Revelation 10:8
And the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which stands on the sea and on the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8-9) And the voice . . .—Translate, And the voice which I heard out of the heaven (I heard it) again talking with me (it is not the angel that speaks, but the voice which had bidden him seal up the thunders is heard again speaking), and saying, Go, take the roll (or, the little roll; there is a difference in the MSS.) which is opened in the hand of the angel who stands upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went away to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he saith to me, Take and eat it up; and it shall make bitter thy belly, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey. The image of eating the roll is derived from the Old Testament. We meet with it in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:1-3) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:16). The passage in Ezekiel is probably the basis of the present passage, and the chapter in which it occurs gives us the meaning of the symbol: the eating of the roll, or the words of the roll, is the complete mastering of the contents of the book—the digesting, as we say, its meaning, till the principles and truths are thoroughly familiar and loved. “All my words” (so runs the explanatory verse, Ezekiel 3:10) “that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart and hear with thine ears.” It is similar to the Psalmist’s practice: “Thy words have I hid within my heart;” he made himself so familiar with them that they were no longer a code of laws, but a constant instinct, a second nature to him. Thus preeminently should he be familiar with his Master’s words and heart, saturated with his Master’s principles, who is to be a witness and a prophet for his Lord. “He who would carry God’s words to another must first be impressed and penetrated with them himself. He must not only hear, read, mark, and learn, but also (according to the Scriptural figure) inwardly digest them.”

Revelation 10:8-10. And the voice said, Go up to the angel standing upon the sea and the earth, and take the little book which is open — To signify that its contents were not to be kept secret like those of the seven thunders, but revealed for the instruction, direction, encouragement, or warning of mankind, as well as those of the larger book; for it was a kind of second prophecy added to the former, and as it concerned kings and nations, so it was to be made public for their use and information. And I went unto the angel — As I was directed; and said — With boldness, in consequence of the divine command; Give me the little book. And he said, Take it, and eat it up — As Ezekiel did that which was shown to him upon a like occasion; that is, consider its contents carefully, and digest them well in thy mind: and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey — The knowledge of future things was, at first, pleasant, but the sad contents of the little book afterward filled his soul with sorrow. As this prophecy was to reveal the providences of God during the period of the seventh trumpet, in which, as there was a revelation of great opposition to true religion, and persecution of the faithful professors of it, so was there also a revelation of divine protection during the time of trial, and of a sure accomplishment of the promises concerning the glorious and happy state of the church in the end. The consideration of such a dispensation of Providence might well occasion a mixture of joy and grief in the apostle’s mind, as it must do in the minds of all who understand and reflect upon it. 10:8-11 Most men feel pleasure in looking into future events, and all good men like to receive a word from God. But when this book of prophecy was thoroughly digested by the apostle, the contents would be bitter; there were things so awful and terrible, such grievous persecutions of the people of God, such desolations in the earth, that the foresight and foreknowledge of them would be painful to his mind. Let us seek to be taught by Christ, and to obey his orders; daily meditating on his word, that it may nourish our souls; and then declaring it according to our several stations. The sweetness of such contemplations will often be mingled with bitterness, while we compare the Scriptures with the state of the world and the church, or even with that of our own hearts.And the voice which I heard from heaven - Revelation 10:4. This is not the voice of the angel, but a direct divine command,

Said, Go and take the little book which is open, ... - That is, take it out of his hand, and do with it as you shall be commanded. There is a very strong resemblance between this passage and the account contained in Ezekiel 2:9-10; Ezekiel 3:1-3. Ezekiel was directed to go to the house of Israel and deliver a divine message, whether they would hear or forbear; and in order that he might understand what message to deliver, there was shown to him a roll of a book, written within and without. That roll he was commanded to eat, and he found it to be "in his mouth as honey for sweetness." John has added to this the circumstance that, though "sweet in the mouth," it made "the belly bitter." The additional command Revelation 10:11, that he must yet "prophecy before many people," leads us to suppose that he had the narrative in Ezekiel in his eye; for, as the result of his eating the roll, he was commanded to go and prophesy to the people of Israel. The passage here Revelation 10:8 introduces a new symbol, that of "eating the book," and evidently refers to something that was to occur before the "mystery should be finished"; that is, before the seventh trumpet should sound.

