B.—INTIMATIONS FROM THE EARTH-PICTURE OF THE SEVEN THUNDERS. FEATURES OF THE PREPARATIVE REFORMATORY RENEWAL OF THE EARTH; OR TRAITS OF THE OPERATION OF THE SEVEN THUNDERS WHICH, IN THEMSELVES, WERE SEALED.—IN CONCLUSION: THE FIRST AND PRECURSORY ANTICHRISTIANITY; OR THE BEAST FROM THE ABYSS, THE DEMONIC REALM OF THE DEAD
a. The Inner and the Outer Church
1And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: [,] and the angel stood, [om. and the angel stood,—ins. he] saying, Rise, and measure the temple [
] of God, and 2the altar, and them that worship therein [in it]. But [And] the court which is without [outside of] the temple [
] leave [cast] out, and measure it not [it shalt thou not measure]; for it is [was] given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and [or and] two months.
b. The Two Witnesses. The Ideal Church and the Ideal State
3And I will give power [om. power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore [sixty] days, clothed in sackcloth. 4These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God5[Lord] of the earth. And if any man [one] will [wills] hurt [to injure] them, fire proceedeth [goeth forth] out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man [one] will hurt [shall will to injure] them, he must in this manner 6[thus must he] be killed. These have [or ins. the] power to shut [ins. the] heaven, that it [om. it—ins. rain (
)] rain [
] not in [during] the days of their prophecy: and have power over [ins. the] waters to turn them to [into] blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues [every plague], as often as they [ins. shall] will. 7And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast [wild-beast] that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit [om. bottomless pit—ins. abyss] shall make war against [with] them, and shall overcome [conquer] them, and [ins. shall] kill them. 8And their dead bodies [corpse] shall lie [be] in [upon] the street [broad-way] of the great city, which spiritually is called [is called spiritually] Sodom 9and Egypt, where also our [their] Lord was crucified. And they [men] of the people [peoples] and kindreds [tribes] and tongues and nations shall [om. shall] see their dead bodies [corpse] three days and a half, and shall not [om. shall not] suffer [ins. not] their dead bodies [corpses] to be put in graves [a sepulchre]. 10And they that dwell upon the earth shall [om. shall] rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall [or om. shall] send gifts one to another; because these two 11prophets tormented them that dwelt on [dwell upon] the earth. And after [ins. the] three days and a half the Spirit [a spirit] of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw [those 12who beheld] them. And they [or I] heard a great voice from [ins. the] heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to [into—ins. the] heaven in a [the] cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
c. The Judgment
13And [ins. in] the same [that] hour was there [there was] a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain [ins. names] of men seven thousand: and the remnant were [became] affrighted, and gave glory to the God of [ins. the] heaven.
14The second woe is past; and, [om. and,] behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The first figure that we meet with in this chapter could scarcely be plainer; nothing save a lapse into the misapprehensive literal conception could, from this passage, Rev_11:1-2, draw the conclusion that the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing at the time of these visions. The Temple has always been a symbol of the visible form under which the Kingdom of God has appeared, i. e. the Theocracy at first, and, later, the Church; and even the Temple of Ezekiel most distinctly presents this typicalism (especially in the features of the mystical stream, Eze_47:1, and the voice of the Lord, Eze_43:7). In general, the mystical Temple of Ezekiel seems to constitute a form which is transitional to the Temple of the Apocalypse, in accordance with the symbolical circumstances. The Holy of Holies has become one with the Holy Place, because the time of reconciliation has come; and, on the other hand, the outer court has spread into a number of outer courts, because it must become a place for all nations; comp. Mat_21:13, Isa_56:7. This significance and grandeur of the outer court particularly appears in the picture presented in the Apocalypse. Its contrast to the Temple is likewise strongly set forth. The Prophet is to measure the Temple, but not the outer court. The Temple of Ezekiel is also measured, Rev 40. But the City of Jerusalem itself is described as an immeasurable place in the Prophecy of Zechariah, Rev_2:1 sqq. In the Apocalypse, the measured Temple expands into the measured City of God (Rev_21:15); the unmeasured or immeasurable outer court expands into the ideal domain of the world and the nations, out of which all glory shall be brought into the Holy City (Rev_21:24; Rev_22:2).
The Temple itself, then, must be measured; a reed is given to the Prophet that he may measure it. The Spirit of God in the Church has within Himself and in the Prophet a consciousness that the inner, essential Church is a Divine definity, chosen by God and known to Him—not a passing cloud, a drifting, shifting, transitory object. That which is here expressed by measure, is twice declared by the number 144,000 (chaps. 7 and 14). So the Northern Mythology claims that the heroes of Odin are numbered.
A still more remarkable circumstance is that the Altar also is measured—the Altar of incense—the whole domain of holy prayer-life. And, humanly speaking, this belongs to the most conscious consciousness of God—to the inmost intuition (innersten Erinnerung) of the Church.
Finally, the worshippers in the Temple are to be measured. For the spiritual nature and development of every individual believer, the degree and the species of his glory, are known to God; they repose upon the individual capacities and disposition of each believer, as determined from eternity, his free agency being in nothing impaired (see Mat_6:27).
