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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 11

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 11

Revelation 11:1. The interpolation καὶ ἄγγελος εἱστήκει before λέγων (Elz.) is without all attestation.

ἔγειρε. So Lach., Tisch., in accordance with A, א, 6, 7, al. Besides the var. ἔγειραι (Elz.), ἔγειρον also occurs (cf. Wetst.); both as an interpretation.

Revelation 11:4. ἑστῶτες. So A, C, א 1, 2, 4, 6, al., Beng., Matth., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Without witnesses is the correction ἑστῶσαι (Elz.).

Revelation 11:5. θέλει. Only twice is the more grammatical, and therefore more suspicious, form θελήσῃ (Elz., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]) found, viz., in A, א; the first θέλῃ (Elz.) is entirely unwarranted. Properly Beng. already wrote θέλει both times.

Revelation 11:6. The decision as to whether, after a relatively compounded form like ὁσάκις, either ἐάν (so here Elz., Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], in accordance with A, א) or ἄν (as C actually has it) is to be written, does not depend upon critical testimonies concerning a particular passage; cf. my notes on 1 John 3:20.

Revelation 11:8. For ἡμῶν after κύριος (Elz.), Beng. already, in accordance with all the witnesses, substituted αὐτῶν.

Revelation 11:9. ἀφίουσιν. So A, C, א, 12, 28, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.], instead of the emendation ἀφήσουσιν (Elz., Beng., Griesb., Matth.).

Revelation 11:10. εὐφραίνονται. So A, C, א, 12, 28, Lach., Tisch. [W. and H.]. Modified, Elz.: εὐφρανθήσονται (Vulg.).

Revelation 11:11. ἐν αὐτοῖς. Correctly accepted by Lach., Tisch., from A, 18. Only for the purpose of avoiding harshness of construction with εἰσῆλθεν is it written: αὐτοῖς (C, 7, 17, Erasm., 1, 2, 3, Beng.), επʼ αὐτούς (Elz.), εἰς αὐτούς ( א, 2, 4, 6, al.). The var. ἐπʼ αὐτοὶς (12) indicates what is correct.

Revelation 11:12. The reading ἤκουσα (Beng., Tisch.), supported by א corr., 4, 6, 8, 9, al., Syr., Copt., Andr., al., deserves the preference to the certainly well-attested ἤκουσαν (Lach., Tisch. IX. [W. and H.]). See exposition.

Revelation 11:16. The art. οἱ is lacking before εἴκ. τεσσ. πρεσβ. in A, C, א1, Lach., and before ἐν τ. θ. καθ. in A, Lach. But, in the second place, the art. which, because of the retrospection to Revelation 4:4; Revelation 4:11, especially cannot be absent in the first place, is to be recognized besides in the paraphrase οἱ

κάθηνται (C, 3, 4, al., Tisch. IX.). The omission also can be accounted for because of the similarity of the preceding syllable. Tisch. is right in supporting the rec., which has the article in both places.

Revelation 11:18. Instead of the dat., Lach. (small ed.) has written the accus. from τοὺς ἁγίους until τοὺς μεγάλους, of course according to A. But in his larger edition he has altered the reading, because C (also א1) offers only the two accusatives τοὺς μικρ. καὶ τοὺς μεγ. But the entirely senseless acc. can have its origin only in a slip in the MSS., which was occasioned possibly by the succeeding accus.

Revelation 11:19. The ό before ἐν τ. ουρ., which is lacking in א, Elz., Tisch. 1854, is found in A, C, 14 (Lach., Tisch. 1859 and IX. [W. and H.]).

The first part of the chapter, extending until Revelation 11:14,—with which the chapter would more properly end, because the second part (Revelation 11:15 sqq.) belongs throughout to ch. 12 sqq.,—contains the first manifestation of the πάλιν προφητεῦσαι, which was committed to John at the close of ch. 10. The present προφητεία, moreover, is opened with the description of a significant act which John must perform in the vision—just as the ancient prophets, by significant acts, prophesied to the people.(2789) With a measuring reed he must measure the temple, but not its outer court; for, as the heavenly voice immediately afterwards signifies, this is given to the heathen, who are for forty-two months (Revelation 11:1-2) to tread down the holy city. During this time—so further sounds the heavenly voice, from whose report John afterwards passes to his own prophetic discourse, Revelation 11:11—two witnesses of Christ shall come forth as preachers of repentance, who, only after the completion of their testimony, shall be slain by the beast out of the abyss, and that, too, in Jerusalem, where, to the joy of the godless world, their unburied corpses shall lie exposed to view in the street (Revelation 11:3-10). But after three days and a half these witnesses shall be revived by God, to the terror of their enemies, before whose eyes they shall be raised to heaven (Revelation 11:11-12). A mighty earthquake then destroys a tenth of the city, and kills seven thousand inhabitants; the survivors are converted (Revelation 11:13).

With this the second woe(2790) is at an end; the third cometh quickly.


Verse 1

Revelation 11:1. καὶ ἐδόθη μοι. By whom, remains just as undetermined as Revelation 8:2, Revelation 6:11. De Wette, Ew. ii., think of the angel of ch. 10, who, however, has fulfilled there that to which he was called; Beng.(2791) refers it to Christ, but to this, Revelation 11:3 ( ΄αρτ. ΄ου) does not constrain.

κἀλα΄ος ὁ΄οιος ῥάβδῳ. That a reed serves as a ΄έτρον,(2792) is to a certain extent explained as to its form, by its resemblance to a rule.

λέγων, without construction, as Revelation 4:1. Of course, the giver of the κάλαμος is meant; but it is incorrect, if one, as even Beng., regard the κάλαμος as the formally determined subject, and then by metonymy reaches its giver.

ἔγειρε καὶ μέτρησον. From the ἔγειρε it does not follow, that previously John was “in another posture of body,”(2793) perhaps kneeling; the ἔγειρε—otherwise than in Mark 5:41; John 5:8; Luke 5:23—corresponding to the Heb. קוּם, ; LXX.: ἐξεγέρθεις. Psalms 3:8; LXX.: ἀνάστα. Micah 6:1; LXX.: ἀνάστηθι.">(2794) is only excitatory with respect to the closely connected καὶ ΄ετρ.(2795)

It is not the purpose of the measuring, as the antithesis in Revelation 11:2 undoubtedly shows, to make visible the relations of space, which, besides, is not conceivable in the measuring of the προσκυνοῦντες,—as in Ezekiel 40:1 sqq. the temple-building beheld by the prophet in its completion was measured in all its parts, because he is to learn its dimensions accurately,(2796)—but just as in Amos 7:7(2797) that is measured which was destroyed, with respect to what is to be exempted from destruction, so John must here measure what is mentioned in Revelation 11:1, because this is to be exempted from the destruction to which what is not measured (Revelation 11:2) is abandoned, and is therefore to be preserved. In this formal understanding, Grot., Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Lücke, Hengstenb., etc., agree, much as they diverge from one another in its more detailed interpretation. It is, therefore, incorrect to find the intention of the new building in the measuring; whether in Bengel’s sense, who here finds a confirmation of Ezekiel 40, viz., the prophecy of the building of the temple of Ezekiel at Jerusalem actually to occur at the end of days; or in the sense of the allegorists, who understand the ναὸς τ. θ. of the true Church of Christ, and refer to its glorious new building, in connection with which the old Protestant expositors(2798) regard the destruction of that which was consecrated (Revelation 11:2; Revelation 11:13), as the Roman-Catholic degeneration, Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8) as papal Rome; while the Catholics have in view the removal of the O. T. sanctuary, and the separation of wicked members of the Church, Revelation 11:2.(2799) See in general on Revelation 11:13.

τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ. That part of the entire ἱερόν which contained the holy of holies, the holy place, and the porch; the proper temple-building,(2800) in distinction from the entire space of the outer courts, cf. Revelation 11:2. Incorrectly, Weiss:(2801) “The congregation of believing Jews.”

τὸ θυσιαστήριον. Only the altar of incense can be meant; since only this, and not the altar of sacrifice,(2802) stood in the ναός.(2803) For the argument of Hengstenb., that the ναός itself is to be understood figuratively of the Christian Church, because here the altar of incense in the same is removed, there is no occasion. But, also, on the other side, the argument of De Wette is unsuitable, that in Revelation 6:9, Revelation 8:3, what is said pertains not to the altar of sacrifice, which does not occur at all in the Apoc., but to the altar of incense; for since the ναὸς τ. θ. (Revelation 11:1) is different from the ναὸς τ. θ. ἐν τ. οὐρανῷ (Revelation 11:19), just so little has the θυσιαστήριον (Revelation 11:1) to do with the heavenly altar, Revelation 8:3, Revelation 6:9.

καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας ἐν αὐτῷ, viz., τῷ ναῷ. Vitr. refers αυτῷ to θυσιαστ., and explains the ἐν by apud, since he interprets τ. προσκυν. by metonymy:(2804) “the place in which the people were accustomed to adore God,” and thus finally derives “the court of the Israelites.” To this view, conflicting with the idea of the ναός, and with Revelation 11:2,—which, besides, appears entirely confused by the fact that Vitr.(2805) understands by the θυσιαστ. properly Christ,—he comes in order not to be compelled to conceive of the προσκυνοῦντες in the ναός, and at the altar found therein as exclusively priests, of whom many of the older Catholics, as C. a Lap, alone think. But as certainly as also the ναὸς τ. θ. is to be sought in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8), and the whole chapter is to be referred to the impending destruction of the city,(2806) just so certainly does the position of those προσκυνοῦντες in the ναός itself appear as one of the ideal features, which explain the whole prophecy, and extend it to the sphere of a mere foretelling of a future event. That John beholds true believers from Israel transferred to the ναὸς τ. θ., otherwise standing open only to priests, is interposed because of his knowledge of the priestly character of all believers, Jews and Gentiles.(2807) But as in ch. 7 he reports the sealing of believers out of Israel, as a necessary preparation for the judgment impending over Israel; so here, where the judgment breaks upon Israel those believers together with the proper dwelling of God are measured, just as he protects the ναὸς τ. θ. before its sinking in judgment.(2808) [See Note LXVII., p. 332.]

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

LXVII. Revelation 11:1. τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ, κ. τ. λ.

Alford argues at length in criticism of Düsterdieck’s interpretation, by which the measuring is referred to the literal and earthly Jerusalem: “I would strongly recommend any one who takes that view, to read through the very unsatisfactory and shuffling comment of Düsterdieck here; the result of which is, that, finding, as he of course does, many discrepancies between this and our Lord’s prophecy of the same destruction of Jerusalem, he is driven to the refuge that while our Lord describes matters of fact, St. John idealizes the catastrophe, setting it forth, not as it really took place, but according to its inner connection with the final accomplishment of the mystery of God, and correspondently with the hope which God’s O. T. people possessed, as contrasted with the heathen power of this world which abides in ‘Babylon.’ But if ‘Babylon’ is the abode of the world, why not ‘Jerusalem’ of the Church? If our interpreter, maintaining the literal sense, is allowed so far to ‘idealize’ as to exempt the temple of God itself (Revelation 11:1) from a destruction which we know overtook it, and nine-tenths of the city (Revelation 11:13) from an overthrow which destroyed it all, surely there is an end to the meaning of words. If Jerusalem here is simply Jerusalem, and the prophecy regards her overthrow by the Romans, and especially if this passage is to be made such use of as to set aside the testimony of Irenæus as to the date of the Apoc. by the stronger testimony of the Apoc. itself [so Düsterdieck from Lücke], then must every particular be shown to tally with known history; or, if this cannot be done, at least it must be shown that none contradicts it. If this cannot be done, then we may fairly infer that the prophecy has no such reference, or only remotely, here and there, and not as to its principal subject. Into whatever difficulty we may be led by the remark, it is no less true that the πόλις ἁγία of Revelation 11:2 cannot be the same as the πόλις μεγάλη of Revelation 11:8. This has been felt by the literal interpreters, and they have devised ingenious reasons why the holy city should afterwards be called the great city.… Düsterd.: ‘Because it is impossible in one breath to call a city ‘holy,’ and ‘Sodom and Egypt.’ Most true; then must we not look for some other city than one which this very prophecy has called most holy?” He understands the ναὸς τ. θεοῦ and its θυσιαστήριον as referring to “the Church of the elect servants of God, everywhere in this book symbolized by Jews in deed and truth. The society of these, as a whole, is the νάος agreeably to Scripture symbolism elsewhere, e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, and is symbolized by the inner or holy place of the Jerusalem temple, in and among which they, as true Israelites and priests unto God, have a right to worship and minister. These are they who, properly speaking, alone are measured; estimated again and again in this book by tale and number,—partakers in the first resurrection, the Church of the first-born.” Gebhardt, however, while emphatically rejecting Düsterdieck’s literalism, restricts the measuring to Jewish Christians (p. 258): “Can we still understand ‘the holy city,’ ‘the great city,’ to be Jerusalem in a purely local sense? No; the city is Jerusalem, but, as frequently elsewhere, it is at the same time the representative of the Jewish people. The seer was to ‘measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein;’ i.e., as Christians generally were protected from the trumpet and vial plagues (Revelation 7:1-4), so should Christians out of Israel be protected from the judgments which were to come upon Jerusalem and the Jewish people (compare Matthew 24:15-18). On the contrary, the court without the temple was to be ‘left out,’ for it was given to the Gentiles, and they should tread the holy city under foot forty and two months; i.e., the judgments already predicted by Daniel will burst in upon the non-christian, unbelieving Jewish people. Whether John, by its being given to the Gentiles, and their treading it under foot, had in mind the destruction of Jerusalem, the words do not expressly say.”


Verse 2

Revelation 11:2. καὶ τὴν αὐλὴν τὴν ἕξωθεν, κ. τ. λ. Incorrectly, Luther: “The inner choir,” after a bad variation. Also Vitr., Ewald,(2809) Züll., object not only to the expression, but also to what was said in Revelation 11:1, since they conceive of τ. αὐλ. τὴν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ναοῦ in the sense of τ. αὐλ. τὴν ἐξωτέραν τ. ν., and distinguish(2810) an outer and an inner court, the latter of which, as belonging to the ναός, is measured with it. But the expression ἔξωθ. τ. θ.(2811) confirms rather the idea given, Revelation 11:1, of the ναός alone to be measured, i.e., the proper temple-building, outside of which the αὐλή, i.e., the entire space of the court, lies.(2812) Arbitrarily, the αὐλή is interpreted by Weiss: “the congregation of unbelieving Jews.”

ἔκβαλε ἔξω. The casting out, viz., beyond the reach of that which is to be measured, is determined, according to the sense as well as the form of the idea, by the parallel addition, καὶ μὴ αὐτὴν μετρήσῃς;(2813) yet in the significant expression(2814) the point must not be overlooked, which Eichh. alone, and without the textual reference to the boundaries of the space to be measured, in his unhappy paraphrase makes equivalent to “declare profane.”(2815)

ὅτι ἐδόθη τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, for it is given to the Gentiles, viz., by the Divine decree; as the immediately following fut. πατήσουσι, which describes the impending fulfilment of this decree, unambiguously declares. Entirely in violation of the context, Beng. remarks that the Gentiles, on account of whose immensity, i.e., innumerableness,(2816) the outer court shall not be measured, shall at one day worship there. Improper also is the mingling of the idea, that the bloody sacrificial service at the altar of burnt offerings is not to be maintained:(2817) it is intended by this, only that according to the Divine decree, the Gentiles shall tread ( πατήσουσι, Luke 21:24) the court and the entire holy city.(2818) Allied with this is the determination of the καιροὶ ἐθνῶν by the schematic temporal specification: ΄ῆνας τεσσαράκοντα καὶ δύο, i.e., 3½ years,(2819) according to the type of the treading down of the holy city and the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes.


Verse 3

Revelation 11:3. κ. δώσω τοῖς δυσὶν μάρτυσίν μου. The object of δώσω follows here, not in the form of the infin.,(2820) but is described, according to the Hebrew way, in the succeeding clause, καὶ προφητ. Formally and materially incorrect are the additions to δώσω, “constancy and wisdom,”(2821) “the holy city,”(2822) which are expressly rejected already by Vitr. Unnecessarily, although in fact not unsuitably, De Wette supplies “direction and power.”