"Which is open in the hand ..." On the symbolical meaning of the word "open," as applied to the book, see the notes on Revelation 10:2.

8. spake … and said—So Syriac and Coptic read. But A, B, C, "(I heard) again speaking with me, and saying" (Greek, "lalousan … legousan").

little book—So Aleph and B read. But A and C, "the book."

And the voice which I heard from heaven; the voice mentioned Revelation 10:4.

Go and take the little book; the little book mentioned Revelation 10:2. John is bid to take this book, by which some understand the Scriptures; but it is most probably the book mentioned Revelation 5:1, before sealed, now open. And the voice which I heard from heaven,.... In Revelation 10:4;

spake to me again, and said, go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth; as John was to prophesy, Revelation 10:11; it was necessary that he should have a mission and a commission from heaven; and that he should have the open book of prophecy to prophesy out of; and that he should receive this from the angel's hands, who had unloosed its seals, and opened it: and just so to ordinary prophesying, or preaching, it is necessary that men should have their commission from heaven, should be called of God, and sent by him; and that they should have the book of the Scriptures before them, and open to them, and speak according to these oracles, agreeably to the law and to the testimony, which are profitable for doctrine; and that they should also receive the Gospel, and the doctrines of it, with gifts, and a commission to preach it, from the Angel of the covenant, Jesus Christ, who has all power both in heaven and in earth; see Revelation 10:2.

{7} And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

(7) The other part of this chapter concerning the particular calling of John to the receiving of the following prophecy, which is enjoined him, first by sign, in three verses, then in plain words in the last verse Re 10:9,10,11. To the setting forth of the sign belong these things: That John is taught from heaven to ask for the book of the prophecy in this verse: for these motions and desires God inspires that asking for the book, he is charged to take it in a figurative manner, the use of which is expounded in Re 10:9

(as in) Eze 2:9 whence this similitude is borrowed: lastly that John at the commandment of Christ took the book, and found by experience that the same as proceeding from Christ, was most sweet, but in that it foretells the afflictions of the Church, it was most bitter to his spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 10:8-11. At the command of the heavenly voice (Revelation 10:4), John eats the little book given him by the angel, and receives the instruction that he must once again prophesy.

ἡ φωνὴ, ἣν ἤκουσα

καὶ-g0- λέγουσαν-g0-. The construction in this correct reading[2752] is like that of Revelation 4:1, but yet unsymmetrical, as here not only the ΛΈΓΩΝ in the mind of the author is received into the relative clause by attraction, but also the ΠΆΛΙΝ is placed before ΛΑΛΟῦΣΑΝ because of the connection of the declaration just repeated with that mentioned, Revelation 10:4. If the sentence in which, in any case, the aor. ἬΚΟΥΣΑ is intended as a plusquam-perfect, were altogether symmetrical in its reference to Revelation 10:4 (cf. Revelation 4:1), its construction in accord with the nom. Ἡ ΦΩΝΉ would run: Κ. Ἡ ΦΩΝ., ἫΝ ἬΚ. ἘΚ Τ. ΟὐΡ. ΛΑΛΟῦΣΑΝ ΜΕΤʼ ἘΜΟῦ, ΠΆΛΙΝ ἘΛΆΛΗΣΕΝ ΜΕΤʼ ἘΜΟῦ ΛΈΓΟΥΣΑ (ΛΈΓΩΝ). Likewise De Wette, Ebrard.

ὝΠΑΓΕ. As in Revelation 16:1, Matthew 5:24; Matthew 8:4, etc.,[2753] an actual going is represented, accordingly in Revelation 10:9 it is said ἈΠῆΛΘΑ.

ΛΆΒΕ, cf. Revelation 5:7. John is to take this book to himself (Revelation 10:9).

