Revelation 7:1
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
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(1) And after these things . . Better, And after this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding fast the four winds of the earth, that there might not blow a wind upon the earth, nor upon the sea, nor upon any tree. In the sixth seal the winds had blown, and had shaken violently the fig-tree, causing its untimely figs to drop off: the untimely or winter figs represented those whose religious life was unequal to the strain of trial, and who failed in the crisis to which they were exposed. But is all the fruit shaken off? No; Christ had said that “if a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch;” but that those who abode in Him, purged by their trials, would bring forth more fruit, and the fruit which these bore was not a fruit easily shaken off, but fruit that should remain (John 15:6; John 15:5; John 15:16). They would not be as winter figs, easily torn from the boughs, for their strength was in God: before the stormy winds of manifold trials had blown they had been sealed with the seal of the living God. This is the scene which is brought before us in this chapter. In it the care of God, who restrains from violence the winds, that they should net shake too soon the immature fruit, the tokens by which the sealed are known and the meaning of their sealing are set forth. The chapter, in fact, answers the solemn question of the last chapter: “Who is able to stand?” The winds are clearly emblems of days of trouble or judgment; as the winds sweep away the chaff and clear the atmosphere, so do judgments try the ungodly, who are like the chaff which the wind driveth away: the storm of God’s judgments shakes the mountains and the wilderness, and strips the oaks of the forest. (Comp. Psalms 29) These winds of judgment are ready to blow from all quarters (four corners of the earth), but they are restrained till the servants of God are sealed. For passages where winds are used as emblems of judgment, see especially Jeremiah 49:36-37, “Upon Elam I will bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven. And I will bring evil upon them, even My fierce anger, saith the Lord.” Comp, also Daniel 7:2, “I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.” But those tempests would not arise or shake a single leaf till the securing of God’s servants was accomplished.

Revelation 7:1. After these things — After the former discoveries made to me, which represented the providence of God toward his church and the world, till the downfall of the heathen Roman empire, the state of the church and the world immediately to succeed was also represented to me in the manner following: — I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth — That is, the north, the south, the east, and the west; holding the four cardinal winds of the earth — Keeping them in a state of restraint; that the wind might not blow upon the earth — That there might be the most entire and complete calm, to represent the peaceful state of things which should succeed the tumultuous and distressing revolutions which had been last discovered to me. Winds are emblems of commotions, and very properly, as they are the natural causes of storms. Thus this figurative expression is used and explained by Jeremiah 49:36-37; Upon Elam will I bring the four winds, from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds, &c., for I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, &c. To hold the winds, therefore, that they should not blow, is a very proper prophetic emblem of a state of peace and tranquillity. This chapter, it must be observed, is still a continuation of the sixth seal, for the seventh seal is not opened till the beginning of the next chapter. It is a description of the state of the church in Constantine’s time, of the peace and protection that it should enjoy under the civil powers, and of the great accession that should be made to it, both of Jews and Gentiles. Eusebius is very copious upon this subject in several parts of his writings, and hath applied that passage of the psalmist in the version of the Seventy, (Psalm 46:8-9,) Come hither, and behold the works of the Lord, what wonders he hath wrought in the earth; he maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear asunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire; which things, saith he, being manifestly fulfilled in our times, we rejoice over them. Lactantius also saith, in the same triumphant strain, “Tranquillity being restored throughout the world, the church which was lately ruined riseth again. Now, after the violent agitations of so great a tempest, a calm air and the desired light become resplendent. Now God hath relieved the afflicted. Now he hath wiped away the tears of the sorrowful.” These are testimonies of contemporary writers. Medals of Constantine are still preserved, with the head of this emperor on one side, and this inscription, CONSTANTINUS AUG., and on the reverse, BEATA TRANQUILLITAS, Blessed Tranquillity.

