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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 11 - Verse 5

Verse 5. And if any man will hurt them. This implies that there would be those who would be disposed to injure or wrong them; that is, that they would be liable to persecution. The word "will" is here more than the mere sign of the future; it denotes intention, purpose, designyelei—"if any man wills or purposes to injure them." See a similar use of the word in 1 Ti 6:9. The word hurt here means to do injury or injusticeadikhsai—and may refer to wrong in any form —whether in respect to their character, opinions, persons, or property. The general sense is, that there would be those who would be disposed to do them harm, and we should naturally look for the fulfilment of this in some form of persecution.

Fire proceedeth out of their mouth. It is, of course, not necessary that this should be taken literally. The meaning is, that they would have the power of destroying their enemies as if fire should proceed out of their mouth; that is, their words would be like burning coals or flames. There may possibly be an allusion here to 2 Ki 1:10-14, where it is said that Elijah commanded the fire to descend from heaven to consume those who were sent to take him, (compare Lu 9:54) but in that case Elijah commanded the fire to come "from heaven;" here it proceeded "out of the mouth." The allusion here, therefore, is to the denunciations which they would utter, or the doctrines which they would preach, and which would have the same effect on their enemies as if they breathed forth fire and flame. So Jer 5:14, "Because ye speak this word, Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them."

And devoureth their enemies. The word devour is often used with reference to fire, which seems to eat up or consume what is in its way, or to feed on that which it destroys. This is the sense of the word here—katesyiei—"to eat down, to swallow down, to devour." Compare Re 20:9; Septuagint Isa 29:6; Joe 2:6; Le 10:2.

As there is no reason to believe that there would be literal fire, so it is not necessary to suppose that their enemies would be literally devoured or consumed. The meaning is fulfilled if their words should in any way produce an effect on their enemies similar to what is produced by fire: that is, if it should destroy their influence; if it should overcome and subdue them; if it should annihilate their domination in the world.

And if any man will hurt them. This is repeated in order to make the declaration more intensive, and also to add another thought about the effect of persecuting and injuring them.

He must in this manner be killed; That is, in the manner specified— by fire. It does not mean that he would be killed in the same manner in which the "witnesses" were killed, but in the method specified before— by the fire that should proceed out of their mouth. The meaning is, undoubtedly, that they would have power to bring down on them Divine vengeance or punishment, so that there would be a just retaliation for the wrongs done them.

{c} "fire" Ps 18:8 {d} "killed" Nu 16:35; Hos 6:5

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