Revelation 15:2
And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire.—The wild beast rose out of the sea (Revelation 13:1); the evil-hearted woman sits upon many waters (Revelation 17:1); they draw strength from the wild, and ungoverned, and short-sighted impulses of human passion; in opposition to this near the throne of God is the calm and translucent sea of God’s counsels of righteousness and love, now clear as crystal, now ruddy with the fire of righteous indignation, the expression of His eternal will against sin. Such is the appearance of this glass-like sea now that the angels of the plagues are going forth.

But the seer saw more than this fire-flushed sea. He saw also those that are victorious over the wild beast. These he describes (such is the literal translation) as those who conquer out of the wild beast, &c.; they come off conquerors out of the struggle, and they escape from the temptation to worship his image and wear the badge of his service: they “escape victorious from” his image and from his mark. When he sees these, they are standing upon (i.e., on the shore of) the sea of glass, holding harps of God. We have had the harps mentioned previously (Revelation 5:8; Revelation 14:2); it is appropriate. The life which has been a discord to the world rises into true music before God; those who will make their life a melody must take it first as a conflict. The harps they hold are called harps of God, not merely because they are dedicated to Him. but because they are truly God’s. All the most glorious and noble things in nature were named God’s: the lofty trees were “trees of God “; the high-piled mountains were “mountains of God “; so also the harps which strike forth the richest music are “harps of God.” Nor is this a mere phrase to be considered as equivalent to very great or very glorious; great and glorious the trees, hills, and harps are, but only a prosaic or a profane mind can be satisfied with such a naked equivalent. The godly saw the hand of God in these things; and St. John knows that the noblest melody in the ears of God is the noble life of faith, suffering, and love. The power of such a life is in God, not in itself (John 15:5; Galatians 2:20), and the music of such a life is music which God makes (2Corinthians 4:7-10), drawing the sweetest tones from the strings which are smitten with pain and sorrow; and as its life’s music is God-taught, so does its song of triumph sound from a harp not its own, but God’s. If our power to sing in trial here a song worthy of God is only found in God, so will the songs of heaven be sweet only in Him, for those who dwell there shall be all taught of Him.

Revelation

THE SONG OF MOSES AND THE LAMB

Revelation 15:2-3The form of this vision is moulded partly by the circumstances of the Seer, and partly by reminiscences of Old Testament history. As to the former, it can scarcely be an accident that the Book of the Revelation abounds with allusions to the sea. We are never far from the music of its waves, which broke around the rocky Patmos where it was written. And the ‘sea of glass mingled with fire’ is but a photograph of what John must have seen on many a still morning, when the sunrise came blushing over the calm surface; or on many an evening when the wind dropped at sundown, and the sunset glow dyed the watery plain with a fading splendor. - Nor is the allusion to Old Testament history less obvious. We cannot but recognize the reproduction, with modifications, of that scene when Moses and his ransomed people looked upon the ocean beneath which their oppressors lay, and lifted up their glad thanksgivings. So here, by anticipation, in the solemn pause before the judgment goes forth, there are represented the spirits that have been made wise by conquest, as gathered on the bank of that steadfast ocean, lifting up as of old a hymn of triumphant thankfulness over destructive judgments, and blending the song of Moses and of the Lamb, in testimony of the unity of spirit which runs through all the manifestations of God’s character from the beginning to the end. Ever His judgments are right; ever the purpose of His most terrible things is that men may know Him, and may love Him; and ever they who see deepest into the mysteries, and understand most truly the realities of the universe will have praise springing to their lips for all that God hath done.

I. Notice the Triumphant Choir.

‘I saw them that had gotten the victory over the beast and over his image, and over the number of his name.’ Now I am not going to plunge into Apocalyptic discussions. It is no part of my business now either to ask or answer the question as to whether this Beast of the Revelation is a person or a tendency. I do not care, for my present purpose, whether, supposing it to be a person, an embodiment of certain tendencies, it is a person in the past or in the future; whether it was a veiled designation of the Emperor Nero, or whether it is a prophecy of some yet unborn human embodiment of transcendent wickedness. The question that I would ask is rather this, - Whoever the beast is, what makes him a beast? And if we will think about that, we may get some good out of it. What is the bestial element in him, whoever he be? And the answer is not far to find - Godless selfishness, that is ‘the mark of the beast.’ Wherever a human nature is self-centered, God-forgetting, and, therefore, God opposing {for whoever forgets God defies Him}, that nature has gone down below humanit3% and has touched the lower level of the brutes. Men are so made as that they must either rise to the level of God or certainly go down to that of the animal. And wherever you see men living by their own fancies, for their own pleasure, in forgetfulness and neglect of the sweet and mystic bonds that should knit them to God, there you see the image of the beast and the number of his name.’

But besides that godless selfishness, we may point to simple animalism as literally the mark of the beast. He who lives not by conscience and by faith, but by fleshly inclination and sense, lowers himself to the level of the instinctive brute-life, and beneath it, because he refuses to obey faculties which they do not possess, and what is nature in them is degradation in us. Look at the unblushing sensuality which marks many ‘respectable people’ nowadays. Look at the foul fleshliness of much of popular art and poetry. Look at the way in which pure animal passion, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the love of good things to eat, and plenty to drink, is swaying and destroying men and women by the thousand among us. Look at the temptations that lie along every street in our great cities, for every young man, after dusk. Look at the thin veneer of culture over the ugliest lust. Scratch the gentleman, and you find the satyr. Is it much of an exaggeration, in view of the facts of English life to-day, to say that all the world wonders after and worships this beast?

