Revelation 10:1
And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
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(1, 2) And I saw . . .—Translate, And I saw another mighty angel descending out of the heaven, clothed with a cloud, and the (not “a”) rainbow upon his head, and his face as the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire, and having in his hand a little book (or, roll) open. Many have thought that this angel can be none other than Christ Himself. It must be acknowledged that the description is such that we might well hesitate to apply it to any but our Lord; but, nevertheless, the words, “another mighty angel,” afford serious difficulty. Our Lord might indeed appear as an angel, but it is scarcely conceivable that He would be called “another mighty angel:” an expression which seems to associate this angel with those others who have taken part in these visions. Remembering this, we must separate from our thoughts the idea of personal angelic beings. Such are employed by God, but in the mechanism of these visions the angels are not necessarily such, any more than the stars are literal stars: they are typical, representative angels, as we speak of the Angel of Peace, the Angel of War; so we have the Angels of Time, of Death, of Life, as in the Apocalypse. The angel here, even if he does not represent Christ Himself, descends with the evidences of Christ’s power. He comes to remind the secret ones of God that Christ is with them always, and that He will not hide His commandments from those who are living as strangers and pilgrims upon earth (Psalm 119:19; 1Peter 2:11); for he bears a little book open in his hand. The value of this vision is best seen by calling to mind the vision of the Fifth Trumpet. There, for the first time, the plagues seemed to gather supernatural power: the key of the abyss was given to the star that fell, and the locust host were led by the angel of the abyss. As an answer to this comes this angel, bearing the witnesses of Christ’s power. When the troubles come that darken and confuse, the messenger from heaven will come to give light, teaching, and strength to the faithful—so does this angel first give assurance of the power of Christ. He comes clothed with a cloud, the token always of the Divine Presence (Exodus 13:21; Ezekiel 1:4; Matthew 17:5; Acts 1:9). The, not “a” rainbow, but the rainbow (i.e., the rainbow of Revelation 4:3), the token of covenant and of love, glowed round his head; his face, like Moses’, had caught the unutterable light, the sun-like light of Christ’s presence (Revelation 1:16); and his feet were like pillars of fire to tread the earth, strong in the power of purification and judgment. Some call this the Angel of Time, because of his utterance in Revelation 10:6; but is it not rather the typical representative of the Angel of the New Testament, coming with the tokens of covenant truth, and power and love? He had in his hand a little book open. Our memories are carried back to the other book, or roll, displayed in Revelation 5:1-5, and two contrasts strike us: that roll, or book, was sealed, and none were found worthy to open it; this book is open—that book was larger; this one being described as a small book. Do these contrasts help us to the meaning? One thing they seem to tell us: the book contains none of those secret things which were the contents of the former book. The closed, sealed book pointed to the hidden springs of future history; this points to what is open to all. That book was comparatively large, and tilled with writing, as the visions of oncoming history were great; this book is small, and contains what all may master. These considerations forbid the idea that the book is a repetition in brief of what was in the sealed book, “or that it was the revelation of some remaining prophecies,” or of some “portion or section of prophecy.” The vision is a representation that he who comes armed with the witnesses of Christ’s presence comes also with that ever open proclamation of God’s love and righteousness. The little open book is that gospel which is the sword of the Spirit, the weapon of the Church, that Word of God open to all, hidden only from those whom the god of this world hath blinded. The fallen powers may bear the key and let loose darkening clouds of confused thought and unworthy teaching; the outer courts of the Church may be overcast: but unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness, and God’s Word has risen with new light and power upon the bewilderments and glooms of the age. “Three books are associated in the Apocalypse. The first is the book of the course of this world (Revelation 5:1); . . . the last is the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:27): between these two comes” another book, which is the link between the other two, the ever open book of God’s promises and the witness of God’s righteousness and power. Elliott regarded this little roll as the Bible opened anew to mankind at the period of the Reformation. The period affords many magnificent illustrations of the vision, but it does not exhaust its truth, since in every age the reverent study of the Word of God has given freshness and strength to forgotten truths, and has saved men from the bondage of traditional notions. From among such students have arisen God’s witnesses.

And he set . . .—The attitude of the angel, with one fiery foot planted on the sea and the other on the land, is that of a conqueror taking possession of the whole world. There is a power, then, by which the Church and children of God may possess the earth. It is not the power of pride or worldliness. The true weapons are not carnal: the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, and the meek-spirited (meek to be taught and meek in life) shall possess the earth.

