Revelation 1:18
I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for ever more, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
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(18) I am he that liveth, and was dead.—Better, and the living One (omit the words “I am”); and I became dead; and, behold, I am alive (or, I am living) unto the ages of ages (or, for evermore), “Amen” is omitted in the best MSS. This verse must be carefully kept in connection with the preceding, as the description should go on without pause. He is the living One—not merely one who once was alive, or is now alive—but the One who has “life in Himself, and the fountain and source of life to others, John 1:4; John 14:6; the One who hath immortality,” 1Timothy 6:16 (Trench). Yet He became dead. There are two wonders here: the living One becomes dead, and the dead One is alive for evermore. It is another form of the glorious truth and paradox of which the Apostles were so fond (Philippians 2:8-9; Hebrews 2:9). Comp. Christ’s words, Luke 9:24, and Luke 13:43, which contain promises which He only could make who could say, “I have the keys of death and of Hades.” The order of these words has been transposed in our English version. The true order is the more appropriate order, “For Hades is the vast unseen realm into which men are ushered by death; dark and mysterious as that realm was, and dreaded as was its monarch, our risen Lord has both under His power. The keys are the emblems of His right and authority.” (Comp. Revelation 3:7-8.) It is not of the second death that He speaks; our Lord is here seen as the conqueror of that clouded region, and that resistless foe which man dreaded. (Comp. John 11:25; Hebrews 2:15.) Comp. Henry Vaughan’s quaint poem “An Easter Hymn”—

“Death and darkness get you packing,

Nothing now to man is lacking;

All your triumphs now are ended,

And what Adam marred is mended;

Graves are beds now for the weary,

Death a nap to wake more merry.

Christ had spoken before of the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18), and of the keys. (Comp. also 1Peter 3:19.) The key of the grave was one of the four keys which the Eternal King committed to no ministering angel, but reserved for himself (so Targum and Talmud). The whole verse affirms the undying power and inalienable authority of our Master, and is a fitting prelude to a book which is to show the inherent divine tenacity of Christianity. The Church lives on because Christ its Head lives on (John 14:19). The resurrection power which the Lord showed is to be reflected in the history of His Church. “The greatest honour is due to Christianity,” says Goethe, “for continually proving its pure and noble origin by coming forth again, after the great aberrations into which human perversity has led it, more speedily than was expected, with its primitive special charm as a mission. . . . for the relief of human necessity”



Revelation 1:18.

If we had been in ‘the isle which is called Patmos’ when John saw the glorified Lord, and heard these majestic words from His mouth, we should probably have seen nothing but the sunlight glinting on the water, and heard only the wave breaking on the shore. The Apostle tells us that he ‘was in the Spirit’; that is, in a state in which sense is lulled to sleep and the inner man made aware of supersensual realities. The communication was none the less real because it was not perceived by the outward eye or ear. It was not born in, though it was perceived by, the Apostle’s spirit. We must hold fast by the objective reality of the communication, which is not in the slightest degree affected by the assumption that sense had no part in it.

Further what John once saw always is; the vision was a transient revelation of a permanent reality. The snowy summits are there, behind the cloud-wrack that hides them, as truly as they were when the sunshine gleamed on their peaks. The veil has fallen again, but all behind it is as it was. So this revelation, both in regard of the magnificent symbolic image imprinted on the Apostle’s consciousness, and in regard of the words which he reports to us as impressed upon him by Christ Himself, is meant for us just as it was for him, or for those to whom it was originally transmitted. ‘He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.’ And as we meditate upon this proclamation by the kingly Christ Himself of His own style and titles, I think we shall best gain its full sublimity and force if we simply take the words, clause by clause, as they stand in the text.

I. First, then, the royal Christ proclaims His absolute life.

Observe that, as the Revised Version will show those who use it, there is a much closer connection between the words of our text and those of the preceding verse than our Authorized Version gives. We must strike out that intrusive and wholly needless supplement,’ I am,’ and read the sentence unbrokenly: ‘I am the first, and the last and the living One.’