Further, notice that to escape from the power of the beast it is needful to fight one’s way out. The language of my text is remarkably significant. This Apocalyptic writer does not mind about grammar or smoothness so long as he can express his ideas; and he uses a form of speech here that makes the hair of grammatical purists stand on end, because it vigorously expresses his thought. He calls these triumphant choristers ‘conquerors out of the beast,’ which implies that victory over him is an escape from a dominion in which the conquerors, before their victory, were held. They have fought their way, as it were, out of the land of bondage, and, like revolted slaves, have won their liberty, and marched forth triumphant. The allusion to Israel’s exodus is probable. ‘Egypt was glad when they departed.’ So the bondsmen of this new Pharaoh recover freedom by conflict, and the fruit of their victory is entire escape from the tyrant.

That victory is possible. The Apocalypse shows us that there are two opposing Powers - this said ‘beast’ on the one side, and ‘the Lamb’ on the other. In the Seer’s vision these two divide the world between them. That is to say, Jesus Christ has conquered the bestial tendencies of our nature, the selfish godlessness which is apt to cast its spells and weave its chains over us all. The Warrior-Lamb, singular and incongruous as the combination sounds, is the Victor. He conquers because He is the Lamb of sacrifice; He conquers because He is the Lamb of innocence; He conquers because He is the Lamb of meekness, the gentle and, therefore, the all-victorious. By Christ we conquer. Through faith, which lays hold on His power and victory, we too may conquer. ‘This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.’

Young men and women, may I make my appeal specially to you? Do not let yourselves be led away captives, like cattle to the shambles, by the fascinations and seductions of this poor, fleeting present. Keep your heel on the neck of the animal that is within you; take care of that selfish godlessness into which we all are tempted to fall. Listen to the trumpet-call that ought to stir your hearts, and summons you to freedom and to victory through the blood of the Lamb. And by humbly clasping Him as your Sacrifice, your Leader, and your Power, enroll yourselves amongst those who, in His own good time, shall come victorious out from the beast and from his image.

II. Still further, notice the position of this victorious chorus.

‘I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and they stand on the sea of glass.’ Of course the propriety of the image, as well as the force of the original language, suggests at once that by ‘on the sea of glass’ here, we must understand, on the firm bank by its side. As Moses and the ransomed hosts stood on the shore of the Red Sea, so these conquerors are represented as standing on the safe beach, and looking out upon this sea of glass mingled with fire, which, calm, crystal, clear, stable, and yet shot through and through with the red lines of retributive judgment, sleeps above the buried oppressors.

Observe that besides its picturesque appropriateness and its historical allusion, this sea of glass has a distinct symbolical meaning. "We find it appearing also in the great vision in the fourth chapter, where the Seer beholds the normal and ideal order of the universe, which is - the central throne, the ‘Lamb that was slain’ in the interspace between the Throne and the creatures as mediator; and round about, the four living beings, who represent the fullness of creation, and the four and-twenty elders, who represent the Church in the Old and the New Covenants as one whole. Then follows, ‘before the Throne was a sea of glass,’ which cannot be any part of the material creation, and seems to have but one explanation, and that is that it means the aggregate of the Divine dealings. ‘Thy judgments are a mighty deep.’ Oh! the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God; how unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out.’ Such a signification fits precisely our present passage, for the sea here represents that beneath which the tyrant lies buried for evermore.

That great ocean of the judgment of God is crystalline-clear though deep. Does it seem so to us? Ah I we stand before the mystery of God’s dealings, often bewildered, and not seldom reluctant to submit. The perplexity arising from their obscurity is often almost torture, and sometimes leads men into Atheism, or something like it. And yet here is the assurance that that sea is crystal clear, and that if we cannot look to its lowest depths, that is not because there is any mud or foulness there, but partly because the light from above fails before it reaches the abysses, and partly because our eyes are uneducated to search its depths. In itself it is transparent, and it rises and falls without mire or dirt,’ like the blue Mediterranean on the marble cliffs of the Italian coast. If it is clear as far as the eye can see, let us trust that beyond the reach of the eye the clearness is the same.

And it is a crystal ocean as being calm. They who stand there have gotten the victory and bear the image of the Master. By reason of their conquest and by reason of their sympathy with Him they see that what to us, tossing upon its surface, appears such a troubled and tempestuous ocean, as calm and still. As from some height, looked down upon, the ocean seems a watery plain, and all the agitation of the billows has subsided into a gentle ripple on the surface, so to them looking down upon the sea that brought them thither, it is quiet - and their vision, not ours, is the true one.

It is a ‘sea of glass mingled with fire.’ Divine acts of retribution as it were flash through it, if I may so say, like those streaks of red that are seen in Venice glass, or like some ocean smitten upon the one side of every wave by a fiery sunlight, while the other side of each is dark. So through that great depth of God’s dealings there flashes the fire of retribution. They who have conquered the animal, the godless self, see into the meaning and the mercifulness of God’s dealings with the world; and we here, in the measure in which we have become victors over the rude animalism and the more subtle selfishness that tend to rule us all, and in the measure in which we bear the image of Jesus Christ, and therefore have come into sympathy with Him, may come to discern with some clearer understanding, and to trust with more unfaltering faith, the righteousness and the mercy of all that God shall do.