The art. τοῖς allows us to think only of two definite witnesses, otherwise known already, who, as the entire description until Revelation 11:12 establishes, are personal individuals, but not “allegories of potencies.”(2823) The witnesses are meant(2824) to be witnesses of Christ ( μάρτ. μου),(2825) which accordingly is understood in general of itself, because, as all true προφητεία proceeds from Christ,(2826) so also is it actually directed to Christ;(2827) but here it is especially applicable, because the witnesses come forth as preachers of repentance during an essentially Messianic visitation of judgment, and, besides, have to suffer from the same hostility as that by which the Lord himself is brought to the cross, Revelation 11:8. But from this it does not follow(2828) that Christ himself is to be regarded as speaking;(2829) but the heavenly voice(2830) speaks only in Christ’s name.

ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα. The specification of the forty-two months, Revelation 11:2, after the days, shows that daily, during this whole time, the prophetic speech of the two witnesses is heard.

περιβ-g0-. σάκκους-g0-. They are thus, above all things, preachers of repentance; for the penitential garb,(2831) which they themselves have adopted,(2832) puts before the eyes of the hearers what the prophetic testimony demands.


Verse 4

Revelation 11:4. The two witnesses of Christ (Revelation 11:3) are further characterized in their nature and calling, and that, too, from Zechariah 4; for the definite art., αἱ δύο ἐλ., αἱ δύο λυχν., points back to this, as the entire verse is based upon the sense and expression of Zechariah 4. There Zech. beholds a golden candlestick with seven lamps, the symbol of the Church of God,(2833) besides two olive-trees, to the right and left of the candlestick, which receives from them its oil. The two ἐλαῖαι (LXX.) designate, besides the λυχνία, “two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth;”(2834) viz., the two defenders and guardians of the theocracy given by God,

Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua;(2835) but the symbol represents that only by the Spirit of God, and not by man’s own power, the restoration of the kingdom of God can be effected, Revelation 11:6. With this symbol of Zech., John agrees when he designates the two witnesses of Christ as αἱ δύο ἐλαῖαι, and as ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου τῆς γῆς ἑστῶτες. The latter expression, whose harsh incorrectness ( αἱ

ἑστῶτες) is explicable by the reference to the persons represented under the symbols of ἐλαῖαι and λυχνίαι,(2836) designates as little as the corresponding words in Zech. the two witnesses as representatives of the Church against the world,(2837) but as servants of God,(2838) who is here called, accordingly, the Lord of the world,(2839) because he shall establish the fact that he is the Almighty, who sends his servants into their office, and protects them against all enemies, Revelation 11:5, and to the terror of their enemies can glorify(2840) the κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, Revelation 11:10 sqq. Deviating, however, from Zech., John designates the two witnesses, not only as two ἐλαῖαι, but also as two λυχνίαι. He, of course, derives this symbolical idea from Zech., but gives it another application; for what is said here is neither concerning the kingdom of God in itself, nor its up-building through Christ’s two witnesses, but concerning a judgment upon “the holy city,” during which the two witnesses preach repentance, and that, too, in vain, Revelation 11:7 sqq. In no respect have the two witnesses aught to do with the preservation of the temple.(2841) The idea of the one λυχνία in the sense of Zech. has therefore no place here. But John comprehends the symbol of the λυχνίαι in essentially the same significance as that of the ἑλαῖαι, when, precisely in the sense of Zechariah 4:6, he portrays what was just before expressed in clear words ( δώσω τοῖς μάρτ. μ. καὶ προφητεύσουσιν); viz., that the efficiency of the two witnesses depends upon the Divine Spirit, not upon their own power, and hence becomes truly prophetic. John, therefore, describes the prophetic character of the two witnesses of Christ as like those two anointed ones in Zech.; but that he will not express the identity of the persons, nor designate the two witnesses as Zerubbabel and Joshua, who then must be regarded as repeated, follows partly from the deviation from Zech., and partly from other specifications in the context, Revelation 11:3, Revelation 11:5 sqq.(2842)


Verse 5

Revelation 11:5 sq Description of the miraculous power with which the two witnesses are furnished in order, until their testimony is finished,(2843) to ward off their enemies, and to attest their divine commission. The particular features of the description, viz., Revelation 11:6, are derived from the histories of Elias and Moses. Even this retrospective allusion, acknowledged by all expositors, to the miracles of those ancient prophets which are in no way understood allegorically, of itself renders it in the highest degree improbable that the description here is meant to be allegorical; but also the individual expressions of the text guard against the “spiritual” interpretation, as it has been applied from Primas and Beda to Hengstenb. and Ebrard.

Whether in Revelation 11:5 ( πῦρ ἐκπορεύεται ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτῶν, κ. τ. λ.) there be an allusion to 2 Kings 1:10 sqq., where Elijah calls down fire from heaven which consumes his enemies,(2844) remains uncertain; the parallel with Jeremiah 5:14(2845) is more probable, but in connection with this the different character of the two passages dare not be overlooked. In Jeremiah the words of God are mentioned, and how when given in the mouth of the prophet they are like fire; just as it is said in Sirach 48:1 : ἀνέστη ἡλιας προφήτης ὡς πῦρ, καὶ λόγος αὐτοῦ ώς λαμπάς ἐκαίετο.(2846) In this passage, however, nothing is said of God’s words coming like fire from the mouth of the prophet,(2847) but only of fire which proceedeth from his mouth. What is said in Jeremiah 5:14, by way of comparison, appears here, just as above, Revelation 9:17, in dreadful reality; and that the words πὺρ ἐκπορ. ἐκ τ. στόμ. αὐτ. are, nevertheless, meant figuratively, follows from their deadly(2848) effect described immediately afterwards in the parallel clause, which, besides, is expressly referred by the οὕτως to the fire; for this οὕτως(2849) says: “By the fire proceeding out of their mouth;”(2850) and designates the punishment corresponding to the guilt of the θέλειν ἀδικῆσαι.(2851) But if the πῦρ is understood figuratively, the ἀποκτανθῆναι must then be referred to the fact that to unbelievers the gospel is a savor of death unto death; for the ἀδικῆσαι must also then be figurative no less than the entire succeeding statement. The allegorists are, also, mostly consistent in this, but they arrive at the most wonderful interpretations. In the “power to shut heaven, that it rain not,” Revelation 11:6, the two witnesses are like Elijah;(2852) even the specification of time here corresponds, as the days of their prophetic employment during which it is not to rain,(2853) agree, according to Revelation 11:3, with the three and a half years during which Elijah kept the heaven shut.(2854) The further “power over the waters ( ἐπί)(2855) to turn them to blood,” the two witnesses have in common with Moses;(2856) the last words also, καὶ πατάξαι τὴν γῆν ἐν πάσῃ πληγῇ, κ. τ. λ., contain a retrospective view to the plagues with which Moses smote the Egyptians,(2857) although unlimited power is given both witnesses “to smite the earth with all plagues as often as they will.” These decided words once more make it manifest in the most definite way, that the issuing of fire from the mouth of the witnesses, the closing of the heaven, and the turning of water into blood,(2858) are clearly particular plagues of the kind inflicted by Elijah and Moses. If we are not to interpret 1 Kings 17, James 5:17, Exodus 7 sqq., allegorically, we must abide also in this passage by the literal sense, yet must not deduce therefrom that “the power of the keys”(2859) is here ascribed the two witnesses, in virtue of which they close the heaven spiritually, and hold back the spiritual rain of the gospel,(2860) cause bloodshed to come from the gospel,(2861) or—if the ὓδατα which are turned into blood be understood as the waters out of which the antichristian beast (i.e., the papacy) arises—could excite the conflicts between popes and antipopes.(2862) This kind of consequent allegorizing was doubtful already to Grot., who, therefore, tries to escape with the vague explanation, “There is nothing so great which they do not obtain on asking from God.”(2863)


Verse 7

Revelation 11:7. ὅταν τελέσωσι. “When they shall have finished.”(2864)

τὸ θηρίον τὸ ἀναβαῖνον έκ τῆς ἀβύσσου. Only the infernal nature of the beast is to be learned from his rising out of the abyss,(2865) and his definitely antichristian character; further, from his contending against the witnesses of Christ,(2866) and overcoming and slaying them. The more detailed explanation of the beast, John himself does not give until chs. 13 and 17. The mention of the beast in this passage is undoubtedly proleptical,(2867) inasmuch as the concrete idea of the antichristian power under the definite form of the beast from the abyss, which is presupposed as known by the definite art. τὸ θηρ., proceeds first from chs. 13, 17; meanwhile, not only is the idea of his Antichristian nature already to a certain extent intelligible from the entire context, but also the form of the description of the beast from the example of Daniel 7, to which the interpolation in Cod. A expressly refers.