7:1-8 In the figurative language of Scripture, the blowing of the four winds together, means a dreadful and general destruction. But the destruction is delayed. Seals were used to mark for each person his own possessions. This mark is the witness of the Holy Ghost, printed in the hearts of believers. And the Lord would not suffer his people to be afflicted before they were marked, that they might be prepared against all conflicts. And, observe, of those who are thus sealed by the Spirit, the seal must be on the forehead, plainly to be seen alike by friends and foes, but not by the believer himself, except as he looks stedfastly in the glass of God's word. The number of those who were sealed, may be understood to stand for the remnant of people which God reserved. Though the church of God is but a little flock, in comparison with the wicked world, yet it is a society really large, and to be still more enlarged. Here the universal church is figured under the type of Israel.And after these things - After the vision of the things referred to in the opening of the sixth seal. The natural interpretation would be, that what is here said of the angels and the winds occurred after those things which are described in the previous chapter. The exact chronology may not be always observed in these symbolical representations, but doubtless there is a general order which is observed.

I saw four angels - He does not describe their forms, but merely mentions their agency. This is, of course, a symbolical representation. We are not to suppose that it would be literally fulfilled, or that, at the time referred to by the vision, four celestial beings would be stationed in the four quarters of the world for the purpose of checking and restraining the winds that blow from the four points of the compass. The meaning is, that events would occur which would be properly represented by four angels standing in the four quarters of the world, and having power over the winds.

Standing on the four corners of the earth - This language is, of course, accommodated to the prevailing mode of speaking of the earth among the Hebrews. It was a common method among them to describe it as a vast plain, having four corners, those corners being the prominent points - north, south, east, and west. So we speak now of the four winds, the four quarters of the world, etc. The Hebrews spoke of the earth, as we do of the rising and setting of the sun and of the motions of the heavenly bodies, according to appearances, and without aiming at philosophical exactness. Compare the notes on Job 26:7. With this view they spoke of the earth as an extended plain, and as having boundaries or corners, as a plain or field naturally has. Perhaps, also, they used this language with some allusion to an edifice, as having four corners; for they speak also of the earth as having foundations. The language which the Hebrews used was in accordance with the prevailing ideas and language of the ancients on the subject.

Holding the four winds of the earth - The winds blow in fact from every quarter, but it is convenient to speak of them as coming from the four principal points of the compass, and this method is adopted probably in every language. So among the Greeks and Latins, the winds were arranged under four classes - Zephyrus, Boreas, Notus, and Eurus - considered as under the control of a king, Aeolus. See Eschenburg, Man. Class. Literally, section 78, compare section 108. The angels here are represented as "holding" the winds - κρατοῦντας kratountas. That is, they held them back when about to sweep over the earth, and to produce far-spread desolation. This is an allusion to a popular belief among the Hebrews, that the agency of the angels was employed everywhere. It is not suggested that the angels had raised the tempest here, but only that they now restrained and controlled it. The essential idea is, that they had plower over those winds, and that they were now exercising that power by keeping them back when they were about to spread desolation over the earth.

That the wind should not blow on the earth - That there should be a calm, as if the winds were held back.

Nor on the sea - Nowhere - neither on sea nor land. The sea and the land constitute the surface of the globe, and the language here, therefore, denotes that there would be a universal calm.

Nor on any tree - To injure it. The language used here is such as would denote a state of profound quiet; as when we say that it is so still that not a leaf of the trees moves.

In regard to the literal meaning of the symbol here employed there can be no great difficulty; as to its application there may be more. The winds are the proper symbols of wars and commotions. Compare Daniel 7:2. In Jeremiah 49:36-37 the symbol is both used and explained: "And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life." So in Jeremiah 51:1-2, a destroying wind is an emblem of destructive war: "I will raise up against Babylon a destroying wind, and will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land." Compare Horace, Odes, b. i. 14. The essential ideas, therefore, in this portion of the symbol, cannot be mistaken. They are two:

(1) that at the period of time here referred to - after the opening of the sixth seal and before the opening of the seventh - there would be a state of things which would be well represented by rising tempests and storms, which if unrestrained would spread desolation afar; and,

(2) that this impending ruin was held back as if by angels having control of those winds; that is, those tempests were not suffered to go forth to spread desolation over the world. A suspended tempest calamity held in check; armies hovering on the borders of a kingdom, but not allowed to proceed for a time; hordes of invaders detained, or stayed in their march, as if by some restraining power not their own, and from causes not within themselves - any of these things would be an obvious fulfilling of the meaning of the symbol.


