The Message of Patmos
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"This early twentieth-century
Postmillennial commentary on the Book of Revelation, written by the
father of theologian Gordon Clark, offers an easy-to-read alternative to
the popular Pre-millennial/Dispensational views of the best-selling Scofield Reference Bible and a multitude of other dissertations on
end-time prophecy that litter the shelves of the average Christian
We conclude with a brief resume of the contents of
Chapter I is the introduction, fixing the circumstances,
human writer, and divine Revealer.
Chapter II and III are addressed to the seven churches
of Asia ; simple plain messages, and not allegorical or symbolical prophecies.
Chapters IV to XI inclusive are visions of events and
judgments that lead up to and culminate in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state, the first great
persecutor of the Christian church.
Chapters XII to XIX inclusive are visions of events
and judgments that culminate in the overthrow of pagan
Rome, the second great persecutor, and the triumph of
Christ and his cause over the hostile forces of a wicked
Chapter XX embraces the binding of Satan, the millennium, the post-millennial period, and the universal
resurrection and the final judgment of the human race, with the destiny of the wicked in the lake of fire.
Chapter XXI and five verses of Chapter XXII present the destiny and blessedness of the righteous in the new heavens and new earth, in which the new Jerusalem is particularly described.
Chapter XXII:6-21, is the conclusion of the book, reverting to the historical standpoint at the beginning of The Revelation.
Pastor of Bethel Presbyterian Church,
and Instructor in the
Philadelphia School for Christian Workers
Presbyterian and Reformed Churches.
TO THE MEMORY OF
REV. JAMES ARMSTRONG CLARK
MARGARET SCOTT CLARK,
WHOSE TEACHING AND EXAMPLE
EARLY TURNED MY THOUGHTS TO
GOD'S HOLY WORD AND TO
THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY,
IS REVERENTLY DEDICATED.
It seems desirable to state in the beginning that this
exposition of The Revelation seeks to present the obvious
meaning of the Apocalypse as it appears in the text taken
at its face value, including its many references to other
parts of the Scriptures. We have not tried to force the
book into the molds of any theory ; but to ask, what does
the book say and what does it evidently mean ?
In the pursuit of this purpose we have been led to pass
criticism upon the premillennial view of the Apocalypse.
We trust such criticism has not been unduly pressed ; but
since the view in question is somewhat prevalent at the
present time, and is backed with a considerable literature
it has received more than a passing notice in the present
volume. This statement is made because the writer de-
sires to disclaim antagonism to the premillennialists for
whom he entertains a very high regard and whom he
counts as his friends. For while the writer dissents from
that particular doctrine he stands firmly by and with the
premillennialist in his defense of the integrity, authority
and inspiration of the holy Scriptures; and would define
himself as a postmillennial fundamentalist.
The writer acknowledges indebtedness to a variety of
sources; among others to Archdeacon Farrar, in his var-
ious works on the New Testament.
Professor William Milligan, in the Expositor's Bible
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,
David Keppel, The Book of Revelation not a Mystery.
David Brown, The Structure of the Apocalypse ; rather
vague and sketchy.
6 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
C. I. Scofield, J. H. McConkey and others from the pre-
millennial side. But chiefly to a scholar now unhappily
too much forgotten, viz. Professor Henry Cowles whose
commentary on the entire Bible evinces profound scholar-
ship, extensive information, penetrating insight, sound
common sense, practical judgment, and better than all,
entire loyalty to the authority of God's word.
That this little book may honor God, extend the king-
dom of Jesus Christ, and clarify the thoughts of its read-
ers on what is considered a difficult portion of the holy
Scriptures, is the desire and prayer of the writer.
DAVID S. CLARK,
2438 North 19th Street,
The present volume is the outgrowth of a series of
sermons on the book of Revelation delivered by the writer
to the church of which he is the pastor. The series was
undertaken with no thought of publication, and while the
subject matter has been somewhat modified and enlarged,
some evidences of the original purpose may still be appre-
hensible in style and verbiage, at least in certain of its
parts. The colloquialisms are thus explained.
It was part of the writer's early discipline to commit
to memory and to recite the entire book of Revelation ; and
subsequent study has led him to a view of its purpose and
meaning which, he is confident, will meet the approval of
scholarly and discriminating interpreters.
The literature on The Revelation is voluminous, and
the views so various, that the present volume cannot be
burdened with a review of them. The critical discussions
concern the difference between the Apocalypse and the
gospel of John as to language and style, thus affecting the
question of authorship; whether the Apocalypse is to be
regarded as a part and piece of the older apocalyptic writ-
ings ; whether it is a unity, or composite after the style of
documentary hypotheses ; whether its origin is to be found
in Babylonian mythology ; the limits of time embraced in
Revelation ; its application to Jew, Roman, Saracen, Turk,
Papacy, French Revolution etc., and a score of such ques-
tions. For an outline of this literature and a discussion of
these questions the reader is referred to a standard Intro-
duction, or to a Religious Cyclopedia, such as the Interna-
tional Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
So much difference of opinion and confusion of thought
exists in the interpretation of various sections of the book
that these differences cannot all be traversed; and their
omission is preferable to their inclusion. The purpose of
this volume is to give a clear, sane, and sensible exposition
without confusing the reader with unnecessary references.
And we are hopeful that the interpretation given will
8 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Interpreters have been usually classified as 1. praete-
rist, regarding the prophecies as already fulfilled ; 2. futu-
rist, placing the whole book in the times of the millennium
and the second advent ; 3. historical, the fulfillment issu-
ing in the continuous progress of the church and kingdom
on to the end. This classification is not exact as no one
can be altogether a praeterist or a futurist.
Even when one agrees with the general plan of some
of these writers he must often differ largely in his concep-
tion of certain events and sections. This may be said of
such praeterist writers e.g. as Moses Stuart, admirable in
general, faulty in particulars. Some of the older praeterist
interpreters found too much medieval history in the Apoc-
alypse, and some modern writers ignore the historical
features entirely. The former seek to interpret the book
by coincidences of history, and the latter seek to impose
upon the book a preconceived theory.
Prof. William Milligan of Aberdeen University has been
read so widely that his work on the Revelation is perhaps
the best known to modern readers. The church will ever
be indebted to Prof. Milligan for his scholarly work, his
pains-taking study,and his grasp of the subject in general
and in detail. However it seems to the writer that Prof.
Milligan has not done justice to the historical elements in
the Apocalypse. He has leveled down the historical pro-
montories till they are almost indistinguishable. The key
to the book lies in just what Prof. Milligan has under-
estimated, admirable in other respects as his work is.
When one gets clearly into his vision the outstanding
land-marks of time with which John is dealing, much of
the mystery and difficulty of the Revelation will disap-
pear. To this end we hope this little volume will serve
the discriminating reader.
A flood of literature on the Apocalypse is being pre-
sented to the public from Premillennial sources. All this
literature absolutely ignores the historical situations, and
presents a one-sided and inadequate treatment of the
A verv recent work is, The Revelation of John, by
Prof. Arthur S. Peake, A.M. D.D. Professor of Biblical
Exegesis in the University of Manchester, England. This
work is scholarly, as we would expect from the pen of
Prof. Peake, full of the literature on the subject, though
not so much an interpretation of the book as a discussion
of the outstanding problems of The Revelation. Prof.
Peake is well informed on the questions raised, and famil-
iar with past and current opinion, but perhaps too sparing
of a definite conclusion. One feels that his work is punc-
tuated with more interrogation points than periods, and
turns away rather unsatisfied, with the wish that some-
thing more had been said. Prof. Peake holds to the Do-
mitian date of the writing, or what is called the traditional
date. In the latter half of last century the tide of scholar-
ly opinion turned toward the Neronian date. At the pres-
ent time there is some return to the traditional view of
which Prof. Peake is an example. The present writer is
convinced that the Neronian date is sustained by the in-
ternal evidence and that a later date increases the diffi-
culties of interpretation if it does not render impossible a
satisfactory explanation of large portions.
It is scarcely pertinent to present here the accepted
rules of interpretation. However there is a view of pro-
phetic interpretation, requiring some consideration in ref-
erence to passages in The Revelation, which may be ap-
propriately mentioned. We refer to the day-for-a-year
theory as applied to prophetic time. Dr. A. R. Fausset,
joint author of a Critical and Practical Commentary, men-
tions it with approval and cites certain considerations to
support the view; but admits that it cannot always be ap-
plied. We think it would be more correct if he had said
that it can never be applied. The grounds for such a view
will not bear examination.
1. Reference is made to Numbers 14:33,34. "Your
children shall wander in the wilderness forty years. After
the number of the days in which ye searched the land,
even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your
iniquities, even forty years." There is no proof here that
a day in prophecy means a year. God said that they should
wander forty years and forty years they wandered. Had
God said they should wander forty days and the time
lO THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
turned out to be forty years the theory might claim some
support, but that is not the case. God said forty years,
and the prophetic time and the actual time tally exactly.
That they should wander one year for every day they
searched the land was embraced in the prophecy itself.
It is therefore no proof that a day in prophecy means a
year in fulfillment.
2. Ezek. 4 :4-6. Ezekiel was told to lie on his left side
390 days and on his right side 40 days for a sign to Israel
of their iniquity. "I have appointed thee each day for a
year." It is outside of all reason that Ezekiel lay on his
left side 390 years and 40 years longer on his right side.
That would be incredible longevity for Ezekiel's day. Nor
is there any known sense in which there was a subsequent
fulfillment in periods of 390 and 40 years respectively.
And if this refers, as it probably does, to years of ante-
cedent transgression, it is not the lengthening of a day to
a year, but the shortening of a year to a day ; and is but a
symbolism and not a method of interpreting prophecy.
3. Daniel's seventy weeks gives no justification of the
theory in question; since the prophecy embraces seventy
sevens or heptads which naturally and evidently refers to
years, seventy sevens of years or 490 years till the
4. The flood which was predicted for forty days did
not last forty years.
5. The seven years of famine in Egypt were not 360
times 7 or the storehouses of Egypt would have been in-
6. It was prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar should be
driven out with the beasts of the field and eat grass as
oxen till seven times should pass over him. If the seven
years are taken literally it is quite feasible ; but if 7 is to
be multiplied bj^ 360 making 2520 years, it is rather an
extraordinary time for a limited diet.
7. "A thousand years is with the Lord as one day,
and one day as a thousand years." If this proved anything
in the matter it would prove too much or too Httle. It
does not say that a day is a year or a thousand years, or
vice versa; but as such to the Lord.
The theory of a day for a year is entirely without war-
rant in the Scriptures. Time in the Scriptures is usually
to be taken literally, though certain periods are often used
indefinitely, or given in round numbers, or used symboli-
cally to explain some idea with which the number has
been associated. There are frequent references in The
Revelation to periods of time for the proper interpretation
of which this discussion has been introduced.
12 THE MESSAGE FROM PATAIOS
THE BOOK OF REVELATION.
1 ORASMUCH as many have taken in hand to
set forth, in recent days, a declaration of
the things contained in this book, many of
which are fanciful and fallacious, it seemed
good to me also, having better understand-
ing and insight into its meaning and mys-
teries, to write out in order the true inter-
To the ordinary reader this is a very difficult book ; it
belongs to an apocalyptical literature to which the occi-
dental mind is unaccustomed. It is far removed from our
tastes and styles. The complexity of the visions becomes
confusing and the meaning of its symbolism is not readily
apprehended by those who have not gone deeply into the
We hope to make it both clear and interesting, and
practical as well ; for there is no book of the Holy Scrip-
ture however abstruse in thought, or mystical in meaning,
or symbolical in presentation that has not its practical and
spiritual values for the present day Christian. This we
will find to be true of Revelation. But what does it mean ?
Is it historical, prophetical, or both? Is it past or future?
Has it been fulfilled, does it deal with the present day
world events, or with things yet to come upon the stage
of the world's affairs ?
Is it all about the Premillennial doctrine of the Second
Coming, or is that read into it by men of large imagina-
tion? How are these questions to be answered? Are
they not interesting ? The man on the street becomes en-
thusiastic over a game of chequers or chess, or the solu-
tion of a riddle, and altho he may not have the genius of
a Champollion who deciphered the hieroglyphics, the seem-
ing riddles of The Revelation should at least challenge his
interest and enthusiasm.
Before entering upon an exposition of the text, there
are certain things to be considered essential to the proper
understanding of the whole.
Who wrote The Revelation ? When the text tells us it
was John it adds no explanation to tell us definitely what
John it was. It does not say, John, the son of Zebedee, or
John, the brother of James, it does not say, the beloved
disciple, or the disciple whom Jesus loved, or the disciple
who leaned on Jesus' breast at supper. All this was un-
necessary. To say John was sufficient. Any other John
would need a descriptive epithet, but there was one John
who needed none.
There can be no doubt what John is meant, and but
few have ever risen to dispute it. It is as though we
should say Roosevelt. Though there are many Roosevelts,
all the world understands what Roosevelt is meant by the
unqualified name. There has been but little doubt and can
be but little, that John the Apostle wrote the Revelation.
This conviction is strengthened by some positive evidence,
in that he is called in 1:1 the servant of Christ, and in
1:9 calls himself your brother and companion in tribula-
II. To whom was the book written.
It is formally addressed to the seven churches of Asia
Minor. Rev. 1:4 "John to the seven churches which are
in Asia." Just as Paul addressed his letters to Timothy
or Titus or to the churches at Rome, Corinth, Galatia,
Philippi, Colosse, etc., so here John addresses this book to
the seven churches of Asia. As John had supervision of
these churches in Asia it was altogether to be expected
that they would be the recipients of his communications.
The churches in question are those at Ephesus,
Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and
Laodicea. The order in which they are named is topo-
graphical, being the order in which the apostle would come
in any itinerary ; and it has nothing whatever to do with
their degrees of loyalty to, or defection from, the faith, or
any supposed typology of subsequent ages.
14 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
The book however, although addressed to the seven
churches, has its lessons to all ages; just as the epistles
of Paul addressed to the churches of Galatia, Thessalonica,
etc. are authoritative to all other churches of the Christian
faith. But when this is said, it must ever be remembered,
as a sound principle of interpretation, that when a book or
epistle is addressed to a particular church or people it has
primary reference to their condition, needs, and times.
It must be, for the most part, intelligible to those to whom
it is addressed. If not intelligible it is therefore a dead
letter to them, and to all who cannot apprehend its mean-
ing; and all revelation is intended for apprehension and
not for misapprehension.
We may admit that there are a few things in the pro-
phetical books that are obscure; some few things which
the prophets could scarcely understand, and must search
diligently what the Spirit in them did signify ; but on the
whole, a book is expected to be intelligible to its first read-
ers ; and the principle of interpretation is incontrovertibly
sound. Any interpretation therefore that makes the body
of a book unintelligible to those addressed is to be reject-
ed. This principle has its bearing upon the present dis-
cussion, and we may say in advance that the book of
Revelation had more to do with the age in which it was
written than some modern interpreters are willing to
III. The purpose of the book.
The purpose is revealed by the situation. The people
addressed were living in the midst of bloody persecution,
or immediately facing it in those churches; and the same
was true in all the world where the gospel had been
preached. The battle for the faith was unto blood. The
witness for Jesus was face to face with the executioner's
sword. It was a day when confession of Christ spelled
martyrdom. Faithful martyrs had already fallen, like
Antipas of the church of Pergamos. John was writing
them to comfort them in the martyrdoms already suffer-
ed, and to gird them for the more fiery trials yet to ensue.
This he does in one instance, chapter seven, by showing
the redeemed in white robes, with palms in their hands,
who had come up out of great tribulation.
Again we hear the prayers of these martyrs in heaven,
saying: "How long wilt thou not avenge our blood on
those that dwell on the earth ?" indicating that these
murderers were still living and had not yet been punished.
Again a great dragon is shown persecuting the church,
and also the harlot city drunk with the blood of the saints.
Here is persecution, bloody and terrible, then being en-
dured, and to be endured in subsequent years. And ac-
companying these scenes of persecution are striking vi-
sions of God's judgments upon the wicked persecutors,
and the consequent glorious triumph of Christ's church
in all its conflicts.
Thus the purpose grows out of the situation of the
church in John's day, and John was writing to meet the
situation. John was the general of an army, riding up and
down before his massed troops, speaking a last word of
encouragement, intended to keep them steady in their
baptism of blood. And we will see how appropriate this
is when we have settled the date of the writing.
Now the purpose of a book is the key to its interpre-
tation. That is one great principle of correct exegesis.
And when passages are otherwise obscure they are to be
interpreted in harmony with the general design. This
often throws light on an obscurity that is otherwise im-
Every sensible author writes for a purpose and makes
his points bear toward the attainment of his purpose. God
does not write enigmas that have no meaning until they
are fulfilled. In that case they reveal nothing and are no
prophecies at all. Only as they reveal are they prophecies.
Revelation is not to make things obscure, but to make
them plain. Even in a book so symbolical as The Revelation
the object is to make truth known and not to obscure it.
Christ addresses these seven churches. He says, 1:11,
"What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the
seven churches which are in Asia." And again, XXn:16,
"I, Jesus have sent mine angel, or messenger, to testify
these things in the churches." That is, the churches ad-
dressed. The whole book is therefore addressed to those
l6 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Christ further declares in the prologue 1:1,3 that the
things revealed "must shortly come to pass," and that
"the time is at hand." The book has to do, therefore, and
is largely concerned, with things nigh at hand to the
churches addressed. It is simply impossible to take these
words in any other sense and not do violence to the plain
sense of the passage.
That most of the book refers to events of a past age
does not deprive us of its lessons, nor detract from its
value. It still stands on a par with the rest of Scripture,
and no higher valuation could it have. Some things do in-
deed refer to a remote future, as we shall see, but the
phrases "shortly come to pass," and "the time is at hand"
measure the particular and special preview of the book.
The purpose of the book is further shown in the way
God is brought to our vision. He walks amid the seven
golden candlesticks ; the seven golden candlesticks are the
seven churches, he walks in the midst of them; he is in
these seven churches, their present living companion; he
holds the seven stars in his right hand, and 1:20 tells us
that the seven stars are the seven angels of the seven
churches. Each message to these churches closes with a
promise "to him that overcometh." All these plain terms,
all this careful setting, all this particularizing of the seven
churches shows that they are being girded with might
and panoplied with power for the baptism of blood that
"must shortly come to pass."
The Premillennial interpreters teach that the book was
written to show the Premillennial coming of the Lord,
with a vista of the ages to the end; that the seven
churches are foreviews of seven ages, that chapters four
to nineteen describe the judgments upon the wicked world
during a so-called period of Tribulation, while the church
is in the air. Then follows the Second Coming, the resur-
rection of the righteous dead, the millennium, etc.
Such a scheme is not in the book of Revelation; it is
grafted on from another stock; it is a reading into the
book what is not there; we take this position in face of
worthy and pious men whom we love and honor, not to
antagonize them or their otherwise splendid work, but in
the interest of correct interpretation and strict adherence
to the text.
The book is a splendid encouragement to a suffering
and militant church. One after another of the church's
enemies go down in crashing and crushing judgment; God
is always vindicated, and his cause triumphant.
Men may say in their pessimism :
"Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne ;
Evil stands upon the neck of good
And rules the world alone."
But this book contradicts all that pessimistic philoso-
phy. It shows the very opposite; that God is always on
the throne; that the wicked are always overthrown, and
the righteous crowned with triumph and blessed with a
IV. The date.
The date of the writing is important, not merely as a
matter of historical knowledge, but as shedding light on
the meaning of the book. Two dates have been assigned ;
one in the reign of Nero about 65 A. D. and the other in
the reign of Domitian about the year 95 A. D.
Some might suppose that because the book appears at
the end of the canon, therefore its place is indicative of
its late authorship. While some chronological order is ob-
served in the arrangement of the books of the canon,
especially in the Old Testament, yet it is no hard and fast
rule. The place of the Revelation in the canon is doubtless
due to its character as apocalyptical, rather than to any
The external testimony as to its date is very conflict-
ing. The famous passage in Ireneus may have been the
cause of this confusion. Ireneus speaks of something be-
ing seen in the reign of Domitian and some think that he
referred to John's being seen. The subject of a verb in the
third person singular may be either he or it where the
subject is unexpressed. Eusebius states that John was
banished to Patmos and saw his visions there in the reign
of Domitian ; but gives as his authority the disputed pas-
sage of Ireneus. There are others of the early fathers to
l8 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
the same effect; while others still are indeterminate, and
yet others favor the early date. However the superscrip-
tion of the Syriac translation of the Apocalypse runs thus,
"The Revelation which was made by God to John the
Evangelist in the island of Patmos to which he was ban-
ished by Nero the emperor."
There has been therefore some difference of opinion as
to the date. Such an accomplished scholar as Professor
B. B. Warfield holds to the late date while Archdeacon
Farrar asserts the early date and Professor Philip Schaff
says, "The early date is now accepted by perhaps the
majority of scholars."
The internal evidences are in our estimation over-
whelmingly in favor of the Neronian date. A few of these
it is well to call in mind.
(a) The messages to the seven churches disclose the
fact that they were being subjected to the propaganda of
Judaizing teachers. This indicates a date before Jerusa-
lem had fallen. The Judaizing power had met its doom
before the days of Domitian, but its efforts were rife in
(b) In chapter eleven the temple was measured which
points to the fact that it was still standing. The holy city
is consigned to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles for
forty two months. It is a matter of history that the
Roman army came and trod down Jei'usalem. It may be
remarked in passing that forty two months and its equiv-
alent expressions are not to be understood as 1260 years.
There is no truth in the theory that a day in prophecy
means a year. That was the view of Wm. Miller who fixed
the date of Christ's coming as 1843. Further we are told
in chapter eleven that an earthquake caused one tenth of
the city to fall. The expression implies that the city was
still standing when John wrote. The same chapter pre-
dicts the murder of two witnesses in the street of the city
where our Lord was crucified. Who those witnesses were
we will consider in the proper place but the reference to
Jerusalem is unmistakable. These references to Jerusa-
lem, to the temple, and to the altar are natural enough on
the view that John was writing before the advent of the
Roman armies ; but sound very strange if Jerusalem had
fallen and the temple and altar were no longer in existence.
(c) In chapter seventeen we have mention of Rome
as a great city that ruleth over the kings of the earth and
sat on her seven hills. This is just old Rome which by the
way exonerates the narrative from being a description of
some supposed future "Tribulation." In connection with
this city the writer mentions its dynasty of kings : "And
there are seven kings, five are fallen, and one is, and the
other is yet to come; and when he cometh he must con-
tinue for a short space."
Will this fit Nero's age? There is nothing it fits so
well as the Caesar dynasty. Julius, Aug'ustus, Tiberius,
Caligula, Claudius, the five that are fallen; Nero the one
that is ; and Galba the other that is yet to come and which
must continue a short space ; the short space being about
seven months. How does this verse cited fit the age of
Domitian? It finds no historical parallel in Domitian's
day. Now if there are only two alternatives and the date
must be one or the other, then we have no hesitancy in
saying that this text takes definite stand on the side of
the Neronian date.
(d) In XIII: 18, the number 666 is given as the num-
ber of the beast, which is also "the number of a man."
This is easily derived from the familiar form, Neron
Caesar, by adding the value of the letters composing the
name. The person bearing the number is represented as
a persecuting power making war upon the church and
whose advances the church was being encouraged to re-
(e) Furthermore other epistles of the New Testa-
ment seem clearly to refer to certain passages in The Rev-
elation. If this is so, then Revelation antedated those
epistles; and if their dates are approximately fixed then
they limit the time in which Revelation could have been
Heb. 12:22 speaks of t-he heavenly Jerusalem.
Rev. 21 :2 shows the new Jerusalem coming down from
God out of heaven. The epistle to the Hebrews speaks of
"the first born written in heaven." Revelation says, "Writ-
ten in the book of life." There are several such references.
20 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
II Pet. 3:10 "The heavens shall pass away."
Did Peter get that from Rev. 20:11 where it is said that
the earth and the heavens fled away ?
II Pet. 3:13 "We according to his promise, look for
new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteous-
Where did Peter find that promise of new heavens
and a new earth? Evidently in Rev. 21:1 "I saw a new
heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first
earth had passed away."
Then to complete the reference we learn from Rev.
21:27 and Rev. 22:14 that only the righteous dwell there.
Here then Peter refers to The Revelation, and if, as is
generally conceded, Peter perished in the persecution un-
der Nero, the book of the Revelation must have been writ-
ten prior to Peter's death.
These considerations make it sufficiently clear that the
book was written in the Neronian era and that it had spec-
ial reference to the events of that day. In fact the pur-
pose of the book was primarily to meet the situation that
then confronted the church. It would be intelligible to the
first readers and they would understand and be prepared
for what they were to face, and this we may remark is
characteristic of prophecy in general. Prophecy is not all
enigma; it is revelation. It is true this is apocalyptical
prophecy which adds somewhat to the difficulty of inter-
pretation; but if we observe the great landmarks that
have been indicated in reference to Nero, the Roman
Empire, Jerusalem and Rome, we will not get lost in the
labyrinths of typology.
