give thee a crown of life.

11 He that hath an ear, let

crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye |. crown] in the presence of our

ord Jesus Christ at his coming 2* He then answers, “Ye ARE our glory and joy.” See 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. The converts made to Christ through Paul's instrumentality were an honor and glory and joy to him — they were His crowN. When he drew towards the end of life, he reflected more deeply upon this crown. , Christ, he thought, would confirm it to him ; and sanction his claim to honor in the church. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing;” 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. His crown was his faithfulness and the success of his labors in the church — these were glory and honor to him. He could not be deprived of that crown. True, it was not then so generally acknowledged an honor to be a faithful Christian as it was afterwards, when Christ came to exalt his church, and cast down his foes; —and hence it is said, the Lord would give it to him at that day. Peter said to the elders, “When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This was certainly on the earth, where the chief Shepherd appeared; and when he came, the merits of his followers were made manifest. The term “crown of life” is to be explained on the principles here laid down : it was the dignity, glory, honor of the Christian life; which would be made to appear to be truly glorious and honorable at the coming of the Lord, when every man should be rewarded according to his works. And if any man died before the coming of Christ, he would not lose the crown, provided he remained faithful unto death. Paul, Peter, and the

rest of the apostles, Stephen, and many others, wear this crown of life now. We see it on their heads; it is radiant with glory, like a crown of stars; it can never fade away. Paul tells us explicitly when he expected to have this crown. “ Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me (when 2) at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Here are two circumstances which assist us to a right understanding of the subject, viz., the phrase that day, and the appearing of Christ. He says, in another place, that God shall judge the quick and the dead (i.e., those who were dead in sins and those who had been quickened out of their sins; see Eph. ii. 1) “at his appearing and his kingdom;” 2 Tim. iv. 1. Does not this language evidently apply to Christ's appearing in power to set up his kingdom at the end of the law It was then that Christ was to judge men; see Matt. xvi. 27; Mark viii. 38; ix. 1. And that event certainly was to take place during the lifetime of some who were on the earth when the Saviour spake; Matt. xvi. 28. His appearing then took place. “Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven;” Matt. xxiv. 30. And in order to impress on those who listened, the solemn fact that the appearing would take place in that generation, Jesus adds, ver. 34, “Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be ful. filled.” Peter connects the crown with Christ's appearing, in the same manner with Paul. “When the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away;” 1 Peter v. 4. We have now put these facts into a form in which they will, we think, be understood. The cronyn was certainly to be conferred at the appearing of Christ; and the appearing of Christ was at

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

him hear what the Spirit saith

unto the churches; He that

the full establishment of his kingdom, at the end of the Mosaic law. It is not supposed that all the Christians were then personally present before the Son of God. He was not personally present himself on earth at that time. It was not an outward, visible, tangible crown which the faithful Christians were to receive; but it was then to be made manifest to the world, by the establishment of the gospel and the overthrow of the Jewish nation and religion, that the Christians nere right; that they had labored in a just cause; that they had fought a Good fight; that their steadfastness was not in vain. This was a crown, full of brilliant gems. They had been cast down and trodden under foot. Their enemies had triumphed over them. They desired no other crown than to be fully vindicated before the world,—their course approved, – their doctrine established, - the faith they had kept made triumphant. That was a crown indeed! What a bright halo of glory has encircled the head of Paul (to make him the representative of many others) ever since the appearing and kingdom of the Lord Jesus. He has been honored, and forever will be honored, by the church of God. His name has been written on her banners in letters of light. Although so great a persecutor before his conversion, although born out of due time, yet he has been associated with Jesus and the apostles in the affections of the church universal. His cronyn was not personal aggrandizement, for that his soul did not desire; but it was the high satisfaction of standing vindicated before the world as having kept the true faith, as having defended a righteous cause, as having fought a good fight, as having labored for the advantage of the world. 11. He that hath an ear. — This shows that what the revelator had uttered was worthy of deep consideration. It was not for the un

