Revelation 7:17
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBIBonarCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerNewellParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
(17) For the Lamb . . .—Translate, Because the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall tend them, and shall lead them to fountains of waters of life (or, life-springs of waters); and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes. The Lamb is described as “the Lamb in the midst of the throne.” The writer told in Revelation 5:6 that he had seen a Lamb in the midst of the throne. When he looked towards the throne, he saw the Lamb as the central object immediately in front of it. He who would draw near to the throne must pass the Lamb. The position which the Lamb held was one of significance, and is therefore repeated here. The Lamb will tend His people as a shepherd tends his flock (the word translated “feed” has this force), and will lead them to the springs of the water of life. The twenty-third Psalm rises at once to our minds. The Lord who was David’s shepherd (Psalm 23:2), who was the Good Shepherd who sought and brought home the lost for whom He died (Luke 15:4; John 10:11), does not forget the shepherd’s work in heaven. He who made His people to drink of the brook in the way (Psalm 110:7), who gave to those who came to Him the water which alone would quench their thirst (John 4:13-14; John 7:37-39), leads them now to the springs of the living water, and makes them drink of the river of His pleasures (Psalm 36:8). Significantly enough the springs of this living water are in the throne itself (Revelation 22:1). Ezekiel saw the stream issuing forth from the Temple (Ezekiel 48:1), but in the city where there is no temple we are carried to the very throne of God, to find the well-spring of every gladness. In this emblem of the water we have another allusion to the Feast of Tabernacles. Among the ceremonies observed at the feast was that of the drawing water; the priest drew a vessel of water from the brook of Siloam, and poured it out in the temple-court by the altar of burnt offering, and the people sang the words, “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). Here the Lamb, who is also the High Priest, leads His people to the springs of the water of life. Joy, too, is theirs; for God shall wipe away every tear from (or, out of) their eyes (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4). In Isaiah it is said God shall wipe away tears from off all faces: here it is every tear. Thus shall all sorrow be removed from all: no tears shall gather in any eye, for the sources of sorrow will be cut off in the land where there is no more sin. None can weep again when it is God who wiped away their tears. Blessed are they that mourn, said Christ—blessed indeed in this, that God becomes their comforter. Only those who have wept can enjoy this consolation. Who would not shed life’s tears to have God’s hand to wipe them away!



Psalm 49:14
. - Revelation 7:17.

These two verses have a much closer parallelism in expression than appears in our Authorised Version. If you turn to the Revised Version you will find that it rightly renders the former of my texts, ‘Death shall be their shepherd,’ and the latter, ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd.’ The Old Testament Psalmist and the New Testament Seer have fallen upon the same image to describe death and the future, but with how different a use! The one paints a grim picture, all sunless and full of shadow; the other dips his pencil in brilliant colours, and suffuses his canvas with a glow as of molten sunlight. The difference between the two is partly due to the progress of revelation and the light cast on life and immortality by Christ through the Gospel. But it is much more due to the fact that the two writers have different classes in view. The one is speaking of men whose portion is in this life, the other of men who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And it is the characters of the persons concerned, much more than the degree of enlightenment possessed by the writers, that makes the difference between these two pictures. Life and death and the future are what each man makes of them for himself. We shall best deal with these two pictures if we take them separately, and let the gloom of the one enhance the glory of the other. They hang side by side, like a Rembrandt beside a Claude or a Turner, each intensifying by contrast the characteristics of the other. So let us look at the two-first, the grim picture drawn by the Psalmist; second, the sunny one drawn by the Seer. Now, with regard to the former,

I. The grim picture drawn by the Psalmist.

We too often forget that a psalmist is a poet, and misunderstand his spirit by treating his words as matter-of-fact prose. His imagination is at work, and our sympathetic imagination must be at work too, if we would enter into his meaning. Death a shepherd-what a grim and bold inversion of a familiar metaphor! If this psalm is, as is probable, of a comparatively late date, then its author was familiar with many sweet and tender strains of early singers, in which the blessed relation between a loving God and an obedient people was set forth under that metaphor. ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ may have been ringing in his ears when he said, ‘Death is their shepherd.’ He lays hold of the familiar metaphor, and if I may so speak, turns it upside down, stripping it of all that is beautiful, tender, and gracious, and draping it in all that is harsh and terrible. And the very contrast between the sweet relation which it was originally used to express, and the opposite kind of one which he uses it to set forth, gives its tremendous force to the daring metaphor.

