Revelation 1:6
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
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(6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever (or, unto the ages).—The symbol of washing in the last verse naturally leads on to the thought of consecration, accompanied by blood-sprinkling, to the work of the priest (Exodus 19:6; Exodus 19:10; Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:21). The book will declare the kingship and priesthood of the children of God—a sovereignty over human fears and sufferings—their priesthood in their lives of consecration, and their offering of themselves even unto death.

“And all thy saints do overcome

By Thy blood and their martyrdom.”

The doxology here is two-fold: glory and dominion. The doxologies in which the Redeemed Church takes part grow in strength in the earlier chapters of this book. It is three-fold in Revelation 4:9-11; four-fold in Revelation 5:13; and it reaches the climax of seven-fold in Revelation 7:12.



Revelation 1:6There is an evident reference in these words to the original charter of the Jewish nation, which ran, ‘If ye will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then shall ye be to Me a kingdom of priests.’ That reference is still more obvious if we follow the reading of our text in the Revised Version, which runs, ‘He made us to be a kingdom, to be priests.’ Now it is unquestionable that, in the original passage, Israel is represented as being God’s kingdom, the nation over which He reigned as King. But in John’s use of the expression there seems to be a slight modification of meaning, as is obvious in the parallel passage to this, which occurs in a subsequent chapter, where we read in addition, ‘They shall reign with Him for ever.’ That is to say, in our text we should rather translate the word ‘kings lip’ than ‘kingdom,’ for it means rather the Royal dominion of the Christian community than its subjection to the reign of God.

So the two dignities, the chief in the ancient world, which as a rule were sedulously kept apart, lest their union should produce a grinding despotism from which there was no appeal, are united in the person of the humblest Christian, and that not merely at some distant future period beyond the grave, but here and now; for my text says, not ‘will make,’ but ‘hath made.’ The coronation and the consecration are both past acts; they are the sequel, certain to follow upon the previous act: ‘He hath loosed us from our sins in His own blood.’ The timeless love of Christ, of which that’ loosing’ was the manifestation and the outcome, is not content with emancipating the slaves; it enthrones and hallows them. ‘He lifts the beggar from the dunghill to set him among princes.’ ‘He hath loosed us from our sins,’ He hath therein made us ‘kings and priests to God.’

I. So, then, we have to consider, first, the Royalty of the Christian life.

Now as I have already observed, that royalty has two aspects, a present and a future, and therein the representation coincides with the whole strain of the New Testament, which never separates the present from the future condition of Christian people, as if they were altogether unlike, but lays far more emphasis upon the point in which they coincide than on the points in which they differ, and represents that future as being but the completion and the heightening to a more lustrous splendor, of that which characterizes Christian life in the present. So there is a present dominion, notwithstanding all the sorrows and limitations and burdens of life; and there is a future one, which is but the expansion and the superlative degree of that which is enjoined in the present. What, then, is the present royalty of the men that have been loosed from their sins?

Well, I think that the true kingship, which comes as the consequence of Christ’s emancipation of us from the guilt and power of sin, is dominion over ourselves. That is the real royalty, to which every man, whatever his position, may aspire, and may exercise. Our very nature shows that we are not, if I might so say, a republic or a democracy, but a monarchy, for there are parts of every one of us that are manifestly intended to be subjected and to obey, and there are parts that are as manifestly intended to be authoritative and to command. On the one side are the passions and the desires that inhere in our fleshly natures, and others, more refined and sublimated forms of the same, and on the other, there is will, reason, conscience. And these, being themselves the authoritative and commanding parts of our nature, observe a subordination also. For the will which impels all the rest is but a blind giant unless it be illumined by reason. And will and reason alike have to bow to the dictates of that conscience which is the vicegerent of God in every man.

But there is rebellion in the monarchy, as we all know, a revolt that spreads widely. And there is no power that will enable my will to dominate my baser part, and no power that will enthrone my reason above my will, and no power that will give to the empty voice of conscience force to enforce its decrees, except the power of Him that ‘has loosed us from our sins in His own blood.’ When we bow to Him, then, and, as I believe in its perfect measure, only then, shall we realize the dominion over the anarchic, rebellious self, which God means every man to exercise. Christ, and Christ alone, makes us fit to control all our nature. And He does it by pouring into us His own Spirit, which will subdue, by strengthening all the motives which should lead men to obedience, by setting before them the perfect pattern in Himself, and by the communication of His own life, which is symbolized by His blood cleansing us from the tyranny under which we have been held. We were slaves, He makes us free, and making us free He enthrones us. He that is king over himself is the true king.

