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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 15

 

 

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Verse 1

2. The chapter of War Preparation (at Jerusalem) for Babylon’s destruction, Revelation 15:1-8.

The seven destroying angels in the temple; presented with the vials, Revelation 15:1-7.

1. And—As the menaces of the last chapter were in Jerusalem and the temple, so here we are still in the temple at the glass sea; the martyr spirits on its shore are chanting anticipated victory over the beast, 1-4; the tabernacle is opened, 5; the seven angels of the last plagues come from the temple, 6, 7; while the divine presence of Jehovah himself stays in the temple, 8, until the seven plagues do their fatal work on antichrist’s capital.

Another sign—Or symbol. Another, in addition to those in Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:3.

In heaven—That is, in the heaven or region, of symbol. Note Revelation 4:11. The seven angels, as being the main figures in the great overthrow, are mentioned before their time, (which comes at Revelation 15:6,) and as emphatically the sign… great and marvellous. Or, we may say the sign… great and marvellous comprehends the entire exhibition of this chapter; nay, perhaps even including the process and catastrophe of next chapter. And thus this another sign forms a marvellous antithesis to the two of 12 and 13.

Last plaguesLast as being final for Babylon.

For— Assigning reason for their being a finality; they fill up the retribution due to Satan’s capital.

Plagues—The Greek word for plague signifies, literally, a blow, a smite; and the infliction is thus assumed to be made by a divine stroke. It is as if the outpouring of the vial was the external sign; but a stroke from Jehovah from his secret place in the temple (Revelation 15:8) made the infliction.


Verse 2

2. Sea of glass—Not glassy sea, but sea consisting of glass. As in Revelation 4:6, it is before the throne; and the martyr spirits who in 14, I stood at a distance therefrom on mount Zion, are now advanced to this higher position. The sea, which on the former occasion was pure and colorless, is now suffused with fire, the omen of coming retribution.

Gotten… victory over—Better translated by Stuart, were conquerors from the beast; that is, had come victorious from the combat with him.

Image… name—The image they had never worshipped; the name they had never borne; the significance of its number they had never realized.

On the sea—Like Moses of old on the shore of the Red Sea, after the overthrow of Pharaoh.


Verse 3

3. Song of Moses—Sung on the sea after a similar escape.

Of the Lamb—The same song elevated to a higher triumph. It is a song not only of triumph but of judgment; once over Egypt, now over Babylon, finally over the world.

Saying—The import of the twofold song is now given. It is a chant of adoration to God for his wonderful judgments on the organic wickedness of the profane world.

Works—Of just overthrow by him whose name is majestically expanded to its trinal form.

King of saints— Better reading, of ages; and perhaps still better, of nations. It then alludes to the profane nations typified by Babylon, and bound to be overthrown.


Verse 4

4. Only art holy—Even we, the redeemed, are holy only from thee.

All nations—A premonition of the time when the world shall be filled with the true knowledge and worship of God. And it is to be noted that the nations, though overthrown in their profane character, are not destroyed, but so attracted as to come and worship. See notes on Revelation 20:1-4.

Are made manifest—The prophetic preterite-future, prospecting the coming judgment on the great city.


Verse 5

5. The present song of the martyr spirits before the throne corresponds with their song on Zion, Revelation 14:1, and also to the utterances of the great voices in heaven at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, Revelation 11:15-19. And as in the latter passage (Revelation 11:19) the ark of the testimony is made visible, so there is here also the same opening of the same token of testimony to the sight. In both presentations the meaning is the same, (see note Revelation 11:19,) namely, the responsive pledge of Jehovah that the judgment predicted by the martyr song shall be inflexibly inflicted. By the faith of the Lord God Almighty the judgment is assured.

I looked, and, behold—This opening of the inner sanctuary was a startling wonder.

Temple—The naos, or most holy place.

Of the tabernacle—The reproduction of the old tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness, where God once dwelt with Israel.

Of the testimony—Namely, of God’s covenant with his people. In this vision it declares God’s covenant with his martyrs that judgment shall not fail. And forthwith the executioners of that judgment, the seven angels, appear on the scene.


Verse 6

6. Seven angels—The number, sacredly assigned, of the divine ministers of judgment on Babylon.

The temple—The very citadel of Christ’s capital: the inmost residence of the hostile forces against the antichristic citadel.

Having the seven plagues—Said here to designate their assigned ministries, though the seven… vials are not given them until the next verse.

Clothed—Arrayed in the priestly vestments, for theirs is a holy office, the bloody sacrifice of the enemies of God.

Pure and white linen— The sacred antithesis of the “scarlet” of the harlot. The rendering here then would be, Decked with a clear and brilliant stone.

Golden girdlesGirdles, to signify preparedness for their ministry; golden, to show its rich and royal nature. Note on Revelation 1:13.


Verse 7

7. One of the four beasts—The four living creatures represent creation; and correspondently the first four plagues are poured out upon different parts of the created framework. It seems most obvious that these four plagues are in the order, not of chronological succession, but of the suitable occurrence of the objects. The attempt, therefore, to assign dates of year or month is illegitimate. And as the seven-series of the plagues does not, like those of the seals and trumpets, mount up to the scenes of the dissolution and final judgment, but images a judgment limited to the earth’s surface, so the whole seven vials are given by one of the four creational beasts.

Vials—Rather, saucers; being, as Alford says, “a shallow bowl or cup, usually without a stand or foot, in which they drew [a liquid] out of the crater or goblet.” It is as if these angels drew from the “wine” of the divine justice in their saucers, or drinking cups, the measure of judgment for Babylon.

Full of the wrath—As if the wrath were a condensed liquid.


Verse 8

Depot of divine wrath upon Babylon—in Jerusalem temple, Revelation 15:8.

8. Smoke from the glory—The glory was as a central fire-point, whence issued the smoke, or intense vapour, indicative of the actual divine PRESENCE.

And from his power—As if within this citadel of the Lord’s capital, namely, the Jerusalem temple, the concentrated omnipotence of Jehovah was gathered, charged with destructive judgment, ready to be discharged upon the devoted capital of Satan.

No man was able to enter—The divine Presence was so dense as to exclude all entrance; was too sacred for mortal approach; too fearful for mortal safety. So at the completion of the first tabernacle the glory of the Lord within excluded even Moses. Exodus 40:34-35. So also at the completion of Solomon’s temple the priests were excluded by the filling glory. 1 Kings 8:10-11.

Till… plagues… fulfilled—So that Jehovah himself, within the mystic Jerusalem temple, is the source whence Babylon’s destruction goes forth through the plagues of his ministers of justice. They are but the manifested forms of the secret, sacred, avenging power in the holy place. Until the retributions do their perfect work the central fire is burning in the temple, into which none may enter.

And now, from that awful Presence in the holy place, the commission of the seven angels is about to go forth. So the next words will declare.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 15:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-15.html. 1874-1909.

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