III. Lastly, notice the occasion of the song, and the song itself.

‘They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb.’ The Song of Moses was a song of triumph over destructive judgment; the Song of the Lamb, says the text, is set on the same key. The one broad, general lesson to be drawn from this, is one on which I have no time to touch, viz., the essential unity, in spite of all superficial diversities, of the revelation of God in the Old Covenant by law and miracle and retributive acts, and the revelation of God in the New Covenant by the Cross and Passion of Jesus Christ. Men pit the Old Testament against the New; the God of the Old Testament against the God of the New. They sometimes tell us that there is antagonism. Modern teachers are wanting us to deny that the Old is the foreshadowing of the New, and the New the fulfilment of the Old. My text asserts, in opposition to all such errors, the fruitful principle of the fundamental unity of the two; and bids us find in the one the blossom and in the other the fruit, and declares that the God who brought the waters of the ocean over the oppressors is the God that has mercy upon all, in Jesus Christ, His dying Son.

And there is another principle here, upon which I need not do more than touch, for I have already anticipated much that might have been said about it, and that is the perfect harmony of the retributive acts of God’s destructive dealings in this world, and the highest conception of His love and mercy which the gospel brings us. ‘When the wicked perish,’ says one of the old proverbs, ‘there is shouting.’ And so there ought to be. When some hoary oppression that has been deceiving mankind for centuries, with its instruments and accomplices, is swept off the face of the earth, the more men have entered into the meaning of Jesus Christ’s mission and work, and the more they feel the pitying indignation which they ought to feel at seeing men led away by evil, and made miserable by oppression, the more they will rejoice. God’s dealings are meant to manifest His character and that in order that all men may know and love Him. We may, therefore, be sure, and keep firm hold of the confidence, that whatever He doeth, however the methods may seem to vary, comes from one unalterable and fixed motive, and leads to one unalterable and certain end. The motive is His own love; the end the glory of His Name, in the love and knowledge of men whose life and blessedness depend on their knowing and loving Him.

So, dear friends, do not let us be too swift in saying that this, that, and the other thing are inconsistent with the highest conceptions of the Divine character. I believe, as heartily as any man can believe, that God has put His witness in our consciences and minds, and that all His dealings will comply with any test that man’s reason and man’s conscience and man’s heart can subject them to. Only we have not got all the materials; we look at half -finished work; our eyes are not quite so educated as that we can pronounce infallibly, on seeing a small segment of a circle, what are its diameter and its sweep.

I am always suspicious of that rough-and-ready way of settling questions about God’s revelation, when a man says: I cannot accept this or that because it contradicts my conception of the Divine nature.’ Unless you are quite sure that your conceptions are infallibly accurate, unless you deny the possibility of their being educated, you must admit that agreement with them is but a leaden rule. And it seems to me a good deal wiser, and more accordant with the modesty which becomes us, to be cautious in pronouncing what does or does not befit God to do, and, until we reach that loftier point of vision, where being higher up we can see deeper down, to say ‘the Judge of all the earth must do right. If He does this, then it is right.’ At any rate let us lay hold of the plain truth: ‘O Lord! Thou preservest man and beast,’ and then we may venture to say, ‘Thy judgments are a mighty deep,’ and beneath that deepest depth, as the roots of the hills beneath the ocean, is God’s righteousness, which is like the great mountains.

The last thought that I would suggest is that, according to the teaching of my text, we may take that old, old story of the ransomed slaves and the baffled oppressor and the Divine intervention and the overwhelming ocean, as prophecy full of radiant hope for the world. That is how it is used here. Pharaoh is the beast, the Red Sea is this ‘sea of glass mingled with fire,’ the ransomed Israelites are those who have conquered their way out of the dominion of the beast, and the song of Moses and of the Lamb is a song parallel to the cadences of the ancient triumphant chorus, and celebrating the annihilation of that power which drew the world away from God. So we may believe that as Israel stood on the sands, and saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, humanity will one day, delivered from all its bestiality and its selfishness, lift up a song of thanksgiving to the conquering King who has drowned its enemies in the depths of His own righteous judgments.

And as for the world, so for individuals. If you take the Beast for your Pharaoh and your task-master, you will ‘sink’ with him ‘like lead in the mighty waters.’ If you take the Lamb for your sacrifice and your King, He will break the bonds from off your arms, and lift the yoke from your neck, and lead you all your lives long; and you will stand at last, when the eternal morning breaks, and see its dawn touch with golden light the calm ocean, beneath which your oppressors lie buried for ever, and will lift up glad thanksgivings to Him who has washed you from your sins in His own blood, and made you victors over ‘the beast, and his image, and the number of his name.’ Revelation 15:2-4. I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire — It was before clear as crystal, (Revelation 4:6,) but is now mingled with fire — Emblematical of the judgments whereby God’s enemies were about to be devoured; and them that had gained — Or were gaining, as τους νικωντας rather means; the victory over the beast and his image — And not submitted to his tyranny or religion, having steadfastly refused, though at the expense of their property, liberty, and lives, amidst so many who were devoted to him, to receive his mark, and the number of his name