Verses 8-10

Revelation 11:8-10. As the slaying of the two witnesses could not occur(2868) until they had fulfilled their mission, so the Almighty Lord(2869) here allows dishonor to be shown their dead bodies, only in order afterwards to glorify them the more, Revelation 11:11.

τὸ πτῶμα αὐτῶν. The sing.(2870) is regarded collectively;(2871) “that which has fallen of them,” i.e., their corpses.

ἐπὶ τῆς πλατείας τῆς πόλεως τῆς μεγάλης. On the street, in the place where in the public exercise of their μαρτυρία they are slain, they remain lying unburied,(2872) the most ignominious outrage even according to the feeling of the Gentiles,(2873) who here are represented as instruments of the beast of the abyss from the fact that they inflict such an outrage upon Christ’s witnesses, Revelation 11:9, and rejoice at this, Revelation 11:10.

That “the great city” is identical with the holy city where the ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ stands, Revelation 11:1 sqq., and, therefore, is none other than Jerusalem, is evident already from the connection; just as unambiguously is this declared in Revelation 11:8, first in the spiritual designation of the same as Sodom and Egypt, then especially in the words ὅπου καὶ κύριος αὐτων ἐσταυρώθη. The spiritual designation ( καλ. πνευματικῶς) expresses, in distinction from the proper historical name, the spiritual nature of the city; but the juxtaposition of the two names, Sodom and Egypt, shows that reference is not made here to individual relations,(2874) but to that wherein Sodom and Egypt are essentially alike, viz., entire enmity to the true God, his servants, and his people. As already the ancient prophets called Jerusalem, in express terms, Sodom,(2875) or a sister of Sodom,(2876) they wished not so much to characterize individual sins, as rather to designate them radically from the perverted position of the people to their God. So here the city wherein the witnesses of Christ are slain, and lie unburied on the street, and wherein also the Lord was crucified, is spiritually designated by both anti-theocratic names, because its antichristian hostility to the Lord is to be represented as against his witnesses.(2877) But the pneumatic designation of the city gives also the answer in harmony with the context to the question in hand as to why the city is called here, not, as Revelation 11:2, the holy, but “the great.” Aret., Calov., and many of the older Protestants, have concluded from a comparison with Revelation 16:19, Revelation 18:15, etc., that also in this passage the great city is nothing but Babel, i.e., Papal Rome. Ebrard and other allegorists wish from this designation to prove at least that not the actual Jerusalem, but that which is allegorically meant, i.e., the secularized church, is to be understood. The reply of De Wette, that John could no longer call the city holy after its “profanation,” and yet “wanted to designate it as a chief city containing a large population, Revelation 11:13, and at the same time many Gentiles, warriors, and others,” especially in its second part, is not properly satisfactory. The reason is more probable that it is impossible in one breath to call the city holy, and Sodom and Egypt, while the τ. μεγἀλῆς points in like manner as with respect to the city, which in ch. 16 sqq. bears the spiritual name of Babel, to the city’s greatness and power as the vain foundation of its godless security and arrogant enmity against the Lord and his witnesses calling to repentance.

That the concluding words of Revelation 11:8, ὅπου, κ. τ. λ., dare not be conceived of as a mere notice of locality, Ebrard properly mentions; but from this the impossibility does not result that the significance of the πνευματικῶς with καλεῖται extends also to the clause ὄπου

ἐσταυρώθη, as Hengstenb. and Ebrard still assert, as, like the old Protestant allegorists, they refer it to the spiritual crucifixion of the Lord in the secularized church,(2878) a conception against which already the aor. ἐσταυρώθη, pointing to the definite fact of the crucifixion, is arrayed,—but only the necessity follows for seeking the correct reference of that clause in the pragmatism of the context. Again, the text itself shows this, partly by the καὶ before κύρ. αὐτ., partly by the expression κύρ. αὐτων. Both belong inwardly together; as the two witnesses, so also their Lord was there slain, crucified; the servants have suffered the same thing as their(2879) Lord.(2880) This is accordingly made prominent, because from this it becomes clear that the antichristian enmity of the great city remains always the same; with the same hatred as that wherewith they formerly once brought the Lord there to the cross, they now slay the two witnesses just because they are his witnesses. But still in another respect is the allusion to the crucifixion of the Lord significant, viz., with respect to the judgment announced. For even in their days,(2881) the city shows the same impenitent hostility, on account of which the Lord himself already had proclaimed its judgment.(2882)

Revelation 11:9. The subj. to βλέπουσιν lies directly in the partitively formed expression ἐκ τῶν λαῶν, in connection with which a τινὲς is not to be supplied.(2883) In like manner, the subject is partitively formed, John 16:17, the object, Matthew 23:34; in the simple gen., without ἐκ, the partitive obj. is found; e.g., Revelation 3:9.

From peoples, kindreds, etc. (Revelation 5:9), Jews and Gentiles (cf. Revelation 11:2), many then have assembled in Jerusalem;(2884) these see the indignity (Revelation 11:8) ἡμέρας τρεῖς καὶ ἡμίσυ, “three days and a half.”(2885) The schematic significance of this date can only be mistaken, and a definite chronological prophecy be found here, if the specifications of time of Revelation 11:2-3, also be taken literally,(2886) which then of course is ill adapted to the further view of the allegorical character, and the reference of the whole to the antichristian period at the end of the world. All those have felt the schematic nature of the three and a half days, who have thought in connection therewith of only a short time;(2887) but that just three and a half days are named cannot be explained by an allusion to the three days during which the Lord lay in the grave;(2888) also not with Ewald: “Longer than it is proper for a dead person to be left unburied, especially if we consider that from the nature of the land the dead should be buried sooner, so as not to become offensive;” but only from the analogy of the three and a half years, Revelation 11:2 sq.(2889)

ἀφίουσι. The form, like the ἥφιεν, Mark 1:34; Mark 11:16, from the stem ἄφίω.(2890)

τεθῆναι εἰς μνῆμα. Cf. Luke 23:53; Luke 23:55; Matthew 27:60.

From the fact that in Revelation 11:10 it is said, “they that dwell upon the earth” rejoice over them,(2891) it has been inferred(2892) that not the actual Jerusalem is to be regarded as the scene, but the allegorically so-called great city, Papal Rome, or rather the Romish Papacy, which actually extends over the whole earth. Improperly; for the strange attempt in this way to present the entire mass of all individuals dwelling on earth as spectators would thereby miscarry. In the expression οἱ κατοικ. ἐπὶ τ. γ., the question is not with respect to the numerical mass, but the generic idea;(2893) the self-evident limitation to the κατοικοῦντες ἐπῖ τῆς γῆς(2894) found in the city, as representatives of the entire class, the text itself gives by accounting for their joy, to which they testify by mutual presents as on festivals,(2895) as follows: ὅτι οὺτοι οἱ δύο προφῆται ἐβασάνισαν τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. The βασανισμός(2896) on the part of the two prophetic witnesses, which in no way can be referred to the inner pain(2897) excited by their preaching of repentance,(2898) was perceptible only to the enemies in the city, who just as such represent the entire class of dwellers upon earth.


Verse 11

Revelation 11:11. sq. The resuscitation, and ascension to heaven, of the two witnesses. πνεὺμα ζωῆς, “A spirit of life.” Cf. Genesis 6:17; Genesis 2:7.(2899) Incorrectly, Hengstenb.: The spirit of life.

έκ τοῦ θεοῦ. “Immediately, miraculously.”(2900)

εἰσῆλθεν έν αὐτοις. “Came” (into them, and remained) “in them.” Cf. Luke 9:46; Winer, p. 385.

καὶ ἔστησαν ἐπὶ τοὺς πόδας αὐτων. The more clearly this is meant as a sign of revivification,(2901) and the more definitely it is said, Revelation 11:12, ἀνέβησαν εἰς τ. ουρ. ἐν τ. νεφ., the less is it to be urged that here the expression ἐγείρεσθαι or ἀνάστασις is avoided.(2902)

κ. φόβος μέγας, κ. τ. λ. Concerning the expression, cf. Luke 1:12; concerning the thing itself, Matthew 27:54. The resuscitation of the witnesses proved that the Lord, in whose name they came forth, has the power to avenge the indignity shown his servants.