In antithesis to these Divine fixities, an immeasurable indefiniteness is reserved for the outer court. There can be nothing hostile in the direction to cast it out; the words can be expressive only of the decree that it is not to be measured along with the Sanctuary, that the consciousness of its externality is to be made permanent. For in its very quality of an outer court, it already lies outside of the Temple; and, furthermore, the direction: cast it out (on the milder or more general signification of
, see the Lexicons) is modified by the words: measure it not. And why not? For it is given to the Gentiles. This does not mean merely, because the throng of the Gentiles—of such as are not subjective, living Christians—is immeasurable, but also because their assembly is fluctuating; because the outer court denotes the vestibule to the Sanctuary—a preparation for entrance into the Sanctuary. Of course, so long and in so far as the Gentiles are Gentiles, they trample on the outer court, as is also declared concerning the impenitent Jews, Isaiah 1. They are loungers, street-walkers [Pflastertreter] in a religious sense; their outer court is the entire Holy City, i. e., the Church as an external body; they are they who, according to another figure, “stand all the day idle in the market.” In the Christian service of the Sanctuary, they constitute the ebbing and flowing mass; they may, as a pious man once paradoxically expressed himself, sit in the way of the truly devout. Their theological knowledge consists partly of gross popular conceits, partly of spiritualistic mist. In confession, they strain the Divine word, in one direction, into a literal ordinance, and relax it, in the other direction, until nothing but an uncertain sentiment remains. In matters of practical piety, they are either violently active or inconstant and wavering. In all cases, the treading of the outer court is the leading feature of their devotions.
In regard to the import of the forty-two months, Düsterdieck and others believe, that they are connected with “the type of the duration of the down-treading of the Holy City by Antiochus Epiphanes.” That, however, lasted but three years (see 1Ma_4:59; comp. 1Ma_1:55). Moreover, the different designations of the theocratic time of tribulation (a time, two times, and half a time, Dan_7:25; Dan_12:7), according to times, years, months or days, are not without a mutual connection (see Introduction, p. 16). The forty-two months are the times of the pilgrimage of Christianity through the world, bearing the cross of suffering—suffering inflicted on the internal Church through the external Church. These times are defined as forty-two little periods of change.
The second picture, in the history of the Two Witnesses, treats of another antithesis—that of the Christian Church and the Christian State. For the voice of the Lord which, in the text, so simply speaks of His two Witnesses, we, in face of the many marvels which have here been found, conceive of as setting forth the antithesis of the Christian Church and the Christian State; and this in accordance with the original passage in the Prophecy of Zechariah, on which the present passage is founded. The candlestick of Israel, the light and law of the Theocracy (Zec_4:2), receives its oil from the two olive-trees, or sons of oil, standing at the right and left of it (Rev_11:3-4). Now these, as they stand before the Ruler of the whole Earth, are, according to the context (Revelation 3), Joshua, the High-Priest, the typical representative of the future Church, concerning whom it is expressly declared, that he stands before the Angel of the Lord, and Zerubbabel the governor, the typical representative of the future State, distinguished by like dignities (Rev_4:6-7).
Many, no doubt, will regard this conception as too home-spun—not sufficiently ingenious or anecdotical. But, let us further remark, the removal, through the Man of Sin, of the hindrance to Antichristianity—the
(Rev_11:7)—coincides precisely with the removal of the two olive trees [German, sons of oil] through the medium of the Beast out of the abyss.
The two Witnesses of God prophesy. To prophesy is to aid in opening for the Kingdom of God a way into the future, by declaring the signs of the future. True advances, developments and reforms, are prophecies in act. All sound dogmas of the Church, as well as all sound laws of the State, are prophecies. Both Witnesses prophesy clad in sackcloth—in the penitential garb of the Church Militant and of the State, which latter is engaged in an incessant struggle with the ungodly spirit of the world. Here the movement continues through an uninterrupted chain of days’ works—one thousand two hundred and sixty days. The time is equal to the forty-two months, but is viewed from an entirely different point; the whole Church and the whole State, in their higher aspect, are denoted here. As, however, Church and State are distinct under the new dispensation, their oil no longer flows together in one candlestick; both are olive trees [oil-trees]; both, also, are candlesticks. Again, they stand before the God of the earth; i. e., they unitedly represent firm, historic order, authority,—symbolized by the earth. Both have retained somewhat of the Old Testament character, the Elijah nature; and they are, manifestly, drawn after the type of Elijah. When they desire to injure any one, fire goeth forth out of their mouth. This can, of course, only be spiritual fire; just as the sword issuing from the mouth of the Lord, is but a spiritual sword. Nevertheless, it is a fire of judgment; it devoureth their enemies. The death that they inflict upon those who offend them, cannot he apprehended as the spiritual death in order to the new life; at least social death must be understood—exclusion from religious communion and civil fellowship, practiced in the Middle Ages under the great and gloomy forms of outlawry and excommunication. Their power to shut the Heaven, that it rain not, is most strongly suggestive of Elijah; whilst their power over the waters, to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall will, recalls the wonders done by Moses in Egypt.
They can shut Heaven. The meaning of this is, they can check and withhold the blessings of the Spirit.
To turn the waters into blood, is to darken the currents of national life through wars and bloodshed.
To smite the earth with every plague, means to curtail the blessing of the historical authority or order of things in every way, and to convert it into a curse. As often as they shall will, adds the Seer, thereby indicating a great development of despoticalness and autocracy in their power.
Can it be supposed, we ask, that toward the end of the New Testament economy, two persons could appear as Prophets, having power to answer personal grievances with devouring fire? Or having power, at their own discretion, to bring forth in nature such wonders of judgment, and inflict them upon the earth? The Church and the State, however, have, in a symbolical sense, acted after precisely the Old Testament fashion here described, and that, with such a mingling of their qualities, as though they had done all things in common. They have likewise, in respect of their fundamental tendency, prominently set forth by the Seer, prophesied, i. e., served the cause of development; and they have been Witnesses of God—representatives of His light and justice.
The predominantly Old Testament character of the past and present fulfillment of their mission, undoubtedly aids in cutting short the time of their testimony and in facilitating the triumph of the Beast over them. In consequence of the severity—in many respects excessive—of their rule, as manifested, particularly, in the form of the mediæval excommunication, and the military and judicial system of the same period, a two-fold Helot rancor, an ecclesiastical and political resentment, has ineffaceably impressed itself on the memory of the agitated life of the nations, bringing near the fatal time at which the Beast of Antichristianity may ascend out of the abyss.
