Revelation 1:15
And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
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(15) His feet like unto fine brass.—The feet, like the feet of the ministering priests of Israel, were bare, and appeared like chalcolibanus (fine brass). The exact meaning of this word (used only here) is not certain. The most trustworthy authors incline to take it as a hybrid word, half Greek, half Hebrew—chalcos, brass, and labân, white, to whiten—and understand it to signify brass which has attained in the furnace a white heat. “Such technical words were likely enough to be current in a population like that of Ephesus, consisting largely of workers in metal, some of whom—if we may judge from the case of Alexander the coppersmith (Acts 19:34; 2Timothy 4:14)—were, without doubt, Jews. I believe the word in question to have belonged to this technical vocabulary. It is at any rate used by St. John as familiar and intelligible to those for whom he wrote” (Prof. Plumptre in the Epistles to Seven Churches, in loco).

His voice as the sound (better, voice, as the same word—phoné—is used twice, and translated first “voice” and then “sound” in our English version) of many waters.—Daniel described the voice of the Ancient of Days as the voice of a multitude (Daniel 10:6); but the voice of the multitude was in earlier Hebrew writings compared to the sound of the waves of the sea, which the voice of the Lord alone could subdue (Psalm 65:7; Psalm 93:4). This image the Evangelist adopts to describe the voice of Christ—strong and majestic, amid the Babel-sounds of earth. That voice, whose word stilled the sea, sounds as the waves of the sea, which St. John heard Him rebuke.

1:12-20 The churches receive their light from Christ and the gospel, and hold it forth to others. They are golden candlesticks; they should be precious and pure; not only the ministers, but the members of the churches; their light should so shine before men, as to engage others to give glory to God. And the apostle saw as though of the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in the midst of the golden candlesticks. He is with his churches always, to the end of the world, filling them with light, and life, and love. He was clothed with a robe down to the feet, perhaps representing his righteousness and priesthood, as Mediator. This vest was girt with a golden girdle, which may denote how precious are his love and affection for his people. His head and hairs white like wool and as snow, may signify his majesty, purity, and eternity. His eyes as a flame of fire, may represent his knowledge of the secrets of all hearts, and of the most distant events. His feet like fine brass burning in a furnace, may denote the firmness of his appointments, and the excellence of his proceedings. His voice as the sound of many waters, may represent the power of his word, to remove or to destroy. The seven stars were emblems of the ministers of the seven churches to which the apostle was ordered to write, and whom Christ upheld and directed. The sword represented his justice, and his word, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb 4:12. His countenance was like the sun, when it shines clearly and powerfully; its strength too bright and dazzling for mortal eyes to behold. The apostle was overpowered with the greatness of the lustre and glory in which Christ appeared. We may well be contented to walk by faith, while here upon earth. The Lord Jesus spake words of comfort; Fear not. Words of instruction; telling who thus appeared. And his Divine nature; the First and the Last. His former sufferings; I was dead: the very same whom his disciples saw upon the cross. His resurrection and life; I have conquered death, and am partaker of endless life. His office and authority; sovereign dominion in and over the invisible world, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there is no appeal. Let us listen to the voice of Christ, and receive the tokens of his love, for what can he withhold from those for whose sins he has died? May we then obey his word, and give up ourselves wholly to him who directs all things aright.And his feet like unto fine brass - Compare Daniel 10:6, "And his arms and his feet like in color to polished brass." See also Ezekiel 1:7, "and they" (the feet of the living creatures) "sparkled like the color of burnished brass." The word used here - χαλκολιβάνω chalkolibanō - occurs in the New Testament only here and in Revelation 2:18. It is not found in the Septuagint. The word properly means "white brass" (probably compounded of χαλκός chalkos, brass, and λίβανος libanos, whiteness, from the Hebrew לבן laban, white). Others regard it as from χαλκός chalkos, brass, and λιπαρόν liparon, clear. The metal referred to was undoubtedly a species of brass distinguished for its clearness or whiteness. Brass is a compound metal, composed of copper and zinc. The color varies much according to the different proportions of the various ingredients. The Vulgate here renders the word "aurichalcum," a mixture of gold and of brass - perhaps the same as the ἠλεκτρον ēlektron - the electrum of the ancients, composed of gold and of silver, usually in the proportion of four parts gold and one part silver, and distinguished for its brilliancy. See Robinson, Lexicon, and Wetstein, in loco. The kind of metal here referred to, however, would seem to be some compound of brass - of a whitish and brilliant color. The exact proportion of the ingredients in the metal here referred to cannot now be determined.

