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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 1 - Verse 14

Verse 14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow. Exceedingly or perfectly white—the first suggestion to the mind of the apostle being that of wool, and then the thought occurring of its extreme whiteness resembling snow—the purest white of which the mind conceives. The comparison with wool and snow to denote anything peculiarly white is not uncommon. See Isa 1:18. Professor Stuart supposes that this means, not that his hairs were literally white, as if with age, which he says would be incongruous to one just risen from the dead, clothed with immortal youth and rigour, but that it means radiant, bright, resplendent—similar to what occurred on the transfiguration of the Saviour, Mt 17:2. But to this it may be replied

(a) that this would not accord well with that with which his hair is compared—snow and wool, particularly the latter.

(b) The usual meaning of the word is more obvious here, and not at all inappropriate. The representation was fitted to signify majesty and authority; and this would be best accomplished by the image of one who was venerable in years. Thus in the vision that appeared to Daniel, (Da 7:9) it is said of him who is there called the "Ancient of Days," that his "garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool." It is not improbable that John had that representation in his eye, and that therefore he would be impressed with the conviction that this was a manifestation of a Divine person. We are not necessarily to suppose that this is the form in which the Saviour always appears now in heaven, any more than we are to suppose that God appears always in the form in which he was manifested to Isaiah, (Isa 6:1) to Daniel, (Da 7:9) or to Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu in the mount, Ex 24:10-11. The representation is, that this form was assumed for the purpose of impressing the mind of the apostle with a sense of his majesty and glory.

And his eyes were as a flame of fire. Bright, sharp, penetrating; as if everything was light before them, or they would penetrate into the thoughts of men. Such a representation is not uncommon. We speak of a lightning glance, a fiery look, etc. In Da 10:6, it is said of the man who appeared to the prophet on the banks of the river Hiddekel, that his eyes were "as lamps of fire." Numerous instances of this comparison from the Greek and Latin classics may be seen in Wetstein, in loc.

{k} "eyes" Re 2:18; 19:12

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