Revelation 7:2
And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And I saw another angel . . .—Translate, And I saw another angel going up from the rising of the sun, having a seal of the living God, and he was crying with a great voice to the four angels to whom it was given to injure the earth and the sea, saying, Injure ye not the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads. The angels appear as carrying out the purposes of God. This angel rises into view from the door of the dawn. In the midst of the dark symptoms of coming storm and judgment there springs up a light for the righteous and joyful gladness for such as are true-hearted: they need not be afraid of evil tidings whose hearts stand fast believing in the Lord. This angel carries a seal of the living God. The seal is the emblem of security. The seal was placed on our Lord’s sepulchre to keep the tomb safe from invasion; the king’s seal was, in the same way, placed on the stone which was laid at the mouth of the den in which Daniel was imprisoned: “the king sealed it with his own signet” (Daniel 6:17). The intrusting of the seal into the hands of others was the token that royal authority had been for the time delegated to man. So Jezebel “wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal” (1Kings 21:8). Esther obtained the use of the king’s seal to protect her countrymen from the mischief devised by Haman: “for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse” (Esther 8:8). There is also a seal of the living God. St. Paul tells us that this seal bears two legends. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, ‘The Lord knoweth them that are his,’ and, ‘ Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” (2Timothy 2:19). On the one side, it is dependence on and communion with God; on the other side, it is holiness of life. The sealed are found in Christ, not having their own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9). For this is the righteousness which will endure to the end, and which is found in them who are “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13-14). God’s image and superscription is impressed on such; just as afterwards we are told of all the servants of God, “His name shall be in their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). This token is a true safe-guard and talisman; as the sprinkled blood on the lintel protected the house from the destroying angel at the first Passover. It is a token also of those who have not conformed to the evil world; they are like those whom Ezekiel saw in Jerusalem, when the Lord sent the man with the inkhorn “to set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” (Ezekiel 9:4). There has been much misapprehension respecting this act of sealing. It has been said that it implies security, and assures God’s servants of protection in the coming judgments: this is, in a sense, true; but the sealing, as will have been seen by the passages quoted above, is that sealing of the Spirit, that root of heavenly life in the soul, which is the pledge of the soul’s union with God; and the terms of the charter of their protection are, Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? In the Bible idea, sin, or moral defilement, is the only real evil: all other things work together for good. The breastplate which turns aside the fiery darts is the breastplate of righteousness: those who, escaping the corruptions which are in the world through lust, become partakers of the divine nature are in consequence victorious over all the evil. They are not exempt from the vicissitudes and tribulation of life: the winds are let loose to blow, but they are sealed, and they cannot be shaken; for what and who can separate them from the love of Christ? They are sealed by the Holy Spirit; they have an earnest of that Spirit in their hearts (Ephesians 4:30, and 2Corinthians 1:22), and the pledge of His power in their lives. St. John gives the same two-fold test as St. Paul (2Timothy 2:9): (1) “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (1John 4:13); and (2) “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1John 2:3). The sealing is on the forehead: it is God’s mark, but it is where all may see it. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The cry of the angel is, Injure not the sea nor the trees. Doubtless the sea and trees are mentioned as these are the objects which would be most disturbed and injured by a storm of wind. Trees are used as emblems of real and of pretended religionism. The true-hearted in faith are described as trees planted by the waterside, whose fruit does not wither; and it is singular that St. Jude, who pictures the Antinomian teachers of his day under the image of autumn trees (not trees whose fruit withereth, as in English version) without fruit, immediately adds an expression which almost suggests the sudden uprising of a testing storm: the fruitless trees are “plucked up by the roots” (Jude 1:12).