Now that close connection of clauses in itself suggests that this expression, ‘the Living One,’ means something more than the mere declaration that He was alive. That follows appropriately, as we shall see, in the last clause of the verse, which cannot be cleared from the charge of tautology, unless we attach a far deeper meaning than the mere declaration of life to this first solemn clause. What can stand worthily by the side of these majestic words, ‘I am the first and the last’? These claim a Divine attribute and are a direct quotation from ancient prophecy, where they are spoken as by the great Jehovah of the old covenant, and appear in a connection which makes any tampering with them the more impossible. For there follow upon them the great words, ‘and beside Me there is no God.’ But this royal Christ from the heavens puts out an unpresumptuous hand, and draws to Himself, as properly belonging to Him, the very style and signature of the Divine nature, ‘I am the first’-before all creatural being, ‘and the last,’ as He to whom it all tends-its goal and aim. And therefore I say that this connection of clauses, apart altogether from other consideration, absolutely forbids our taking this great word, ‘the Living One,’ as meaning less than the similar lofty and profound signification. It means, as I believe, exactly what Jesus Christ meant when, in the hearing of this same Apostle, He said upon earth, ‘As the Father hath life in Himself so hath He given’- strange paradox-’ so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.’ A life which, considered in contrast with all the life of creatures, is underived, independent, self-feeding, and, considered in contrast with the life of the Father with whom that Son stands in ineffable and unbroken union, is bestowed. It is a paradox, I know, but until we assume that we have sounded all the depths and climbed all the heights, and gone round the boundless boundaries of the circumference of that Divine nature, we have no business to say that it is impossible. And this, as I take it, is what the great words that echoed from Heaven in the Apostle’s hearing upon Patmos meant-the claim by the glorified Christ to possess absolute fontal life, and to be the Source of all creation, ‘in whom was life.’ He was not only ‘the Living One,’ but, as Himself has said, He was ‘the Life.’ And so He was the agent of all creation, as Scripture teaches us.

Now I am not going to dwell upon this great thought, but I simply wish, in one sentence, to leave with you my own earnest conviction that it is the teaching of all Scripture, that it is distinctly the teaching of Christ Himself when on earth; that it is repeated in a real revelation from Himself to the recipient seer in this vision before us, that it is fundamental to all true understanding of Christ’s person and work, since none of His acts on earth shine in their full lustre of beauty unless the thought of His pre-incarnate and essential life is held fast to heighten all the marvels of His condescension, and to invest with power all the sweetness of His pity. ‘I am the first, and the last, and the Living One.’

II. Secondly, the royal Christ proclaims His submission to death.

The language of the original is, perhaps, scarcely capable of smooth transference into English, but it is to be held fast notwithstanding, for what is said is not ‘I was dead,’ as describing a past condition, but ‘I became dead,’ as describing a past act. There is all the difference between these two, and avoidance of awkwardness is dearly purchased by obliteration of the solemn teaching of that profound word ‘ became.’

I need not dwell upon this at any length, but I suggest to you one or two plain considerations. Such a statement implies our Lord’s assumption of flesh. The only possibility of death, for ‘ the Living One,’ lies in His enwrapping Himself with that which can die. As you might put a piece of asbestos into a twist of cotton wool, over which the flame could have power, or as a sun might plunge into thick envelopes of darkness, so this eternal, absolute Life gathered to itself by voluntary accretion the surrounding which was capable of mortality. It is very significant that the same word which the seer in Patmos employs to describe the Lord’s submission to death is the word which, in his character of evangelist, he employs to describe the same Lord’s incarnation: ‘The Word became flesh,’ and so the Life ‘became dead.’ And this expression implies, too, another thing, on which I need not dwell, because I was touching on it in a previous sermon, and that is the entirely voluntary character of our Lord’s submission to the great law of mortality. He ‘became ‘ dead, and it was His act that He became so.

Thus we are brought into the presence of the most stupendous fact in the world’s history. Brethren, as I said that the firm grasp of the other truth of Christ’s absolute life was fundamental to all understanding of His earthly career, so I say that this fundamental truth of His voluntarily becoming dead is fundamental to all understanding of His Cross. Without that thought His death becomes mere surplusage, in so far as His power over men is concerned. With it, what adoration can be too lowly, what gratitude can be disproportionate? He arrays Himself in that which can die, as if the sun plunged into the shadow of eclipse. Let us bow before that mystery of Divine love, the death of the Lord of Life. The motive which impelled Him, the consequences which followed, are " not in view here. These are full of blessedness and of wonder, but we are now to concentrate our thoughts on the bare fact, and to find in it food for endless adoration and for perpetual praise.