‘Death is their shepherd.’ Yes, but what manner of shepherd? Not one that gently leads his flock, but one that stalks behind the huddled sheep, and drives them fiercely, club in hand, on a path on which they would not willingly go. The unwelcome necessity, by which men that have their portion in this world are hounded and herded out of all their sunny pastures and abundant feeding, is the thought that underlies the image. It is accentuated, if we notice that in the former clause, ‘like sheep they are laid in the grave,’ the word rendered in the Authorised Version ‘laid,’ and in the Revised Version ‘appointed,’ is perhaps more properly read by many, ‘like sheep they are thrust down.’ There you have the picture-the shepherd stalking behind the helpless creatures, and coercing them on an unwelcome path.

Now that is the first thought that I suggest, that to one type of man, Death is an unwelcome necessity. It is, indeed, a necessity to us all, but necessities accepted cease to be painful; and necessities resisted-what do they become? Here is a man being swept down a river, the sound of the falls is in his ears, and he grasps at anything on the bank to hold by, but in vain. That is how some of us feel when we face the thought, and will feel more when we front the reality, of that awful ‘must.’ ‘Death shall be their shepherd,’ and coerce them into darkness. Ask yourself the question, Is the course of my life such as that the end of it cannot but be a grim necessity which I would do anything to avoid?

This first text suggests not only a shepherd but a fold: ‘Like sheep they are thrust down to the grave.’ Now I am not going to enter upon what would be quite out of place here: a critical discussion of the Old Testament conception of a future life. That conception varies, and is not the same in all parts of the book. But I may, just in a word, say that ‘the grave’ is by no means the adequate rendering of the thought of the Psalmist, and that ‘Hell’ is a still more inadequate rendering of it. He does not mean either the place where the body is deposited, or a place where there is punitive retribution for the wicked, but he means a dim region, or, if I might so say, a localised condition, in which all that have passed through this life are gathered, where personality and consciousness continue, but where life is faint, stripped of all that characterises it here, shadowy, unsubstantial, and where there is inactivity, absolute cessation of all the occupations to which men were accustomed. But there may be restlessness along with inactivity; may there not? And there is no such restlessness as the restlessness of compulsory idleness. That is the main idea that is in the Psalmist’s mind. He knows little about retribution, he knows still less about transmutation into a glorious likeness to that which is most glorious and divine. But he conceives a great, dim, lonely land, wherein are prisoned and penned all the lives that have been foamed away vainly on earth, and are now settled into a dreary monotony and a restless idleness. As one of the other books of the Old Testament puts it, it is a ‘land of the shadow of death, without order, and in which the light is as darkness.’

I know, of course, that all that is but the imperfect presentation of partially apprehended, and partially revealed, and partially revealable truth. But what I desire to fix upon is that one dreary thought of this fold, into which the grim shepherd has driven his flock, and where they lie cribbed and huddled together in utter inactivity. Carry that with you as a true, though incomplete thought.

Let me remind you, in the next place, with regard to this part of my subject, of the kind of men whom the grim shepherd drives into that grim fold. The psalm tells us that plainly enough. It is speaking of men who have their portion in this life, who ‘trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches . . . whose inward thought is that their house shall continue for ever . . . who call their lands after their own names.’ Of every such man it says: ‘when he dieth he shall carry nothing away’-none of the possessions, none of the forms of activity which were familiar to him here on earth. He will go into a state where he finds nothing which interests him, and nothing for him to do.

Must it not be so? If we let ourselves be absorbed and entangled by the affairs of this life, and permit our whole spirits to be bent in the direction of these transient things, what is to become of us when the things that must pass have passed, and when we come into a region where there are none of them to occupy us any more? What would some Manchester men do if they were in a condition of life where they could not go on ‘Change on Tuesdays and Fridays? What would some of us do if the professions and forms of mental activity in which we have been occupied as students and scholars were swept away? ‘Whether there be knowledge it shall cease; whether there be tongues they shall vanish away,’ and what are you going to do then, you men that have only lived for intellectual pursuits connected with this transient state? We are going to a world where there are no books, no pens nor ink, no trade, no dress, no fashion, no amusements; where there is nothing but things in which some of us have no interest, and a God who ‘is not in all our thoughts.’ Surely we shall be ‘fish out of water’ there. Surely we shall feel that we have been banned and banished from everything that we care about. Surely men that boasted themselves in their riches, and in the multitude of their wealth, will be necessarily condemned to inactivity. Life is continuous, and all on one plane. Surely if a man knows that he must some day, and may any day, be summoned to the other side of the world, he would be a wise man if he got his outfit ready, and made some effort to acquire the customs and the arts of the land to which he was going. Surely life here is mainly given to us that we may develop powers which will find their field of exercise yonder, and acquire characters which shall be in conformity with the conditions of that future life. Surely there can be no more tragic folly than the folly of letting myself be so absorbed and entangled by this present world, as that when the transient has passed, I shall feel homeless and desolate, and have nothing that I can do or care about amidst the activities of Eternity. Dear friend, should you feel homeless if you were taken, as you will be taken, into that world?

