|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-5 Mount Sion is the gospel church. Christ is with his church, and in the midst of her in all her troubles, therefore she is not consumed. His presence secures perseverance. His people appear honourably. They have the name of God written in their foreheads; they make a bold and open profession of their faith in God and Christ, and this is followed by suitable actings. There were persons in the darkest times, who ventured and laid down their lives for the worship and truth of the gospel of Christ. They kept themselves clean from the wicked abominations of the followers of antichrist. Their hearts were right with God; and they were freely pardoned in Christ; he is glorified in them, and they in him. May it be our prayer, our endeavour, our ambition, to be found in this honourable company. Those who are really sanctified and justified are meant here, for no hypocrite, however plausible, can be accounted to be without fault before God.
Verse 4. - These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. There is little doubt that these words are intended in a spiritual sense. In the Old Testament the employment of the figure of adultery and fornication to denote spiritual unfaithfulness is common (cf. 2 Chronicles 21:11; Jeremiah 3:9, etc.). St. John elsewhere in the Apocalypse makes use of the same symbolism (cf. Revelation 2:20," That woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols;" also Revelation 17:5, 6). Similarly, also, St. John pictures the faithful Church as the bride adorned for her Husband the Lamb (Revelation 19:7, 8). So also St. Paul (2 Corinthians 11:2), "I espoused you as a chaste virgin to one Husband, Christ." Παρθένοι, "virgins," is a word equally applicable to men or women. This verse, therefore, seems to describe those who are free from spiritual impurity and unfaithfulness; those who have not worshipped the beast and his image. Alford, however, thinks the words should be understood literally. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These words describe the great source of the bliss of the redeemed, viz. that they are continually in the presence of Christ. This is their reward for following him on earth; but the words must not be taken as referring to the earthly course of the saints (as Bengel, De Wette, Hengstenberg, and others). These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb; these were purchased from among men, the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb. Some have erroneously concluded that a reference is made to a portion of the redeemed to whom special honour is conceded; or to some who attain to glory before the rest. The firstfruits were the best of their kind (Numbers 18:12), selected from the rest, and consecrated to the service of God. So the redeemed are the best of their kind; they who have proved themselves faithful to God, who voluntarily separated themselves from the world, and consecrated themselves to the service of God while in the world, and who are thus afterwards separated by him and consecrated to his service forever.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
These are they which were not defiled with women,.... With the whore of Rome, and her harlots, she is the mother of; while the kings and inhabitants of the earth were drunk with the wine of their fornication, or committed idolatry with them, which is spiritual fornication, and is here meant by being defiled with them, these were free from such pollutions, or idolatrous practices:
for they are virgins; for their beauty and comeliness in Christ, chastity, sincerity of their love, uncorruptness in doctrine and worship, and for the uprightness of conversation; See Gill on Matthew 25:1;
these are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth; as the sheep follow the shepherd of the flock, and which is a character of Christ's sheep, John 10:4. These follow Christ in the exercise of the graces of humility, patience, and love; and in the performance of the several duties of religion, and subjection to ordinances, and in the path of sufferings; and in every way in which Christ the Lamb has gone before them, or in his word and providence leads and directs them to, whether it be grateful to the flesh or not; particularly they follow where he is preached, and his Word and ordinances are faithfully administered; and they follow him to heaven, where he is: it was part of the oath taken by the Roman soldiers, ' , "to follow the generals wherever they should lead" (n), to which it is thought there is an allusion here; see 2 Samuel 15:21;
these were redeemed from among men; "by Jesus", as the Syriac and Arabic versions add, and so the Complutensian edition; by the blood of Christ, for all men are not redeemed by it; and in consequence of this they were called, and delivered from this present evil world, and the men of it, and from a vain, wicked, and idolatrous conversation with it:
being the firstfruits unto God, and to the Lamb; in allusion to the firstfruits under the law, which represented and sanctified the lump, and showed that harvest was coming; so these persons are called the firstfruits to God, and to the Lamb, being called by grace, and consecrated to their worship and service, with reference to the harvest of souls, or that large number of them which will be gathered in during the spiritual reign of Christ, which these persons will be at the beginning of; and as those who are first called and converted in a country or nation are said to be the firstfruits of it, Romans 16:5; so these being the first, in the period of time to which respect is had, bear this name; and as the converted Jews received the firstfruits of the Spirit, on the day of Pentecost, and at other times, so these will receive the firstfruits of the far greater pouring forth of the Spirit in the latter day, which will begin, and usher in the kingdom of Christ; see Romans 8:23.
(n) Vid. Lydii Dissert. de Jurament. c. 2. p. 258.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. virgins—spiritually (Mt 25:1); in contrast to the apostate Church, Babylon (Re 14:8), spiritually "a harlot" (Re 17:1-5; Isa 1:21; contrast 2Co 11:2; Eph 5:25-27). Their not being defiled with women means they were not led astray from Christian faithfulness by the tempters who jointly constitute the spiritual "harlot."
follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth—in glory, being especially near His person; the fitting reward of their following Him so fully on earth.
being the—rather, "as a first-fruit." Not merely a "first-fruit" in the sense in which all believers are so, but Israel's 144,000 elect are the first-fruit, the Jewish and Gentile elect Church is the harvest; in a further sense, the whole of the transfigured and translated Church which reigns with Christ at His coming, is the first-fruit, and the consequent general ingathering of Israel and the nations, ending in the last judgment, is the full and final harvest.
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