But there is another consideration that I may suggest. The eternal Life became dead. Then the awful solitude-awful when we think of it for ourselves, awful when we stand by the bed, and feel so near, and yet so infinitely remote from the dear one that may be lying there-the awful solitude is solitary no longer. ‘All alone, so Heaven has willed, we die’; but as travelers are cheered on a solitary road when they see the footprints that they know belonged to loved and trusted ones who have trodden it before, that desolate loneliness is less lonely when we think that He became dead. He will come to the shrinking, single j soul as He joined Himself to the sad travelers on the I road to Emmaus, and ‘our hearts’ may burn within us, even in that last hour of their beating, if we can remember who has become dead and trodden the road before us.

III. The royal Christ proclaims His eternal life in glory.

‘Behold!’-as if calling attention to a wonder-’ I am alive for evermore.’ Again, I say, we have here a distinctly Divine prerogative claimed by the exalted Christ, as properly belonging to Himself. For that eternal life of which He speaks is by no means the communicated immortality which He imparts to them that in His love go down to death, but it is the inherent eternal life of the Divine nature.

But, mark, who is the ‘I’ that speaks? The seer has told us: ‘One like unto the Son of Man’-which title, whether it repeats the name which our Lord habitually used, or whether, as some persons suppose, it should be read ‘ a Son of Man,’ and merely declares that the vision of the glorified One was manlike, is equally relevant for my present purpose. For that is to ask you to mark that the ‘I’ of my text is the Divine human Jesus. The manhood is so intertwined with the Deity that the absolute life of the latter has, as it were, flowed over and glorified the former; and it is a Man who lays His hand upon the Divine prerogative, and says, ‘I live for evermore.’

Now why do I dwell upon thoughts like this? Not for the purpose merely of putting accurately what I believe to be the truth, but for the sake of opening out to you and to myself the infinite treasures of consolation and strength which lie in that thought that He who ‘is alive for evermore’ is not merely Divine in His absolute life, but, as Son of Man, lives for ever. And so,’ because I live, ye shall live also.’ We cannot die as long as Christ is alive. And if we knit our hearts to Him, the Divine glory which flows over His Manhood will trickle down to ours, and we, too, though by derivation, shall possess as immortal - and, in its measure, as glorious-a life as that of the Brother who reigns in Heaven, the Man Christ Jesus.

His resurrection is not only the demonstration of what manhood is capable and so, as I believe, the one irrefragable and all-satisfying proof of immortality, but it is also the actual source of that immortal life to all of us, if we will trust ourselves to Him. For it is only because ‘He both died and rose and revived’ that He, in the truest and properest sense, becomes the gift of life to us men. The alabaster box was broken, and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Christ’s death is the world’s life. Christ’s resurrection is the pledge and the source of eternal life for us.

IV. And so, lastly, the royal Christ proclaims His authority over the dim regions of the dead.

Much to be regretted are two things in our Authorized Version’s rendering of the final words of our text. One is the order in which, following an inferior reading, it has placed the two things specified. And the other is that deplorable mistranslation, as it has come to be, of the word hades by the word ‘hell.’ The true original does not read ‘hell and death,’ but ‘death and hades,’ the dim unseen regions in which all the dead, whatsoever their condition may be, are gathered. The hades of the New Testament includes the paradise into which the penitent thief was promised entrance, as well as the Gehenna which threatened to open for the impenitent.

Here it is figured as being a great gloomy fortress, with bars and gates and locks, of which that’ shadow feared of man’ is the warder, and keeps the portals. But he does not keep the keys. The kingly Christ has these in His own hand. So, brethren, He has authority to open and to shut; and death is not merely a terror nor is it altogether accounted for, when we say either that it is the fruit of sin, or that it is the result of physical laws. For behind the laws is the will-the will of the loving Christ. It is His hand that opens the dark door, and they who listen aright may hear Him say, when He does it,’ Come! My people; enter thou into thy chamber until these calamities be over past.’ ‘He openeth, and no man shutteth; He shutteth, and no man openeth.’ So is not the terror gone; and ‘the raven plumes of that darkness smoothed until it smiles’?

If we believe that He has the keys, how shall we dread when ourselves or our dear ones have to enter into the portal? There are two gates to the prison house, and when the one that looks earthwards opens, the other, that gives on the heavens, opens too, and the prison becomes a thoroughfare, and the light shines through the short tunnel even to the hither side.

Because He has the keys, He will not leave His holy ones in the fetters. And for ourselves, and for our dearest, we have the right to think that the darkness is so short as to be but like an imperceptible wink of the eye; and ere we know that we have passed into it, we shall have passed out.