Revelation 7:2-3. And I saw another angel ascending from the east — To intimate the progress which the gospel should make from the east to the west; having in his hand the seal of the living God — In order to impress a mark upon those who should believe and obey the gospel, and dedicate themselves to his service. And he cried with a loud voice — Thus showing the great importance of what he uttered; to the four angels to whom it was given — At present to restrain the winds, but afterward to loose them with great violence, and by them to hurt the earth and the sea — To injure them in a terrible manner; saying, Hurt not the earth, &c. — Execute not your commission with respect to punishing the inhabitants of the earth; till we have sealed the servants of God — Marked them out as such, and secured them from the impending calamities in a manner by which they shall be as clearly distinguished from the rest of mankind as if they were visibly marked on their foreheads. Bishop Newton thinks that this expression, sealing on the forehead, is used in allusion to the ancient custom of marking servants on their foreheads, to distinguish what they were, and to whom they belonged: and that as, among Christians, baptism was considered as the seal of the covenant between God and believers, so the sealing here spoken of signifies the admitting them into the visible church of Christ by baptism; and that their being said to be sealed on their foreheads can imply no less than that those who before, in times of persecution, had been compelled to worship God in private, should now make a free, open, and public profession of their religion, without any fear or danger of thereby exposing themselves to persecution. To this, however, must be added, that this sealing doubtless implies that very many should not only be baptized, and make a profession of Christianity, but should also be really converted to God, made new creatures in Christ; and, having believed in him, should, as the apostle observes, (Ephesians 1:13,) be sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise; that is, both stamped with God’s image, and assured of their sonship by the Spirit of adoption and regeneration; and should possess that Spirit, in his witness and fruits, till they should receive the redemption of the purchased possession.7:1-8 In the figurative language of Scripture, the blowing of the four winds together, means a dreadful and general destruction. But the destruction is delayed. Seals were used to mark for each person his own possessions. This mark is the witness of the Holy Ghost, printed in the hearts of believers. And the Lord would not suffer his people to be afflicted before they were marked, that they might be prepared against all conflicts. And, observe, of those who are thus sealed by the Spirit, the seal must be on the forehead, plainly to be seen alike by friends and foes, but not by the believer himself, except as he looks stedfastly in the glass of God's word. The number of those who were sealed, may be understood to stand for the remnant of people which God reserved. Though the church of God is but a little flock, in comparison with the wicked world, yet it is a society really large, and to be still more enlarged. Here the universal church is figured under the type of Israel.And I saw another angel - Evidently having no connection with the four, and employed for another purpose. This angel, also, must have been symbolic; and all that is implied is, that something would be done as if an angel had done it.

Ascending from the east - He appeared in the east, and seemed to rise like the sun. It is not easy to determine what is the special significancy, if any, of the east here, or why this quarter of the heavens is designated rather than the north, the south, or the west. It may be that as light begins in the east, this would be properly symbolic of something that could be compared with the light of the morning; or that some influence in "sealing" the servants of God would in fact go out from the east; or perhaps no special significance is to be attached to the quarter from which the angel is seen to come. It is not necessary to suppose that every minute thing in a symbol is to receive a complete fulfillment, or that there will be some particular thing to correspond with it. Perhaps all that is meant here is, that as the sun comes forth with splendor from the east, so the angel came with magnificence to perform a task - that of sealing the servants of God - cheerful and joyous like what the sun performs. It is certain that from no other quarter of the heavens would it be so appropriate to represent an angel as coming forth to perform a purpose of light, and mercy, and salvation. It does not seem to me, therefore, that we are to look, in the fulfillment of this, for any special influence setting in from the east as what is symbolized here.

Having the seal of the living God - Bearing it in his hands. In regard to this seal the following remarks may be made:

(a) The phrase "seal of the living God" doubtless means what God had appointed, or which he would use; that is, if God himself came forth in this manner, he would use this seal for these purposes. People often have a seal of their own, with some name, symbol, or device, which designates it as theirs, and which no other one has a right to use. A seal is sometimes used by the person himself; sometimes entrusted to a high officer of state; sometimes to the secretary of a corporation; and sometimes, as a mark of special favor, to a friend. In this case it was entrusted to an angel, who was authorized to use it, and whose use of it would be sanctioned, of course, wherever he applied it, by the living God, as if he had employed it himself.

(b) As to the form of the seal, we have no information. It would be most natural to suppose that the name "of the living God" would be engraven on it, so that that name would appear on anyone to whom it might be affixed. Compare the notes on 2 Timothy 2:19. It was customary in the East to brand the name of the master on the forehead of a slave (Grotius, in loco); and such an idea would meet all that is implied in the language here, though there is no certain evidence that there is an allusion to that custom. In subsequent times, in the church, it was common for Christians to impress the sign of the cross on their foreheads (Tertullian de Corolla; Cyrill. lib. vi. See Grotius). As nothing is said here, however, about any mark or device on the seal, conjecture is useless as to what it was.

