Revelation 1:19
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
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(19) Write the things which thou hast seen (better, sawest).—It is well to notice the small connecting word “then,” which has been omitted in the English. It gives the practical thought to the whole of the previous vision. This vision is to be described for the benefit of the Church of Christ, that she may never forget Him who is the foundation on which she rests; the true fountain of her life; and in whom she will find the source of that renewing power to which the last Note alludes. In the history of the faith it will be always true that they who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:28-31). Lest, then, at any time the saints of God should be tempted to cry that “their judgment was passed over from their God,” the Evangelist is bidden first to detail this vision of Him who is the Life and Captain of His people. He is also to write the things which are—those eternal principles and truths which underlie all the phenomena of human history; or the things which concern the present state of the churches—and the things which are about to be after these things—those great and wondrous scenes of the fortunes of the Church and of the world which will be unfolded.

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.Write the things which thou hast seen - An account of the vision which thou hast had, Revelation 1:10-18.

And the things which are - Give an account of those things which thou hast seen as designed to represent the condition of the seven churches. He had seen not only the Saviour, but he had seen seven lampstands, and seven stars in the hand of the Saviour, and he is now commanded to record the meaning of these symbols as referring to things then actually existing in the seven churches. This interpretation is demanded by Revelation 1:20.

And the things which shall be hereafter - The Greek phrase rendered "hereafter" - μετὰ ταῦτα meta tauta - means "after these things"; that is, he was to make a correct representation of the things which then were, and then to record what would occur "after these things:" to wit, of the images, symbols, and truths, which would be disclosed to him after what he had already seen. The expression refers to future times. He does not say for how long a time; but the revelations which were to be made referred to events which were to occur beyond those which were then taking place. Nothing can be argued from the use of this language in regard to the length of time embraced in the revelation-whether it extended only for a few years or whether it embraced all coming time. The more natural interpretation, however, would seem to be, that it would stretch far into future years, and that it was designed to give at least an outline of what would be the character of the future in general.

19. The oldest manuscripts read, "Write therefore" (inasmuch as I, "the First and Last," have the keys of death, and vouchsafe to thee this vision for the comfort and warning of the Church).

things which are—"the things which thou hast seen" are those narrated in this chapter (compare Re 1:11). "The things which are" imply the present state of things in the churches when John was writing, as represented in the second and third chapters. "The things which shall be hereafter," the things symbolically represented concerning the future history of the fourth through twenty-second chapters. Alford translates, "What things they signify"; but the antithesis of the next clause forbids this, "the things which shall be hereafter," Greek, "which are about to come to pass." The plural (Greek) "are," instead of the usual Greek construction singular, is owing to churches and persons being meant by things" in the clause, "the things which are."

Write the things which thou hast seen; either the things which thou hast seen from the beginning of the gospel; for John, Matthew 4:21, was a companion of Christ from the time presently following his baptism and temptations: or, the vision of me which thou hast now had; which I judge most probably the sense, not understanding why our Lord should set John to write what (though they were not yet written, yet) Christ knew should be written in another book by John himself, viz. in his Gospel, and by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in their histories of the Gospel, and in the Acts of the Apostles; especially considering they were to be written plainly, so as he who runs may read them; and what John was to write here, was to be written enigmatically, and darkly represented in visions: and it is against reason to think the same things should be first revealed plainly, and then more darkly, and both by direction from God.

And the things which are; the present affairs of the church; we have the history till Paul was carried prisoner to Rome, (which was about the 60th year after Christ), in the Acts of the apostles; so that I conceive the farthest that John looked back was but thirty-five years; for he was in Patmos about the year 93, and is conceived to have written this book, 96. Hence the matter of the Revelation is easily concluded:

1. The things which were the present affairs of the church, Anno 96, or looking back only to 60, which things are supposed to be written by John, in Revelation 2:3.