καὶ ἤκουσα. The reading ἤκουσαν,—approved also by Ew. ii.,—whereby the same subject is to be understood as in ἀνέβησαν, cannot be defended by a comparison with the entirely heterogeneous passage, John 5:28.(2903) A declaration directed to the witnesses would be designated after the manner of Revelation 6:11.(2904) The καὶ ἥκουσα properly supported by Beng., Ew. i., De Wette, is incomparably more suitable; also in Revelation 6:6, Revelation 9:13, John hears voices directed to others, whose consequences he then beholds. The call ἀνάβατε ὠδε(2905) finds its fulfilment, immediately afterwards, before the eyes of the enemies: καὶ ἀνέβησαν, κ. τ. λ. In this final glorification, the two witnesses are less like Elijah,(2906) than their Lord himself,(2907) as also their death was expressly compared with his crucifixion, Revelation 11:8.


Verse 13

Revelation 11:13. At the same time a great earthquake destroys the tenth part of the city, slays seven thousand inhabitants, and thus effects the conversion of the rest.

ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ, viz., that in which what is reported in Revelation 11:12 occurred.(2908) With the glorification of the witnesses coincides the vengeance upon their enemies, and those of the Lord.

σεισ΄ὸς ΄έγας. That the earthquake is intended just as literally as in Revelation 6:12,(2909) and is not some dreadful event to be discerned only from the fulfilment of the prophecy,(2910) and that, in general, nothing allegorical is here said, follows from the further description of the effect of the earthquake; the tenth part of the city is thrown down, and seven thousand men ( ὀνόματα ἀνθρ., cf. Revelation 3:4) are slain ( ἀπεκτάνθησαν, in the same sense as the other plagues).(2911) If the numerical specifications be regarded as something else than concrete forms, which by a certain measure make perceptible the idea of a relatively small injury,(2912) we enter the province of conjecture. Ebrard wishes to “refer the tenth part of the city to the tenth part of the fourth world-power, over which the antichrist is to extend his dominion.”(2913) But, as by this arbitrary introduction of a prophecy so unlike this as that in ch. 17, the antichristian character of the number ten is inferred, an embarrassment to the text is occasioned, since it designates the antichristian men slain by the number seven, a divine number. Yet here Ebrard aids with the conjecture, that this number may indicate “the servile imitation of divine relations of number on the part of the antichristian realm.”

καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ, κ. τ. λ. Upon this large remainder of the inhabitants of the city, the Divine visitation is, therefore, not fruitless.(2914)

ἔδωκαν δόξαν. A mark of conversion, Revelation 16:9; Jeremiah 13:16.(2915)

τῷ θεῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. The expression, derived from the later books of the O. T.,(2916) occurs in the N. T. only here and Revelation 16:11.(2917) It is caused here by Revelation 11:13.(2918) Without further reference, De Wette explains it: “the true, supreme God.” But by the very fact that God carries his two witnesses to heaven, he shows himself as God of heaven.

For the comprehension of the entire section, Revelation 11:1-13, the text gives a completely secure standpoint by designating “the holy city” in which “the temple of God” stands, and which “the Gentiles shall tread under foot,” Revelation 11:1-2, by the most unambiguous words as the city “where Christ was crucified,” Revelation 11:8. Already what is said in Revelation 11:1-2, suggests only Jerusalem; but the words of Revelation 11:8 ὅπου

ἐσταυρώθη, are in themselves so simple, and have besides, by means of the historical aor., such immovable firmness in their reference to the definite fact of the crucifixion of the Lord, that no exposition can correspond with the text that conflicts with the norm given by Revelation 11:8 and Revelation 11:1-2. And if the difficulties of exposition from the standpoint given by the context—viz., concerning the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3 sqq.), and the relation of Revelation 11:13 and Revelation 11:1-2, to the Lord’s prophecies concerning the destruction of Jerusalem—were still greater than they are, without doubt the solution of the difficulties can be found only in the way indicated by the text itself. Highly characteristic of the force with which the text, especially by Revelation 11:8, defends itself against the allegorical interpretation, are the concessions of the allegorists themselves. C. a Lap allegorizes like the older Protestants; but in order to avoid altogether the results of Protestant allegorizing, which regards the great city as Papal Rome, he mentions that Revelation 11:8 allows us to think only of Jerusalem, and, therefore, in no way of Rome. Hengstenb., who interprets the entire section (Revelation 11:1-13) allegorically of the secularized church, opens his observations on Revelation 11:8 with the words: “The great city is Jerusalem.” Tinius(2919) does not know how to defend the allegorical interpretation as Rome, otherwise than by the conjecture that the contradictory words ὅπου καὶ κύριος αὐτων ἐσταυρώθη were interpolated!(2920)

If by allegorizing, the prophecy be once withdrawn from the firm historical basis upon which, by Revelation 11:8 and Revelation 11:1-2,(2921) it puts itself, every limitation whereby the context itself determines the relation of prophecy is removed, and a proper refutation of the most arbitrary interpretations is no longer possible. How will an old Protestant or a modern allegorist prove that the exposition of N. de Lyra is incorrect, when by essentially the same allegorizing he infers that Revelation 11:1-2, were fulfilled when Pope Felix instituted the festival of church dedications? For, why should not κάλα΄ος signify just as well a sprinkling-brush as the word of God? And if the ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ mean the true Church, why could not the witnesses coming forth for it be as well Pope Silverius and the Patriarch Mennas,(2922) as the “testes veritatis,” possisibly the Waldenses, whose testimony in John Hus and Jerome of Prague was revived in Luther and Melanchthon?(2923) Or, upon what exegetical foundation can it be proved that the beast from the abyss is not the imperial general Belisarius,(2924) but the Pope?(2925) The modern allegorists are inconsistent in not expressly adopting the special relations which the allegorical interpretation formerly knew how to find in a surprising way.(2926) The modern allegorists are harmonious with the ancient in the fundamental view of all decided points of the entire prophecy: that the temple of God which was measured means the true Church which is to be preserved, while the outer court and the city given to the heathen are wicked Christians; that Christ’s two witnesses, their office, their miraculous powers, their suffering, their death, their resurrection and ascension, are to be understood “spiritually;” finally, that the earthquake (Revelation 11:13) and its effect figuratively represent a visitation upon the degenerate Church. Ebrard regards the earthquake as a special fact, whose more accurate determination is impossible before the fulfilment of the prophecy. In the “spiritual” fundamental view, the Catholic allegorists, as C. a Lap., Stern, etc., also agree with Par., Vitr., Calov., Hengstenb., Ebrard. But differences immediately arise with the more accurate determinations, in which, however, when once the standpoint designated by the context itself is deserted, and the way of allegorizing is entered, the ancient Protestants proceed more correctly. The entire description of the two witnesses is so thoroughly personal, that it is more in harmony with the text to think of “the doctors of the Church,”(2927) than of the “office of witness,”(2928) or only of the testifying “potencies,” law and gospel.(2929) The slaying, the not burying, the awakening of witnesses, refers rather to the martyrdom of Savonarola and Hus, and the resuscitation of such witnesses in Luther and the other reformers,(2930) than to the fact that law and gospel are regarded dead, and then again maintained.(2931) Besides, if the dates, seeming to correspond so accurately, be taken in the sense of the old interpreters,(2932) they could please at least by the naïve confidence in their consequences; while the modern allegorists, by the timidity with which they announce only vague generalities, betray their own insecurity and weakness.

From this form of allegorizing lately arising from a magical idea of foretelling the future, that form is distinguished which has been invented in the interest of a rationalistic conception of biblical prophecy, and which is, of course, very vigorous with respect to results obtained, but not at all in exegetical methods. This group of expositors(2933) has in this the great excellence, that they hold firmly to the textual reference to Jerusalem. Grot., who has found already in the preceding visions the destruction of the city by Titus, refers (ch. 11) to the times of Hadrian, who built a temple of Jupiter in the city, on the place not measured,—for John, of course, must measure the already destroyed temple, “because God was to preserve that space from the heathen on account of the memory of its ancient holiness.”

The two witnesses are the two assemblies of Christians, a Hebrew and a Greek-speaking congregation at Jerusalem; the beast (Revelation 11:7) is Barcocheba; Revelation 11:13 describes the destruction of his party in the city, against which Revelation 11:15 sqq. represents the suppression of the same outside of the city. According to Eichh., the ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, Revelation 11:1, designates the worship of the one God, which is to be maintained even though the αὐλῆ, i.e., the pomp of ceremonies, be surrendered at the impending destruction of the city by Titus, described in Revelation 11:15 sqq. The two witnesses are the high-priests Ananus and Jesus,(2934) murdered by the Zealots ( τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, Revelation 11:2);(2935) the earthquake is a scene of murder introduced by the Zealots; and the words κ. οἱ λοιποὶ, κ. τ. λ., he explains: “The good citizens of Jerusalem bore this slaughter with a brave mind, having professed this besides, viz., that it had occurred, not without God’s knowledge, but by his permission.”