Be it observed that Antichristianity passes through three climactic stages before attaining to perfection; exhibiting itself first in the form of the Beast out of the abyss, next in that of the Beast out of the sea, and finally in that of the Beast from the earth. The Beast out of the abyss possesses, as yet, no positive popular and human apparent form, much less the complete mock-holy semblance of the Lamb, possessed by the Beast from the earth; it first comes forth, as a bodiless spirit, from the abyss, in the power of a predominantly demonic spirit of the times, or party spirit. This spirit has ascended from the abyss, i. e., the demonic region of the realm of the dead, which constitutes a transition-form to the final hell. In this respect he is suggestive of the spirit of gloom which arose from the abyss at the fifth Trumpet. And from the fact of this resemblance, it results that he does not necessarily appear in the naked forms of lawlessness [Anomismus]. There is a gloomy churchly form which is subversive of the true Church, and a passionate state-form which undermines the true State. If we have recognized in the two Witnesses the intimate union between Church and State, as respects the bright side of both institutions, it becomes evident that their absolute disagreement must speedily be followed by self-dissolution. The true spirit of the Church can, indeed, long curb the wantonness of the State; the true spirit of the State can long protect the Church against a false ecclesiastical system. But mankind has already seen the false Church-form in conflict with sound State principles, and vice versâ. And mankind must finally see the Church ruined by the Church, the State by the State, because in the case of each, sombre party-spirit has taken the place of right principles.
The Beast, then, shall make war with the two Witnesses—not merely a word and pen war, but also the war of social breach. He shall conquer them in public opinion, as men say, and complete his triumph by killing them. They are killed when destroyed as to their true principles—when the masses rule over faith and worship [Kultus] in the Church, over morals and culture in the State; or when, in the State, the last trace of kinship with the Church is destroyed through principial Atheism, and the last trace of political or social discipline and duty has disappeared from the Church. Then are they killed, even though their outward forms continue to exist, like the shades of departed substances, as, for instance, the forms of the Roman Republic under the first Emperors.
It is most significantly said: their corpses lie in the street of the great city. Their bodies, therefore, are not formally buried and put out of sight; they remain in the public street of the great city, under the eyes, and amid the surging to and fro, of a society fundamentally anarchical.
The great city itself is called Sodom and Egypt. Sodom is the symbol of perfect unnaturalness; Egypt is the symbol of a magical natural science and deification of nature. The two extremes, in their abominable coalition, are the Janus heads of a world which, in her deification of nature, is fundamentally at variance not only with God, but also with the kernel or inmost essence of nature itself.
There, adds the Seer, their Lord was crucified. The crucifixion of Christ was itself the result of a coalition of the spiritual unnaturalness of Judaism—self-murderous, in the killing of its Messiah—and the heathen world, which had fallen into sorcery [Magismus] and an intellectual cultus of nature.
Thus, as the murderess of Christ, Jerusalem may be the type of this great collective city, Sodom-Egypt; that the real Jerusalem itself is intended, can be supposed only under the erroneous system of an anti-symbolical, so-called historical treatment of the Book. With the symbolical name Jerusalem, however, another collective city, Babylon, might easily correspond. Some of the men, better disposed ones, who still have a remnant of influence left, individuals of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations, shall in the meantime keep their dead bodies in view for three days and a half—not permitting them to be put into sepulchres; assuredly, in the hope of their revival. But the time rich in promise, the time of resurrection, the three days (Hos_6:2), pass away without affording any comfort; the corpses lie there until the hour of despair, indicated by three days and a half. And precisely this fact is a cause of delight to those who dwell on the Earth, or cling to the Earth in her earthiness—the earthly-minded ones. They rejoice over the apparent destruction of the two Witnesses; they hold feasts and contemplate further festivities; mutual greetings, in the way of presents or compliments, are exchanged, falling, particularly, to the share of the great utterers of public opinion, we doubt not.
The reason for all this is as follows: These two Prophets tormented them that dwell upon the Earth. Churchly rule [Norm] and civil law have always, to the true men of this world, who have made themselves at home on the Earth, been as a troublesome fanaticism, only disciplinary and tormenting.
But the people who watched their dead bodies have not sorrowed in vain. Finally, out of the horror of the human heart, full of a religious-moral anguish, a super-terrestrial power developes. It is thus not without instrumentality that, in the most disconsolate hour, the flame of the ecclesiastical and the political spirit rises again bright and heavenly, with united brilliancy and glorified beauty; that a spirit of life from God penetrates the corpses, so that they again stand upon their feet, prepared for war and victory, offering defiance to the whole apostate world, and diffusing great spiritual terror over all with whom they come in contact.
But they are not commissioned to fight again the former conflict; in the Kingdom of Spirit, they have triumphed through their defeat, like Christ their Lord. Therefore they hear, or the Seer hears, a great voice from Heaven saying to them: Come up hither.
But how can the Christian Church and the Christian State have assigned to them an ascension more glorious than that of Elijah—similar to that of Christ Himself? Nitzsch says: “Church and State shall, in their consummation, be swallowed up in the unity of the Kingdom of God.” Let us particularly consider the following in this connection:
Their ascension is their exaltation above the former historical, in part pedagogical, forms, into the ideal form of a pure spiritual fellowship. They ascend into Heaven even whilst still on Earth, by being transported into the realm of pure spirit, of perfect fellowship with God. When, however, it is declared, that a cloud envelops them, there takes place a gathering and separation of this perfected congregation of God, this Bride of Christ, from the unbelieving world (Mat_24:31); and, no less, an alteration of her condition, to meet the heavenly glorification—an alteration characterized as an “ attaining” [Entgegenkommen=coming towards] “the resurrection” (Php_3:11); as a being “changed” (1Co_15:51); as a being “caught up into the air to meet the Lord” (1Th_4:17). Their enemies must be spectators of their beginning glorification.