Turn now to

II. The sunny landscape drawn by the Seer.

Note the contrast presented by the shepherds. ‘Death shall be their shepherd.’ ‘The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their Shepherd.’ I need not occupy your time in trying to show, what has sometimes been doubted, that the radiant picture of the Apocalyptic Seer is dealing with nothing in the present, but with the future condition of certain men. I would just remind you that the words in which it is couched are to a large extent a quotation from ancient prophecy, a description of the divine watchfulness over the pilgrim’s return from captivity to the Land of Promise. But the quotation is wonderfully elevated and spiritualised in the New Testament vision; for instead of reading, as the Original does: ‘He that hath mercy on them shall lead them,’ we have here, ‘the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne shall be their Shepherd,’ and instead of their being led merely to ‘the springs of water,’ here we read that He ‘leads them to the fountains of the water of life.’

We have to think, first, of that most striking, most significant and profound modification of the Old Testament words, which presents the Lamb as ‘the Shepherd.’ All Christ’s shepherding on earth and in heaven depends, as do all our hopes for heaven and earth, upon the fact of His sacrificial death. It is only because He is the ‘Lamb that was slain’ that He is either the ‘Lamb in the midst of the Throne,’ or the Shepherd of the flock. And we must make acquaintance with Him first in the character of ‘the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,’ before we can either follow in His footsteps as our Guide, or be compassed by His protection as our Shepherd.

He is the Lamb, and He is the Shepherd-that suggests not only that the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ is the basis of all His work for us on earth and in heaven, but the very incongruity of making One, who bears the same nature as the flock to be the Shepherd of the flock, is part of the beauty of the metaphor. It is His humanity that is our guide. It is His continual manhood, all through eternity and its glories, that makes Him the Shepherd of perfected souls. They follow Him because He is one of themselves, and He could not be the Shepherd unless he were the Lamb.

But then this Shepherd is not only gracious, sympathetic, kin to us by participation in a common nature, and fit to be our Guide because He has been our Sacrifice and the propitiation of our sins, but He is the Lamb ‘in the midst of the throne,’ wielding therefore all divine power, and standing-not as the rendering in our Bible leads an English reader to suppose, on the throne, but-in the middle point between it and the ring of worshippers, and so the Communicator to the outer circumference of all the blessings that dwell in the divine centre. He shall be their Shepherd, not coercing, not driving by violence, but leading to the fountains of the waters of life, gently and graciously. It is not compulsory energy which He exercises upon us, either on earth or in heaven, but it is the drawing of a divine attraction, sweet to put forth and sweet to yield to.

There is still another contrast. Death huddled and herded his reluctant sheep into a fold where they lay inactive but struggling and restless. Christ leads His flock into a pasture. He shall guide them ‘to the fountains of waters of life.’ I need not dwell at any length on the blessed particulars of that future, set forth here and in the context. But let me suggest them briefly. There is joyous activity. There is constant progression. He goeth before; they follow. The perfection of heaven begins at entrance into it, but it is a perfection which can be perfected, and is being perfected, through the ages of Eternity, and the picture of the Shepherd in front and the flock behind, is the true conception of all the progress of that future life. ‘They shall follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth’-a sweet guidance, a glad following, a progressive conformity! ‘In the long years liker must they grow.’

Further, there is the communication of life more and more abundantly. Therefore there is the satisfaction of all desire, so that ‘they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more.’ The pain of desire ceases because desire is no sooner felt than it is satisfied, the joy of desire continues, because its satisfaction enables us to desire more, and so, appetite and eating, desire and fruition, alternate in ceaseless reciprocity. To us, being every moment capable of more, more will be given; and ‘to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.’

There is one point more in regard to that pasture into which the Lamb leads the happy flock, and that is, the cessation of all pains and sorrows. Not only shall they ‘hunger no more, neither thirst any more’; but ‘the sun shall not smite them, nor any heat, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ Here the Shepherd carried rod and staff, and sometimes had to strike the wandering sheep hard: there these are needed no more. Here He had sometimes to move them out of green pastures, and away from still waters, into valleys of the shadow of death; but ‘there,’ as one of the prophets has it: ‘they shall lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed.’