Re 7:1-17. Sealing of the Elect of Israel. The Countless Multitude of the Gentile Elect.

1. And—so B and Syriac. But A, C, Vulgate, and Coptic omit "and."

after these things—A, B, C, and Coptic read, "after this." The two visions in this chapter come in as an episode after the sixth seal, and before the seventh seal. It is clear that, though "Israel" may elsewhere designate the spiritual Israel, "the elect (Church) on earth" [Alford], here, where the names of the tribes one by one are specified, these names cannot have any but the literal meaning. The second advent will be the time of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, when the times of the Gentiles shall have been fulfilled, and the Jews shall at last say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord." The period of the Lord's absence has been a blank in the history of the Jews as a nation. As then Revelation is the Book of the Second Advent [De Burgh], naturally mention of God's restored favor to Israel occurs among the events that usher in Christ's advent.

earth … sea … tree—The judgments to descend on these are in answer to the martyrs' prayer under the fifth seal. Compare the same judgments under the fifth trumpet, the sealed being exempt (Re 9:4).

on any tree—Greek, "against any tree" (Greek, "epi ti dendron": but "on the earth," Greek, "epi tees gees").Revelation 7:1 John seeth four angels holding the four winds,

Revelation 7:2,3 and another angel coming to seal the servants of God

in their foreheads.

Revelation 7:4-8 The number of them that were sealed out of each of the

tribes of Israel.

Revelation 7:9,10 An innumerable multitude out of all other nations

stand before the throne in white robes, with palms in

their hands, praising God and the Lamb.

Revelation 7:11,12 The angels, elders, and beasts, worship and glorify God.

Revelation 7:13-17 One of the elders showeth John who they are that are clad

in white robes, and what is their blessedness for ever.

The first sufferings of the church under the Roman emperors that were pagans, was foretold under the first six seals, as hath been showed; but they had yet more, if not greater, things to suffer, which are discovered to John, as we shall see when we come to the opening of the seventh and last seal in the next chapter; only it pleaseth God by a vision, in this chapter, to comfort his church: so as though this vision relateth to the sixth seal, and was before the opening of the seventh, yet it hath a relation to that, to show the care that God would take of his church under those great evils that should happen upon the opening of the seventh seal, or when the things foretold upon the opening of it should come to be accomplished.

I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth; four good angels; God is called their God, Revelation 7:3.

Holding the four winds of the earth; that is, to whom God had given it in charge that they should inflict his judgments upon all the parts of the earth; for God often useth, by his prophets, the metaphor of winds, to express stormy, troublesome dispensations, as Jeremiah 18:17 49:36 51:1.

That the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree: this phrase is interpreted variously, God making use of the winds:

1. In a way of judgment, to throw down buildings and trees.

2. In a way of mercy, to purify the air, and by their gentle breathings to cherish things. Some interpret this command to the angels, into a command to these angels to forbear awhile those storms of judgment which were coming, till the servants of God should be sealed.

Others interpret them into a command to bring judgments, either corporal or spiritual, which they think is signified by the winds not blowing. The last seemeth to be favoured by the next verse, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea; which seemeth to me to interpret the blowing mentioned in this verse of a hurtful blowing.

The earth, the sea, and the trees, seem to signify all the sublunary world, especially the church.

