Revelation 11:16
And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) And the four . . .—Translate, And the four-and-twenty elders, who before God were seated upon their thrones (not “seats”), fell upon their faces, and worshipped God. The four-and-twenty elders represent the Church of God in all ages; they sit with Christ in heavenly places, even while they are toiling and sorrowing on earth; every one of the true children of the kingdom appear before God, and their angels behold the presence of their Father who is in heaven. They were seated on thrones, not “seats” (comp. Revelation 4:4), as in English version; the word used is the same which is translated “throne” when it refers to our Lord. It is the same word which is rendered “seat” (Revelation 2:13; Revelation 16:10) when it refers to Satan; but it is better rendered throne throughout, for by this variation of translation, as “Archbishop Trench has pointed out, two great ideas which run through this book, and, indeed, we may say through the whole of the New Testament, are obliterated: the one, that the true servants of Christ are crowned with Him and share His sovereignty; the other, that the antagonism of the Prince of Darkness to the Prince of Light develops itself in the hellish parody of the heavenly kingdom” (Prof. Lightfoot, Revision of New Testament, p. 41). It is specially desirable that this thought should be kept before us in this passage, which proclaims that the kingdom and throne and power of the wicked one have passed away, and the hour has come when the victorious saints may sit down with Christ in His throne (Revelation 3:21).

11:14-19 Before the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, there is the usual demand of attention. The saints and angels in heaven know the right of our God and Saviour to rule over all the world. But the nations met God's wrath with their own anger. It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's faithful services, and sufferings; and their enemies fretted against God, and so increased their guilt, and hastened their destruction. By the opening the temple of God in heaven, may be meant, that there was a more free communication between heaven and earth; prayer and praises more freely and frequently going up, graces and blessings plentifully coming down. But it rather seems to refer to the church of God on earth. In the reign of antichrist, God's law was laid aside, and made void by traditions and decrees; the Scriptures were locked up from the people, but now they are brought to the view of all. This, like the ark, is a token of the presence of God returned to his people, and his favour toward them in Jesus Christ, as the Propitiation for their sins. The great blessing of the Reformation was attended with very awful providences; as by terrible things in righteousness God answered the prayers presented in his holy temple now opened.And the four and twenty elders which sat ... - See the notes on Revelation 4:4.

Fell upon their faces, and worshipped God - Prostrated themselves before him - the usual form of profound adoration. See the notes on Revelation 5:8-14.

16. before God—B and Syriac read, "before the throne of God." But A, C, Vulgate, and Coptic read as English Version.

seats—Greek, "thrones."

I take this to signify no more than the triumph of the saints and angels in heaven upon this victory of the Lord over antichrist, and the promoting of Christ’s kingdom; and certainly if there be joy in heaven upon the conversion of one sinner, as we are told, Luke 15:7, we must imagine a much greater joy upon the conversion of nations and kingdams unto Christ. And the four and twenty elders,.... The same with those in Revelation 4:4;

which sat before God on their seats; as they are also there described; and which may be expressive of their enjoyment of the divine Presence; and also of their quiet and undisturbed situation, being restored to their former places, which they now possess without molestation and interruption; for as these are the representatives of Gospel churches in all ages, they were with the church in the wilderness during the 1260 days, or years: hence we hear nothing of them from the time of the sealing of the hundred and forty and four thousand, and during the sounding of the trumpets; but now they are restored to their former seats, and upon this wonderful change of things in the world, they

fell upon their faces and worshipped God; in a very humble and reverential posture, and in a way of praise and thanksgiving.

{29} And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,

(29) As before in Re 7:11. This giving of thanks is altogether of the same content with the words going before.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 11:16-18. Similar ascriptions of praise on the part of the twenty-four elders. ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτων, like all angels. For the deepest humiliation of adoring creatures is becoming when the highest revelation of the glory of God, as here the subduing of all enemies, stands before the eyes.[2978]

ΕὐΧΑΡΙΣΤΟῦΜΈΝ ΣΟΙ. They give thanks, not because they consider themselves partakers of the great power and government of God,[2979] which is as remote as in Revelation 11:15, but because (ὍΤΙ ΕἼΛΗΦΑς, Κ.Τ.Λ.) the assumption of dominion on God’s part has brought to the oppressors of the Church, whose representatives the elders are, retributory vengeance, but to the servants of God the complete reward.[2980] The ascription of adoration, ΚΎΡΙΕ Ὁ ΘΕῸς Ὁ ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΆΤΩΡ, Κ.Τ.Λ., in which the guaranty for the glorious result of God’s ways was previously indicated,[2981] appears now when that glorious end is beheld as already attained to be actually realized.[2982] But from the former significant designation of God, Ὁ ὪΝ ΚΑῚ Ὁ ἮΝ ΚΑῚ Ὁ ἘΡΧΌΜΕΝΟς,[2983] this last point necessarily is omitted; for the ascription of praise, even though proleptical, applies even to that which has now come, and thus the fulfilment of his mystery has been attained.[2984] Luther improperly follows the bad revision of the text, in which the ΚΑῚ Ὁ ἘΡΧ. is interpolated from Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8.

ὍΤΙ ΕἼΛΗΦΑς Τ. ΔΎΝΑΜΊΝ ΣΟΥ Τ. ΜΕΓ. ΚΑῚ ἘΒΑΣΊΛΕΥΣΑς. The assumption of great powrer[2985] is the means for entrance upon the kingdom;[2986] but as the exclamation κύριε ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ properly conditions the mode of representation in the ἐβασίλευσας, the σου with the τ. δύναμ. marks also the presupposition that it was only, apparently, that the unconditioned power which he has now seized was not possessed by the eternal Ruler of all, while he allowed the antichristian powers to be exercised against himself and his Christ.

