|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:8-14 It is matter of joy to all the world, to see that God deals with men in grace and mercy through the Redeemer. He governs the world, not merely as a Creator, but as our Saviour. The harps were instruments of praise; the vials were full of odours, or incense, which signify the prayers of the saints: prayer and praise should always go together. Christ has redeemed his people from the bondage of sin, guilt, and Satan. He has not only purchased liberty for them, but the highest honour and preferment; he made them kings and priests; kings, to rule over their own spirits, and to overcome the world, and the evil one; and he makes them priests; giving them access to himself, and liberty to offer up spiritual sacrifices. What words can more fully declare that Christ is, and ought to be worshipped, equally with the Father, by all creatures, to all eternity! Happy those who shall adore and praise in heaven, and who shall for ever bless the Lamb, who delivered and set them apart for himself by his blood. How worthy art thou, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of our highest praises! All creatures should proclaim thy greatness, and adore thy majesty.
Verse 10. - And hast made us unto our God kings and priests; and didst make them to be unto our God a kingdom and priests. Of those whom thou didst redeem from every nation, thou didst make a kingdom and priests. Wordsworth remarks that these honours conferred upon the redeemed imply duties as well as privileges. They receive the princely honours conferred upon them only on condition that they also become priests, presenting themselves, their souls and bodies, a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1, 2), and, being a holy priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5). (On the person of "us," see on previous verse.) And we shall reign on the earth; or, and they reign on the earth (see on ver. 9). The interpretation of this passage will necessarily be influenced to some extent by the view adopted of the millennium (see on Revelation 20.), Those who expect a personal reign of Christ on the earth for a thousand years naturally consider that in this verse reference is made to that period. And if the thousand years be understood to denote the time which elapses between the first and second comings of Christ, that is to say, the present time, the two passages - that in Revelation 20:4 and the one before us - may be connected, and intended to refer to the same time. We have, therefore, to inquire in what sense the word "reign" is used, and how the redeemed can be said to reign on the earth at the present time. In the first place, nothing is more plainly taught us than that Christ's reigning, his power, and his kingdom on earth are a spiritual reign, a spiritual power, a spiritual kingdom; though the Jews and our Lord's disciples themselves frequently erred by supposing that his kingdom would be a visible, worldly power. It seems natural, therefore, that if such is the meaning of Christ's reigning, that of his servants should be of the same nature; and we ought not to err in the same way as the Jews did, by expecting to see the redeemed exercise at any time visible authority over their fellowmen. The redeemed reign, then, spiritually. But it will be well to inquire more fully and exactly what we intend to signify by this expression. The word "reign" is not often used of Christians in the New Testament. In Romans 5:17 we read, "Much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." And in 1 Corinthians 4:8. "And I would to God ye did reign." In both these places St. Paul seems to intend a reigning over self - an ability to subdue personal passions; a power which comes from the "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness" which are mentioned, and which are possessed only by the redeemed, through Jesus Christ. This ability to subdue personal passions and ambitions is what the apostle wishes for the Corinthians, and of which many of them had shown themselves to be destitute, or only possessing in an inadequate degree. It is the truth which is expressed by Solomon in the words, "Better is he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Proverbs 16:32); and in the words of the Collect for Peace in the Morning Prayer of the Church of England, "Whose service is perfect freedom;" or, as it should be rendered, "Whom to serve is to reign." The representatives of the Church and of creation, then, adore the Lamb, through whose redeeming act grace may be given to men of every kindred and tongue, to enable them to overcome sin and Satan, and in the freedom of God's service to reign on earth as kings and conquerors over all unworthy passions. In this way, too, we account for the present tense of the verb, which is most probably the correct reading.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And hast made us unto our God kings and priests,.... See Gill on Revelation 1:6. The Alexandrian copy, and Complutensian edition, and the Syriac, Arabic, and the Ethiopic versions, read "them", instead of "us":
and we shall reign on the earth; meaning not merely in a spiritual sense, through grace reigning over sin and corruption, through Satan being bruised under their feet, and through the victory they have in Christ over the world, but in the millennium state, in the thousand years' reign with Christ in the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness; see Revelation 20:4. The Alexandrian copy, and the Complutensian edition, Syriac and Arabic versions, read "they shall reign".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
10. made us—A, B, Aleph, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic read, "them." The Hebrew construction of the third person for the first, has a graphic relation to the redeemed, and also has a more modest sound than us, priests [Bengel].
unto our God—So B and Aleph read. But A omits the clause.
kings—So B reads. But A, Aleph, Vulgate, Coptic, and Cyprian, read, "A kingdom." Aleph reads also "a priesthood" for priests. They who cast their crowns before the throne, do not call themselves kings in the sight of the great King (Re 4:10, 11); though their priestly access has such dignity that their reigning on earth cannot exceed it. So in Re 20:6 they are not called "kings" [Bengel].
we shall reign on the earth—This is a new feature added to Re 1:6. Aleph, Vulgate, and Coptic read, "They shall reign." A and B read, "They reign." Alford takes this reading and explains it of the Church EVEN NOW, in Christ her Head, reigning on the earth: "all things are being put under her feet, as under His; her kingly office and rank are asserted, even in the midst of persecution." But even if we read (I think the weightiest authority is against it), "They reign," still it is the prophetical present for the future: the seer being transported into the future when the full number of the redeemed (represented by the four living creatures) shall be complete and the visible kingdom begins. The saints do spiritually reign now; but certainly not as they shall when the prince of this world shall be bound (see on Re 20:2-6). So far from reigning on the earth now, they are "made as the filth of the world and the offscouring of all things." In Re 11:15, 18, the locality and time of the kingdom are marked. Kelly translates, "reign over the earth" (Greek, "epi tees gees"), which is justified by the Greek (Septuagint, Jud 9:8; Mt 2:22). The elders, though ruling over the earth, shall not necessarily (according to this passage) remain on the earth. But English Version is justified by Re 3:10. "The elders were meek, but the flock of the meek independently is much larger" [Bengel].
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