Again, the present royalty of the Christian man is found in his sovereignty over the world. He commands the world who despises it. He is lord of material things who bends them to the highest use, the development of his own nature, and the formation in him of a God-pleasing and Christlike character. He is king of the material who uses it as men use the leaping-bars and other apparatus in a gymnasium, for the strengthening of the frame, and the bringing out of the muscles. He is the king of the world to whom it is all a mirror that shows God, a ladder by which we can climb to Him. And this domination over things visible and material is possible to us in its superlative degree only in the measure in which we are united by faith and obedience to Him who declared, with almost His dying breath, ‘I have overcome the world,’ and bade us therefore ‘ be of good cheer.’ ‘This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,’ and He is the master of all who has submitted himself to the monarchy of Jesus Christ. And so the royalty which begins with ruling my own nature goes on to be master of all things around me, according to that great saying, the depth of which can be realized only by experience, ‘All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s.’

There is another department in which the same kingship is at present capable of being exercised by us all, and that is that we may become, by faith in Jesus Christ, independent of men, and lords over them, in the sense that we shall take no orders from them, nor hang upon their approbation or disapprobation, nor depend upon their love for our joy, nor be frightened or bewildered by their hate, but shall be able to say, ‘We are the servants of Christ, therefore we are free from men.’ The King’s servant is everybody else’s master. In the measure in which we hold ourselves in close union with that Saviour we are set free from all selfish dependence on, and regard to, the judgments of perishable and fallible creatures like ourselves.

But the passage to which I have already referred as determining the precise meaning of the ambiguous expression in my text goes a little further. It not only speaks of being kings and priests here and now, but it adds they shall ‘reign with Him,’ and so points us onward to a dim future, in which all that is tendency here, and an imperfect kingship, shall be perfectly realized hereafter. I do not dwell upon that, for we see that future but ‘through a glass darkly’; only I remind you of such sayings as ‘have thou authority over ten cities,’ and the other phrase in one of the letters to the seven churches, in which ‘authority over the nations’ and ‘ruling them with a rod of iron’ is promised to Christ’s servants. These are promises as dim as they are certain, but they, at least, teach us that they who here, in lowly dependence on the King of kings, have bowed themselves to Him, and, emancipated by Him, have been made to share in some measure in His royalty here, shall hereafter, according to the depth of His own wonderful promise,’ sit with Him on His Throne, as He also hath sat down with the Father on His Throne.’

For indeed this kingship of all Christ’s children, like the priesthood with which it is associated in my text, is but one case of the general principle that, by faith in Jesus Christ, we are so united with Him as that where He is, and what He is, there and that ‘we shall be also.’ He has become like us that we might become like Him. He has taken part of the flesh and blood of which the children are partakers, that they might take part of the Spirit of which He is the Lord. He, the Son, has become the Son of Man that sons of men might in Him become the sons of God. The branches partake of the ‘fatness’ of the vine; and the King who is Priest makes all to trust Him, not only sons but kings through Himself.

II. We have here the priesthood of the Christian life.

Now that idea is but a symbolical way of putting some very great and wondrous thoughts, for what are the elements that go to make up the idea of a priest.

First, direct access to God and that is the prerogative of every Christian. All of us, each of us, may pass into the secret place of the Most High, and stand there with happy hearts, unabashed and unafraid, beneath the very blaze of the light of the Shekinah. And we can do that, because Jesus Christ has come to us with these words upon His lips, ‘I am the Way; no man cometh to the Father but by Me.’ The path into that Divine Presence is for every sinful soul blocked by an immense black rock, its own transgressions; but He has blasted away the rock, and the path is patent for all our feet. By His death we have the way made open into the holiest of all. And so we can come, come with lowly hearts, come with childlike confidence, come with the whole burden of our weaknesses and wants and woes, and can spread them all before Him, and nestle to the great heart of God the Father Himself. We are priests to God, and our prerogative is to pass within the veil by the new and living Way which Christ is for us.