And after these things,.... After the opening of six of the seals of the sealed book, and after the demolition of Heathen deities, and of Heathen worship, and of Heathen magistrates, in the Roman empire, and the representation of these to John, he had the following vision; and which therefore does not refer to the preservation of the Christians, before and at the destruction of Jerusalem, which was under the first seal; nor to the security of the saints from the wrath of the Lamb, when it fell upon the Pagan worshippers, of all ranks and degrees, which was under the sixth seal, and was now over; but rather it respects an intermediate space of time between the sixth and seventh seal, as reaching from Constantine to Theodosius; for upon Constantine's being sole emperor, the church enjoyed great peace and tranquillity after the blustering storms of Pagan persecution ceased; and great numbers of God's elect were converted and sealed, and the winds of Heathen persecution were held, and blew no more, unless for a short time under the Emperor Julian; though the church was not free from the wind of error and heresy; and the storms of contention which arose about them, nor from the tempest of Arian persecutions, which were very grievous; wherefore this refers to what should be between the sixth and seventh seal, which brings on the seven trumpets: and now, before John sees that seal opened, a pause is made, and this vision is shown him, to fortify his mind, and all other saints, that are observers of these things, who by the opening of the following seal would see what judgments and plagues would come upon the empire, now become Christian, and what changes and revolutions would be made in it, and might fear that the church of God would be wholly swallowed up and lost; wherefore this vision is exhibited to show, that notwithstanding the devastations by the Goths and Vandals, and the rise, progress, and power of Mahomet, and the dreadful apostasy of the church of Rome, and all the miseries of it, and the plagues that should come upon the church for it; yet God would have throughout all this, and in, every age of time, a sealed number, a true church, hidden and secured, even until the seventh angel has sounded his trumpet, and time shall be no more, and the mystery of God will be finished.

I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any trees. Four angels are mentioned, in allusion to the four spirits of the heavens, in Zechariah 6:5; and though the earth is not a plain square with angles, but round and globular, yet it is said to have four corners, with respect to the four points of the heavens; and though there is but one wind, which blows sometimes one way, and sometimes another, yet four are named with regard to the above points, east, west, north, and south, from whence it blows. These are commonly called "the four winds of heaven", Daniel 8:8; but here, of the earth, as in the Targum on Isaiah 11:12, and he shall bring near the captivity of Judah, , "from the four winds of the earth". And such things as are chiefly affected with winds are particularly observed, as the earth, upon which buildings are thrown down by them; and the sea, in which ships are wrecked; and trees, which by the violence of them, are blown down, and torn up by the roots. Some by these angels understand evil angels, who are sometimes called angels, without any additional epithet to distinguish them, and that because a desire of hurting seems to have been in them, as well as a power, Revelation 7:2; and who are, in every part of the world, seeking to do all the mischief they can; and may be said to hold the winds, not in a literal sense, for God only gathers the wind in his fist, and holds it there, and lets it loose at his pleasure; but in a mystical sense, as these may refer to the word, and the ministers of the word, whose progress and success are often hindered by Satan and is emissaries; and some particularly understand by them the four monarchies of the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman; others the four emperors, after that Dioclesian and Maximianus had resigned, as Maximinus, Galerius, Maxentius, and Licinius; others Mahomet, or the Turk, in the east, who hindered the Gospel by his wars and devastations, as well as by false worship; the kings of France and Spain on the west, by fire, and faggot, and sword; and the pope in the south, by bulls and excommunications; and the empire and emperors of Germany on the north, by public edicts; or, in general, all the Popish tribe, popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, monks, and friars, by their decrees, anathemas, sermons, writings, and lying miracles, did all they could that the Gospel might not be preached neither in the earth, on the continent, nor in the sea, or in the islands of it; or that any of the saints, the trees of righteousness, who lived in woods and mountainous places, or were forced to fly into woods, might have any advantage by it. But, after all, rather this is to be understood of good angels, and either of their restraining evil angels from doing mischief, see Daniel 10:13; or keeping back the winds of false doctrines and heresies from the churches of Christ, in the several parts of the world; or rather, and which is the true sense, of their holding in the storms of calamities and war to the destruction of kingdoms, provinces, islands, and the several inhabitants of them, and intends a general peace throughout the world; see Jeremiah 49:36. This mystical way of speaking seems to agree with the notions of the Jews, who speak of angels standing at the gates of the four winds, "and the keys of the wind in their hands", whose names they give us (x); and make mention of , "the angels of the wind" (y); and the Magi among the Persians call the angel of the wind "Bad", or "Badran" (z).

(x) Raziel, fol. 36. 1. 2. (y) Targum in 1 Reg. xix. 11. (z) Hyde, Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 12.

And {1} after these things I saw four angels standing on the {a} four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, {2} nor on any tree.