thinking multitude; they would not discern its import; it was for those who had ears to hear, – i. e., ears that were open to hear. Such were called upon particularly to take notice of what was said. Dr. Campbell says “that Jesus Christ never employs the words, “He that hath ears to hear,’ &c., in the introduction or conclusion of any plain moral instructions, but always after some parable, or prophetic declarations figuratively expressed.” — Dis. II., part iii., sec. 5. T What the Spirit saith. — John spoke by the spirit. The spirit of the risen Son of God was with him to guide him into all truth; Rev. i. 10. This spirit was “the spirit of truth,” “whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him ;” John xiv. 17. TOvercometh. — The style here, as we have had occasion to show before, is peculiarly that of the apostle John ; 1 Epis. v. 4, 5. TI Second death. — This phrase occurs nowhere except in the book of Revelation; see ii. 11; xx. 6, 14; xxi. 8; and these are all the instances of its occurrence. And what is the “second death 2'' We shall give a direct answer, in the language of Scripture. Rev. xx. 14: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This Is The second DEATH.” And again, in Rev. xxi. 8: “But the fearful and unbelieving, &c., . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which Is The second DEATH.” Here we feel confident, that to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone was the second death. The revelator, at the time he mentioned the “second death,” in the case before us, had been speaking of the rebellious and persecuting Jews, “the synagogue of Satan.” That the Jews as a nation were cast into the lake of fire when their city was

destroyed the second time, will be

evident to every one who will read Ezek. xxii. 18–22. See also Isa. overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death.

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 martyr, who was slain

xxxi. 9 : “The Lord's fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.” They suffered the second death, then, – an utter, total death, – at the time of the entire overthrow and extinction of their nation. “He that overcometh, shall not be hurt of the second death;” i. e., he that is faithful through all tribulations, shall not be involved in the general calamity which is about to fall on the Jews, and on all the enemies of Christ. Let the reader examine the following passages, and he will see that the terms “fire and brimstone” are terms frequently employed by the sacred writers to describe the judgments of God in the present life; Gen. xix. 24; Deut. xxix. 23; Job xviii. 15; Psa. xi. 6; Isa. xxx. 33; xxxiv. 9, 10; Ezek. xxxviii. 22; Luke xvii. 29. For further remarks on the second death, see our comments on Rev. xx. 6, 14; and xxi. 8.


12. Angel. — See the notes on ii. 1 and 8. T Pergamos. – This place is mentioned but twice in the Scriptures; Rev. i. 11; ii. 12. It was a celebrated city of antiquity, the most important place in Mysia, and the most northerly of the places that contained the seven apocalyptical churches. It probably existed eight or ten centuries before Christ. It was famed for its library, which yielded only to that of Alexandria in extent and value, and it is said to have contained upwards of two hundred thousand volumes. It was the birth-place of the celebrated Galen, and in its vicinity there was a famous temple of AEsculapius. The modern town

retains the name of Bergamo, Bergamah, or Bergma. T He which hath the snord nith two edges. – This is a reserence to the Son of man; see i. 16; and to the notes on that text we refer the reader. 13. I know thy works. – This was said to the whole seven of the churches. T Where thou dwellest. The place is specially referred to, as if for some reason it was worthy of particular observation. The peculiarity is brought out in the next words. I Where Satan's seat is. – That is, his location, his place of influence and power. There had been a great opposition to Christianity there. It was a place of great heathen strength. The immense library was there, which perhaps brought together the heathen and Jewish scholars from all parts of Asia, Greece, and the more western parts of the world. This would tend to give character and strength to the opposition to Christianity. The word Satan has much the same general use in the Scriptures as diabolos, or devil. In the case before us it is used for the adversaries collectively at Pergamos. Peter was the Satan when he opposed his master; Matt. xvi. 23; Mark viii. 33. In one case Satan seems to signify a disease; Luke xiii. 16. But when Paul says, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly,” Rom. xvi. 20, he refers undoubtedly to the human adversaries of Christianity. The word seems also to bear the same sense in 1 Thess. ii. 18: “Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” We do not suppose Paul meant