The necessity of allegorical exposition, Hengstenb. has attempted to prove at length.(2936) Against the fundamental view advocated by Bleek, Ew., Lücke, and De Wette, that ch. 11 refers to the still future destruction of Jerusalem,—whereby, on the one hand, those expositors maintain the harmony with the words of the Lord on the subject (cf. Revelation 11:2, πατήσουσιν, with Luke 21:24), and, on the other hand, explain the difference that in this passage the proper ναός is to remain preserved, and, in general, the judgment (cf. Revelation 11:13) is far milder than in Luke 21, Matthew 24, by the patriotic feeling of John, who was unwilling to conceive of the entire holy city, together with the proper habitation of God, as surrendered to the Gentiles, Hengstenb. remarks: “Within the sphere of Holy Scripture, that pseudo-patriotism, that blind partiality for one’s own people, is nowhere at home.” This is so far entirely inapplicable, since patriotism and pseudo-patriotism are two very distinct things. Moses, Jeremiah, all the prophets, have, as true patriots, a holy sympathy with their people. Paul especially emphasizes (Romans 9:3) the patriotic point of the wish there made. Yea, the bitterness of the book eaten by John,(2937) Hengstenb. himself has explained by a comparison with Ezekiel 3:14, from the sad contents of the prophecy to be announced. But if it were bitter to the ancient prophets to announce to their own people the Divine judgments, this not only testifies to their holy patriotic love, but, besides, makes us see how the entire prophetic character was a profoundly moral, and not a magical, overwhelming one, consuming the moral personality of the prophet. So also in John. If the prophecy, ch. Revelation 11:1-3, according to Revelation 11:1-2; Revelation 11:8, undoubtedly refers to the actual Jerusalem, so in the bitterness to the prophet,(2938) with which the judgment is fulfilled, Revelation 11:1-2, we must not fail to see genuine patriotism. But it is of course unsatisfactory when the difference between the prediction (Revelation 11:1-13) and the corresponding fundamental prophecy of the Lord(2939) is to be explained alone by John’s patriotism;(2940) while, more preposterously yet, Hengstenb. goes too far on the opposite side in attempting to defend John from pseudo-patriotism by imputing to him the view that the actual Jerusalem is the congregation of Satan. Hengstenb. is led to this misunderstanding(2941) by the zeal with which he opposes not so much the view of Lücke, etc., as rather the opinion of Baur concerning the gross Judaism of the Apoc. But it is extremely incorrect to decide the views of Lücke and of Baur(2942) as the same. Just by the false anti-Judaism which Hengstenb. ascribes to John, he breaks away the point from his apparently most important arguments for the allegorical exposition. He says, “John everywhere uses the Jewish only as a symbol and form of representation of the Christian; thus, also (Revelation 11:1), he designates by the temple the Christian Church, and (Revelation 11:8) by Jerusalem the degenerate Christian Church as a whole.” This exegetical canon is just as incorrect as that stated in Revelation 8:10, etc., that a star everywhere signifies a ruler. Yet, as a matter of course, it must appear already impossible for John, if he regards actual Judaism, the temple, the holy city, etc., without any thing further, as a congregation of Satan, to use these congregations of Satan, with their institutions, as a symbol of the true Church of Christ. But Hengstenb. does John the most flagrant injustice. Those who are Jews only as they call themselves such, but are the synagogue of Satan, he thoroughly distinguishes—in the sense of Romans 9:6—from those who are such actually. To the latter belong the sealed out of Israel,(2943) in distinction from those out of the Gentiles. Is the name of Israel (Revelation 7:4 sqq.) a symbol of the Christian Church? and are the names of the tribes there symbols of Christian churches? Hengstenb., especially on Revelation 14:1 sqq., thinks that the constant Jewish symbolism cannot be mistaken, as there Mount Zion can be understood only symbolically. That is decidedly incorrect; but, on the other hand, the visionary locality where Christ is seen with his hosts is the actual Mount Zion, which, as a visionary locality, is as little understood allegorically as Revelation 4:1, Heaven; Revelation 4:6, the throne of God; Revelation 11:15, Revelation 12:1, Heaven; Revelation 13:1, the seashore, etc. But when Hengstenb. appeals to Revelation 20:9 in order to prove that the “holy city,” Revelation 11:1-2, is to be understood allegorically, he does something awkward, because the entire statement of ch. 20, which extends over the historical horizon, dare in no way be made parallel with the prophecy, Revelation 11:1-13, which expressly (Revelation 11:8, Revelation 11:1-2) indicates its historical relation.

Against the not allegorical explanation, Hengstenb. says further, that “we cannot understand how an announcement of the future fate of Jewish Jerusalem … should occur just at this place, hemmed in between the sixth and seventh trumpets, the second and third woes, which have to do only with worldly power.” The answer is immediately given, and that, too, not only from the methodical progress in itself of the Apoc. vision,—which Hengstenb. confuses by his view, in violation of the context, that Revelation 11:1-13 occurs between the second and third woe, while what is here said belongs rather to the second woe, Revelation 11:14,(2944)—but also, as is equally decisive, in fullest harmony with the fundamental prediction of the Lord.

When Hengstenb. judges further that the account of the two witnesses is comprehensible only by an allegorical exposition, it is, on the one hand, to be answered, that the allegorizing obliteration of the definite features referring to personalities(2945) ill harmonizes with the text, and, on the other hand, the non-allegorizing exposition must accept the difficulties, just as the text offers them, and attempt their explanation.

Finally(2946) Hengstenb. mentions the testimony of Irenaeus, which places the composition of the Apoc. in the time after the destruction of Jerusalem, and must consequently prevent the expositor from accepting, in Revelation 11:1 sqq., the existence of the temple and city, and regarding the destruction as future. Lücke, who, with the fullest right, places the self-witness of the Apoc. above the testimony of Irenaeus, and vindicates for the exegete the freedom required above all things by the text, acknowledges the possibility that, in case John wrote after the fall of the city, by a kind of fiction he might have represented this fact as future. Therefore the statement ( πατήσουσιν, Revelation 11:2) would at all events be future, and refer to the destruction of the city. But Bleek correctly denies even the possibility of conceiving of this passage according to the rule of such a fiction, to say nothing of its being entirely aimless.

The most immediate norm for the correct exposition resulting from the wording of the text itself, has already been asserted in opposition to the allegorists; viz., the reference to Jerusalem, Revelation 11:8, Revelation 11:1-2, and to the judgment impending over this city (Revelation 11:2, πατήσουσιν). Another no less important norm, to which also the phraseology, Revelation 11:2 ( ἐδ. τοῖς ἔθνεσιν

πατήσουσιν), points by its similarity with Luke 21:24, shows the essential agreement of our prediction with the fundamental prediction of the Lord.(2947) For, just as the Lord himself places the final judgment in inner connection with the end of the world,—to such an extent, that apparently even an external chronological connection is expressed,—so John predicts the ultimate fulfilment (which is here represented in the seventh trumpet-vision, Revelation 11:15 sqq.) in such a way that he begins with the judgment upon Jerusalem, Revelation 11:1-13. After Revelation 10:7 sqq., he is now to announce the completion of the mystery of God. The completion itself does not occur, as in Revelation 10:7 also it is expressly said, until the time of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15 sqq.), in which also the third woe falls (cf. Revelation 11:14); but the announcement committed to John begins, nevertheless, not first with Revelation 11:15, but already at Revelation 11:1. And what is here (Revelation 11:1-13) predicted belongs to the second woe, and therefore stands in the connection of the series with the third, soon-coming woe.