When one returns to visit the scenes of his childhood
after long years of absence, he may be even confused
temporarily by the changes. The roads have been altered,
the paths obliterated, trees cut down, forests felled, fences
removed, and buildings destroyed. He exclaims in be-
wilderment : Why if I had been dropped from an aeroplane
I would not know where I had landed. But no ; there are
the hills, the eternal hills ; no woodsman's axe has leveled
them, no transfigurer of landscapes has changed their
configuration; they stand as great landmarks to identify
So, many features familiar to the first century have
vanished from human memory. Idioms have been forgot-
ten; the meaning of pecuhar terms; the local colorings
that were provincialisms; metaphors that had meaning
once but forgotten now; the whole style and form of
apocalyptical delineation; is it strange that occidental
minds used to such different terms and forms should be-
come mystified and confused? But keeping in mind the
great landmarks will enable us to identify the time and
place and features of the great scene with its complex
The eleventh chapter reveals the city of Jerusalem and
the temple still standing; the seventeenth chapter shows
Rome in her malignity to the Christian church, while the
sequence of both chapters shows the judgment and over-
throw of these two great persecuting powers, the first and
the second great persecutors of the Christian faith. He
who keeps these two great landmarks in his eye will not
lose his way in the maze.
Much of The Revelation was future to John and the
churches to which he wrote ; but much of it is past to us.
We must recognize however that The Revelation has some
scenes of a final consummation. Its interest is not all local
and historical. The local interests are but a part of the
The gospels were concerned with local events as they
set forth the life of Christ in his few brief earthly years,
but their significance transcends all such narrow limita-
tions of time and place.
The Revelation deals with much that was local and
temporary but its spiritual lessons are for all ages. God's
laws are ever the same. He will judge sin, and no nation
will escape ; not even the United States of America. And
no individual will escape. The great judgment is set at
the last day when all must appear, small and great, and be
judged by the things written in God's books.
The end is consistent with the scope of the whole ; the
age long conflict between God and Satan; good and evil;
the righteous and the wicked ; the certain doom of all that
is evil; and the certain triumph of all that is holy and
22 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him,
to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;
and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony
of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
V. 1. In the opening clause we are told what the book
is, A Revelation. It is not derived from natural sources,
from history, from nature, from intuition, from the ra-
tiocination of man, from any human or natural spring.
But it is a revelation from God through Christ. The words
"of Jesus Christ" refer to the source rather than to the
object of the revelation. Those who make the purpose of
the book to be a prophecy of the premillennial coming con-
strue this genitive in accordance with their theory. But
the plain and obvious sense is well expressed by Marvin
R. Vincent; "Not the manifestation or disclosure of Jesus
Christ, but the revelation given by him."
Connecting the clause with the verb "to show" con-
firms the idea of source. "Which God gave unto him"
this is a divine book, and a part of the Holy Scripture.
The revelation given to Jesus Christ shows the office of
Christ as revealer of the Godhead. "Christ executeth the
office of a prophet by revealing to us by his word and
Spirit, the will of God for our salvation."
"To show things which must shortly come to pass."
Some endeavor to limit this expression to chapters two
and three. But since the same expression occurs in the
last chapter of the book it is evident that it must refer to
the bulk of the message. "Shortly" can mean nothing else
but close at hand or very soon. With all allowance for
linguistic flexibility and comparative lengths of periods, it
would be stretching language to the breaking point to
make shortly mean several thousands of years. Such in-
terpretations are only trifling with words, and the word
of God. The force of these words is decisive. The things
that were to be shown in the visions were close at hand;
they were to begin with the people to whom the book was
CHAPTER I. 23
3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of
this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for
the time is at hand.
written and not thousands of years in the future. God is
his own interpreter and must be allowed to say what He
means, and what God says in explanation of his own
prophecies must be taken in its obvious meaning and re-
garded as authoritative.
Origen introduced into the church an allegorical meth-
od of interpretation which is somewhat in vogue today.
He taught that the Scriptures admit of a threefold inter-
pretation, the literal, the ethical or spiritual, and the alle-
gorical or mystical. The danger of allegorizing the Scrip-
tures is evident. They are made to mean anything on the
slightest pretext. This is the great danger today. Men
read into the Scripture what is not there ; and the imagery
of Revelation affords them scope. Sound principles of in-
terpretation were never more needed than now, and espe-
cially in the Apocalypse.
V. 3. "Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear."
Some would read and some would hear. Of printed Bibles
there was none, and manuscripts were scarce. It was cus-
tomary to have manuscripts read to the churches and fre-
quently to circulate them among a group of churches ; so
that there would be many more hearers than readers.
This manuscript was evidently sent to the churches to be
read in their hearing.
"Blessed is he that keepeth" etc. Obedience is the
ground of blessing. "For the time is at hand." Again
the writer stresses the nearness of the events foretold.
He says in effect: "Read and circulate this book quickly.
Give serious heed to its warnings and admonitions. Get
its courage and strength, for the times of judgment and
martyrdom herein depicted are already at your doors."
Those to whom this book was addressed were being fore-
warned that they might be forearmed.
24 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be un-
to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is
to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the
firstbegotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.
Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own
6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his
Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him,
and they also which pierced hiin: and all kindreds of the earth shall
wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith
the Eord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the
Vs. 4-8. These verses must be held together, and
grasped comprehensively to get the proper view-point.
"John to the seven churches which are in Asia." What he
writes, he writes to those seven churches; and this in-
cludes the whole book rather than the two chapters of
special messages. In the closing passage of the book,
22 :16, he writes : "I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify
unto you these things in the churches," thus embracing
the whole book in his message to these churches. The
rest of this passage to the end of the eighth verse is a
characterization of Jesus Christ in his outstanding feat-
ures as God and Saviour.
It is to show who is giving this revelation; what au-
thority and power belong to him. It is holding before the
minds of the readers and hearers Jesus Christ as our God,
our Saviour, our Judge, and as the one in whose hands
repose our welfare on earth and our destiny in eternity.
Here in the beginning Jesus Christ is stressed with every
exalted characteristic and prerogative; just as in subse-
quent verses 13-16, his peculiar relation to the church is
set forth in the most striking terms.
Observe the range and significance of this characteri-
zation. "He was" before all worlds; "He is" living and
reigning now; "He is to come" the judge of all the earth.
Then follow his witness, his resurrection, his kingship, his
atoning death, his power to reward, his everlasting glory
and dominion, his coming again, the Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and ending, which is and was, and is to
CHAPTER I. 25
come, the Almighty. Here is the grand panegyric setting
forth Jesus Christ as the source and authority in this
Now it is quite unscientific to take just one feature of
this encomium and exalt it into the dominant note and
specific purpose of the book of Revelation. A recent writer^
says, 'The salutation strikes at the outset the dominant
note of the book. It is the note of Christ and his coming.
Here is the theme of the Revelation in a nutshell. The
book has to do preeminently with the end of this present
age, and with the coming again of Jesus Christ as the
supreme and tremendous climax of the age."
All this is superficial and misguided, and misses the
point of the whole book. It lacks comprehensiveness of
grasp and confuses a detail with the main purpose. It
makes an item of paraphernalia the guide and goal of in-
terpretation. The coming is one feature of the exaltation
of the Revealer, not a snapshot of the contents of the book.
In verse seven we read, "Behold he cometh with clouds;
and every eye shall see him; and they also which pierced
him ; and all kindreds of the earth (or tribes of the land)
shall wail because of him."
What coming is here referred to ? There are some who
will refer this entirely to his coming to judge and destroy
Jerusalem. And it is certain that the destruction of
Jerusalem bulks more largely in the prophecies of the
New Testament than our premillennial friends are wont
to admit. The bulk of Matt. 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21,
concerns the destruction of Jerusalem. Moreover Christ
said; "There are some standing here who shall not taste
of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his king-
dom," and "This generation (Christ's generation not some
future one) shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled."
All this shows that Christ used this language to describe
some near event which he called a "coming of the Son of
Man." It may be so in this verse seven, "And they also
which pierced him ;" very probably many of his crucifiers
lived to see the judgment executed upon Jerusalem. But
while the New Testament recognizes these nearer com-
ings, it also contemplates a final coming when the Son of
Man shall "come in his glory" and judge all "nations" or
people, and appoint their "eternal" destiny.
IJ. H, McConkey.
26 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
There are some trustworthy expositors who regard
these verses as referring- to both, the near and the final
comings ; the one suggesting the other as seems altogether
probable in Matt. 24. In such case the imagery of the
verse is borrowed from both. But if we concede that
verse 7 refers to the final coming, and it may well be so,
then it is just in line with the rest of this passage, show-
ing Christ's great power and exalted character, and that
he who will judge the world at the last day will judge the
persecuting powers in that or any other age. This refer-
ence to the coming is therefore one element in the exalta-
tion of the Revealer, but not "the theme of the Revelation
in a nutshell." It matters not whether verse 7 refers to
judgment on Jerusalem or to the final coming, its purpose
is descriptive of Jesus Christ and not indicative of the
purpose of the book to teach a pre-millennial coming.
"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end-
ing." Christ was the beginning as Creator. He is the
ending as Judge. This is more than antedating all created
beings and outliving them all as the Arians afterward
taught. It is exalting Jesus Christ as Lord. As the first
chapter of Genesis sets God before and above all creation,
so this first chapter is particularly employed in setting up
Jesus Christ as omnipotent and Lord of all.
These Christians, many of whom lived in Christ's day,
were not to think of him as once they had seen him, in
hunger, and thirst, and weariness and weakness, arrested,
fainting under the cross, crucified and buried ; but as Lord
of heaven and earth with all power in his hand, able to
overthrow their enemies, able to deliver them from the
fiery furnace, and exalt them to the throne of God. The
day was not far distant if not already begun when they
should face persecution and martyrdom. In such scenes
they must not forget that this Jesus whom they professed
was their Creator and Judge; and that their destiny and
the world's destiny were at his supreme command.
CHAPTER I. 27
9. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribu-
lation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the
isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testi-
mony of Jesus Christ.
10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind
me a great voice, as of a trumpet.
11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last:
and. What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven
churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and
unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Phila-
delphia, and unto Laodicea.
V. 9. "I, John, your brother and companion in tribu-
lation," that was a winsome address. He stood with
them on common ground. Every hardship they bore, he
endured. Every prospect of martyrdom they faced, he
had ah^eady contemplated. He was even in the vanguard
bearing the first baptism of fire and blood. They would
listen to the words of one who suffered in their sufferings,
and stood in the forefront of their dangers.
'Tatmos"^a small rocky island off the coast from
Ephesus, eight miles by one, fit place for meditation, with
the sound of many waters ever murmuring on the rock
V. 10. "In the spirit." We cannot describe this psy-
chological state other than to suppose that all the channels
of his being were open toward God, ready for the recep-
tion of any divine communication. Had he not been "in
the spirit," but spending the holy day after the modern
fashion, it is needless to say no voice or vision would have
come to him. The man who is in the spirit on the Lord's
day is the one who hears God speak and gets his message.
"The Lord's day," evidently the Christian Sabbath
or the first day of the week, indicating what day the
V. 11. "What thou seest," evidently the visions
which were about to be disclosed, "write in a book", this
book we are now considering. "And send unto the seven
churches," and here the specific seven churches of Asia
Minor are given by name.
The book had some special application to the churches
named, and to the conditions and circumstances in which
they lived, and to those circumstances which they were
soon to face. The book as a whole, not merely two chap-
ters of it, was addressed to these seven churches.
28 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And be-
ing turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto
the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt
about the paps with a golden girdle.
14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as
snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a
furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
V. 12. "Seven golden candlesticks." We are told
in plain language that these are symbols of the seven
churches. Zech. 4 gives us the same symbolism; and
Christ declared : "Ye are the light of the world."
V. 13. "In the midst one like unto the Son of Man."
Christ is in the midst of his church. He is its life and
power. He is not an absentee Lord. He is an abiding
presence and personality. "Lo, I am with you alway even
unto the end of the world." Unless Christ is in the midst,
the church is dead and shorn of power. This vision was
of special significance and comfort to those churches in
the scenes of blood thru which they were called to pass.
In the burning fiery furnace into which they were soon to
be thrown, there was One who would walk with them,
whose appearance was like to the Son of Man.
V. 14. "His head as white as snow." Not age with
its weakness and senility ; but maturity and wisdom, pur-
ity and goodness. "Be ye holy for I am holy."
"His eyes as a flame of fire." No night so dark as to
dim his vision. No path so tortuous and crooked that he
cannot follow it. No secret so hidden that it does not
blaze before him. No heart that he does not read like an
open page. No deed so buried that it does not stand out
before him. Nothing so forgotten that it will not come to
light. That eye sees through everything.
V. 15. "Feet like molten brass." Strength and maj-
esty are in his going forth. Feet swift to girdle the earth ;
tireless to stride down the centuries; strong to trample
down all his enemies.
"His voice as the sound of many waters," Sweet and
low as the brook that sings its way through the meadow,
or filled with majesty and grandeur as it speaks the lan-
guage of judgment and fear, as the roar of the angry surf
CHAPTER I. 29
16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his
mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as
the sun shineth in his strength.
17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he
laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me. Fear not; I am the
first and the last:
18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive
for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
19. Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things
which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
as it thunders upon the shore. For those who hear not
the one, Christ reserves the other. There are such con-
trasts in Christ because there are such contrasts in men.
V. 16. "In his hand seven stars." We are told what
they mean ; the messengers or ministers to the churches.
"Out of his mouth went a sharp two edged sword."
Observe that the sword was in his mouth, not in his hand.
Christ's weapons, by which he conquers the world, are
spiritual; not carnal. Christ conquers by his word, not
by armies with guns. This imagery corresponds with
Paul's who says: "The sword of the Spirit which is the
word of God." We find this sword again in the nineteenth
chapter proceeding out of his mouth by which he subdues
and conquers his enemies. When Christ leads armies with
a sword in his mouth, it is the triumph of the gospel.
"His countenance as the sun shineth in his strength."
Let the churches know that their Redeemer is mighty and
glorious ; that his rule is from sea to sea and from pole to
pole, and therefore they need not fear the conflict, nor
doubt the final outcome.
Vs. 17-18. John fell at his feet as dead; and Christ
said: "Fear not I am the first and the last, he that liveth
and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore." I was
dead ; but I am dead no more. I have "the keys of hell and
of death." Nothing can happen without me. Splendid
encouragement ! Who would not be under such a captain
and follow such a leader ?
V. 19. "Write things seen, things which are,
things hereafter." The events which this book contains
were, some of them, already transpiring ; some in the very
near future ; some in a distant and far distant future.
30 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou siivvcst in my
right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are
the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which
thou sawest arc the seven churches.
V. 20. "The mystery." This introduces the explana-
tion of the mystery. Chapter 17:7 says, "I will tell thee
the mystery." Scattered through the book are hints as
to the meaning- of its symbolism. We need not be in much
doubt where divine guide-boards are given. It is well to
observe them. Better indeed than to resort to conjecture
and impose self-made or preconceived theories. These
land marks are God's own guide-posts ; they are therefore
trustworthy and authoritative. He has blazed the trail
through this wilderness of type and symbol. If we ob-
serve the marks we can follow the path.
"The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches."
Angels no doubt in the sense of messengers or ministers ;
not angels in the ordinary sense of that word. Their office
determines their nature. Since they are intermediary,
not between God and John, but between John and the
churches, we infer that they are natural and not super-
natural beings. They were simply seven men through
whom John communicated with the churches above men-
"And the seven candlesticks are the seven churches."
Plain language this. No room for doubt or speculation.
This is divine commentary. Due observance of such ex-
planatory helps scattered through the book, will assist us
to a sensible interpretation of The Revelation.
Thus the first chapter ends having given us the source
and authority of the revelation, the glory and power of
the revealer, and the help and hope of the church in all
her fiery trials. Thus the stage is set for the scenes that
are to follow.
CHAPTER II. 31
This chapter begins the messages to the seven churches.
Each had need of instruction, advice, warning, promise,
and encouragement. These seven churches were the field
of John's oversight. Ephesus, the capital of the Roman
province "Asia" was John's home in his later years, and
the center from which he superintended the adjoining
churches. In making an itinerary of these churches, one
would travel in a curve much resembling a horseshoe.
Starting with Ephesus and traveling north forty miles,
one comes to Smyrna for which the Greeks and Turks
have lately been contending. Then going sixty miles far-
ther north, we find Pergamos. These one hundred miles
constitute the west side of the curve. Then the course
leads thirty miles eastward to Thyatira, thence southeast,
through Sardis and Philadelphia, to Laodicea; the eastern
side being slightly longer than the western. How often
John made this itinerary, what experience he had, what
dangers, hardships, sorrows, triumphs, and joys, all this
affords scope and theme for lively imagination.
There were other cities and churches in that region;
e. g., Colosse, but they do not come within the range of
this book. These cities and churches were well known in
John's day though most of them have perished long ago.
Who founded them we do not know. We know that Paul
passed through Asia Minor and dwelt at Ephesus, though
nothing is said of his having founded these churches. But
in subsequent years they evidently came under the super-
vision of John.
These messages are just plain letters to the seven
churches with their consequent lessons to all churches in
all places and times. Some extravagant notions have been
entertained in regard to these messages. Dr. C. I. Scofield
says: "The messages to the seven churches have a pro-
phetic application, as disclosing seven phases of the spir-
itual history of the church from, say, A. D. 96 to the end.
It is incredible that in a prophecy covering the church
period there should be no such foreview. These messages
must contain that foreview if it is in the book at all ; for no
32 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
church is mentioned after 3:22. These messages do pre-
sent an exact foreview of the spiritual history of the
church and in this precise order. Ephesus gives the gen-
eral state at the date of the writing; Smyrna, the period
of the great persecutions; Pergamos, the church settled
down in the world "where Satan's throne is," after the
conversion of Constantine, say A.D. 316. Thyatira is the
Papacy, 500 to 1500 A.D. Sardis is the Protestant Refor-
mation whose works were not "fulfilled." Philadelphia is
whatever bears clear testimony to the Word and Name
in the time of self satisfied profession represented by
"It would seem from this that Laodicea represents the
present day of lukewarm and indifferent church member-
ship, and being the last of the seven, we are therefore at
the end of the age in dire apostasy."
If Dr. Scofield finds such a scheme in these chapters,
he must have use of a miscroscope that ordinary men do
not possess. This is all sheer invention. By these meth-
ods one can prove anything; and find anything in the
Scriptures whether it is there or no. Such interpretations
are almost as rationalistic as the rationalism they con-
demn. A recent writer gives us an example in his refer-
ence to Joseph : Joseph is a type of Christ ; He marries
Asenath, a type of the Gentile church. This occurs before
Joseph's brethren arrive in Egypt and become reconciled
to him ; thus the conversion of the Gentiles must precede
the conversion of the Jews which will occur only when
they meet Christ at his second advent. To make such far-
fetched arguments, is the extreme of allegorical interpre-
tation. We might proceed with this kind of argument and
say that since Joseph died and left his brethren in bond-
age, therefore the conversion of the Jews will result in
their servitude to Satan; a reductio and absurdum, but
quite as legitimate.
The arguments to prove this typical view of the seven
churches, are entirely inconclusive. The number seven;
the similarity traced between these churches and the ages
they are supposed to represent; the increasing strength
of the promises given to the faithful in the latter group of
churches, all this proves nothing, or at least is inade-
quate to validate the interpretation.
A recent Premillennial writer has said that there are
difficulties in this view. He should have said that the chief
difficulty is that there is not one syllable in the whole book
of Revelation that says any such thing. It is not evident
that the promises climax in the latter churches of chapter
three. Similarities may be traced between these churches
and almost any kind of human institutions. Of course we
can find a likeness between the luke-warmness of the
church today and the luke-warmness of Laodicea which
Christ was ready to spew out of his mouth. And the luke-
warmness of today is just as abominable as that of Laodi-
cea, and Christ is just as ready to spew it out of his mouth
now as then. But while there are these similarities and
these lessons that are eternally true, we are not to read
the whole history of the world into these seven churches.
And while the word 'church' may not be found in
chapters four and eighteen inclusive, yet the church is
there as really as if mentioned by name, woven into the
narrative and represented by symbol.
34 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These
things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who
walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and
how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried
them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them
3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake
hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou
hast left thy first love.
5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and re-
pent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly,
and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nico-
laitans, which I also hate.
7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto
the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree
of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Vs. 1-7. Ephesus, once a leading scene of Paul's min-
istry, became the home of John, and there tradition lo-
cates his sepulchre. He strikes a note of commendation
by telling- them that they have had their trials with those
who said they were apostles and were not and found them
liars. These were evidently the same class of Judaizers
that opposed Paul, and if so, this is evidence of the early
date of the book. They met this difficulty and survived,
to their praise; but "thou hast left thy first love." They
were in some measure, backsliders. This was their sin.
It is a sin of this age as well ; and Ephesus has its similar-
ity to our own age as well as Laodicea. And if they are
backsliders they will not stand the trial that is coming
upon them; and accordingly the Revealer says: "Repent
or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy
candlestick out if its place." Observe that here is a coming
which is not the technical second coming; and every judg-
ment is a coming.
The candlestick was removed and the church of Ephes-
us perished. I have no record how soon that happened,
but we know that for centuries that once proud city has
been a ruin. Backsliding will prove fatal to any church.
CHAPTER II. 35
8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These
things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou
art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are
Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt sufifer: behold,
the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried;
and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life.
11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith un-
to the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second
Ephesus speaks to us. The church cannot commit suicide
and still live. Besides there are a score of agencies at the
throat of the church ready to destroy her when she slips
from the protection of the God who upholds her.
Vs. 8-11. Smyrna is still a city. It has been called
"the beautiful," "the Paris of the Levant." This church
receives commendation. It had some trials and met them.
"I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews
and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." Judaizers
they were no doubt ; evidence that Jerusalem had not yet
fallen since the Judaizing activities had not yet ceased.
"The devil will cast some of you into prison and ye
shall have tribulation." Polycarp, the martyr, was bishop
of Smyrna. The prophecy came true and no doubt in
many more instances unrecorded. In addressing this
church, Christ gives himself the title, "the first and the
last which was dead and is alive." Perhaps this was to
present the Christian fact in opposition to the fable that
the idol Dionysus at Smyrna had been killed and came to
life again. The practical lesson to observe in closing is
that this city which had a faithful church was saved from
destruction. Smyrna still stands.
36 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These
things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where
Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied
my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful mar-
tyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast
there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to
cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things
sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nico-
laitans, which thing I hate.
16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will
fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith un-
to the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the
hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a
new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Vs. 12-17. The church at Pergamos had "held fast
my name and hast not denied my faith, even in those days
wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr who was slain
among you." The deluge of fire and blood had already
begun. The Roman persecutions were making themselves
felt to the boundaries of the empire, and these churches
were facing a period of trial the worst they had ever
known. In the next few years they would see such con-
vulsions and tribulation as the world had seldom witness-
ed, if ever. The first baptism of blood had already fallen
upon the church at Pergamos.
"But I have a few things against thee," eating things
sacrificed to idols and committing fornication. Heathen-
ism was saturated with immorality; even their worship;
and converts were easily seduced. If they ate things sac-
rificed to idols that would be a stepping-stone to heathen
associations and idol worship, and thus would they'Xe
drawn into its shameful immoralities. Christ would in-
deed have something against them if they should tolerate
that; and therefore warns: "Repent or else I will come
unto thee quickly," that is, to judge their sins.
CHAPTER II. 37
18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These
things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of
fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and
thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because
thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophet-
ess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and
to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she
22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit
adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their
23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches
shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and
I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many
as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of
Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25. But that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.
26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the
end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels
of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of
28. And I will give him the morning star.
29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith un-
to the churches.
Vs. 18-29. Thyatira, the home of Lydia, Paul's first
convert in Europe, still exists as a small city of perhaps
twenty thousand inhabitants. It is supposed by some that
Lydia may have carried the gospel to her native town;
but of this there is no certainty. There was something to
approve at Thyatira. "I know thy works, and charity, and
service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and
the last to be more than the first," 'Works' is mentioned
first and last in the list, and the "last was more than the
first." That is her last works were more and better than
her first. Instead of retrograding from her first love and
first works as Ephesus did, there was progress and com-
mendable growth in Christian service.
38 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
But, "I have a few things against thee that woman
Jezebel." Jezebel the wife of Ahab was bad in character
and bad in influence seducing Israel to idolatry. This
woman of Thyatira was called Jezebel for similarity of
character and influence ; that is, she was a second Jezebel.
Pretending to be a prophetess or teacher, she was a bridge
from the church to the temple of idols and the practices
prevalent there. It is scarcely possible that the term in-
dicates a collection of prophets, using the feminine for a
The Alexandrine and Vatican manuscripts make "that
woman" read, "thy wife." Whose wife? If this is the
true reading, it would naturally imply the wife of the
messenger or minister, the one to whom the message was
addressed or by whom it was sent. It is quite possible, in
the circumstances of mixed social life that the minister or
messenger might have a heathen wife; and her influence
in the church, with which she would necessarily come in
contact, would seduce to idolatry and to the immorality
associated with heathenism.
"I gave her space to repent and she repented not."
Therefore judgment is determined upon her, for an ex-
ample to all the churches. But while the wicked shall meet
their doom the faithful shall gain their reward.
The tutelary god of Thyatira was the sun-god repre-
sented by rays of light and feet of burnished brass. Ac-
cordingly Christ introduces himself as one "having eyes
like unto a flame of fire, and feet like fine brass;" and
promises to him that overcometh : " And I will g'ive him
the morning star."
CHAPTER III. 39
1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These
things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven
stars; I knowr thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest,
and art dead.
2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that
are ready to die; for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and
hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come
on thee as a thief, and thou shatt not know what hour I will come
4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defil-
ed their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they
5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white rai-
ment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I
will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto
This chapter continues the messages to the churches ;
four have been considered, three yet remain.