Revelation 10:1-2. And — After my former vision, related in the foregoing part of this prophecy, another scene was opened unto me introductory to a further revelation concerning the state of the church and the world. For I saw another mighty angel — Another, different from that mighty angel mentioned Revelation 5:2; yet he was a created angel, for he did not swear by himself; come down from heaven — Or divinely commissioned, Revelation 10:6; clothed with a cloud — In token of his high dignity; and a rainbow upon his head — A lovely token of the divine favour, and a symbol of God’s covenant and mercy toward penitent sinners; and his face was as it were the sun — Nor was this too much for a creature, for all the righteous shall shine forth as the sun, Matthew 13:43. Or this might be an emblem of the light of the gospel about to be diffused. And his feet as pillars of fire — Bright and shining as flame. Intimating, perhaps, that the faithful, in the period about to be opened, should suffer persecution, and yet be preserved from the rage of their enemies. And he had in his hand — His left hand, for he swore with his right, Revelation 10:6; βιβλαριδιον, a little book, different from the βιβλιον, or book, mentioned before: and it was open, that all men might freely read and consider it. It was indeed a codicil to the larger book, and properly cometh under the sixth trumpet, to describe the state of the western church after the description of the state of the eastern: and this is, with good reason, made a separate and distinct prophecy, on account of the importance of the matter, as well as for engaging the greater attention. And he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left on the earth — To show the extent of his power and commission. This angel set his right foot on the sea toward the west, his left on the land toward the east, so that he looked southward. By the earth, says Sir I. Newton, the Jews understood the great continent of Asia and Africa, to which they had access by land; and by the isles of the sea they understood the places to which they sailed by sea, or the several parts of Europe: and hence, in this prophecy, the earth and sea he considers as put for the nations of the Greek and Latin empires. In this sense the angel’s putting his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the earth, will represent him as standing with one foot on Asia, and another on Europe, to signify that the prophecies which he was to reveal would relate to the empires of the east and west.

10:1-7 The apostle saw another representation. The person communicating this discovery probably was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, or it was to show his glory. He veils his glory, which is too great for mortal eyes to behold; and throws a veil upon his dispensations. A rainbow was upon his head; our Lord is always mindful of his covenant. His awful voice was echoed by seven thunders; solemn and terrible ways of discovering the mind of God. We know not the subjects of the seven thunders, nor the reasons for suppressing them. There are great events in history, perhaps relating to the Christian church, which are not noticed in open prophecy. The final salvation of the righteous, and the final success of true religion on earth, are engaged for by the unfailing word of the Lord. Though the time may not be yet, it cannot be far distant. Very soon, as to us, time will be no more; but if we are believers, a happy eternity will follow: we shall from heaven behold and rejoice in the triumphs of Christ, and his cause on earth.And I saw - I had a vision of. The meaning is, that he saw this subsequently to the vision in the previous chapter. The attention is now arrested by a new vision - as if some new dispensation or economy was about to occur in the world.

Another mighty angel - He had before seen the seven angels who were to blow the seven trumpets Revelation 8:2, he had seen six of them successively blow the trumpet, he now sees another angel, different from them, and apparently having no connection with them, coming from heaven to accomplish some important purpose before the seventh angel should give the final blast. The angel is here characterized as a "mighty" angel - ἰσχυρὸν ischuron - one of strength and power; implying that the work to be accomplished by his mission demanded the interposition of one of the higher orders of the heavenly inhabitants. The coming of an angel at all was indicative of some divine interposition in human affairs; the fact that he was one of exalted rank, or endowed with vast power, indicated the nature of the work to be done - that it was a work to the execution of which great obstacles existed, and where great power would be needed.

Clothed with a cloud - Encompassed with a cloud, or enveloped in a cloud. This was a symbol of majesty and glory, and is often represented as accompanying the divine presence, Exodus 16:9-10; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 34:5; Numbers 11:25; 1 Kings 8:10; Psalm 97:2. The Saviour also ascended in a cloud, Acts 1:9; and he will again descend in clouds to judge the world, Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Mark 13:26; Revelation 1:7. Nothing can be argued here as to the purpose for which the angel appeared, from his being encompassed with a cloud; nor can anything be argued from it in respect to the question who this angel was. The fair interpretation is, that this was one of the angels now represented as sent forth on an errand of mercy to man, and coming with appropriate majesty as the messenger of God.

And a rainbow was upon his head - In Revelation 4:3 the throne in heaven is represented as encircled by a rainbow. See the notes on that verse. The rainbow is properly an emblem of peace. Here the symbol would mean that the angel came not for wrath, but for purposes of peace; that he looked with a benign aspect upon people, and that the effect of his coming would be like that of sunshine after a storm.

And his face was as it were the sun - Bright like the sun (See the notes at Revelation 1:16); that is, he looked upon people with:

(a) an intelligent aspect - as the sun is the source of light; and,

(b) with benignity - not covered with clouds, or darkened by wrath. The brightness is probably the main idea, but the appearance of the angel would, as here represented, naturally suggest the ideas just referred to. As an emblem or symbol we should regard his appearing as what was to be followed by knowledge and by prosperity.

