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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 3 - Verse 14

Verse 14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write. See Barnes "Re 1:20".

 

These things saith the Amen. Referring, as is the case in every epistle, to some attribute of the speaker adapted to impress their minds, or to give peculiar force to what he was about to say to that particular church. Laodicea was characterized by lukewarmness, and the reference to the fact that he who was about to address them was the "Amen"—that is, was characterized by the simple earnestness and sincerity denoted by that word—was eminently fitted to make an impression on the minds of such a people. The word Amen means true, certain, faithful; and, as used here, it means that he to whom it is applied is eminently true and faithful. What he affirms is true; what he promises or threatens is certain. Himself characterized by sincerity and truth, (See Barnes "2 Co 1:20") he can look with approbation only on the same thing in others: and hence he looks with displeasure on the lukewarmness which, from its very nature, always approximates insincerity. This was an attribute, therefore, every way appropriate to be referred to in addressing a lukewarm church.

The faithful and true witness. This is presenting the idea implied in the word Amen in a more complete form, but substantially the same thing is referred to. He is a witness for God and his truth, and he can approve of nothing which the God of truth would not approve. See Barnes "Re 1:5".

 

The beginning of the creation of God. This expression is a very important one in regard to the rank and dignity of the Saviour, and, like all similar expressions respecting him, its meaning has been much controverted. See Barnes on "Col 1:15".

The phrase here used is susceptible, properly, of only one of the following significations, viz.: either

(a) that he was the beginning of the creation in the sense that he caused the universe to begin to exist—that is, that he was the author of all things; or

(b) that he was the first created being; or

(c) that he holds the primacy over all, and is at the head of the universe. It is not necessary to examine any other proposed interpretations, for the only other senses supposed to be conveyed by the words, that he is the beginning of the creation in the sense that he rose from the dead as the first-fruits of them that sleep, or that he is the head of the spiritual creation of God, are so foreign to the natural meaning of the words as to need no special refutation. As to the three significations suggested above, it may be observed, that the first one—that he is the author of the creation, and in that sense the beginning, though expressing a scriptural doctrine, (Joh 1:3; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16) —is not in accordance with the proper meaning of the word here used—arch. The word properly refers to the commencement of a thing, not its authorship, and denotes properly primacy in time, and primacy in rank, but not primacy in the sense of causing anything to exist. The two ideas which run through the word as it is used in the New Testament are those just suggested. For the former—primacy in regard to time—that is properly the commencement of a thing, see the following passages where the word occurs: Mt 19:4,8; 24:8,21; Mr 1:1; 10:6; 13:8,19; Lu 1:2; Joh 1:1-2

Joh 2:11; 6:64; 8:25,44; 15:27; 16:4; Ac 11:15; 1 Jo 1:1; 2:7,13-14,24

1 Jo 3:8,11; 2 Jo 5-6.

For the latter signification, primacy of rank, or authority, see the following places: Lu 12:11; 20:20; Ro 8:38

1 Co 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; Eph 6:12; Col 1:16,18; 2:10,15; Tit 3:1.

The word is not, therefore, found in the sense of authorship, as denoting that one is the beginning of anything in the sense that he caused it to have an existence. As to the second of the significations suggested, that it means that he was the first created being, it may be observed

(a) that this is not a necessary signification of the phrase, since no one can show that this is the only proper meaning which could be given to the words, and therefore the phrase cannot be adduced to prove that he is himself a created being. If it were demonstrated from other sources that Christ was, in fact, a created being, and the first that God had made, it cannot be denied that this language would appropriately express that fact. But it cannot be made out from the mere use of the language here; and as the language is susceptible of other interpretations, it cannot be employed to prove that Christ is a created being.

(b) Such an interpretation would be at variance with all those passages which speak of him as uncreated and eternal; which ascribe Divine attributes to him; which speak of him as himself the Creator of all things. Compare Joh 1:1-3; Col 1:16; Heb 1:2,6,8,10-12.

The third signification, therefore, remains, that he is "the beginning of the creation of God," in the sense that he is the head or prince of the creation; that is, that he presides over it so far as the purposes of redemption are to be accomplished, and so far as is necessary for those purposes. This is

(1) in accordance with the meaning of the word, Lu 12:11; 20:20, et al, ut supra; and

(2) in accordance with the uniform statements respecting the Redeemer, that "all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth," (Mt 28:18) that God has "given him power over all flesh," (Joh 17:2) that all things are "put under his feet," (Heb 2:8; 1 Co 15:27) that he is exalted over all things, Eph 1:20-22. Having this rank, it was proper that he should speak with authority to the church at Laodicea.

{1} "church" "in Laodicea" {a} "Amen" Isa 65:16

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