Expressions which seem to mean nearly the same thing; standing on the sea of glass — Which was before the throne; having the harps of God —

Given by him, and appropriated to his praise. And they sing, &c. — Like unto the people of Israel after their deliverance and escape out of Egypt, when, having passed through the Red sea, they stood on the shore; and, seeing their enemies overwhelmed with the waters, sung the triumphant song of Moses. So these, having passed through the fiery trials of this world, stand on a sea of glass, and, seeing the vials ready to be poured out upon their enemies, sing a song of triumph for the manifestation of the divine judgments, which is called the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, because the words are, in a great measure, taken from the song of Moses and other parts of the Old Testament, and applied in a Christian sense; but chiefly because Moses was the minister and representative of the Jewish Church, as Christ is of the church universal: therefore it is also termed, the song of the Lamb. Saying, Great and marvellous are thy works — We acknowledge and know that all thy works, in and toward all the creatures, are great and wonderful; just and true are thy ways — With all the children of men, good and evil. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord — Stand in awe of thee, revere thy justice and thy power, and fear to offend thee; and glorify thy name — Honour and praise, love and serve thee; for thou only art holy — And in thy presence the holiness of all other beings disappears, as utterly unworthy to be mentioned. Or, as the words may be rendered, thou only art gracious, and thy grace is the spring of all thy wonderful works, even of thy destroying the enemies of thy people. Accordingly, in the 137th Psalm, that clause, for his mercy endureth for ever, is subjoined to the thanksgiving for his works of vengeance, as well as for his delivering the righteous. For all nations shall come and worship before thee — Shall serve thee as their king, and confide in thee as their Saviour with reverential joy: a glorious testimony this to the future conversion of all the heathen. The Christians are now a little flock; and they who do not worship God, an immense multitude. But all the nations, from all parts of the earth, shall come and worship him, and glorify his name. For thy judgments shall be made manifest — And then the inhabitants of the earth will, at length, learn to fear thee.15:1-4 Seven angels appeared in heaven; prepared to finish the destruction of antichrist. As the measure of Babylon's sins was filled up, it finds the full measure of Divine wrath. While believers stand in this world, in times of trouble, as upon a sea of glass mingled with fire, they may look forward to their final deliverance, while new mercies call forth new hymns of praise. The more we know of God's wonderful works, the more we shall praise his greatness as the Lord God Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of all worlds; but his title of Emmanuel, the King of saints, will make him dear to us. Who that considers the power of God's wrath, the value of his favour, or the glory of his holiness, would refuse to fear and honour him alone? His praise is above heaven and earth.And I saw as it were a sea of glass - In Revelation 4:6, a similar vision is recorded - "And before the throne there was a sea of glass, like unto crystal." See the notes on that passage. The sea of glass here means a sea clear, pellucid, like glass: an expanse that seemed to be made of glass. There it was entirely clear; here it is mingled with fire.

Mingled with fire - That is, a portion of the sea was red like fire. It was not all clear and pellucid, as in Revelation 4:6, but it was as it were a tesselated expanse, composed in part of what seemed to be glass, and in part of a material of a red or fiery color. In the former case Revelation 4:6, the emblem was designed to represent the pure worship of heaven without reference to any other symbolic design, and hence, the sea is wholly clear and pellucid; here, in connection with the purpose of furnishing an appropriate symbol of the divine majesty, there is united the idea of punishment on the foes of God, represented by the fiery or red color. If it is proper, from conjecture, to suggest the meaning of this as an emblem, it would be that the foundation - the main element - of all the divine dealings is justice or holiness - represented by the portion of the sea that seemed to be glass; and that there was, in this case, intermingled with that, the image of wrath or anger - represented by the portion that was fiery or red. The very sight of the pavement, therefore, on which they stood when worshipping God, would keep before their minds impressive views of his character and dealings.

And them that had gotten the victory over the beast - Revelation 13:11. That is, they who had gained a victory in times of persecution and temptation; or they whom the "beast" had not been able, by arts or arms, to subdue. The persons referred to here, I suppose, are those who in the long dominion of the papal power, and amidst all its arts and corruptions - its threats and persecutions - had remained steadfast in the truth, and who might thus be said to have gained a victory - for such victories of piety, virtue, and truth, amidst the corrupting influences of sin and error, and the intimidations of power, are the most important that are gained in this world.

And over his image - See the notes on Revelation 13:14-15. The meaning is, that they had not been led to apostatize by the dread of the power represented here by the "image of the beast." In all the attempts of that power to subdue them - to intimidate them - to induce them to give up their attachment to the truth as it is in Jesus - they had remained steadfast in the faith, and had triumphed.

And over his mark - See the notes on Revelation 13:16. Over all the attempts of the beast to fix his mark upon them, or to designate them as his own.

And over the number of his name - See the notes on Revelation 13:17-18. Over all the attempts to fix upon them that mysterious number which expressed his name. The general sense is, that in times of general error and corruption; when the true friends of Christ were exposed to persecution; when every effort was made to induce them to become the followers of the "beast," and to yield to the corrupt system represented by the "beast," they remained unmoved, and adhered firmly to the truth. The number of such in the aggregate was not small; and with great beauty and propriory they are here represented as rejoicing and giving thanks to God on the overthrow of that corrupt and formidable power.

