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* dress of a Hebrew priest,--a garment, : or ephod, reaching down to the feet, and girt about the breast with a golden girdle. For an account of the ephod and the girdle of the priest, see Exod. chapters xxviii. and xxxix. Jesus is well described in the dress 2 of the high priest, as he is the high a priest of the Christian profession, “a , high priest over the house of God;” ; Heb. x. 21. - 14. White like wool. —This description is evidently copied from Daniel. “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire;” Dan. vii. 9. It is Daniel's description of the appearance of the Son of man. Possibly, the whiteness of the hair is mentioned to add venerableness to the description. T His eyes. – His eyes were said to be as a flame of fire, that is, exceedingly brilliant, searching. 15. And his feet. — The description of the feet is also copied from Daniel. In describing the eminent messenger that appeared to him in his vision, he said, “His body also was like the bery 1, and his face as the appearance of iightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass, and the v-oice of his words like the voice of a rnultitude;” Dan. x. 6. T His voice 2s the sound of many maters. — This is clearly taken from the verse last a uoted. . It will be seen, then, that the revelator sought to describe the appearance of the Son of man himself, in the same terms in which
Daniel had described the heavenly messenger whom he saw. His images were not the product of any wild fancy of his own; he drew them from the sacred books of the Jews. “As the sound of many waters.” The figure here is truly grand. It is borrowed from the Old Testament. See Psa. xxix., “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth; the Lord is upon many waters; the voice of the Lord is powerful ; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.” See also Psa. xciii. Ezekiel's metaphor is very forcible : “His voice was like a noise of many waters, and the earth shined with his glory.” These things are metaphors merely; they have no foundations in fact; they are the appearances which the vivid imaginations of the Hebrew poets supposed the Holy One to assume in the presence of men. 16. In his right hand seven stars. — That is, in the hand of him who was in the midst of the seven candlesticks. It has been conjectured by some one, that this figure originated in the circumstance, that the priest, in dressing and lighting the seven golden lamps in the holy place, carried in his right hand a rod with seven miniature lights attached to it, intended for ornament, symmetry, and use. If so, it was natural to say he had in his right hand seven stars, or twinkling lights. They appeared to the beholder like stars. What they represented will be seen under ver. 20. "I Sharp two-edged snord.— This seems at first an unnatural metaphor, – a sword going out of one's mouth. We
suppose it must have originated in t -
nance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he
this way: — As the word goes out of the mouth, and as it is compared to a sword on account of its potency, piercing even to the heart, so the sword is said to go out of the mouth. Paul, in describing the Christian armor, expressly tells his brethren that the word of God is the “sword of the spirit;” Eph. vi. 17. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews says, - That “the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword;” Heb. iv. 12. In Rev. xix. 15, we read that the Son of God riding forth to victory, showeth a sharp sword going out of his mouth. It is a proof of the spiritual nature of the Christian religion, that it has no sword except the “word of God.” The prophecy concerning the Saviour in Isaiah has a similar metaphor. “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth : and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked;” Isaiah xi. 4. Here, instead of the sword, we have the rod of his mouth. Paul has still a different metaphor, – “the spirit of his mouth.” “And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming;” 2 Thess. ii. 8. “These passages afford considerable light to the expression before us; and show clearly the nature of the weapons by which our Lord and his church are to gain their victories; not by the usual instruments of human warfare, but by the preaching of his word in evangelical purity and truth.”—(Woodhouse.) T His countenance nas as the sun. — It was a very ancient form of blessing the people : — “The Lord bless thee and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee and give
thee peace;” Numb. vi. 24–26. Hence comes the prayer, “Lord, list thou up the light of thy countenance upon us;” Psa. iv. 6. See, also, xxi. 6; xlii. 5; xliv. 3; lxxxix. 15. The description of the angel who appeared at the sepulchre at the resurrection of Jesus corresponds with the description of the Son of man. “His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow;” Matt, xxviii. 3. So Christ appeared at the transfiguration. “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering;” Luke ix. 29. It seems from all these facts that spiritual beings, and especially visitants from the heavenly world, were represented in the whitest raiment, and with countenances glowing like fire. Such is the appearance of the Son of man described to be in the verses before us. After Moses had communed with God upon the mount, his face shone with brightness. “And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him;” Exod. xxxiv. 35. It was perfectly in keeping, therefore, with Scripture metaphors, for the revelator to use the style he did. They were not the product of a wild and unguided fancy in him ; but were figures familiar to him, from his intimate acquaintance with the Old Testament. 17. Fell at his feet. — The vision which the revelator had of the glory and power of the Son of man was truly overwhelming. He fell like a man stricken dead. Similar was the effect on Daniel, when the glorious o: appeared to him, whom we ave already mentioned. “There. fore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption,
In 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;
o, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face,
so of my hands;” x. 10. T Fear not.— These are the same encouraging words which were spoken to Daniel; * x. 12. T First and the last. — See on Wer, 11. 18. Jesus bade him fear not. I am * (said he) none other than the first and the last; see i. 11, and ii. 8; “I am he that liveth and was dead;” (Surely this is a description of the risen Jesus;] “and am alive for evermore, Amen.” T And have the keys. – Keys are an emblem of power and government. When Christ gave Peter authority in the kingdom, he said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven;” Matt xvi. 19. So it is said of Eliakim, by the prophet, “I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand; and the key of the house of David will * I lay upon his shoulder;” Isaiah xxii. 21, 22. Jesus is said to have had the keys of hell and of death, because he had power over them. T Of hell and of death. – The word hell is not to be understood here as signifying a place of punishment beyond the grave. It signifies the state of the dead. It is the Sheol of the Hebrews, the Hades of the Greeks; and Hades is the word used in this place. To have the keys of hell and of death means, to have
power over death and the grave. In the metaphorical style of the Hebrews, Sheol, or Hades, was regarded as a place, a dark prison, or region, surrounded with walls, and having gates. Jesus spoke of the gates of hades; Matt. xvi. 18; and the keys of hades is certainly a corresponding metaphor. Jesus had power over death and the grave. He called up Lazarus from the dead. He had been raised from the dead himself by the power of the Father. All at last shall be made alive in him. He will deliver them from the power of death. Hence he is said to have the keys of death and hades, or hell, the grave.