Vs. 1-6. Sardis, the capital of Lydia, the citadel of the
world famed Croesus, has fulfilled the prophecy that "the
nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish,"
Sardis and ruin are synonyms. Sardis was a church well
nigh apostate when John wrote . This is the church which,
in Dr. Scofield's scheme, represents the "Protestant Re-
formation." Is Protestantism apostate? Is this age de-
generate till there is no hope of betterment, and nothing
to be expected from the Christian church ?
A writer in the Century Magazine of 1921 says : "The
muckraking of the pulpit and the pew is the crying need
of this age." Dr. Scofield flaps the raven's wing, and
the Century Magazine discloses the venom of an enemy.
But Sardis was sadly degenerate. No conflict is discov-
ered with foes within or without. The church had ceased
to witness sufl^iciently to excite the opposition of the ene-
my. There was no occasion to persecute a church that
had given up her testimony.
40 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These
things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of
David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no
8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open
door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and
hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Observe that the city that had an apostate church is
conspicuous for its sad and silent ruins. Therefore that
civihzation will perish that does not maintain the church
in its purity. The city or commonwealth or nation that
neglects or abandons the church and its worship of God
has doom written across its face. But there was sufficient
life left in Sardis to merit an exhortation and warning.
"Hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch,
I will come on thee as a thief and thou shalt not know
what hour I will come upon thee." God's judgments are
swift and unexpected. "The feet of the avenging deities
are shod with wool."
But there were a few faithful "even in Sardis." God
does not leave himself without a witness, and the gracious
Lord does not overlook the faithful few among the many
apostate. Their names are in "the book of life", and
"they shall walk with me in white."
Christian life and character are possible in difficult
places. Let no Christian give over his effort because of
the unfriendliness of his environment; nor fail in faith
and faithfulness when all is dark and discouraging.
Vs. 7-13. Here is a church on which Christ bestows
unmixed praise. She had "little strength" ; few in numbers
and poor in resources. The vicissitudes of the city, be-
cause of earthquakes in the lava formation, perhaps kept
them in poverty. But poor in this world's goods they
were rich toward God. Continued dependence on God and
his providence is fruitful of trust and fellowship. Observe
again that this town whose church was the salt of the
earth has withstood the vicissitudes of the ages and exists
today a monument of God's protecting power. Christ's
promise to it was: "Because thou hast kept my word I
will keep thee from the hour of temptation which will
come upon all the world."
9. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which
say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them
to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved
10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also
will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon
all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast,
that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a
pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I
will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city
of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of
heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith un-
to the churches.
14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write;
These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the be-
ginning of the creation of God;
15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I
would thou wert cold or hot.
16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor
hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.
17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods,
and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched,
and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Philadelphia had her trials from that same "syna-
gogue of Satan" that troubled Smyrna ; but the crowning
triumph of her piety and faithfulness is expressed thus:
"I will make them to come and worship before thy feet,
and to know that I have loved thee." The power of their
testimony and the piety of their lives conquered and won
their enemies. What triumph could exceed that? The
earnest, faithful, godly church will not be without her
fruits in the conversion of the world. To such a church
the Lord has presented "an open door."
Vs. 14-22. Laodicea receives no commendation. She
is not hopeless, but indifferent. However indifference is
next to hopelessness.
The city of Laodicea, named for Laodice wife of the
Seleucid king Antiochus II, was noted for the wealth of
its citizens; who were able to rebuild the city without
government help when destroyed by an earthquake. Ac-
cordingly the deceitfulness of riches choked the word that
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou
mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed,
and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint
thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous there-
fore, and repent.
20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear
my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me.
21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my
throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father
in his throne.
22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith un-
to the churches.
it became unfruitful. The church of Laodicea stood in
contrast to that of Philadelphia in point of wealth, and
also in point of devotion, piety, and service. Their world-
ly wealth led them to think that they were "rich and in-
creased in goods and had need of nothing." Spiritually
they were "Wretched and miserable and poor and blind
The hot and cold springs of the locality doubtless gave
rise to the simile of the water. Christ's judgment upon
them was : "Because thou art lukewarm and neither cold
nor hot I will spew thee out of my mouth." No more scath-
ing denunciation has ever been launched upon any church
than this upon the church of Laodicea. Their self-satis-
fied content was most distasteful to their Lord. They
thought themselves the opposite of what they were. To be
sick is bad enough ; but to be sick and deluded is well nigh
fatal. Would this denunciation disillusion them? Would
they accept reproof from their Lord? Would they heed
the injunction: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in
the fire, that thou mayest be rich ?"
We are not ready to concede that Laodicea is a pro-
phetic f oreview of some particular age ; but the lesson of
Laodicea is a lesson to any church in any age that sinks
to Laodicea's unspirituality. The church that is half on
and half off is an abomination in the sight of God in that,
or this, or any age. "Be zealous therefore and repent" is
a pertinent exhortation to most churches in all the cen-
turies of Christian history.
CHAPTER III. 43
"Behold I stand at the door and knock." Dr. Scofield
heads this : "The place and attitude of Christ at the end of
the church age." It is the attitude of Christ in any age.
These were the messages. Were words ever spoken
more encouraging to those who heed and more terrible in
denunciation upon the faithless and lukewarm?
Two peculiar things about these messages deserve at-
tention. Each one begins with some phrase applied to
Christ in the first chapter. For example: "These things
saith he that holdeth the seven stars", "he that hath the
sharp sword", "he that hath eyes like a flame of fire" etc.
Again each message closes with a promise "to him that
overcometh." Namely, "I will give to eat of the tree of
life;" "I will give to eat of the hidden manna," "I will
give him the morning star;" "I will give power over the
nations;" "make a pillar in the house of God;" "grant to
sit with me in my throne," etc.
We may recognize in closing that these messages not
only dealt with conditions in the churches, but in doing so
were preparing them for scenes through which they were
soon to pass in the cataclysmic events connected with the
destruction of the Jewish state. Thus they are fraught
with watchful and wise solicitude for the endurance and
triumph of the churches of Asia in the tribulation of
44 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Chapter four begins a new section of Revelation. This
section terminates with chapter eleven which reaches the
climax at that point with the sounding of the seventh
trumpet and the judgments upon the first great persecu-
tor of the Christian church. Some interpreters carry the
seventh trumpet on into the subsequent chapters and
make it include the seven vials; but such a view is un-
warranted and not based upon the text. Chapters four
and eleven inclusive, constitute a section with a definite
It is necessary at this point to consider a scheme of
interpretation imposed upon these chapters and including
subsequent chapters to the nineteenth. Much is being
written and spoken on the book of Revelation, most of it
unwarranted by the plain facts in the book itself. The
Premillennial teaching in conferences, schools, classes,
and publications seeks to inculcate a peculiar view of
Revelation. We have been told that the seven churches
of Asia prefigure seven periods of history from Christ's
day till the end of the age. That Laodicea, the apostate
church, represents the age before Christ's advent, and
that we are now in that period. Coming to this fourth
chapter we are told that chapters four to eighteen inclu-
sive, describe, what the Premillennialists call the Tribula-
tion period, supposed to be seven years.
At the beginning of the fourth chapter, that is prev-
ious to the Tribulation, Christ will descend into the atmos-
pheric heavens, then will occur the Rapture, all the right-
eous dead will be resurrected, and ascend into the air and
remain with Christ in the air during those seven years.
This period will be a time of tribulation on earth, for the
unbelieving Jews and the wicked that remain; and tliat
these chapters, four to eighteen inclusive, describe that
period, with all the judgments that will be poured out up-
on the earth. The reasons assigned for this view are: .
1. That the word church is not found in these chap-
ters and therefore the church cannot be on earth during
CHAPTER IV. 45
2. It fits the scheme by standing between Laodicea
in the third chapter, which they conceive as an apostate
age, and the nineteenth chapter which they interpret as
the Second Coming.
3. Thus we get a program of the ages, and if this is
not the scheme intended, then we have no such program.
As to these arguments, we remark that while the
word church is not found in these chapters, the church is
found as we shall see when we come to study them. The
word God is not found in Esther, but who would say that
there was no God in the time of Esther or in the events of
Esther's history, for God is through and through the
book in all the providences recorded.
As to a chart of the ages down to the end of the world,
we have no such chart in detail, and if Revelation be such,
it is quite exceptional in the analogy of prophecy.
While we have some hints given as to the course of
future ages, we have not so much of a chart nor the kind
of a chart that the Premillennialist asserts. But more-
over in these chapters we find Jerusalem, and the temple,
and the altar, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the
Jewish state as the first great persecutor of Christianity.
That event was future to John and the people to whom he
wrote, but is past to us.
Again we find in these chapters the overthrow of old
pagan Rome, called the city that sat on seven hills, the
second great persecutor of the Christian church. This is
so plain that no man can miss it unless he closes his eyes
or wears colored spectacles. John describes that Roman
empire as far as his own time by five kings that had fall-
en, one that is, and one yet to come; clearly the Caesar
dynasty up to John's time or to the fall of Jerusalem.
Now if the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of
Rome are in these chapters, they are not the description
of some period yet to come, and the whole scheme that
would put these chapters thousands of years after the
days of Jerusalem and Rome is wholly fictitious.
We need to hold the above facts clearly in mind as we
pursue the study of this book. To hold the salient features
as indicated will save one from being warped in a general
estimate of the book of Revelation.
46 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heav-
en: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet
talking with me; which said. Come up hither, and I will shew thee
things which must be hereafter.
2. And immediately I was in the Spirit: and, behold, a throne
was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine
stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight
like unto an emerald.
4. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats:
and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in
white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
We now come directly to Chapter four.
V. 1. John's vision begins with a door opened into
heaven; looking into heaven. The vision he sees is in-
troductory to what follows. He is now preparing his read-
ers for the immediate and main purpose of his writing.
The immediate purpose is to meet the moral needs of God's
persecuted people, not to amuse them with splendid pic-
tures, not to sketch a scheme of world events, but to lift
their hearts and thoughts above the deadly decrees of
tyrants, and their souls above the fear of prison, sword,
A voice said, "Come up and I will show you things that
must be after this." The words "after this" imply soon
V. 2,3. He saw a throne and one sat on it, brilliant
as precious stones, and a rainbow round the throne. It
was not said, who that was, but there can be no doubt.
V. 4. Here are twenty-four seats and twenty-four
elders in white garments and wearing crowns of gold.
Who are they? Well, we see that they offer intelligent
worship, they explain certain things to John, they are
personal beings, but not angels. Since they sing: "Thou
hast redeemed us to God by thy blood," we conclude they
are saints, or representatives of those saved by Christ's
blood. This is a vision to comfort those who might find
themselves faced with sudden prospective sainthood. We
think these visions had a definite reference to the people
to whom they were addressed and to the conditions in
which they lived and especially in view of the circum-
stances they were soon to face.
CHAPTER IV. 47
5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings
and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the
throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto
crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne,
were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
7. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like
a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast
was like a flying eagle.
8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and
they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying,
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
V. 5. Seven lamps are before the throne. In 1 :4, the
lamps are the churches, but here they are said to be the
seven spirits of God. It is important to observe that
symbols are not always uniform.
Vs. 6-8. John next sees four beasts full of eyes before
and behind, bearing a general resemblance to a lion, a calf,
a man, and an eagle. Each has wings and eyes, and they
rest not day or night, saying : "Holy, holy, etc." Our first
impression is that here is all animate creation worship-
ping God. We like to think of all nature animate and in-
animate praising God in every sound and motion. What
a chorus of praise ! Brook, and bird, and bee,- and flower ;
thunder, and wind, and ocean, and mountain, all in glad-
some harmony hymning God's praise. But beautiful and
appropriate as that suggestion is, it can hardly sum up
The word translated 'beasts' should be rendered "living
ones;" not as though they were wild beasts though they
are living, but higher beings by far. In eleven, or more,
other places in Revelation they are mentioned and their
They worship; they do service; they say at various
times to John, 'Come and see'. Therefore we look upon
them as personal beings, angels, or archangels around the
48 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
9. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks
to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
10. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat
on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and
cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
11. Thou art worth}', O Lord, to receive glory and honour and
power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they
are and were created.
Vs. 9-11. These living ones give glory and lionor and
thanks to him that sits upon the throne ; and the twenty
four elders representing the redeemed of earth, fall down
before him that liveth forever and ever and cast their
crowns before the throne saying: "Thou art worthy,
Lord, to receive glory and honor, and power, for thou hast
created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were
created." God as Creator is sovereign and omnipotent.
So the chapter closes with a great outburst of praise
to God, who is all in all in heaven and on earth. God has
created them all, and his very creation of them expresses
his desire for their good, and happiness, and as well his
authority over all, and his power to bless and save, and do
them good. In his hands who can harm?
This is John's first vision in this series. It is a vision
of heaven and of God. That is a good starting-point.
From this standpoint we see all things in a right light,
and estimate all things at their proper value. And if these
early Christians were being called to face persecution,
prison, fire, and death, we can appreciate the appropriate-
ness of this introductory scene to steady them in their
approaching baptism of blood. God is their God and Crea-
tor, and all blessing, and all destiny rest with him. It is
well to remember, in addition, as we go through this book,
that John is seeing these visions in heaven even though
they have to do with earth and time.
CHAPTER V. 49
1. And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne
a book written within and on the back side, sealed with seven seals.
2. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice,
Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3. And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth,
was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to
open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5. And one of the elders saith unto me. Weep not: behold, the
Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open
the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the
four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had
been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven
Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Chapter five opens with a scene in heaven.
V. 1-6. John sees in the hand of him that sat on the
throne a book, or rather a roll, written within and on the
back side and sealed with seven seals. The book in the
hand of God corresponds with the first chapter that this
was a revelation given by God.
Heaven resounds with a voice: "Who is able to open
the book." This book was a revelation of things to come.
Several times we have been told that things will be reveal-
ed that must shortly come to pass. Here was the future,
to some extent at least, wrapped in the roll.
Who will open the book ? One came forward, called the
Lion of the tribe of Judah, and -John was told that he had
prevailed to open the book and to loose the seals. This
can be no other than Jesus Christ. Christ is the revealer.
He reveals God and his will. He is prophet, as well as
priest and king ; and he executes the office of a prophet by
revealing to us the will of God for our salvation.
No sooner is he called a lion than he is also called "a
lamb as it had been slain." He is described as having seven
horns and seven eyes; the horns indicating strength and
the eyes, knowledge ; and the further explanation given,
"which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the
earth." Almightiness and omniscience are here involved.
50 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
7. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of
him that sat upon the throne.
8. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four
and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of
them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers
9. And they sung a new song, saying. Thou art worthy to take
the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and
hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and
tongue, and people, and nation;
10. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we
shall reign on the earth.
We find in these chapters a great many sevens ; seven
lamps, seven churches, seven horns, seven eyes, seven
spirits, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven vials, etc. The
bible makes much use of the number seven which is usu-
ally regarded as a sacred number, and sometimes as a
number of completeness.
However I do not think it legitimate to draw from all
this that the world of mankind is to last seven thousand
years. The author of "Uispensational Truth" has schem-
ed human history into seven periods of one thousand
years each ; and assumes that we are now six thousand
years from Adam, and that the millennial period of one
thousand years is presently upon us, at the close of which
our earthly history will end.
Such schemes are not justified by anything that we
know. We do not know certainly that we are six thousand
years from Adam. And besides the division into histori-
cal periods of one thousand years each is artificial and
man-made; and the Lord has not told us so definitely as
this just how long the world is to last.
Vs. 7-14. This Lion-lamb came and took the book
from the hand of him who sat upon the throne; and the
heavenly beings fell down before the Lamb with harps
and golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of
saints. The prayers of God's people on earth seemed to
have something to do with the revelation about to be
made. The prayers of agonizing saints in the throes of
bloody persecution come up to God's throne; and in ans-
wer thereto the Lamb has taken this book of destiny to
reveal to them that God will judge their persecutors and
lead his church to triumph.
11. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round
about the throne, and the beasts, and the elders: and the number of
them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thou-
12. Saying with a loud voice. Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and
honor, and glory, and blessing.
13. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth,
and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in
them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,
be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for
ever and ever.
14. And the four beasts said. Amen. And the four and twenty
elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
And they sang a new song. They had sung an old
song in Rev. 4:11 praising God for creating all things ; but
now a new song of redemption saying : "Thou art worthy,
for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy
blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and na-
tion." Two good songs ! praise to the Creator and praise
to the Redeemer. The song ends by saying: "And hast
made us (or them) kings (or a kingdom) and priests unto
God ; and we (or they) shall reign (or do reign) on earth."
The manuscripts are very uncertain on this text, but it
shows, at least, that God's cause will not always be perse-
cuted and cast down ; but will arise and grow and triumph
on earth. That would be good news to the poor persecuted
churches of that day. The chapter ends with a hallelujah
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I
heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts say-
ing, Come and see.
2. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on
him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went
forth conquering, and to conquer.
3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the sec-
ond beast say. Come and see.
4. And there went out another horse that was red: and power
was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and
that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a
5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third
beast say. Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and
he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
6. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A
measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a
penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice
of the fourth beast say. Come and see.
8. And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that
sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was
given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with
sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of
Vs. 1-8. The Lamb successively opens four seals, and
there come out in order four horses and their riders ; one
horse white, one red, one black, and one pale. Here are the
four horses of the Apocalypse, a phrase recently made
The first rider had a bow and a crown and went forth
conquering and to conquer. This was conquest by military
power. We consider this figure entirely different from the
rider in the nineteenth chapter who went forth with a
sword in his mouth and who conquered by the power of
The second, a red horse and rider, represented war.
The third was famine. A measure of wheat, about a
quart, for a penny, a days wages, indicates scarcity. So
does the reference to the oil and wine. Scarcity is always
the effect of war. The fourth horse and rider symbolized
death. The text declares the identification.
CHAPTER VI. 53
These four are an inseparable quartette; conquest,
war, famine, death. Where you find the first you will find
the other three.
Now in interpreting these symbols the question natur-
ally arises, do they refer to world history in general, or to
some specific time? And, if to any specific time, what
time is referred to? Well it is always true that where
there is worldly conquest, there is war; and where there
is war, there follow famine and death. There can be no
doubt that this is a true description of conquest and war
whenever and wherever observed. Yet no doubt this series
of seals had some specific reference to times that concern-
ed John and the churches addressed.
There has been wide diversity of opinion as to the
specific times represented by these seals. Some have fixed
the point of the first seal several centuries in advance of
the time of the writing ; and then assumed that the seals
were successive, and made them cover each its period of
centuries far down into history, and some to the end of
Many commentators have been wont to find in the book
of Revelation at this point and other points the history of
their own times or recent times. Many have professed
to find a considerable amount of European history in the
book of Revelation, especially the persecutions of the
Papal church directed against the Reformers, and particu-
larly involving the Waldenses and the Albigenses. The
Papacy has come in for a good deal of comment from this
book of Revelation. We doubt if it is by any means legiti-
mate as a matter of strict interpretation. Even though
the Papacy may have enough sins to answer for, it is more
than doubtful if they are in this book by way of definite
Others put these events, represented by the seals, in
a future time, not yet come to pass ; assigning them to the
end of the age or the last times. This would make them
have no practical reference to the age in which they were
written, and remove them far from the times and circum-
stances of John and his churches and the churches of his
day. There are good reasons for thinking that they were
addressed to the churches of that day, because they had
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
direct reference to the times and circumstances in which
they lived and suffered, and call up situations that existed
then and never afterwards.
Moreover there is no reason for assuming that these
four seals or four horses are successive events to the ex-
tent of representing successive ages. It is not true to fact
that conquest comes in one age, war in another, famine
in another, and death in another. They all belong to the
same age; they are parts of the same affair; they all go
together, conquest, war, famine, death. And if these
symbols point to any specific time there is every reason
to believe that they point to the very period in which John
was writing and in which his churches were living; and
that they had specific reference to the last days of the
Jewish state, at the destruction of Jerusalem. They were
just then facing the very things which these horses rep-
resented. This is evident because:
1st. The declaration had been repeatedly made that
this revelation concerned things that must shortly come
2nd. Christ, in Matt. 24, Mk. 13, and Lk. 21, had de-
scribed the wars and desolations, the pestilences, famines,
and earthquakes that should precede the fall of Jerusa-
lem; and John and Christ are evidently describing the
same events, to happen at the same time, on the same
city, and in nearly the same terms. And Christ had said
that "this generation shall not pass till all these things be
fulfilled." A recent writer has recognized that Christ and
John are describing the same events but strangely assigns
them to a future period called the Tribulation. Due heed
to the wording of Luke's account would have saved him
and others from making such a blunder.
3rd. These scenes lead up to and culminate in the
eleventh chapter where we find the temple and altar meas-
ured and the holy city trodden under foot. That ends the
seals and the trumpets that came out of the seventh seal,
and marks a division of the book, at the end of the elev-
enth chapter. Now if this series of visions culminates in
the fall of Jerusalem, then we think the time is thus def-
9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the
altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for
the testimony which they held:
4th. The calamities that came on the Jewish people,
their city, and land, were awful and terrible enough to be
described by these striking symbols and by the more glar-
ing descriptions to be found at the end of the chapter.
There is no period of history that so literally fulfills
these events, as the destruction of Jerusalem. When men
put them away in the future they only assert something
that is incapable either of proof or disproof. Josephus
has written the history of those times, without knowing
these prophecies, and he has written such a fulfillment of
them as shows very clearly that the history was the ful-
fillment of the prophecy.
That Jewish war broke out in 66 A. D. It is doubtful
if any thing before or since has equaled it for ruthless
slaughter, and merciless destruction. From the locality of
these churches in Asia Minor to the borders of Egypt the
land was a slaughter house. City after city was wrecked,
sacked, and burned; till it was recorded that cities were
left without an inhabitant.
Christ had said : "There shall be great tribulation such
as was not since the beginning of the world to this time,
no nor ever shall be." Thirty five thousand Jews slaugh-
tered on the streets of Caesarea. Besides the cities of Asia
Minor and Judea, we are told that fifteen strong cities of
Galilee were taken by storm and the masses of men, wom-
en, and children butchered.
When the Roman armies invested Jerusalem, three
millions of Jews had crowded into the city to celebrate
their annual Passover. Scarcely as many thousands es-
caped. We are strongly disposed to feel that the events
justified this lurid prophecy.
We have run a little ahead of the exposition, for the
strongest words are at the end of this chapter which we
have not yet reached in our expository remarks.
Vs. 9-11. The fifth seal was opened and John saw the
souls of those slain for the word of God, and the testi-
mony which they held. Where were they? Under the
altar in heaven, which doubtless means at the foot of the
56 THE MESSAGE FROM I'ATMOS
10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O
Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on
them that dwell on the earth?
11. And white robes were given unto every one of them; and
it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season,
until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be
killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
12. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo,
there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sack-
cloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig
tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled to-
gether;and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
altar. Who were these martyrs? The saints that had
recently fallen in the persecutions; very likely Antipas,
from the church of Pergamos, being one of them. What
were they doing? Praying and saying: "How long dost
thou not avenge us and punish these murderers on earth ?"
which would indicate that these persecutors were still
alive on earth. It would seem to them, and naturally, that
truth was being destroyed; the church killed; and every
thing that was just and right was being outraged, and the
people of God suffering as if God had forgotten. So they
pray: How long, O Lord, how long?
How was their prayer answered? White robes were
given them showing that they had conquered and were
approved ; and perhaps this suggested that their cause on
earth would likewise eventually triumph. But they were
told that it would be a little while yet before judgment
fell on their persecutors, and that a few more martyrs
would fall and join them before the carnage would cease.
This would be assurance both to those in heaven and on
earth, that although the persecution was severe, it would
be short and their triumph sure. Christ had already said :
"For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Vs. 12-14. The sixth seal was opened and there was
an earthquake; the sun became black; the moon became
like blood ; the stars fell ; the heavens departed as a scroll ;
and the mountains and islands were moved out of their
places. All these signs had been used by the Old Testa-
ment prophets, and were not new as symbols of prophecy.
And we may add that nearly all the visions of the Revela-
tion borrow their imagery from the Old Testament, and
this is some help to their meaning.
CHAPTER VI. 57
15. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich
men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bond
man, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the
rocks of the mountains;
16. And said to the mountains and rocks. Fall on us, and hide
us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the
wrath of the Lamb:
17. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be
able to stand?
It may doubtless be taken for granted that these con-
vulsions of nature were seen in vision and are not to be
looked upon as actual occurrences. As no one would as-
sume that the four horses actually rode over the earth,
but were symbolical representations of things that were
to happen, so these convulsions of nature were probably
to be understood in the same way ; that is, not a prophecy
that the sun would literally grow black, and stars fall, and
islands and mountains be moved. Yet even such things
could be, and maybe some of them did happen in earth-
quakes and cosmical changes, in that time, and may hap-
pen again. Yet perhaps more probably, these convulsions
of nature were projected in the vision, in order to portend
convulsions of another kind among men. Striking and
terrible things seen in the visions foretold striking and
terrible judgments upon the wicked persecutors of the
church. And I am not sure but that it is a feature of
Biblical symbolism to make sun, moon, and stars, and such
phenomena to represent the strong social and political
powers, or men in high places like kings, princes, o r
priests, or high officials of church and state. And in con-
firmation you will notice that the following verses refer
to just such men, as if to be a sort of commentary on
these symbols. And so these convulsions seen in the vi-
sion might reasonably refer to the breaking up of the
strong political combinations of that day, and the fall of
those who stood at their head.