And the things which shall be hereafter; to the end of the world, under the reign of the dragon, (the pagan Roman empire), and the reign of antichrist, or the beast, for one thousand two hundred and sixty years, and from thence until Christ shall come to judgment. Write the things which thou hast seen,.... The Alexandrian copy and some others, and the Complutensian edition, read, "write therefore the things", &c. meaning what he had now seen, the vision of one like to the son of man, amidst the golden candlesticks, with seven stars in his right hand, and as above described; this was what he had seen Revelation 1:12; for it does not refer to what he had seen of Christ in the days of his flesh, but to what he had now seen in this representation of him:

and the things which are; the state of the churches of Christ in the apostolic age, and at that time signified by the Ephesian church, and that part of the Smyrnean which John 54ed to see:

and the things which shall be hereafter; from hence unto the end of the world, in successive generations, signified by the rest of the churches, and in the visions of the seals, trumpets, and vials.

{13} Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

(13) The sum of this prophecy, that the apostle must write whatever he sees, adding nothing, nor taking away anything Re 1:2. Here there are two parts: one is a narration of those things which are, that is, which then were at that time, contained in the second and third chapter: the other part is of those things which were to come, contained in the rest of this book.

Revelation 1:19. It is impossible for the οὐν, without reference to Revelation 1:17-18, to serve only to recall the command, Revelation 1:11.[842] Hengstenb. better combines the reference to Revelation 1:11 with that to Revelation 1:17-18 : “When, therefore, this fear is removed, do what I have bidden thee.” But, apart from the fact that it is very doubtful whether, Revelation 1:11, Christ himself has spoken, this reference to Revelation 1:17-18, which even does not correspond to the meaning of these verses, is highly unsatisfactory. Grotius seems with greater correctness to remark, “Because you see that I am so powerful.” The Lord, therefore, bases upon the revelation of his own majesty (Revelation 1:17-18) communicated to the prophet, the command to write, i.e., to give written witness to the churches (Revelation 1:1 sqq.); since the contents of this revelation, which is to be communicated, is essentially nothing else than the full unfolding of what has been beheld by the prophet (Revelation 1:12 sqq.), and the majesty of Christ disclosed by the Lord himself in significant words (Revelation 1:17-18). For the Living One will come; who was dead (Revelation 1:18), whom they have pierced (Revelation 1:7), but who is alive in eternity, whom John beheld, and was commissioned by the Coming One himself to proclaim his advent.

This is also given by the sense of the following words, which more accurately designate the subjects to be written of: ἄ εἰδες, κ.τ.λ. There can be no doubt that the εἰδες refers to the vision above narrated. The καὶ ἅ εἰσὶν, moreover, after its reference to ἃ εἰδ., or to κ. ἃ μελλ., κ.τ.λ., is fixed, means either “and what it is,” i.e., signifies;[843] or, “and what is,” i.e., the present relations.[844] The latter is far more natural, especially as the antithesis between ἃ εἰσὶν and ἃ μέλλει γεν. is marked particularly by the retrospection of the μετὰ ταῦτα to the ἃ εἰσὶν. Yet it must not be said that the ἃ εἶδες in ch. 1, ἃ εἰσὶν in chs. 2 and 3, and ἃ μελλ., κ.τ.λ., are comprised; but, rather, the epistles already contain the future, and the succeeding chapters the present; yea, the entire book bears the true prophetic stamp in this, that what is future is also prophesied of the present.[845] That in Revelation 1:20 a point of the vision, Revelation 1:12 sqq., is actually indicated,[846] can be decided concerning the meaning of the ἃ εἶδες the less, as by the ἃ εἶδες the entire vision, Revelation 1:12 sqq., is meant.[847]

[842] Against Aretius, who immediately remarks, “ἔκστασις injures the memory;” also against De Wette.

[843] Alcas., Aret., Eichh., Heinr., Herd., Ew., Bleek, De Wette; cf. Klief., “what they are.”

[844] Areth., N. de Lyra, C. a Lap., Grot., Calov., Vitr., Beng., Wolf, Züll., Hengstenb., Ebrard, Lücke p. 401, Volkm.

[845] Cf. Introduction, sec. 2.

[846] Cf. Revelation 17:7 sqq., and elsewhere.