Again, another idea in the conception of the priest is that he must have somewhat to offer; and we Christian people are in that sense priests. Christ has offered the ‘one Sacrifice for sins for ever,’ and there is no addition to that possible or requisite. But after the offering of the expiatory sacrifice, the ancient Ritual taught us a deep truth when it appointed that following it there should be the sacrifice of thanksgiving. And these are what we are to bring. You remember the words, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present’-and that word is the technical one for the offering of sacrifice-’ your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable unto God.’ You remember Peter’s use of this same expression, ‘Ye are a royal priesthood,’ and his description of their function to offer up spiritual ‘sacrifices.’ You remember the other words of the great sacerdotal book of the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews, which claims for Christians all that seemed to be disappearing with the dying Jewish economy, and says, ‘By Him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise unto God . . . that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name, and to do good, and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well-pleased.’ So the sacrifice of myself, moved by the mercies of God as a great thank offering, and in detail the sacrifice of praise, of good gifts and good deeds, and a life devoted to Him, these are the sacrifices which we have to bring.

I need not remind you of yet another aspect in which the sacrificial idea inheres in the very notion of the Christian life, and that is not only access to God, and the offering of sacrifice, but mediation with man. For the function is laid upon all Christian people by Jesus Christ Himself, that they should represent God and Him in the world, and beseech men, in Christ’s stead, to be reconciled to God. And so the priesthood and the kingship both belong to the ideal of the Christian life.

III. In the last place, just a word or two as to the practical conclusions from this idea.

The first of them is one on which I touch very lightly, but which I cannot well omit, and that is the bearing of this thought on the relations of the members of the Christian community to one another. The New Testament knows of two kinds of priesthood, and no third. It knows of Christ as the High Priest who, by His great sacrifice for the sins of the world, has made all other expiation antiquated and impertinent, and has swept away the whole fabric of ceremonial and sacrificial worship; and it knows of the derived priesthood which belongs to every member of Christ’s Church. But it stops there; and there is not a word in the New Testament which warrants any single member of that universal priesthood monopolizing the title to himself, and so separating himself from the community of his brethren. I do not wish to elaborate that point, or to bring any mere controversial elements into my sermon, but I am bound to say that if that name of priest be given to a class, you elevate the class and you degrade the mass of believers. You take away from the community what you concentrate on the individual. And historically it has always been the case that wherever the name of priest has been allotted to the officials, the ministers of the Church, there the priesthood of the community has tended to be forgotten.

I do not dwell upon the other great error which goes along with that name as applied to an officer in any Christian community. But a priest must have a sacrifice, and you cannot sustain the sacerdotal idea except by the help of the sacramentarian idea which, I venture to say, travesties the simple memorial rite of the Lord’s Supper into what it is called in Roman Catholic phraseology, ‘the tremendous sacrifice.’

Brethren, the hand of the priest paralyses the life of the Church; and politically, intellectually, socially, and above all religiously, it blights whatsoever it touches. You free Churchmen have laid upon you this day the imperative duty of witnessing for the two things, the sole priesthood of Jesus Christ, and the universal priesthood of all His people.

Let me say again, these thoughts bear upon our individual duty. It is idle, as some of us are too apt to do, to use them as a weapon to fight ecclesiastical assumptions with, unless they regulate our own lives. Be what you are is what I would say to all Christian men. You are a king; see that you rule yourself and the world. You are a priest; see that the path into the Temple is worn by your continual feet. See that you offer yourselves sacrifices to God in the daily work and self-surrender of life. See that you mediate between God and man, in such brotherly mediation as is possible to us.

Above all, dear friends, let us all begin where Christ begins, where my text begins, and go to Him to have ourselves ‘loosed from our sins in His own blood.’ Then the king’s diadem and the priest’s mitre will meet on our happy heads. In plain English, if we want to govern ourselves and the world, we must let Christ govern us, and then all things will be our servants. If we would draw near to God-and to be distant from Him is misery; and if we would offer to Him the sacrifices-to refrain from offering which is sin and sorrow-we must begin with going to Jesus Christ, and trusting in Him as our Redeemer from sin. And then, so trusting, He will give us here and now, amid the sorrows and imperfections of life, and more perfectly amid the glories and unknown advances in power and beauty in the heavens, a share in His Royalty and His unchangeable Priesthood.

