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Ch. i. 1-3.)
7 other sacred wiiter. And it is with great propriety applied to this book of prophecy, in which much practical exhortation is interspersed; more especially in the three first chapters.
Ib. For the time is near.) The time which is here announced as fast approaching, seems to be that, wherein the Son of God, having obtained the victory
who oppose the progress of his power, shall pass final sentence upon all; when “he
· cometh in the clouds of heaven,” as represented in the seventh verse of this chapter.
By comparing Deut. xxxií. 3, 5. Is. xiii. 6. Joel ii. 1, 15. Phil. iv. 5. 1 Pet. iv. 7, we shall perceive that it is usual with the Divine Spirit to announce this great day as near, when yet at considerable distance, measured by years, and applied to successive ages. The reason of which may be, that this great day is always near to every individual; who, at the time of his departure from this world, will have made up his account. And the warning is here applied to individuals, for such are addressed in the beginning of the verse.
It has been observed also, that, in the Scriptures, we are never exhorted to prepare for death, but always for the coming of the Lord.
The Address, or Salutation, and the Doxology.
CHAP. I. VER. 4-8.
4 Ιωάννης ταϊς επτα 4 John to the seven
εκκλησίαις ταϊς εν Churches which are in τη 'Ασία χάρις
Asia. Grace be unto fuiy y ipin and you, and peace, from o w, rjóns, rejo Him which is, and έρχόμενω και από which was, and which των επτά πνευμά- is to come; and from TW, ä [isov) ivás the seven spirits which
πιον το θρόνο αυτ8' are before his Throne ; 5 Kaistò'Ingé Xplor- 5 And from Jesus Christ,
Tê,ouagluso wisos, the faithful witness, o agalóroza [ix] the first-born of the των νεκρών, και ο άρ- dead, and the ruler of χων των βασιλέων the kings of the earth. της γης τα άγα - Unto Him who loveth sale nuäs, % - us, and bath washed σανlι ημάς από των us from our sins in his & uagtiãy nuwr lv 6 blood, Aud hath made
τα αίματι αυτό, us a kingdom; hath 6 Και εποίησεν ημάς made us priests, unto
βασιλείαν ερείς τω God even his Father; θες και σαλεί αυτά to him be the glory αυτώ ή δόξα και το
and the dominion for κράτος εις τες αιώνας
ever and ever. Amen. Tūv aiwa, kun. 7 Behold, he cometh 7 Ιδε, έρχείαι μετά with the clouds, and των νεφελών, και
every eye shall see him, όψείαι αυτόν σας
and all they who have οφθαλμός, κ οίτινες
pierced him; and all αυτόν εξεκένθησαν:
the Tribes of the earth και κόψονται επ' αυ
shall wail because of τον πάσαι αι φυλαι him ; even so, amen. της γης και, αμήν.
8 I am the Alpha and
4 John to the seven
churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which
are before his throne; 5 And from Jesus Christ,
who is the faithful wit, ness, and the first-begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth : Unto Him that loved us, and washed us
from our sins in his 6 own blood, And hath
made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to bim be glory and dominion fos
ever and ever. Amen, 7 Behold, he cometh
with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail
because of him: even 8 so, Amen. I am Alpha
and Omega, the be
8 'Εγώ είμι το Α και το
Ω, λέγει Κύριος 6. Onos, o úv, ry nung και ο ερχόμενος, ο wavloxgátwe.
