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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 1 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds. That is, the Lord Jesus when he returns will come accompanied with clouds. This is in accordance with the uniform representation respecting the return of the Saviour. See Barnes on "Mt 24:30".

Compare Mt 26:64; Mr 13:26 Mr 14:62; Ac 1:9,11.

Clouds are appropriate symbols of majesty, and God is often represented as appearing in that manner. See Ex 19:18 Ps 18:11; Isa 19:1. So, among the heathen, it was common to represent their divinities as appearing clothed with a cloud:

tandem venias, precamur,

Nube candentes humeros amictus

Augur Apollo."

The design of introducing this representation of the Saviour, and of the manner in which he would appear, seems to be to impress the mind with a sense of the majesty and glory of that being from whom John received his revelations. His rank, his character, his glory were such as to demand respect; all should reverence him, and all should feel that his communications about the future were important to them, for they must soon appear before him.

And every eye shall see him. He will be made visible in his glory to all that dwell upon the earth; to all the children of men. Every one, therefore, has an interest in what he says; every one has this in certain prospect, that he shall see the Son of God coming as a Judge.

And they also which pierced him. When he died; that is, they who pierced his hands, his feet, and his side. There is probably an allusion here to Zec 12:10: "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn." The language here is so general that it may refer to any act of looking upon the pierced Saviour, and might be applied to those who would see him on the cross and to their compunctions visiting then; or to their subsequent reflections, as they might look by faith on him whom they had crucified; or to the feeling of any sinners who should reflect that their sins had been the cause of the death of the Lord Jesus; or it might be applied, as it is here, more specifically to the feelings which his murderers will have when they shall see him coming in his glory. All sinners who have pierced his heart by their crimes will then behold him, and will mourn over their treatment of him; they, in a special manner, who imbrued their hands in his blood will then remember their crime, and be overwhelmed with alarm. The design of what is here said seems to be, to show that the coming of the Saviour will be an event of great interest to all mankind. None can be indifferent to it, for all will see him. His friends will hail his advent, (compare Re 22:20) but all who were engaged in putting him to death, and all who in any manner have pierced his heart by sin and ingratitude, unless they shall have repented, will have occasion of bitter lamentation when he shall come. There are none who have a more fearful doom to anticipate than the murderers of the Son of God, including those who actually put him to death, and those who would have engaged in such an act had they been present, and those who, by their conduct, have done all they could to pierce and wound him by their ingratitude.

And all kindreds of the earth. Gr., "All the tribes—fulai—of the earth." This language is the same which the Saviour uses in Mt 24:30. See Barnes "Mt 24:30".

The word tribes is that which is commonly applied to the twelve tribes of Israel, and thus used, it would describe the inhabitants of the holy land; but it may be used to denote nations and people in general, as descended from a common ancestor, and the connexion requires that it should be understood in this sense here, since it is said that "every eve shall see him;" that is, all that dwell on the face of the earth.

Shall wail because of him. On account of him; on account of their treatment of him. The word rendered wailkoptw—means properly to beat, to cut; then to beat or cut one's self in the breast as an expression of sorrow; and then to lament, to cry aloud in intense grief. The coming of the Saviour will be an occasion of this,

(a) because it will be an event which will call the sins of men to remembrance, and

(b) because they will be overwhelmed with the apprehension of the wrath to come. Nothing would fill the earth with greater consternation than the coming of the Son of God in the clouds of heaven; nothing could produce so deep and universal alarm. This fact, which no one can doubt, is proof that men feel that they are guilty, since, if they were innocent, they would have nothing to dread by his appearing. It is also a proof that they believe in the doctrine of future punishment, since, if they do not, there is no reason why they should be alarmed at his coming. Surely men would not dread his appearing if they really believed that all will be saved. Who dreads the coming of a benefactor to bestow favours on him? Who dreads the appearing of a jailer to deliver him from prison; of a physician to raise him up from a bed of pain; of a deliverer to knock off the fetters of slavery? And how can it be that men should be alarmed at the coming of the Saviour unless their consciences tell them that they have much to fear in the future? The presence of the Redeemer in the clouds of heaven would destroy all the hopes of those who believe in the doctrine of universal salvation—as the approach of death now often does. Men believe that there is much to be dreaded in the future world, or they would not fear the coming of Him who shall wind up the affairs of the human race.

Even so, Amennai, amhn. "A double expression of so be it, assuredly, certainly, one in Greek and the other in Hebrew."—Professor Stuart. Compare Ro 8:16, "Abba, Father"— abba, o pathr. The idea which John seems to intend to convey is, that the coming of the Lord Jesus, and the consequences which he says will follow, are events which are altogether certain. This is not the expression of a wish that it may be so, as our common translation would seem to imply, but a strong affirmation that it will be so. In some passages, however, the word (nai) expresses assent to what is said, implying approbation of it as true, or as desirable. Mt 11:26, "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." Lu 10:21. So in Re 16:7, "Even so, (nai) Lord God Almighty." So in Re 22:20, "Even so, (nai) come, Lord Jesus." The word Amen here seems to determine the meaning of the phrase, and to make it the affirmation of a certainty, rather than the expression of a wish.

{c} "clouds" Da 7:13; Mt 26:64 {d} "they Zec 12:10 {e} "wail" Mt 24:30 {f} "even so" Re 22:20

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