Stand on the sea of glass - That is, before God. They are now seen in heaven, redeemed and triumphant.

Having the harps of God - Harps that pertained to the worship of God; harps to be employed in his praise. See the notes on Revelation 14:2.

2. sea of glass—Answering to the molten sea or great brazen laver before the mercy seat of the earthly temple, for the purification of the priests; typifying the baptism of water and the Spirit of all who are made kings and priests unto God.

mingled with fire—answering to the baptism on earth with fire, that is, fiery trial, as well as with the Holy Ghost, which Christ's people undergo to purify them, as gold is purified of its dross in the furnace.

them that had gotten the victory over—Greek, "those (coming) off from (the conflict with) the beast-conquerors."

over the number of his name—A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic omit the words in English Version, "over his mark." The mark, in fact, is the number of his name which the faithful refused to receive, and so were victorious over it.

stand on the sea of glass—Alford and De Burgh explain "on (the shore of) the sea": at the sea. So the preposition, Greek, "epi," with the accusative case, is used for at, Re 3:20. It has a pregnant sense: "standing" implies rest, Greek "epi" with the accusative case implies motion "towards." Thus the meaning is, Having come TO the sea, and now standing AT it. In Mt 14:26, where Christ walks on the sea, the Greek oldest manuscripts have the genitive, not the accusative as here. Allusion is made to the Israelites standing on the shore at the Red Sea, after having passed victoriously through it, and after the Lord had destroyed the Egyptian foe (type of Antichrist) in it. Moses and the Israelites' song of triumph (Ex 15:1) has its antitype in the saints' "song of Moses and the Lamb" (Re 15:3). Still English Version is consistent with good Greek, and the sense will then be: As the sea typifies the troubled state out of which the beast arose, and which is to be no more in the blessed world to come (Re 21:1), so the victorious saints stand on it, having it under their feet (as the woman had the moon, see on [2726]Re 12:1); but it is now no longer treacherous wherein the feet sink, but solid like glass, as it was under the feet of Christ, whose triumph and power the saints now share. Firmness of footing amidst apparent instability is thus represented. They can stand, not merely as victorious Israel at the Red Sea, and as John upon the sand of the shore, but upon the sea itself, now firm, and reflecting their glory as glass, their past conflict shedding the brighter luster on their present triumph. Their happiness is heightened by the retrospect of the dangers through which they have passed. Thus this corresponds to Re 7:14, 15.

harps of God—in the hands of these heavenly virgins, infinitely surpassing the timbrels of Miriam and the Israelitesses.

This sea of glass (as our learned More thinks) hath either an allusion to the sea of glass like unto crystal, reflected upon by the lamps of fire burning before the throne, Revelation 4:5,6, or to the waters of the Red Sea congealed (while the Israelites passed over) reflected upon by the pillar of fire. Others make it the church gathered out of all nations, said to be of glass, because of its splendour and glory. Others make it to signify the world, which is said to be of glass, to let us understand God seeth through it. It seemeth to me to signify heaven; for it is mentioned as the place of the glorified saints, who had overcome all temptations to idolatry, either from pagans, (which were the beast), or from antichrist and his party, (which are called the image of the beast), and had avoided all kind of compliance with them in profession of the religion which he would endeavour to impose upon them.

Harps of God signify either the most excellent harps, or holy harps. Mr. Forbes saith well, they signify hearts tempered with joy, and love, and a grateful sense of the mercies of God towards them. And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mingled with fire,.... Not baptism, but rather the blood of Christ, which may be compared to a sea, for its abundant virtue and efficacy in cleansing from all sin; and to a sea "of glass", since in it are clearly seen free justification, full pardon, peace and reconciliation; and may be said to be "mingled with fire", being attended in the application of it with the Spirit of God, whose gifts and graces are sometimes signified by fire: and so, according to others, this sea may represent the pure church of God, as washed in the blood of the Lamb; compared to a sea for the multitude of which it consists, and to a sea of glass, because of the transparency and clearness of its principles and practices, and may be said to be mingled with the fire of love and zeal: most interpreters understand it of the world, which is like a sea for the multitude of its inhabitants; and sometimes to a troubled one, because of the restlessness and disquietude of the wicked in it; but here it is like a sea of glass, for the quiet, and peace, and rest it shall be in at this time; though it is commonly said to be like such a sea, partly because all things are manifest, and open to an omniscient God; and partly because of its outward splendour, and the brittleness, frailty, and transitoriness of it; and to be mixed with fire, either because of the light of the Gospel, and the operation of the Spirit in the hearts of some that are in it, or because of the afflictions and persecutions the saints in it; though it seems best of all to understand it of the Gospel, as in See Gill on Revelation 4:6; and which may be said to be mingled with fire, either because of the powerful and clear demonstration of the Spirit that attends it to the minds of many, or that heat of persecution which is raised by it; see Luke 12:49 or rather it denotes the purity of the Gospel in those times, its general spread, and the great zeal and fervour of the professors of it, since persecution will now be at an end.