Vs. 15-17. These verses close the chapter and com-
plete the vision. John saw that the kings, great men, rich
men, mighty men, bond and free, hid themselves in the
dens and mountains, and cried to the rocks and mountains
to fall on them and hide them from the face of him that
sat on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for
the day of his wrath is come and who shall be able to
58 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
The persecuted Christians had often been compelled to
flee and hide, as many did, in dens, and mountains, and in
the catacombs ; but now the tables are turned and the per-
secutors are fleeing and hiding.
This may have been intended as an encouragement to
the suffering saints of John's day, to show that their time
of triumph was approaching. But if any one thinks that
this description is too terrible to apply to the destruction
of Jerusalem, and to those historical events, I will just
remind him again that it was as terrible a thing as the
world has known. And if any one thinks that this symbol-
ism outstrips the event, and must apply to the final judg-
ment at the end of the world, then I may further remark
that it is also a feature of prophecy that it sometimes
looks beyond the near judgment or event as if the near
had suggested the remote. It may be so here. It is pos-
sible that the vision looks away off beyond the events at
Jerusalem to the final judgment of the world. And yet
it is quite probable that these startling symbols, and more
startling descriptions, may all refer to the terrible events
that were ready to break upon the heads of the people of
John's day, and in the sight of the churches to which he
wrote. But of this we may be sure that if God did not
with-hold judgment then, he will not do so now or ever.
All sin and sinners must face the wrath of the Lamb, and
all combinations of wicked men shall go down as did those
wicked persecutors of Christ's church in the days of John.
The Lord reigneth and he must reign till he hath put all
enemies under his feet.
CHAPTER VII. 59
1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the
four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that
the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any
2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having
the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the
four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
We have been considering the opening of the seals.
The first four seals gave us the four horsemen, signifying
conquest, war, famine, and death. The fifth seal showed
us the souls of saints at the altar in heaven. The sixth
seal was followed by convulsions of nature. earthquakes,
falling stars, etc. We have not yet come to the seventh
seal, and it does not immediately follow. The seventh
chapter comes in as an episode or interlude between the
sixth and seventh seals. This interlude, the seventh chap-
ter, has its own special purpose. There was evidently a
reason for inserting it here before the seventh seal. The
six seals have been of a terrifying character. This inter-
lude chapter is of a very different nature. Its effect would
be to give encouragement and assurance to the suffering
saints on earth. It brings out the safety of God's people,
and the blessedness of those who have gone through fire
and blood to a martyr's death.
Now what is this seventh chapter? The first half is
the sealing of 144,000 of the children of Israel.
Vs. 1-8. Four angels were standing on the four cor-
ners of the earth holding the four winds. This shows that
all the agencies of nature, all the instruments of judg-
ment, are in God's hand. Not a wind can blow, not a
storm can strike, not a judgment can fall, but by his per-
mission. He says to the sea: "Hitherto shalt thou come
and no farther; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed."
And when Satan afflicted Job he could not go one iota far-
ther than God permitted him. And as this storm of perse-
cution falls upon the early church, and as this period of
judgment falls on the persecutor, and as this period
of danger and dissolution engulfs the lands where the
6o THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and
there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the
tribes of the children of Israel.
5. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the
tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the
tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of
Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
7. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of
the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of
Issacher were sealed twelve thousand.
8. Of the tribe of Zabulon were scaled twelve thousand. Of
the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of
Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
churches are located, every lash is in God's hands and
every life in his care. That is what the church needed to
know in that hour when convulsions worse than earth-
quakes were about to shake the social and civil fabric to
And so it was commanded: "Hurt not the earth nor
the sea until we have sealed the servants of God in their
foreheads." And 144,000 were sealed. It cannot be ad-
mitted that Jews alone constituted the servants of God.
If the servants of God were to be sealed it must have em-
braced vastly more than the Jews. However at that par-
ticular time the Jews were the special objects of hatred,
and the carnival of slaughter that ensued especially in-
volved the Jews, and myriads of them were butchered
without mercy. In these circumstances the danger to
Jewish Christians was particularly great. This was true
not only at Jerusalem but in all of those cities wliere the
conflict raged. The Jewish converts would be subject to
danger not only from those who hated the Jews, but from
the persecution of the Jews themselves. So here we have
this vision of a great multitude of Jews wlio have accepted
Jesus Christ as Messiah and are sealed by God as his ser-
vants. That just 12,000 from each tribe are sealed shows
that the number is not to be taken literally, but represent-
atively. John the Baptist and Christ and his apostles all
preached to the Jews up and down Judea and Galilee. And
the command of Christ on the eve of his ascension was to
"begin at Jerusalem." And when Paul went on his mis-
sionary journeys he went first into the synagogues and
preached Christ. Here then are the results of the gospel
among the Jews of that day.
CHAPTER VII. 6l
9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man
could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,
stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white
robes, and palms in their hands:
10. And cried with a loud voice, saying. Salvation to our God
which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about
the elders, and the four beasts, and fell down before the throne on
their faces, and worshipped God,
12. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanks-
giving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever
and ever. Amen.
The purpose of this seal or mark in their foreheads
was that they might not be destroyed in the coming judg-
ments that were to fall. A similar scene is recorded in
Ezekiel 9, where men were marked in their foreheads and
were not to be slain in the devastation of the city, accord-
ing to the vision of Ezekiel. And when we come to the
ninth chapter of Revelation and the plagues have fallen
we will see that they were commanded to hurt only those
who had not the mark of God in their foreheads. So that
the evident purpose of this vision of sealing was to assure
God's people of divine care. This was a vision. The mark
was God's mark, not man's. It was not for the observa-
tion of human eyes, but was a revelation to God's people
of his providential disposition of all their affairs.
It is further to be noticed in this connection that when
Jerusalem was besieged by Roman armies, the Christians
escaped the slaughter by a most remarkable providential
circumstance. I take it that this vision of sealing referred
to the affairs of the church on earth ; but when we come
to the second half of the chapter we have a scene staged
Vs. 9-17. Now John sees a great multitude which no
man could number, of all nations, peoples and tongues,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed
with white robes, and palms in their hands. John was in-
formed that "these are they that have come out of great
tribulation and have washed their robes and have made
them white in the blood of the Lamb ; therefore are they
before the throne of God, they shall hunger no more, nei-
ther thirst any more," etc. This scene shows the blessed-
ness of the saved and especially of the martyred dead,
who came out of great tribulation, and is in happy con-
62 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
13. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are
these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14. And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to
me. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve
him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne
shall dwell among them.
16. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; nei-
th shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall
feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
trast to the sad and somber pictures of Judgment that
preceded and that are to follow. This seventh chapter is
the happy episode or interlude between the sixth and sev-
enth seals, and between the scenes of judgment which
It has been thought by some that the terms used to
describe this multitude are too inclusive or universal to
fit the historical view of these chapters. In answer it may
be said that the terms used to describe the multitudes
that were in Jerusalem at Pentecost were almost as uni-
versal ; for it is said that there were Jews from every na-
tion under heaven. Besides it is not necessary to assume
that the vision was limited by the age of the world and
the progress of the kingdom up to that date ; but that the
vision might fitly convey an idea of the consummation of
Christ's kingdom as an incentive and encouragement to
the church on earth in the times of its trial, and in all
CHAPTER VIII. 63
1. And when he had opened tlie seventh seal, there was silence
in heaven about the space of half an hour.
2. And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to
them were given seven trumpets.
3. And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a
golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he
should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar
which was before the throne.
4. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers
of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
V. 1. The seventh seal is opened and there is silence
in heaven about the space of half an hour. It is the lull
before the storm; it is the suspense of dread before the
breaking out of some great and portentous event. There
is a sense of something great and fearful about to happen.
One holds his breath in the intensity of expectation.
V. 2. John saw seven angels to whom were given sev-
en trumpets. The trumpet was a signal of battle in Israel.
They were told to blow the trumpet for alarm when faced
with foes. When Jereboam attacked Judah the priests
blew the trumpet and God gave Judah victory. These
trumpets may well indicate God's war against his enemies.
But yet the trumpets are slow to sound. There is still an-
other halt. God is never in a hurry to smite; he is long-
suffering and slow to anger.
Vs. 3,4. Another angel appears with a censor and
much incense, and offers it with the prayers of all saints.
And the smoke of the incense and the prayers of the
saints ascend up before God. This is not the first time
we have met the prayers of the saints in this book. In
the sixth chapter we heard them pray: "How long,
Lord, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them
that dwell on the earth ?" That is upon their persecutors
and the persecutors of the church. At the cry of God's
people God will avenge. This scene shows that God will
hear their prayers, vindicate their cause and overthrow
64 THE MESSAGE EROM PATMOS
5. And the anyel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the
altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunder-
ings, and liy;htnings, and an earthquake.
6. And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets pre-
pared themselves to sound.
7. The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire
mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth; and the
third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
8. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mount-
ain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the
sea became blood;
9. And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea,
and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
10. And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star
from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third
part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
11. And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the
third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of
the waters, because they were made bitter.
12. And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the
sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part
of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day
shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
V. 5. And the angel took the censor, filled it with
fire from the altar, and cast it into the earth, and there
were voices, and thunder, and lig-htnings, and an earth-
quake. Which evidently showed the immediate answer to
their prayers. And then the angels prepare to sound,
after these careful deliberate preliminaries, which seem
to point to the magnitude and solemnity of the events.
Observe that this falls under the seventh seal. The sev-
enth seal did not bring on the earth any single event, but
only disclosed the seven trumpets, and the trumpets are
the signals of the events on earth.
Vs. 7-13. These verses give us the sounding of four
trumpets. As the four seals had a similarity in the four
horses, so the four trumpets have a similarity, and may
be considered together. At the sounding of the trumpets
certain plagues fall. The first plague fell on the land;
the second on the sea; the third on the rivers; and the
fourth on the heavenly bodies. And each plague destroys
one third of what it touches. One third of the trees are
burned; one third of the sea becomes blood; one third of
the rivers and fountains become wormwood ; and one third
of the day and night are deprived of light.
CHAPTER VIII. 65
13. And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst
of heaven, saying with a loud voice. Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabit-
ers of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the
three angels, which are yet to sound!
It is useless to attempt to attach these trumpets to
successive periods of history, and say that the first applies
to so many centuries and the second covers so many cen-
turies and so on. Some have tried to do that, and labored
to show what periods of time each one covered ; but with
no satisfactory results. It is much better to regard them
as all belonging to one time and one event, namely the
destruction of the first great persecutor of the Christian
church. Christ, in speaking of the fall of Jerusalem, de-
scribed it in sufficiently alarming terms ; and history fills
out the event of about ten years before the fall of the city
with scenes of crimes, and terror, robbery, and murder,
and carnage sufficient to justify such symbols as these.
66 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heav-
en unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless
2. And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke
out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the
air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
3. And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth:
and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have
4. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the
grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but
only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
5. And to them it was given that they should not kill them,
but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment
was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
6. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find
it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
7. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses pre-
pared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like
gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
8. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth
were as the teeth of lions.
V. 1. The fifth trumpet sounded and John saw a star
fall to the earth ; and to him was given the key of the
bottomless pit. This star is not a literal star ; this is sym-
bolism too. Immediately a personal pronoun is applied to
that star; "to him" was given the key. This indicates
that some personality' was represented by that star. It
may have been some angel, or some minister of religion
like the high priest, or some body of religious teachers
that spread unbelief, heresies, false principles that wreck-
ed men's morals and the safety of society. How disas-
trously the leader of religious life could do this !
Vs. 2-12. And this personage, whoever he was, open-
ed the bottomless pit, and there came out dense smoke that
darkened the sky, and locusts with the power of scorpions.
And they were enjoined not to hurt grass or tree but only
the men who had not the seal of God in their foreheads.
It will be remembered that we have just seen, in the sev-
enth chapter, that the servants of God were sealed in
their foreheads to save them from the judgments; and
now their exemption is commanded.
CHAPTER IX. 67
9. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron;
and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many
horses running to battle.
10. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were
stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
11. And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the
bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but
in the Greek tongue hath his name ApoUyon.
12. One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more
I think two things are evident here. As these servants
of God were evidently hving on earth in John's time, and
this judgment exempted them, therefore these judgments
fell in John's time and not thousands of years later. Again
it seems reasonable to suppose that this flood of locusts
that came out of the bottomless pit were moral and spirit-
ual errors. That was doubtless the reason that the serv-
ants of God were not hurt by them. They were taught
by the Spirit ; they were grounded in the truth ; they were
sealed to God ; they were proof against heresies and moral
and spiritual perversion. It would be quite true that mor-
al and spiritual perversion would have physical results.
And it is also true that in the siege of Jerusalem social
and civil safeguards were thrown to the winds; and as
if they had gone insane, as if possessed with devils, father
was set against son and son against father, brother a-
gainst brother till the inside of the city was a seething
hell, and its deliverance impossible. When men's senses
and reason and conscience are taken away, when mental
and moral and spiritual aberration seizes men, their ruin
is certain and near. The statement in verses five and ten
that these locusts were to hurt men five months, may
grow out of the fact that the life of a locust is about five
months ; and from the other fact that this terrible condi-
tion was short. It could not last long. Doom was near.
The locusts are further described as being like horses
prepared for battle, with faces of men, hair of women,
teeth of lions, wings that sounded like chariots, tails like
scorpions, and stings in their tails, the very agglomera-
tion of heterogeneous features making the picture more
And they had a king over them, the angel of the bot-
tomless pit, called in the Hebrew, Abaddon ; and in Greek,
Apollyon. This is Satan ; and so it appears that the Devil
68 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
13. And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the
four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
14. Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose
the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
15. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for
an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third
part of men.
16. And the number of the army of the horsemen were two
hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
17. And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat
on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone:
and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of
their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
himself was the tormentor of those who followed him.
But that is his business and such are his methods. The
wages of sin is death.
Vs. 13-21. The sixth angel sounded the sixth trump-
et, and when the trumpet sounded a voice commanded the
sixth angel to loose the four angels that are bound in
the great river Euphrates. The river Euphrates was the
boundary between Israel and her ancient captors. It was
across the Euphrates that Assyria came and carried Israel
into captivity. And it was across the Euphrates that
Babylon came and carried Judah into captivity. The great
conquerors of Palestine and Egypt had come across the
Euphrates in ancient times. It might well have an uncanny
sound. This was at least a suggestion of conquest. The nar-
rative goes on to say that the four Euphratan angels were
loosed, and the number of the horsemen were two hundred
thousand thousand. Thus without any explanation of
these four angels a great army of horsemen are introduc-
ed and described showing that this symbol meant war.
Now it is not certain whether this great army rep-
resented confederates of Rome that came from the east
and assisted Rome in this Jewish war, or whether it has
a general reference to the Roman armies only. That per-
haps is not essential. But the vision portended war; and
war in such gigantic proportions as to overwhelm com-
pletely the Jewish state. Two hundred thousand thou-
sand horsemen would be of course impossible; but the
number is impressive enough and was doubtless meant
chiefly for impression.
CHAPTER IX. 69
18. By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire,
and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their
19. For their power is in their mouths, and in their tails: for
their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them
they do hurt.
20. And the rest of the men which were not killed by these
plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they
should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass,
and stone, and of wood; which neither can see, nor hear nor walk:
21. Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorcer-
ies, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
In this great army^the horses are described, but almost
nothing said of the riders. The riders have breastplates of
fire, jacinth, and brimstone; but the horses have heads of
lions ; fire, smoke, and brimstone issue from their mouths,
and their tails were like serpents, with heads, that could
bite. It has been supposed that this vision of cavalry
would be very terrifying to the Jews, because they were
not accustomed to use cavalry in warfare and had suffered
in times past from this mode of warfare.
The chapter closes by saying that the men who suffered
from all these plagues did not repent of their sins, but con-
tinued to worship idols and even devils ; the most offensive
idolatry known to the prophets of God. The apostasy that
refuses to repent, after all warnings, after preliminary
judgments, has only one end, and that is destruction. And
that end will surely come though God bear long with them.
Old Antiochus Epiphanes, the worst persecutor the
Jews ever had, whose memory was a nightmare, when af-
flicted with a dreadful disease, humbled himself and called
on God, and declared if God would heal him he would him-
self become a Jew and proclaim God's mercy before the
world. But these apostates of whom John writes did not
repent though doom stared them in the face.
This is a warning to all men to be sensitive in regard
to their own sins; to heed God's warnings, and to repent
and seek God's mercy. It is always a safe thing and a
wise thing to repent of sin. The practical lessons of Rev-
elation are many and forcible. With all its symbolism and
mysteries, it deals with the vital things of human destiny.
70 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven,
clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face
was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
2. And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his
right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
This chapter is the prelude to the end of this section.
The section ends with chapter XL The opening of the
seals and the sounding of the trumpets have led up to the
final scene in this part of Revelation ; and the tenth chap-
ter is preliminary to the culmination. It is to be observed
that we have come to the last seal which bound that book
which was put into the hand of Christ as the opener. The
last seal issued in seven trumpets ; and six trumpets have
sounded and but one more remains to sound. We are still,
however, among the events of the sixth trumpet.
V. 1. A mighty angel comes down from heaven.
Heretofore the standpoint of the visions seemed to be in
heaven ; now it seems to be earth. This angel comes down
to earth. Who is this angel ? I take it that this angel is
Jesus Christ himself, because of the description of his
having a rainbow upon his head; his face as the sun; his
feet as pillars of fire. One will recognize some of these
features as being ascribed to Christ in the first chapter.
There is no difficulty in his being called an angel; Old
Testament usage has justified that.
V. 2. He had in his hand a little book open; rather
opened. Considerable interest attaches to this book. What
was this book? Why was it opened? Why called a little
book ? What did it contain ? What relation did it bear to
the book put in Christ's hand in the fifth chapter? Was
it the same book or was it a new book comprising the
prophecies in the last half of Revelation ?
Evidently the reasonable explanation is that it was the
same book that we saw in the fifth chapter sealed with
seven seals ; or rather what is left of it. The seven seals
have been opened, so this book appears opened. We are
now in the seventh seal that disclosed seven trumpets and
we are in the events of the sixth trumpet. So therefore
3. And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and
when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
4. And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was
about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me,
Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write
but little remains of the contents of that book and it is
now described as 'little.' We are almost at the end of this
series of visions. Let this be duly observed for it is a very
important point in the proper understanding of the whole
book of Revelation. The revelations of that book that
was sealed with the seven seals evidently ends with the
eleventh chapter; and the disclosures of the second half
of Revelation are otherwise provided for.
Now we see Christ come down with that same book in
his hand with every seal opened to declare that the time
is up; and the prayers of his saints are to be answered;
and the blood of his martyrs judged or avenged; and the
last great catastrophe shall fall on the first great perse-
cutor of the Christian church.
Vs. 3-4. These verses tell us that the bearer of this
open book cried with a loud voice and seven thunders ut-
tered their voices. The seven thunders uttered something
in words, for John was about to write it, but a voice from
heaven told him to seal them up and not write these things
which the seven thunders said. No doubt they were too
terrible to write. Their ears and hearts are to be spared
the description. And we will find in the next chapter that
when the end of this scene comes we are spared the des-
cription of the carnage and massacre and madness of that
last scene. We are told in brief words what fate was to
befall the altar and temple and city of Jerusalem. And
we are told the purpose and the spiritual results ; but all
the sickening details are omitted. These very soon be-
came a matter of history, and John did not need to write
them in detail.
72 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
5. And the angel which 1 saw stand upon the sea and upon the
earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
6. And sware by him that livcth for ever and ever, who created
heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the
things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are there-
in, that there should be time no longer:
7. But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he
shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he
hath declared to his servants the prophets.
8. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me
again, and said. Go and take the little book which is open in the
hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
9. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him. Give me the
little book. And he said unto me. Take it, and eat it up; and' it
shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as
10. And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate
it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had
eaten it, my belly was bitter.
Vs. 5-6. These verses tell us that this heavenly mes-
senger lifted up his hand as he stood upon the sea and up-
on the earth, and swore by the Creator of the universe
that time should be no longer. This cannot mean that all
time was at an end. On no scheme of interpretation could
that be true. The rest of the book is full of events that
are yet to come. But the meaning is that no more time
could be given these sinners on whom this judgment was
to fall; no further delay till the final stroke should des-
cend. The Lord had delayed his judgments long; he is
long suffering and slow to wrath; but the time had now
come and no longer delay would be granted.
V. 7. We are here told that when the seventh angel
sounds, and it will be soon, he is just about to sound, the
mystery of God shall be finished; not all mystery, but as
he hath declared by the prophets, doubtless here it is the
judgments long foretold against Jerusalem for her apos-
tasy and persecution. For such prophecies see Isaiah 65,
66 and Daniel 9 :26,27.
Vs. 8-10. Here we are shown that John, at the com-
mand of the voice from heaven, takes the book from the
angel's hand and eats it. In his mouth it was sweet and
in his belly it was bitter. There were some things glad
and some things sad in the events revealed in that book,
and about to be revealed. It was a matter of gladness that
God heard their prayers and answered their cries, vindi-
CHAPTER X. 73
11. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before
many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
cated their cause, and destroyed the persecutors. But it
was sad that men did not turn from their sins, sad that
such judgments must fall, sad that the altar and temple
and city and state so much revered should come thru the
sins of men, to such a sad end.
V. 11. "And he said to me: Thou must prophesy
again before (or rather concerning) many people, nations,
tongues and kings.' " Though this book was ended and
all its seals opened there would be other things to follow
and we will see that this was true in the next half of
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the
angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the
altar, and them that worship therein.
2. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and
measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city
shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
V. 1. John is given a reed and told to measure the
temple and altar and worshippers. Why should he meas-
ure them? What was meant by this act? In the Old
Testament measuring is sometimes associated with de-
struction as in 2 Sam, 8:2, Amos 7:7,8, and Hab. 3:6. But
sometimes it foretokens a rebuilding as in Ezek. 40 ff.,
and Zech. 2:1. But what does it mean here? It is impos-
sible to regard it as a sign of rebuilding for the second
verse and elsewhere in this chapter we have the destruc-
tion of the city. While it may be regarded as a measuring
for destruction, another view, perhaps as plausible, is that
it signified the preservation of all that was good and true
about the city and temple ; the sifting out for salvation of
some elements even in a wicked city ripe for destruction.
This is supported by the fact that the worshippers are al-
so included in the measuring. It is not very important
which of these views we take. But what is important
V. 2. John is told that he need not measure the court
which is without the temple for it is given to the Gentiles ;
and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty-two
Here is so plainly the destruction of Jerusalem that it
could hardly be put in plainer words. It seems evident
that there is no getting away from the fact that here we
are dealing with the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70,
that all that John has said hitherto was leading up to this
great fact, that here we have the culmination of these
prophetic seals, and this is where the first half of the book
lands us. Here, as we open this chapter, is Jerusalem,
still standing. Here are the temple and altar in the midst
of it. This forever and absolutely precludes the idea that
these events are to happen thousands of years in the fu-
CHAPTER XI. 75
3. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they
shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, cloth-
ed in sackcloth.
4. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks
standing before the God of the earth.
5. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their
mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them,
he must in this manner be killed.
6. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the
days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them
to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they
ture. It matters nothing what other men may say, this
is what John wrote; this is what Christ revealed; this is
what the Bible says ; and that is final.
This incidentally shows when John was writing ; while
the temple and city still stood, before they had been de-
stroyed, or about the year 66.
We read that the Gentiles shall tread the city down
forty-two months. This is not to be taken as 1260 years
by making every day mean a year. That method of inter-
pretation has little to recommend it. I know of no reason
why a day should mean a year or why God should obscure
his prophecies by such enigmatical methods. But the times
and half a time, the three and a half years, the forty-two
months, the 1260 days, are all the same and mean just
what they say. Here the forty-two months or three and
a half years evidently refers to the time of the siege, sack,
and pillage of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. We first
find this term in Daniel when Jerusalem was oppressed
three and a half years by Antiochus Epiphanes, and the
term may have taken on a symbolical meaning expressing
a period of oppression. It was exactly the time of Anti-
ochus' outrages, and approximately, at least, the time of
Rome's active operation against Jerusalem.
Vs. 3-12. This is a passage that has puzzled many.
Two witnesses prophesy 1260 days, the same forty-two
months or three and a half years. They have great power
to stay the rain, and turn water to blood, and smite the
earth with plagues. But when they finish their testimony
the beast from the bottomless pit kills them, and their
bodies lie. on the street of that city where our Lord was
crucified. There is no doubt therefore with what city we
are dealing. People are glad they are dead and rid of
76 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
7. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast
that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against
them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great
city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our
Lord was crucified.
9. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and na-
tions shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall
not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over
them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because
these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. *
11. And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God
entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear
fell upon them which saw them.
12. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto
them. Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud;
and their enemies beheld them.
their testimony ; but after three and a half days they are
resurrected and ascend up into heaven in a cloud. This is
a highly figurative passage and while it means something,
is to be taken symbolically rather than literally.
Who were these two witnesses? That is a question
often asked and deeply pondered. Now we are obliged to
John for dropping a hint that gives the clue. The mean-
ing often lies on the surface while we read right over it
and fail to notice it. The hint to which I refer is found
in the fourth verse : "These are the two olive trees and the
two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth."
But that is familiar language. Where did we hear that
before? Go back to Zech. 4, and you have the reference.