And his feet as pillars of fire - See the notes on Revelation 1:15. In this symbol, then, we have the following things:

(a) An angel - as the messenger of God, indicating that some new communication was to be brought to mankind, or that there would be some interposition in human affairs which might be well represented by the coming of an angel;

(b) the fact that he was "mighty" - indicating that the work to be done required power beyond human strength;

(c) the fact that he came in a cloud - on an embassage so grand and magnificent as to make this symbol of majesty proper;

(d) the fact that he was encircled by a rainbow - that the visitation was to be one of peace to mankind; and,

(e) the fact that his coming was like the sun - or would diffuse light and peace.

Now, in regard to the application of this, without adverting to any other theory, no one can fail to see that, on the supposition that it was designed to refer to the Reformation, this would be the most striking and appropriate symbol that could have been chosen. For:



Re 10:1-11. Vision of the Little Book.

As an episode was introduced between the sixth and seventh seals, so there is one here (Re 10:1-11:14) after the sixth and introductory to the seventh trumpet (Re 11:15, which forms the grand consummation). The Church and her fortunes are the subject of this episode: as the judgments on the unbelieving inhabiters of the earth (Re 8:13) were the exclusive subject of the fifth and sixth woe-trumpets. Re 6:11 is plainly referred to in Re 10:6 below; in Re 6:11 the martyrs crying to be avenged were told they must "rest yet for a little season" or time: in Re 10:6 here they are assured, "There shall be no longer (any interval of) time"; their prayer shall have no longer to wait, but (Re 10:7) at the trumpet sounding of the seventh angel shall be consummated, and the mystery of God (His mighty plan heretofore hidden, but then to be revealed) shall be finished. The little open book (Re 10:2, 9, 10) is given to John by the angel, with a charge (Re 10:11) that he must prophesy again concerning (so the Greek) peoples, nations, tongues, and kings: which prophecy (as appears from Re 11:15-19) affects those peoples, nations, tongues, and kings only in relation to Israel and the Church, who form the main object of the prophecy.

1. another mighty angel—as distinguished from the mighty angel who asked as to the former and more comprehensive book (Re 5:2), "Who is worthy to open the book?"

clothed with a cloud—the emblem of God coming in judgment.

a—A, B, C, and Aleph read "the"; referring to (Re 4:3) the rainbow already mentioned.

rainbow upon his head—the emblem of covenant mercy to God's people, amidst judgments on God's foes. Resumed from Re 4:3 (see on [2698]Re 4:3).

face as … the sun—(Re 1:16; 18:1).

feet as pillars of fire—(Re 1:15; Eze 1:7). The angel, as representative of Christ, reflects His glory and bears the insignia attributed in Re 1:15, 16; 4:3, to Christ Himself. The pillar of fire by night led Israel through the wilderness, and was the symbol of God's presence.Revelation 10:1-4 A mighty angel appeareth with a book open in his hand,

Revelation 10:5-7 and sweareth by him that liveth for ever, that there

shall be no more time.

Revelation 10:8-11 John is commanded to take and eat the book, and to prophesy.

Chapter Introduction

We have had in the former chapters Christ’s revelation to St. John of what should happen in the Roman empire under the first six seals, that is, during their pagan state, which determined in Constantine’s time, Anno 310, or 325. Under the seventh seal (that is, from Revelation 8:1) he hath revealed to him what should happen after that time to the Roman empire by the Goths and Vandals under the first four trumpets, and by the Saracens under the fifth trumpet, and the Turks under the sixth trumpet, who are yet rampant and going on in their outrages. The seventh trumpet in course should sound next, but we come not to that till Revelation 11:15. In this chapter, and to the 15th verse of the next chapter, seems an interruption of the history, that Christ might reveal to his prophet the main things that should concern his church. About the sense of this interpreters are divided, some thinking this a distinct prophecy relating to the affairs of the church, yet not in a continued story, but made up of several visions, some contemporary with the times before mentioned, some continuing to the time after the sixth trumpet; which prophecy, as they judge, beginneth at Revelation 11:1, to which what we have in this chapter is introductive. Of this mind are our Dr. More, Mr. Mede, and other very valuable interpreters, whose reasons may be read in Mr. Pool’s Latin Synopsis upon this chapter, and some of them may be noted by us as we go through this chapter. Others think it is no distinct prophecy.

And I saw another mighty angel; the most and best interpreters understand by this angel, Christ, formerly represented to us as a Lamb, here as an Angel; none but he could call the two witnesses, Revelation 11:3, his witnesses; besides, the glorious appearance of this angel speaketh him no ordinary angel.