No one would have thought of denying, in Revelation 11:1-13, the reference afforded from the wording, and the analogy with the eschatological discourses of the Lord to the impending destruction of Jerusalem, and in order to do this, would have had to resort to allegorical explanation, if, on the other hand, the prediction of John did not deviate from that fundamental prediction, and the fact of the destruction had not in reality occurred, as the Lord, but not as John, had predicted. But just the latter difficulty brings with itself the solution; for it follows, from the peculiar deviations from Matthew 24, Luke 21, that John, in his prophecy concerning Jerusalem, had an entirely different purpose from the Lord himself, and accordingly he puts his prophetic description of the impending act of judgment in a peculiar light, and paints it in other colors.(2948) The Lord announces simply the definite fact of the destruction of the city;(2949) he mentions Judah and Jerusalem, and describes how the Gentile enemies will build a rampart against it, plunder it, and not leave one stone upon another, a destruction which affected the dishonored temple no less than the holy city. According to the description of John, there would be only a period during the 3½ years of oppression known already from Daniel, in which the city and the court are trodden under foot by the Gentiles; the temple proper is preserved from all indignity and devastation. During this time, the two witnesses of Christ come forth as preachers of repentance, who, according to their nature and office,—not according to their individual personality,—are the two olive-trees and candlesticks (anointed ones) of whom Zech. spake, Revelation 11:4; they are Moses and Elijah,(2950)—not Enoch and Elijah,(2951) who, as prophetic preachers of repentance, are thought of as having returned to the same desert, just as Elijah returned in the manifestation of John the Baptist.(2952) But these were killed, and that, too, by the beast from the abyss, whose mention in this place—as it properly belongs only to the seventh trumpet—gives an indication for the conception of the ideal standpoint from which John regards the impending judgment upon Jerusalem in connection with its full and final development. No less significant is the hatred which the Gentiles present in the city—of whom we are to think so preponderatingly in the expression οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, that the reference to the unbelieving Jews retires altogether into the background—show to the dead bodies of Christ’s witnesses. Finally, in comparison with the fundamental prophecy of the Lord, it is significant for the distinct mode of contemplation by John, that here an earthquake, after the manner of the preliminary plagues described in the seal- and trumpet-visions, visits the city, destroys a part of it, and brings the survivors to repentance, in contrast with the plagues remaining fruitless to those in the Gentile world;(2953) on which account, then, the seventh trumpet brings the complete destruction of the antichristian world. While, therefore, the Lord himself predicts the real fact of the destruction of Jerusalem, the same impending fact, of course, forms also for John the real goal of his prophecy; besides, he also agrees with the Lord in the fundamental prediction, in this, that he likewise maintains the inner connection between the individual acts of judgment upon Jerusalem, and the full final judgment; but in other respects the prediction of John is of an ideal character, so that we are neither to seek for the real fulfilment of individual expressions, nor, in order to conceal the incongruity between the words of prophecy and the facts of the destruction, to resort to the allegorical mode of exposition. In John, a judgment impends over the city, which is brought about no more by the heathen treading under foot (Revelation 11:2) than by the earthquake (Revelation 11:13), in the development of the mystery of God until its final completion, as a chief link in the chain of preliminary plagues, since it also forms a part of the second woe. But from this standpoint, the holy city cannot appear in the same light as the Gentile city, from the ground of antichristian secular power; but just as the sealed of God, as such, could not be touched by certain plagues,(2954) the temple proper, as God’s place of revelation, is preserved from the feet of the Gentiles, while the city wherein the witnesses of Christ like their Lord are slain is condemned to judgment. But this is distinguished also from the complete judgment upon Babylon, by the fact that the plague (the earthquake) is wrought as a salutary purification, since only the antichristian part are obliterated, while the rest of Israel are converted, and remain in safety.(2955) We must therefore decide, not that in Revelation 11:1-13 John allegorizes by representing the future destinies of the Christian Church under Jewish symbols, but that he idealizes,(2956) by endeavoring to announce beforehand the impending destruction of Jerusalem, not according to the actual circumstances, but according to their inner connection with the ultimate fulfilment of the mystery of God,(2957) and correspondingly to state the hope which the O. T. people of God still retained, in contrast with the heathen secular power, i.e., with “Babylon.” In this ideal representation of prophecy, there belongs also the similar feature (Revelation 11:4 sqq.). John does not think that Moses and Elijah will actually return,(2958) accordingly he does not mention them; but with colors derived from the words of Zechariah, as also from the history of Moses and Elijah, he paints the ideal picture of the two prophetic preachers of repentance, who are to work in the manner, the spirit, and the power of Moses and Elijah. Hence we are not to inquire for a particular “meaning,” or a particular “fulfilment” of what is here said.(2959)


Verse 15

Revelation 11:15. ἐγένοντο φωναὶ μεγ., κ. τ. λ. To whom these voices belonged, is neither to be asked nor to be answered. Ewald wants to ascribe them to the four beasts;(2961) De Wette, to the angels; Beng., to various dwellers in heaven, angels and men. Hengstenb. tries to show that the innumerable hosts, Revelation 7:9 sq., are to be understood. This is incorrect, because the hosts which John there sees proleptically in heaven do not as yet correspond in Revelation 11:15, with the progressive course of the visions, but are not actually in heaven until Revelation 15:2 sqq.(2962) Also in Revelation 11:15-19 Hengstenb. mistakes the proleptical reference correctly understood by C. a Lap., Beng., Ew., De Wette, etc., by regarding all the contents of the seventh trumpet (the third woe) exhausted already with Revelation 11:19. Still more preposterously, Ebrard limits the seventh trumpet to Revelation 11:15-18.(2963)

ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, where John is not as yet,(2964) but whither the look of the seer is directed.(2965)

λέγοντες. Cf. Revelation 4:8, Revelation 5:13. βασιλεία τοῦ κόσ΄ου. The regal dominion over the world.(2966) Instead of the obj. gen., in Revelation 17:18, ἐπί follows. Cf. also Revelation 1:6, Revelation 12:10. The immediately following καὶ βασιλεύσει presupposes not only the active idea of βασιλεία, but also this reading. Incorrectly, Luther, according to the var. supported by Ew. ii., ἐγένοντο αἱ βασιλεῖαι: the kingdoms of this world.

The proleptical(2967) in the songs of the heavenly voices lies in this, that immediately after the sound of the trumpet, and yet before any thing else has actually occurred of what is afterwards celebrated with similar songs of praise,(2968) they say, ἐγένετο βασ., κ. τ. λ.(2969) In reality the dominion over the world does not become God’s and that of his Anointed until the wrathful judgment described, viz., until ch. 18, yea, in another respect until Revelation 20:10, has actually dislodged from its assumed dominion all ungodly and antichristian power, which, by its rebellion(2970) against the only King and Lord, had usurped, to an extent, a part of his βασιλεία. The inner justification of the prolepsis—which Hengstenb. acknowledges only at Revelation 11:15-18 in the relation to Revelation 11:19, where he finds the final judgment—lies in the fact that the seventh trumpet has already actually sounded; that one, therefore, from which the real fulfilment of the mystery of God will infallibly proceed.(2971) But even if only a special series of further visions leads to that final consummation, yet the prospective celebration of that glorious result, especially in the mouth of the dwellers in heaven, has, after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, its full justification and beautiful significance; the allusion, however, in connection with this, to redemption, as the proper root of the fact here celebrated,(2972) is entirely out of place.

τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. Not only the expression,(2973) but also the idea, points back to Psalms 2:2, for the Lord’s Anointed is the Son of God because of the βασιλεία, which is taken in general, indeed, from the nations,(2974) yet only for their destruction.

The ἡμῶν with τ. κυρίου does not give here a statement strange in itself concerning the co-regency of the saints,(2975) but corresponds, as also Revelation 12:10, Revelation 19:1, Revelation 5:6, to the joy of those who now behold their Lord and God, whom they themselves serve, in his victorious dominion over the judged world.

κ. βασιλεύσει εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τ. αἰών. For, after his overthrow of all powers opposed to God, no new enemy could arise. The subj. to βασιλεύσει is κύριος ἡμῶν;(2976) but his Christ is manifestly understood as partner of this βασιλεία.(2977)

ἐβασίλευσας

ἦλθεν.


Verses 15-19

Revelation 11:15-19. At the blast of the seventh trumpet, which(2960) will bring the glorious end, songs of praise resound in heaven which proclaim the fulfilment as having already occurred (Revelation 11:15-18). At the opening of the heavenly temple of God, the ark of the covenant therein is visible, and lightnings, and other signs, indicating the judgments belonging to the actual fulfilment of the mystery of God, occur.