(c) As to what was to be designated by the seal, the main idea is clear, that it was to place some such mark upon his friends that they would be known to be his, and that they would be safe in the impending calamities, There is perhaps allusion here to Ezekiel 9:4-6, where the following direction to the prophet occurs: "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the people that sigh, and that cry, for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark." The essential ideas in the sealing, in the passage before us, would therefore seem to be:

(1) that there would be some mark, sign, or token, by which they who were the people of God would be known; that is, there would be something which would answer, in this respect, the same purpose as if a seal had been impressed upon their foreheads. Whether this was an outward badge, or a religious rite, or the doctrines which they would hold and by which they would be known, or something in their spirit and manner which would characterize his true disciples, may be a fair subject of inquiry. It is not specifically designated by the use of the word.

(2) it would be something that would be conspicuous or prominent, as if it were impressed on the forehead. It would not be merely some internal sealing, or some designation by which they would be known to themselves and to God, but it would be something apparent, as if engraved on the forehead. What this would be, whether a profession, or a form of religion, or the holding of some doctrine, or the manifestation of a particular spirit, is not here designated.

(3) this would be something appointed by God himself. It would not be of human origin, but would be as if an angel sent from heaven should impress it on the forehead. If it refers to the doctrines which they would hold, they could not be doctrines of human origin; if to the spirit which they would manifest, it would be a spirit of heavenly origin; if to some outward protection, it would be manifest that it was from God.

(4) this would be a pledge of safety. The design of sealing the persons referred to seems to have been to secure their safety in the impending calamities. Thus, the winds were held back until those who were to be sealed could be designated, and then they were to be allowed to sweep over the earth. These things, therefore, we are to look for in the fulfillment of the symbol.

And he cried with a loud voice - As if he had authority to command, and as if the four winds were about to be let forth upon the world.

To whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea - Who had power committed to them to do this by means of the four winds.

2. from the east—Greek, "the rising of the sun." The quarter from which God's glory oftenest manifests itself. By this other angel, some understand an angel by nature; some, a man, Elijah, or Constantine; others, Christ himself, called an Angel, Exodus 23:20. It is not much material whether we by this angel understand Christ, or some angel which he made his instrument. He gives a command to those four angels, whom God had made the ministers or executioners of his wrath and justice in the world. And I saw another angel,.... Not Constantine, who came from the eastern parts to the empire, with the true knowledge of God, and the authority of God to propagate it; and who repressed the four angels, or evil spirits, contention, ambition, heresy, and war, from doing the mischief they otherwise would; and sealed the saints, by giving them a platform of doctrine at the council of Nice, as Brightman and others think. But the uncreated angel, the angel of the covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ; for who but he should have the privy seal of heaven, who is the angel of the great council, as the Septuagint render Isaiah 9:6 and who could speak in such an authoritative manner to the four angels, "saying, hurt not the earth", &c. but he who is the head of all principality and power? and who should seal the servants of the Lord, but he who has them in his hands, and keeps them by his power, so that none of them shall perish? And to him agrees all that follows:

ascending from the east; from Judea, from Zion, from whence Christ, as the salvation, or Saviour of Israel, came, Psalm 14:7; and whose name is the east, as some render Zechariah 3:8; he is the dayspring from on high, the sun of righteousness, who rose from the east, the place of the rising sun, and brought light, life, and joy to his people, when he came to seal them. Compare with this Ezekiel 43:1.

Having the seal of the living God; having the impress of deity upon him, being the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image or character of his person; having a testimony, an authentic proof and demonstration of his being the Son of God, of his being the true and living God; as also a commission from God, as Mediator, being sealed by him; and having all power and authority from him, to seal and secure the people which were given unto him, and for which purpose he now came: to which may be added, that Christ has the Spirit, with his gifts and graces, without measure, by which the saints are sealed unto the day of redemption; and moreover has likewise the seal of the book of life, or of eternal election, in his hands; the elect are chosen in him, and the book of life, in which their names are written to eternal life, is in his keeping, and is therefore called the Lamb's book of life. The Jews speak (a) of the east gate of one of the palaces they suppose above, which they say is shut all the six days, and on the sabbath day is opened, and the governor of this palace has two ministers, one on his right hand, and one on his left, and two seals in their hands, , "the seal of life", and the seal of death, and all the books of the world, before them; an, some are sealed to life, and some to death, with which this passage may be compared. They speak also of an angel that presides at the eastern part of the heavens, who receives the prayers of the Israelites, whose name they call "Gazardia" (b), as this same angel is said to offer up the prayers of the saints, Revelation 8:3.

And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels; to show his power and authority over them, they being his creatures and ministers; and to express his great concern for his people, his care of them, and affection for them; and to signify the danger they were in through the calamities that were coming on, should they not be sealed:

to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea: they had a commission from God to let loose the winds, or to bring on wars, devastations, calamities, and plagues, of various sorts, upon the Roman empire, now Christian; and on the seat of the beast, not only on the continent, but upon the islands also, even upon all the nations, tongues, and people subject to the see of Rome.

