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" admonition *.” The Jewish Church being removed, the Christian Church stands in its place, and is to apply to herself the same admonitions. And thas, in the present instance, the seven Churches of Asia being sunk in Mahometan superstition, their “ lamp-bearer removed,” all the Christian Churches inherit the advice given, the threatenings denounced, the blessings promised by their divine Lord.
Ver. 4. Grace be unto you, and peace, &c.] The Salutation in this epistle resembles those in other epistles of the New Testament; in almost all of which the inspired writer intreats "
and peace from God the Father, “ and our Lord Jesus Christ.” But the Godhead is here described with some additional expressions, not unscriptural, but presented in a new form, being such as naturally arose in the mind of the Apostle from the impression of the vision which he had then seen, and was proceeding to relate. Full of the images lately presented before him, he recurs to them even in this his intro. duction, and instead of saying, in the calm expression which otherwise he, might have used, “Grace from “God the Father,” &c. he says,
“Grace from him " that was,” &c. using the very forms of speech in which he had heard the Divine attributes described in the vision.
The description of God the Father, occurs under the same expression, ch. iv. 8, from which place it is evidently taken; and is consonant to the great I AM of Exod. iii. 14. The description of God the Son is in like manner taken from the vision. He calls him. self + " the faithful and true witness.” He is so styled prophetically by Isaiah I; such he was eminently in the last scene of his earthly life, when“ before Pilate "he witnessed a good confession*.” Our Lord calls himself also in the same passage, “the beginning of " the creation of God.” He is styled by Saint Paulf, " the first-born of every creature," and "the first
i Cor. x. 6—11.
+ Ch. iii, 14.
Ch, lv. 4.
" he • 1 Tim. vi. 13. mhy saam ouo taryæv, the noble, honourable, excel. lent confession. The primitive Christians, who suffered martyrdom in the Gallic churches, considered the title of Martyr as appropriate to their Lord, and were unwilling take it to themselves. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. v. c. 2. + Col. i. 15.
fruits from the dead," But here he is also intitled " The Ruler of the kings of the earth.” But such is the prophetic character of the Messiah in Scripture, and such he is eminently shewn to be in the sequel of this prophecy S.
But in this salutation, grace and peace descend, by the prayers of the pious writer, not only from God the Father and the Son, but also from a third Power ; “from the seven spirits which are before the te throne.'
To understand this expression, we must sefer to chap. iv. 5, where, in the glorious representation of the Deity, are exhibited “seven lamps of “ fire burning before him, which are the seven spirits " of God." But in chapter iii. 1. God the Son describes himself as “ having the seven spirits of God;" and when || he appears under the emblem of the Lamb, he is described as having
having “ seven eyes, which are the seoen spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth.” But what can we account this universal, holy Spirit of God, proceeding from the Father and the Son, to be, but that which, in the plainer language of divine Scripture is called the Holy Ghost? The comment of Venerable Bede on this passage appears forcible and just, “Unum spiritum dicit septiformem, quæ est perfec“ tio et plenitudo*.
ti Cor. xv. 23. Ch. xviii. 14. xix. 16,
1 Ch. v, 6.
So that this salutation, divested of its prophetical form, and of that imagery which had been derived to it from the scenery of the vision, will be found equivalent to the epistolary and plainer language of Saint Paul, “ The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, “and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you t."
But why, in this passage, is the general order of Scripture inverted? Why is the Holy Spirit mentioned before the Son? This may in part be accounted for, from the impression remaining upon the imagination of the writer, after he had seen the vision. For in chap. iv. 5, where the symbol of the seven spirits was seen, it had appeared before the throne, closely .connected with the glory of the Father, and previously to the entrance of the Son, under the emblem of the Lamb. Another reason may be, that the character and description of the Son is reserved separately for the last, there to be longer dwelt upon; because he appears throughout the vision to be the prime agent, and the grand object of the whole prophecy ; he who, alone of the persons in the Godhead, has taken our human nature upon him, and visibly fought our battles against the common enemy. He is de
." The one Holy Spirit is here described as sevenfold, by which is "intimated in prophetic language fulness and perfection." The most ancient commentators, as reported or followed by Andreas Cæsariensis, by Arethas, Primasius, and Victorinus, understood by the seven spirits and seven lamps of fire (cb.it. 5,) the Holy Spirit, or the seven Charismata thereof, mentioned in Isaiah xi, 2. † 2 Cor. xiii. 13. M
scribed to us here, ift, As in his soffering state ; when, having taken the lowly form of a servant, by his sufferings he bare witness to the truth. 2dly, As the first fruits from the grave *; when, triumphing over sin and death, he obtained the victory for his faithful followers. 3dly, As King of kingst; when, fulfilling all the prophecies which predict the Messiah, he shall reduce all natioíis under his easy yoke, utterly subduing all worldly tyranny and usurped dominion. The two first of these offices and characters he hath already fulfilled; the first during his earthly life, the second at his resurrection; the last remains to be completed ; and is peculiarly the subject of the prophecies in this book I.
Ver. 6. The Doxology, or Glorification, which in other of the sacred epistles is no unusual sequel to the Salutation, comes next in order ; but is more especialTy addressed to the Son, as the grand agent in the vision. The love of Christ towards mankind, and the ablution of their sins by his precious blood, are topics celebrated universally in the New Testament; but nowhere more copiously than in the writings of Saint John. That he hath prepared for his faithful servants a kingdom, and appointed them priests unto God, though more immediately connected with the subject of this prophecy, are not novel ideas, but purely scriptural. A kingdom is proposed for the servants of Christ*, they are to reign with himt. And in Exod. xix. 5, God promises to Israel that by obedience, they shall become " a kingdom of priests, a • peculiar treasure unto God above all nations, a holy
3 Cor. xv. 20. + 1 Tim. vi. 15.
1 For the change of case, which the Greek reader will remark in this passage, “ámo’Inox ó fagles, " let him consult Grotius op Mark vi. 40. who points out such construction, not only in the scriptural, but also in the classical writers; but this grammatical inaccuracy is more appropriate to the Hebrew-Greeks. And the occurrence of such in the Apocalypse, is so far from militating, as hath been se. presented, against the authenticity of the work, that it tends to establish its authority, by placing it upon the same footing in this respect with other books of the sacred canon. For, ungrammatical Greek, or at least Greek of impure idiom, will be found in most of them, though perhaps not so abundant as in the Apocalypse.
nations.” In Isaiah, ch. Ixi. 6, this promise is extended to the Christian times and to the converted Gentiles, whom Saint Peter also calls an holy priesthood, a royal priesthood ; in which latter expression, as in the words of Moses, the two ideas of kings and of priests are brought together. In the Septuagint the words of Moses are rendered by Begihelov 'lupalsuua, the very expression of Saint Peter, which is also to be found in sonie MSS. of the Apocalypse; but the true text seems to be given by Dr. Griesbach from the Alexandrine and other ancient MSS. confirmed by the readings in the Fathers whom he has quoted ||.
Ver.7. In this verse the prophet, enraptured with his subject, passes from the glorification of Christ, which he had delivered in the form of a prayer, to the description of the awful event, when (as foretold in Scripture) he shall come in the clouds of heaven, in
Mat. xxv. 34. · Luke xii. 32. + 2 Tim.ii. 12. 1 Cor. iv. 8. vi. 2, S. 1 Sce also Deut. xv. 6. xxvi. 19. xxviii. 1. $ 1 Pet. ii. 5, 9.
To which we may add, that the manuscript used by Tertullian in the second century, seems to have presented the same reading. Tertullian. de Monogam. cap. 12. M 2