1:4-8 There can be no true peace, where there is not true grace; and where grace goeth before, peace will follow. This blessing is in the name of God, of the Holy Trinity, it is an act of adoration. The Father is first named; he is described as the Jehovah who is, and who was, and who is to come, eternal, unchangeable. The Holy Spirit is called the seven spirits, the perfect Spirit of God, in whom there is a diversity of gifts and operations. The Lord Jesus Christ was from eternity, a Witness to all the counsels of God. He is the First-born from the dead, who will by his own power raise up his people. He is the Prince of the kings of the earth; by him their counsels are overruled, and to him they are accountable. Sin leaves a stain of guilt and pollution upon the soul. Nothing can fetch out this stain but the blood of Christ; and Christ shed his own blood to satisfy Divine justice, and purchase pardon and purity for his people. Christ has made believers kings and priests to God and his Father. As such they overcome the world, mortify sin, govern their own spirits, resist Satan, prevail with God in prayer, and shall judge the world. He has made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices, and for these favours they are bound to ascribe to him dominion and glory for ever. He will judge the world. Attention is called to that great day when all will see the wisdom and happiness of the friends of Christ, and the madness and misery of his enemies. Let us think frequently upon the second coming of Christ. He shall come, to the terror of those who wound and crucify him by apostacy: he shall come, to the astonishment of the whole world of the ungodly. He is the Beginning and the End; all things are from him and for him; he is the Almighty; the same eternal and unchanged One. And if we would be numbered with his saints in glory everlasting, we must now willing submit to him receive him, and honour him as a saviour, who we believe will come to be our Judge. Alas, that there should be many, who would wish never to die, and that there should not be a day of judgment!And hath made us kings and priests unto God - In 1 Peter 2:9 the same idea is expressed by saying of Christians that they are "a royal priesthood." See the notes on that verse. The quotation in both places is from Exodus 19:6; "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests." This idea is expressed here by saying that Christ had made us in fact kings and priests; that is, Christians are exalted to the dignity and are invested with the office, implied in these words. The word "kings," as applied to them, refers to the exalted rank and dignity which they will have; to the fact that they, in common with their Saviour, will reign triumphant over all enemies; and that, having gained a victory over sin and death and hell, they may be represented as reigning together. The word "priests" refers to the fact that they are engaged in the holy service of God, or that they offer to him acceptable worship. See the notes on 1 Peter 2:5.

And his Father - Even his Father; that is, the Saviour has redeemed them, and elevated them to this exalted rank, in order that they may thus be engaged in the service of his Father.

To him be glory - To the Redeemer; for so the construction Revelation 1:5 demands. The word "glory" here means praise, or honor, implying a wish that all honor should be shown him.

And dominion - This word means literally "strength" - κράτος kratos; but it here means the strength, power, or authority which is exercised over others, and the expression is equivalent to a wish that he may reign.

6. And hath—rather as Greek, "And (He) hath."

made us kings—The oldest manuscripts read, "a kingdom." One oldest manuscript reads the dative, "for us." Another reads "us," accusative: so Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas. This seems preferable, "He made us (to be) a kingdom." So Ex 19:6, "a kingdom of priests"; 1Pe 2:9, "a royal priesthood." The saints shall constitute peculiarly a kingdom of God, and shall themselves be kings (Re 5:10). They shall share His King-Priest throne in the millennial kingdom. The emphasis thus falls more on the kingdom than on priests: whereas in English Version reading it is equally distributed between both. This book lays prominent stress on the saints' kingdom. They are kings because they are priests: the priesthood is the continuous ground and legitimization of their kingship; they are kings in relation to man, priests in relation to God, serving Him day and night in His temple (Re 7:15; 5:10). The priest-kings shall rule, not in an external mechanical manner, but simply in virtue of what they are, by the power of attraction and conviction overcoming the heart [Auberlen].

priests—who have pre-eminently the privilege of near access to the king. David's sons were priests (Hebrew), 2Sa 8:18. The distinction of priests and people, nearer and more remote from God, shall cease; all shall have nearest access to Him. All persons and things shall be holy to the Lord.

