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The main point before us is the illustration of that church, ancient or later, under the image of a woman. If the Canticles are to have a spiritual sense given to them, it is plain enough, of course, how familiar such an idea was to the Jews. Whether the woman thus exhibited as a symbol be represented as bride or mother depends, of course, on the nature of the case, and the relations and exigencies of any particular passage. This represents some formidable enemy of the church, that was ready to persecute and destroy it. The real enemy here referred to is, undoubtedly, Satan, the great enemy of God and the church, but here it is Satan in the form of some fearful opponent of the church that would arise at a period when the church was prosperous, and when it was about to be enlarged.

We are to look, therefore, for some fearful manifestation of this formidable power, having the characteristics here referred to, or some opposition to the church such as we may suppose Satan would originate, and by which the existence of the church might seem to be endangered.

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This act denotes the persecuted and obscure condition of the church during that time, and the period which would elapse before it would be delivered from this persecution, and restored to the place in the earth which it was designed to have. Michael and his angels contend against the dragon, in behalf of the church, and finally prevail. The dragon is overcome, and is cast out, and all his angels with him; in other words, the great enemy of God and his church is overcome and subdued.

This is evidently designed to be symbolical, and the meaning is, that a state of things would exist in regard to the church, which would be well represented by supposing that such a scene should occur in heaven; that is, as if a war should exist there between the great enemy of God and the angels of light, and as if, being there vanquished, Satan should be cast down to the earth, and should there exert his malignant power in a warfare against the church.

The general idea is, that his warfare would be primarily against heaven, as if he fought with the angels in the very presence of God, but that the form in which he would seem to prevail would be against the church, as if, being unsuccessful in his direct warfare against the angels of God, he was permitted, for a time, to enjoy the appearance of triumph in contending with the church. A loud voice is heard in heaven, saying, that now the kingdom of God is come, and that the reign of God would be set up, for the dragon is cast down and overcome. The grand instrumentality in overcoming this foe was "the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony"; that is, the great doctrines of truth pertaining to the work of the Redeemer would be employed for this purpose, and it is proclaimed that the heavens and all that dwell therein had occasion to rejoice at the certainty that a victory would be ultimately obtained over this great enemy of God.

Still, however, his influence was not wholly at an end, for he would yet rage for a brief period on the earth. She is constrained to fly, as on wings given her for that purpose, into the wilderness, where she is nourished for the time that the dragon is to exert his power - a "time, times, and half a time" - or for years.

The dragon in rage pours out a flood of water, that he may cause her to be swept away by the flood: referring to the persecutions that would exist while the church was in the wilderness, and the efforts that would be made to destroy it entirely. That is, a state of things would exist as if, in such a case, the earth should open and swallow up the flood. The meaning is, that the church would not be swept away, but that there would be an interposition in its behalf, as if the earth should, in the case supposed, open its bosom, and swallow up the swelling waters.

Here we are told literally who are referred to by the "seed" of the woman. They are those who "keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" Revelation ; that is, the true church. The chapter, therefore, may be regarded as a general vision of the persecutions that would rage against the church. It seemed to be about to increase and to spread over the world.

Satan, always opposed to it, strives to prevent its extension. The conflict is represented as if in heaven, where war is waged between the celestial beings and Satan, and where, being overcome, Satan is cast down to the earth, and permitted to wage the war there. The church is persecuted; becomes obscure and almost unknown, but still is mysteriously sustained; and when most in danger of being wholly swallowed up, is kept as if a miracle were performed in its defense.

The detail - the particular form in which the war would be waged - is drawn out in the following chapters. And the temple of God was opened in heaven - The temple of God at Jerusalem was a pattern of the heavenly one, or of heaven, Hebrews In that temple God was supposed to reside by the visible symbol of his presence - the Shekinah - in the holy of holies. See the notes on Hebrews Thus God dwells in heaven, as in a holy temple, of which that on earth was the emblem. When it is said that that was "opened in heaven," the meaning is, that John was permitted, as it were, to look into heaven, the abode of God, and to see him in his glory.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary A similar solemn conclusion to that of the seventh seal, Re , and to that of the seventh vial, Re Thus, it appears, the seven seals, the seven trumpets, and the seven vials, are not consecutive, but parallel, and ending in the same consummation. They present the unfolding of God's plans for bringing about the grand end under three different aspects, mutually complementing each other. Thus this forms a fit close to the series of trumpet judgments and an introduction to the episode the twelfth and thirteen chapters as to His faithfulness to His Church.

Here first His secret place, the heavenly sanctuary, is opened for the assurance of His people; and thence proceed His judgments in their behalf Re , 17; ; , which the great company in heaven laud as "true and righteous. See on []Re , note at the opening of the chapter. Matthew Poole's Commentary And the temple of God: some here, by the temple of God, understand the representation of the temple in Jerusalem; others understand the church triumphant; others, the church of Christ militant here upon earth.

But when good princes came to the throne, such as Hezekiah and Josiah, they opened the temple, restoring the true worship of God. So under the New Testament, during the whole reign of antichrist, where he prevails, idolatry and superstition obtain, and the true worship of God is suppressed; but his time being now expiring, God showeth John that there shall be a restoring of the true worship of God, and a liberty both to ministers and people to worship God according to his will. For though antichrist was not yet wholly destroyed, nor his party extinguished, yet he had lost his power and dominion, and God was now beginning to reckon with him for the blood of his saints; which was all to be done before all the kingdoms of the world should become the kingdoms of the Lord Christ.