ΑΠῆΛΘΑ ΠΡῸς ΤῸΝ ἌΓΓ. How John, who continues to have his standpoint in heaven (cf. Revelation 10:1), could go to the angel who stands on the earth and sea, is not made perceptible to sober view, because in the vision the question is only concerning the act of going. But even if one, like De Wette, consider that John, even prior to ch. 10, “had occupied the standpoint of Zechariah, Ezekiel, and Daniel,” the difficulty of the ἈΠῆΛΘΑ remains essentially the same; hence De Wette has properly reached no conclusion from this expression concerning the standpoint of John.

δοῦναι. Concerning this inf.,[2754] dependent on the ΛΈΓΩΝ, cf. Winer, p. 296.

ΚΑΤΆΦΑΓΕ ΑὐΤΌ. The eating of the book[2755] is within the entire visionary scene not to be regarded an expression intended allegorically, but as a real act of John; just as Ezekiel (Revelation 2:9 sqq.) by eating a book receives the contents of its prophetic discourses. The meaning of the visionary fact is correctly given already by Beda: “Take into your inward parts, and contain within the space of thy heart.” What Jeremiah 15:16 in figurative language calls an eating of the words of divine revelation, which must be converted by the prophet into marrow and blood,[2756] we find here, as in Ezekiel, represented in an actual visionary transaction.[2757]

καὶ πικρανεῖ

μέλι. From the fact that the angel speaks first of the bitter effect and then of the sweet taste of the little book, but John himself (Revelation 10:10) the reverse, it does not follow that “both vigorously struggled for priority.”[2758] According to the context, the “priority” belongs—not only as to order, but also as to minor dignity—to the sweetness, because the book comes first into the mouth and last into the belly. According to this most simple order, John himself reports, Revelation 10:10. The angel looks at it differently, since he speaks,—as the combination of the two expressions into one antithesis shows,—not according to the mere consequences, but with respect to the inner nature and effect. The angel intends first to prepare John for the bitter effect, but then he also says that the book will be in his mouth sweet as honey. This is also against Beng., who, by a comparison of Revelation 10:9-10, immediately infers two kinds of sweetness, one before and one after the bitterness.

The relation of ΠΙΚΡΑΝΕῖ ΣΟΥ ΤῊΝ ΚΟΙΛΊΑΝ (ἘΠΙΚΡΆΝΘΗ Ἡ ΚΟΙΛ. Μ., Revelation 10:10; cf. Revelation 8:11) and ΓΛΥΚῪ Ὡς ΜΈΛΙ is, in accordance with the context, to be determined according to both norms: that one and the same book is sweet and bitter according as it enters the mouth or the belly; then, that the distinction between the mouth and the belly is understood only with reference to the eating. Incorrect, therefore, are both the explanation which refers the sweetness and bitterness to the difference between the joyful and the sad contents of the book,[2759]—in connection with which a further error is readily intruded, that, with a result contrary to the context, speaks of “bitter-sweet” contents, indicating that only after a sad visitation could glorious joy enter;[2760] and also that which—in connection with a false interpretation of the little book itself, of the ΠΆΛΙΝ ΠΡΟΦΗΤ., Revelation 10:11, yea even of the angel, Revelation 10:1; Revelation 10:8—regards the mouth of John not as the organ of eating (receiving), but of speaking, and then refers the bitterness to the persecutions and all the hinderances with which the evangelical preaching of John or the entire Church met.[2761] With correctness, Vitr., C. a Lap., De Wette, Stern, Hengstenb., etc., have interpreted, that, as the mouth refers to the receiving of the revelation given in the little book, so the ΚΟΙΛΊΑ—not ΚΑΡΔΊΑ, as Cod. A reads, and Andr. explains, disturbing the clearness of the idea of the text by mingling therewith a rash interpretation—is directed to the comprehension, i.e., the further scrutiny[2762] and perception, of the revelation received. [See Note LXVI., p. 309.] How little the sweetness of the reception, as such, was hindered by the bitterness of the contents of revelation, is shown by the symbol of Ezekiel, in whose mouth the book written with mourning and woe is Ὡς ΜΈΛΙ ΓΛΥΚΆΖΟΝ.[2763] But he also went bitterly, after he had filled his belly therewith,[2764] in the heat of his spirit.[2765]

By eating the book, John is made able to proclaim its contents. Therefore Revelation 10:11 follows: καὶ λἐγουσῖν μοι, κ.τ.λ. The plur.[2766] makes the speaking subject entirely indefinite; the modified var. points to the angel.