(a) Zohar in Exod. fol. 100. 1.((b) Zohar in Exod. fol. 79. 2.

{3} And I saw {4} another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,

(3) Now God provides against the danger of his elect, by his commandment Re 7:2,3, and by sign or figure, both for those of the nation of the Jews and also for the Gentiles Re 7:9.

(4) Not only another, or differing number from the common angels of God, but also in essence, office and operation exceeding all angels: that is, Christ Jesus the eternal angel or Word of God, and mediator of the covenant, see Re 8:3,10:1,5.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 7:2-3. ἄλλον ἄγγελον. That an angel—not an archangel[2254]—is to be thought of,[2255] not Christ,[2256] to be silent concerning the Holy Spirit,[2257] results not only from the appellation ἌΓΓΕΛΟς, but especially from the fact that this ἌΛΛΟς ἌΓΓ. is designated in the clearest way by the contrast with the angels mentioned in Revelation 7:1, as of a different nature. The mode of expression also, Revelation 7:3, Τ. ΔΟΥΛ. Τ. ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ, suits most simply the mouth of an angel, not of Christ.[2258] Cf. especially Revelation 8:3, Revelation 10:1, Revelation 14:6; Revelation 14:8-9; Revelation 14:17, Revelation 18:1.

ἈΝΑΒΑΊΝΟΝΤΑ ἈΠῸ ἈΝΑΤΟΛῆς ἩΛΊΟΥ. John, therefore, sees how the angel comes forth,[2259] while the first four angels stand already in their places as he looks upon them; the angel now entering will take part in the act. The expression and ἉΠῸ ἈΝΑΤ. ἩΛΊΟΥ admits of no allegorical meaning; the annexed ἩΛΊΟΥ renders impossible the interpretation of the ἈΝΑΤΟΛΉ, with a vague allusion to Luke 1:78, as referring to Christ,[2260] so as to make the sense that the other angel is sent by Christ or God.[2261] The quarter of the heavens, the east, is designated; but not because of the look towards Judaea,[2262] or to “Patmos, and especially the Christian lands where the light of the gospel first shone,”[2263] which is here out of place; not “because the Hebrews always turned first towards the east,”[2264] whereby properly nothing is explained; not because the throne of God whence the angel proceeds[2265] is regarded as in the east,[2266] for that is nowhere indicated in the Apoc.; nor because, as plagues have their origin in the east, “for the earth (Revelation 8:7) is Asia,” so also the sealing:[2267] but because it is appropriate and significant that the angel, coming for a victorious employment which brings eternal life, should arise from that side from which life and light are brought by the earthly sun.[2268] The angel himself, who does not descend from heaven, but rises from the horizon,[2269] is represented after the manner of the rising sun.

ἝΧΟΝΤΑ, cf. Revelation 1:16.

ΣΦΡΑΓῖΔΑ ΘΕΟῦ ΖῶΝΤΟς. Without meaning[2270] is the metonymy accepted by Grot.: “The sealed constitution of the King.” The angel has a seal (in his hand) which he will press upon the foreheads of the servants of God. The gen. θεοῦ ζ. designates simply, that the seal belongs to the living God; that it “has been delivered by God,”[2271] is, therefore, self-evident, but not expressed. The attempt has been made to conjecture the legend of the seal. Beda, C. a Lap., Grot., Böhmer, regard it the sign of the cross; with more probability, Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Ebrard, etc., propose the name of God and of the Lamb.[2272] But since the text says nothing, nothing can be inferred.[2273] As the definite article is absent, the idea is left open that there are different seals of God for different purposes. In this passage, the mark made by the seal, upon the foreheads of the servants of God, does not mean what the χάραγμα indicates, which the worshippers of the beast receive upon the forehead or the right hand,[2274] viz., the belonging to one Lord and serving him;[2275] for they who receive the seal are already “servants of God.” The question is as little as to the fact of their being recognized and outwardly shown to be servants of God, or “that they receive the letter and seal to their being servants of God,”[2276] as that they are rendered secure from the approaching sufferings, but that, notwithstanding the approaching suffering, they are guaranteed their perseverance in the state of being servants of God; therefore the suffering does not come until the sealing of the servants of God has occurred. It is significant, with respect to this purpose of the sealing, that the seal belongs to the living God, whereby it is not said that he is the true and actual, and hence not that it is only his seal which is valid,[2277] but that he as the living also gives life.[2278] Yet the conception of the glory, for which the sealed are preserved, is that they attain to eternal life in the sight of the living God.[2279]

ἜΚΡΑΞΕΝ ΦΩΝῇ ΜΕΓΆΛῌ. The call with a strong voice is in general peculiar to heavenly beings; it does not always have a special purpose.[2280] Beng refers the loud cry of the angel to the fact that he wished to restrain the four angels who desired to make a beginning of the affliction; Hengstenb. finds therein the certainty of the command that has been given.