(1) The second part of this section is a preventing of danger, as we distinguished before in Re 6:1 that is, of the caution of God ahead of time to provide for his, after the example of the Israelites; Ex 8:23 the faithful are exempted from the plagues of this wicked world. This section is a dialogue and bringing in for this whole chapter by occasion of the prediction and argument of the sixth seal. For first harm is withheld from the elect, Re 7:1-9. Then thanks are given by the elect for that cause Re 7:10-12. Lastly, the accomplishment of it is set forth to the end of the chapter. The first verse is a transition, speaking of the angels who keep the lesser parts from harm, until God commands. For, as in Eze 10:19, their faces and their wings reach up, continually waiting on and watching the countenance of God for their direction and every one of them goes into that part that is right before his face: wherever the Spirit goes, they go, they do not step out of the way, not so much as a foot breadth from the path commanded to them by God.

(a) On the four corners or coasts of the earth.

(2) That is, neither into the air, into which the trees grow.

Revelation 7:1. τέσσαρας ἀγγέλους. We must here think neither of wicked angels,[2246] nor of angels of the wind, after the analogy of the angel of the water, Revelation 16:5,[2247] but of angels in general, to whom the office here described has been given, Revelation 7:2,[2248] just as angels afterwards appear with trumpets and vials. Without any foundation are the allegorical interpretations, as in Beda,[2249] and N. de Lyra, who proposes Maximian, Severus, Maxentius, and Licinius,[2250] while the other angel, Revelation 7:2, is regarded as Constantine.


γῆς. The position of the angels corresponds with their occupation: κρατοῦντας

γῆς. The four corners of the earth (τὰς τέσσ. γών, τοὺς τέσσ. ἀν.) are the points from which the four winds of the earth go forth.[2251] John beholds the four angels as they still hold the winds,[2252] to prevent them from blowing (ἽΝΑ ΜῊ ΠΝΈῌ ἈΝ., Κ.Τ.Λ.); but according to what immediately follows, the situation is such that the angels are ready to let loose the winds as soon as the purpose of the other angel, who is already rising up (Revelation 7:2 sqq.), is accomplished.

If also “the four winds of the earth” be interpreted allegorically, although the expression sounds as unallegorical as possible,—of which examples have just been given,—then also the earth, the sea, and the trees must be understood figuratively. For thus Grot, says on Τ. Γῆς: “viz., Judaea;” on ἈΝΈΜΟΥς: “The winds signify any sort of calamity.” The “sea” is “a great people, such as is that of Jerusalem especially;” the trees designate “what come from trees, as cities, but especially the temple:” in general, the times of peace under King Agrippa are meant. Böhmer regards the “earth” as Jews, the “sea” as heathen; therefore he says that the Christians still to be mentioned are designated by the “trees.” According to Beng., the earth is Asia, the sea Europe, the trees Africa. Hengstenb. also regards “the four winds of the earth” as symbols of the Divine judgments, viz., those described in ch. 6; the “sea” designates masses of people; the “trees” are magnates, Revelation 6:15.

But every kind of allegorizing is without the least foundation in the text. The winds which in their proper naturalness are, besides, expressly designated as “the four winds of the earth,” are not once personified here, as in Zechariah 6:1 sqq.,—where, however, what is said dare not be taken as an allegory in the strict sense,—but as in Revelation 6:4 an actual shedding of blood, and in Revelation 6:12 an actual earthquake, so here actual winds are meant, storms which are to have the mastery of the whole earth, as they are also ready to break loose from all four ends of the earth. But in the fact, that, after the dreadful signs of the sixth seal have led immediately to the day of the final judgment, now—as the description of this judgment is to be expected in the seventh, last seal—a visitation of like character, as in the sixth seal, is again set forth, and its infliction restrained until after the sealing of the servants of God from Israel, the intimation is already given that the actual occurrence of the final catastrophe will not be until after the course of a still further manifestation of preliminary afflictions, as they proceed from the seventh seal in long and connected sequence.[2253]

[2246] Aret., Zeger, Laun., Calov., Beng., Rinck, etc.

[2247] Alcas., C. a Lap., Stern, Heinr., Züll., De Wette.

[2248] Vitr., Ewald, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[2249] τέσσ. άγγ. = “the four principal kingdoms of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans;” κρατ. τ. ἀνεμ. = “They allow no one to breathe according to the pleasure of his own right;” γῆ = “diversity of provinces;” δένδρ.: “diverse quality of men.”