There Zechariah has a vision of two olive trees pouring
oil into a lamp and he asks: "What are these two olive
trees on the right and left of the candlestick?" And he
is told: "These are the two annointed ones that stand be-
fore the Lord of the whole earth." Whatever slight dif-
ferences there are in the two accounts they are evidently
the same thing. John's vision reproduces Zechariah's, and
whatever Zechariah meant, that evidently John means.
Now as we study Zechariah we find that he means by
these two figures the head of the state and the head of
the church. Both of these had great power and authority
over the hearts and minds and lives of men. Civil and
religious authority go far to restrain the evil passions and
deeds of men. And in the social and civil convulsions that
CHAPTER XI. 77
13. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the
tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men
seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory
to the God of heaven.
14. The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh
15. And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices
in heaven, saying. The kingdoms of this world are become the king-
doms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever
destroyed Jerusalem when the Jewish state was crushed,
when the temple was burned, and the leaders of state and
church were slain, it would look as if the power of law and
religion had perished; and the witnesses to social order'
and moral restraint were slain. And there were men then,
and there are some still, who are glad when all authority
and restraint are dead, and anarchy and license revel
But things can't last that way. Men must revert at
length to law and order and moral restraint. No society
can endure without legal and moral safeguards. And so
the witnesses are resurrected. Anarchy may last for a
little while, and the wicked may rejoice; but government
and religion can't stay dead. Their resurrection is cer-
tain, and that after a very short reign of terror. And that
is what we think is meant by these two witnesses. They
may be thought of as personifications, or as personal rep-
resentatives of religion and government. But John says :
"These are the two olive trees," and Zechariah supplies
Vs. 13-14. Here is mention of a great earthquake.
One tenth of the city fell and many were killed and some
were affrighted and gave glory to God. This continues
the terrors in the city's destruction. The second woe is
past and the third woe cometh quickly; which evidently
refers to the utter and final overthrow of the city. The
details are not further given. They are sealed up like the
voice of the seven thunders. It is sufficient to call it woe,
and it is perhaps kind to leave the rest undescribed.
Vs. 15-17. And the seventh angel sounded. Whether
the last crash of judgment on the doomed city fell at the
sounding of this seventh trumpet or fell with the last woe
of the sixth trumpet, is not of much importance. The six
yS THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
16. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on
their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17. Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to
thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
trumpets may have been sufficient to describe the catas-
trophe, or maybe the final chmax at the end of the sixth
or the beginning of the seventh may be sealed up in the
voice of the seven thunders. Be that as it may we have
here, in the final delineation, the results and effects of
the preceding- events, of the treading under of Jerusalem.
This may indeed be all that the seventh trumpet was in-
tended to reveal, that is, the moral and spiritual outcome
when the persecutor was destroyed.
Now we are shown a scene in heaven; when the sev-
enth angel sounded and the stroke of divine judgment had
fallen, then there were great voices in heaven saying:
"The kingdom of this world has become our Lord's and he
shall reign forever and ever. And the twenty-four elders
fell on their faces and worshipped God." Here is the ex-
ultation of heaven over that which has taken place on
earth. But how does this fit in with the view that we
have been dealing here with the overthrow of Jerusalem?
We will see, I think, that this is a proper climax and a
proper result. In verse 18 the elders go on to say: "And
the nations were angry and thy wrath is come." Jerusa-
lem had stoned the prophets as Christ said, then crucified
the Lord of glory, and later persecuted and martyred the
apostles and saints, and now "thy wrath is come and the
time of the dead that they should be judged," Not all the
dead as if this were the final judgment at the end of the
world, (we will find that at the end of chapter 20) but
this refers to those martyred dead who had fallen in the
persecutions. In chapter six we saw them under the altar
in heaven praying: "How long Lord, holy and true, dost
thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell
on the earth ?" Now here it is said, 'And the time of the
dead is come that they should be judged or avenged and
that thou shouldst reward thy servants that fear thy
name.' They were assured in chapter six that it would be
yet a little season and now that little season has run, the
doom has fallen on the persecutor, or as here said, that
thou "shouldst destroy them that destroy the earth."
CHAPTER XL 79
18. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and
the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou
shouldst give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the
saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldst
destroy them which destroy the earth.
19. And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there
was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were
lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and
Now this does fit in with the overthrow of Jerusalem.
Heaven rejoices that the persecutor of the saints is no
more. The first great opposer is swept away, and "the
kingdoms of this world," no, rather the rule or sway of
this world belongs to Christ. Now the kingdom was real-
ly given to Christ at his ascension ; but two things had to
happen before it was rightly on its way as a world con-
quering power. The first was spiritual, the outpouring of
the Spirit at Pentecost; and the second was physical, the
breaking down of the barrier of Judaism in the fall of the
first great opposer. Then Christianity became a world re-
V. 19. And the temple of God was open in heaven and
in it the ark of his testament and there were lightnings,
voices, thunderings, earthquake, and great hail. These
were the echoes in heaven of the smash and crash and
cataclysm that had occurred on earth. Elsewhere in Rev-
elation where thunders and lightnings and earthquake
and hail, etc. are visioned, they are tokens of judgment
and so evidently they are here. The judgment had fallen.
Jerusalem was trodden down.
This ends the first half of the book. It culminates in
the destruction of Jerusalem as the first great persecuting
power against the infant church. Then after this the
book moves on to the destruction of Rome as the second
great persecuting power as we shall see in subsequent
chapters. That this is the true view of the book must be
evident to all who have followed this exposition with any
degree of comprehension.
We have seen how it was addressed to the people and
churches of John's day as a stimulus and encouragement
to them in the trying scenes which they were facing. We
have heard John say that these things would shortly come
to pass, but he never says it would be a long time.
8o THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
We have seen how the martyred saints in heaven were
assured that it would yet be just a little season till their
martyrdom was avenged. We have seen how the culmina-
ting events were located in Jerusalem, described as the
city where our Lord was crucified. We have seen that the
altar and temple and city were standing and then it was
given over to be trodden under foot by the Gentiles for
three and a half years.
We have seen the armies described in terrible imagery
that came to besiege and destroy. We have seen the mor-
al and spiritual aim or purpose or result that the rule or
sway or sovereignty over this world belongs to Jesus
Christ. The very outcome of this series of visions shows
the impotence of pun}^ man to oppose the onward march
of the kingdom of Christ. He will overturn and overturn
till he reigns whose right it is.
If this is not the true interpretation of this book, then
we may despair of finding one. How could the facts and
events which we have passed in review fit any other mould
than that which has been given? This is the plain sens-
ible view of the book as evidently indicated by the writer
himself who penned these prophecies. And if this is the
true view, then all other views are logically ruled out ; for
there can be only one true view however many imaginary
views there may be.
CHAPTER XII. 8l
1. y\.nd there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman
clothjd with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her
head a crown of twelve stars:
2. And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pain-
ed to be delivered.
We have now come to a new section in the book of
Revelation beginning with chapter twelve. The preceding
section, chapters four and eleven inclusive, is ended. The
seven seals are all loosed; the seven trumpets have all
sounded, and what they signified has now been disclosed.
These all portended the destruction of Jerusalem as the
first great persecutor of the Christian church. That cli-
max has been reached; and all that was meant by the
seals and trumpets has now been revealed; and with the
ending of the seals and trumpets that section of Revela-
tion came to a close. In a little booklet, by J.H. McConkey,
we find the writer connecting the seventh trumpet with
the seven vials of subsequent chapters so as to make the
seventh trumpet include the vials ; but there is no ground
in the book of Revelation for such a position. The two
series are distinct as the two historical situations are dis-
tinct, and the line of cleavage is here between the elev-
enth and twelfth chapters.
The next section begins with chapter twelve and ends
with chapter nineteen. And as the last section dealt with
the first great persecutor, this section on which we are
entering deals with the second great persecutor, Rome.
Vs. 1,2. There appears in the prophet's vision a won-
derful woman ; clothed with the sun, with the moon under
her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. Who
is this woman? We will understand that better when
some other features of the vision are brought before us.
In the meantime keep in mind, who was this woman?
This woman was on the verge of motherhood. Some not-
able one was to be born of her.
82 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
3. And there appeared anotlier wonder in heaven; and behold
a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven
crowns upon his heads.
4. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and
did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman
which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as
it was born.
5. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all na-
tions with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God,
and to his throne.
Vs. 3,4- And there appeared a great red dragon, hav-
ing seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his
heads. His tail drew the third part of the stars, and did
cast them to the earth, and the dragon stood before the
woman to devour her child as soon as it was born.
There is no difficulty about the identity of the dragon,
for in verse nine he is described as "the great dragon,
that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan." That set-
tles who he is.
"His tail drew a third part of the stars," fallen an-
gels perhaps, or wicked men in high places. That they
followed his tail may be an expression of contempt for the
foolishness and baseness of their allegiance. At least he
went before and they followed. And there are men as
well as fallen angels that are assiduous and devoted fol-
lowers of the Devil's tail ; and they follow the Devil's tail
more readily than some nobler and worthier leader.
Now the Devil was quick at strategy, and designed to
destroy the woman's offspring as soon as it was born. He
was early on the job, to gain the first signal advantage
and forestall all comers. But there is one quicker and
mightier than he for whom the Devil is no match ; as we
V. 5. "And she brought forth a man child who was
to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and her child was
caught up unto God and to his throne." It is at once rec-
ognized who this child was. Who is to rule all nations but
Jesus Christ? The words "rod of iron" are taken from
the description of Christ's rule in the second psalm. And
that this child was caught up to God and to his throne
describes Jesus Christ and no one else.
CHAPTER XII. 83
6. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a
place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand
two hundred and threescore days.
7. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought
against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8. And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more
9. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called
the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast
out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Now we are ready to say that the woman, clothed with
the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a
crown of twelve stars, represents the church of God. The
twelve stars may have reference to the twelve tribes of
Israel. The true Israel, the Zion of God, gives us the in-
carnate Christ, Out of the bosom of the church comes
Jesus Christ into the world as the promised Messiah who
was to be the "seed of the woman."
V. 6. "And the woman fled into the wilderness where
she hath a place prepared of God." Since the Devil could
not destroy Jesus Christ he could still persecute the
church. This indicates the condition which the church
has to face and is the forecast of the scenes that are to
follow. Persecution is the Devil's work from the begin-
ning, and the church early felt his power. But God is the
protector of the church and has her safely provided for;
"a place prepared of God where they should feed her 1260
days. This 1260 days is a term borrowed from Daniel
where it was a period of persecution, and has become the
symbol of any period of persecution. And as long as the
Devil persecutes the church the Lord will protect and feed
her. Thus early in this section we have the outline of the
story, the persecution of the church and the divine pro-
tection and deliverance. The completed section will fill
in the outline.
Vs. 7-12. There was war in heaven and the Devil and
his angels were cast out. And a voice said : "Now is come
salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and
the power of his Christ for the accuser of our brethren is
cast down, which accused them before our God day and
84 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
10. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come
salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power
of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which
accused them before our God day and night.
11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the
word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
12. Therefore rejoice ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them.
Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea, for the devil is
come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that
he hath but a short time.
13. And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth,
he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
We have little knowledge of the Devil's relation to
space and place or whether he can appear in heaven or
not ; but we remember in this connection that in the pro-
logue to the book of Job we see Satan presenting himself
before God and accusing Job. This seems to be a similar
representation. And here the old accuser is cast out. We
remember again that Jesus Christ said just before his
death and resurrection and ascension, as he looked for-
ward to them, "Now is the judgment of this world, now
shall the Prince of this world be cast out;" Jno. 12:31.
Again when the seventy disciples reported the success of
their preaching mission, Christ replied: "I beheld Satan
as lightning fall from heaven;" Lk. 10:18. So the mean-
ing here seems to be that the resurrection and ascension
of Christ was the staggering blow to Satan's kingdom,
and foretokened the ultimate overthrow of his power.
When Christ arose from the dead and ascended to the
throne of God it was eviction-notice served on Satan.
Verse five gave us the scene of ascension and the follow-
ing verses give us the victory and prelude of coming vic-
tories consequent upon that ascension. It is the after-
math of Christ's victory from the time of his ascension
with which we are dealing here.
V. 13. "And when the dragon saw that he was cast
unto the earth he persecuted the woman which brought
forth the man-child." Since he could not destroy the om-
nipotent Son of God he persecutes the church to show iiis
hate toward Christ and every thing that is his. And liere
we have the church in this part of Revelation, if not by
name, in adequate description at least, being further de-
scribed in verse seventeen as the remnant of the woman's
seed "which keep the commandments of God and have the
testimony of Jesus Christ."
CHAPTER XII. 85
14. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle,
that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is
nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of
15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after
the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16. And the earth helped the woman; and the earth opened
her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out
of his mouth.
17. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to
make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the command-
ments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Vs. 14-17. And the woman is given the wings of a
great eagle to fly into the wilderness where God has a
place to protect and nourish her. The Lord provided a
way of escape for the persecuted church, which lifted it
out of the reach of the Devil's power. The Devil is repre-
sented as a crawling serpent ; but the church as flying on
Then the serpent cast out of his mouth a flood of wa-
ter after the woman to carry her away with the flood.
But he fails again. The earth helped the woman by open-
ing her mouth and swallowing up the flood. God is never
short of means. All the resources of earth and heaven are
at his command. Here we see how the providences of the
world are on the side of God's church. The stars in their
courses fought against Sisera, which may refer to the
storms that helped Israel win her battle; and here the
earth puts forth her helping hand to save God's people
and God's cause. The God of the church is the God of na-
ture, and the God of providence; and he can command
them in any exigency that may arise.
The closing word of the chapter is that " the dragon
was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with
the remnant of her seed." The following chapters will
show some of that warfare as it pertains to the next per-
iod of the church's life. The twelfth chapter has been
setting the stage for the next era of persecution, which
we are now ready to consider. The twelfth chapter began
by bringing Christ upon the scene as the Messiah born of
the woman. It proceeded to show the design of Satan to
destroy the Saviour of the world. But Satan's eff'orts
proved futile, for Christ was taken up to God and to his
throne. Then Satan turned his attention to persecuting
the church ; and the next chapter continues the story.
86 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise
up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his
horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his
feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a
lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great
Vs. 1,2. John stood on the sand of the sea and saw a
wild beast rise up out of the sea; but though it rose out
of the sea its description shows it to be a land beast, and
not a sea monster ; for it was like a leopard with the feet
of a bear and the mouth of a lion.
It had seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten
crowns, and on his heads names of blasphemy, significant
of its evil nature. This description indicates a civil power ;
and the visions of Daniel have made us familiar with such
imagery representing great world powers.
What power is represented by this beast ? We are not
left in doubt about this. We have in chapter seventeen an
inspired explanation of the symbols used in these visions.
When God gives us the key to the meaning we need look
no farther, nor invent meanings different from those sup-
plied by our divine guide. There it is made very clear that
the beast is the Roman empire. The seven heads are said
to represent both the seven hills of Rome and the seven
emperors that ruled ; which seven emperors they were we
shall soon discover.
Here in the second verse we are told that the dragon,
the red dragon of the last chapter who was the Devil and
Satan, gave the beast his power, and his seat, and his
authority. The Devil had gone to make war, or to perse-
cute the seed of the woman which keep the command-
ments of God. Accordingly he does it through this great
world power, the empire of Rome. Rome becomes the
Devil's agent. History tells us of the persecutions of
Rome; how Paul was beheaded, and Peter crucified head
downwards ; how the Christians were thrown to the lions,
exposed to the cold, drowned in rivers, thrown into caul-
drons of boiling oil, daubed with pitch and burned for
CHAPTER XIII. 87
3. And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death;
and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after
4. And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto
the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto
the beast?' who is able to make war with him?
5. And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great
things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue
forty and two months.
6. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to
blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in
torchlights; how every conceivable torture was inflicted
on them ; how all the might and power of the Roman em-
pire were exerted to extirpate them, till the church at
length conquered its persecutor. The story of Justin
Martyr, the story of Polycarp, the story of Origen and a
thousand others, the history of the catacombs, and the
history of the Roman dungeons will all tell, how the drag-
on, the Devil, gave his power to the Roman empire to do
his persecuting work against God's people.
V. 3. "And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded
to death ; and his deadly wound was healed." This further
serves to identify the beast with Rome ; and also to locate
in time some of these important events.
Chapter seventeen shows us that there were seven
kings and that they were successive ; for he says, "five are
fallen, one is, and one is yet to come." If this is the Caesar
dynasty, as it evidently is, then the head, or king, with
the deadly wound was clearly Julius Caesar the founder
of the empire. And the wound of that head, the killing
of Julius Caesar, did not kill the beast at all ; the deadly
wound was healed. Though Julius Caesar was killed as a
protest against autocracy, it did not destroy it in the
least; the empire lived on, and Julius was followed by
other Caesars more autocratic than he would have dared
to be. The deadly wound was healed and the beast lived
on to do the Devil's work.
V. 4. And they worshiped both the dragon and the
beast, saying, "Who is like unto the beast? who is able to
make war with him?" How the world worships power and
sides with the strong !
88 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
7. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and
to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindred, and
tongues, and nations.
8. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose
names arc not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from
the foundation of the world.
9. If any man have an ear, let him hear.
10. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he
that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is
the patience and the faith of the saints.
But were the emperors of Rome really worshiped?
Gibbon, the historian of Rome, is authority for that fact.
And another historian asserts of Caligula, one of the sev-
en emperors, represented by these seven heads: "he began
to regard himself as something more than a mere mortal,
and to claim divine honors ; and finally he erected a temple
to himself and instituted a college of priests to superin-
tend his- own worship." And so John goes on to say, in
verses 5, 6, that he spake great blasphemies against God,
to blaspheme his name, his tabernacle, and them that
dwell in heaven.
Vs. 7,8. The beast made war with the saints to over-
come them, and all shall worship him whose names are
not written in the book of life. All the wiles of the Devil
and the power of the persecutor will not cause the true
Christian to sink into apostasy. He endures to the end.
He is faithful unto death. The name that is written in
the Lamb's book of life will never be blotted out. See
These words were written to those who lived in the
midst of some of these persecutions. It would encourage
them in facing the struggle to know that God would not
suffer them to be overcome. And it is equally as good a
"The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose.
He'll never, no never, desert to his foes.
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake,
He'll never, no never, no never forsake."
V. 10. "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into
captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed
with the sword." Here is the irony of fate. A man reaps
what he sows. God's retributions are sure whether they
be swift or slow, and they are generally swift.
CHAPTER XIII. 89
11. And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth;
and he had two horns, like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
12. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before
him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to wor-
ship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
13. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come
down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
14. And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means
of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the
beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should
make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and
Vs. 11-14. John saw another beast coming up out of
the earth having two horns hke a lamb. He does not look
fierce and terrible like the first beast ; he is somewhat like
a lamb. But he is not as innocent as he looks; his mild
look was just the sheep's clothing that covered the wolf;
he had only borrowed the livery of heaven to serve the
Devil in. He does great wonders and works great mira-
cles, makes fire come down from heaven. Thus he de-
ceives people and leads them to worship the beast whose
deadly wound was healed.
This second, lamblike, beast supports and promotes the
power of the first beast that had the seven heads and ten
"horns. "He spake like a dragon," "he exercised the power
of the first beast." He works to continue and exalt that
first beast ; no doubt by promoting idolatry, king-worship,
and blasphemy against the true God.
Who or what is this beast? As the first beast was a
civil power, this beast is evidently a religious power. He
is lamblike in outward aspect, works miracles, and makes
an image to the beast. This suggests religious activities.
And so this second beast is rightly recognized as the Pa-
gan religion or pagan priesthood. This Pagan religion sup-
ported the imperial power. It helped to hold up the hands
of the emperors. It supported the civil authority, and
especially lent its aid in the persecution of the Christians,
and the Christian church. Thus it served the cause and
power of the first beast.
I may mention another view of this lamblike beast
that has had considerable prevalence. Many interpreters
have made this second, beast to be the Papacy. They
would find Fopery or Papal Rome in this dragon-beast
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
15. And he had power to give life unto the image of the
beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause
that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should
that wore the appearance of a lamb. Now we have no de-
sire to excuse the Papacy; it has sins enough to answer
for, and I am not for whitewashing its record, nor shut-
ting any ones eyes to its dangerous power ; yet I think an
accurate and careful interpretation will not warrant us in
identifying this second beast with the Papacy. It is all a
matter of sound interpretation. And just as I repudiate
the Premillennial interpretation of these chapters as inac-
curate and impossible, so I decline to make this beast sig-
nify the Papacy; because it does not fit the case nor the
place. These two beasts that persecuted the church were
contemporaneous as has been clearly seen ; but the perse-
cutions of Pagan Rome and the persecutions of Papal
Rome were a thousand years apart.
The beasts in this chapter co-operate. The second
beast supports and magnifies the first. But we cannot say
that Papal Rome was the upholder and supporter of the
old dynasties of Pagan emperors. All history vetoes such
a conclusion as that. Papal Rome did become a persecut-
ing power; but not in conjunction with the old Roman
empire; but centuries after Pagan Rome was dead. So
however much we would like to castigate the Papacy, and
however much she deserves it, the principles of sane and
sound criticism will not furnish us an opportunity in these
chapters of Revelation ; for Pagan Rome and Papal Rome
were never contemporaneous and co-operative.
But if this lamblike, dragon-speaking beast is not the
Papacy, it certainly does fit the case and place of the Pa-
gan religion of old Rome, which supported the imperial
power and abetted the persecutions of the early Christian
V. 15. Here we are told: "He had power to give life
to the image of the beast and cause that as many as would
not worship the image of the beast should be killed." The
Pagan religion gave animus to the persecution of those
who did not worship at the heathen shrines, and was hand
in glove with the civil power in persecuting the Christian
16. And he causetli all, both small and great, rich and poor,
free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their
17. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the"
mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. ;■'*
18. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count
the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his
number is Six hundred threescore and six.
Vs. 16,17. And he put a mark in the hand or fore-
heads of men so that no man could buy or sell unless he
had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of
his name. This was to boycott or ostracise the Christians,
and deprive them of the common rights of citizens, or the
common rights of humanity. The pressure of economic
distress was to be laid on them to compel them to con-
V. 18. "Here is wisdom. Let him that hath under-
standing count the number of the beast; for it is the
number of a man (or a man's number) ; and his number is
six hundred three score and six," This number 666 is
called the "number of the beast," and also "the number of
a man." It is quite plausible that as the beast is the Ro-
man empire, the man that is thus co-ordinated with the
beast is the man who stands at the head of the empire as
ruler or emperor. That would be the most likely ground
of identification. The emperor stands for the empire and
his number is 666.
Now it is a well known fact that both in Greek and
Hebrew the letters of the alphabet stand for certain num-
bers, or have certain numerical values. In Hebrew the
first letter, Aleph, is one; the second, Beth, is two; and
the tenth is ten. But the eleventh is twenty, the nine-
teenth is one hundred, and the twentieth is two hundred,
etc. See "A Grammar of the Hebrew Language" by
William Henry Green, page 3.
Thus a man's name in Hebrew would result in a cer-
tain number by adding together the values of the letters
composing the name. Now it is very significant that if
we take the name of Nero in Hebrew, in the form in which
it is often found in Hebrew writings, Neron Caesar, and
add the value of the letters we get 666.
92 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
This is as reasonable proof as we could expect that the
beast that came up out of the sea was the Roman empire ;
and that the reigning monarch was Nero ; and that Nero
was the emperor when this book was written. This is one
of the great land-marks of the book, furnished by the
book itself to tell us when the book was written ; and what
is far more important, to tell us what the book was writ-
ten about. If we give any heed at all to the reading of
this section, chapters 12-19, we will see that it pertains
to the times of the Roman empire, and not to some future
period that has not yet dawned. This does not make it
any less valuable to us ; rather more so ; for we have the
light of God's past rule and providence to guide us where
we need guidance, to warn us where we need warning, and
to encourage us when we need encouragement.
1. And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and
with him a hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's
name written in their foreheads.
2. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many
waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice
of harpers harping with their harps:
3. And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and
before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that
song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were re-
deemed from the earth.
4. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they
are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever
he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-
fruits unto God and to the Lamb.
5. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are with-
out fault before the throne of God.
The thirteenth chapter showed us the persecutions,
by war and economic pressure, inflicted upon the early-
Christian church by the dragon, the beast, and the lamb-
Kke beast; which were symbols of the Devil, the Roman
Empire, and the Pagan religion.
Any church history will tell of the dreadful persecu-
tions inflicted on the church during the first three cen-
turies or until the church had won the empire to Chris-
The thirteenth chapter gave us a glimpse of the perse-
cution. Now the fourteenth chapter opens with a differ-
Vs. 1-5. Here is seen the Lamb of God standing on
Mt. Zion with 144,000 redeemed souls. There was a great
anthem in heaven that rose in mighty crescendo like the
roar of the sea and the roll of mighty thunder. There
were voices of harpers harping with their harps, and sing-
ing a new song which none could learn except those re-
deemed ones around the throne. Then follows the traits
of their character. They were "virgins," unpolluted by
idolatry. "They follow the Lamb." They were "redeem-
ed from among men," "the first fruits unto God and to
the Lamb, etc."
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
That no one could learn their song was doubtless be-
cause it was the song of redemption; the angels might
look -v^ith admiration and wonder on the work of redemp-
tion, but they have no experience of it. They can never
sing: "for he hath redeemed us by his blood." The re-
deemed can sing a song that the angels cannot sing.
But why do we have this scene here at the beginning
of the fourteenth chapter ? We were in the midst of per-
secutions on earth and suddenly we are transported to
heaven to hear the songs of the redeemed around God's
throne. Why this break in the continuity of the story?