And them that had gotten the victory over the beast; over antichrist, signified the beast, that rose up out of the sea, and out of the earth, Revelation 13:1 and which are the same, and were but one, though in different forms, as from hence appears: the beast first overcame the saints, by slaying of them; and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, by preaching and professing the Gospel, by their close and constant adherence to it, and by dying for it:

and over his image; caused by him to be made to the first beast; and is no other than the Popish religion, which bears a resemblance to Paganism; and which the saints may be said to get the victory over, by standing out against it, opposing and refuting it, not giving into it, but bearing their testimony against it:

and over his mark; refusing to receive it either in their forehead, or in their right hand; that is, either to swear allegiance to him, or profess his religion. This clause is wanting in the Alexandrian copy, Vulgate Latin, Syriac. Arabic, and Ethiopic versions:

and over the number his name; that is, they would not own his supremacy and authority, nor embrace his doctrines, nor obey his orders, nor be reckoned his followers in any form or shape; see Revelation 13:15. These conquerors John saw

stand on the sea of glass; which, if applied to the blood of Christ, shows that these confessors were purified by it, and were more than conquerors through it; that they were come out of great tribulation, and had washed their garments, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and were just come up from the washing, and stood upon, or rather by, or "near the sea", as the Arabic version renders it, in allusion to the priests at the molten sea, in the temple: but if the world is meant by the sea, their standing upon it designs their victory and triumph over it by faith, their having it under their feet, and their contempt of it; but rather, since the Gospel is intended, it may denote their solid standing upon the doctrines of it, the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and their steadfast continuance in them, and faithful abiding by them, whereby they got the victory over antichrist:

having the harps of God: their hearts in an excellent frame, tuned and disposed by God, to sing his praise, and set forth his glory; having them filled with spiritual joy and gladness, and with great thankfulness, on account of their victory, the happy state of Christ's church, and the destruction of its enemies: the allusion is to the people of Israel, Moses and the men, and Miriam and the women with timbrels and dances standing on the sea shore, when the Egyptians were destroyed, singing the praises of God; as is still more manifest from the following verse.

{3} And I saw {4} as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and {5} them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, {6} stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

(3) There are two parts of the narration: one, the confession of the saints glorifying God, when they saw that preparation of the judgments of God, to Re 15:3,4, another the vocation, instruction, and confirmation of those instruments which God has ordained for the execution of his judgments, in Re 15:5-8.

(4) This part of the vision alludes to the sea or large vessel or brass, in which the priests washed themselves in the entrance of the temple: for in the entrance of the heavenly temple (as it is called) in Re 15:5, is said to have been a sea of glass, most luminous and clear to the commodity of choice mixed with fire, that is, as containing the treasury of the judgments of God, which he brings forth and dispenses according to his own pleasure: for out of the former, the priests were cleansed of old: and out of this the ungodly are destroyed now in Re 4:6.

(5) That is, the godly martyrs of Christ, who shall remain faithful even in miracles to that beast; see Re 13:17, 14:9,10

(6) Glorifying God, from the particular observation of the weapons and instruments of God's wrath, floating in the sea of glass.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 15:2-4. Before the beginning of the last plagues, immediately preceding the end itself, yea before the opening of the heavenly νάος (Revelation 15:5), and accordingly even before the actual coming-forth of the seven angels,[3610] a song is heard in heaven which proclaims the righteousness of the ways of God, now near their ultimate goal as worthy of adoration,[3611] and whose sense declares that they who, standing by the sea of glass, raise this song of praise, are the victors over the beast.

ὠς θάλασσαν ὑαλίνην μεμιγμένην πυρί. Ebrard is wrong in understanding here a different sea of glass from that in Revelation 4:6; for the article missed by Ebrard must be lacking, because by the expression ὡς θαλ. ὑαλ., just as in Revelation 4:6, it is chiefly to be indicated that not an actual sea of glass, but only something like a sea of glass, is designated. It is not until at the close of Revelation 15:2, that, since by the first accurate expression recalling Revelation 4:6, ὡς θάλ. ὑαλ., an end is placed to all misunderstanding, it is expressly said, with a certain want of precision, ἐπὶ τἡν θάλ. τὴν ὑαλ. That the addition μεμιγμένην πυρί cannot be referred here to any thing else than in Revelation 4:6, follows likewise from the close of Revelation 15:2, which shows that the essential designation of what is meant lies in the words θαλ. ὑαλιν., while the μεμιγμ. πυρί expresses a more special, although in this place a significant, side-reference. Because of the addition μεμιγμ. πυρί, the false interpretations of ὡς θάλ. ὑαλίν., Revelation 4:6, appear here in new applications. Grot. understands here “the mass of Gentile Christians inflamed with love to God;” Coccejus, “the peace of the world, and the operation of the Holy Spirit in the world;” Calov., who refers the θάλ. to baptism, and the πὺρ to God’s wrath, interprets: “That grace will not be denied to penitents in the midst of the flames of Divine wrath;” Vitr. explains that the victors stand upon the firm ground of the truth illumined by the fire of Divine righteousness; the allusion to the lightning, Revelation 4:5, Eichh. and De Wette interpret as meaning the atmosphere; Züll. and Ewald, the floor of heaven; while De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Stern,[3612] maintain a reference to the Red Sea, at which the children of Israel sang their song of praise. But it is just this passage[3613] which, because of its other contents, is adapted for furnishing the correct interpretation also for Revelation 4:6. That which is like “a sea of glass,” by which[3614] the victors stand, designates, like the river of life,[3615] the eternal fulness of joy in God’s presence, with which the victors will be rewarded. But if, in this passage; the sea appears also as “mingled with fire,” thereby the unity of God’s saving grace and judging righteousness is designated in like manner; as already in the fundamental description of the glory of God, Revelation 4:3 sqq.,[3616] both points are harmoniously[3617] presented, and, as in general in prophecy concerning the end, both parts of the subject belong together.