God and his Father—There is but one article to both in the Greek, therefore it means, "Unto Him who is at once God and His Father."

glory and dominion—Greek, "the glory and the might." The fuller threefold doxology occurs, Re 4:9, 11; fourfold, Re 5:13; Jude 25; sevenfold, Re 7:12; 1Ch 29:11. Doxology occupies the prominent place above, which prayer does below. If we thought of God's glory first (as in the Lord's Prayer), and gave the secondary place to our needs, we should please God and gain our petitions better than we do.

for ever and ever—Greek, "unto the ages."

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father: kings, to rule over our own appetite, and govern ourselves by the law of his word, to fight and conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil. Kings in a spiritual sense, for our kingdom is like his from whom we derive it, not of this world; therefore he adds, unto God, to the honour and glory of God, for his service, who is the Father of Christ.

Priests, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through the Beloved, 1 Peter 2:5; our bodies as a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1; part of our estates, Philippians 4:18; the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips, Hebrews 13:15. So as all the privileges of the Jews, Exodus 19:6, belong to us, and that in a more eminent manner. Through Christ we also are a royal priesthood, a peculiar people.

To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen: let all praise, and honour, and acknowledgments be paid, and all power ascribed, to him for ever.

And hath made us kings and priests,.... The Alexandrian copy, and Complutensian edition, read, "a kingdom, priests"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "a kingdom and priests"; and the Arabic version, "a kingdom of priesthood"; reference seems to be had to Exodus 19:6, "and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests"; which the Jerusalem Targum renders, "ye shall be unto me", , "kings and priests"; and so the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel paraphrases it thus, "and ye shall be before me", "kings" crowned with a crown, "and priests" ministering. Hence it is a common saying with the Jews, that all Israelites are the sons of kings (o); and sometimes their doctors are called , "kings of the law" (p): and they ascribe the same thing to the word of the Lord as is here attributed to Jesus Christ: so the Targum of Jonathan on Deuteronomy 28:13 paraphrases the words,

"the word of the Lord shall appoint or constitute you kings, and not private persons.

Likewise they say (q).

"that even a Gentile, if he studies in the law, is , "as an high priest".

All which may serve to show to what the reference is had in the text, and from whence the language is taken. But the words are used in a higher and greater sense. The saints are made "kings" by Christ; they are so now; they have received a kingdom of grace, which cannot be taken away; and they have the power of kings over sin, Satan, and the world, and all their enemies; and they live and fare like kings, and are clothed like them, in rich apparel, the righteousness of Christ; and are attended as kings, angels being their lifeguards; and they will appear much more so hereafter, when they shall reign on earth with Christ a thousand years, shall sit upon the same throne, and have a crown of life and righteousness given them, and at last be introduced into the kingdom of glory. And they become such by being the sons of God, which power and privilege they receive from Christ, and so are heirs of God, and joint heirs with him, and by being united to him. And he also makes them "priests" to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, and those of a broken heart, and of a contrite spirit, and even their souls and bodies, as a holy, living, and acceptable sacrifice unto God, by anointing and sanctifying them by his Spirit: and they are made such by him

to God, and his Father; not to men, nor to angels. Now to him that has shown so much love, and bestowed such high favours and honours, is the following ascription made,

to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever, Amen. The glory of his deity, and of all his offices; of his being the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of the earth; and of all the benefits and blessings, favours and honours, received from him by his people: and "dominion"; over all creatures, and over all his saints, and especially in his kingdom, in the last days, which will be an everlasting one; and which is continually to be wished and prayed for, that it would come, and come quickly. "Amen"; so let it be, and so it shall be,

(o) Misn. Sabbat, c. 14. sect. 9. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 67. 1. & 111. 1. & 128. 1. Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Leviticus 12.1.((p) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 1. 2. Vid. Jarchium in. Psal. lxviii. 14. (q) T. Bab. Bava Kama, fol. 38. 1.

And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:6. In the reading ἡμῶν βασιλείαν, as well as the variation ἥμιν, the βασιλεία designated is undoubtedly the royal sovereignty of believers,[621] to whom, therefore, Revelation 5:10, a βασιλεύειν is directly ascribed.[622] Were the reading ἡμᾶς βασιλείαν, which is certainly that of Revelation 5:10, to be received here, upon grammatical considerations, the words could not signify that the redeemed are a “kingdom” in the sense of “a people of kings,” as ἱεράτευμα[623] is “a people of priests,”[624] or “a royal power opposed to the world.”[625] (If this idea is to be reached, we must read either ἡμῖν, or,[626] in conflict with all the testimonies, with the Rec., ἡμᾶς βασιλεῖς); but only that the redeemed are the “kingdom” of God, the subjects, and, of course, also the blessed sharers in God’s kingdom.[627]

ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ. These words stand in apposition to ἡμῶν βασιλείαν. The formal inconsequence that the ἱερεῖς is in apposition with a ἡμᾶς supplied from the ἡμῶν βασιλείαν,[628] each of the two points shows with especial force and independence.