The hour of their glorification, however, becomes an hour of judgment for the world. The separation of the congregation of God from the world is followed by a great earthquake; all the relations of the old human society are shaken and mingled confusedly together by the separation of the salt of the Earth. Thus a great reaction is awakened in the better elements of the ungodly world. The tenth part of the godless city falls in the earthquake. Ten, as perfect development, realized freedom, is also perfect will, decided tendency. Thus, with the fall of the tenth part of the Antichristian world, the back-bone of that world is broken; henceforth it is a confused mass, anxiously expectant of the end. This change is especially brought about, however, by the fact that seven thousand names of men, or men of name, are slain in their names by the earthquake. Without doubt, the reaction of the terrified peoples has been directed with special fury toward their leaders, who, as seducers, by thousands, as spirits, by seven (Mat_12:45). have promised men the seventh day—the peoples’ holiday. Above all, their names, shimmering with a deceptive lustre, are given up to scorn and destruction.
Whilst we must not forget that a cyclical life-picture of the entire New Testament time is here presented to us, neither should the fact be overlooked, that the conclusion of this time is characterized as the second woe—the intermediate one therefore—that which forms the transition from the first to the third woe; and it is in accordance with this fact that we must seek to determine the eschatological import of the present section.
We have seen that the second woe has presented itself in the grand succession of heresies (religious and ethical), which run through the entire Christian time; the time of this woe, therefore, coincides with that of the activity of the two Witnesses; it forms the reverse of their dispensation (Mat_24:26). It has likewise been found that the third woe begins with the seventh Trumpet, as the time of ripened Antichristianity, with features historically developed and determined.
The second woe is, therefore, a peculiar conformation of the times, consummated at the defeat of the two Witnesses and continuing until the period of positive Antichristianity. Its characteristic feature is the tremendous rocking of affairs beginning with the bursting forth of Antichristianity. The authorities and guardians of Church and State seem at last to be everlastingly destroyed; the better disposed are but individuals from all parts of the world who, in a manner, keep watch by the bodies of the slain, whilst the ruling party celebrate the excited festivities of an utterly secularized party-spirit. Then, however, by reason of the separation and gathering of the Church of God, a reaction again takes place; the power of the godless city is shaken by the glorious precursory appearing of the congregation of the Kingdom and by the altered sentiments of many of her inhabitants—in whom the change, however, bears the predominant character of a repentance of fear, and can therefore give way to the full manifestation of Antichristianity in the third woe. This period of a purely Antichristian spirit of the times, without final consolidation, is, in more general descriptions, included together with the final revelation of Antichrist, e. g.2Th_2:8. The manifestation of wickedness [or the Wicked One—des Boshaften] has its gradations, as has already been intimated. This time seems to be more definitely characterized by the Beast, which is transformed into the eighth king (Rev_17:11), and which forms the transition from the seven kings of the old world of authority to the ten kings of absolute democracy.
We must, further, not overlook the fact, that even the second woe touches the end of the world, and that even the third woe, the revelation of Antichristianity, reaches back into the old time. In this connection, we would again call to mind the law of the cyclical circles; they ever present total world-pictures, though observing a continual progression toward the end of the world and illustrating always a different aspect of the world.
A feature worthy of notice is that the Beast of this second woe ascends out of the same abyss whence, after the fifth Trumpet, the smoke, accompanied by the swarm of locusts, arose; that, on the other hand, it precedes the third woe of consummate Antichristianity, just as the judgment upon Babylon (chs. 17 and 18) precedes the judgment upon the Beast (Revelation 19)
We have, then, in Revelation 11, the Earth-picture of the Christian visible world, in respect of its all-sided historic conformation in good and evil; above all, in respect of the conflict, waxing ever more pronounced, between ecclesiastical and political nomism ([Nomismus] in the good sense of the term), on the one hand, and the antinomism or anomism of false liberty, or the modern spirit of the times, on the other hand—a conflict finally conducting, in part, to the ripe antithesis betwixt the Kingdom of God and the world, and ending, in the world itself, with the most extreme fluctuations.
[ABSTRACT OF VIEWS, ETC.]
