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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 10 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever. By the everliving God: a form of an oath in extensive use now. The essential idea in such an oath is an appeal to God; a solemn reference to Him as a witness; an utterance in the presence of Him who is acquainted with the truth or falsehood of what is said, and who will punish him who appeals to Him falsely. It is usual, in such an oath, in order to give to it greater solemnity, to refer to some attribute of God, or something in the Divine character on which the mind would rest at the time, as tending to make it more impressive. Thus, in the passage before us, the reference is to God as "ever-living;" that is, he is now a witness, and he ever will be; he has now the power to detect and punish, and he ever will have the same power.

Who created heaven, and the things that therein are, etc. Who is the Maker of all things in heaven, on the earth, and in the sea; that is, throughout the universe. The design of referring to these things here is that which is just specified—to give increased solemnity to the oath by a particular reference to some one of the attributes of God. With this view nothing could be more appropriate than to refer to him as the Creator of the universe—denoting his infinite power, his right to rule and control all things.

That there should be time no longer. This is a very important expression, as it is the substance of what the angel affirmed in so solemn a manner; and as the interpretation of the whole passage depends on it. It seems now to be generally agreed among critics that our translation does not give the true sense, inasmuch

(a) as that was not the close of human affairs, and

(b) as he proceeds to state what would occur after that. Accordingly, different versions of the passage have been proposed. Professor Stuart renders it, "that delay shall be no longer." Mr. Elliott, "that the time shall not yet be; but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, whensoever he may be about to sound, then the mystery of God shall be finished." Mr. Lord, "that the time shall not be yet, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel," etc. Andrew Fuller, (Works, vol. vi. 113,) "there should be no delay." So Dr. Gill. Mr. Daubuz, "the time shall not be yet." Vitringa, (p. 432,) tempus non fore amplius, "time shall be no more." He explains it (p. 433) as meaning, "not that this is to be taken absolutely, as if at the sounding of the seventh trumpet all things were then to terminate, and the glorious epiphany—epifaneia (or manifestation of Jesus Christ)—was then to occur who would put an end to all the afflictions of his church; but in a limited sense—restricte—as meaning that there would be no delay between the sounding of the seventh trumpet and tile fulfilment of the prophecies." The sense of this passage is to be determined by the meaning of the words and the connexion.

(a) The word timecronov—is the common Greek word to denote time, and may be applied to time in general, or to any specified time or period. See Robinson, Lex. s. voce (a, b.) In the word itself there is nothing to determine its particular signification here. It might refer either to time in general, or to the time under consideration; and which was the subject of the prophecy. Which of these is the true idea is to be ascertained by the other circumstances referred to. It should be added, however, that the word does not of itself denote delay, and is never used to denote that directly. It can only denote that because delay occupies or consumes time, but this sense of the noun is not found in the New Testament. It is found, however, in the verb cronizw, to linger, to delay, to be long in coming, Mt 25:5 Lu 1:21.

(b) The absence of the article "time," not "the time"— would naturally give it a general signification, unless there was something in the connexion to limit it to some well-known period under consideration. See Barnes on "Re 8:2; Re 10:3 ".

In this latter view, if the time referred to would be sufficiently definite without the article, the article need not be inserted. This is such a case, and comes under the rule for the omission of the article as laid down by Bishop Middleton, part i. chap. iii. The principle is, that when the copula, or verb connecting the subject and predicate, is the verb substantive, then the article is omitted. "To affirm the existence," says he, "of that of which the existence is already assumed, would be superfluous; to deny it, would be contradictory and absurd." As applicable to the case before us, the meaning of this rule would be, that the nature of the time here referred to is implied in the use of the substantive verb, (estai) and that consequently it is not necessary to specify it. All that needs to be said on this point is, that, on the supposition that John, referred to a specified time, instead of time in general, it would not be necessary, under this rule, to insert the article. The reference would be understood without it, and the insertion would be unnecessary. This is, substantially, the reasoning of Mr. Elliott, (ii. 123,) and it is submitted for what it is worth. My own knowledge of the usages of the Greek article is too limited to justify me in pronouncing an opinion on the subject, but the authorities are such as to authorize the assertion that, on the supposition that a particular well-known period were here referred to, the insertion of the article would not be necessary.