The αὐτοῦ belongs not only to the πατρί,[629] but to the entire conception τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί, as also Romans 15:6.[630] In the first case, the article must be repeated before the πατρί. But, on the other hand, John could not write as Ebrard, according to the analogy of Revelation 6:11, Revelation 9:21, John 2:12, expects, τῷ θεῷ αὐτοῦ καὶ τ. πατρὶ αὐτ., because thus two different subjects would be presented; viz., first, the God of Jesus Christ, and, secondly, the Father of Jesus Christ.[631]—“Priests unto God”[632] are the redeemed of Christ, and invested with the kingdom, in no way for the reason that they help to complete the sufferings of Christ;[633] for, while the suffering of believers must be considered the suffering of witnesses or martyrs, just in this is the idea of the suffering of a priest, which belongs absolutely only to one High Priest,[634] surrendered. But the priesthood of all the redeemed[635] lies in this, that they come immediately to God, offer to him their prayers, and further give themselves peculiarly to him in holy obedience and spiritual service.[636] A similar idea occurs, when, in Revelation 21:22, the new Jerusalem appears without a temple. [See Note XXII., p. 124.] αὐτῷ; viz., τῷ αγαπῶντι ἡμάς, κ.τ.λ., therefore Jesus Christ. To ἡ δόξα, κ.τ.λ., ἐστίν is understood.[637]

[621] Revelation 1:9; Revelation 17:12; Revelation 17:17-18; Luke 1:33; Luke 19:15; cf. also Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27.

[622] See Exposition, in loco.

[623] Exodus 19:16; 1 Peter 2:9.

[624] Hengstenb.

[625] Klief.

[626] Keil on Exodus 19:6.

[627] De Wette, Ebrard.

[628] Cf. Revelation 5:5.

[629] De Wette, Ebrard.

[630] Cf. Galatians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:7; Winer, p. 121.

[631] Cf., in general, John 20:17.

[632] Colossians 1:24; Ebrard.

[633] Colossians 1:24; Ebrard.

[634] Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 10:14.

[635] Cf. Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:27, where to the ἁγίοις τοῦ ὑψίστου is ascribed the βασιλεία.

[636] Cf. Romans 12:1.

[637] De Wette, Hengstenb. Cf. 1 Peter 4:11.


XXII. Revelation 1:6. ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ

On the relation of ἱερεῖς to the preceding verse, Plumptre refers to the consecration, as priests, of Aaron and his sons, by the sprinkling of blood, and adds: “The two ideas of being cleansed with blood, and of entering on a priest’s work, were accordingly closely linked together. But, in that baptism of blood of which St. John thought, the washing was not limited to any priestly family, but was co-extensive with the whole company of believers. They, therefore, had become what the older Israel of God was at first meant to be in idea and constitution, ‘a kingdom of priests.’ That sprinkling of blood upon the whole people, before the great apostasy of the golden calf, had been the symbol that they, too, were all consecrated, and set apart for their high calling (Exodus 20:6; Exodus 20:10; Exodus 24:8). So John (in this instance, also following in the track of the Epistle to the Hebrews) looked on the true priests’ work as not limited to any order of the Church’s ministry.”

6. and hath made] Lit., and He made; the construction “that loveth … and that freed …” is broken off, to be resumed by “to Him” in the next clause.

kings and priests] Read, a kingdom, priests: a phrase synonymous with the “royal priesthood” of 1 Peter 2:9. That is an exact quotation from the LXX. version of Exodus 19:6 and a correct rendering of the Hebrew; this is not.

