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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 11

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-13

Revelation 11:1-13. The Interlude continued. The Second Episode.—The first two verses are introductory, and represent the survey or measuring of the holy city by the seer. Then comes the prophecy concerning the two witnesses, followed by the first appearance in the book of "the beast" or Antichrist (Revelation 11:7).

Revelation 11:1. a reed: a measuring rod (Ezekiel 40 ff., Zechariah 2:1), Ezekiel's reed (Ezekiel 40:5) was nine feet long.—measure the temple: the allusion is not to the heavenly sanctuary but to the Temple at Jerusalem. The object of the measuring was to provide for its preservation in the day of crisis. The reference, therefore, is not so much to the material Temple as to that which the Temple represented, viz. the spiritual Israel; cf. the sealing of the 144,000 in Revelation 7:3*.—the altar: the altar of burnt offering.

Revelation 11:2. the court: the court of the Gentiles, separated from the Temple proper by "the middle wall of partition" on which were inscribed the words, "No man of another nation to enter within the fence and enclosure round the Temple. And whoever is caught will have himself to blame that his death ensues."—forty and two months: the 1260 days of the next verse, i.e. the 3½ years of Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7. This period represents the actual duration of the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes (from the spring of 168 B.C. to the autumn of 165 B.C.), when the Temple was profaned, the sacrifices interrupted, and a pagan altar erected. This historical event invested the period of 3½ years with a special significance for Apocalyptic, and henceforth it became the typical figure for the length of the persecution under Antichrist. [This may have seemed the more reasonable that it is the half of the number of perfection.—A. S. P.]

Revelation 11:3. The two witnesses: it is impossible to discover what the writer intended his readers to understand by these "two witnesses." The use of OT phrases has led many scholars to identify them with two OT heroes from the following list: Abel, Enoch, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah. Others maintain that the phrase is symbolical, and that the witnesses represent "the Church in her function of witness-bearing" (Swete). A third school regards them as referring to two prophets or leaders who were to appear as champions of the faith before the end came. [C. H. Turner (Studies in Early Ch. Hist., p. 214) suggests Peter and Paul, "the two most illustrious victims of the Beast (Nero), the martyrs whose bodies lay in the great city."—A. J. G.] We have not sufficient data to solve the enigma, but the context seems to point to Moses and Elijah. For the period of their ministry, 1260 days, cf. Revelation 11:2*.

Revelation 11:4. the two olive trees: an allusion to Zechariah 4, where the two "sons of oil," Zerubbabel and Joshua, representing the civil and ecclesiastical power, supply the needs of "the candlestick," i.e. the theocratic state.

Revelation 11:5. fire proceedeth: as in the case of Elijah (2 Kings 1:10).

Revelation 11:6. power to shut heaven: so Elijah (1 Kings 17:1).—power over the waters: so Moses (Exodus 7:19).—smite the earth: so Moses, a reference to the plagues of Egypt.

Revelation 11:7. the beast: the first reference to the figure of Antichrist, which plays such an important rle in the later part of the book (cf. Revelation 17:8). With the description cf. the four beasts of Daniel 7:5.

Revelation 11:8. Sodom: the term Sodom is applied to Jerusalem in Isaiah 1:10 in token of its wickedness.—Egypt: also a term of reproach, though not applied to Jerusalem elsewhere.—where also their Lord was crucified: the "great city" thus seems to be Jerusalem, though some scholars think that the context points to Rome, and the phrase, "the great city" is applied to Babylon, i.e. Rome, in Revelation 16:19, Revelation 17:18, Revelation 18:10 ff.

Revelation 11:9. three days and a half: "day here means year, and the reference is to the 3 years of Dan. (Daniel 2*).

Revelation 11:10. This verse describes the general exultation at the death of the two prophets or "witnesses," who had tormented men's consciences.

Revelation 11:11. the seer "sees the Church of the martyrs recovering herself from an age of persecution as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:10) had seen new life infused into a dead Israel" (Swete).

Revelation 11:12. The final triumph of "the witnesses" and their ascension to heaven in full view of their enemies.

Revelation 11:13. "The witnesses" are vindicated by a great natural catastrophe in the form of an earthquake which destroys a tenth of the city and 7000 people. The reserve of the writer is still maintained. The disaster is only partial; the final doom is still postponed.


Verses 14-19

Revelation 11:14-19. The Seventh Trumpet and the Third Woe.—The story which was broken off at Revelation 9:21 is now resumed. The seventh trumpet heralds the approach of the Kingdom of Christ.

Revelation 11:15. great voice: in contrast to the silence which followed the breaking of the "seventh seal" (Revelation 8:1).—our Lord: God the Father.—his Christ: God's Anointed One.

Revelation 11:16. elders: Revelation 4:4*.

Revelation 11:17. Cf. with this doxology those in Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12, Revelation 7:12.

Revelation 11:19. the temple of God: i.e. the heavenly temple (cf. Revelation 7:15, Revelation 15:5 ff.). The judgment was followed by the manifestation of the glory of God in the opening of His Temple.—the ark of his covenant: according to the tradition preserved in 2 Maccabees 2:1-8, the Ark had been hidden away by Jeremiah in a "cavernous chamber" until "God should gather His people together again." That time had now come, though not in the sense predicted by Jeremiah, and the Ark stood revealed in the open Temple of heaven, the symbol of God's faithfulness in keeping His covenant (cf. Revelation 2:17*). The rest of the drama of the book is worked out in full view of the open Temple.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Revelation 11:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/revelation-11.html. 1919.

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