Revelation 11:18. According to the fundamental thought of Revelation 11:2,[2987] although the expression comes from Psalm 99:1,[2988] there is a description of how the wrath of God has risen against the wrath of his enemies, to the destruction of the destroyers, in the final judgment which brings its reward to the servants of God.

The more minute description in the words ΤᾺ ἜΘΝΗ ὨΡΓΊΣΘΗΣΑΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ., of the ΕἼΛΗΦΑς Τ. ΔΎΝ., Κ.Τ.Λ., Revelation 11:17,[2989] which occurs in the final judgment described here in all its parts, is subjoined by the simple ΚΑῚ. But the entire ascription of adoration proves itself to be so clearly a prolepsis of that which is not represented in details until in the visions following that extend up to Revelation 22:5, and comprise the actual end, that even the expressions mostly agree with those of the succeeding chapter. The explanation of the tenor of the subject is to be derived from what follows. How the enraged Gentiles, impelled by the anger of the devil,[2990] come forth against the Lord and his servants, is, of course, to be seen already from Revelation 11:9 sqq.;[2991] but the complete representation of the Gentile antichrist is given first in what follows,[2992] and it properly pertains to this, that ἨΛΘΕΝ Ἡ ὈΡΓΉ ΣΟΥ is described as actually entering, first in chs. 16–18, and then Revelation 19:1 sqq., is celebrated as actually occurring, just as in this passage proleptically. The expression ΤΟῪς ΔΙΑΦΘΕΊΡΟΝΤΑς Τ. ΓῆΝ is to be understood first from the entire description of Babylon, the antichristian secular power.[2993] The ΚΑΙΡῸς ΤῶΝ ΝΕΚΡῶΝ ΚΡΙΘῆΝΑΙ, which is celebrated in this passage proleptically as having already occurred (ἨΛΘΕΝ), occurs actually not until in Revelation 20:11 sqq.; so also the time for giving the servants of God their reward occurs actually not until the Divine completion of the mystery of God (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).

ΤΟῖς ΔΟΎΛΟΙς ΣΟΥ

ΜΕΓΆΛΟΙς
. This circumstantial formula is intended to designate the entire number of all those who receive God’s reward in contrast with those condemned to judgment.[2994] The classification is not to be pressed,—against Beng. and Hengstenb., who refer the Τ. ΔΟΥΛ. Σ. to Τ. ΠΡΟΦ. and Κ. Τ. ἉΓΊΟΙς, and oppose to these servants of God, in an eminent sense, the entire mass of those who fear the name of the Lord (Κ. Τ. ΦΟΒ., Κ.Τ.Λ.), in connection with which Hengstenb. wants a special emphasis recognized as resting not only upon Τ. ἉΓΊΟΙς, but immediately afterwards also upon ΤΟῖς ΜΙΚΡΟῚς, as he understands small and great not in the simplest sense.[2995] But Τ. ΔΟΎΛ. ΣΟΥ belongs[2996] only to Τ. ΠΡΟΦΉΤΑΙς, whereby all those are designated who have served God by proclaiming the Divine mysteries. Beside them stand the ἍΓΙΟΙ, as believers in general are called.[2997] The final designation Κ. Τ. ΦΟΒΟΥΜ. Τ. ὈΝ. ΣΟΥ ΤΟῖς ΜΙΚΡΟῚς ΚΑῚ Τ. ΜΕΓ., comprehends finally and summarily the entire mass of the godly, no matter whether prophets or saints absolutely,[2998] whether small or great.

[2978] Cf. Revelation 4:10, Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:14, Revelation 19:4. Beng.

[2979] Hengstenb.

[2980] Revelation 11:18. Cf. also Revelation 6:9 sqq., Revelation 7:14 sqq., Revelation 19:1 sqq.

[2981] Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8. Cf. also Revelation 10:6.

[2982] Cf. Revelation 15:3, Revelation 16:7; Revelation 16:14, Revelation 19:6; Revelation 19:15, Revelation 21:22.

[2983] Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8.

[2984] Cf. Revelation 16:5. Beng., Hengstenb.

[2985] Cf. Zechariah 6:13; Psalm 93:1.

[2986] Cf., on this application of the idea of βασιλεύειν, Psalm 93:1; 2 Samuel 15:10; 2 Samuel 16:8, etc.

[2987] Cf. already 16. which sat before God &c.] Read, which are before God, who sit upon their thrones.Revelation 11:16. Ἐνώπιον τοῦ θρόνου τοῦ Θεοῦ) Thus the greater part of the Manuscripts read,[119] although the more ancient omitted the words ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ, leaping from the one ΤΟῦ to the other. The mention of the throne is especially suitable to this place, where the kingdom is spoken of, and where also the thrones of the elders are mentioned.[120]

[119] And the margin of Ed. ii., together with the Germ. Vers., follows that reading more confidently than the larger Edition does.—E. B.

[120] ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὑτῶν, upon their faces) In no other place is this read respecting the elders.—V. g. ACh Vulg. Memph. omit τοῦ θρόνον. B Syr. and Rec. Text insert these words.—E.Verse 16. - And the four and twenty elders. "The elders" represent the Church (see on Revelation 4:4); they are those who were made "a kingdom" (Revelation 1:6); they therefore fitly take up the burden of praise to him who has now established his universal and everlasting kingdom. Which sat before God on their seats; which sit before God on their thrones (Revised Version). Thus they are described in Revelation 4:4. Fell upon their faces, and worshipped God. (So also in Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 19:4.)
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