But now, we must note, finally, the other kind of men whom this other Shepherd leads into His pastures, ‘They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Aye! that is it. That is why He can lead them where He does lead them. Strange alchemy which out of two crimsons, the crimson of our sins and the crimson of His blood, makes one white! But it is so, and the only way by which we can ever be cleansed, either with the initial cleansing of forgiveness, or with the daily cleansing of continual purifying and approximation to the divine holiness, is by our bringing the foul garment of our stained personality and character into contact with the blood which, ‘shed for many,’ takes away their sins, and infused into their veins, cleanses them from all sin.

You have yourselves to bring about that contact. ‘They have washed their robes.’ And how did they do it? By faith in the Sacrifice first, by following the Example next. For it is not merely a forgiveness for the past, but a perfecting, progressive and gradual, for the future, that lies in that thought of washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Dear brethren, life here and life hereafter are continuous. They are homogeneous, on one plane though an ascending one. The differences there are great-I was going to say, and it would be true, that the resemblances are greater. As we have been, we shall be. If we take Christ for our Shepherd here, and follow Him, though from afar and with faltering steps, amidst all the struggles and windings and rough ways of life, then and only then, will He be our Shepherd, to go with us through the darkness of death, to make it no reluctant expulsion from a place in which we would fain continue to be, but a tranquil and willing following of Him by the road which He has consecrated for ever, and deprived for ever of its solitude, because Himself has trod it.

Those two possibilities are before each of us. Either of them may be yours. One of them must be. Look on this picture and on this; and choose-God help you to choose aright-which of the two will describe your experience. Will you have Christ for your Shepherd, or will you have Death for your shepherd? The answer to that question lies in the answer to the other-have you washed your robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; and are you following Him? You can settle the question which lot is to be yours, and only you can settle it. See that you settle it aright, and that you settle it soon.


7:13-17 Faithful Christians deserve our notice and respect; we should mark the upright. Those who would gain knowledge, must not be ashamed to seek instruction from any who can give it. The way to heaven is through many tribulations; but tribulation, how great soever, shall not separate us from the love of God. Tribulation makes heaven more welcome and more glorious. It is not the blood of the martyrs, but the blood of the Lamb, that can wash away sin, and make the soul pure and clean in the sight of God; other blood stains, this is the only blood that makes the robes of the saints white and clean. They are happy in their employment; heaven is a state of service, though not of suffering; it is a state of rest, but not of sloth; it isa praising, delightful rest. They have had sorrows, and shed many tears on account of sin and affliction; but God himself, with his own gracious hand, will wipe those tears away. He deals with them as a tender father. This should support the Christian under all his troubles. As all the redeemed owe their happiness wholly to sovereign mercy; so the work and worship of God their Saviour is their element; his presence and favour complete their happiness, nor can they conceive of any other joy. To Him may all his people come; from him they receive every needed grace; and to him let them offer all praise and glory.For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne - notes on Revelation 5:6. He is still the great agent in promoting the happiness of the redeemed in heaven.

Shall feed them - Rather, shall exercise over them the office of a shepherd - ποιμανεῖ poimainō. This includes much more than mere feeding. It embraces all the care which a shepherd takes of his flock - watching them, providing for them, guarding them from danger. Compare Psalm 23:1-2, Psalm 23:5; Psalm 36:8. See this fully illustrated in the notes on Isaiah 40:11.

And shall lead them unto living fountains of waters - Living fountains refer to running streams, as contrasted with standing water and stagnant pools. See the notes on John 4:10. The allusion is undoubtedly to the happiness of heaven, represented as fresh and everflowing, like streams in the desert. No image of happiness, perhaps, is more vivid, or would be more striking to an Oriental, than that of such fountains flowing in sandy and burning wastes. The word "living" here must refer to the fact that that happiness will be perennial. These fountains will always bubble; these streams will never dry up. The thirst for salvation will always be gratified; the soul will always be made happy.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes - This is a new image of happiness taken from another place in Isaiah Isa 25:8, "The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces." The expression is one of exquisite tenderness and beauty. The poet Burns said that he could never read this without being affected to weeping. Of all the negative descriptions of heaven, there is no one perhaps that would be better adapted to produce consolation than this. This is a world of weeping - a vale of tears. Philosophers have sought a brief definition of man, and have sought in vain. Would there be any better description of him, as representing the reality of his condition here, than to say that he is one who weeps? Who is there of the human family that has not shed a tear? Who that has not wept over the grave of a friend; over his own losses and cares; over his disappointments; over the treatment he has received from others; over his sins; over the follies, vices, and woes of his fellow-men?