(c) The particle rendered "longer"—eti—"time shall be no longer" —means properly, according to Robinson, (Lex.,) yet, still; implying

(1) duration—as spoken of the present time; of the present in allusion to the past, and, with a negative, no more, no longer,

(2) implying accession, addition, yet, more, farther, besides. According to Buttmann, Gram. % 149, i. p. 430, it means, when alone, "yet still, yet farther; and with a negative, no more, no farther." The particle occurs often in the New Testament, as may be seen in the Concordance. It is more frequently rendered "yet" than by any other word, (compare Mt 12:46; 17:5; 19:20; 26:47; 27:63; Mr 5:35; 8:17; 12:6) Mr 14:43—and so in the other Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles; in all, fifty times. In the book of Revelation it is only once rendered "yet," Re 6:11, but is rendered "more" in Re 3:12; 7:16 Re 9:12; 12:8; 18:21-22, (three times,) Re 18:23, (twice;) Re 20:3; 21:1,4, (twice;) "longer" in Re 10:6; "still" in Re 22:11, (four times.) The usage, therefore, will justify the rendering of the word by "yet," and in connexion with the negative, "not yet"—meaning that the thing referred to would not occur immediately, but would be hereafter. In regard to the general meaning, then, of this passage in its connexion, we may remark

(a) that it cannot mean, literally, that there would be time no longer, or that the world would then come to an end absolutely, for the speaker proceeds to disclose events that would occur after that, extending far into the future, (Re 10:11) and the detail that follows (Revelation 11) before the sounding of the seventh trumpet is such as to occupy a considerable period, and the seventh trumpet is also yet to sound. No fair construction of the language, therefore, would require us to understand this as meaning that the affairs of the world were then to terminate.

(b) The connexion, then, apart from the question of grammatical usage, will require some such construction as that above suggested—"that the time," to wit, some certain, known, or designated time, "would not be yet," but would be in some future period; that is, as specified Re 10:7, "in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound."

Then "the mystery of God would be finished," and the affairs of the world would be put on their permanent footing.

(c) This would imply that, at the time when the angel appeared, or in the time to which he refers, there would be some expectation or general belief that the "mystery was then to be finished, and that the affairs of the world were to come to an end. The proper interpretation would lead us to suppose that there would be so general an expectation of this, as to make the solemn affirmation of the angel proper to correct a prevailing opinion, and to show that the right interpretation was not put on what seemed to be the tendency of things.

(d) As a matter of fact, we find that this expectation did actually exist at the time of the Reformation; that such an interpretation was put on the prophecies, and on the events that occurred; and that the impression that the Messiah was about to come, and the reign of saints about to commence, was so strong as to justify some interference, like the solemn oath of the angel, to correct the misapprehension. It is true that this impression had existed in former times, and even in the early ages of the church; but, as a matter of fact, it was true, and eminently true, in the time of the Reformation, and there was, on many accounts, a strong tendency to that form of belief. The Reformers, in interpreting the prophecies, learned to connect the downfall of the Papacy with the coming of Christ, and with his universal reign upon the earth; and as they saw the evidences of the approach of the former, they naturally anticipated the latter as about to occur. Compare Da 12:11 2 Th 2:3; Da 2:34; 2 Th 2:8.