‘This is the gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.’ And it may be with us as it was with the Apostle who was awakened out of his sleep by the angel-only we shall be awakened out of ours by the angel’s Master-and who did not come to himself, and know that he had been delivered, until he had passed through the iron gate ‘that opened to him of its own accord’; and then, bewildered, he recovered himself when he found that, with the morning breaking over his head, he stood, delivered, in the city.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.I am he that liveth, and was dead - I was indeed once dead, but now I live, and shall continue to live forever. This would at once identify him who thus appeared as the Lord Jesus Christ, for to no one else could this apply. He had been put to death; but he had risen from the grave. This also is given as a reason why John should not fear; and nothing would allay his fears more than this. He now saw that he was in the presence of that Saviour whom more than half a century before he had so tenderly loved when in the flesh, and whom, though now long absent, he had faithfully served, and for whose cause he was now in this lonely island. His faith in his resurrection had not been a delusion; he saw the very Redeemer before him who had once been laid in the tomb.

Behold, I am alive forevermore - I am to live forever. Death is no more to cut me down, and I am never again to slumber in the grave. As he was always to live, he could accomplish all his promises, and fulfil all his purposes. The Saviour is never to die again. He can, therefore, always sustain us in our troubles; he can be with us in our death. Whoever of our friends die, he will not die; when we die, he will still be on the throne.

Amen - A word here of strong affirmation - as if he had said, it is "truly," or "certainly so." See the notes on Revelation 1:7. This expression is one that the Saviour often used when he wished to give emphasis, or to express anything strongly. Compare John 3:3; John 5:25.

And have the keys of hell and of death - The word rendered "hell" - ᾅδης Hadēs, "Hades" - refers properly to the underworld; the abode of departed spirits; the region of the dead. This was represented as dull and gloomy; as enclosed with walls; as entered through gates which were fastened with bolts and bars. For a description of the views which prevailed among the ancients on the subject, see the Luke 16:23 note, and Job 10:21-22 notes. To hold the key of this, was to hold the power over the invisible world. It was the more appropriate that the Saviour should represent himself as having this authority, as he had himself been raised from the dead by his own power (compare John 10:18), thus showing that the dominion over this dark world was entrusted to him.

And of death - A personification. Death reigns in that world. But to his wide-extended realms the Saviour holds the key, and can have access to his empire when he pleases, releasing all whom he chooses, and confining there still such as he shall please. It is probably in part from such hints as these that Milton drew his sublime description of the gates of hell in the "Paradise Lost." As Christ always lives; as he always retains this power over the regions of the dead, and the whole world of spirits, it may be further remarked that we have nothing to dread if we put our trust in him. We need not fear to enter a world which he has entered, and from which he has emerged, achieving a glorious triumph; we need not fear what the dread king that reigns there can do to us, for his power extends not beyond the permission of the Saviour, and in his own time that Saviour will call us forth to life, to die no more.

18. Translate as Greek, "And THE Living One": connected with last sentence, Re 1:17.

and was—Greek, "and (yet) I became."

alive for evermore—Greek, "living unto the ages of ages": not merely "I live," but I have life, and am the source of it to My people. "To Him belongs absolute being, as contrasted with the relative being of the creature; others may share, He only hath immortality: being in essence, not by mere participation, immortal" [Theodoret in Trench]. One oldest manuscript, with English Version, reads Amen." Two others, and most of the oldest versions and Fathers, omit it. His having passed through death as one of us, and now living in the infinite plenitude of life, reassures His people, since through Him death is the gate of resurrection to eternal life.

have … keys of hell—Greek, "Hades"; Hebrew, "Sheol." "Hell" in the sense, the place of torment, answers to a different Greek word, namely, Gehenna. I can release from the unseen world of spirits and from DEATH whom I will. The oldest manuscripts read by transposition, "Death and Hades," or Hell." It is death (which came in by sin, robbing man of his immortal birthright, Ro 5:12) that peoples Hades, and therefore should stand first in order. Keys are emblems of authority, opening and shutting at will "the gates of Hades" (Ps 9:13, 14; Isa 38:10; Mt 16:18).

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; the living God, who had life in myself, and gave life to the world, but assumed the human nature, and was made man, and in that nature died; but I rose again from the dead, and shall die no more, but ever live to make intercession for my people.

Amen; this is a great truth.