[847] Against De Wette; also against Kliefoth.Revelation 1:19. οὖν, at the command of him who has authority over the other world and the future (resuming Revelation 1:11. now that the paralysing fear of Revelation 1:17 has been removed). Like the author of 4th Esdras, this prophet is far more interested in history than in the chronological speculations which engrossed many of the older apocalyptists. The sense of γράψον κ.τ.λ. is not, write the vision already seen (ἃ εἶδες, Revelation 1:10-18), the present (ἃ εἰσὶν, Revelation 1:20 to Revelation 3:20, the state of the churches, mainly conceived as it exists now and here), and the future (ἃ μέλλει γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα, i.e., Revelation 4:1 f.), as though the words were a rough programme of the whole book; nor, as other editors (e.g., Spitta) unconvincingly suggest, is ἃ εἰσὶν = “what they mean,” epexegetic of ἃ εἶδες, or εἶδες (cf. Revelation 10:7, Revelation 15:1) in a future perfect sense (Selwyn). The following chapters cannot be regarded merely as interpretations of Revelation 1:10-18, and the juxtaposition of μέλλει γεν. (from LXX of Isaiah 48:6) fixes the temporal meaning of εἰσίν here, even although the other meaning occurs in a different context in Revelation 1:20. Besides, Revelation 1:10-18 is out of all proportion to the other two divisions, to which indeed it forms a brief prelude. The real sense is that the contents of the vision (εἶδες, like βλέπεις in Revelation 1:11, being proleptic) consist of what is and what is to be, these divisions of present and future underlying the whole subsequent Apocalypse. The neut. plur. with a plural verb and a singular in the same sentence, indicates forcibly the indifference of the author to the niceties of Hellenistic grammar. For the whole see Daniel 2:29-30, also Barn. i.: “The Lord (δεσπότης) hath disclosed to us by the prophets things past and present, giving us also a taste of the firstfruits of the future”; v.: “We ought, therefore, to be exceedingly thankful to the Lord for disclosing the past to us and making us wise in the present; yea as regards the future even we are not void of understanding”. Moral stimulus and discipline were the object of such visions: as Tertullian declares of the Mortanist seers: “uidunt uisiones et ponentes faciem deorsum etiam uoces audiunt manifestas tarn salutares quam occultas” (de exhort. cast. 10).19. Write] Add therefore—The Lord reveals His exaltation in His Manhood as a reason why His servant is not to fear and is to write His words in faith and hope.

the things which are] Some take these words to mean “what they (viz. the things which thou hast seen) are,” i.e. what they mean. But it is simpler to take the verse as meaning, that he is to write down the whole vision, whether of past, present, or future events. “The things which thou hast seen” are not, indeed, by any logical necessity visions of past events: but all that he had yet seen actually did symbolise the facts of Christ’s Incarnation, Resurrection, and entrance into glory. It may be observed, that the Incarnation and Ascension are actually represented in a later scene of the vision, Revelation 12:2; Revelation 12:5. “The things which are” will perhaps refer chiefly to the messages to the Seven Churches, “the things which shall be hereafter” beginning with ch. 4.Verse 19. - Write the things. The true reading and most English Versions give, "write therefore the things;" i.e. because thou hast seen me and received thy commission from me. The omission of "therefore" comes from the Genevan Version. The threefold division of things probably refers to past, present, and future visions, not to the past, present, and future in history. But it is possible that "the things which thou sawest" refers to the visions, and "the things which are," etc., to the realities symbolized in the visions. Write

See on Revelation 1:11. Add therefore.

The things which are (ἅ εἰσιν)

Some render, what they are; i.e., what they signify; but the reference of μετὰ ταῦτα after these, hereafter to ἅ εἰσιν which are, seems to be decisive in favor of the former rendering, which besides is the more natural.

Shall be (μέλλει γίνεσθαι)

Not the future of the verb to be, but are about (μέλλει) to come to pass (γίνεσθαι). Compare Revelation 1:1, "must come to pass." Here the thought is not the prophetic necessity, but the sequence of events.

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