Now it will be recalled that the same thing appears in the
previous section of the book. While the seals were being
opened that foretokened the judgments upon Jerusalem,
there was a pause made between the sixth and seventh
seals, and the curtains of heaven were drawn back and we
were permitted to see, in the seventh chapter, the 144,000
redeemed and a great multitude that no man could num-
ber with white robes, and palms in their hands, singing
their song of redemption, and ascribing salvation unto
God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb.
It is plain that here in the fourteenth chapter we have a
duplicate of the scene in the seventh chapter ; and evident-
ly for the same reason. This is for the encouragement of
the persecuted church on earth.
John was \\-riting to Christians who were having their
daily trials and temptations. The allurements of heathen
immorahty were before their eyes every day; the threat
of bodily harm, and the pressure of economic privation
were goading them to give up their virtue and their faith.
These scenes of heaven and the happiness of the re-
deemed were to show that God had better things to be-
stow than the world could afford. These scenes are for
the moral effect, and the spiritual incentive to the tempt-
ed, persecuted, struggling church.
And this should have the same moral effect upon our
hearts today, girding us to meet our temptations, and
bear our trials, and to be faithful unto death, enduring as
«ieeing him who is invisible.
CHAPTER XIV. 95
6. And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having
the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth,
and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and'people,
7. Saying with a loud voice. Fear God, and give glory to him;
for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made
heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
8. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen,
is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the
wine of the wrath of her fornication.
9. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice,
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark
in his forehead, or in his hand,
10. The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God,
which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation;
and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence
of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and
ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast
and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
If we have been disposed to think that there is nothing
practical in Revelation, we have not penetrated its sur-
face. What is the whole book about, but the trials of the
Christian on earth, the doom of the wicked, and the glori-
ous reward of those who are faithful unto death ? Go and
meet your fiery trials as did the faithful in John's day,
and you will wear the crown, and wave the palm, and sing
a song that the angels cannot sing.
Vs. 6-11. This passage gives us the messages of three
angels. The first angel was seen flying and having (the)
everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the
earth. Is this the gospel of salvation to the world ?, what
we usually mean by the term "everlasting gospel?" It
might seem so because of the very terms used, "everlast-
ing gospel." Or is his gospel the announcement of the
doom and judgment on the persecutor? This view is fav-
ored by the words which he actually speaks for he says:
"The hour of his (God's) judgment is come," that is on
the persecutor. That question perhaps we need not decide-
too stringently, for maybe one view really involves the
other. At any rate, his message was: "Fear God and
worship him that made all things, for he is the judge and
the hour of his judgment is come." And the following
angels will have something more to say about it. Then
the second angel followed saying: "Babylon is fallen, is
fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink
96 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
12. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep
the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." The last
word is a Bible synonym for idolatry, perhaps including
also all its vices.
Here we first meet the name Babylon. What was this
Babylon, declared to be fallen ? Now there is no doubt in
my mind that this Babylon was Rome. For in the seven-
teenth chapter we are shown a woman gaudily dressed,
called a harlot, with the name Babylon on her forehead,
and the last verse of the chapter 17:18 says: "And the
woman which thou sawest is that great city which reign-
eth over the kings of the earth." This is absolutely con-
clusive that Babylon is the name given to Rome in the
Apocalypse and that here we are dealing with the times
of Pagan Rome, and not with a future period denominat-
ed, "The Tribulation." Rome was called Babylon because
sort of a duplicate of old Babylon, in that she was a per-
secutor of God's people, she was intensely idolatrous, and
she was doomed to overthrow for her sins.
The third angel follows the other two declaring the
wrath of God upon the worshipers of the beast. They
shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, and the smoke
of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever.
Just as John showed in the beginning of the chapter
the blessedness of those who worshiped the Lamb, so now
he shows, with terrible imagery, the punishment of those
that worship the beast. For the one eternal blessedness
in heaven, for the other, eternal torment in hell.
V. 12. Observe the climax and the moral purpose of
this verse, the best rendering of which is: "Here is the
patience of the saints who keep the commandments of
God, and the faith of Jesus."
This is the personal appeal or exhortation. It virtually
says : Be patient in your trials ; or, here is a reason why
you should be patient ; here is reason for heroic endurance
even to martyrdom and death. Your sufferings will be
short and your glory will be long; but as for the idolators
and persecutors, their triumph will be short and their tor-
ment will be long. Here is the reason for patience.
CHAPTER XIV. 97
13. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write,
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea,
saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their
works do follow them.
14. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the
cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden
crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
15. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a
loud voice to him that sat on the cloud. Thrust in thy sickle, and
reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the
earth is ripe.
16. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the
earth; and the earth was reaped.
17. And another angel came out of the temple which is in
heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18. And another angel came out from the altar, which had
power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp
sickle, saying. Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of
the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gath-
ered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of
the wrath of God.
20. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood
came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space
of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
V. 13. A voice said: "Write, Blessed are the dead
which die in the Lord from henceforth." From hence-
forth, yes, though you are thrown to the hons in the
ampitheatre, though you are daubed with pitch and burn-
ed for a torch-hght at a garden party, though your head
rolls from the block at the stroke of the executioner's axe,
yes even thus you are blessed a thousand times above
These scenes and these exhortations evidently had
special reference to the persecutions then being endured
and further impending, but they come with the same force
and applicability to every man in any age who lives his
Christian life at the mouth of a fiery furnace.
Vs. 14-20. The last seven verses of this chapter pre-
sent two scenes.
Scene first: One hke the Son of Man sat on a white
cloud with a sharp sickle in his hand. And an angel said :
Thrust in thy sickle and reap, for the time is come for
thee to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he
that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle, and the earth
98 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Scene second: An angel appears with a sharp sickle,
and another angel cries : Thrust in thy sickle and gather
the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are
fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle, gathered
the vine of the earth, cast it into the great wine-press of
the wrath of God, and the wine-press was trodden without
the city and blood came out of the wine-press, even unto
the horse-bridles, by the space of 1600 furlongs.
Some slight differences appear as between these two
scenes. In one, the reaper was Christ; in the other, an
angel. In one, the harvest seems to be of grain; in the
other, the harvest of the vineyard. Then follows the
pressing of grapes, and 200 miles of blood, horse-deep,
flows from the wine-press. Is there any other difference ?
Does the first scene represent the gathering of the right-
eous and the second represent the gathering of the wick-
ed? Or do both stand for the judgment of the wicked?
Since we are dealing with the judgment of an evil power,
the latter view may be best. At any rate the second scene
is an appalling scene of wrath and judgment on the ene-
mies of God. Two hundred miles of blood up to the bridles
of the horses is certainly appalling enough, and perhaps
further suggests that the judgment that would fall on
this enemy of God and the church, would come in the
form of war.
CHAPTER XV. 99
1. And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous,
seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up
the wrath of God.
2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and
them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image,
and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the
sea of glass, having the harps of God.
3. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and
the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works.
Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
4. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for
thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before
thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
5. And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the
tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
6. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the
seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their
breasts girded with golden girdles.
7. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven
golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
8. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of
God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the
temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
V. 1. "And I saw another sign in heaven, great and
marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues, for
in them is filled up the wrath of God."
Just as there were seven seals and seven trumpets
which were symbols of judgment upon Jerusalem; so now
there are seven vials that are symbols of judgment upon
They are called the seven last plagues; they were the
last as regards Rome ; the last warning she would get be-
fore her downfall. God gives men space to repent, he
bears long and warns often for he is slow to anger and
plenteous in mercy; but the last time comes at length.
Vs. 2-8. Then follows another scene in heaven. The
course of events pauses a little before those angels pour
out their vials of wrath. And while the judgment holds
back a little time, we are given to see the saints in heaven
that have gotten the victory over the beast and over his
image and his mark and the number of his name.
lOO THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
And they stand on a sea of glass and with the harps of
God, they sing the song of Moses and the song of the
Lamb. No doubt it is called the song of Moses in reference
to the song that Moses sang on the banks of the Red Sea.
That was a song in thanksgiving for deliverance ; and this
song of the saints is the same. It is called the song of the
Lamb because they overcame by the blood of the Lamb
and by the gracious strength afforded by a triumphant,
risen, and ascended Redeemer. That little scene in heav-
en, before judgment falls, foretokens victory.
And the seven angels came out of the temple of God
in heaven and were given the seven vials full of the wrath
of God. And the temple was filled with smoke from the
glory of God, and from his power, and no man was able to
enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven
angels were fulfilled.
That the temple was filled with smoke indicated that
God was in his temple. When Solomon dedicated the tem-
ple which he built, it was filled with a cloud to indicate
God's presence and glory so that the priests could not
minister by reason of the cloud.
Here it is said, no man was able to enter this temple in
heaven till the seven plagues were fulfilled. This was no
doubt to show that no intercession would now avail for
the doomed sinners. Their day of grace was past. The
judgment was now to fall without let or hindrance, just
as we saw in the case of Jerusalem that an angel stood on
the land and sea and lifted up his hand and swore that
time should be no longer, or that no more delay should be
granted. So here Rome has come to her judgment, and
the vials of wrath, will be poured out, and nothing will
avail to stay the judgment.
CHAPTER XVI. loi
1. And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the
seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of
God upon the earth.
2. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth;
and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had
the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
3. And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and
it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in
4. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and
fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5. And I heard the angel of the waters say. Thou art right-
eous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast
6. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and
thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
7. And I heard another out of the altar say. Even so. Lord
God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
8. And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and
power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
Chapter sixteen relates the pouring out of the vials.
And they bear a close resemblance to the opening of the
seals and the sounding of the trumpets in the preceding
section of the Book. As previouslj^ we saw plagues fall
on the grass and trees, the sea, rivers, and fountains, and
upon the sun, and moon, and stars; as there were clouds
of locusts and armies of horsemen, and angels unloosed at
the river Euphrates, so here the plagues fall on sea, and
rivers, and fountains, on the sun, on the throne of the
beast, on the river Euphrates, and lastly upon the air.
These were the judgments that fell on this great ene-
my of God, or, foretokened the judgment that was to fall.
We are told in the tenth verse that the fifth angel
poured out his vial on the seat of the beast, which evi-
dently meant the seat of government of this persecuting
power. Imperial Rome.
Verse twelve tells us that the sixth angel poured out
his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water
thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the
East might be prepared.
I02 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
9. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed
the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they
repented not to give him glory.
10. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the
beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their
tongues for pain,
11. And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains
and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
12. And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great
river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way
of the kings of the east might be prepared.
13. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the
mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of
the mouth of the false prophet.
We may remember in this connection that the doom of
old Babylon was achieved by turning aside the waters of
the Euphrates. As we use the word Waterloo as a symbol
of defeat, they may have used the drying of the Euphra-
tes as a symbol of defeat. "That the way of the kings of
the East might be prepared." It is said that some of
those nations in the far East first broke the prestige of
Rome, and eventually the invading hordes from Asia and
northern Europe completed her downfall and this sug-
gests what is meant by the drying of the Euphrates, the
coming of destructive armies.
V. 13. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs
come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the
mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false
Observe carefully the terms of this verse and see what
it proves. What did we have in chapters twelve and thir-
teen? Why, dragon, beast, and lamb-like beast, that is,
the beast that had the two horns. What do we have here?
The dragon? Yes. The beast? Yes. But what is the last
beast called, the beast with the two horns that completes
the trio? Here he is called the false prophet. Therefore
John identifies that lamb-like beast with the false proph-
et; and thus we were right in identifying that two-horned
beast with the false religion, or Pagan religion of Rome.
It is by giving attention to these things that we get the
meaning of the Apocalypse.
CHAPTER XVI. 103
14. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which
go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to
gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
15. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and
keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
16. And he gathered them together into a place called in the
Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
17. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and
there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the
throne, saying. It is done.
Verse fourteen tells us that these frogs that came out
of the mouths of that trio are the spirits of devils, that
they go to the kings of the earth to gather them to the
battle of that great day of God Almighty.
V. 15. Behold I come as a thief. God's judgments
come unexpectedly. This seems to be a parenthesis, and
then verse sixteen goes on to say: "And he, (or they,
meaning the frog-like spirits) gathered them (meaning
the kings or nations before mentioned) together into a
place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. Armaged-
don gets its name from Mt. Megiddo in Palestine. It is a
place famous for battle and slaughter. It was where De-
borah and Barak slaughtered the Canaanites, and where
King Josiah fell in battle with the Egyptians. It would
mean in those days what Waterloo means to us, and would
be used in the same way. Its use here would indicate a
place or scene of great slaughter. I take it that it is used
here in that symbolical sense, but meant that Rome was
coming to her Armageddon where she would go down in
battle and slaughter.
The notion that Armageddon refers to some great
cataclysm of the world's affairs in the future is hardly
warranted. Any great disaster to a warring nation is an
Armageddon. The Confederacy met its Armageddon at
Gettysburg, and the Germans met their Armageddon at
the Marne, and Rome was to meet her Armageddon.
Vs. 17,18. And the seventh angel poured out his vial
into the air, (the Devil is called the prince of the power
of the air) and a great voice from heaven said: "It is
done." Yes it is done, the last vial emptied, and the judg-
ment executed. "And there were voices, and thunders,
and lightnings, and a great earthquake, such as was not
since men were upon earth, so mighty an earthquake and
I04 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
18. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and
there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon
the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
19. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the
cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance
before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness
of his wrath.
20. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not
21. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every
stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God be-
cause of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceed-
These are almost the exact words that we found in the
eleventh chapter at the fall of Jerusalem, and as remarked
then, they are descriptive of great judgments.
And this is borne out by the next verse as we see what
V. 19. And the great city was divided into three
parts, and the cities of the nations fell, (the Sinaitic
manuscript has city, in the singular as if referring to
Rome alone, yet the plural is perfectly consistent with the
view we maintain, for the empire had many cities) and
great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give
unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his
Now it ought to be perfectly plain to what end all this
intricate story has been leading, namely to the overthrow
of Rome, here called Babylon, because she was the second
great persecutor of the Christian church.
Plain as this is now, it will be still more evident when
we pass in examination the two chapters of this section
which are to follow. The last two verses of this chapter
need no special comment; they are just vividly descriptive
statements or rather symbols of the great judgment that
has fallen. But the saddest note that is struck is that
men blasphemed God because of their judgments, instead
of repenting; which shows what incorrigible sinners they
CHAPTER XVI. 105
We are thus brought, at the end of this chapter, to the
judgment on Rome, here called Babylon; the enemy of
God and the persecutor of his people. We have seen how
Rome as the beast, and the agent of the dragon, the Devil,
through the agency of the false prophet, persecuted the
woman and her seed, which represented the church, and
how God has brought her to judgment for it.
The next two chapters will bring out some more de-
tails and make increasingly clear the identity of the char-
acters that have moved in these scenes. In the mean time
we are to remember that the spiritual lessons are just as
applicable to us today as they were to old Rome. If she
could not sin with impunity neither can we. If her oppo-
sition to God met with terrible and awful retribution in
the fire and brimstone whose smoke ascendeth forever
and ever, we may be sure that all sin, unrepented and un-
forgiven, will meet with retribution, and that the wages
of sin is death.
lo6 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And there came one of the seven angels which had the sev-
en vials, and talked with me, saying unto me. Come hither; I will
shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon
2. With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornica-
tion, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with
the wine of her fornication.
3. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of
blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
We are fortunate in having chapter seventeen in the
book of Revelation, for it serves to explain much of the
symbolism of the book that otherwise would appear vague.
And whatever explanations God gives of the meaning of
this book are infinitely better than all the guesses men
This book was given by God. He knows its meaning
and what he says in explanation of it is final.
Vs. 1, 2. An angel comes to John and proposes to
show him the judgment of the great whore that sitteth
on many waters. In chapter sixteen we had the vials
poured out and all the striking symbolism of the judg-
ment that was to fall; and now the angel says he will
explain it more fully. He calls the object of this judg-
ment a whore that sitteth upon many waters. The whore
is afterwards shown to be a city and the many waters are
peoples and nations and tongues. It is here said that "the
inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the
wine of her fornication." Her idolatry had permeated the
world. The Old Testament had used the words adultery
and fornication to describe idolatry. Some have thought
that these words were used only when Israel, God's cov-
enant people, were guilty of defection and fell into idola-
try, and therefore they couldn't be applied to pagan Rome.
But these words in the Old Testament are applied to other
nations such as Babylon and Nineveh, and may here apply
to pagan Rome for papal Rome has not come into vision.
V. 3. "So he carried me away into the wilderness ;"
sometimes he was carried away into heaven to see visions ;
but the thing he was about to see now had no affinity with
heaven, he could not see such a scene as this in heaven,
CHAPTER XVII. 107
4. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour,
and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a gold-
en cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her forni-
5. And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY,
BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND
ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
SO he was taken to a wilderness as a more appropriate
place, and one more in congruity with what he was about
to see. "And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored
beast full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and
ten horns." This is evidently the same beast that we saw
in chapter thirteen, there it had seven heads and ten
horns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy, and he
spoke blasphemies against God. This is the same beast,
he is scarlet now, perhaps in allusion to the blood he had
shed; and this beast, as we have seen, was the empire of
And the woman that sat upon the beast as we shall see
was the city of Rome.
V. 4. This woman was arrayed in gorgeous apparel,
and decked with jewels, and held in her hand a cup full of
abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. What
a combination ! a gaudy body and a filthy heart ! and how
natural it is ; people try to cover up with dazzle the rotten-
ness within. Paint on the outside and slime on the inside.
V. 5. "And on her forehead a name written, Mystery,
Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abomina-
tions of the earth." We have had the name Babylon. We
were told : "Babylon is fallen." It is one of the problems
of this book to determine what is meant by Babylon. Now
this woman is labeled Babylon. That name is written on
her ; and if we find out what the woman is, we have found
out what Babylon is. Now in the last verse of the chap-
ter we are told: "And the woman is that great city that
reigneth over the kings of the earth." And when you
ask, what great city was it that, in John's day, ruled over
the kings of the earth, you have only one answer, and
that is, Rome. So it is that this seventeenth chapter
serves as an interpreter of symbols.
lo8 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
6. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints,
and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I
wondered with great admiration.
7. And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel?
I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that car-
rieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
8. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall as-
cend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that
dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in
the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they be-
hold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
9. And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads
are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
V. 6. "And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of
the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus."
Here is her persecution. She was intoxicated with a fa-
natical zeal to exterminate the Christians ; Peter crucified
head downwards, so tradition tells us; Paul yielding his
head to the stroke of the executioner's ax; thousands on
thousands executed in every form of torture. No wonder
the word scarlet comes into the scene.
V. 7. The ang-el said: "I will tell thee the mystery of
the woman and of the beast that carrieth her." That is
what we want to know. In the eighth verse we are told
he shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into per-
dition, that does not tell us much, but at least tells his
character. Again, "the beast that was, and is not, and
yet is." That seems almost contradictory. Did it refer
to the fact that one of his heads was wounded to death
and yet the beast lived? Did it refer to the fact that one
dynasty would be swept away, but another djmasty would
still continue the life of the beast? Did it refer to the
fact that the judgment on the beast was already pro-
nounced, but not 3^et carried out? That although all the
vials were poured out in the vision yet the time of the
beast's destruction was yet in the future? That the beast
was prospectively dead since God had pronounced his
doom, but the actual stroke had not yet fallen ?
That is difficult to determine with the few details at
hand, but the following verses will be rather more explicit.
V. 9. "And here is the mind that hath wisdom" or
here is the place to exercise your mind and gain wisdom.
Here we will see great light on these problems. "The
seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sit-
10. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and
the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue
a short space.
eth," the well known seven hills of Rome. That is a geo-
graphical identification. I presume no one in John's day
and we think no one in this day, could miss his meaning.
The angel is telling John what that beast is that we have
been talking about through all these chapters, and here
he points out that the seven heads are seven hills. But
there is another test of its identity, besides the geographi-
cal similiarity there is a historical one that describes the
beast in time rather than in place. This we have in verse
ten: "And there are seven kings; five are fallen, and one
is, and the other is yet to come, and when he cometh he
must continue a short space." We had the beast located
geographically on the seven hills, which meant Rome.
Now we have him located in history to tell us what period
of Rome we are dealing with. And there is no period of
Rome's history that will fit this description but the dy-
nasty of the Caesars. Julius Caesar was the founder of
the empire, he is the head that was wounded to death.
But though that head was wounded to death, the empire
continued to live. The beast did not die with one of its
heads. The autocratic power of Rome was more absolute-
ly exercised by succeeding kings, than Julius Caesar could
ever have dreamed.
John says five of these kings are fallen, viz. Julius
Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, all these
five had passed away when John wrote this book ; and one
is, viz. Nero, who was then on the throne ; and one is yet
to come, Galba, and when he cometh, he must continue a
short space. Accordingly Galba succeeded Nero, and his
short space was a reign of seven months.
This mention of the seven hills and the seven kings,
this geographical and historical identification, fixes with
absolute precision the time of this writing and the subject
with which it deals. There should be no more doubt about
this after such plain indications in the text itself, that the
beast is the Roman Empire, and not some King that is yet
to reign over the world in the supposed "Tribulation" as
the premillennialists say.
no THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
11. And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth,
and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
12. And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which
have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one
hour with the beast.
13. These have one mind, and shall give their power and
strength unto the beast.
14. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall
overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of king^: and
they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
15. And he saith unto me. The waters which thou sawest,
where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations,
V. 11. "And the beast that was, and is not, even he is
the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition."
Even when the dynasty falls and the seven heads are
all gone, the beast lives on. "He is the eighth and is of the
seven." When Caesar's dynasty fell, another dynasty suc-
ceeded and the beast still lived. That Empire did not per-
ish with the Caesars. Nero went down, Galba went down,
but Vespasian, and Titus and Domitian and others contin-
ued the empire which still persecuted the Christian Church.
Vs. 12-14. These verses tell us about the horns of
the beast. He had not only seven heads; but ten horns.
These ten horns were ten kings, not kings sitting on the
throne of Rome, as I understand, but those kings and
countries subjected by Rome, and which made the empire
great. We know that Rome embraced at that time the
countries of Europe that bordered on the Mediterranean
Sea, and the northern part of Africa and considerable ter-
ritory in Asia, and also in central Europe. Rome had con-
quered the world.
It is further said of these horns or subsidiary nations,
"They give their power and strength unto the beast."
Yes this they did for a while, but wait and see. By and
by these horns turn against her. But in the meantime,
these horns shall make war with the Lamb ; tliey joined
in persecuting the church, and strengthened the govern-
ment against Christianity. "But the Lamb shall over-
come them." All the powers of the empire were joined to
crush the Christian church, but the church came off vic-
torius. The leaven was in the lump and eventually leaven-
ed the whole lump.
CHAPTER XVII. Ill
16. And the ten horns, which thou sawest upon the beast, these
shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and
shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
V. 16. "And the ten horns which thou sawest upon
the beast, these shall hate the whore and shall make her
desolate, and naked and shall eat her flesh, and burn her
with fire." There are two things to be observed here.
First that the ten horns are not successive kings on the
throne of Rome, but they are contemporary powers under
Rome. They combine against her. The next verse speaks
of their agreeing together, hence they are contemporan-
Second, that these kingdoms embraced within Rome
are the agents of her downfall. And the student of his-
tory will recall how the Germans, the Goths, and others
descended on Rome like the scourge of God. So that the
horns that at first gave the beast their power at length
turned their power against him. The nations embraced
within the empire that at first made it great, turned at
length against Rome and wrought her destruction.
And the last verse of the chapter says : "And the wom-
an which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth
over the kings of the earth." She was reigning then, and
there is only one city that can fill the bill. This shows
conclusively that we are not dealing here with the Papacy,
as some interpreters think, for the Papacy had not yet
risen when John wrote; and did not reach any point of
reigning over kings for many centuries after this time.
And this shows just as conclusively that these chap-
ters of Revelation cannot be forced into the Premillennial
scheme that assigns all this middle part of the book to a
"Tribulation" period just prior to the second coming of
And this should be particularly observed that all this
historical setting; all this plain identification of symbols
which God has furnished us in the text of the book itself,
cuts to the roots the whole Premillennial interpretation of
Revelation. If the woman was the city of Rome, and John
says she was, then the beast that carried her was certain-
ly the Roman Empire, and not some future king of a
112 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
17. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to
agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of
God shall be fulfilled.
18. And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which
reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Another thing to be observed is that the figure of the
beast with seven heads and ten horns is imagery borrow-
ed from Daniel who used a ten horned beast, the same fig-
ure, to describe a world power.
We must not, however, too hastily conclude that Daniel
and John refer to the same political world power.
It must not be assumed that the Bible has only one
meaning for a symbol. Leaven generally represents sin,
but in the parable of the leaven, it represents the kingdom
of God. Again a lion is the symbol used in Scripture to
represent such diverse personages as Jesus Christ and
Because a fig tree may be used in one place to teach a
lesson to the Jews, it does not follow that every time a fig
tree is mentioned in the Bible it must be regarded as a
type of the Jews.
CHAPTER XVIII. 113
1. And after these things I saw another angel come down from
heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his
2. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon
the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils,
and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and
3. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her
fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication
with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through
the abundance of her delicacies.
4. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying. Come out
of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye
receive not of her plagues.
5. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath re-
membered her iniquities.
This chapter does little more than sum up what has
already been said.