By the American Editor
[Elliott and Barnes regard Rev_11:1-2, as properly belonging to the preceding section (the latter part of Rev_11:2 being transitional to the following section) and as indicating the Re-Formation of the Church by those whom the Seer symbolized. The Temple, in the widest sense of the term, (inclusive of the Sanctuary and all the Courts) they interpret “as symbolic of the Christian Church Universal: the Holy of Holies… representing that part of it… gathered into Paradise; the remainder of the Temple… the Church on Earth, the Holy Place,…. as figuring the Church in respect of its secret spiritual worship and character,… the Altar-court… the Church in respect of its visible and public worship,…. the outer or Gentile court is the symbolic scene of the adscititious members from out of heathenism.” The bestowment of the rod (Elliott), as denoting “the royal authorization of those whom St. John here represented… in the work of the Scriptural re-formation of the Church;” the direction to measure, coupled with the casting out, as implying, 1. The defining of those who alone could rightly be considered as belonging to Christ’s Church (“such as in public profession and worship recognized that cardinal point of the Christian faith which the Jewish Altar and Altar ritual-worship symbolized, viz. Justification by the alone efficacy of Christ’s propitiatory sacrifice”);—2. The exclusion or excommunication of “the Romish (and Greek?) Church… as apostate and heathen;”—the recognition of those excluded as within a Court of the Temple, as indicating that those excluded “would continue to appear for a time attached as an appendage to the Church visible.” By the Witnesses they understand the unbroken series of upholders and proclaimers of truth, divided as follows: (1) The earlier Western Witnesses, such as Serenus of Marseilles in the early part of the 8th Century, the Anglo Saxon Church, Agobard, Claude of Turin, etc.; (2) the Eastern line, consisting of the Paulicians arising about A. D. 653; (3) the United Eastern and Western lines, during the 11th and 12th Centuries; (4) the Waldenses and Albigenses originating about A. D. 1170; (5) the Churches of the Reformation.—They interpret: (1) The 1260 days as indicating 1260 years; (2) the olive-trees and candlesticks, that they were to consist of both ministers and churches; (3) the number two that they were to be, (a) a number competent to bear witness (comp. Deu_17:6; Deu_19:16, etc.), (b) a, small number, (c) possibly the original division into two lines, Eastern and Western; (4) their, being clothed in sack-cloth, that they were to witness in the midst of grief and persecution; (5) their power (Barnes), (a) over those who should injure them, to devour them with fire, their doctrines and denunciations, which would resemble consuming fire (resulting ultimately in Divine judgment); (b) to shut heaven, that spiritual blessings would seem to be under their control. (“During the ages of their ministry, there was neither dew nor rain of a spiritual kind upon the earth, but at the word of the Witnesses. There was no knowledge of salvation but by their preaching—no descent of the Spirit but in answer to their prayers; and as the Witnesses were shut out from Christendom generally, a universal famine ensued,” Seventh Vial); (c) over the waters, that the wars, commotions, etc., which have followed the attempts to destroy them, and which have caused rivers of blood to flow, would seem to have been in answer to their prayers; (6) the war against them, the war of extermination waged in particular against the Waldenses (“from the year 1540–1570… no fewer than nine hundred thousand Protestants were put to death by the Papists in different parts of Europe.”—Barnes); (7) the Beast (the fourth Beast of Daniel, Daniel 7.), the Papacy; (8) the death, the apparent destruction of the Witnesses at the Lateran Council (to which all dissentients had been summoned and at which none appeared) when, May 5, A. D. 1514, the Orator of the Council proclaimed to the Pope from the pulpit, “Jam nemo reclamat, nullus obsistit!” “There is an end of resistance to the papal rule and religion; opposers there exist no more:” and again “The whole body of Christendom is now seen to be subjected to its Head, that is to Thee.” (Quoted by Elliott, Vol. II., p. 450); (9) the not permitting their bodies to be buried, “that they should be treated with indignity as if they were not worthy of Christian burial,” (it was decreed that heretics should be denied Christian burial by the Lateran Council, A. D. 1179; again, 1215, by Gregory IX.; and by Pope Martin, 1227); (10) the broad place (or way) of the City, (Elliott) the Council above mentioned, representing the whole Roman power, gathered in Rome; (11) the rejoicing, etc., the special rejoicings after every new victory over “heretics,” and especially at the close of th Council mentioned in sect. (8)—(see Elliott, Vol. II., pp. 454 sq.); (12) the resurrection after three days and a half, the renewal of witness by Luther—Luther posted his theses at Wittemberg, Oct. 31, 1517, i. e., three years and 180 days after May 5, 1514, when the Orator of the Lateran Council (see above in 8) proclaimed heresy to be extinct; (13) the ascension, the deliverance of the Churches of the Reformation from persecution and into positions of prosperity and influence; (14) the earthquake, the Reformation—“That religious revolution which astonished and convulsed the nations of Europe” (Lingard, quoted by Barnes); (15) the fall of the tenth part of the City, the falling away from Rome of, (Barnes) a considerable portion of her power, (Elliott) England, one of the ten Papal kingdoms; (16) the slaying of seven Chiliads, (Elliott) the separation from the Roman power of the Seven United Provinces of Holland—(Barnes) the proportion of those who perished in Europe in the wars consequent on the Reformation; (17) the remnant affrighted, the alarm of, (Elliott) the remnant of Papists in Protestant countries, (Barnes) the entire unconverted portion of the Roman City; (18) gave glory to God, (Elliott) praise was given by the Witnesses, (Barnes) the unconverted stood in awe at what God was doing.
Stuart understands Rev_11:1-2, “to prefigure the preservation of all which was fundamental and essential in the ancient religion, notwithstanding the destruction of all that was external in respect to the Temple, the City, and the ancient people of God.” The vision of the Witnesses he interprets as symbolizing “that God would raise up faithful and well endowed preachers among the Jews, at the period when the nations were ready to perish; that those preachers would be persecuted and destroyed; and after all that the Christian cause would still be triumphant.”
Wordsworth regards (Rev_11:1-2) the Temple and Altar (of incense) as symbolizing the true Church; the reed as the Scriptures; the measuring as an act “of appropriation and of preservation (Num_35:5; Jer_31:39; Hab_3:6; Zec_2:2), and also of partition and separation, (2Sa_8:2)”; “in this vision of the Apocalypse, the last written of all the Books, of Holy Scripture (the completion of the Canon or measuring rule), St. John receives the reed from Christ and measures the Church.” The two Witnesses he understands as indicating the Church (called two as consisting of both Jews and Gentiles), enlivened and enlightened by the two Testaments (the two olive trees); their persecution, death, etc., that the history of Christ will be reproduced in the history of His Word and Church. The Beast and City he interprets as Barnes and Elliott.
Alford remarks, “No solution at all approaching to a satisfactory one has ever yet been given of any one of these periods. This being so, my principle is to regard them as being still among things unknown to the Church, and awaiting their elucidation by the event.” Concerning the Witnesses he remarks on Rev_11:6, “All this points out the spirit and power of Moses combined with that of Elias. And undoubtedly it is in these two directions that we must look for the two witnesses or lines of witnesses. The one impersonates the law, the other the Prophets. The one reminds us of the Prophet whom God should raise up like unto Moses; the other of Elias, the Prophet who should come before the great and terrible day of the Lord.” As to whether the prophecy is to be fulfilled by individuals or lines of witnesses, he does not attempt to decide.
