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of this character, and to none other, is promised “power over the nations,” a spiritual, increasing dominion.
As to the passage immediately before us, it concerns the times à €100 *, the situation of the church at the time when our Lord addressed these warnings to it; when the Faith was assailed both by delusive teachers from within, and by heathen persecutors from without. Of the former of these, we have spoken t. The hostility of the latter had commenced some years before, in the reign of Nero, whoseunjust edicts against the Christians had been renewed by Domitian a little time before the date of this prophecy. For, under this persecution, Saint John was banished to the Isle of Patmos, where he saw the vision t. That the seven Churches were actually under persecution at this time, and were not to be relieved inmediately, may be collected from various passages of these addresses to them .
Ver. 7. To eat of the tree of Life, &c.] The Lord God is described to have planted a garden, or paradise, in Eden, and to have placed in the midst of the garden the tree of life; of which the first created pair inight eat, and by eating live for ever. Under this description is represented that immortality, to which, by obedience, the race of men might have attained in their primitive state, and which they forfeited by disobedience jl. For they listened to the seductions of their wily foe, and were overcome. But the “ Second Adam, the Lord from “ Heaven T,” having condescended to undergo, in
* See note, ch. i. 19.
+ Note, ch. ii. 6. . Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. cap. xix. Ch. ii. 3, 10, 13. iii. 10. !! Gen. ii. 8, 9. q 1 Cor. xv. 22, 45. Jolin vi. 51. xi. 25.
the behalf of fallen man, the penalty, which was death*, man is hereby restored to his lost privileges. The tree of life is again placed within his reach, he may “put forth his hand and live for ever.” This advantage, which the Saviour of the world has regained by his own prowess, he bestows as a free gift
faithfully in his victorious careert. A description of the tree of life will recur in ch. xxii. 2, 14,
* Gen. ij. 17.
+ See a copious explanation of the tree of life, as signifying immortality, in Bp. Horne's Sermons, vol. i. It was so understood by the author of the 2d Book of Esdras, ch. viii, 52. which was probably written soon after this book of Revelation. See Gray's Key to the Old Testament.
The Address to the Church ist Smyrna,
CAP. ii. ver. 8-11. 8 Kai tão crying täs | 8 And to the Angel of , 8 And unto the Angel
έν Σμυρνη εκκλησίας the Church in Smyrna, of the Church in Smyrγράψον Τάδε λέ write ; Thus saith the na, write, These things γει ο πρώτος και ο First and the Last, who saith the First and the BOXtos, os šyévelo was dead and is alive ; | Last, which was dead,
sexgòs xaci i nosv 9 I know thy (works and 9 and is alive; I know 9 Oide 8 [Ta igła, thy] tribulation and | thy works, and tribu.
] Thu daiter, thy poverty, (but thou lation, and poverty: Tavolwxriav, Canada art rich,) and the blas (but thou art rich,) and whéolos en) The
phemy of those who I know the blasphemy βλασφημίαν εκ των
say they are Jews, and of them which say they deryóvloe ʼlodaies ei
are not, but are a syna. are Jews, and are not, yeus éautes, rj óx 10 gogue of Satan. Fear but are the synagogue sig, ånad ouvær none of those things | 10 of Satan. Fear none
Ver. 8. Smyrna.] The city of Smyrna is represented by Strabo, as situated about forty miles to the north of Ephesus, of which it was originally à colony* Pliny describes it as the city of greatest account in Asia, after Ephesus t. There is no mention of it, as a Church, in the books of Scripture. The renowned martyr, Polycarp, was its Bishop: but as he suffered in the reign of Verus, aged 86 years , he must have been too young to have exercised this important office at the time of this Revelation; even if we should suppose, with Bishop Pearson, the date of his martyrdom to be more early ş. Yet he is represented by the ancients as receiving his doctrine immediately from the Apostles; and Irenæus, when a youth, had heard him discoursing of his acquaintance with Saint John|. The Bishops of Smyrna * Strabo, ii. p, 940,
+ Nat. Hist. v. c. 29.
attended the councils of the Church for many centuries. At length this Church sank under the common desolation in the 13th century. Yet Smyrna, being at this time a principal mart of European commerce, is in - a better state than others of the seven Churches. It is still a populous city, and contains some Christian inhabitants.
Ib. Thus saith the First and the Last, &c.] The title, under which the Supreme Head addresses this Church, is the same which he had assumed on his first appearance to Saint John, and is explained in the note, ch. i. 17, 18. The character of it agrees with the purport of this address, which is to encourage the Smyrnæans confidently to meet the fiery trial of martyrdom; in the sure expectation of triumphing over the power of the enemy, as their Lord had done before them.
Ver. 9. Thy poverty (but thou art rich).] The Smyrnæan Christians, poor as to the goods of this transitory life, were rich in good works, through faith; "rich towards God;" had laid up a treasure in heaven, which no wošldly calamity can destroy *. They were opposed and harassed by a powerful party, who, calling themselves Jews, were not, like the honest Nathanael, “ Israelites indeed t;” nor like him described by Saint Paul, “ a Jew inwardly, in spirit, not in the letter, “ whose praise is not of men, but of God I.” These professed Jews were men of violent character, who blasphemed the name of Israelite by calling themselves such; who were in fact the emissaries of Satan, em
* Luke xii. 21. xvi. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 10. 1 Tim. vi. 18. James ii, 5. v. 2. + John i. 48.
Rom. ii. 28, 29. See the true Israelite in the Christian Church described more particularly in note, ch. iii. 4.
ployed to corrupt; or to excite that persecution, which is foretold in the succeeding verse. They continued the same practices in later times; for the Jews, as was their custom, says the Smyrnxan account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, assisted most zealously to accomplish the destruction of the martyr, and to prevent his interment by the Christians *
Ver. 10. Fear none, &c.] To this virtuous Church, against which no particular fault is alleged by their all-seeing Lord, persecution is announced; a persecution occasioned by that great adversary of the Church, who appears, in the sequel of this book, to be the ultimate cause of all the evil which it suffers in the course of ages. Some of them were to be imprisoned; and, as we may judge from the words, “ Be thou faithful unto “ death,” were to suffer martyrdom. Yet these sufferings are not denounced as a punishment, for they are not so accounted in the New Testament. Such persecuted saints our Lord encourages to “ rejoice, for “great is their reward in heaven f.” So also Saint James, ch. i. 2, and St. Peter, i. 1, 6, 7, the latter of whom assigns a reason, which will be the best comment on these words, ive weigeobyle, “ that ye may be tried ;" “ that the trial of your faith,” says he," being much “ more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it “ be tried by fire, may be found unto honour, and "praise, and glory, at the appearance of Jesus Christ.”
Ib. Ten days.] This period may be either, literally, ten days; or, typically, ten years; for, according to the use of time in prophetical Scripture, a day is oftentimes taken for a year. It is thus expressly ordered in Ezek. iv. 6; and in earlier times, days were pronounced typical of years, as in Numbers xiv. 34. So Isaiah,
• Euseb. Hist. Eccl. lib. iv. c. 15.
+ Matt. v. 12.