19. Write the things. – Because they were of the utmost importance to the churches. The contents of this book are not light and fanciful, but worthy of deep attention. What was worthy of record, by command of the Son of man, is worthy of the attention of the Christian church. "I Which thou hast seen. — There were three classes of facts to be recorded. 1st. Those the revelator had seen; 2d. Those which existed at that time; and, 3d. Those which were about to be. It is not possible to divide the book of Revelation to conform to these divisions in all things, though some respect may be paid it. It is very necessary, however, to remember that all which was described in the Apocalypse was not future. We shall have occasion to see this before we get through the book. That part of the book which is principally prophetic commences at the fourth chapter. “After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven ; and the first voice which I heard, was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which
20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest 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 are the seven churches.
NTO 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;
said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be HEREAFTER.” Compare i. 19 with iv. 1. 20. The mystery of the seven stars. — We meet with the word mystery often in the New Testament. It does not signify something absolutely unintelligible and incomprehensible. The word never bears such a sense in the New Testament. It sometimes signifies a matter hidden, or not fully made manifest; but we are not to suppose it cannot be understood when it is made known. In the case before us, mystery is synonymous with metaphor. The metaphor of the seven stars and seven candlesticks was about to be explained by the Son of man. For further illustration of this sense of the word “mystery,” see the notes on xvii. 5, 7. T The seven stars. — Star metaphorically signified a ruler; see Numb. xxiv. 17, and Dan. viii. 10. The revelator (xxii. 16) calls Jesus “the bright and morning star,” shining above all other stars. The seven stars intended the seven angels, or pastors, of the seven Asiatic churches. Jesus held them in his right hand; that is, he had them at his command ; he had a rightful control over them. TI Seven candlesticks. – These are explained to signify the seven churches mentioned in ver. 11, and to whom the epistles recorded in chapters ii. and iii. were addressed. For further, on this point, see the note on Rev. ii. 5.
1. We have been led by the first chapter to expect to find, as we shall proceed, communications to the seven
There are certain features common to all these epistles. 1st. The churches are all assured that it is Jesus, the faithful and true witness, by whom they are addressed, notwithstanding he is described under different titles. 2d. They are all promised a reward, if they will be faithful unto the end, and overcome their enemies, or come off victorious in the spiritual contest in which they were engaged. 3d. The whole of them are assured that their works are known to him who holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, and walketh in the midst of the golden candlesticks. 4th. In several cases the faults of the churches are clearly pointed out ; and, 5th. Some of them are praised for their good deeds.
By Asia, in the New Testament, is generally meant that part of the quar. ter of the world bearing the name which we now denominate Asia Minor, and which lies between the Mediterranean on the south, and the Black Sea upon the north. The gospel was early preached here by the apostles and their co-laborers. Paul, after his conversion, preached Christ first at Damascus, afterwards at Jerusalem, then throughout the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles,
2 I know thy works, and thy
labor, and thy patience, and
He travelled and labored much in Asia Minor. Read, in the 13th of Acts, the account of his first labors in Antioch of Pisidia. He preached also In Iconium, Lystra, Derbe; and travelled through the regions of Pisidia and Pamphylia; he carried with him into Asia Minor the decrees from the brethren at Jerusalem; and under his labors, we are told, “that the churches were established in the faith, and increased in number daily;” Acts xvi. 5. See him again passing through Galatia and Phrygia, and coming to Ephesus. Here he remained three months, in constant visitations to the synagogue, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God;” Acts xix. 1–8. Leaving his accustomed place at the synagogue in consequence of the hardness of some, he entered into the school of one Tyrannus, where he had a wider field of influence, and where he continued for two years. To this school many came from all parts of Asia Minor; and we are told, that by Paul's labors in this station, “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks;” Acts xix. 10. These remarks will show that the gospel was spread very widely in Asia Minor soon after the conversion of Paul.
EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH AT EPHESUS.
1. Ephesus. – This was a very celebrated city of Asia Minor, in the western part thereof, and on the borders of the Egean Sea. It was about 40 miles south of Smyrna. It was the capital of the province, and was 1nuch celebrated for a magnificent heathen temple, consecrated to the goddess Diana, which was built at the expense of all the provinces of Asia, and occupied 220 years in building. There were certain men in this city who accumulated much wealth by making silver shrines for the goddess, which were, perhaps,
miniature representations of the idol, or of some symbols or sorms of worship. Paul's labors in Ephesus bid fair to spoil their business, and they incited the people to a great uproar. “For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no Small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth : moreover, ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying, that they be no Gods which are made with hands. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the
temple of the great goddess Diana
should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia, and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion;” Acts xix. 24 —pt. of 29. Every reader of the New Testament will remember vividly Paul's farewell to the Ephesian elders, while he was on the way to make his last visit to Jerusalem. He called them to him, and referred to his past labors and perils among them; that he had faithfully preached the gospel, and urged the people to repentance and faith; that he was on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew not what would befall him, except that everywhere trials and dangers awaited him. “But none of these things move me (said he 5) neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my