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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 15 - Verse 1

 

CHAPTER XV

 

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER

THIS chapter has a close connexion in design with the previous chapter. In that, pledges and assurances had been given that all the enemies of religion would be cut off, and that the church would be ultimately triumphant, and particularly that that formidable Antichristian power represented by the "beast" would be destroyed. This chapter commences the statement in regard to the manner in which these pledges would be accomplished, and the statement is pursued through the subsequent chapters, giving in detail what is here promised in a general manner. The vision in this chapter may be thus described:—

I. The writer sees a new sign or wonder in heaven. Seven angels appear, having the seven last plagues that fill up or complete the wrath of God; representing the wrath that is to come upon the beast, or the complete overthrow of this formidable Antichristian power, yet. 1.

II. Those who in former times had "gotten the victory over the beast," now appear standing on a sea of glass, rejoicing and rendering thanks for the assurance that this great enemy of the church was now to be destroyed, and that now all nations were to come and worship before God, Re 15:2-4.

III. The writer sees the interior of the temple opened in heaven, and the seven angels, having the seven plagues, issuing forth to execute their commission. They come clothed in pure and white linen, and girded with golden girdles. One of the four beasts before the throne forthwith gives them the seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, to empty them upon the earth—that is, to bring upon the beast the predicted destruction. The temple is immediately filled with smoke, so that no one might enterS; that is, no one could now approach to make intercession, and the destruction of this great enemy's power is now certain, Re 15:5-8.

This chapter, therefore, is merely introductory to what follows, and its interpretation is attended with no particular difficulty. It is a beautiful scenic representation preparatory to the infliction of predicted judgments, and designed to introduce the account of those judgments with suitable circumstances of solemnity.

Verse 1. And I saw another sign in heaven. Another wonder or extraordinary symbol. The word sign here—shmeion—is the same which in Re 12:1,3; 13:13, is rendered wonder and wonders, and in Re 13:14; 16:14; 19:20, miracles. The word is not elsewhere found in the book of Revelation, though it is of frequent occurrence in other parts of the New Testament. See it explained in Barnes on "Re 12:1".

Here it is used to denote something wonderful or marvellous. This is represented as appearing in heaven, for the judgments that were to fall upon the world were to come thence. Compare Re 11:19; Re 12:1; 14:1,6,13-14,17.

 

Great and marvellous. Great and wonderful, or fitted to excite admiration—yaumaston. The subsequent statements fully justify this, and show that the vision was one of portentous character, and that was fitted to hold the mind in astonishment.

Seven angels. Compare Barnes on "Re 1:4".

 

Having the seven last plagues. The article here, "the seven last plagues," would seem to imply that the plagues referred to had been before specified, or that it would be at once understood what is referred to. These plagues, however, have not been mentioned before, and the reason why the article is used here seems to be this: the destruction of this great Antichristian power had been distinctly mentioned, Revelation 14. That might be spoken of as a thing now well known, and the mention of it would demand the article; and as that was well known, and would demand the article, so any allusion to it, or description of it, might be spoken of in the same manner, as a thing that was definite and fixed, and hence the mention of the plagues by which it was to be accomplished would be referred to in the same manner. The word plaguesplhgav, from plhgh—means properly a wound caused by a stripe or blow, and is frequently rendered stripe and stripes, Lu 12:48; Ac 16:23,33; 2 Co 6:5; 11:23.

It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament except in the book of Revelation. In this book it is rendered wound in Re 13:3,12,14; and plagues in Re 9:20; 11:6; 15:1,6,8; 16:9,21; 18:4,8; 21:9; 22:18.

It does not occur elsewhere. The secondary meaning of the word, and the meaning in the passage before us, is a stripe or blow inflicted by God; calamity or punishment. The word "last" means those under which the order of things here referred to would terminate; the winding up of the affairs respecting the beast and his image—not necessarily the closing of the affairs of the world. Important events were to occur subsequent to the destruction of this Antichristian power, (Chapters 19-22) but these were the plagues which would come finally upon the beast and his image, and which would terminate the existence of this formidable enemy.

For in them is filled up the wrath of God. That is, in regard to the beast and his image. All the expressions of the Divine indignation towards that oppressive and persecuting power will be completed or exhausted by the pouring out of the contents of these vials. Compare Barnes on "Re 10:7, where the word rendered filled upetelesyh—is rendered finished.

{g} "wrath" Re 14:10

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