Revelation 14:3
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
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(3) And they . . .—Translate, And they (i.e., the heavenly harpers) sing a new song (the words “as it were” ought, perhaps, to be omitted) before the throne, and before the living creatures, and the elders (i.e., in the presence of God Himself, and creation, and the Church), and no one was able to learn the song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth. It is a heavenly song, and no spirit dulled by earthly desires can learn it. The Spirit of the Lord can open the dull ear to hear and to rejoice in the songs of God’s saints. Amid the world-noises of Babylon men can neither hear nor sing aright the Lord’s song (Psalm 137:4); but the redeemed (the purchased from the earth) of the Lord can come with singing unto Zion (Isaiah 51:11).

14:1-5 Mount Sion is the gospel church. Christ is with his church, and in the midst of her in all her troubles, therefore she is not consumed. His presence secures perseverance. His people appear honourably. They have the name of God written in their foreheads; they make a bold and open profession of their faith in God and Christ, and this is followed by suitable actings. There were persons in the darkest times, who ventured and laid down their lives for the worship and truth of the gospel of Christ. They kept themselves clean from the wicked abominations of the followers of antichrist. Their hearts were right with God; and they were freely pardoned in Christ; he is glorified in them, and they in him. May it be our prayer, our endeavour, our ambition, to be found in this honourable company. Those who are really sanctified and justified are meant here, for no hypocrite, however plausible, can be accounted to be without fault before God.And they sung as it were a new song - See the notes on Revelation 5:9. It was proper to call this "new," because it was on a new occasion, or pertained to a new object. The song here was in celebration of the complete redemption of the church, and was the song to be sung in view of its final triumph over all its foes. Compare notes on Revelation 7:9-10.

Before the throne - The throne of God in heaven. See the notes on Revelation 4:2.

And before the four beasts - See the notes on Revelation 4:6-8.

And the elders - See the notes on Revelation 4:4.

And no man could learn that song, ... - None could understand it but the redeemed. That is, none who had not been redeemed could enter fully into the feelings and sympathies of those who were. A great truth is taught here. To appreciate fully the songs of Zion; to understand the language of praise; to enter into the spirit of the truths which pertain to redemption; one must himself have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. He must have known what it is to be a sinner under the condemnation of a holy law; he must have known what it is to be in danger of eternal death; he must have experienced the joys of pardon, or he can never understand, in its true import, the language used by the redeemed. And this is only saying what we are familiar with in other things. He who is saved from peril; he who is rescued from long captivity; he who is pardoned at the foot of the scaffold; he who is recovered from dangerous illness; he who presses to his bosom a beloved child just rescued from a watery grave, will have an appreciation of the language of joy and triumph which he can never understand who has not been placed in such circumstances: but of all the joy ever experienced in the universe, so far as we can see, that must be the most sublime and transporting, which will be experienced when the redeemed shall stand on Mount Zion above, and shall realize that they are saved.

3. sung—Greek, "sing."

as it were—So A, C, and Vulgate read. It is "as it were" a new song; for it is, in truth, as old as God's eternal purpose. But B, Syriac, Coptic, Origen, and Andreas omit these words.

new song—(Re 5:9, 10). The song is that of victory after conflict with the dragon, beast, and false prophet: never sung before, for such a conflict had never been fought before; therefore new: till now the kingdom of Christ on earth had been usurped; they sing the new song in anticipation of His blood-bought kingdom with His saints.

four beasts—rather, as Greek, "four living creatures." The harpers and singers evidently include the 144,000: so the parallel proves (Re 15:2, 3), where the same act is attributed to the general company of the saints, the harvest (Re 14:15) from all nations. Not as Alford, "the harpers and song are in heaven, but the 144,000 are on earth."

redeemed—literally, "purchased." Not even the angels can learn that song, for they know not experimentally what it is to have "come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb" (Re 7:14).

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne: by the throne here is meant the throne of God in glory. The new song here spoken of, is probably the same with that we met with before, Revelation 5:11,12, sang by the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: called new, either for the excellency of it; or, because sung unto God after Christ was manifested in the flesh; the design of it was to declare the worthiness of Christ to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing: see Revelation 5:12. Mr. Mede saith thus of it; "If God shall at any time make me fully to understand it, I will happily more largely explain it, for it is deeply settled in my mind, that the whole mystery of evangelical worship is in it contained." And quite through the Scripture generally, a new song signifies a song which praiseth God for some new benefits received from him.

And before the four beasts, and the elders; the throne, beasts, and elders, described before, Revelation 4:1-11,

And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth: during the reign of antichrist none could learn this new song, viz. to give glory to Jesus Christ alone, ascribing to him power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory, and blessing; but a small number redeemed through the blood of Christ, from that vain conversation received by tradition from their fathers, 1 Peter 1:18. All the other part of the world gave Christ’s honour and glory to the virgin Mary, angels, and saints, &c.

And they sung as it were a new song,.... The song of redeeming grace; the same with that in Revelation 5:9; see the note there: this is to be understood of the 144,000, who sung it

before the throne, and before the four beasts and the elders; that is, publicly in the church, the ministers and members being present; of these; See Gill on Revelation 4:4; See Gill on Revelation 4:6;

and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth; out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation; from among the men of the earth, and out of the apostate church, called the earth, in opposition to the pure church, which so often goes by the name of heaven in this book; and these, in consequence of being redeemed by the blood of Christ, were called by grace out of the world; and such only can sing the song of redemption with application to themselves; and say he has redeemed us, and loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood; to none but these is it given to know spiritually and experimentally the mysteries of electing and redeeming grace; the natural and carnal man neither knows nor receives the things of the Spirit of God; nor can he learn them by hearing, reading, study, and conversation, unless it be only in a notional and speculative way. The Jews speak of a new song, which the angels have never used (m);

"it is said, Psalm 98:1; "sing unto the Lord a new song"; a new song, for there is an old song; but this song is what the angels never praised him with, and therefore it is new;''

and indeed the song of redeeming love is peculiar to men.