Vs. 1-2. A mighty angel comes down from heaven so
bright and effulgent that the earth was lit up with his
glory. "And he cried mightily with a strong voice saying,
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and become the hab-
itation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a
cage of every unclean and hateful bird." This is just an-
other declaration, after all that have already been made,
of the fall and punishment of the great and wicked and
Vs. 4,5. Another voice from heaven bids the people
of God to come out of her, for her sins have reached unto
God's people must ever be a separate people, not con-
formed to the world, but transformed. The mark that
you carry in your foreheads must be the mark of a godly
heart and a holy life. Paul says : "Come out from among
them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean
thing." And up and down God's word it is written: "Be
ye holy for I am holy." After some recital of the wicked-
ness of this great city, it is said in verse eight, "Therefore
shall her plagues come in one day, death and mourning
and famine ; and she shall be utterly burned with fire ; for
114 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
6. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her
double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled, fill
to her double.
7. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously,
so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I
sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and
mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for
strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
9. And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication
and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her,
when they shall see the smoke of her burning.
10. Standing afar oflf for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas,
alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is
thy judgment come.
11. -And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over
her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
strong is the Lord that judg-eth her." The Revised Vers-
ion puts that in the past tense: "which judged her;" the
sentence is ah'eady declared, and now will be executed, or
so far as the vision is concerned is executed. But some
one may say : Rome did not fall so suddenly nor so utterly
and therefore this hardly fits her case. Rome still exists
as a city to the present day. But that objection has little
force. Rome did fall. When Gibbon sat down one hund-
red and fifty years ago to write the history of Rome, what
title did he give his work? Why, "The Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire." But it was not sudden, you say.
Let me refer you to old Babylon. When the armies of
Cyrus captured her on the night of Belshazzar's feast, the
first blow was sudden, but centuries dragged away before
her ruin was total. So with Tyre, so with almost every
other city that has been destroyed.
Now Rome was frequently sacked and burned, captur-
ed again and again, and in her fall there was the sudden-
ness of calamity, and the gradualness of decline. That a
city called Rome exists in the present day, does not nullify
this interpretation. The old persecuting Rome fell. The
enemy of God and the church received her judgment.
Rome as a persecuting power went down, as a judgment
for her sins, for it was said, v. 24, "In her was found the
blood of prophets, and of saints and of all that were slain
upon the earth."
12. The inerchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones,
and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and
all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner
vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
13. And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankin-
cense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and
sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
14. And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from
thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed
from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
15. The merchants of these things, which were made rich by
her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and
16. And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in
fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and prec-
ious stones, and pearls!
17. For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And
every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as
many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
18. And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, say-
ing. What city is like unto this great city!
19. And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and
wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich
all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one
hour is she made desolate.
20. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and
prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
There is still a city called Rome near the site of the
old one. But the old Roman empire that was the beast,
and the harlot city borne by the beast, met their doom at
the hands of God.
The purpose of this prophecy clearly embraced the
Rome of John's day, and found its fulfillment in the de-
struction of the great persecuting power. All this seems
perfectly evident. The beast with the seven heads and
ten horns was Rome with her seven kings of the Caesar
dynasty, and her ten subsidiary nations embraced within
her great domain.
The harlot woman that rode upon the beast is so clear-
ly defined by the angel that spoke to John that no one can
miss the meaning, for "The woman which thou sawest is
that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the
earth." Reigneth, was reigning then when the Revelation
Il6 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
21. And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone,
and cast it into the sea, saying. Thus with violence shall that great
city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
22. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and
trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman,
of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the
sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
23. And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in
thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be
heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men
of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
24. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints,
and of all that were slain upon the earth.
We have followed in the interpretation of these chap-
ters, what God himself has disclosed, as the meaning of
the figures and symbols. And it must ever remain true
that the best interpretation of a book is the interpretation
which the book itself puts upon itself in a fair and natural
construction of the text. We must give attention to what
the book says; not to what some fanciful imagination
makes it say.
And if we take the book at its face value and its plain
meaning we will not lack the moral and spiritual lessons
that make it a means of grace.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for in-
struction in righteousness; that the man of God may be
perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." And
he who reads this book of Revelation with due attention to
its spiritual application, will find it "Profitable for instruc-
tion in righteousness," and a means of grace in his daily
living, for in this book no quarter is given to sin ; and holi-
ness and obedience to God are required of his people, even
if they are thrown to lions in the amphitheatre, or burned
for torch-lights in one of Nero's garden-parties.
CHAPTER XIX. 117
1. And after these things I heard a great voice of much people
in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and
power, unto the Lord our God:
2. For true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judg-
ed the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornica-
tion, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
3. And again they said. Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for
ever and ever.
4. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell
down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying. Amen;
5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God,
all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and
as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunder-
ings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
This chapter stands in the closest connection with the
chapters preceding. We have seen the vials of judgment
poured out upon the beast and the seat of the beast.
We have heard the declaration that Babylon is fallen.
We have been shown the judgment of the great whore
that rode on the scarlet-colored beast, otherwise described
as "that great city which reigneth over the kings of the
Now in the opening of the nineteenth chapter we have
the rejoicing of heaven over the judgment of the harlot
city. A great voice of much people in heaven says : "Alle-
luia; salvation, and glory, and honor and power, unto the
Lord our God; for true and righteous are his judgments;
for he hath judged the great whore, and hath avenged the
blood of his servants at her hand."
This is sufficient to show that we are still dealing with
the series of events that occupied the book from the thir-
teenth chapter onwards. Let it be kept clearly in mind
that the theme has not changed thus far, that the events
of the story are well knit or close woven.
Verses four to six reiterate the praise of heaven. All
the elders, and living ones (four beasts) and the mighty
multitudes of heaven, shout with one voice, like the roar
of the ocean and the roll of thunder, saying: "Alleluia,
for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."
Il8 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
7. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the
marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself
8. And to her was granted that she should be arraj'ed in fine
linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of
9. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which arc
called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto
me. These arc the true sayings of God.
Yes, the Lord reigneth, let it be uttered with the voice
of many waters, and the roll of mighty thunders till all
the earth hears and understands. The devil may rage,
and the beast may fight, and the false prophet may join
hands with both, and the harlot may entice and seduce,
but all of them together are no match for the Lord, they
only show their impotence in conflict with the Almighty.
Wickedness may rear its head to the skies; persecution
may exploit her blandishments; deteriorating and disin-
tegrating forces may be at work ; but the Lord still lives,
and he is still on the throne of the universe, and the
church of God will come off victor in the conflict with the
world because the omnipotent God lives in her and one
like the Son of Man walks amid the seven golden candle-
In the previous chapters we have seen the dragon, and
the beast, and the false prophet persecuting the church,
but in this chapter we see them completely overthrown,
and the divine captain of our salvation leading his fol-
lowers to victory. It is easy to catch the practical en-
couragement found in these visions, both as it affected the
churches addressed and as it sings down the centuries to
every well-fought battlefield of the church's activities.
In verses seven to nine we have something said about
the marriage of the Lamb. But there is no marriage scene
shown us either by vision or description. The things par-
ticularly stressed in this passage are the apparel of the
bride, and the blessedness of those called.
The bride of Christ in Scripture phraseology, is the
church. Her apparel is her righteousness. "To her was
granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and
white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
chaptf:r XIX. 119
10. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto
me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy breth-
ren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testi-
mony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and
he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in right-
eousness he doth judge and make war.
12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were
many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but
13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and
his naine is called The Word of God.
14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon
white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
It is the purpose of God and the care of the church to
produce a holy people, fitted by grace to be the bride of
the Lamb. This moral purity, this fine linen of righteous-
ness is the thing that bulks in the revelator's eye, and not
a nuptial scene. The church must make herself ready;
but the readiness consists in her moral purity. Her readi-
ness does not consist in a curiosity as to when Christ shall
come, but in the righteousness which is of God by faith,
and all its spiritual results.
Verse eleven opens a new scene, but not an entirely
new subject. John sees in heaven the vision of a white
horse, the rider was called Faithful and True, his eyes a
flame of fire, on his head many crowns, his vesture dipped
in blood and his name is called "The Word of God." Out
of his mouth goeth a sharp sword and on his vesture and
on his thigh a name written KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS. And the armies in heaven followed
him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and
There can be no doubt who the rider is on this white
horse. There is only one who can be called KING OF
KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
He is going forth at the head of an army and this im-
plies a battle and a warfare. This is the other side of the
picture which hitherto has not been put in concrete form.
Now we are getting in vision and symbol the other side of
the conflict. There are always two sides in a war. We
saw the dragon going forth to make war upon the woman
(the church) and her seed 12:17. We saw the beast and
I20 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
15. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he
should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron:
and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Al-
16. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name writ-
ten, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with
a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven,
Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great
the false prophet bring all the powers at their disposal to
crush the church of God. But that was only on one side
of the lines. The battle was not so one-sided as that.
Here is a better leader with his army. The foe will be
met with a better army and a better weapon than his
own, and we will see presently what the outcome of the
conflict will be.
Observe that this rider on the white horse had no
sword in his hand, but he had a sword in his mouth. He
had no sword that could cut off people's heads, but the
"sword of the Spirit which is the word of God."
Observe too that the armies that followed him had no
swords or weapons of any kind; but they had something
much better and more effective. They were clothed in fine
linen, white and clean, which, we were just told, is the
righteousness of saints, and righteousness is more effect-
ive in the battle of the Lord than all the swords in the
world. Here then is the army and here are their weapons,
and the battle is about to be joined. We can observe un-
mistakably what sort of battle it is, the battle between
good and evil, between Christ and Satan; between the
gospel and its enemies; between the church and her op-
The narrator pauses a moment before the battle be-
gins. He shows us an angel in the sun who calls with a
loud voice to the fowls that fly in the heavens, and bids
them gather for a feast on the flesh of the fallen enemy.
This looks to me like irony or an expression of strong con-
tempt for the enemy, that all the vultures and buzzards
and birds of prey that feed on carrion should be invited to
the fea^t before the battle was even begun. At least it
expresses absolute confidence on which side the victory
CHAPTER XIX. 121
18. That ye may cat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of cap-
tains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of
them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond,
both small and great.
19. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their
armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the
horse, and against his army.
20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet
that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that
had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his
image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with
21. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that
sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and
all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
And now for the clash of the armies, verses 19, 20.
"And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and
their armies gathered together to make war against him
that sat on the horse, and against his army."
The twentieth verse adds the false prophet also as one
engaged in that battle. Now it is of the utmost import-
ance to observe clearly who is fighting this battle with the
rider on the white horse. We are plainly told that it is
the beast, the beast of chapter 13:1, the beast having the
seven heads and ten horns, and the heads identified as
seven hills and also seven rulers in the Caesarian dynasty,
and the ten horns as ten subsidiary kingdoms, the beast
that carried that harlot woman who was said to be a "city
that reigneth over the kings of the earth." There should
now be no difficulty in knowing who was leading this army
against the rider on the white horse. It was that same old
beast. Now that beast has been always associated with an-
other one ; we saw him first in Chapter 13 : 11 ; he had some
appearance of a lamb, but spoke as a dragon. He was hand-
in-glove with the beast. He gave power to the beast, and
led the world to worship the beast. He was afterward
called the false prophet (16 :13) and so he is called here.
Now, who is making war? That same old beast, that
same false prophet, and the kings subsidiary to them. But
what is the result? "And the beast was taken, and the
(with- him) false prophet. These both were cast alive in-
to a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rem-
nant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the
horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth."
122 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
The writer is very careful to keep us in mind that that
sword proceeded out of his mouth.
Now I submit the question : Is this not the conquering
power of the gospel and the triumph of Christianity? The
sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, by preach-
ing, and teaching, and testimony conquers the world for
Christ. And for this very reason I think the writer was
so particular to point out that the sword was in the rider's
mouth. The world is to be conquered by the gospel. Christ
said : "Go ye and make disciples of every creature baptiz-
ing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Ghost."
It is the triumph of the gospel that we have in this
nineteenth chapter. It only remains now to look at some
contrary renderings of these scenes. We have already re-
moved the Papacy from consideration in this book, not
that we desire to whitewash the Papacy, but because the
chronology, and the setting of the scenes do not fit the
But the interpretation that we are confronted with to-
day is the premillennial, and it particularly concerns this
According to the premillennialist, the seven churches
of Asia spoken of in the second and third chapters, are
seven periods of history from John's time, down till the
time of Christ's return. The fourth chapter begins the
Tribulation period at the beginning of which the righteous
dead are raised and together with the pious living are
caught up into the air to be with Christ while the Tribu-
lation is on the earth.
There is not one syllable in the book that conveys such
information, and we are not justified in making types out
of plain, historical and didactic statements at the pleas-
ure of the interpreter. The Scriptures do indeed contain-
many types. They are legitimate in their place; but
the habitual type-maker is the despair of interpretive
Now according to the premillennialist all the chapters
four to eighteen inclusive describe the Tribulation. No
matter that Jerusalem, and the temple, and the altar are
there, still unf alien ; no matter that Rome is there on her
seven hills, with her seven kings ; no matter that the angel
CHAPTER XIX. 123
said: "And the harlot is that great city that reigneth (or
is then reigning) over the kings of the earth." The pre-
millenniaUst just disposes of all that with his usual facil-
ity. He just whips it all off into the future as something
that has not yet come to pass, notwithstanding the plain
indications of the book.
Now when the premillennialist comes to this nineteenth
chapter he concludes that the Tribulation period, said by
some to be seven years, is over. And that Christ and the
church who have been in the air during these seven years,
now descend to the earth, and that is what is meant by
the rider on the white horse and the armies that follow
him. So that the world is conquered not by the gospel,
but by the second coming of Jesus Christ. And the beast
is the Tribulation king, or Anti-Christ, which is to rule
the world in some future age and which Christ will de-
stroy when he comes. What are the objections to this
view of the nineteenth chapter?
1st. The coming of this rider on the white horse is
accompanied with a good deal of description and detail. It
indicates a process rather than an event. When Christ
comes it is said to be sudden, in the twinkling of an eye,
like the flash of lightning from one end of heaven to an-
other. When you read through the chapter you will see
no suddenness to any of these events, but rather deliber-
ate progress. It is unlike the Second coming in this re-
2nd. The writer insistently holds it before us that the
sword is in the rider's mouth. This sword is the weapon
of conquest. Paul in describing the Christian armor says :
"The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." All
this picture and all its related phraseology teaches us that
the weapon that conquers the world is the word of God,
or the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not to look for the
world to be converted by some spectacular cataclysm, but
by the preaching and teaching, and testimony of the
church that is clothed in the fine linen of righteousness.
That is the way the Roman Empire was conquered for
Christ as a matter of history and that is the way it will
be till the end of time.
3rd. The absolutely conclusive fact comes out in the
end that John shows, yea says in so many words, that this
conflict of the rider was with the beast and false prophet
THE MESSAGE FROAI PATMOS
that same old beast that we have been deahng with
through all these chapters, the beast of the seven hills,
and the seven kings, the beast that bore the harlot woman
which was "that city," and the false prophet associated
with him, viz. pagan Rome. No one unbiased by a theory
could drag this out of the historical past and put it into a
hypothetical future to which not one of these historical
references bear any allusion. The book clearly fixes who
these personages are, fixes their place in geography and
history, and we would have to disrupt the whole story to
admit the premillennial interpretation.
4th. The revealer repeatedly declared to John that he
was to see visions of things that "must shortly be done."
We submit that it is straining the meaning of words too
much to make shortly mean several thousands of years.
For these reasons we conclude that the premillennial
interpretation is utterly out of the question.
But does the conquest of this rider on the white horse
pertain only to the Roman Empire ? Must w^e be ever deal-
ing with things that are dead and buried centuries ago?
Is there nothing in all this that touches and vitalizes the
church of the present day ? or are we never to get beyond
the dry dust of the catacombs ?
Far from such mournful pessimism, we find the great-
est encouragement. The rider on that white horse is
marching still. He has gone far beyond the confines of
the Roman Empire. He did not go forth to lead his armies
to one brief battle, but to every battle where the conflict
is fought. He led his armies through the conflict with
slavery and won the day. He has led his missionary con-
tingent to all lands in the world and is still riding at the
front. He is leading his church in the fight with the rum
power, and scoring victories every day.
Let the church remember that this rider on the white
horse is the living Jesus, that he is in the forefront of
every battle, that just as he conquered the beast and the
false prophet, so he will conquer every enemy. The beast
and the prophet were just one episode on the way, and the
triumph of the church is just as sure as the promise of
him who said: "Lo I am with you alway, even, to the end
of the world."
The rider on the white horse is still riding on. Let
the church follow, clothed in linen, white and clean.
1. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the
key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is
the Devil, and Satan, and bound hiin a thousand years,
3. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and
set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more,
till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be
loosed a little season.
This chapter may be regarded as the beginning' of a
new section. Not that it has no relation to the past, for
each section leads up to the next, and the latter grow out
of the former. But this chapter leads us into scenes that
are futuristic, here we have vistas that reach forward to
the final judgment of the whole world.
We saw Christ and his armies conquer the beast and
the false prophet and they were cast into the lake of fire
and brimstone. But Satan is still at large, and this chap-
ter shows that the battle is carried against Satan himself.
The conquering Christ that led his church to triumph over
the persecuting powers of earth leads on till he binds the
power of Satan and frees the world at least for a time of
his deceptive and seductive influence.
Vs. 1-3. John saw an angel come down from heaven
with the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his
hand. And he laid hold on Satan and bound him for a
thousand years and cast him into the bottomless pit and
shut him up. Nothing is said as to the time intervening
between the events of the 19th and 20th chapters. How
long it is from the capture of the beast and false prophet
to the binding of Satan we have no means of knowing, but
it does not look as if Satan is bound yet.
We get the word 'millennium' from this word 'thous-
and' in its Latin form. The word 'millennium' is often on
our lips ; and popularly it means a period of righteousness
and blessedness on earth when Satan's power shall be
126 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Not much is said here about a millennium. It is passed
over with but scanty mention. We are rather surprised
with the paucity of details. Some have even thought that,
from such meager mention, there may be no such thing as
a millennium. But it is more than likely that the faith
and expectation of the church is right. There are some
other passages chiefly in the Old Testament that predict
a glorious outcome to God's kingdom on earth, although it
is not called a millennium nor any limits of time assigned.
Moreover, nearly all John's imagery is based on Old Testa-
ment prophecy, and it may well be so in regard to the mil-
lennium. Isaiah, in his second chapter, describes the bless-
ing that shall come to the world from Judea and Jerusa-
lem. "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and
their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up
sword against nation neither shall they learn war any
more." "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver
and gold to the moles and the bats."
And Micah in his fourth chapter says substantially the
same thing in about the same words, beating swords into
plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Isaiah, in his
eleventh chapter, describes a world of peace that grows
out of that "stem of Jesse." "The wolf shall dwell with
the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid
they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain,"
and now if you please observe the reason, "for the earth
shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters
cover the sea." This expresses the means, as well as the
reason of universal peace.
We therefore conclude that there will be a millennium
and that it will result from the preaching and teaching of
the gospel, when "the earth shall be full of the knowledge
of the Lord" and as it is further said: "and he shall smite
the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath
of his lips shall he slay the wicked."
John says little about conditions on the earth during
this millennium, he rather leaves that to be inferred from
the fact that Satan is bound, and from the rejoicing of the
saints. It is said that Satan is bound and shut up, "that
he should deceive the nations no more." When Satan's
deceptions are withdrawn the consequent effect upon the
world may be inferred. Again the judgment given to the
saints, their reigning and rejoicing, though it be a scene
CHAPTER XX. 127
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment
was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were be-
headed for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and
which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had
received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they
lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand
years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
in heaven, reflects conditions on the earth. The heavenly
picture is indicative of the earthlj^ situation. But here it
is well to remember that there is inherent evil in human
hearts and there may be some tares among the wheat even
in the millennium. Whether the thousand years are to be
taken literally and strictly or as expressing an indefinitely
long period, need not concern us much. We may remark,
however, that since evil has prevailed long in the world, it
is quite appropriate that righteousness should be domin-
ant much longer, since this is God's world and the princi-
ple of his kingdom is expressed in the words : "Where sin
abounded, grace did much more abound."
Vs. 4,5. "And I saw thrones." This is a new vision,
indicated by the words, 'and I saw,' which expression in-
dicates the transition from one scene to another.
"Thrones," where were thej^? In every other place in
this book of Revelation where John mentions a throne or
thrones, they are in heaven and this is apparently no ex-
ception to the rule.
"And they sat on them," who is meant by 'they'? Evi-
dently the martyrs and saints who are mentioned below.
"And judgment was given unto them." In what sense
was judgment given to these martyrs and saints? Some
have thought that they were made associate judges with
Christ to rule and pass judgment on the world and men.
This view cannot be accepted. Judgment transcends
the functions of finite creatures ; even glorified saints.
Judgment is the prerogative of Deity only. "God hath
appointed a day in which he will judge the world in right-
eousness by that man whom he hath ordained." If Christ
were not God, even he could not judge.
128 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
6. Blessed and holy is lie that hath part in the first resurrec-
tion: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be
priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand
But the meaning of this "judgment" requires us to go
back to chapter 6:9-11. There we heard the prayers of
these martyrs and saints: "How long, Lord dost thou
not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the
This verse tells that their prayers were answered.
Their persecutors were judged and were hurled from their
seats of power into oblivion, even Satan was cast into the
bottomless pit, their blood was avenged; the cause for
which they gave their lives was vindicated. That is how
judgment was given them, their foes were judged, and
they were avenged and exalted.
Here we see that we must know the book as a whole
in order to interpret a single passage. Sound principles
of interpretation regard the unity and consistency of the
"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for
the witness of Jesus, etc ; and they lived and reigned with
Christ a thousand years." And at the end of the fifth
verse it is added : "This is the first resurrection."
Did we ever meet with these souls before? I think
they are quite familiar to the student of Revelation. Go
back to Chapter 6:9-11 and you will recognize them as
quite familiar characters. There John saw the souls of
saints and martyrs under the altar in heaven. There they
are called 'souls.' Here they are called 'souls.' There they
were "slain for the word of God, and for the testimony
which they held." Here they are "beheaded for the wit-
ness of Jesus and for the word of God." There they cry
"How long till we are judged and avenged?" Here we
have seen that they are "judged and avenged." There
they were told "that they should rest yet for a little seas-
on, till their fellow-servants and brethren who were about
to be killed, even as they, should be completed." Here we
see the tale of persecution completed and the persecutors
consigned to their judgment.
CHAPTER XX. 129
It is quite clear then that we are here dealing with
that same company of martyrs and saints that John saw
in the vision of the sixth chapter augmented by those
"fellow-servants" which were to fall, and which have now
fallen victims of Satan's rage and the persecutor's power.
Where were those martyrs and saints whom John saw?
Under the altar, in heaven, where white robes were given
them. And this chapter too evidently regards them as in
The fifth verse of this chapter says : "This is the first
resurrection." What is the antecedent of "this"? Evi-
dently this exaltation of saints and martyrs, sitting on
thrones in heaven, rejoicing and reigning with Christ.
In chapter 6 :9 John said :"I saw souls" under the altar,
no bodies. Here again he says: "I saw souls," no bodies.
The term 'resurrection' is applied to the souls of these
saints and martyrs and not to their bodies. It therefore
designates a spiritual exaltation and not a bodily resurrec-
tion. That is, the word 'resurrection' is here used in a
figurative sense to denote their spiritual exaltation. Is
such usage justifiable? Is resurrection ever used in any
sense, but that of a bodily resurrection? The figurative
usage of 'resurrection' is a very familiar one in the Scrip-
tures. In Ezek. 37:12, God says: "I will open your graves
and cause you to come out of your graves and bring you
into the land of Israel." What is meant? Resurrection
of bodies ? No, restoration of the captive nation to their
land, under the figure of resurrection. Hosea says the
same thing in almost the same language, used resurrec-
tion as a figure of restoration.
John in his gospel, chapter five, speaks of regeneration
as the dead hearing the voice of the Son of God, and com-
ing to life. Then in a few verses after he speaks of a
bodily resurrection, thus putting the two ideas in close
conjunction, spiritual resurrection and bodily resurrection.
If John in his gospel speaks of a spiritual resurrection
first and a bodily resurrection second, is it strange if here
in Revelation he should have a first resurrection which is
spiritual and in the end of this chapter a second resurrec-
tion which is bodily?
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Paul also falls in line with John in putting regeneration
or spiritual life in the light of a resurrection. Ephes.
2:5,6 "Even when we were dead in sins hath given us life
together with Christ, and raised us up with him and seat-
ed us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Ephes. 5:14 "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the
dead and Christ shall give thee light."
Col. 3:1 "If ye then be risen with Christ seek those
things which are above."
All these passages show that the Scriptures put spirit-
ual life and blessings under the figure of a resurrection,
and it may well be so here.
We are further told : Blessed and holy is he that hath
part in the first resurrection on these the second death
hath no power. What is it that delivers from the second
death, or the lake of fire? Is it bodily resurrection or is
it regeneration? And every sensible man must answer:
It is regeneration. Therefore, blessed and holy is he that
hath part in the resurrection of regeneration, for on such
the second death hath no power ; regeneration and exalta-
tion being inseparable parts of one whole. We therefore
conclude that resurrection is here used in a figurative
sense, to indicate a spiritual resurrection, a common usage
of the Scriptures. Nothing is said of bodies much less of
bodies coming out of their graves. John saw 'souls,' and
evidently the same souls that he saw under the altar in
heaven in the visions of the sixth chapter. John saw the
blessedness of those saints and martyrs in heaven and
that is what he calls the first resurrection.