Come down from heaven; God being about to do or speak some great thing, is oft thus set out as coming down from heaven.

Clothed with a cloud; Christ is described as coming with clouds, Revelation 1:7.

The Lord hath said that he would dwell in the thick darkness, 2 Chronicles 6:1.

And a rainbow was upon his head; which was the sign of the covenant made with Noah, Genesis 9:16, and fitted Christ’s head, as he that brought peace to the world, and to his church in special.

And his face was as it were the sun: see Matthew 17:2.

And his feet as pillars of fire; signifying the steadiness and efficacy of his actions.

And I saw another mighty angel,.... Not any mere man, as Justin the emperor, as some have thought, who sent letters abroad in favour of the orthodox doctrine, against the Arians, which they suppose is meant by the little book open in his right hand; and still less the pope of Rome, whether in the sense of Papists or Protestants, which latter represent him as a tyrant, treading upon men both in the islands and in the continent, and holding forth the book of canons and decrees; rather, as Mr. Daubuz thinks, Luther, with the rest of the reformers, is intended, and especially since the prophecy of this chapter respects the Reformation, which began before the end of the sixth trumpet; and the epithets given to this angel may denote his strength and courage, his divine authority, the protection of him, and the clear doctrine of peace and reconciliation he brought: however, a created angel is not intended: not the angel that made proclamation for the opening of the book, and unsealing it, Revelation 5:2; between which, and having the book in his right hand open, is a wide difference; nor any other, though the epithet "mighty" belongs to angels in common; and though this angel swears by the living God; and though it was an angel by whom Christ signified the things contained in this book to John; but the uncreated Angel, the Lord Jesus Christ, seems rather designed, as appears both by comparing this with Daniel 12:7; and from the power lie gave to the two witnesses, Revelation 11:3; which cannot agree with a created angel; and besides, who so proper to hold the book open as he who unloosed the seals, and opened it, and to whom the epithet "mighty" may be applied in the highest sense, as God; and who as man may be said to swear by the living God, and to whom the whole description well agrees? he is sometimes called an Angel simply, Genesis 48:16; sometimes the Angel of the Lord, and who appears to be Jehovah himself, the second Person, Genesis 16:7, compared with Genesis 19:1; and sometimes the Angel of God's presence, Isaiah 63:9; and the Angel of the great council in the Septuagint on Isaiah 9:6; and the Angel, or messenger, of the covenant, Malachi 3:1; and may be so called, because he is a messenger from God as man and Mediator, being sent by him to declare his will and redeem his people: and he is a "mighty" one; not only as God, being the mighty God, the Almighty, which appears by his creation of all things, and upholding them in their beings; but as Mediator, having all power in heaven and in earth, and being far above all principality, power, and might; and, as man, made strong by God for himself, and for his people: he appears now as "another" angel, distinct from the seven angels who had trumpets given them to sound, and six of which had already sounded; and particularly from the angel of the sixth trumpet, who had just sounded; though some copies, and the Complutensian edition, leave out the word "another"; and very opportunely does he appear for the comfort of his church, when the trumpets that had been blown had brought such desolations upon the empire, western and eastern, and when both the western and eastern antichrists had appeared, and before the seventh trumpet sounds, and brings in the last and greatest woe: and he is said to

come down from heaven; which does not design his incarnation, that was long before this time; nor his spiritual presence with his people, which is common to them in all ages; nor his second coming to judgment, which will be by a descent from heaven, and in the clouds of heaven, for that is yet future; but in a visionary way, his appearance to and for his church and people in the dark times of antichrist, when afflicted by the Turk on the one hand, and the pope on the other:

clothed with a cloud (n); which is expressive not of the human nature of Christ, with which his divinity was veiled in his state of humiliation, so that few saw the glory of his divine Person and the greater part esteemed him a mere man; but rather of the obscurity of him, his person, offices, and grace, in those times of antichristian darkness, and even of the dim light and knowledge which his true and faithful followers had of him in those times; it was a dark and cloudy day with them, as well as the whole earth was covered with the gross darkness of Popery and Mahometanism; though it seems best of all to interpret this phrase of the majestic presence of Christ in his appearances to his people, who went before the people of Israel in a cloud by day in the wilderness, descended in one on Mount Sinai, dwelt in one both in the tabernacle and temple, was overshadowed by one on the Mount when transfigured, ascended in one to heaven, and will return in one, or more: moreover, the cloud may denote the power and protection of God attending the Reformation; see Psalm 68:34;