δεῖ σε πάλιν προφ. The δεῖ designates not the inner, subjective necessity, that John now cannot help prophesying, because by eating the book he has been capacitated for prophesying,[2767] but the objective necessity depending upon the will of God, who accordingly gives his revelation.[2768] The πάλιν does not contrast John’s prophecy with that of the ancient prophets,[2769] but designates a second προφητεῦσαι of John himself, yet not a preaching after a return from exile,[2770] but the new prophecy for which the eaten book has fitted him in its relation to the prophesying practised upon the ground of previous visions. This πάλιν προφητεῦσαι occurs therefore in the succeeding part of the Apoc.[2771]

ἐπὶ λαοῖς

πολλοῖς. Incorrectly, Beng: “To nations—beyond,” in the sense that there are still many nations, etc., which are, meantime, to come before that is fulfilled which is here described prior to the transition to the second woe. Ἐπί has this meaning neither in Hebrews 9:17, 1 Corinthians 14:26, nor elsewhere. Likewise incorrectly, Ebrard: “Before nations,” i.e., so that “the nations have it declared to them.” The ἐπὶ with the dat. designates, precisely as in John 12:16, the object which the prophecy grasps, i.e., concerning which the prophecy is made. The grammatical relation is precisely the same as in the construction of ἐπί with the dative accompanying verbs designating joy, astonishment, etc., concerning any thing.[2772] The occasion for the false construction of the ἐπὶ lies, in Ebrard, in the view of the contents of the book, and the range of the prophecy conditioned thereby. If the πάλιν προφητεῦσαι is completed with Revelation 11:13, and is intended for the Church, it cannot be said here, Revelation 10:11, that John is to prophesy concerning nations and kings; and if Hengstenb., who likewise[2773] finds in Revelation 11:1-13 the prophecy announced in Revelation 10:11, and refers it to the degenerate churches, yet explains correctly the ἐπὶ λαοῖς, κ.τ.λ., and compares therewith what is said of kings, chs. 16, 17, 19, this is inconsistent with his view of the little book and the πάλ. προφ., just to the extent that it is correct according to the context. Ewald—who agrees formally with Hengstenb. and Ebrard, since he also finds in Revelation 11:1-13 the contents of the eaten book, but interprets this new prophecy as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem—refers the ἐπὶ λαοῖς, κ.τ.λ., to Revelation 11:2; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 11:9; but since the prophecy Revelation 11:1-13 is actually one concerning Jerusalem, it cannot well be called at Revelation 10:11 a prophecy concerning peoples, nations, languages, and many kings.[2774] Besides, Ew. has understood the significant position of the angel, Revelation 10:2, with relation to Rome as capital of the world. The result, therefore, is not that the ἘΠῚ is explained ungrammatically, but that we must seek the correct reference of the ΠΆΛΙΝ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕῦΣΑΙ, which must concur with the correct view of the contents of the little book eaten. Upon this depends the ultimate determination of the view of the entire transaction in ch. 10.

[2752] See Critical Notes.

[2753] Cf. the ἦλθε, Revelation 5:7Revelation 10:8. ἡ φωνὴ (cf. Revelation 10:4) left ungrammatically without a predicate, the two participles being irregularly attracted into the case of ἥν (cf. Revelation 1:1, Revelation 4:11).8. spake unto me again] The true reading is scarcely grammatical, but must mean “[I heard] again speaking unto me.”Verse 8. - And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said; and the voice which I heard out of heaven, [I heard] again talking with me and saying. The construction is irregular." The voice, viz. that mentioned in ver. 4, which is probably that of Christ himself (see on ver. 4). Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth; (Go, take the book, etc., according to A, C, which is adopted in the Revised Version. Little book, βιβλαρίδιον, as in ver. 2, is found in א, P, Andreas; and βιβλιδαρίον in B, Andress, Arethas. (On the signification of the "little book," see on ver. 2; and also for the meaning of the last clause, see the same place.) Spake unto me

Render, as Rev., "I heard it again speaking."

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