God and his Father] A more natural translation is that of the R. V. His God and Father as in Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 1:3 (perhaps); 1 Peter 1:3. Certainly there is nothing in this version unworthy of our Lord’s relation to His Father; cf. John 20:17. But some, while admitting the above to be the natural sense in the passages quoted from SS. Peter and Paul, argue that here the A. V. is right; because St John, especially in this book, usually repeats a possessive pronoun with each of the substantives it belongs to, e.g. Revelation 6:11, “their fellow servants and their brethren;” so that he would have written “His God and His Father,” if that had been the sense intended. Perhaps “My God” in Revelation 3:12 may serve to decide which is the likelier meaning in this Book.

Revelation 1:6. Καὶ ἐποίησεν) The meaning to be expressed was, ὃς ἀγαπᾷ ἠμᾶς καὶ ἐποίησε· but the former verb with the postpositive[12] article [the relative Ὃς] has passed into the participle; the other verb has remained, and with it the article ( = Ὅς) which has been absorbed must be understood.—ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑΝ, ἹΕΡΕῖς) Since Wolf has quoted my one edition [as if it were the only one], in reference to many readings, although they are disapproved of by himself (and I believe that he did this with the best intention), I wish the reader to remember, that the same readings are found in other editions cited by me at their proper place. I think it necessary to give this admonition once for all, lest my edition of the text should too frequently appear to be unsupported by other editions. See App. Ed. ii. We shall see a similar variety of readings below, ch. Revelation 5:10; but whether βασιλεῖς or ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑΝ be the genuine reading in that passage, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΊΑΝ is undoubtedly the true reading here.[13] For in that passage four animals speak, and twenty-four elders, wearing crowns, whose dignity is conspicuous: in this, the address is made in the name of all the faithful: these Christ makes priests to GOD and His Father; and the whole body of these priests forms a kingdom, which rejoices in the King Himself. Βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα is used, Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9, where ἱεράτευμα, as στράτευμα, an army, is a collective noun [a noun of multitude]. The Apposition, a kingdom, priests, has the same force: although, among the citizens of the kingdom, the priests have the privilege of a pre-eminently near admission to the presence of the King. The priests of David were his sons: 2 Samuel 8:18.

[12] The relative ὅς is sometimes thus termed, in opposition to the demonstrative , which is termed præpositive.—T.

[13] So AC Vulg. “Nos in regnum et,” h. Rec. Text has βασιλεῖς καί, without good authority.—E.

Verse 6. - And hath made us kings and priests; rather, as in the Revised Version, and he made us (to be) a kingdom, (to be) priests. "Made us" is not coordinate with "loosed us;" the sentence makes a fresh start. "Kingdom," not "kings," is the right reading. Christians are nowhere said to be kings. Collectively they are a kingdom - "a kingdom of priests" (Exodus 19:6), or, as St. Peter, following the LXX., gives it, "a royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9). Each member of Christ shares in his eternal priesthood. Unto God and his Father; more probably we should render, with the Revised Version, unto his God and Father (comp. John 20:17; Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3). Alford objects that when St. John wishes a possessive genitive to apply to more than one substantive, he commonly repeats the genitive; and he quotes John 2:12; John 6:11; John 9:21. But in these passages he repeats not only the genitive, but the article. Here the article is not repeated, and τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρὶ αὐτοῦ must be taken as one phrase. To him be the glory. The construction returns to that of the opening clause, "Unto him that loveth us." St. John's doxologies increase in volume as he progresses - twofold here, threefold in Revelation 4:11, fourfold in Revelation 5:13, sevenfold in Revelation 7:12. In each case all the substantives have the article - "the glory," "the honour," "the power," etc. Forever and ever; literally, unto the ages of the ages (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, in saecula saeculorum). It occurs twelve times in the Apocalypse, besides once without the articles (Revelation 14:12). In his Gospel and Epistles St. John uses the simpler formula, "forever," literally, "unto the age" (εἰς τὸν αἰῶγα). (See Appendix E. to St. John, in the 'Cambridge Greek Testament.') An indefinite period of immense duration is meant (comp. Galatians 1:5 and Ephesians 2:2, 7, where the countless ages of the world to come seem to be contrasted with the transitory age of this world; see also Hebrews 13:21 and 1 Peter 4:11). Revelation 1:6Kings (βασιλεῖς)

The correct reading is, βασιλείαν a kingdom. The term King is never applied in the New Testament to individual Christians. The reigning of the saints is emphasized in this book. See Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:4, Revelation 20:6; Revelation 22:5. Compare Daniel 7:18, Daniel 7:22.