(m) Zohar in Numb. fol. 70. 4.

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb {1} stood on the mount Sion, and with him {2} an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's {3} name written in their foreheads.

(1) The history of the Church of Christ being finished for more than a 1300 years at which time Boniface the eighth lived as has been said: there remains the rest of the history of the conflicting or militant church, from there to the time of the last victory in three chapters. For first of all, as the foundation of the whole history, is described the standing of the Lamb with his army and retinue in five verses, after his worthy acts which he has done and yet does in most mighty manner, while he overthrows Antichrist with the spirit of his mouth, in the rest of this chapter and in the two following. To the description of the Lamb, are propounded three things: his situation, place and attendance: for the rest are expounded in the former visions, especially in the fifth chapter.

(2) Prepared to do his office see Ac 7:56, in the midst of the church, which mount Zion pictured before.

(3) This retinue of the Lamb is described first by divine mark

(as before in) Re 7:2 in this verse. Then by divine occupation, in that every one in his retinue most earnestly and sweetly Re 14:2 glorify the Lamb with a special song before God and his elect angels. Flesh and blood cannot hear this song, nor understand, Re 14:3. Lastly by their deeds done before, and their sanctification in that they were virgins, pure from spiritual and bodily fornication, that is, from impiety and unrighteousness. They followed the Lamb as a guide to all goodness, cleaved to him and are holy to him, as by grace redeemed by him. In truth and simplicity of Christ they have exercised all these things, sanctimony of life, the guidance of the Lamb, a thankful remembrance of redemption by him and finally (to conclude in a word) they are blameless before the Lord, Re 14:4,5.

Revelation 14:3. Who sing the new song? angels or the redeemed? In Revelation 5:9 it is chanted not before the living creatures and elders but by them; here it is not originally sung by the redeemed (as in Revelation 15:3-4 Ezra 2:42) but is intelligible to them and to them alone. Their experience enabled them to enter into its meaning. This privilege is due to (Revelation 14:4-5) their previous character and conduct, This inner circle are ascetics, παρθένοι. i.e., not merely unmarried or free from sexual vice but celibates (cf. Cheyne, Orig. Psalter, 446; Hoennicke, das Judenchristentum, 1908, 130 f.; Balden-sperger, 109; von Dobschütz, 39 f., 228, 261); cf. 1 Corinthians 7:32. The prevailing Jewish respect for marriage did not check a tendency to celibacy which was by no means confined to the Essenes or Therapeutae. Even Methodius, who allegorises the seven heads of Revelation 12:3 into the seven deadly sins and the stars of Revelation 12:2 into heretics, takes this phrase literally, in the sense of virginity not simply of purity (so Epiph. Hær. xxx. 2); and, although the touch is too incidental to bear pressing, it is unmistakable (cf. Introd. § 6). In the popular religion of Phrygia there was a feeling (expressed in the eunuchism, e.g., of the priests at Hierapolis) that one came nearer to the divine life by annihilating the distinction of sex, while in the votive inscriptions of Asia Minor (C. B. P. i. 137) marriage is not recognised as part of the divine or religious life. This atmosphere of local feeling, together with the lax moral conscience of the popular religion, would foster the religious tendency to regard celibates as pre-eminently near to God.—ἀκολουθοῦντες: either a historic present to secure vividness (ἀκολουθήσαντες, syr. S), in which case the allusion is to their earthly loyalty (reff.), or, more probably (in view of ὑπάγει, pres.), a description of their heavenly privilege and position (cf. Revelation 7:17), borrowed from Egyptian religion where the “followers of Horus,” the divine and victorious son of Osiris, were a series of celestial kings who were supposed to have reigned during the earlier dynasties. To be among the “followers of Horus” was an equivalent for immortal life. Cf. E. B. D. 101: “Let me rise up among those who follow the great God; I am the son of Maûti, and that which he abominateth is the spirit of falsehood [cf. Revelation 14:5]. I am in triumph!”—ἀπό in 3, 4 is equivalent to the partitive ἐκ (cf. Revelation 5:9).—ἀπαρχή: they form the firstfruits of mankind for God; others are to follow, but these are the élite, they have a prestige all their own. The idea of priority shades into that of superiority, though in a very different way from that of Romans 11:16. Dr. Rendel Harris (in Present Day Papers, May, 1901) describes the interest and excitement at Jerusalem during the early days of summer when “the first ripe figs were in the market. When one’s soul desires the vintage or the fruitage of the summer … the trees that are a fortnight to the fore are the talk and delight of the town.”—καὶ τ. ., usually taken as a scribe’s gloss. Elsewhere the saints are redeemed by, not for, the Lamb (Revelation 5:9).

3. sung] More accurately, sing.

as it were] Should perhaps be omitted, as in Revelation 5:9.

Verse 3. - And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders. They sing; that is to say, the heavenly inhabitants. The four living beings; viz. those of Revelation 4:9, where see an explanation of the positions occupied, and of the nature and signification of the "living beings and the elders." The "new song," which can only be understood by the hundred and forty-four thousand, is (as explained by ver. 4) a song of victory won by those who have been tried in the world and subjected to temptations. And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth; even they that had been purchased out of the earth (Revised Version). These only can know the song for the reason given above. The joys of heaven and the song of victory are not for those who have succumbed to the world. Revelation 14:3Beasts (ζώων)

Rev., living creatures. See on Revelation 4:6.

Redeemed (ἠγορασμένοι)

Rev., correctly, purchased.

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