τοὺς νικῶντας. The pres. part.[3618] designates the idea without regard to time.[3619]

ἘΚ Τ. ΘΗΡ. Winer, p. 345. On the subject, cf. Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:15 sqq, Revelation 14:13.

ἜΧ. ΚΙΘΆΡΑς ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ. Cf. Revelation 5:8, Revelation 14:2, 1 Chronicles 16:42. The “harps of God” are such as serve only for the praise of God.[3620]

The song is characterized as: ΤῊΝ ᾨΔῊΝ ΜΩΫΣΈΩς ΤΟῦ ΔΟΎΛΟΜ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΚΑῚ ΤῊΝ ᾨΔῊΝ ΤΟῦ ἈΡΝΊΟΥ. It is not two songs that are designated;[3621] also no allusion whatever is made to the connection between prophecy and the gospel;[3622] altogether false is every explanation that does not acknowledge that the song immediately following, introduced by the ΛΈΓΟΝΤΕς, is at the same time both the song of Moses[3623] and the song of the Lamb. But this does not mean the song wherein these former idol-worshippers declare their conversion to Moses and Jesus, or rather to “the God of these,”[3624] nor the song of Moses[3625] applied to Christ and the things of Christ;[3626] but the song which is composed alike by Moses and the Lamb, and is taught to the victors.[3627] By this the same view is significantly expressed, which appears in another way also in Revelation 10:7, Revelation 7:9 sqq., in combination with Revelation 7:4 sqq. and Revelation 14:1; viz.,[3628] that the essential unity of the O. and the N. T. Church, which collects its victorious members from Jews and Gentiles, is attested and represented in the most definite manner,—a view which is absolutely incompatible with the Judaism charged against the Apoc. by Baur, Volkm., etc. [See Note LXXVIII., p. 413.] The song has the O. T. psalm tone, as what is in clear accord with the O. T. manifests itself everywhere in the details.[3629] In a more definite form the character of a song of the Lamb is not distinctly expressed; but in fact it is also such, because the ΔΙΚΑΙΏΜΑΤΑ of God serve for the glory of the Lamb.

ΜΕΓΆΛΑ ΚΑῚ ΘΑΥΜΑΣΤᾺ, Κ.Τ.Λ. Cf. Psalm 111:2; Psalm 139:14; 1 Chronicles 16:9.

ΚΎΡΙΕ

ΠΑΝΤΟΚΡΆΤΩΡ
Revelation 4:8, Revelation 11:17. Cf. Revelation 1:8.

ΔΊΚΑΙΑΙ ΚΑῚ ἈΛΗΘΙΝΑῚ ΑἹ ὉΔ. Σ. Psalm 145:17; Deuteronomy 32:4.[3630]

ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐθνῶν. Jeremiah 10:7. From this passage originate also the following words,[3631] and just in this way is the ascription of praise especially appropriate, because treating of the judgments on the Gentile world, which gives divine honor to the beast.[3632]

ὅτι, κ.τ.λ. Of the three clauses introduced by the ὅτι, the first two are co-ordinated with each other, since the former in its way gives the basis for the interrogatory τίς

τὸ ὄνομά σου, and the last words ὅτι τὰ δικαιώμ. σ. ἐφαν. that for the immediately preceding clause ὅτι πάντα, κ.τ.λ.

μόνος-g0- ὅσιος-g0-. The variation ἅγιος arises from the classical linguistic prejudice, according to which the predicate ὅσιος, which in the N. T. is said only (Revelation 16:5) of God, is applied to godly men.[3633]

Although the words ὅτι μόνος ὄσιος present the alone holiness of God simply as the ground because of which every one must fear him, and the name of God be praised by every one, the fundamental reference to the succeeding words is not so readily afforded. The interposition of the first clause ὅτι μόν. ὅσ. modifies in a certain degree the inner connection, in the sense that the words ὅτι πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, κ.τ.λ., which express the sum of the O. T. prophecies concerning the conversion of the Gentiles—and that, too, in its universality, so that the question is not that in fact only a certain number of the heathen are converted—give the foundation for the thought of the question, τίς οὐ μῂ φοβ., κ.τ.λ.: “Thee, who art the King of the nations, every one must and certainly shall fear, for all the nations shall adore Thee as their King.”

ὅτι τὰ δικαιώματά σου ἐφανερώθησαν. For, from the works and judgments which the righteousness of God has executed, and in which he has been revealed as the βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐθνὼν, the nations shall learn to know his adorable name.[3634]

[3610] Cf. Revelation 15:1.

[3611] Cf. Revelation 11:15 sqq.; also Revelation 4:8, Revelation 5:8 sqq.

