fact, our Lord sent out his disciine the matter with care. We shall | ples by twos: “ After these things, come to a conclusion very different the Lord appointed other seventy also, from that of Hammond. 1st. They and sent them two and two before his were Christian witnesses, or witnesses face into every city, and place, whither of Christ. 2d. In verse 10 they are he himself would come;" Luke x. 1. called “prophets ;” they were perse. But, 5th. There is a still stronger cuted and killed; ver. 7; and were reason than the foregoing, why the at last received up into heaven ; ver. Christian witnesses were spoken of as 12. 3d. Let it be remembered that two. The revelator unquestionably the twelve hundred and sixty days had in his mind the two Jewish leaof their prophecy, as well as the ders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, under " three days and a half” that they lay whom the temple had been reared ; dead, were all finished before the and he compared to them the Chrisdestruction of Jerusalem ; for we are 1 tian witnesses, who were engaged in told that at the same hour in which rearing the spiritual temple of the they were received up into heaven, gospel. See further under verse 4. " there was a great earthquake, and I They shall prophesy. – Christian inthe tenth part of the city fell," ver. struction was sometimes spoken of as 13, which refers to the partial destruc- prophecy. “Having then gifts, dif
prophesy a thousand two hun- standing before the God of the dred and threescore days, clothed earth. in sackcloth.
5 And if any man will hurt 4 These are the two olive- them, fire proceedeth out of their trees, and the two candlesticks mouth, and devoureth their enefering according to the grace that is , earth ;" Zech. iv. 11, 14; and this led given to us, whether prophecy, let us the revelator to speak of the Chrisprophesy according to the proportion tian witnesses as “the two olive trees of faith ;" Rom. xii. 6; see also 1 and the two candlesticks standing Cor. xii. 10 ; xiii. 2, 9; xiv. 1, 24, 31, before the God of the earth,” as in
1 Tim. iv.. 14. TA thousand the verse before us. two hundred and threescore days. Having thus given abundant reaThis is the same expression, in effect, son why the Christian witnesses were as the forty-two months mentioned in spoken of as two, (although no stress the preceding verse. Forty-two mul- is to be put on that number, as tiplied by thirty, the number of days though there were any two particular the Jews allowed to a month, make Christians referred to,) we proceed to twelve hundred and sixty, or a thou- show (what perhaps is scarcely necessand two hundred and threescore. sary) that the early Christian preachT Clothed in sackcloth. - This was a ers were called (witnesses.'' sign of affliction : and these witnesses are witnesses of these things;” Luke prophesied during the time of the xxiv. 48. “Ye shall be witnesses church's greatest trial. See under unto me;" Acts i. 8; “This Jesus the following verse.
hath God raised up, whereof ye are 4. These are the two olive-trees. all witnesses ;' ii. 32; iii. 15; v. 31. In Zechariah, ch. iv., Joshua and 32; x. 39–43. It was a favorite Zerubbabel are represented by two figure of the apostle John, to repre. olive trees, planted by the sides of the sent the Christian teachers as witcandlesticks, to supply oil for the nesses bearing testimony. 1 Epis. lamps therein, olive oil being the iv. 14; Gos. iii. 11; v.39; and many common material used for that pur- other places. Nothing can be more pose. They were the leaders in the evident, than that the early Christian rebuilding of the temple, and encour- preachers were spoken of in the charaged the people, and supplied them acter of witnesses. God gave power with zeal, as the olive trees supplied to those witnesses, and they prophethe lamps with oil; and under the sied during their season, clothed in fidelity and perseverance of Zerub- sackcloth, as a sign of their great sorbabel, the great mountain became a row at the woes that were to fall plain, [i. e., great difficulties were upon their enemies, in which spirit overcome,) and the head stone of the Christ mourned over Jerusalem ; and temple was brought forth with shout- also a sign of the tribulation through ing, “Grace, grace, unto it.” The which they entered into the kingdom reader must peruse the whole of the of God. 4th chapter of Zechariah. In that 5. Fire proceedeth out of their mouth. chapter we have an account of the - This is a figure like that which we building of the temple, which was i have already found in ix. 17, 18, only about to be destroyed when John in that case it was applied to the
Hence his reference to the horses. As it respects the witnesses, passage in Zechariah. The prophet it was a symbolical representation of described the two leaders as "two their means of defence, and of the proolive trees,” and “two anointed ones, tection afforded them by the Father. that stand by the Lord of the whole They could not be slain until it was
mies : and if any man will hurt earth with all plagues, as often them, he must in this manner as they will. be killed.