And have the keys of hell and of death; and have a power to kill, and cast into hell; or, I have the power over death, and the state of the dead, so as I can raise those that are dead to life again: I have the command of death, whether temporal or eternal; as he who hath the keys of a house can let in and shut out of it whom he pleaseth, so I bring to heaven and throw to hell whom I please. I am he that liveth,.... As the eternal God, who has life in himself, originally, essentially, and inderivatively, and is the fountain and author of life to others; and who ever lived as the Mediator and Redeemer, and still does, and ever will, yea, even when he was dead as man:

and was dead; he died the death of the cross, for the sins of his people, in due time, and but once; and it was but a short time he was held under the power of death, and will never die any more:

and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; he was always alive as God, or he was always the living God, and ever will be; and he is now alive as man, and will for ever continue so; and he is alive to God, he lives by him, with him, and to his glory; and he is alive to the benefit and advantage of his redeemed ones, for whom he died; he ever lives to make intercession for them; he rose again from the dead for their justification; their being quickened together with him, and their being begotten again to a lively hope, are owing to his being alive; and as their reconciliation is by his death, so their salvation, or the application of it to them, is by his interceding life; and his resurrection is the cause of theirs: this is very fitly said to John, who was fallen as dead at the feet of Christ, and might be to animate him against the fears of death, or whatever he was to meet with on account of Christ; as well as to make himself known unto him, who had before known him, living, dying, and risen again. The word "Amen" is left out in the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions; but is in others, and is rightly retained, either as an asseveration of Christ to the truth of what is before said, or as an assent of John's unto it, who was a proper witness both of the death and resurrection of Christ:

and have the keys of hell and death; or "of death and hell"; as the words are transposed in the Alexandrian copy and Complutensian edition, in the Vulgate Latin and in all the Oriental versions, agreeably to Revelation 6:8, by which phrase is expressed the power of Christ over both: his power over death is seen in taking away persons by death when he pleases, the instances of Ananias and Sapphira are proofs of this; and in delivering persons from death when near it, as the centurion's servant, Peter's wife's mother, and the nobleman's son of Capernaum; and in raising persons from the dead, as Jairus's daughter, the widow of Naam's son, and Lazarus, when he was here on earth; and in his raising up his own body when dead, and which will also appear in raising all the dead at the last day: and his power over "hell", by which may be meant the grave, or the place of the departed, and separate souls, or the place of the damned and of the devils which are there, will be seen in opening the graves at the time of the resurrection, when death and hell, or the grave, will deliver up the dead in them, at his command; and in retaining or sending out the separate souls "in hades"; and in opening the doors of hell, and casting in the wicked, and destroying them, soul and body, there; and in shutting them up, that they cannot come out from thence who are once in; and in binding Satan, and casting him into the bottomless pit, and shutting him up there, the key of which he has in his hand; and in preserving his church and people from his power and malice, so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against them. This is an expression of the sovereignty, power, and authority of Christ; and is designed to encourage and support John under his present concern and anxiety of mind about the person he saw in this vision: , "the key of the grave", and of the resurrection of the dead, is frequently said by the Jews to be one of the keys which are in the hands of the holy blessed God, and his only; not in the hands of an angel or a seraph, or any other (u),

(u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 73. fol. 64. 3. Targum Jerus. in Genesis 30.21. & Jon in Deuteronomy 28.12. Zohar in Gen. fol. 67. 3. Pirke Eliezer, c. 34. T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 2. 1. & Sandedrin, fol. 113. 1.