Lord writes as to the measuring of the Temple, “The rod is the symbol of the revealed will of God;… the Holy of Holies… the scene in which God visibly manifests Himself, Christ intercedes, and the Cherubim, the representatives of the redeemed, serve in His presence; so the other sanctuary symbolizes the place or places on earth in which the true worshippers offer Him the public worship which He enjoins. The Altar on which incense, the symbol of prayer, was offered, represented the Cross of Christ, the instrument of His expiation, and thence of reconciliation and access to God.… To measure the Temple, then, was to seek and learn the truths taught in the Scriptures, and symbolized first by the inner sanctuary,… and next… by the outer sanctuary, respecting the place or places on earth which He has appointed for the worship which He enjoins on His people, respecting the expiation on which they are to rely,… and respecting the ministers who conduct the worship He enjoins.… The court, which was on the outside,… denoted the station of the congregation of visible worshippers;… to reject it as no part of the Temple, was therefore, to reject the body of the nominal or visible, as not true worshippers; and the direction to reject it was equivalent to the prophecy that the nominal was not to be a true Church.… The command to measure the Temple was addressed to the Apostle doubtless as representing the same persons as he symbolized in the prediction that he must again prophesy before peoples, etc.” On the subject of the Witnesses, he agrees as to their nature, substantially, with Elliott and Barnes; their death, resurrection, and ascension, however, he regards as still future and as literal. The 1260, and three and a half, days, he interprets as symbolic of years.
Glasgow refers the measuring to Apostolic times. “The Apostles (symbolized by John), by inspiration, gave laws of discipline and of morals, for receiving or excluding candidates or members. Thus they measured the House and City of God. And they measured the Altar by teaching the doctrine of the one sacrifice offered by Christ, and of His intercession, and of His government on the mediatorial throne; and they measured the worshippers, by supplying the patterns and rules of duty, and thus furnishing the means of distinguishing the Lord’s peculiar ‘people’ from His enemies.” The outside Court he interprets substantially as Elliott; the trampling of the City, as the predominance “of what Neander and Killen have called ‘the Catholic system.’ ” The Witnesses he also interprets as symbolizing the Paulicians, Waldenses, etc.; he begins the Witness, however, with the protest of the Novatians about A. D. 253, and thus concludes the 1260 days (or years) of prophesying in sackcloth (or affliction) in A. D. 1514. He adopts the opinion that the declaration made May 5th, 1514, in the Lateran Council, referred to above, denotes the death and exposure of the dead bodies of the Witnesses. On other points of interpretation he agrees generally with Elliott.—E. R. C]
EXPLANATIONS IN DETAIL
Düsterdieck holds, with us, that the present section really closes with Rev_11:14. [With Elliott and others, the Am. Ed. regards Rev_11:1-2 as connected with the preceding chapter. See Additional Note, p. 132.—E. R. C]
Rev_11:1. And there was given me a reed.—After the analogy of Old Testament prophetico-symbolical transactions; see Isa_8:1, and many other passages, particularly in the Prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Given.—By whom? The indeterminateness denotes that nothing in the symbolism is dependent upon this feature. The literal interpretation would fain define the giver.
A reed—Eze_40:3; Rev_21:15. [Like unto a rod.—“The word
, rod, is coupled three times in the Apocalypse with the adjective
(Rev_2:27; Rev_12:5; Rev_19:15). And in the same places it is coupled also with the verb
, to tend, as a shepherd does. The idea is thus suggested of a pastoral staff.” Wordsw.—E. R. C.]
Saying [Lange: Whilst it was commanded].—
—indefinite form. Bcngel explains, grammatically but not symbolically: the
Measure the Temple.—The Temple in Jerusalem had long since been measured; it, however, is not what is meant here. Neither, indeed, is the measuring to be taken literally. The worshippers, also, are to be measured, i. e., precisely determined. In Eze_40:3 sqq., the measuring of a symbolical Temple is spoken of, whilst Revelation 21 treats of the measurement of the symbolical City of God.
According to Düsterdieck and many others, the measuring here denotes exemption from destruction; the above-mentioned commentator supposes that the treading under foot of the outer court is indicative of actual destruction. Yet the very passages that he cites [in connection with the measuring]—Amo_7:7; Hab_3:6—have reference to destruction, and the idea that the outer court was destroyed, but that the Temple and the worship continued to subsist, is utterly futile, as is in general the so-called historic application of the passage to the Temple at Jerusalem. Düsterdieck calls the interpretation of the Temple as the true Church of God, allegoristic! One-sided, we admit that it is, to interpret the measuring of the Temple as indicative of a reconstruction of the Church, or to apply the contrast between the Temple and the outer court, in which contrast the chief weight of the similitude lies, to the contrast between the evangelic Church and Catholicism; in opposition to the latter exposition, Catholic exegetes distinguish between good Catholics and excommunicated persons. [See the Absteact of Views, etc., pp. 227 sqq.—E. R. C.]
The altar.—The Altar of incense. The Altar of burnt-offering stood in the outer court. [Elliott and Barnes regard the Altar as that of burnt-offering. It must be acknowledged that the language apparently points to the three great divisions of the Temple enclosure—the
or Sanctuary, the
or altar [court], and the court outside the Sanctuary, i. e., the court of the Gentiles. Of these courts, that of the Gentiles alone entirely surrounded the Sanctuary; the inner court merely enclosed it on three sides: the latter, from both its local and spiritual relations to the Sanctuary, could not so well be described as outside (
ôὴí áὐëἠí ôὴí ἔîùèåí ôïῦ íáïῦ
), as the former.—E. R. C.]