and a rainbow was upon his head; which was a token of the covenant; see Revelation 4:3; and the note there: this, with its blessings, is upon the head of Christ, the antitypical Joseph, and who is the head of his church and people; and Christ appearing in this form at this time when the world was overflowed with Popery and Mahometanism, shows that God was still mindful of his covenant, even in those worst of times, and would not suffer his church to be overwhelmed, and sunk in the general deluge of antichristianism, or the gates of hell to prevail against it; Christ, at such a tirade as this, very seasonably appeals with the rainbow of the covenant on his head, as a messenger of peace, and bringer of good tidings, to let his people know that ere long it would be halcyon days with them, and there would be times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, who was ever mindful of his covenant with them; and that the Gospel of peace and reconciliation would be preached unto them:

and his face was as it were the sun; or looked like the sun, as it did at the time of his transfiguration on the and as he is described in Revelation 1:16, and may denote clearness and purity of Christ; both as God, who is the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express of his person; and as man, who is holy, harmless, up defiled; and is also expressive of that fight of nature, grace, and glory, which he imparts unto the sons of men; as well as of that beauty, loveliness, and amiableness in his person, which renders him as the sun, delightful to behold; and of the majesty of his person, and the manifestations of himself, to the great comfort, pleasure, and refreshment of his saints:

and his feet as pillars of fire; which may refer to the state of the church of Christ at this time, which was in the fire of afflictions, when many of its members were called to the stake, and burnt there for the sake of the Gospel, and yet were like "pillars", firm and unshaken; the church was like the bush that Moses saw, which was on fire, but not consumed; Christ was with his people as they passed through it, that it could not kindle upon them so as to destroy them; and their faith, which was tried by it, was found to be much more precious than of gold that perisheth: or this may show what Christ then was, both to his people and to his enemies; to his people his feet were as "pillars" of brass and marble, to bear them up, and support them under all their trials and afflictions; his goings forth towards them in a way both of providence and grace, were in such a manner, as to strengthen and confirm them in the faith of him against all the powers of hell and earth; and they were like "fire", to consume his and their enemies; with his feet he trod upon them, and subdued them under him, who were as stubble, briers and thorns, easily consumed by him, when at the same time be was a wall of fire to his people, and the glory in the midst of them.

(n) , Philo de Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 608.

And {1} I saw {2} another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

(1) Now John passes to the other prophetical history, which is of the Church of God, as I showed that this book should be distinguished Re 4:1. This story goes from here to Re 22:1. This whole chapter is a transition from the common history of the world to that which is particular of the Church. There are in this transition or passage, two preparatives as it were, to this Church story comprised in this whole chapter. One is the authority of Christ revealing his mysteries and calling his servant, to Re 10:7. The other is John, his calling proper to this place, and repeated from before to the end of this chapter. Authority is given to this revelation, by these things: first, by the appearing from heaven in this habit and countenance, strong, ready glorious surveying all things by his providence, and governing them by his omnipotence Re 10:1. Secondly, that he brought not by chance, but out of a book, this open revelation, set forth to the eye, to signify the same to the sea and land, as the Lord over all Re 10:2. Thirdly that he offered the same not whispering or muttering in a corner (as false prophets do) but crying out with a loud voice to those who sleep, and with a lionish and terrible noise roused the secure: the very thunders themselves giving testimony to it Re 10:3. Lastly, for that he confirmed all by another Re 10:5-7.

(2) Christ Jesus, see Re 7:2

Revelation 10:1-2. An angel comes down from heaven with an open little book in his hand.


καταβαίνοντα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. A difficulty has been found in that John, whose own standpoint from Revelation 4:1 is in heaven, sees an angel descend from heaven. Eichh., therefore, explains very arbitrarily: “In the heavenly theatre wherein the whole drama is being represented, he descended from that part which expressed heaven, to that which imitated the earth.”[2689] Hengstenb. obliterates that precise presentation from a standpoint taken in the vision: “It is most natural that John, from the earth, saw the mighty angel descend from heaven.” Nevertheless he does not admit, with De Wette, that here, as in Revelation 7:1 sqq., the seer has exchanged his standpoint in heaven[2690] for one on earth,—yet without understanding how the seer descended,—but Hengstenb. does not allow the application of any distinction between the one standpoint and the other: “That John is in heaven, is to be understood positively, and not exclusively.” As, according to John 3:13, Christ was “at the same time in heaven and on earth,” so, in a certain respect, such twofoldness of existence is peculiar to all believers, according to Php 3:20. But the question here is not concerning ethical citizenship in heaven, but concerning the locality fixed for ecstatic consciousness. Ewald properly maintains the heavenly standpoint of the seer, which is here as unobjectionable as in Revelation 6:12 sqq., Revelation 7:1 sqq., Revelation 8:5; Revelation 8:7-8; Revelation 8:10, Revelation 9:1 sqq., 13. sqq. Cf., concerning this, Introduction, sec. 1.