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

that some invisible, intangible, malicious agent had power enough over him to succeed for a length of time in hindering him against his will from doing his duty. We shall define Satan's seat then to be the place of a powerful and wicked opposition to Christianity. And yet the church as a body stood fast. ... [ Hast not denied my faith. — They did not abandon the name of Christ, and they held fast his faith, even in those terrible days when Antipas was slain. Dr. Hammond tells us that Antipas was cotemporary with the apostles; that he was bishop of the church of Pergamos, and that in his very old age he fed and ruled the flock in all godliness. He was a faithful martyr, and was slain where Satan dwelt. It is certain from the text that he was a Christian, that he was faithful even unto death, and that he was slain at Pergamos as a witness of Jesus. The character bestowed upon this church was, in general, very honorable to them. 14. But I have a fen, things against thee.—Notwithstanding the praise which had been bestowed upon them, there were some things among them that were wrong. They had not divorced themselves from those who held the error of Balaam. And what was that ? Balaam taught Balak, king of the Moabites, “to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel.” See Numb. xxxi. 16: “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord, in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord.” Balaam was not in all

things faithful. He led the children of Israel somewhat into idolatry and uncleanness. There were men like him in the church at Pergamos, who were willing to compromise with their heathen neighbors, for the gratification of jo. Persons of this description are mentioned by Peter, 2 Epis. ii. 10–15, and Jude 4. 15. Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. – This church differed from the church at Ephesus. The latter hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, but the church at Pergamos had those among them who held the doctrines of that sect. Who these were, and what were their faults, will be seen by the notes on ver. 6. 16. Repent. — This is a word of wide import. It signifies not only td change the mind, not only to have Sorrow for past misdeeds or neglects, but to reform the life. Thus the church at Ephesus was called on to “repent, and do the first works,” ver. 5; i. e., reform their lives, and get back again to duty and faithfulness. T Come unto thee quickly. — See what is said on this topic in the notes on i. 1, 3. It is remarkable how particular the Son of man was to show that his coming in judgment was not distant. See, also, Matt.xvi. 27, 28; Mark viii. 38; ix. 1; Luke ix. 26, 27. T Snoord of my mouth. — This is a reference to what is said i. 16; “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” This two-edged sword was the word of God. The word of God is repeatedly represented by a sword. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” said Paul, Eph. vi. 17. The author of the epistle to will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17. 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 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. 18 And unto the angel of the

the Hebrews employs a comparison instead of a metaphor. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;” Heb. iv. 12. The word of God being the sword, is said to be the sword of the mouth. By that word they would be condemned, if they did not reform. 17. He that hath an ear. — See the remarks on verses 7 and 11 of this chapter. T Hidden manna. — The manna was that food from heaven by which the children of Israel were sustained in their forty years' journey through the wilderness. It was a favorite custom of the apostle John to represent the gospel under the figure of food. He learned it of his Master. Jesus called himself the bread of God, that came down from heaven to give life to the world. It was the same style of metaphor to represent the gospel by manna, – hidden, not visible manna. This may have reference to the manna being kept in a pot in the temple; or it may mean spiritual manna, such as is not visible to the outward sense of sight. In ver. 7 we read that he who overcame should “eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” The hidden manna is another metaphor to describe the same thing. The intention was, to signify that the Christians who were faithful under the trials described in the Apocalypse, should be entitled to, and should enjoy, the highest delights of the gospel. T White stone. — This was a mark of honor. The stone here referred to was a beautiful white tab

let. It was a sign of worth and purity. The figure perhaps was drawn from the breast-plate of the high priest, which had four rows of precious stones, three in each row, and on each stone was engraved the name of one of the tribes. In this way Aaron bore the names of the children of Israel in the breast-plate of judgment upon his heart, when he went in before the Lord. He thus presented them justified in God's sight; Exod. xxviii. 29, 30. God threatened the Jews who showed signs of idolatry, that he would destroy them, “and blot out their name from under heaven;” Deut. ix. 14. Here are the opposites. Those who forsook the true God, and turned to idolatry, were to have their names blotted out; while those who were faithful to the end, and kept themselves free and uncontaminated by the idolatry by which they were surrounded, should have a new name, a more honored name, which, like the names of the tribes on the breast-plate of judgment, should be engraved on a stone, white as a sign of purity and honor. And this name should be a pass-word to glory and distinction. None should know it, except him who received it. It could not, therefore, be counterfeited ; and it was a sure security to the individual who possessed it that his honors should never be lost.


18. Thyatura. — This was a considerable city, not a great distance from Pergamos, and in the way from the latter place to Sardis. It is mentioned in Acts xvi. 14, where we are told that the pious Lydia, who received Paul and Silas at Philippi,

« ElőzőTovább »