[2250] “Hindering the doctors of the Church from preaching the word of God.” Cf. similar interpretations of κρατ. τ. τεσσ. ἀνέμ.; e.g., in Aret., who regards the wicked angels as the Pope, the Turks, etc.

[2251] Cf. Jeremiah 49:36; Zechariah 6:1 sqq.; Daniel 7:2.

[2252] κρατ. Cf. Revelation 2:1, Revelation 3:11.

[2253] Cf. Introduction, p. 12 sqq.

Revelation 7:1. As on the synoptic scheme (Matthew 25:31), physical convulsions and human terrors are followed by a pause during which the saints are secured. It is impossible and irrelevant to determine whether the winds’ blast and the sealing were already conjoined in the fragment or oral traditions which lay before this editor, or whether their combination is due to himself. They reflect the tradition underlying the synoptic apocalypse (Mark 13:24-27, etc., cf. Revelation 6:12 to Revelation 7:3), but here the safeguarding of the elect comes before, instead of alter, the advent, and the four winds are agents of destruction instead of mere geographical points; besides, the role of messiah is omitted altogether. It is assumed not merely that these angels are the spirits of the four winds (Zechariah 6:5, and repeatedly in Enoch, e.g., lxix. 22, “the spirits of the waters and of the winds and of all zephyrs”), but that some onset of the winds is imminent (Revelation 7:2, cf. En. xviii. 22), as part of the horrors of the last catastrophe (for punitive winds, see Sir 39:28). Stray hints proving the existence of such a tradition (cf. Daniel 7:2) have been collected (cf S. C. 323 f.; A.C. 246, 247) e.g., from Sibyll. viii. 203 f., etc., where a hurricane is to sweep the earth previous to the resurrection of the dead (trees being here singled out as most exposed to a storm’s ravages). If such allusions are not mere echoes of the present passage, they would appear to indicate a runlet of eschatological tradition flowing behind more important ideas. Or are the saints like trees of God (Ps. Sol. 14:2, 3) never to be uprooted by a wind or onset of foes (ibid. viii. 6)? It is no longer possible to be sure. In En. Revelation 18:1 f. by a semi-Babylonian touch, the four winds are identified with the four pillars of the heaven and the foundations of the earth; in Apoc. Bar. vi. 4, 5, four angels with lamps are restrained by another angel from lighting them (cf. also E. Bi. 5303). There seems to be no allusion to the notion of a blast (from the sea) as a form of mortal fate (e.g., Oed. Col. 1659, 1660; Iliad, vi. 345 f.); on the contrary, the idea goes back to Zechariah 6:8 (LXX), whence the prophet had already developed Revelation 6:1-8. As Revelation 14:1 f. roughly answers to Revelation 7:9 f., so the appearance of wild beasts out of the agitated sea of the nations (in Daniel 7:1-8) corresponds to the sequence of Revelation 7:1-4; Revelation 13:1 f.