Verses 16-18

Revelation 11:16-18. Similar ascriptions of praise on the part of the twenty-four elders. ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτων, like all angels. For the deepest humiliation of adoring creatures is becoming when the highest revelation of the glory of God, as here the subduing of all enemies, stands before the eyes.(2978)

εὐχαριστοῦ΄έν σοι. They give thanks, not because they consider themselves partakers of the great power and government of God,(2979) which is as remote as in Revelation 11:15, but because ( ὅτι εἴληφας, κ. τ. λ.) the assumption of dominion on God’s part has brought to the oppressors of the Church, whose representatives the elders are, retributory vengeance, but to the servants of God the complete reward.(2980) The ascription of adoration, κύριε θεὸς παντοκράτωρ, κ. τ. λ., in which the guaranty for the glorious result of God’s ways was previously indicated,(2981) appears now when that glorious end is beheld as already attained to be actually realized.(2982) But from the former significant designation of God, ὢν καὶ ἦν καὶ ἐρχό΄ενος,(2983) this last point necessarily is omitted; for the ascription of praise, even though proleptical, applies even to that which has now come, and thus the fulfilment of his mystery has been attained.(2984) Luther improperly follows the bad revision of the text, in which the καὶ ἐρχ. is interpolated from Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8.

ὅτι εἴληφας τ. δύνα΄ίν σου τ. ΄εγ. καὶ ἐβασίλευσας. The assumption of great powrer(2985) is the means for entrance upon the kingdom;(2986) but as the exclamation κύριε θεὸς παντοκράτωρ properly conditions the mode of representation in the ἐβασίλευσας, the σου with the τ. δύναμ. marks also the presupposition that it was only, apparently, that the unconditioned power which he has now seized was not possessed by the eternal Ruler of all, while he allowed the antichristian powers to be exercised against himself and his Christ.

Revelation 11:18. According to the fundamental thought of Revelation 11:2,(2987) although the expression comes from Psalms 99:1,(2988) there is a description of how the wrath of God has risen against the wrath of his enemies, to the destruction of the destroyers, in the final judgment which brings its reward to the servants of God.

The more minute description in the words τὰ ἔθνη ὠργίσθησαν, κ. τ. λ., of the εἴληφας τ. δύν., κ. τ. λ., Revelation 11:17,(2989) which occurs in the final judgment described here in all its parts, is subjoined by the simple καὶ. But the entire ascription of adoration proves itself to be so clearly a prolepsis of that which is not represented in details until in the visions following that extend up to Revelation 22:5, and comprise the actual end, that even the expressions mostly agree with those of the succeeding chapter. The explanation of the tenor of the subject is to be derived from what follows. How the enraged Gentiles, impelled by the anger of the devil,(2990) come forth against the Lord and his servants, is, of course, to be seen already from Revelation 11:9 sqq.;(2991) but the complete representation of the Gentile antichrist is given first in what follows,(2992) and it properly pertains to this, that ἠλθεν ὀργή σου is described as actually entering, first in chs. 16–18, and then Revelation 19:1 sqq., is celebrated as actually occurring, just as in this passage proleptically. The expression τοὺς διαφθείροντας τ. γῆν is to be understood first from the entire description of Babylon, the antichristian secular power.(2993) The καιρὸς τῶν νεκρῶν κριθῆναι, which is celebrated in this passage proleptically as having already occurred ( ἠλθεν), occurs actually not until in Revelation 20:11 sqq.; so also the time for giving the servants of God their reward occurs actually not until the Divine completion of the mystery of God (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).

τοῖς δούλοις σου

΄εγάλοις. This circumstantial formula is intended to designate the entire number of all those who receive God’s reward in contrast with those condemned to judgment.(2994) The classification is not to be pressed,—against Beng. and Hengstenb., who refer the τ. δουλ. σ. to τ. προφ. and κ. τ. ἁγίοις, and oppose to these servants of God, in an eminent sense, the entire mass of those who fear the name of the Lord ( κ. τ. φοβ., κ. τ. λ.), in connection with which Hengstenb. wants a special emphasis recognized as resting not only upon τ. ἁγίοις, but immediately afterwards also upon τοῖς ΄ικροὶς, as he understands small and great not in the simplest sense.(2995) But τ. δούλ. σου belongs(2996) only to τ. προφήταις, whereby all those are designated who have served God by proclaiming the Divine mysteries. Beside them stand the ἅγιοι, as believers in general are called.(2997) The final designation κ. τ. φοβου΄. τ. ὀν. σου τοῖς ΄ικροὶς καὶ τ. ΄εγ., comprehends finally and summarily the entire mass of the godly, no matter whether prophets or saints absolutely,(2998) whether small or great.


Verse 19

Revelation 11:19. Corresponding, on God’s part, to the songs of adoration with which the inhabitants of heaven, immediately after the sounding of the seventh trumpet, celebrate the fulfilment of the mystery of God (proleptically), is the opening of the heavenly temple,(2999) whereby the ark of the covenant in the holiest of all, up to this time hidden, becomes visible no less to John and to the entire host of heaven.(3000) What this, together with the accompanying lightning, etc., signifies, must be misunderstood if we either(3001) find the entire contents of what belongs in the seventh trumpet actually exhausted with Revelation 11:19, and consequently regard Revelation 11:19 itself as the description of the final judgment,—so that then with ch. 12 we begin anew “by recapitulating,”—or entirely separate Revelation 11:19 from Revelation 11:15-18, and with Revelation 11:18 stand already at the actual end,(3002) so that with Revelation 11:19 the recapitulation begins. According to the former view, in Revelation 11:19 blessedness is prepared for the godly, as well as condemnation announced against the godless. But if in Revelation 11:19 the actual fulfilment of the mystery of God is to be rendered conspicuous, this conclusion would be highly unsatisfactory; yet it is never said what is the effect of the lightning, etc. In the correct feeling of “mysterious brevity,”(3003) which the entire section (Revelation 11:15-19) has, if the same is to bring the conclusion actually announced in Revelation 10:7, Vitr., Hengstenb., etc., refer to ch. 16 sqq., as the further development of what is here briefly said. In this there lies an uncertain acknowledgment of that which De Wette, etc., have said with distinctness concerning the proleptical nature of the entire section, Revelation 11:15-19; for in the same way as the ascriptions of adoration, upon the basis of the fact that the seventh trumpet has sounded, anticipate the fulfilment still to be actually expected, the signs also described in both parts of Revelation 11:19 are not the real execution of the final judgment, but the immediate preparations and adumbrations thereof. The temple of God in heaven is the place where God’s final judgments of wrath upon the world issue;(3004) the ark of the covenant, present therein, is the heavenly symbol and pledge of the immutable grace of God, because of which the blessed mystery(3005) promised through the prophets to believers whom he has received into his covenant, shall undoubtedly be fulfilled. If, therefore, after the blast of the seventh trumpet, the temple of God is opened so that the ark of the covenant becomes visible, the door is opened, as it were, for the final judgment proceeding from(3006) the most secret sanctuary of God concerning the godless world, and the sight of the ark indicates that the fulfilment of the hope of sharers in the covenant, pledged by it, is now to be realized. For on this account, also, there are threatening foretokens(3007) of that which at the execution of the judgment actually comes upon the antichristian world.(3008) So also Klief.

The older allegorists, from whose mode of exposition Hengstenb. and Ebrard deviate in Revelation 11:15 sqq., advance here also the most wonderful propositions. N. de Lyra refers the whole to the victory of the Goths, and other Arians under Narses. The seventh trumpet-angel is the Emperor Justin II.

In Calov. and other older Protestants, who, however, recognize the proleptical character of Revelation 11:15-19 less distinctly, the reference to the Papacy coheres with their view of the succeeding chapters. The ark of the covenant (Revelation 11:19) is applied by many to Christ, while C. a Lap. and the Cath. want to refer it especially to the Virgin Mary, yet without denying the reference to the humanity of Christ.

Eichh., Heinr., etc., find here the literal destruction of Jerusalem, and, accordingly, the complete victory of Christianity over Judaism—in connection with which τ. ἐθνη ὠργίσθ., Revelation 11:18, is explained: “Judaism offered difficulties to Christian discipline,”(3009) and the βασιλεύσει, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 11:15, is interpreted: “It shall come to pass that the Christian religion shall be oppressed by no other;” the βρονταὶ, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 11:19, indicate the ruin of the city. Grot. maintained his reference to the times of Barcocheba(3010) by such interpretations as that of βασιλεύσει, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 11:15 : “The Christian religion will always be in Judaea;” or on Revelation 11:18 : “By this, Christians who were in Judaea were commanded always to elevate their minds to the highest heaven where God dwells, where the ark of the covenant, i.e., the good things of the new covenant, are kept in store.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-11.html. 1832.

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