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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 2 - Verse 7

Verse 7. He that hath an ear, let him hear, etc. This expression occurs at the close of each of the epistles addressed to the seven churches, and is substantially a mode of address often employed by the Saviour in his personal ministry, and quite characteristic of him. See Mt 11:15; Mr 4:23; 7:16. It is a form of expression designed to arrest the attention, and to denote that what was said was of special importance.

What the Spirit saith unto the churches. Evidently what the Holy Spirit says—for he is regarded in the Scriptures as the Source of inspiration, and as appointed to disclose truth to man. The "Spirit" may be regarded either as speaking through the Saviour, (compare Joh 3:34;) or as imparted to John, through whom he addressed the churches. In either case it is the same Spirit of inspiration, and in either case there would be a claim that his voice should be heard. The language here used is of a general character" He that hath an ear;" that is, what was spoken was worthy of the attention not only of the members of these churches, but of all others. The truths were of so general a character as to deserve the attention of mankind at large.

To him that overcometh. Gr., "To him that gains the victory, or is a conqueror"—tw nikwnti. This may refer to any victory of a moral character, and the expression used would be applicable to one who should triumph in any of these respects:—

(a) over his own easily-besetting sins;

(b) over the world and its temptations;

(c) over prevalent error;

(d) over the ills and trials of life, so as, in all these respects, to show that his Christian principles are firm and unshaken. Life, and the Christian life especially, may be regarded as a warfare. Thousands fall in the conflict with evil; but they who maintain a steady warfare, and who achieve a victory, shall be received as conquerors in the end.

Will I give to eat of the tree of life. As the reward of his victory. The meaning is, that he would admit him to heaven, represented as paradise, and permit him to enjoy its pleasures—represented by being permitted to partake of its fruits. The phrase "of the tree of life" refers undoubtedly to the language used respecting the Garden of Eden, Ge 2:9; 3:22—where the "tree of life" is spoken of as that which was adapted to make the life of man perpetual. Of the nature of that tree nothing is known, though it would seem probable that, like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was a mere emblem of life—or a tree that was set before man in connexion with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that his destiny turned on the question whether he partook of the one or the other. That God should make the question of life or death depend on that, is no more absurd or improbable than that he should make it depend on what man does now—it being a matter of fact that life and death, happiness and misery, joy and sorrow, are often made to depend on things quite as arbitrary apparently, and quite as unimportant, as an act of obedience or disobedience in partaking of the fruit of a designated tree. Does it not appear probable that in Eden there were two trees designated to be of an emblematic character, of life and death, and that as man partook of the one or the other he would live or die? Of all the others he might freely partake without their affecting his condition; of one of these—the tree of life—he might have partaken before the fall, and lived for ever. One was forbidden on pain of death. When the law forbidding that was violated, it was still possible that he might partake of the other—but, since the sentence of death had been passed upon him, that would not now be proper, and he was driven from the garden, and the way was guarded by the flaming sword of the Cherubim. The reference in the passage before us is to the celestial paradise—to heaven—spoken of under the beautiful image of a garden; meaning that the condition of man, in regard to life, will still be the same as if he had partaken of the tree of life in Eden. Compare See Barnes "Re 22:2".

 

Which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Heaven, represented as paradise. To be permitted to eat of that tree, that is, of the fruit of that tree, is but another expression implying the promise of eternal life, and of being happy for ever. The word paradise is of Oriental derivation, and is found in several of the Eastern languages. In the Sanscrit the word paradesha and paradisha is used to denote a land elevated and cultivated; in the Armenian the word pardes denotes a garden around the house planted with grass, herbs, trees for use and ornament; and in the Hebrew form

HEBREW, and Greek paradeisov, it is applied to the pleasure gardens and parks, with wild animals, around the country residences of the Persian monarchs and princes, Ne 2:8. Compare Ec 2:5; So 4:13; Xen. Cyro. i. 3, 14.—Rob. Lex. Here it is used to denote heaven—a world compared in beauty with a richly cultivated park or garden. Compare 2 Co 12:4. The meaning of the Saviour is, that he would receive him that overcame to a world of happiness; that he would permit him to taste of the fruit that grows there imparting immortal life, and to rest in an abode fitted up in a manner that would contribute in every way to enjoyment. Man, when he fell, was not permitted to reach forth his hand and pluck of the fruit of the tree of life in the first Eden, as he might have done if he had not fallen; but he is now permitted to reach forth his hand and partake of the tree of life in the paradise above. He is thus restored to what he might have been if he had not transgressed by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; and in the Paradise Regained, the blessings of the Paradise Lost will be more than recovered—for man may now live for ever in a far higher and more blessed state than his would have been in Eden.

{b} "he that hath" Re 2:11,17,29; Mt 11:15

{c} "tree of life" Re 22:2; Ge 2:9

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