As if they burned in a furnace - That is, his feet were so bright that they seemed to be like a beautiful metal glowing intensely in the midst of a furnace. Anyone who has looked upon the dazzling and almost insupportable brilliancy of metal in a furnace, can form an idea of the image here presented.

And his voice as the sound of many waters - As the roar of the ocean, or of a cataract. Nothing could be a more sublime description of majesty and authority than to compare the voice of a speaker with the roar of the ocean. This comparison often occurs in the Scriptures. See Ezekiel 43:2, "And behold the glory of the God of Israel came from the east: and his voice was like the sound of many waters: and the earth shined with his glory." So Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:6. Compare Ezekiel 1:24; Daniel 10:6.

15. fine brass—Greek, "chalcolibanus," derived by some from two Greek words, "brass" and "frankincense"; derived by Bochart from Greek, "chalcos," "brass," and Hebrew, "libbeen," "to whiten"; hence, "brass," which in the furnace has reached a white heat. Thus it answers to "burnished (flashing, or glowing) brass," Eze 1:7; Re 10:1, "His feet as pillars of fire." Translate, "Glowing brass, as if they had been made fiery (red-hot) in a furnace." The feet of the priests were bare in ministering in the sanctuary. So our great High Priest here.

voice as … many waters—(Eze 43:2); in Da 10:6, it is "like the voice of a multitude." As the Bridegroom's voice, so the bride's, Re 14:2; 19:6; Eze 1:24, the cherubim, or redeemed creation. His voice, however, is here regarded in its terribleness to His foes. Contrast So 2:8; 5:2, with which compare Re 3:20.

And his feet like unto fine brass: there are nice disquisitions what this chalcolibanum (which we translate, fine brass) was: vid. Poli Synopsin. I understand not of what profit the determination will be to us. By the feet of Christ (probably) are signified his ways, counsels, and methods, in ordering and governing his church, which are compared to fine brass, for the beauty and glory of them, and for their firmness, strength, and steadiness.

As if they burned in a furnace; they appeared like brass filled with fire, as if it were burning, and red-hot in furnace.

And his voice as the sound of many waters; loud and terrible, like the noise of the sea dashing upon a rock, or the shore.

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace,.... By which is meant, not his human nature in a suffering state; or his people, the meaner and lower parts of his mystical body, in a like state; or his apostles and ministers, who are supporters of his church, and run to and fro with spiritual knowledge, for which, though they suffer much, are permanent and glorious; but either the power of Christ in bearing up and supporting his people, in the care and government and defence of them; or his ways, works, and walks in his churches, and all his providential administrations towards them, which are holy, just, and righteous, and will be manifest; or his wrath and vengeance in treading down and trampling upon his enemies:

and his voice as the sound of many waters; meaning his Gospel, as preached by his apostles and ministers, which was heard far and near; see Romans 10:18; and which made a great noise in the world; or his voice of vengeance on his enemies, which will be very terrible and irresistible.

{8} And I turned to {k} see the voice that spake with me. {9} And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

(8) The exposition, declaring the third and last point of the proposition (for the other points are evident of themselves) in which is he first speaks of the author of his calling (till verse 17), and secondly, of the calling itself Re 1:17-20. First of all the occasion is noted in this verse, in that John turned himself towards the vision, and after he sets down the description of the author, in the following verses, Re 1:13-16.

(k) To see him whose voice I had heard.