The earth is a rectangular plane or disc on which John looks down from heaven’s dome resting on it, to observe (Revelation 7:2) a fifth angel “ascending” from the sun-rising (the east as the source of light, cf. on Revelation 16:20, the site of paradise, the sphere of divine activity?). ζῶντος, here (as in Revelation 15:7; cf. Hebrews 10:31) in O.T. sense (cf Deuteronomy 32:39 f.; Ezekiel 20:33; Jeremiah 10:10, etc.) of vitality to succour and to punish, God’s “life” being manifested in his effective preservation of the saints and chastisement of their enemies or of the world in general. He lives and keeps alive. Here, as in the parent passage, Ezekiel 9:4-6 (cf. Exodus 12:13 f. and the “Egyptian” character of the plagues in chap, 8.), the true δοῦλοι of God are distinguished by a mark denoting God’s ownership. Before the crisis good and evil must be discriminated (Spitta, 80 f.). Cf. Ps. Sol. 15:6 f. on the immunity of the righteous, ὅτι τὸ σημεῖον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπὶ δικαίους εἰς σωτηρίαν, λιμὸς καὶ ῥομφαία καὶ θάνατος μακρὰν ἀπὸ δικαίων: where as these plagues hunt down the wicked, τὸ γὰρ σημεῖον τῆς ἀπωλείας ἐπὶ τοῦ μετώπου αὐτῶν. This royal, sacred sign, which in Ezekiel is the cross or Tau as the symbol of life and is here probably ליהוה authenticates the bearers as God’s property (cf. Herod, ii. 113, vii. 233) and places them beyond risk of loss. It identifies them with his worship and also (cf. on Revelation 2:17) serves to protect them as an amulet against harm (see Deissm. 351, 352 on φυλακτήρια as protective marks and amulets). In Test. Sol. (tr. Conybeare, Jew. Quart. Rev. 1898, p. 34) an evil spirit declares he will be destroyed by the Saviour “whose number (στοιχεῖον), if anyone shall write it on his forehead, he will defeat me”. Mr. Doughty also describes (Ar. Des. i. 171) a false Christ in Syria who declared he had God’s name sculptured between his eyebrows; i.e. the wrinkles resembled the Arabic hieroglyph for Allah. For the religious significance of such tattooing as a mark of divine ownership see R. S. 316; and, for the connection of Revelation 6:12 f. and Revelation 7:1 f., the basal passage in Daniel 11:40; Daniel 11:44; Daniel 12:1. The parallel device of Antichrist later on (Revelation 13:16, etc.) shows that this sealing is something special, baptism or the possession of the Spirit (as in Paul) is the guarantee of destined bliss. A contemporary expression of the idea occurs in Clem. Rom. lix., lx.: “We will ask that the Creator of all things preserve intact to the end the appointed number of his elect throughout all the world, etc”. As Revelation 6:1-8; Revelation 6:12 f. are free reproductions, with a special application, of the ideas underlying Mark 13:7-8; Mark 13:24-25, so Revelation 7:1 f. is an imaginative sketch on the lines of Mark 13:27. The Apocalypse, however, has no room for the false messiahs of Mark 13:6; Mark 13:22, etc. (cf. on Revelation 13:11 f.) as a peril. See further 4 Ezra 6:5, “Ere they were sealed who laid up the treasure of faith,” and Melito (Otto ix. 432, 476) the apologist, who preserves a dual tradition of the end, including wind as well as fire = et selecti homines occisi sunt aquilone uehementi, et relicti sunt iusti ad demonstrationem ueritatis, (whilst at the deluge of fire) seruati sunt iusti in area lignea iussu dei. But the Apocalypse like Philo, stands severely apart from the current Stoic notion, adopted in Sib. iv. 172 f.; 2 Peter, etc., of a destruction of the world by means of a final conflagration.

The Vision of the Four Angels of the Four Winds. Chap. 7 Revelation 7:1-31. four angels] Presumably the Angels of the four winds, as we have other elemental Angels in Revelation 14:18, Revelation 16:5. Cf. Psalm 104:4, of which the probable sense is, “Who maketh His Angels winds,” i.e. sends them into the air to cause the wind to blow, so that the wind is the manifestation of their presence.

on the four corners of the earth] Probably the four cardinal points, the extreme north, south, east, and west of it. It is hardly likely that the “four winds of the earth” should be conceived as NE., SW., SE., and NW.: in the climate of the Levant, there would not be as much physical truth in such a classification as in our own, and the usage of nomenclature, in Greek and still more in Hebrew, proves that the four winds are N., E., S., W. We therefore cannot argue from the “four corners” that St John conceives the earth is a rectangle—for it would be most unnatural to conceive it as set corner-wise: in Jeremiah 49:36, the four winds blow from the four ends of the earth. But it appears that the machinery, so to speak, throughout the vision does imply that the earth is conceived as a plane. St John is in Heaven, and is able to look down (or even to go down) to the earth, which he sees spread beneath him like a map, from Euphrates to Rome and very likely further. We have somewhat similar language in Enoch xviii. 3, “I also beheld the four winds which bear up the earth and the firmament of heaven.” But St John does not, like Pseudo-Enoch, put forward his imagery as absolute physical truth.

that the wind should not blow] Every one will remember Keble’s beautiful illustration of this image, by the natural phenomenon of the “All Saints’ Summer.” But the next v. shews, that it is by the Angels’ action that the winds blow, as well as that they are restrained from blowing: we are not to conceive the winds (as in Od. X., Aen. I.) as wild expansive forces, that will blow if not mechanically confined.