I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Revelation 1:18. Not “it is I, the first and the last” (which would require ἐγώ εἰμι before μὴ φοβοῦ), but “I am, etc.” The eternal life of the exalted Christ is a comfort both in method and result; ἐγενόμην νεκρός (not ὡς; really dead), his experience assuring men of sympathy and understanding; καὶ ἰδοὺ, κ.τ.λ., his victory and authority over death = an assurance of his power to rescue his own people from the grim prison of the underworld (Hades, cf. 3Ma 5:50, the intermediate abode of the dead, being as usual personified in connexion with death). A background for this conception lies in the primitive idea of Janus, originally an Italian sun-god, as the key-holder (cf. Ovid’s Fasti, i. 129, 130, Hor. Carm. Sec. 9, 10) who opens and closes the day (sun = deus clauiger), rather than in Mithraism which only knew keys of heaven, or in Mandæan religion (Cheyne’s Bible Problems, 102–106). The key was a natural Oriental symbol for authority and power (cf. in this book, Revelation 3:7, Revelation 9:1, Revelation 20:1). Jewish belief (see Gfrörer, i. 377–378) assigned three keys or four exclusively to God (“quos neque angelo neque seraphino committit”); these included, according to different views, “clauis sepulchorum,” “clavis uitae,” “clauis resurrectionis mortuorum”. To ascribe this divine prerogative to Jesus as the divine Hero who had mastered death is, therefore, another notable feature in the high Christology of this book. For the whole conception see E. B. D. ch. 64. (fifth century B.C.?): “I am Yesterday and To-day and To-morrow … I am the Lord of the men who are raised again; the Lord who cometh forth from out of the darkness.” It is based on the theophany of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9 f. (yet cf. Revelation 10:5-6), who bestows on the ideal Israel (ὡς υἱὸς ἀνθ.) dominion. John changes this into a Christophany, like the later Jewish tradition which saw in υἱὸς ἀ. a personal, divine messiah. When one remembers the actual position of affairs, the confident faith of such passages is seen to have been little short of magnificent. To this Christian prophet, spokesman of a mere ripple upon a single wave of dissent in the broad ocean of paganism, history and experience find unity and meaning nowhere but in the person of a blameless Galilean peasant who had perished as a criminal in Jerusalem. So would such early Christian expectations appear to an outsider. He would be staggered by the extraordinary claims advanced on behalf of its God by this diminutive sect, perhaps more than staggered by the prophecy that imperial authority over the visible and invisible worlds lay ultimately in the hands of this deity, whose power was not limited to his own adherents.—Christophanies were commissions either to practical service (Acts 10:19, etc.), or, as here, so composition.18. I am he] Literally, I am the First and the Last, and He that liveth; and I was dead and am alive.

l am alive] The words “was” and “am” are emphatic—contrasting His temporal and temporary death with His eternal life: see on Revelation 1:4.

Amen] Should be omitted.

of hell and of death] Read, of death and of hell. “Hell” is Hades, the receptacle of the dead: usually personified in this book, as indeed is death, Revelation 6:8, Revelation 20:13-14. But here they are rather conceived as places, prisons wherein the dead are confined, and from which Christ can deliver them. We read of “the gates of death” in Psalm 9:13; Job 38:17, and “the gates of hell” in Isaiah 38:10; Matthew 16:18.Revelation 1:18. Ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς, I became dead) It might have been said, ἀπέθανον, I died: but in this passage with singular elegance it is said, I became dead, to denote a difference of times, and of the events in them.—αἰώνων) Both the formula εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, and the word ἀμὴν, are of very frequent use in Doxologies. Therefore the copyists with ready pen completed that formula by writing this word (ἀμὴν[22]), though there is no Doxology, as I have observed in my Apparatus. [See Ed. II. on this passage, where a memorable caution is given respecting a too great estimation of the Editions.]

[22] Rec. Text has ἀμήν, with B and Syr. But AC Vulg. h, Memph. Orig. Iren. omit it.—E.Verse 18. - I am he that liveth. This should be joined with what precedes. "I am the First and the Last, and the Living One; and I became dead, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades." "Became" or "came to be" (ἐγενόμην), as in vers. 9 and 10, indicates an exceptional condition. The "Amen" has been improperly inserted after "forevermore" (see on "forever and ever," in ver. 6) from liturgical usage. Most English versions omit it. The keys, as so often, are the sign of authority (Revelation 3:7; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 20:1; Matthew 16:19). Christ, as the absolutely Living One, who "has life in himself" and is the Source of life in others, has control, not merely over the passage from this world to the other, but over the other world itself. He can recall departed souls from their resting place. The error of rendering Αιδης "hell" has often been pointed out; it is not a place of punishment, but the temporary home of the departed, who are awaiting the day of judgment. "Death," in all the best manuscripts and versions precedes "Hades;" and this is the logical order. I am He that liveth (καὶ ὁ ζῶν)

Not a fresh sentence connected with the following words as in A.V., but connected with the first and the last by καὶ and. Rev., and the living One. Compare John 1:4; John 14:6; John 5:26.

And l was dead (καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς)

Strictly, I became. So Rev., in margin. Compare Philippians 2:8, "became obedient unto death."

For evermore

See on Revelation 1:6.



The keys of Hell and Death

Rev., correctly, of Death and of Hades. Conceived as a prison-house or a walled city. See on Matthew 16:18. The keys are the symbol of authority. See Matthew 16:19; Revelation 3:7; Revelation 9:1; Revelation 20:1. The Rabbinical proverb said: "There are four keys lodged in God's hand, which He committeth neither to angel nor to seraph: the key of the rain, the key of food, the key of the tombs, and the key of a barren woman."

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