the Omega, saith the Lord God, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
ginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
Ver. 4. To the seven Churches which are in Asia.] This book, being written in an epistolary form, begins, like other Apostolic Epistles, with a Salutation, followed by a Doxology. It is addressed to the seven Churches, which are afterwards mentioned by name. They were situated in the proconsular province properly called Asia, which, at the time when the Apocalypse was written, is reported by historians to have contained five hundred great cities. Of these, Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamos, (being three of our seven,) long contested for the pre-eminence. And when a Heathen Temple was to be erected in this province, in honour of the Emperor Tiberius, and of the Roman Senate, eleven Cities contended for the possession of this Temple: and, among these, were five of the seven; for Sardis also and Laodicea entered the lists on this occasion They were certainly therefore cities of great account. The order in which they are here named is that probably in which they were visited by the Apostle Saint John, who, both before and after his banishment to Patmos, superintended them all, residing principally at Ephesus f. It is the order also in which epistles written by Saint John from Patmos would be most
Tacit. Annal. iv. 55. Gibbon's list. i. 60. Inscriptions upon medals still extant, and relating to this contest, may be seen in a note of Michaelis to sect, I. of the 20th chapter of his Introduction to the
† Euseb. Eccl. Hist, lib. iii.c, 20,
conveniently conveniently distributed through the Churches, by a messenger making a circuit of about three or four hundred miles, as may be seen in the most correct maps.
These Churches of Asia continued their bond of Christian connection, long after the time when they were thus addressed by Saint John. For it appears, that when toward the close of the second century the contest about the time of keeping Easter grew warm between the eastern and western parts of Christendom, Polycrates, who engaged in that controversy, “preso sided over the Bishops of Asia *.” And the famous Epistle from the Gallic Churches, written somewhat earlier, is addressed to the Churches of Asia and Phry. gia. Now Phrygia lay contiguous to the province of Asia, of which it was sometimes accounted a part; and Laodicea, one of the seven Churches, was the capital of Phrygia t.
The number of Churches to which the Epistle is addressed, is seven : the same number which we shall find frequently employed in this sacred book. For we read in it of seven spirits of God, seven angels, seven thunders, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, seven heads of the Dragon, of the Beast, &c. In which passages, as in others of holy Scripture, the number șeven appears to represent a large and complete, yet uncertain and undefined number. Hannah, in her şong, says, “ The barren bath borne seven,” (that is, a great and indefinite number of) children | God threatens the Israelites that he will punish them “seven times ;” that is, very completely and severely,
* Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. lib. y. c. 24.
Numerous are the instances in Scripture of such use of this number*. In its Hebrew etymology it signifies fulness and perfection t. Philo styles it teleoDogos, the completing number; and it is mentioned as such by Cyprian, who cites passages from the Apocalypse and other Scriptures, to shew the consummatio perfecta et legitima of this number 5. By what means this number became so important to the Israelites, so representative of completion and universality, may be collected from their history. God had revealed to them, that his own great work of creation had been completed in seven days; and in memory thereof he commanded them to reckon time by sevens, seven days to the sabbath day, seven months to the sabbatical month, seven years to the sabbatical year, seven times seven years to the great sabbatical or jubilee year. And when, upon' their entrance into Canaan, it pleased God miraculously to deliver the city of Jericho into their hands, he ordered them to march round it seven days, seven priests, with seven trumpets, preceding them: and on the seventh day, on which the walls fell, they were instructed to encompass it seven times 5. As therefore the number ten came to be seckoned among all nations a perfect and complete number, by counting on the ten fingers
* See Gen, ii. 3, iv. 15. xxxiii. 3. Lév. iv. 6. Prov. xxiv. 16, xxvi. 25. Is. xxx. 26. Ezek. xxx. 9. 1 Kings xviii. 43. 2 Kings v. 10. Job v. 19, xlii. 8. Olic. v. 5. Esth. i. 11. Eccl. xi. 2. Dan. iii. 19. 2 Esd. ii. 18, 19. Tob. xii, 15. Mat. xviii. 22. Luke xi. 26, xvii. 4. † Daubuz, Etymol. Dict,
See also Cyprian, De Exhort. Martyr. De Spiritu Sancto. Test. adv. Judæos; and Augustin. de Civitate Dei, lib. xi. cap. 30.
Gregory Nazianzene, alluding to this transaction, calls seven the powerful number. “Ηλιος ισαμενος, και σεληνη κατεχομενη, και Ιορδανης ανακοπτομενος, τειχη κατασειομενα ιερεων περιοδο και σαλπινγων ηχο, και αριθμω δυναμιν Korti. Orat. iü. p. 57, edit. Paris.