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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 11

 

 

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Verses 1-19


The Two Witnesses. The Seventh Trumpet

1-14. Second episode. There is much difference of opinion as to the meaning of this vision. Perhaps the key may be found in the parallelism of the book. There were two episodical visions after the sixth seal (see on Revelation 7), the first signifying that Christ's people were separated and preserved from God's judgments, the second that they were preserved not from but through death. The same meaning may be found here.

1, 2. The sanctuary and altar of Jerusalem, with the worshippers, are to be measured, i.e. with a view to preservation: cp. 2 Samuel 8:2; Ezekiel 40:3. (Revelation 11:1). But the court of the Gentiles has been given over, with the rest of the city, to the nations (Revelation 11:2). This is plainly a reference to, or prophecy of, the siege and capture of Jerusalem, 70 a.d., as foretold by Christ: cp. Luke 21:24. But it is to be interpreted symbolically. The temple, altar, and worshippers signify the Christian Church and its worship (cp. 1 Corinthians 3:16), which have arisen in the midst of Judaism, and which are to be preserved, although Judaism is doomed. The time named, 42 months, i.e. 3½ years (Revelation 11:2), the half of seven the holy number, is not to be understood literally. It was the duration of the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, and signifies a period, of whatever extent, in which evil had power: cp. Revelation 11:3, Revelation 12:6; Revelation 13:5; Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7.

3-14. But the people of Christ, although to be preserved, will be preserved through death. They are represented now under the figure of two 'witnesses' (cp. Acts 1:8), prophesying during the period of evil (Revelation 11:3). They are compared to the olive trees and candlesticks (Zerubbabel and Joshua) of Zechariah 4, because they give forth the light of the truth of Christ and are fed with the oil of divine grace (Revelation 11:4). They are also compared, in language which is meant to assure them of God's special favour and protection, to Elijah and Moses (Revelation 11:5.). Yet God's favour will be shown in preserving them not from but through death. The 'beast,' i.e. the Roman power (cp. Revelation 13:1 note, Revelation 17:8) will persecute them to the death (Revelation 11:7). There is, perhaps, an allusion to the death of two godly men in Jerusalem, of whom James, the Lord's brother, may have been one. As their dead bodies were treated with dishonour by the Jews, so, too, will the heathen dishonour the martyred Christians. But in all this they are identified with Christ (Revelation 11:8.), and will share His life with God (Revelation 11:11.). In the judgment which falls upon the wicked world, of which Jerusalem, now that the Christian Church has been separated from her (Revelation 11:1.), has become a figure ('Sodom,' 'Egypt,' 'great city,' Revelation 11:8 see on Revelation 14:8), many are converted: cp. Acts 2:23, Acts 2:37. (Revelation 11:13.).

1. The angel stood, saying] RV 'one said.'

2. Out] RV 'without.'

3. RV 'And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy'—a Hebraism for 'cause them to prophesy.'

5f. Cp. Exodus 7:19; 1 Kings 17:1; 2 Kings 1:10; Luke 4:25.

5. Will.. will] RV 'desireth to.. shall desire to.'

7. Bottomless pit] RV 'abyss': see on Revelation 9:2. Cp. Daniel 7:3, Daniel 7:7-21.

8. Our] RV 'their.'

9. RV 'And from among the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations do men look upon their dead bodies.. and suffer not,' etc.

10. They.. earth] i.e. the ungodly.

11. The Spirit] RV 'the breath': cp. Ezekiel 37:5, Ezekiel 37:10.

12. A great voice] i.e. God's: cp. 2 Kings 2:11.

13. Earthquake] see on Revelation 6:12.

15-19. The seventh trumpet sounds. This will bring about the consummation (cp. Revelation 10:7), and therefore the rest of the book is developed out of it. Instead of a silence in heaven, such as that which followed the opening of the seventh seal, St. John hears a heavenly chorus anticipating and celebrating the victory of the Kingdom which the seventh trumpet is to bring, and which is related in Revelation 12-20 (Revelation 11:15-18). Now is opened the temple of God in heaven, and in it is seen the ark of the covenant of mercy, and from it proceed lightnings and thunderings of judgment (cp. Revelation 8:5; Revelation 16:18, 'seals' and 'bowls') (Revelation 11:15). Of this mercy and judgment the following chapters narrate the exercise.

15. Kingdoms of this world] RV 'kingdom of the world': cp. Psalms 2:2.

16. Seats] RV 'thrones.'

17. And wast, and art to come] RV 'and which wast.' To thee] RV omits.

Hast reigned] RV 'didst reign.'

18. Angry] RV 'wroth.' Is come] RV 'came.'

19. Testament] RV 'covenant.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/revelation-11.html. 1909.

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