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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 14 - Verse 13

Verse 13. And I heard a voice from heaven. A voice that seemed to speak from heaven.

Saying unto me, Write. Make a record of this truth. We may suppose that John was engaged in making a record of what he saw in vision; he was now instructed to make a record of what he heard. This passage may be referred to as a proof that he wrote this book while in Patmos, or as the heavenly disclosures were made to him, and not afterwards from memory.

Blessed are the dead. That is, the condition of those who die in the manner which is immediately specified is to be regarded as a blessed or happy one. It is much to be able to say of the dead that they are "blessed." There is much in death that is sad; we so much dread it by nature; it cut us off from so much that is dear to us; it blasts so many hopes; and the grave is so cold and cheerless a resting-place, that we owe much to a system of religion which will enable us to say and to feel that it is a blessed thing to die. Assuredly we should be grateful for any system of religion which will enable us thus to speak of those who are dead; which will enable us, with corresponding feeling, to look forward to our own departure from this world.

Which die in the Lord. Not all the dead; for God never pronounces the condition of the wicked who die, blessed or happy. Religion guards this point, and confines the declaration to those who furnish evidence that they are prepared for heaven. The phrase "to die in the Lord" implies the following things:

(1.) That they who thus die are the friends of the Lord Jesus. The language "to be in the Lord" is often used to denote true attachment to him, or close union with him. Compare Joh 15:4-7 Ro 16:13,22; 1 Co 4:17; 7:39; Php 1:14; Col 4:7.

The assurance, then, is limited to those who are sincere Christians; for this the language properly implies, and we are authorized to apply it only as there is evidence of true religion.

(2.) To "die in the Lord" would seem also to imply that there should be, at the time, the evidence of his favour and friendship. This would apply

(a) to those who die as martyrs, giving their lives as a testimony to the truth of religion, and as an evidence of their love for it; and

(b) to those who have the comforting evidence of his presence and favour on the bed of death.

From henceforth. aparti. This word has given no little perplexity to expositors, and it has been variously rendered. Some have connected it with the word blessed—"blessed henceforth are the dead who die in the Lord;" that is, they will be ever-onward blessed: some with the word die, referring to the time when the apostle was writing—"blessed are they who after this time die in the Lord;" designing to comfort those who were exposed to death, and who would die as martyrs: some as referring to the times contemplated in these visions—"blessed will they be who shall die in those future times." Witsius understands this as meaning that from the time of their death they would be blessed, as if it had been said, immediately after their dissolution they would be blessed. Doddridge renders it, "henceforth blessed are the dead." The language is evidently not to be construed as implying that they who had died in the faith before were not happy, but that in the times of trial and persecution that were to come, they were to be regarded as peculiarly blessed who should escape from these sorrows by a Christian death. Scenes of woe were indeed to occur, in which many believers would die. But their condition was not to be regarded as one of misfortune, but of blessedness and joy, for

(a) they would die in an honourable cause;

(b) they would emerge from a world of sorrow; and

(c) they would rise to eternal life and peace. The design, therefore, of the verse is to impart consolation and support to those who would be exposed to a martyr's death, and to those who, in times of persecution, would see their friends exposed to such a death. It may be added that the declaration here made is true still, and ever will be. It is a blessed thing to die in the Lord.

Yea, saith the Spirit. The Holy Spirit; "the Spirit by whose inspiration and command I record this."—Doddridge.

That they may rest from their labours. The word here rendered labourkopov—means properly wailing, grief, from koptw, to beat, and hence a beating of the breast as in grief. Then the word denotes toil, labour, effort, Joh 4:38; 1 Co 3:8; 15:58

2 Co 6:5; 10:15; 2 Co 11:23,27.

It is here used in the sense of wearisome toil in doing good, in promoting religion, in saving souls, in defending the truth. From such toils the redeemed in heaven will be released; for although there will be employment there, it will be without the sense of fatigue or weariness. And in view of such eternal rest from toil, we may well endure the labours and toils incident to the short period of the present life, for, however arduous or difficult, it will soon be ended.

And their works do follow them. That is, the rewards or the consequences of their works will follow them to the eternal world, the word works here being used for the rewards or results of their works. In regard to this, considered as an encouragement to labour, and as a support in the trials of life, it may be remarked,

(a) that all that the righteous do and suffer here will be appropriately recompensed there.

(b) This is all that can follow a man to eternity. He can take with him none of his gold, his lands, his raiment; none of the honours of this life; none of the means of sensual gratification. All that will go with him will be his character, and the results of his conduct here, and, in this respect, eternity will be but a prolongation of the present life.

(c) It is one of the highest honours of our nature that we can make the present affect the future for good; that by our conduct on the earth we can lay the foundation for happiness millions of ages hence. In no other respect does man appear so dignified as in this; nowhere do we so clearly see the grandeur of the soul as in the fact that what we do today may determine our happiness in that future period, when all the affairs of this world shall have been wound up, and when ages which cannot now be numbered shall have rolled by. It is then a glorious thing to live, and will be a glorious thing to die. Compare Barnes on "1 Co 15:58".

 

{c} "die" 1 Th 4:14,16 {1} "the Lord from henceforth" "from henceforth saith the Spirit, Yea"

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