Revelation 7:1. Ἄνεμος, the wind) The winds in this passage denote the assuaging mitigations of threatening evils; for the holding of them back hurts, Revelation 7:2. A remarkable allegory.

Verse 1. - And after these things. Μετὰ τοῦτο, or, as some cursives read, μετὰ ταῦτα, is generally regarded as denoting the close of the sixth seal and the commencement of a new subject, interjected by way of episode between the sixth and seventh seals. But, even if not looked upon as an integral part of the revelations made under the sixth seal, the connection is so close that the two must be regarded practically as one. The incidents of the seventh chapter are evidently the complement of those narrated in the closing verses of the sixth. They take up the question with which that chapter closes, "Who is able to stand?" and afford comfort and help to those suffering Christians who were so sorely in need of a renewed assurance of the certainty of their final reward. It seems better, therefore, on the whole, to consider the sixth seal to extend to the end of Revelation 7. Vitringa takes this view, which appears to be supported also by Wordsworth. Alford, while separating Revelation 7. from Revelation 6, as "two episodes," remarks, "The great day of the Lord's judgment is not described; it is all but brought before us under the sixth seal, and is actually going on in the first of these episodes." I saw four angels. Of the nature of these angels we are told nothing. They are evidently ministers of God's will, and the mention of them following immediately upon the preceding description seems to connect the whole account more closely with Matthew 24:29, 30, where the angels gather the elect from the four winds. It does not seem probable that "evil angels" are meant as understood by some writers, since what they do is apparently done at the command of God. Standing on the four corners of the earth. That is, standing in the four opposite directions, and thus controlling all the earth (cf. Isaiah 11:12; Revelation 20:8). The number four is the symbol of universality and of creation (see on Revelation 5:9). Holding the four winds of the earth (cf. Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 7:2; Matthew 24:31). The angels may have been the "angels of the winds," just as in Revelation 14:18 an angel has power over fire, and in Revelation 16:5 we read of the "angel of the waters." The winds have been interpreted in two ways, neither of which seems strictly correct. The first is to give a literal meaning (as Dusterdieck) to the winds, and to understand literal windstorms as part of the judgment upon the earth. The second method interprets the winds as symbols of the judgments of the first six seals, which are held in suspension, while the elect are sealed. The truth probably is that the winds, like the earthquake, the rolling up of the heaven as a scroll, etc., are part of the figurative description of the destruction of the world at the judgment day; which destruction, like that of Sodom, is delayed for the preservation of God's elect. That the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. Πᾶν δένδρον, "every tree," is read in א, P, l, 36, Andreas, etc. The earth, the sea, the trees, are mentioned as things likely to be affected by the action of the winds; the two former, of course, embracing those things situated upon them, and the last being specially mentioned, perhaps, as a class of things which are peculiarly liable to destruction from wind. Wordsworth and others, interpreting symbolically, consider that the blasts of wind on the earth typify earthly powers, opposed to those of heaven, while the sea is emblematic of nations in a state of agitation against God, and the trees represent the great ones of this world. This interpretation, therefore, regards the objects mentioned as the enemies of God, which, by his command, are preserved from destruction and allowed to flourish in ease and apparent security, until the time of the sealing of God's servants has been accomplished. But it seems better to regard the winds as forming part of the general description by which God's judgment is foreshadowed. It is not unusual in the Bible for the wind to be mentioned in connection With destruction and judgment (cf. 1 Kings 19:11; Job 1:19; Job 21:18; Job 30:15; Psalm 1:4; Psalm 147:18; Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 27:8; Isaiah 32:2; Isaiah 41:16; Jeremiah 22:22: Daniel 2:35; Daniel 7:2). Revelation 7:1These things (ταῦτα)

Read τοῦτο this.

Holding (κρατοῦντας)

Holding fast or firmly. See on Mark 7:3; see on Acts 3:11.

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