The anticipation that the Lord Jesus was about to come; that the affairs of the world, in the present form, were to be wound up; that the reign of the saints would soon commence; and that the permanent kingdom of righteousness would be established, became almost the current belief of the Reformers, and was frequently expressed in their writings. Thus Luther, in the year 1520, in his answer to the Pope's bull of excommunication, expresses his anticipations: "Our Lord Jesus Christ yet liveth and reigneth; who, I firmly trust, will shortly come, and slay with the spirit of his mouth, and destroy with the brightness of his coming, that Man of sin."—Merle D'Aubig. ii. 166. After being summoned before the Diet at Worms, and after condemnation had been pronounced on him by the Emperor, he fell back for comfort on the same joyous expectation. "For this once," he said, "the Jews, as on the crucifixion-day, may sing their Paean; but Easter will come for us, and then we shall sing Hallelujah."—D'Aubig. ii. 276. The next year, writing to Staupitz, he made a solemn appeal against his abandoning the Reformation, by reference to the sure and advancing fulfilment of Daniel's prophecy. "My father," said he, "the abominations of the pope, with his whole kingdom, must be destroyed; and the Lord does this without hand, by the word alone. The subject exceeds all human comprehension. I cherish the best hopes."— Milner, p. 692. In 1523 he thus, in a similar strain, expresses his hopes: "The kingdom of Antichrist, according to the prophet Daniel, must be broken without hands; that is, the Scriptures will be understood by and by; and every one will preach against Papal tyranny, from the word of God, until the Man of sin is deserted of all, and dies of himself."—Milner, p. 796. The same sentiments respecting the approach of the end of the world were entertained by melancthon. In commenting on the passage in Daniel relating to the "little horn," he thus refers to an argument which has been prevalent: "The words of the prophet Elias should be marked by every one, and inscribed upon our walls, and on the entrances of our houses. Six thousand years shall the world stand, and after that be destroyed; two thousand years without the law; two thousand years under the law of Moses; two thousand years under the Messiah; and if any of these years are not fulfilled, they will be shortened, (a shortening intimated by Christ also, on account of our sins.") The following manuscript addition to this argument has been found in melancthon's hand, in Luther's own copy of the German Bible:—"Written A.D. 1557, and from the creation of the world, 5519; from which number we may see that this aged world is not far front its end." So also the British Reformers believed. Thus Bishop Latimer: "Let us cry to God day and night—Most merciful Father, let thy kingdom come! St. Paul saith, The Lord will not come till the swerving from the faith cometh, (2 Th 2:3) which thing is already done and past. Antichrist is already known throughout all the world. Wherefore the day is not far off." Then, reverting to the consideration of the age of the world, as Melancthon had done, he says, "The world was ordained to endure, as all learned ones affirm, 6000 years. Now of that number there be past 6552 years, so that there is no more left but 448 years. Furthermore, those days shall be shortened for the elect's sage. Therefore, all those excellent and learned men, whom without doubt God hath sent into the world in these last days to give the world warning, do gather out of sacred Scripture that the last day cannot be far off." So again, in a sermon on the nearness of the Second Advent, he says, "So that peradventure it may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children's days." Indeed, it is well known that this was a prevalent opinion among the Reformers; and this fact will show with what propriety, if the passage before us was designed to refer to the Reformation, this Solemn declaration of the angel was made, that the "time would not be yet"—that those anticipations which would spring up from the nature of the case, and from the interpretations which would be put on what seemed to be the obvious sense of the prophecies, were unfounded, and that a considerable time must yet intervene before the events would be consummated.

(e) The proper sense of this passage, then, according to the above interpretation, would be—"And the angel lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever. That the time should not yet be; but, in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God shall be finished." Appearances, indeed, would then indicate that the affairs of the world were to be wound up, and that the prophecies respecting the end of the world were about to be fulfilled; but the angel solemnly swears "by Him who lives for ever and ever," and whose reign therefore extends through all the changes on the earth; "by Him who is the Creator of all things," and whose purpose alone can determine when the end shall be, that the time would not be yet. Those cherished expectations would not yet be realized, but there was a series of important events to intervene before the end would come. Then—at the time when the seventh angel should sound—would be the consummation of all things.

{c} "him" Re 14:7; Ne 9:6 {d} "therein" Da 12:7

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