[3612] Who recognizes in the θαλ. ὑαλ. μεμ. πυρ. a symbol of the antichristian persecution.

[3613] Cf. Revelation 22:1.Revelation 15:2-4. An interlude like Revelation 19:1 f. The manifestation of divine judgment (4) evokes reverence (contrast Revelation 16:11) and praise from the saints in heaven.The Triumph of the Victors over the Beast, Revelation 15:2-82. a sea of glass mingled with fire] Probably describes an optical appearance much like that of Revelation 21:18; Revelation 21:21. It gives no reason for doubting that this is the same sea of glass as in Revelation 4:6 : it is not till now that the Seer’s attention is specially directed to it, and he now describes it in more detail than before.

them that had gotten the victory over] Lit. them that overcame [the same word as “him that overcometh” in chapters Revelation 2:3] from …: them that, as we might say, “fought their way clear of” all these dangers and temptations. R. V. “come victorious from.”

and over his mark] Should be omitted.

stand] Lit. standing.

on the sea] Perhaps literally, for “a sea of glass” would of course be a solid support; or if not, they might walk upon the sea like their Lord, sustained by faith. But perhaps no more is meant than when we speak of a town lying “on the sea:” this is supported by the fact that Israel sung the song of Moses on the shore, after their passage. And the Greek preposition used, though naturally translated “on,” is the same as in the phrase “stand at the door” in Revelation 3:20.

harps] As Revelation 5:8, Revelation 14:2 : though the harpers here are not the same as in the first place nor (probably) as in the second.Revelation 15:2. [172] Νικῶντας ἐκ) A phrase of rare occurrence; but that of Lycurgus, contra Leocr., is similar, τί ποιῶν ἂν νίκην λάβοι παρὰ τῶν πολεμίων. As to the preposition, the LXX. have, ποιεῖν ἐκδίκησιν ἐκ τῶν ἐχθρῶν, κ.τ.λ.—καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ἀριθμοῦ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ) After καὶ there is added by Erasmus, ἐκ τοῦ χαράγματος αὐτοῦ.[173] And this is the reading of about two or three MSS., which are so intimately related to one another, that they are, as it were, but one, and even these of themselves discover the gloss, by introducing various readings into the text. See App. on this passage. In fact there are not three things spoken of: but the name of the beast, OR the number of his name (disjunctively), is the mark itself. The mark (“character”) is the genus: there are two species, the name of the beast, and the number of his name. Hence it is that the mark (“character,” characterism) of the beast is spoken of for the most part indefinitely: ch. Revelation 14:9, Revelation 16:2, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:4; but when used definitely, it is either the mark (“charagma,” characteristic) of his name separately, as ch. Revelation 14:11, or the number of his name separately, as here. For the one of these is included in the notion of the other: or at one time it is the name of the beast, at another, the number of his name, that more prevails. The preposition, ἐκ, is here used several times, as ch. Revelation 18:20.—ἑστῶτας ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν τὴν ὑαλίνην, standing at the sea of glass) ἐπὶ with an accusative, and with this very verb of standing, denotes either above, on, ch. Revelation 7:1, Revelation 11:11, Rev. 12:18 [Engl. Vers. Revelation 13:1], Revelation 14:1, or near, at, ch. Revelation 3:20.

[172] Ver. 1. ἐτελέσθη, is consummated) After this consummation there are at hand better things.—V. g.

[173] These words are retained in Rec. Text in opposition to ABC Vulg.—E.Verse 2. - And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire. "And I saw" indicates a new phase of the vision (cf. Revelation 14:6, 14, etc.). The sea was like glass, either because of its pure transparent appearance, or on account of its consistency; the saints being subsequently described as standing on it. (For a full discussion of the meaning, see on Revelation 4:6.) The sea, the elders, and the triumphal hymns of praise are all characteristic of the vision in Revelation 4. Mingled with fire. In Revelation 4. it was described as "like unto crystal." The fire is an emblem of purity; the same idea is also conveyed by the "crystal." Fire is also a symbol of judgment, which is the theme of the song of the saints (ver. 4). And them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God; and them that come victorious from the beast and from his image, and from the number, etc. Omit "and over his mark," according to all the best authorities. Standing by (or, on), having harps. (On "the beast" and "his image," etc., see on Revelation 13.) These victorious ones stand by (such, probably, is the force of ἐπί) the sea (see above and on Revelation 4:6). The "harps" are characteristic of the heavenly melodies (Revelation 5:8; Revelation 14:2). This multitude has been before described in Revelation 7:9. From his image; that is, from the temptation to worship the image. A sea of glass (θάλασσαν ὑαλίνην)

Rev., better, a glassy sea. See on Revelation 4:6.

Had gotten the victory over the beast (νικῶντας ἐκ τοῦ θηρίου)

The expression is peculiar. Lit., conquered out of The construction is unique in the New Testament. The phrase signifies, not as A.V., victory over, but coming triumphant out of (ἐκ). So Rev., that come victorious from the beast.

Over his mark

Omit.

Standing on (ἐπί)

Better, as Rev., by: on the shore of, as did the Israelites when they sang the song alluded to in Revelation 15:3.

The harps of God

Omit the. Instruments devoted wholly to His praise. Compare Revelation 5:8; Revelation 14:2.

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