The most probable idea is, that the call is to penetrate to the ends of the earth where the angels stand.

ΟἸς

ΑὐΤΟῖς
, as Revelation 3:8.

ἘΔΌΘΗ, Κ.Τ.Λ. Concerning the aor. in the sense of a plusquampf., cf. Winer, p. 258. On the conception of ἘΔΌΘΗ, cf. Revelation 6:4. The ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ, injuring,[2281] would occur if the angels would let loose the winds which they still hold; the command ΜῊ ἈΔΙΚΉΣΑΤΕ, Κ.Τ.Λ., still hinders this.[2282] It is contrary to the context to regard the ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ as consisting rather in holding fast the winds, because, had the winds blown, they would have “cooled off,”[2283] or “blown away,”[2284] the approaching plagues; according to Herder, the restraining of the winds is to be regarded an ἈΔΙΚΕῖΝ, as thereby “the sultriness of death” is occasioned before the irruption of the plagues. From the fact that in what follows, the letting loose of the devastating winds is not reported, the view that just this restraining of the winds is destructive[2285] follows as little as the necessity of understanding the winds as a figurative designation of retributive visitations of all kinds.[2286] For, that it is not devastating tempests, but other plagues of many kinds, which proceed from the opening of the seventh seal, has in a formal respect its foundation in the fact that the succeeding seal-vision cannot justly be regarded and be treated further as a matter from the simple visions occurring between the last two seals; but a difficulty actually arises only if, hindered by a mechanical literalism, it cannot be seen that the holy fantasy of the prophet sees in Revelation 7:1 sqq. the storm impending, which afterwards, however, is not seen in its approach, because (Revelation 8:1 sqq.), in place of the desolating winds, hail and fire, and other plagues, come forth.

It is noticeable that in Revelation 7:2, the trees are not especially mentioned, as in Revelation 7:1; Revelation 7:3, because it is self-evident that they belong to the earth;[2287] there lies therein, however, a manifest hint that neither the earth, nor the sea, nor the trees, are to be understood figuratively. Hengstenb. asks, indeed, how the sea, if it be meant in the proper sense, could be injured by winds; he does not consider that the specification in which the trees, as objects most easily injured by storms, are especially made prominent with the simplicity of nature,[2288] is meant only to serve[2289] to make visible how the entire earth, from whose four ends the winds are to rage, will be injured.

ἌΧΡΙ ΣΦΡΑΓΊΣΩΜΕΝ. “Until we shall have sealed.” Cf. Winer, p. 279. The plur. indicates that the angel has associates, who need not be further mentioned.[2290] With the whole train of thought of Revelation 7:1 sqq., Hengstenb. conflicts when he advances the opinion that the four angels are to help in the sealing. The older interpreters, as Calov., refer the plur. to the Father and the Son, from both of whom the Holy Ghost (the seal) proceeds. [See Note LII., p. 255.] ΤΟῪς ΔΟΎΛΟΥς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ. “This noble designation pertains especially to saints from Israel. Genesis 50:17; Isaiah 61:6.”[2291] Yet the reference in the connection is to Israel alone, although the expression in itself, because of the art., could include also the Gentiles. [Note LIII., p. 256.] To the angel here speaking, who is to seal, belong only the definite, more accurately designated servants of God, of Revelation 7:4 sqq. The Τ. ΘΕΟῦ ἩΜῶΝ is significant; the angel himself, together with his associates, is, because of his relation to the same God, a fellow-servant of those for whose service he has been sent.[2292]

ἘΠῚ ΤῶΝ ΜΕΤΏΠΩΝ ΑὐΤῶΝ. The mark which the servants of the beast have received is, like the brand of slaves in ordinary life, impressed upon the right hand or forehead:[2293] the servants of God bear the seal and name of the Lord only on the forehead. That this is the most visible place,[2294] is a reason sufficient only with respect to those servants of the beast: with respect to the servants of God, however, it is found in the fact that the noblest part of the body bears the holy mark.