(9) The description of the Author, who is Christ: by the candlesticks that stand about him, that is, the churches that stand before him, and depend upon his direction. In Re 1:13 he is described by his properties, that he is provided with wisdom and dexterity for the achieving of great things, and in Re 1:14 with ancient gravity and most excellent sight of the eye. In Re 1:15 he is described with strength invincible and with a mighty word, and in Re 1:16 by his ruling of the ministry of his servants in the Church by the sword of his word, and enlightening all things with his countenance, and mightily providing for everyone by his divine providence.

Revelation 1:15. To such eyes of flame,[776] belong feet ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ ὡς ἐν καμίνῳ πεπυρωμένῃ, which tread down unholy enemies.[777] De Wette is wrong in finding in this feature no other meaning than that of the splendor.

The word χαλκολίβανος,[778] which the Vulg. renders by orichalcum,[779] and Luther by Messing, is of doubtful derivation and meaning. Ewald follows an ancient testimony[780] which says that one of the three kinds of incense is so called.[781] As the entire picture has to do with more than color,[782] and as the type of Daniel 10:6[783] leads to the idea of brass,[784] incense can in no way be thought of. This is also, within the comparison itself, highly unnatural. The feet appear like brass, but at the same time, as the second member,[785] Ὢς ἘΝ ΚΑΜ. ΠΕΠΥΡΩΜΈΝῌ, says, “as in a furnace glowing with fire,” and therefore like the feet of the angel, Revelation 10:2, which are Ὡς ΣΤΎΛΟΙ ΠΥΡΌς. But whether the word[786] be a hybrid term composed of χαλκός and לָכָן, and therefore mean glowing white;[787] or “brass from Lebanon;”[788] or be taken as an intentionally mysterious designation of the ambiguous ἬΛΕΚΤΡΟΝ, which denotes an alloy,[789] and also amber,[790] and therefore corresponds in some degree to the former as well as to the second part of ΧΑΛΚΟΛΊΒΑΝΟς,[791]—cannot be certainly decided. The intentional mysteriousness is improbable; even though the idea were possible, that—of course, only in the provincialism of Asia Minor—the word were popularly formed and used in the sense received by Züllig. Wetzel,[792] by recurring to the root λὶβ, i.e., running, flowing, reaches the explanation of molten metal (Erzfluss); perfectly adapted to the meaning, but without sufficient justification in the language.

καὶ ἡ φωνὴ αὐτ., κ.τ.λ. Cf. Daniel 10:6; Ezekiel 43:2; Ezekiel 1:24. The force of the voice is represented (cf. Revelation 1:10), but the majesty peculiar to the peaceful murmur of the sea[793] is not to be thought of.

[776] Revelation 5:14, Revelation 2:18.

[777] Psalm 60:12; Isaiah 63:6; cf. Daniel 10:6, where, also, arms which cast down are mentioned.

[778] -ον, Suidas.

[779] Cf. Cic., De Off., iii. 23, 12; Horace, Ars Poet., 202.

[780] In Salmas, Ad Solin., p. 810; also in Wetst.

[781] ὁ λίβανος ἔχει τρία εἴδη δένδρων, καὶ ὁ μὲν ἅῤῥην ὀνομάζεται χαλκολίβανος, ἡλιοειδὴς καὶ πυῤῥὸς ἤγουν ξανθός (“Lebanon has three kinds of trees, and one that is strong is called χαλκολίβανος, like the sun, and that is to say, the reddish-yellow of fire”) Against this, is the notice in Suidas: χαλκολίβανον, εἶδος ἡλέκτρου τιμιώτερον χρυσοῦ, ἔστι δὲ τὸ ἥλεκτρον ἀλλότυπον χρυσίον μεμιγμένον ὑελῷ καὶ λιθείᾳ (“χαλκ. of the appearance of ἠλέκτρον, more valuable than gold; and ᾕλεκ. is gold of another kind mingled with glass and stone”).

[782] Against Ewald, De Wette.

[783] נְחשֶׁת קָלָל: LXX., χαλκὸς στίλβων. Ezekiel 1:7, LXX., ἐξαστράπτων χαλκ. Cf. Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:27; Ezekiel 8:2, חשְמַל: LXX., ἥλεκτρον.

[784] De Wette.