ἄλλον ἄγγελον ἰσχυρὸν. The angel distinguished from other angels by the ἄλλον is, as little as the one mentioned in Revelation 7:2 or Revelation 8:3, Christ himself.[2691] The very form of the oath, Revelation 10:6, is not appropriate to Christ.[2692] When, on the other hand, Hengstenb. judges: “It would be presumption for a created angel to make such professions,” because only God himself “could grant the Church what is here granted it,” he mistakes the announcement by the angelic messengers for the granting, i.e., the accomplishment; and when Hengstenb. afterwards remarks that “the appearance of Christ as an angel is in the same line with his state of humiliation,” and he therefore swears by Him who had sent him, this neither agrees with the preceding judgment, nor is in itself correct, because we can in no respect think of the heavenly Christ as in the form of humiliation. More correctly, therefore, have the older expositors explained, who regarded the mighty angel as the Lord himself in so far as they found in his entire appearance, and his individual attributes, a glory which belonged to no mere angel.[2693]

The more accurate determination, however, of the angel, transcends the text:[2694] we can inquire only concerning the relation indicated by the ἄλλον. De Wette, Hengstenb., etc., propose a contrast with the trumpet-angels;[2695] but partly because of the designation ἄλλ. ἄγγ. ἰσχυρόν, and partly because of the parallel of the book with the sealed book, ch. 5, the reference to the ἄγγ. ἰσχυρόν (Revelation 5:2) appears to be nearer.[2696] [See Note LXIII., p. 308.] περιβεβλημένον νεφέλην

πυρός. With correctness, Beng., Ew., etc., proceed to comprehend the four special points of the description in their unified significance. These are, however, emblematic attributes which must be understood in the concrete biblical sense. Thus the parallel of the Horatian Nube candentes humeros amictus augur Apollo[2697] appears purely accidental and inwardly remote; and as the entire description has as its intention something more definite than to represent in general the brilliancy of the angel’s form, so the clothing him in a cloud has not only the external purpose to subdue to a certain extent that brilliancy.[2698] The cloud characterizes the angel as a messenger of divine judgment.[2699] With this agree “the feet as pillars of fire,”[2700] while the rainbow, the sign of the covenant of grace,[2701] on the head of the angel, makes the angel appear as a messenger of peace, and the face shining like the sun[2702] is an expression of the heavenly δόξα belonging thereto. The apparently contradictory emblems perfectly agree with the message which the angel himself formally announces, Revelation 10:7; for if the O. T. promise confirmed by him is directed to final joy and eternal peace, the fulfilment, nevertheless, does not occur without the dreadful development of a judgment which the seventh trumpet is yet to make known. Just as, therefore, in this μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ the terrors of the act of judgment precede its blessed fulfilment, so also the appearing of the heavenly messenger proclaims both at the same time.

The wrong interpretation of the emblematic attributes of the angel[2703] coincides in many expositors with the fact that they regarded the angel Christ; as Beda: “The face of the Lord shining, i.e., his knowledge manifested by the glory of the resurrection, and the feet of him about to preach the gospel, and to announce peace illumined with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and strengthened like a pillar.” Zeg., Aretius, etc., interpreted the clouds as Christ’s flesh.

καὶ ἔχων ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ βιβλαρίδιον ἠνεωγμένον. Concerning the relation of this little book to the book, ch. 5, what is said in Revelation 10:8 sqq. first affords a judgment. From a comparison with Revelation 10:5, the result is reached, that it was the left hand of the angel which held the book.[2704] But this is designated here a small book, by the diminutive form, not for the reason that only an inconsiderable volume is adapted for being eaten,[2705]—to such reflection, even a βιβλαρίδιον must appear too large,—also not in comparison with the large form of the angel,[2706] but corresponding with the contents, which constitute only one part of the βιβλίον, ch. 5[2707] This book is brought to the seer opened, in contrast with the sealed book, which could be opened only by the Lamb, because John is to understand its full contents, to take the book into himself (cf. Revelation 10:9), and then to prophesy.