7 And when they shall have 6 These have power to shut finished their testimony, the heaven, that it rain not in the beast that ascendeth out of the days of their prophecy: and bottomless pit shall make war have power over waters to turn against them, and shall overthem to blood, and to smite the come them, and kill them.
the will of God; they were invincible plagues of Egypt. But concerning until their work was done. If any the plagues which are mentioned genman attacked them, he would fall erally in the Apocalypse, we refer the before the judgments of God.
reader to what we shall say, under 6. Power to shut heaven. - The xxii. 19. power of Elijah to suspend the rain, 7. The beast that ascendeth, &c. — was a proof that he was the servant When their duty was done, and God of the living God; 1 Kings xvii. 1. had no more for them to do here This fact, in the sacred history of the below, the beast, who could not come Jews, was perfectly familiar io them out of the pit without permission of all. No man could have that power, God, shall assault them, and overas they all knew, without being an come them, and kill them. The fig. approved servant of the Most High. ure of the bottomless pit, we have
Turn them to blood. — Here is a explained in our notes on chap. ix. 2, reference also to Moses, who, as the to which we refer the reader. This servant of God, had wonderful power, is the first instance of our having met by which he turned the water of with the apocalyptical BEAST. The Egypt to blood, and brought plagues beast is a very different animal from all over that land. The object of the the four beasis, or living creatures, revelator was to show that these mentioned in the fourth, filth, and Christian witnesses were truly God's sixth chapters of the Apocalypse. servants, as much as Moses or Elijah. The latter are Zoa, living creatures ; The early Christians certainly had the former is to Therion, a wild venthe power of doing wonderful works omous animal. This beast we shall in attestation of the truths which they consider more fully under succeeding declared. What they bound on earth chapters. It is sufficient to observe was bound in heaven, and what they here, that it represents the leading loosed on earth was loosed in heaven, power by which the Christians were if two agreed as to what they should put to death. | Made war against ask. So said Christ, Matt. xviii. 18, them. — The beast made war against 19: “Verily, I say unto you, What them, and overcame them, and killed soever ye shall bind on earth, shall them. The Roman beast had domin. be bound in heaven : and whatsoever \ion in Judea ; and it was only by the ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed Roman law that the Christians could in heaven. Again I say unto you, be put to death. When Pilate gave That if two of you shall agree on up Jesus to the Jews, and said, “ Take earth, as touching anything that they him, and judge him according to your shall ask, it shall be done for them law,” they said, “ It is not lawful for of my Father which is in heaven." | us to put any man to death ;" John Two witnesses, under this rule, would xviii. 31. The Jews could not legally have great power. [ Smite the earth kill; the power to inflict death was with all plagues. — The figure here reserved to the Roman law; when is borrowed, undoubtedly, from the therefore the killing of the Christians
8 And their dead bodies shall and shall not suffer their dead lie in the street of the great city, bodies to be put in graves. which spiritually is called Sodom 10 And they that dwell upon and Egypt, where also our Lord the earth shall rejoice over them, was crucified.
and make merry, and shall send 9 And they of the people, gifts one to another; because and kindreds, and tongues, and these two prophets tormented nations, shall see their dead them that dwelt on the earth. bodies three days and a half, 11 And after three days and is referred to, even though it be in the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts Judea, the Roman beast is introduced of the earth. Their blood have they as the agent of destruction.
shed like water round about Jerusa. 8. In the street of the great city. – lem; and there was none to bury They were killed in Jerusalem ; their them. We are become a reproach to dead bodies were seen in the streets our neighbors, a scorn and derision to of that city. | Called Sodom and them that are round about us;' Psa. Egypt. - That wicked place was lxxix. 1—4. sometimes called Sodom, on account 10. Send gifts one to another. — To of its enormous crimes. It was to send gifts was a token of hilarity and the leaders of Israel that Isaiah joy. It was a custom especially on addressed himself when he said, great occasions of rejoicing. These “ Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers Christian witnesses had very faithof Sodom, &c.; i. 10. Jerusalem fully and very severely reproved manwas wicked like Sodom and Egypt, kind, particularly the Jews, for their and hence was spiritually called by sins. The case of Stephen is in point those names. TW here our Lord was here. They could scarcely contain crucified. — But the revelator makes it themselves while he spoke to them. certain what city he meant, by saying, • They were cut to the heart; and 66 where also our Lord was cruci- they gnashed on him with their fied.” Jerusalem then was certainly teeth ;" Acts vii. 54. They cried out intended.
with a loud voice, and stopped their 9. See their dead bodies. — The peo- ears, and ran upon him, and killed ple of all nations who entered within him ; verse 57. Glad indeed were the walls of Jerusalem, should see they to get such men out of the way; their dead bodies, denied the right of for they trembled and were tormented burial; a crime for which the Jews when their sins were pointed out. were afterwards visited with a like The death of such, therefore, was a fate; with terrific judgments, under cause of rejoicing to the wicked. which they died in such numbers that 11. Three days and a half. - This they had none to bury them, their is about the same length of time wives, nor their sons, nor their daugh which intervened between our Lord's ters, for God poured out their wicked- death and resurrection. Perhaps the ness upon them; Jer. xiv. 16. The revelator had his mind on that fact. revelator seems to have had in his 1 They stood upon their feet. It is mind the language of the Psalmist : not absolutely certain, that th “O God, the heathen are come into of the treatment of the Christian witthine inheritance; thy holy temple nesses is to be understood in its lithave they defiled; they have laid eral' import, although we have so Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies explained it. The language is suscepof thy servants have they given to be tible of either interpretation; though meat unto the fowls of the heaven,' we should be led by Rev. xx. 4, to