[785] The particle of comparison parallel with the ὅμοιοι renders the reading πεπυρωμένῳ, which is possible in a critical respect, belonging to χαλκολιβ. (cf. Revelation 3:18), inadvisable for exegetical reasons.

[786] Very arbitrarily translated by Hitzig (Johannes Marc., p. 68), “Ofenerz.”

[787] Grotius, Bochart, Hieroz., 3. p. 900; ed. Lips., Vitr., Hengstb.

[788] Syr., Aeth., Areth., Vatabl., Ebr.

[789] Suidas, s. o.

[790] Ew. ii.

[791] Züllig.

[792] Zeitschr. fur die gesammte lutherische Theol. u. Kirche, Leipzig, 1869, i. p. 94.

[793] Ebrard.

15. fine brass] Decidedly the most probable sense, though the etymology of the word is obscure. It looks like a compound of the Greek words for “brass” (or more accurately bronze) and “incense”—the latter being borrowed from the Hebrew name, which comes from a root meaning “white.” Perhaps the real meaning is “white brass,” i.e. the Latin orichalcum (vid. Verg. Aen. XII. 87), which was like gold (Cic. Off. III. 23:92)—i.e. perhaps was our “brass” as distinct from bronze. In Ezekiel 1:4; Ezekiel 1:27; Ezekiel 8:2 we have a word which probably (comparing ibid. Ezekiel 1:7, Ezekiel 40:3, Daniel 10:6) means the same, but which the LXX. translate electrum—meaning perhaps by this not amber, but an alloy of gold with silver or other metal. Some think that sense suitable here, as symbolising the divine and human natures of our Lord.

as if they burned] Read, as if it burned or rather with R. V. as if it had been refined—which seems to prove that “incense” cannot be the sense of the word just discussed, as incense would be burned in a censer not a furnace.

his voice as] Ezekiel 43:2.

Revelation 1:15. Πεπυρωμένῳ) So Uffenb. and one or two others, and the ancient versions. Others read πεπυρωμένοι.[20] It is an epithet not of the feet, but of the word χαλκολιβάνου;[21] and therefore it is not repeated, ch. Revelation 2:18. Χαλκός brass; λίβανος, incense: χαλκολίβανος, a species of brass, like incense. See Bochart’s Hierozoicon, at the end, where, in a full discussion, he explains it as white brass. Comp. Daniel 10:6, on shining brass. Hesychius, ἅπασα χαλκῆ, λαμπρὰ ὅλη, Κρῆτες, “The Cretans express by it what is wholly of brass, shining all over.”

[20] So Rec. Text. “De fornace igneâ,h. πεπυρωμένῃ, Vulg. But AC have πεπυρωμένης; and so Lachm.—E.

[21] This observation is less supported by the greater Edition than by the margin of Ed. ii.—E. B.

Verse 15. - Fine brass. This may stand as a translation of χαλκολίβανος, a word which occurs here and in Revelation 2:18 only, and the second half of which has never been satisfactorily explained. It may have been a local technical term in use among the metalworkers of Ephesus (Acts 19:24; 2 Timothy 4:14). The Rhemish Version renders it "latten." In what follows, the Revised Version is to be preferred: "as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters." It is tempting to think that "the roar of the sea is in the ears of the lonely man in Patmos;" but the image seems rather to be that of the sound of many cataracts (comp. Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 43:2; Daniel 10:6). There is singularly little of the scenery of Patmos in the Apocalypse. Revelation 1:15Fine brass (χαλκολιβάνῳ)

Rev., burnished brass. Only here and Revelation 2:18. Compare Daniel 10: Ezekiel 1:7. The meaning of the word is uncertain. Some explain electrum, an alloy of gold and silver: others, brass of Lebanon (Αίβανος) others, brass of the color of frankincense (λίβανος): others again, that it is an hybrid compound of the Greek χαλκός brass, and the Hebrew laban to make white. Dean Plumptre observes: "Such technical words were likely enough to be current in a population like that of Ephesus, consisting largely of workers in metal, some of whom were no doubt Jews" ("Epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia").

Many waters

Compare Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 43:2; Isaiah 17:12. See also Revelation 14:2; Revelation 19:6.

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