In verse five we find the expression, "But the rest of
the dead lived not (again) until the thousand years were
finished." This expression is not found in some manu-
scripts notably the Vatican and Syriac. But assuming
that it is a genuine part of our text it will come up for
some reference as we proceed. These six verses have been
the subject of much debate in the controversies over this
book. We will notice a few variant views.
1st. The premillennial view assumes that the nine-
teenth chapter describes the second coming of Christ and
that these six verses teach that all the righteous dead will
be resurrected and live on the earth during the thousand
years, and the wicked dead will not be resurrected till the
CHAPTER XX. 131
thousand years are ended. Then at the end of the post-
millennial period they will be resurrected and brought to
judgment as described in the end of this chapter which
is a judgment of the wicked only according to the premil-
lennialist. The difficulties in this view are these :
(a) It contradicts everything taught elsewhere in the
Bible about the resurrection and the judgment. It contra-
dicts Christ's repeated declarations that the resurrection
is at the last day, and the judgment of the righteous at
the last day. It contradicts Christ's teaching in John 5 :28
that the just and unjust are raised at the same time, one
resurrection for all that are in their graves.
It contradicts the teaching of Christ in Matt. 25:31
that when Christ comes then will ensue the general judg-
ment and the assignment of destiny to the righteous and
It contradicts the closing part of this twentieth chap-
ter where we see all the dead, small and great, coming
from their graves and from the bottom of the sea and
standing before God in one general judgment.
(b) It makes this obscure passage a key to interpret
the plain portions elsewhere, whereas the true rule is that
the obscure must be interpreted by the obvious.
(c) This view is supposed to be strengthened by the
statement: "The rest of the dead lived not again till the
thousand years were finished." But even the premillennial-
ist would not be ready to admit that the wicked dead were
actually resurrected at the end of the thousand years, and
actually "lived" during the post-millennial period, which
his literal interpretation would seem to require.
(d) Besides, the premillennial view makes the resur-
rection precede the "Tribulation," and therefore should
show us the resurrection at the beginning of the fourth
chapter (and not a line of it is there) instead of at the be-
ginning of the twentieth chapter.
If this is a living of resurrected saints on earth, what
becomes of them at the end of the thousand years? Do
they die again ? or ascend again ? To this, premillennial-
ism has no answer.
132 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
Besides if the end of the chapter describes only the
resurrection and judgment of the wicked, what provision
is made for the resurrection of all the righteous who were
born and lived in the millennial and post-millennial peri-
ods ? And for this also premillennialism has no answer.
These difficulties seem fatal to the premillennial view.
2nd. Another view held by Saint Augustine, by Dr.
David Brown, a great authority on the subject, and by
Dr. A. H. Strong, the great theologian of the Baptist
church, is to the effect that the reigning saints are the
triumphant church on earth in the millennial period.
The Christian cause or body that was smitten with the
sword and burned in the persecutor's fire, will rise to
triumph and domination in the millennial days. That is
the resurrection, it is the resurrection of the cause, or
party or church of Christ. It will rise to power and rule
the world while the Satan party or serpent party will be
overcome. But when the thousand years are finished that
Satan-party will rise again to live and fight and persecute
the church in the post-millennial period as this chapter
This view brings out the antithesis expressed in these
verses. The saint-party rose and lived, the serpent-party
also rose and lived. No bodily resurrection in either case ;
that occurs at the end when the dead small and great
stand before God.
3rd. The view honored by the names of Prof. C. A.
Briggs and Prof. B. B, Warfield is that this vision shows
the saints and martyrs in heaven. It was meant to show
that the redeemed are in heaven safe from all the perse-
cutions that raged below, and that John wrote this to en-
courage the church facing the persecution of that and
subsequent times. It would nerve them to faithfulness to
see the glory of the martyr when the persecutor's sword
had done its worst. It was not meant to show the raising
of bodies, but the raising of souls to their heavenly home.
This is the first resurrection, the entrance upon heavenly
joys, and the second resurrection is the bodily resurrec-
tion of all the dead at the end of the world.
CHAPTER XX. 133
7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be
loosed out of his prison,
8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the
four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together
to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compas-
sed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire
came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake
of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are,
and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
It should not pass without notice that the heavenly
scene reflects the earthly. The reason why the saints re-
joiced in heaven was because the church on earth was
triumphant. They were judged and avenged by the de-
struction of the persecutors and the binding of Satan, but
that meant that the church on earth was regnant. If
the millennium means anything it means the triumph of
Christ's cause on earth. Thus Christ's cause and people
were dominant during the thousand years, and Satan's
allies were subdued till the thousand years were ended,
and after that they rose to power again. This may ex-
press the antithesis between the saints that lived and
reigned and the rest that lived not till the thousand years
were finished, and then they did live and rose to their old
time power and persecution.
Vs. 7:10. These verses give us the post-millennial pe-
riod. Satan is loosed ; and goes out to deceive the nations ;
Gog and Magog are mentioned ; these nations are gathered
to battle against the people of God, and God destroys them
with fire from heaven. Then the devil that deceived them
is cast into the lake of fire where that beast and false
prophet were put, as we saw at the end of the nineteenth
chapter. This lake of fire is the final abode of the devil
and his followers, and is afterward described as the sec-
ond death. This passage has some resemblance to Eze-
kiel 38 and 39 where Gog and Magog are mentioned as
northern nations that come up against Israel. John usu-
ally borrows his imagery from the Old Testament, and
this is the imagery of the past applied to a future event.
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
11. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it,
from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was
found no place for them.
12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God;
and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which
is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things
which were written in the books, according to their works.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death
and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were
judged every man according to their works.
14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This
is the second death.
15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the lake of fire.
Vs. 11-15. And now the chapter closes with the scene
of the final and general judgment. "And I saw a great
white throne and him that sat upon it from whose face
the earth and heaven fled away." Then follows a descrip-
tion of the judgment.
Here is the place to put the second coming of Jesus
Christ; when he sits on his throne and summons the
whole human race to judgment. This is just the way, and
the place in time, in which Christ himself described his
coming. In Matt. 25:31 Christ says: "When the Son of
Man shall come in his glory, then shall he sit on the throne
of his glory and before him shall be gathered all nations
and he shall separate them one from another as a shep-
herd divideth the sheep from the goats" his coming at
the judgment. "The earth and heaven fled away;" so
Peter writes that on that day that cometh as a thief, "the
heavens shall depart as a scroll."
Some one may say that this is not much description of
the second coming. Well the Bible nowhere gives us much
description of it; it may not lend itself to much descrip-
tion, for it is "in the twinkling of an eye at the last
trump." But sufficient description is given to connect it
with the final judgment.
Here then we have the great judgment throne, and the
dead small and great stand before God. The sea gives up
the dead which were in it and death and hades give up the
dead in them, and they are judged, every man according
to their works.
CHAPTER XX. 135
These terms are surely universal enough to include the
whole human race, the dead small and great, the dead
without distinction, the dead in the sea, and the dead in
death and hades. Here is a general resurrection and a
general judgment, if language means anything.
But the premillennialist tells us that this is the resur-
rection and judgment of the wicked only. He is driven to
that because he has already resurrected the righteous at
the beginning of the millennium, and so denies that they
are represented here.
But besides the universal terms already mentioned,
observe that the 'book of life' is here. The book of life is
the list of the redeemed. Verse fifteen tells us : "Whoso-
ever was not found written in the book of life was cast in-
to the lake of fire." All the world falls into two classes ;
those who are written in the book of life and those who
are not. Here then is evidence of the righteous as well as
of the wicked. The destiny of the wicked is shown ; they
are cast into the lake of fire and we are told, "This is the
second death." Into that lake of fire we saw that the
beast and false prophet were cast, then we saw Satan con-
signed to the same place, and here his followers meet the
same fate. If it is objected that here we have no mention
of the destiny of the righteous and therefore they could
not have been in this scene, we reply that the book of Rev-
elation does not end here and that the story is to be con-
tinued and we shall see the destiny of the righteous in the
portion that is yet to come.
136 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first
heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no
At the beginning of chapter 21, we arrive at the water-
shed that divides time and eternity. In chapter 20 we had
the millennium, the post-millennial period, the general
resurrection and judgment and the final destiny of the
wicked. This twenty-first chapter follows as a continua-
tion of the story. Having consigned the wicked to the
lake of fire, described in a few brief words, the writer pro-
ceeds in this long passage to disclose the glorious abode
and the beatific destiny of those whose names were writ-
ten in the book of life. Our story therefore leads us be-
yond the confines of this world or this age of earthly af-
fairs to view things in vastly different conditions from
anything we know here. The heart of the church has ever
beat in response to this revelation of its heavenly home,*
and without doubt the heart of the church is right. More-
over if there is any chronological relation between the dif-
ferent parts of this book, and there evidently is, then the
progress of events brings us to scenes that lie beyond the
resurrection and final judgment. Besides the chronologi-
cal progress, the conditions are not earthly, no sin, no
sorrow, no pain, no death, no sea, no sun and moon.
Where can such unearthly features find a place ?
The first verse of the chapter gives us the key to what
follows: "And I saw a new heaven (sidereal heavens) and
a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth were
passed away ; and there was no more sea."
This reference to the passing of the old earth and
heavens is sufficient to show that we are dealing with
things beyond the resurrection and final judgment.
We find in II Peter, chapter 3, a similar reference. The
day of the Lord will come as a thief, the heavens shall
pass away, the earth shall be burned up; nevertheless
we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a
new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Peter is quite
probably referring to this twenty-first chapter of Revela-
CHAPTER XXI. 137
2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down
from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her hus-
3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying. Behold, the
tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and
they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and
be their God.
4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed
5. And he that sat upon the throne said. Behold, I make all
things new. And he said unto ine, Write: for these words are true
tion; however, they agree as to the facts, in placing- the
new heavens and earth after the first have "passed away,"
or been "burned up." Here is the evident antithesis be-
tween what we call "this world" and the "next world."
That there should be "no more sea," fitly expresses a
condition of the heavenly life. The sea to the ancients was
not so much expressive of majesty and grandeur, as some-
thing dangerous, destructive, restless. Isaiah says : "The
wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose
waters cast up mire and dirt." But that heavenly life will
be calm and peaceful, no storms to break, no uncanny
dangers to lurk and threaten.
What cosmical changes are involved in the conception
here presented, what siderial and systemic reconstruction,
is a subject not involved in the interpretation of this book
and on which it is wise not to speculate.
Vs. 2-5. John sees another vision of the holy city
New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. There fol-
dows a description of conditions in that holy city. God
shall dwell with his people, and wipe away all tears from
their eyes ; no death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain, for the
former things have passed away. Here is a scene of su-
preme beauty and supreme blessedness.
138 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega,
the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of
the fountain of the water of life freely.
7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be
his God, and he shall be my son.
8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and
iinirdercrs, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all
liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and
brimstone: which is the second death.
9. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had
the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me,
saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high
mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, des-
cending out of heaven from God,
11. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a
stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
12. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and
at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13. On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the
south three gates; and on the west tliree gates.
V. 6. "And he (God) said unto me, it is done." This
expression "it is done" has been used elsewhere in Reve-
lation, where something has been brought to culmination.
The meaning is that God has wrought out his purpose in
saving his people, and here is the consummation ; here is
the climax of the long process of redemption. He has
brought them home, he dwells among them, they are his
people and he is their God. "It is done. I am Alpha and
Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him
that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."
fitting consummation of the story of redemption.
V. 7. "He that overcometh shall inherit," not all
things as the authorized version has it, but "these things,"
showing that this is the home and the blessedness of the
overcomers, while the next verse puts in contrast the
place and fate of those who have their part in the lake of
fire, which is the second death.
Verse nine to the end of the chapter inclusive is occu-
pied with a new vision of this holy city New Jerusalem.
An angel said: "Come hither, I will show thee the bride,
the Lamb's wife." And he showed him this holy city the
CHAPTER XXI. 139
14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in
them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure
the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as
the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thou-
sand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it
17. And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty
and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the
18. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the
city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
In the nineteenth chapter of Revelation we had men-
tion of the bride of the Lamb, but no vision of a marriage
ceremony. In the second verse of this chapter this holy
city is seen coming down from God as a bride adorned for
her husband and here in the ninth verse she is called the
bride, the Lamb's wife. The union of the bride and her
heavenly bridegroom is therefore implied in these scenes
that lie beyond the resurrection and final judgment. In
chapter nineteen the bride was clothed in fine linen which
is the righteousness of saints; the dwellers in that city,
the body of the redeemed, therefore, rather than the city
itself, constitutes the bride or wife of the Lamb.
Paul speaks of Christ and the church on this wise:
"That he might present it to himself a glorious church,
not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it
should be holy and without blemish." The glorified church
is the bride of Christ, and the place of their union and fel-
lowship is that holy city the New Jerusalem that descends
from God out of heaven.
Now follows a long description of this city with its
walls, and gates, and foundations, and streets of gold.
It has twelve gates in its walls bearing the names of
the twelve tribes of Israel ; three gates toward each point
of the compass, perhaps signifying its accessibility to all
the world. The sons of the north, and the sons of the
south, the children of the east, and the children of the
west may find their way to this city that is open toward
all quarters. Behold the universality of God's love, and
the universal call of God's grace.
I40 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
19. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished
with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jas-
per; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an
20. The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chry-
solite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chryso-
prasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several
gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as
it were transparent glass.
22. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty
and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon,
to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is
the light thereof.
24. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the
light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and
honour into it.
The wall of the city had twelve foundations and in
them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. We
call to mind the saying, that the church is built on the
foundation of the apostles ; Jesus Christ himself being the
chief corner stone.
"The city lieth foursquai^;" "the length and breadth
and height are equal ;" perfect symmetry, perfect propor-
tion. The city when measured is twelve thousand fur-
longs each way, or fifteen hundred miles long, broad, and
high; sufficient to indicate the symbolical nature of this
description. The act of measuring was doubtless meant
to impress on all the greatness and the glory of the city.
But the description of this city is still more wonderful
as it proceeds, "And I saw no temple therein ;" (different
from the earthly Jerusalem) "for the Lord God Almighty
and the Lamb are the temple of it." No need of sun or
moon to shine in it "for the glory of God did lighten it,
and the Lamb is the light thereof."
This shows how this city transcends all earthly things,
and that God and the Lamb are the supreme objects of
admiration, and the source of glory and blessing. "And
the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there
shall be no night there." Gates are shut against assault
and attack; but these gates need not be shut; there is no
enemy to attack, no marauder, or intruder to disturb the
peace and happiness of the heavenly abode.
CHAPTER XXI. 141
25. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for
there shall be no night there.
26. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations
27. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that de-
fileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but
they which are written in the I.amb's book of life.
The next feature of this description, in the last verse
of the chapter, shows a still more exalted condition of
that city, in the perfect purity and holiness of its happy
inhabitants. "There shall in no wise enter into it any-
thing unclean, neither whatsoever worketh abomination,
or maketh a lie ; but they which are written in the Lamb's
book of life."
Beyond all the glory of golden streets and jasper walls
and foundations garnished with precious stones is the
glory of the moral and the spiritual character of the place.
The highest tribute to that city is its holiness. The rul-
ing attribute of God is his holiness, and the goal of all
God's redemptive work is the holiness of the objects of
redemption, and consequent on that holiness, their eternal
Here we meet again those "which are written in the
Lamb's book of life." We saw that book of life at the
great judgment scene at the end of the twentieth chapter.
There we saw the destiny of those who were not written
in that book of life ; here we see the destiny of those who
were written in it. This serves to vindicate the interpre-
tation we are presenting, that in this chapter we are deal-
ing with the post-resurrection and post-judgment period;
that whereas the twentieth chapter ended with the des-
tiny of the wicked as determined by the great judgment,
the twenty-first chapter continues the story in the destiny
of the righteous as determined in that same judgment.
All the human race divided into two classes; the right-
eous and the wicked ; those whose names are in the Lamb's
book of life, and those whose names are not found written
142 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
1. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as
crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the
river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits,
and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were
for the healing of the nations.
3. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God
and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4. And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their
5. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle,
neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and
they shall reign for ever and ever.
6. And he said unto me. These sayings are faithful and true:
and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto
his servants the things which must shortly be done.
The division of chapters here is rather unfortunate.
There is no line of cleavage in the thought at this point.
The division should have been made between the fifth and
sixth verses. The first five verses of this chapter goes on
to describe that "home of the soul."
V. 1. John saw the river of water of life proceeding
out of the throne of God and the Lamb. No sea there,
symbol of restlessness and turmoil, but a river, symbol of
springing verdure, refreshment, and perennial life.
V. 2. On either side of the river the tree of life. The
word tree is used generically, many trees of the species,
on either side of the river. In Eden there was a "tree of
life" from which man was excluded for his sin, a cherubim
and a flaming sword guarding the way to it. Here in the
last chapter of the Scriptures, when the story of redemp-
tion is completed, and the last act in the drama staged, we
come again to that tree of life. Thus Genesis is linked
with Revelation, and Eden with heaven, and the unity of
the Biblical story disclosed.
Vs. 3-5. "And there shall be no more curse ; but the
throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it." Sin is gone,
and where there is no sin, there is no curse. "The throne
of God and the Lamb" singular number, one throne.
CHAPTER XXII. 143
7. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the say-
ings of the prophecy of this book.
"And they shall see his face." The supreme blessed-
ness of heaven is to look on the divine face. John further
wrote, "And when he shall appear we shall be like him, for
we shall see him as he is."
"And they shall reign forever and ever." As the word
"they" has been repeatedly used in these verses to desig-
nate the saints, I take it in the same meaning in this
clause, another indication that the place where the saints
reign is heaven. This closes the visions of the book of
Revelation. The verses that follow are a conclusion to the
book and bear much similarity to the introduction in the
Here we leave the Apocalyptical features of the book
and return from our excursion into the post-resurrection
state, and take our place again at the historical stand-
point where John began to write.
The first chapter should be re-read in connection with
these closing verses to catch their real significance.
This sixth verse is almost a duplicate of the first verse
of the book, showing that we are looking at the whole rev-
elation from the outlook of the starting point, a fit
method of conclusion.
Both state that this book is a revelation from God,
communicated by his angel "to show unto his servants the
things that must shortly be done." That was the pro-
logue, it is also the conclusion, and it brings us back to
the historical setting. John was writing these things to
the churches of Asia with particular reference to their
condition of suffering and jeopardy. In the beginning and
the end he tells them that these things must shortly come
to pass. The events predicted in this book were just be-
ginning to break upon the church of that day, hence they
were things that "must shortly be done."
Verse seven begins, "Behold I come quickly." It is an
entire misconception to apply these words to the event
technically known as Christ's second personal coming, as
so many do in these days. The last chapter like the first
has its standpoint among the churches of the first cen-
THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
8. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when
I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the
angel which shewed me these things.
9. Then saith he unto nie. See thou do it not: for I am thy fel-
low servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which
keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy
of this book: for the time is at hand.
tury. Christ, through John, is warning them of the storm
about to break upon their heads, and "behold I come
quickly" has evident reference to those judgments to
which, in their day, they stood in close proximity, the
judgments of their persecutors described in the early part
of the book. Only by arbitrarily wresting such expres-
sions from the close-woven texture of the book can they
be made to refer to some event long future to John and
still future to our own age. He who grasps in one compre-
hensive conception the whole book, with its related details,
will not commit such an error of interpretation. Verse
seven ends with these words: "Blessed is he that keepeth
the sayings of the prophecy of this book," almost an exact
duplicate of chapter one, verse three.
V. 8. "And I John saw these things and heard them,"
bringing in again the human author of the book and re-
minding us of his place and time in the story.
V. 10. "Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this
book." These words were not to be left in obscurity, but
to be read, and made known to the churches of John's
day, "for the time is at hand," These were things that
vitally concerned them, then and there, they were written
for their encouragment, to gird them in the conflict. They
were not therefore to be sealed up but immediately circu-
lated and proclaimed.
The careful reader will observe that these expressions
have very definite reference to the purpose of this book,
and therefore to its contents and interpretation. He who
weighs them duly will be little inclined to assign the bulk
of this book to a Tribulation, thousands of years distant
from the writer and the persons addressed.
11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is
filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be
righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be.
13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the
first and the last.
14. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they
may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the
gates into the city.
15. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers,
and murderers, and idolators, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these
things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David,
and the bright and morning star.
17. And the Spirit and the bride say. Come. And let him that
heareth say. Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whoso-
ever will, let him take the water of life freely.
V. 11,12. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still."
If the wicked persists in his wickedness, refuses all warn-
ings, and resists all the exhortations that are so plentiful-
ly scattered through this book, and which reach him
through other channels, let him go on to his doom, for his
doom will overtake him soon.
But let the holy be holy still, not recanting his faith
nor repudiating his allegiance to his Lord even in persecu-
tion and death, for, "Behold I come quickly;" I will punish
the transgressor, and reward the faithful. The faithful
will not have to wait long for vindication, and the wicked
will not long escape the justice he deserves.
Verse sixteen tells us: "I Jesus have sent mine angel
to testify unto you these things in the churches." This
is exactly parallel to the statements of the first chapter
where John was sent to bear these messages to the seven
churches of Asia. It is fair to assume that the churches
of the first chapter and the churches of the last chapter
are the same, and thus we cannot escape the historical
But all God's warnings are mingled with mercy, and
he calls even the sinner, whose doom he threatens, to come
and enjoy his grace. And he makes his invitation so broad
that none can exclude himself from the call: "The Spirit
146 THE MESSAGE FROM PATMOS
18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the
prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God
shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the
book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the
book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which
are written in this book.
20. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come
quickly: Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say.
Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever
will, let him take the water of life freely."
Mercy to the last, even when doom hangs over their
heads. Back from the jaws of death and the stroke of
judgment, Christ calls men to come and receive his mercy
and drink of the water of life. This book, so full of judg-
ments and the smoke of torment from the lake of fire,
does not leave the reader with only such visions in his
mind. The grace of God, and the mercy of God shines
out grandly amid them all. "Whosoever will, let him take
the water of life freely."
Vs. 18,19. The book draws to a close with a solemn
warning neither to add to these words of God nor to take
from them. Both these tendencies are prominent in the
world today. A great host of interpreters are expert us-
ers of Jehoiakim's pen-knife, and an equal number on the
other hand are reading into the Scriptures what isn't
there. One evil is as bad as the other ; and all alike should
give due heed to the solemn admonitions of this closing
word. The word of God must have honest treatment, de-
livered from the ruthlessness of cutters and slashers, and
as well from the inoculations of allegorical and mystical
interpreters. He who adds to, and he who takes away,
are equally guilty.
V. 20. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely
I come quickly." And John responds: "Amen, Even so,
come. Lord Jesus."
This coming has, in my humble judgment, no refer-
ence to the technical second personal coming of Christ,
else it would not be described as "quickly," and as some-
thing which in John's day "must shortly come to pass."
We believe that Christ will come again, we believe that
coming will be personal, but we submit that it is an inac-
curate and unscholarly piece of interpretation to apply
these passages in Revelation to that event. But the "com-
ing quickly" evidently referred to events in John's imme-
diate foreground, and which concerned the churches to
which he addressed these words. True reverence for the
Scriptures will seek to understand them in the meaning-
intended by the writer, and will seek to put upon them the
construction that is evident and natural from the writer's
viewpoint. The wise expositor will hold fast to this sound
rule of interpretation.
The judgment upon the Jewish and Roman persecu-
tors, and the vindication of the persecuted saints most
naturally fall in line with the significance of "coming
quickly," and with John's response: "Even so come, Lord
Thus we close this book of The Revelation so full of
solemn warnings, and dire judgments, fitted to fill us all
with awe, and to strike fear into the heart of the impeni-
tent sinner. But through all the thunder of doom and the
smoke of judgment we read the lesson of hope and cheer.
The loftiest optimism grows out of the study of these
Who can miss the lesson that the enemies of God and
of the church are doomed to fall ; but that Christ's cause
is always and everywhere triumphant, that the omnipo-
tent God is on the side of his church and no weapon form-
ed against it shall prosper; but through all the revolutions
and persecutions and dissolutions of earth and time he
will bring it off triumphant and present it to himself a
glorious church not having spot nor wrinkle nor any such
thing. Every judgment recorded in the book of Revelation
spells victory for the church of God, and the end the
beatific destiny of the new Jerusalem where they shall be
his people and he shall be their God.
148 THK MESSAGE EROM PATMOS
We conclude with a brief resume of the contents of
Chapter I is the introduction, fixing the circumstances,
human writer, and divine Revealer.
Chapter II and III are addressed to the seven churches
of Asia ; simple plain messages, and not allegorical or sym-
Chapters IV to XI inclusive are visions of events and
judgments that lead up to and culminate in the destruc-
tion of Jerusalem and the Jewish state, the first great
persecutor of the Christian church.
Chapters XII to XIX inclusive are visions of events
and judgments that culminate in the overthrow of pagan
Rome, the second great persecutor, and the triumph of
Christ and his cause over the hostile forces of a wicked
Chapter XX embraces the binding of Satan, the mil-
lennium, the post-millennial period, and the universal res-
urrection and the final judgment of the human race, with
the destiny of the wicked in the lake of fire.
Chapter XXI and five verses of Chapter XXII present
the destiny and blessedness of the righteous in the new
heavens and new earth, in which the new Jerusalem is
Chapter XXII:6-21, is the conclusion of the book, re-
verting to the historical standpoint at the beginning of