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REVELATION OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE - Chapter 17 - Verse 10

Verse 10. And there are seven kings. That is, seven in all, as they are enumerated in this verse and the next. An eighth is mentioned in Re 17:11, but it is at the same time said that this one so pertains to the seven, or is so properly in one sense of the number seven, though in another sense to be regarded as an eighth, that it may be properly reckoned as the seventh. The word kings here—basileiv—may be understood, so far as the meaning of the word is concerned,

(a) literally as denoting a king, or one who exercises royal authority;

(b) in a more general sense as denoting one of distinguished honour —a viceroy, prince, leader, chief, Mt 2:1,3,9; Lu 1:5; Ac 12:1

 

(c) in a still larger sense as denoting a dynasty, a form of government, a mode of administration—as that which in fact rules. See Barnes on "Da 7:24, where the word king undoubtedly denotes a dynasty, or form of rule. The notion of ruling, or of authority, is undoubtedly in the word—for the verb bwsileuw means to rule, but the word may be applied to anything in which sovereignty resides. Thus it is applied to a king's son; to a military commander; to the gods; to a Greek archon, etc. See Pussow. It would be contrary to the whole spirit of this passage, and to what is demanded by the proper meaning of the word, to insist that the word should denote literally kings, and that it could not be applied to emperors, or to dictators, or to dynasties.

Five are fallen. Have passed away as if fallen; that is, they have disappeared. The language would be applicable to rulers who have died, or who had been dethroned; or to dynasties or forms of government that had ceased to be. In the fulfilment of this, it would be necessary to find five such successive kings or rulers who had died, and who appertained to one sovereignty or nation; or five such dynasties or forms of administrations that had successively existed, but which had ceased.

And one is. That is, there is one—a sixth—that now reigns. The proper interpretation of this would be, that this existed in the time of the writer; that is, according to the view taken of the time of the writing of the Apocalypse, at the close of the first century.

And the other is not yet come. The sixth one is to be succeeded by another in the same line, or occupying the same dominion.

And when he cometh. When that form of dominion is set up. No intimation is yet given as to the time when this would occur.

He must continue a short space. oligon. A short time; his dominion will be of short duration. It is observable that this characteristic is stated as applicable only to this one of the seven; and the fair meaning would seem to be, that the time would be short as compared with the six that preceded, and as compared with the one that followed—the eighth—into which it was to be merged, Re 17:11.

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