καὶ ἔθηκε

τῆς γῆς. By the angel’s placing his feet of fire upon the sea and the earth, he shows not only that “his intelligence belongs to the earth and the sea (the islands);”[2708] but more definitely according to the analogy presented in Psalm 8:7; Psalm 108:10; Psalm 110:1, and corresponding to the entire meaning of the angelic form, he thus represents the power of God in judgment, whose messenger he is, as extending over the whole earth.[2709] The significant meaning, in this passage, of the angel in general, and of his course especially, is, however, to be understood only when the sea and the earth are interpreted no more allegorically than the angel himself. C. a Lap. thinks, in accord with Alcas., of heathen and Jews, to whom Christ preaches, i.e., causes the gospel to be preached. Hengstenb. abides by his interpretation of the sea as the sea of peoples, and the earth as the cultivated world, as Beng. by his interpretation of Europe and Asia. If the question be in general, concerning a particular sign that these allegorizing explanations do not belong to the text, it is answered in that they either do not at all[2710] explain the not indifferent course of the angel, who puts his right foot upon the sea and his left upon the earth, or that they do so with entire impropriety.[2711] John, as an inhabitant of Asia Minor, could not well, unless an entirely vague idea be entertained of him, regard the sea otherwise than in the definite form of the Mediterranean; while the place on earth on which the angel sets his foot is naturally the Asiatic main land. If the question be now concerning the idea lying in the setting-up of pillars of fire, as such, it is of course a matter of indifference as to what part of the sea and earth the seer could naturally have had in mind for his concrete contemplation; but it cannot be without more definite reference, if the region towards which the so significant form of the angel is directed be indicated by the accurately described posture. The angel stands with his right foot on the sea, with his left on the earth; and this is naturally to be concretely represented from the precise horizon of the seer, in the given way, if the angel look towards the south, towards the region of Jerusalem. But how well this agrees with his message (Revelation 10:6 sqq.) and the contents of the book brought him, will be clear when the result is reached as to how the message of the angel refers especially to the judgment on Jerusalem. This applies also against Ew. ii., who explains: The angel put his right, i.e., his first (?), foot upon the Mediterranean, and then the left upon the land, i.e., Italy and Rome. Then only the more remote goal of the prophecy now beginning (ch. 13 sqq.) would be indicated, while the important reference to the nearest object of the prophecy, Jerusalem (Revelation 11:1 sqq.), would in an incomprehensible way be lacking.

[2689] Cf., on the other hand, also Revelation 10:2.

[2690] Revelation 4:1 sqq.

[2691] Against Beda, Alcas., Zeg., Aret., Par., Calov., Hengstenb., etc. Cf. also Vitr., who is unwilling to distinguish between the Second and Third Persons of the Godhead. For the correct interpretation, see Andr., Rib., Vieg., C. a Lap., Stern, Beng., De Wette, etc.

[2692] Cf. Beng.

[2693] Cf. Beda, Zeg., Calov., etc.

[2694] Against Rinck, who means even the trumpet angels, Revelation 17:1, Revelation 21:9.

[2695] Perhaps with the eagle-angel, Revelation 8:13 (De Wette).

[2696] Beng., Ebrard.

[2697] “The augur Apollo, with his shining shoulders clothed with a shining cloud” (Lib. I., Od. 2, 10:31).

[2698] Against Ewald; cf. also Heinr., etc.

[2699] Cf. Revelation 1:7; Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2700] Cf. Revelation 1:15.

[2701] Cf. Revelation 4:3; Genesis 9:11 sqq.

[2702] Cf. Revelation 1:16, Revelation 18:1.

Revelation 10:1. ἄλλον, referring to Revelation 10:2, where another strong angel was mentioned, also in connexion with a book. The position of the seer is implied (since Revelation 8:2?) to be no longer in heaven (cf. Revelation 10:4; Revelation 10:8), but on earth, as the gigantic angel of light descends to him. The face and feet are described in stereotyped fashion. In Ezekiel’s description of God (Ezekiel 1:28) the appearance of a rainbow surrounds the divine throne, as an element of the theophany in nature. Here also it is an æsthetic detail. Suetonius describes (Vit. Aug. 95) Augustus seeing suddenly “in a clear and bright sky a circle, like a rainbow in heaven, surrounding the sun’s disc”.

1. We are not told yet, as we might expect, that “the second woe is past,” nor does the seventh trumpet and the third woe immediately follow: but just as in ch. 7 the two descriptions of the sealed Israelites and the palm-bearing multitude came after the sixth seal, so here the vision of the mighty angel, and the prophecy (passing insensibly into a vision) of the Two Witnesses, follow the sixth trumpet.

another mighty angel] “Another,” probably, than the four mentioned in Revelation 9:15 : cf. Revelation 7:1-2. Some suppose a reference back to Revelation 5:2, where we have heard of a “mighty angel” (the epithet is the same) before.

clothed with a cloud] And therefore with something of the state with which Christ will come to judgement: cf. Revelation 1:7, &c.

a rainbow] Lit. the rainbow: it is conceived as being the same bow of God that is seen every time that it appears.

his feet] i.e. his legs are as thick as the pillars of a temple, and their substance of fiery brightness.