[2254] Stern.

[2255] C. a Lap., Grot., Beng., Eichh., Ew., De Wette, Rinck, Ebrard.

[2256] Beda, Aret., Zeger, Calov., Böhmer, Hengstenb.

[2257] Vitr., who interprets the seal used by this “angel” as “the public profession of the purer faith” wrought by the Spirit.

[2258] Cf. already Beng.

[2259] Grot.

[2260] Grot.

[2261] Calov.

[2262] Wetst.

[2263] Stern.

[2264] De Wette.

[2265] Ew. ii.: “As though, by the Divine commission, he had commanded the sun to shine no longer with such excessive heat, but to reserve its ardor” (Revelation 7:16). But this supplementary fiction is in violation of the context, and Revelation 7:16 has no analogy with the situation of Revelation 7:1 sqq.

[2266] Ew. i.

[2267] Beng.

[2268] Cf. C. a Lap., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Volkm.

[2269] Beng.

[2270] Cf. Revelation 7:3 : σφραγ.

ἐπὶ τ. μετώπων αὐτ.

[2271] Eichh.

[2272] Cf. Revelation 14:1, Revelation 3:12.

[2273] Hengstenb.

[2274] λαμβάνειν; Revelation 13:16, 2. ascending] Probably the Heaven from which St John looks down on the earth formed a vault over it, or at least rested on walls surrounding the earth; cf. Enoch xviii. 8, “I saw, from the end of the earth, the firmament of the heaven which rests upon it.” This Angel, then, mounted up the eastern side of this vault or circling wall (probably flying up, just outside it), till he was high enough to see, and to be heard by all the four Angels, even the one on the extreme western side of the earth.

having the seal] Perhaps this marks this Angel as one specially favoured and trusted: see Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:10; Esther 8:2. But there seems no good reason for the notion, popular in modern times, that this angel, or any other, is to be taken as representative of Christ. He appears, when He does appear, either in His own person, or under a symbol that is obviously symbolic: it would be out of harmony with the scope of this Book, and indeed with New Testament theology generally, to obscure the distinction between Him and created Angels. The words “our God” in the next v. marks this Angel as a fellow-servant both of the other four, and of the elect on earth. It is far better to illustrate this vision by Matthew 24:31, as we have seen the earlier images of that chapter reproduced under the former seals. This Angel’s office, however, is the marking, not the gathering of the elect: he represents and effectuates God’s love in its individual, not in its comprehensive aspect.

to hurt the earth, &c.] viz., by letting the winds forth, to blow and produce storms.Revelation 7:2. Ἄλλον, another) This other angel is distinguished either from the angel who makes proclamation, ch. Revelation 5:2; or from the four angels who hurt, in this passage.Verse 2. - And I saw another angel ascending from the east; from the rising of the sun. Again no individual angel is particularized, though an archangel may be intended, as he has authority over the first four. He proceeds from that quarter whence comes light; and, like the Sun of Righteousness, he rises with healing in his wings; for his mission is to render secure the servants of God. Wordsworth thinks Christ, or a messenger from Christ, is meant - a view shared by Hengstenberg; Vitringa says the Holy Ghost; Victorinus, the Prophet Elijah. That this angel was of like nature with the first four appears probable from the words in ver. 3, "till we have sealed the servants of our God." Having the seal of the living God. The sealing instrument with which they seal God's servants. Of its nature we are told nothing beyond what is contained in ver. 3. He is specially referred to as "the living God," since, by this sealing, life is imparted. We have here the shorter expression, "the living God," not, as in all ether places of the Apocalypse, "him that liveth forever and ever" (see Revelation 4:9; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 10:6; Revelation 15:7). And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels (cf. Revelation 1:10; Revelation 5:2; Revelation 6:10) to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea; that is, by letting loose the winds, as shown by vers. 1 and 3. Bengel and Rinck, looking only at the immediate context, thought that the hurt was done by preventing the winds from blowing on the earth and cooling it in the scorching plagues which follow (Revelation 8:7). The trees are not mentioned, being included in the earth; and this appears to indicate that the expression, "the earth, the sea, and the trees" (vers. 1 and 3), signifies the world in general, without being intended to represent individual parts, as the great men, etc. (see on Revelation 5:1). East (ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου)

Rev., more literally, the sunrising. See on Matthew 2:2; see on Luke 1:78. Compare Ezekiel 43:2.

The four angels

Compare Matthew 24:31.

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