.—These words might be referred to the Altar of incense, inasmuch as all prayers do, in a symbolical sense, ascend from the Altar of incense; most exegetes, however, make them relate to the Temple. The main thing, here as elsewhere, is the contrast presented to those without. John is thought even here to have in view the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, differing, however, from the eschatological prophecies of the Lord by predicting a preservation of the Temple, and placing the faithful Jewish Christians therein! (comp. also De Wette, Lücke, p. 354).
Rev_11:2. And [Lange: But] the court which is without the Temple.—On misapprehensions of the outer court, by Luther, Vitringa, Ewald, see Düsterdieck.
Cast out.—Eichhorn, correctly: Profanum declara.
Given unto the Gentiles [heathen].—[On the New Testament force of to
see Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon under “̓́
. The following is extracted: “It is a peculiarity of New Testament, or, indeed, of Bible usage generally, to understand by
ðÜíôá ôὰ ἔèíç
, those who are not of Israel, opp.
, Act_9:15; Act_14:2; Act_14:5; Act_21:11; Act_21:21; Act_26:20; Rom_2:24; Rom_3:29; Rom_9:24; Rom_9:30-31; Rom_11:25; 1Co_1:23; Gal_2:15 :
ïἱ ἐê ðåñéôïìῆò
Gal_2:9 (cf. Eph_2:11):
ïἱ êáôÜëïéðïé ôῶí ἀíèñþðùí
, Act_15:17. In this sense the word corresponds to the Hebrew
, e.g., (Jos_3:17; Jos_4:1), which signifies primarily nothing but a connected host, multitude.…
are the peoples outside of Israel—the totality of the nations, which, being left to themselves (Act_14:16), are unconnected with the God of Salvation, Who is Israel’s God; Act_28:28; Eph_2:11-12; Rom_11:11-12; Gal_3:8; Gal_3:14; 1Th_4:5; Eph_3:6; Mat_12:21. Left to themselves and to their own will, they stand in moral antagonism to the Divine order of life, Eph_4:17; 1Pe_4:3-4; 1Co_10:20; 1Co_12:2; Mat_6:32; Luk_12:30; cf. Mat_18:17; they are not in possession of the revealed law. Rom_2:14; cf. Rom_9:30; nor are they bound to the rules and laws of Israelitish life, Gal_2:12; Gal_2:14-15. It is this moral-religious lack that renders so significant the emphasis laid on the
, on the part of the
, Rom_1:5; Rom_15:18; Rom_16:26… Whether in the Apocalypse
is opposed to Israel, or, as it appears to me, to the New Testament redeemed Church, must be left to commentators to decide. Rev_2:26; Rev_11:2; Rev_11:18; Rev_12:5; Rev_14:8; Rev_15:3-4; Rev_16:19; Rev_18:3; Rev_18:23; Rev_19:5; Rev_20:3; Rev_20:8; Rev_21:24; Rev_21:26; Rev_22:2.” See foot-note† on p. 27.—E. R. C.]—[ Given unto.]—Düsterd.: They shall lodge therein as victors, treading the outer court and the entire Holy City. Bengel—better, at least: The outer court is not measured, because an unthought-of throng of Gentiles shall one day worship therein. But something more than a mere future is contemplated. De Wette and others: The bloody sacrificial service, consummated on the altar of burnt-offering, shall cease.
Rev_11:3. My two Witnesses.—According to Düsterdieck, these must be personal individuals. Personal individuals possessing the characteristics described cannot be pointed out as existing at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, or as living on through the entire Crossæon of the Church down to the end of the world. According to Düsterdieck and others (p. 382), these two witnesses are Moses and Elijah; according to Stern and others, they are Enoch and Elijah; even Luther and Melanchthon have been suggested. According to Ebrard, they are symbols of authorities, powers, which, however, he pertinently enough defines as Law and Gospel. Since the Witnesses can be witnesses of Christ only, the term, My witnesses, is elucidative of the strong Angel mentioned in the foregoing chapter [who spoke to John, Rev_10:9; Rev_10:11, and whom Lange apparently regards as still speaking]. [See Abstract of Views, pp. 227 sqq., and Add. Note, pp. 232 sq.—E. R. C.].
I will give.—What He gives them, is declared by what follows;
, therefore, need not be supplemented by conjectures.
Sackcloth, as a penitential dress, Jer_4:8; Jon_3:5; Mat_11:21. [As a garment of affliction, see Gen_37:34; 2Sa_3:31; 2Sa_21:10; 2Ki_6:30; Est_4:1-4; Job_16:15; Psa_30:11; Psa_35:13; Psa_69:11; Isa_3:24; Isa_15:3; Isa_20:2; Jer_48:37; Jer_49:3; Amo_8:10.—E. R. C.]
Rev_11:4. The two olive trees.—The Seer, as an accomplished symbolist, has descried in the olive trees of Zechariah 4. perfectly admissible types of New Testament affairs. On
, see the remark in Düsterdieck. [“As the olive-tree furnished oil for the lamps, the two trees here would seem properly to denote ministers of religion; and as there can be no doubt that the candlesticks, or lamp-bearers, denote churches, the sense would appear to be that it was through the pastors of the churches that the oil of grace which maintained the brightness of those mystic candlesticks, or the churches, was conveyed. The image is a beautiful one, and expresses a truth of great importance to the world:—for God has designed that the lamp of piety shall be kept burning in the churches by truth supplied through ministers and pastors.” Barnes.—E. R. C.]
Before the Lord of the earth.—The Lord is the unitous authority of the earth or the theocratic institution—which formerly branched into Joshua and Zerubbabel, and now ramifies into State and Church. Ebrard interprets the Old Testament Lord of the whole earth as indicative of the king of Persia, and regards the corresponding New Testament expression as significant of the ruler of this world.