Revelation 10:1. Καὶ, and) From ch. Revelation 10:1, to ch. Revelation 11:13, is a remarkable passage, in which there is a foretaste of the awful trumpet of the seventh angel. For while the dragon is even yet in heaven, and the beast with seven heads and the beast with two heads are about to ascend out of the sea and the earth, nor does there appear to be any end of calamities in the world: an angel, whom Cluver, T. iii. f. 4, acknowledges to be a created angel, lays his right hand upon heaven, his right foot upon the sea, and his left upon the earth, showing, and affirming by an oath, that all these enemies [however they may rage, namely, the dragon in heaven, the beast in the sea and upon the earth.—V. g.], should notwithstanding be removed within a Chronus. [The heaven, he implies by his action, the earth and sea, belong to GOD, the Creator (Revelation 10:6), and continue so.—V. g.] This passage has two parallel parts: ch. Revelation 10:1-7, and Revelation 10:8, ch. Revelation 11:13. Whence also the two periods, time—no longer [no whole period any longer], and, a multitude of kings, are parallel: ch. Revelation 10:6; Revelation 10:11. Both periods begin before the close of the second woe, ch. Revelation 11:14 : but, when they have once begun, they extend themselves far in a continued course to the very trumpet of the seventh angel, as far as that great goal, respecting which, ch. Revelation 12:14. Therefore, on account of the continued connection with those circumstances, which precede the rising of the beast out of the sea, many things are here represented, without any interruption of the order of the book, which occur again at a much later portion of the book. Thus the consummation of the wrath of God, ch. Revelation 15:1, precedes the joyful consummation of the mystery of God, ch. Revelation 10:7 : and this consummation is pointed out as future even in ch. Revelation 17:17. The ascent of the beast out of the bottomless pit, ch. Revelation 11:7, is still future even in ch. Revelation 17:8. That earthquake, by which the great city is divided into three parts, ch. Revelation 16:19, precedes this earthquake, by which a tenth part of the same city falls, and the remnant are converted: ch. Revelation 11:13. This observation is sure, and very necessary; and by its aid many and great errors, which are everywhere to be met with, are avoided.—ὡς στύλο πυρὸς) In the Septuagint, the pillar, by which the Israelites were led by night in the wilderness, is called στύλος πυρός. The feet of this angel, like pillars, were parallel as he stood; and round, of equal rotundity, as far as the sole. Comp. Ezekiel 1:7.

Verse 1. - And I saw. We have here the commencement of what many writers call an episode, or rather two episodes, which intervene between the sixth and seventh trumpets, just as Revelation 7. occurs between the sixth and seventh seals. But as in the latter place we saw only a greater elaboration in the introduction to the seventh seal, and not a detached relation, so here Revelation 10. and Revelation 11:1-14 form a gradual transition from the sixth to the seventh trumpet, and supplement what is set forth under those trumpets. The passage is so far a digression, as it is occupied chiefly in setting forth the fate of the Church rather than that of the ungodly; but it only does so to demonstrate the wickedness of the world, and the inevitable nature of the last great punishment. Revelation 9. ends (almost in a tone of surprise) with the words, "Neither repented they," etc.; therefore the angel now declares that, as all the warnings vouchsafed have brought men as a whole no nearer to God, the last final punishment must now fall. But, as if the measure of God's mercy were not yet fully filled up, it is shown how he has given to the world two witnesses, by which men might be induced to repent. But this, too, only serves to add to the condemnation of the world, which wrests this gift to its own destruction. We thus have the connection. God has sent punishments as warnings. But he not only has done this, he has also given direct instruction by the witness of his Word; man has despised both; therefore the end must come. Although the main object of the trumpet visions is to set forth the woes inflicted upon the wicked, yet the seer, as it were, hesitates to indicate the last dread punishment until he has alluded to the opportunities which God has afforded mankind of escaping that end. Another mighty angel come down from heaven; coming down out of heaven (Revised Version). So in the vision of the seals, at this point the advent of another angel ushers in the following incidents (Revelation 7:2). He is probably another angel as distinguished from the sixth angel (Revelation 9:13). There is not sufficient reason for supposing that Christ is meant. Wherever our Lord is referred to in the Revelation, it is always in a mode which cannot possibly be mistaken (cf. Revelation 1:13; Revelation 5:6, etc.). St. John's position is now upon the earth. In the vision he is either in heaven or on the earth, as required, he thus sees the angel apparently coming down from heaven. Clothed with a cloud. The symbol of majesty (cf. Exodus 16:10; Luke 21:27; Revelation 1:7, etc.). And a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. Omit "was." The description shows the celestial dignity of the messenger. Perhaps there is a reference in the rainbow to the merciful character of this angel's mission, and the faithfulness and patience of God. The two last clauses express the same idea, viz. the bright and glorious appearance of the angel. God's glory is reflected in his messenger, as formerly it was in Moses (Exodus 34:29, 30). Revelation 10:1A cloud

The expression occurs seven times in Revelation, and in all of them is connected with the Son of Man.


See on Revelation 4:3.

Pillars of fire

Compare Revelation 1:15.

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