In the ark were the two tables of the law; so as this phrase may either note the pure, free, and ordinary expounding of the law of God, which should be upon the downfal of antichrist; or the presence of God with his church in that more pure and reformed state. But such a work of providence being not like to be effected without the ruin of antichrist, God showeth it shall be ushered in with lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail; by terrible things in righteousness, as the psalmist speaketh.


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The consequents of which were the seven vials, of which we shall read, Revelation , pouring out plagues upon the antichristian party, until they should be wholly rooted out and Christ alone should be exalted in his church, and rule as King upon his holy hill of Zion. The next three chapters are judged to relate wholly to things past, God therein representing to his prophet the state of his church as some think from the nativity of Christ; however, from his time, during the whole time that Rome continued pagan, or should continue antichristian; the following chapters showing the gradual destruction of antichrist by the seven last plagues.

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Though I suspect, that these several things are expressive of the change and revolution that will be made after a time, in this happy and comfortable state; and that the cold, which generally attends an hail storm, represents that coldness and lukewarmness, into which the churches of Christ will again sink, expressed in the Laodicean church state, in which condition Christ will find them when he personally appears; so that the seven seals, with the seven trumpets, bring us exactly to the same period of time as the seven churches do.

Yoma, fol. See following in Apocrypha: "And they took all the holy vessels of the Lord, both great and small, with the vessels of the ark of God, and the king's treasures, and carried them away into Babylon. According to the former view, in Revelation blessedness is prepared for the godly, as well as condemnation announced against the godless.

But if in Revelation 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 this there lies an uncertain acknowledgment of that which De Wette, etc. 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[] 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[] of that which at the execution of the judgment actually comes upon the antichristian world. Revelation , Revelation , Revelation , etc. Coelesti , sec. It would seem more likely to refer to the preachers or evangelists of the churches. Par- ticularly does this become so when we recall that each church repre- sents a church epoch or period. This apocalyptic uncovering is entrusted to the preachers throughout the sevenfold history of the church, Christ was holding them in His hand to support and strengthen them throughout the gospel age.

Each one consists of the same parts: a salutation to the church addressed; a descrip- tion of Christ from some particular aspect with direct relation to the spiritual condition of the church; a message of praise or censure; exhortations in keeping with the special need, a promise to him that overcometh and an admonition "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.

In each of the first three letters it precedes the promise to the overcomer; in the last four letters it follows his promise. The distinction makes two groups of letters, one of three and the other of four, just as the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven vials are divided into two groups each, of four and three. In this study of the seven letters see chart following page The Church in Ephesus Text 1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: 2 I know thy works, and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and 25 ,2 WONDER BOOK OF THE BIBLE didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst find them false; 3 and thou hast patience and didst bear for my name's sake, and hast not grown weary.

To him that overcometh, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God. The city was the capitol of the province and its chief religious and commercial center. It was called "The light of Asia".

One of the seven wonders of the world, the temple of Diana, or Artemis, was located there. Here Paul founded the church and labored with it for more than three years, Acts — chapter 18 and afterward addressed to it one of the New Testa- ment epistles. Later he sent Timothy there and addressed two letters to him. Here, too, if early church tradition is to be accepted, John labored from about A.

It was natural that the first message should be addressed to the church nearest to the apostle's heart. In Bible language, to have a thing in one's right hand means to have it under one's power. Exodus The word "holdeth" in this verse is a stronger term than the "had" in Revelation In this salutation Christ assured the Ephesian church, which represented the infant church of the first century that he was not only walking among the churches but holding them in his strong right hand. The church also was commended for its utter abhorrence of those who were evil. THE BIBLE member that these Ephesian Christians had but recently left the vileness of paganism, It puts the modern church, with its tolerance for all kinds of worldliness, to shame.

Again the church is commended for its rejection of false apostles.

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How well they had learned of John himself how such a test should be made, He had taught, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-christ, whereof ye have heard that it should come.

And even now already is in the world. There was no false softness in those first Christians; they found such to be plain liars, vs.

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They had been loyal to the truth, orthodox in the faith and out- standingly clean in life, but they had not maintained the ardor and devotion of their first love. Nothing but the fervent love of the bride can satisfy the Bridegroom. The church had fallen into the temptation to which contenders for the faith once and for all delivered to saints are peculiarly exposed, namely, that of censoriousness, suspicion, bitterness, factiousness and division over non-essentials. Zeal for pure doctrine easily de- generates into hatred for those who differ in their beliefs.

If they fail to remember from whence they are fallen and repent and do the first works, he will come, and that quickly, and remove their candlestick out of its place. He would not come in person, but in providence and judgment. More will be given on this sect when it comes to full flower in the life of the Pergamos church.


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This is a characteristic saying of the Lord. None other makes use of it. He employs it in connection with certain of His utterances in order to impress upon us their peculiar importance. It occurs eight times in the gospels, where in each case the plural "ears" is used. Matt , , 43; Mark ,23; ; Luke ; It occurs eight times in Revelation, in each of the seven letters, and again in Rev.

The reward to the overcomer is "to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God". This tree is seen in the garden of Eden Gen. Now in overcoming sin, of transgression, of omission and seduction to false teaching, he is given access to the Tree of Life that he may live forever sinless. Thus we see the tree figures prominently in the sinless earth at first and then again it figures conspiciously in the vision of the glorified earth with which the book ends. It is a figure of eternal blessedness, eternal salvation in its fullest sense. The Church in Smyrna Text 8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again: 9 I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty but thou art rich , and the blas- phemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.