Rev_11:5-6. “The individual lineaments of this description, especially in Rev_11:6, are borrowed from the history of Elijah and Moses. This reference—admitted by all expositors—to the miracles of those old Prophets (miracles which are in no wise allegorically understood) of itself renders it highly improbable that the description of the present passage is allegorically intended” (Düsterdieck). Most original logic, this! As if historical facts, and especially such as have since their very occurrence assumed a symbolical coloring, might not be employed in allegorical descriptions. A slight examination of the New Testament will speedily convince us that such is not the case. [See the quotation from Alford, p, 229.—E. R. C.]
Fire goeth forth out of their mouth.—Jer_5:14. The reference to 2Ki_1:10 is by Düsterdieck considered of doubtful propriety, because Elijah calls down fire from Heaven. But even this fact might be paraphrased, in the prophetic style, as follows: fire proceeded out of his mouth, Sir_48:1. If, however, we take the words, out of their mouth, and fire, literally, we have “a fearful reality” (Düsterd.). This is called historical exegesis. The spectator of such fire-works might possibly say: a dubious reality—magic; such an one would be able to set his mind at rest only by echoing the verdict of Rothe: “God is an adept at sorcery.”
Rev_11:6. Power to shut Heaven.—1Ki_17:1.
During [Lange: For] the days.—If the words, for the days of their prophecy, denote the time of their entire activity, and that with reference to the 3½ years of drought predicted by Elijah, the time of this entire activity would need to be reduced to ordinary years—and this is not practicable. We, therefore, apprehend the passage thus: for the days fixed by their prophecy.
Over the waters.—Exo_7:19.
With every plague [Lange: With all (manner of) plagues].—Reference to the Egyptian plagues generally. According to Düsterdieck, it is inadmissible to interpret even these features allegorically, i e., to apprehend them as allegorical. Whilst the interpretation of Bede—making the power to shut Heaven the potestas clavium—may be too restrictedly ecclesiastical, the more general application of the passage to the withholding of the rain or blessing of the Gospel, is certainly removed beyond the objection urged against it, viz.: that in case of its acceptance, it would be necessary to apprehend 1 Kings 17.; Jam_5:17; Exodus 7. sqq. figuratively also; and this, apart from the fact that even these passages are not to be taken in so naked a Græco-historical sense as many seem to suppose.
Rev_11:7. Finished their testimony, the wild-beast, etc.—Preliminary and more general symbolization of Antichristianity. This one Beast branches into two Beasts in Revelation 13.
Rev_11:8-10. In the broad-way [Lange: street] of the great city.—The literal method entails the apprehension of the fact that the bodies remained lying in the City, in accordance with the ancient conception of the great impiety of suffering corpses to remain unburied. The question arises hare, however: are the individuals (Rev_11:9) of (all) the peoples identical with the persons mentioned in Rev_11:10, who are described in general terms as the inhabitants of the earth, and are, therefore, enemies of the Witnesses? The text plainly distinguishes between the two classes. There is, then, in any case, a two-fold interest which is subserved by the leaving of the corpses unburied—a hostile and a friendly interest. In Rev_11:9 it is declared:
âëὲðïõóéí ἐê ôῶí ëáῶí
“That the great City is identical with the Holy City, where the
íáὸò ôùῦ èåïῦ
stands (Rev_11:1 sqq.), and that it is, therefore, none other than Jerusalem, is evident from the context” (Düsterdieck). Even the literal interpretation is forced to admit that Sodom and Egypt (see Isa_1:9; Eze_16:48) is a “spiritual appellation,” the fact being expressly set forth in the text. Yet this appellation is robbed of the greater part of its force, when the attempt to exhibit a distinction (Hengstenberg’s, for instance: Egypt has reference to religious corruption, Sodom to bad morals) is swept aside, with the declaration that the only point of importance is that in which Sodom and Egypt are essentially one, viz.: perfect hostility to the true God, His servants, and His people.
The great City.—As the so-called historical interpretation regards the present passage as significant, throughout, of the real Jerusalem (Ewald, Bleek, De Wette, Düsterd., et al.), the following question arises: Why is the City called the great, and not the holy? Discussions of this question are submitted by Düsterdieck, p. 370. The question does not present itself at all to a more correct exegesis—one that appreciates the symbolical import of the passage. It is something of a leap to discover, like Calov., here, in the City of Jerusalem, Babylon—in Babylon, Rome—in Rome, papal Rome. Undoubtedly, this great City of Jerusalem is, in essentials, of like import with the great City of Babylon (in the more general sense of the latter, Rev_16:19); but the context contains a reason for the fact, that the City is here indirectly called Jerusalem, as the city where the Lord was crucified, and there, Babylon. Here, namely, it represents the symbolically modified Theocracy, or Divine establishment, embracing Church and State, as a mock-holy fallen Theocracy; there, it represents the centre of the open Antichristian spirit of the world.—The meaning of the great City is more generally apprehended by Ebrard, p. 342.
Different interpretations of the three and a half days see in Düsterdieck, p. 371. A short time; the time during which Christ lay in the grave; the time which exceeds the term during which corpses should remain above ground; analogous to Rev_11:2; Chiliastic computations of the number.
Rev_11:11. And after the three days and a half, a spirit of life, etc.—materially [as distinguished from grammatically, Hengstenberg’s interpretation of
as the Spirit of life cannot be incorrect [Düsterdieck to the contrary, notwithstanding], since this spirit proceeds from God.—A form of peculiar significance:
åἰóῆëèåí ἐí áὐôïῖò
Great fear.—The usual effect of great Divine wonders, angelic appearances, spiritual operations, and especially of the wonder of resurrection.
Rev_11:12. And they ascended, etc.—Suggestive of the ascension of Elijah and, still more, of Christ’s ascension.
Rev_11:13-14. And in that hour.—That is, the events narrated took place simultaneously with the ascension of the two Witnesses and were co-operative therewith. According to Düsterdieck, not even this earthquake