Priests (ἱερεῖς)

Kingdom describes the body of the redeemed collectively. Priests indicates their individual position. Peter observes the same distinction (1 Peter 2:5) in the phrases living stones (individuals) and a spiritual house (the body collectively), and combines both kings and priests in another collective term, royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). The priesthood of believers grows out of the priesthood of Christ (Psalm 60:4; Zechariah 6:13; Hebrews 7-10). This dignity was promised to Israel on the condition of obedience and fidelity to God. "Ye shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). In the kingdom of Christ each individual is a priest. The priest's work is not limited to any order of the ministry. All may offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: all have direct access to the holiest through the blood of Jesus: all Christians, as priests, are to minister to one another and to plead for one another. The consummation of this ideal appears in Revelation 21:22, where the heavenly Jerusalem is represented as without temple. It is all temple. "It is the abolition of the distinction between holy and profane (Zechariah 14:20, Zechariah 14:21) - nearer and more remote from God - through all being henceforth holy, all being brought to the nearest whereof it is capable, to Him" (Trench).

Unto God and His Father (τῷ Θεῷ καὶ πατρὶ αὐτοῦ)

Lit., to the God and Father of Him. Hence Rev., correctly, His God and Father. For the phrase compare Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3.

Glory and dominion (ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος)

Rev., correctly, rendering the two articles, "the glory and the dominion." The articles express universality: all glory; that which everywhere and under every form represents glory and dominion. The verb be (the glory) is not in the text. We may render either as an ascription, be, or as a confession, is. The glory is His. Δόξα glory means originally opinion or judgment. In this sense it is not used in Scripture. In the sacred writers always of a good or favorable opinion, and hence praise, honor, glory (Luke 14:10; Hebrews 3:3; 1 Peter 5:4). Applied to physical objects, as light, the heavenly bodies (Acts 22:11; 1 Corinthians 15:40). The visible brightness in manifestations of God (Luke 2:9; Acts 7:55; Luke 9:32; 2 Corinthians 3:7). Magnificence, dignity (Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:6). Divine majesty or perfect excellence, especially in doxologies, either of God or Christ (1 Peter 4:11; Jde 1:25; Revelation 4:9, Revelation 4:11; Matthew 16:27; Mark 10:37; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4). The glory or majesty of divine grace (Ephesians 1:6, Ephesians 1:12, Ephesians 1:14, Ephesians 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:11). The majesty of angels (Luke 9:26; Jde 1:8; 2 Peter 2:10). The glorious condition of Christ after accomplishing His earthly work, and of the redeemed who share His eternal glory (Luke 24:26; John 17:5; Philippians 3:21; 1 Timothy 3:16; Romans 8:18, Romans 8:21; Romans 9:23; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Colossians 1:27).

Trench remarks upon the prominence of the doxological element in the highest worship of the Church as contrasted with the very subordinate place which it often occupies in ours. "We can perhaps make our requests known unto God, and this is well, for it is prayer; but to give glory to God, quite apart from anything to be directly gotten by ourselves in return, this is better, for it is adoration." Dr. John Brown in his Memoir of his father, one of the very finest biographical sketches in English literature, records a formula used by him in closing his prayers on specially solemn occasions: "And now unto Thee, O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the one Jehovah and our God, we would - as is most meet - with the Church on earth and the Church in heaven, ascribe all honor and glory, dominion and majesty, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen" ("Horae Subsecivae"). Compare the doxologies in 1 Peter 4:11; Galatians 1:5; Revelation 4:9, Revelation 4:11; Revelation 5:13; Revelation 7:12; Jde 1:25; 1 Chronicles 29:11.

Forever and ever (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων)

Lit., unto the ages of the ages. For the phrase compare Galatians 1:5; Hebrews 13:21; 1 Peter 4:11. It occurs twelve times in Revelation, but not in John's Gospel or Epistles. It is the formula of eternity.

Amen (ἀμὴν)

The English word is a transcription of the Greek and of the Hebrew. A verbal adjective, meaning firm, faithful. Hence ὁ ἀμὴν, the Amen, applied to Christ (Revelation 3:14). It passes into an adverbial sense by which something is asserted or confirmed. Thus often used by Christ, verily. John alone uses the double affirmation, verily, verily. See on John 1:51; see on John 10:1.

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