And what a change would it make in our world if it could be said that henceforward not another tear would be shed; not a head would ever be bowed again in grief! Yet this is to be the condition of heaven. In that world there is to be no pain, no disappointment, no bereavement. No friend is to lie in dreadful agony on a sick-bed; no grave is to be opened to receive a parent, a wife, a child; no gloomy prospect of death is to draw tears of sorrow from the eyes. To that blessed world, when our eyes run down with tears, are we permitted to look forward; and the prospect of such a world should contribute to wipe away our tears here - for all our sorrows will soon be over. As already remarked, there was a beautiful propriety, at a time when such calamities impended over the church and the world - when there was such a certainty of persecution and sorrow - in permitting the mind to rest on the contemplation of these happy scenes in heaven, where all the redeemed, in white robes, and with palms of victory in their hands, would be gathered before the throne. To us also now, amidst the trials of the present life - when friends leave us; when sickness comes; when our hopes are blasted; when calumnies and reproaches come upon us; when, standing on the verge of the grave, and looking down into the cold tomb, the eyes pour forth floods of tears - it is a blessed privilege to be permitted to look forward to that brighter scene in heaven, where not a pang shall ever be felt, and not a tear shall ever be shed.

17. in the midst of the throne—that is, in the middle point in front of the throne (Re 5:6).

feed—Greek, "tend as a shepherd."

living fountains of water—A, B, Vulgate, and Cyprian read, (eternal) "life's fountains of waters." "Living" is not supported by the old authorities.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne; Christ, the Lamb mentioned Revelation 5:6.

Shall feed them, &c.; shall take care of them, to satisfy and to protect them, and give them the best supplies, and both make them to forget their former sorrows, and prevent any timher cause of sorrow and affliction to them. A perfect description of the glorious and happy state of saints in heaven. For wherein lieth the happiness of heaven, but in a freedom from all the evils that encumber us in this life, and the enjoyment of all the happiness we are capable of, and being ever with the Lord Jesus Christ, under his influence and conduct? So as I cannot agree with Mr. Mede, or any of those who think this vision and these phrases describe any happy, peaceable state of the church in this life, after the throwing down of antichrist; but do think that John was showed this great reward of martyrs, to encourage the church of God under all those evils they were to suffer under antichrist and the beast, in that period of time which is described mystically upon the opening of the seventh seal, which we now come to in the next chapter.

For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne,.... See Revelation 5:6; not before the throne, as the great multitude are said to be, Revelation 7:9; nor round about it, as the angels in Revelation 7:11; but in the midst of it, being equal to him that sits upon it; sitting on the same throne with him, and having the same power and authority, he

shall feed them as a shepherd his flock; for this Lamb is a Shepherd, and this great multitude are his flock; whom he will feed in this state, not by his ministers, word, and ordinances, as now; but in person, and with the rich discoveries of himself, and of his love, signified by a feast, by new wine in his Father's kingdom, and his own, and by eating and drinking at his table, in the kingdom appointed by him to his followers; and hence it is they shall never hunger more: or "shall rule them", as the Vulgate Latin version renders it; for the same word signifies "to feed", and "to rule", as a king rules his subjects; Christ will now be visibly King of saints, and King over all the earth, and will reign before his ancients gloriously; and, in these days of his, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely under his power and protection:

and shall lead them unto living fountains of water; by "water" is meant the grace, love, and free favour of God in Christ, that pure river of water of life, which proceeds from the throne of God, and of the Lamb, from divine sovereignty; and with which the saints in this state shall be sweetly and fully solaced and refreshed; and hence they shall never thirst more: and this is said to be "living", because not only refreshing and reviving, but because it will last for ever; the love of God is from everlasting to everlasting; and it is signified by "fountains", to denote the abundance of it, even as it will be perceived and enjoyed by the saints now; for these waters will not be only up to the ankles, and knees, but a broad river to swim in, which cannot be passed over; and hither will Christ lead his people, which is, one branch of his office as a Shepherd; and which shows his care of them, and affection for them.

And God shall wipe away all tear, from their eyes; or "out of their eyes", as the Alexandrian copy reads; see Isaiah 25:8. The sense is, that that which is now the occasion of tears will cease, as the sin and corruptions of God's people, which now are the cause of many tears; as also Satan's temptations, the hidings of God's face, and the various afflictions of this life, and the persecutions of the men of the world; there will be no more of either of these; all will be made to cease; see Revelation 21:4; and in the room of them full and everlasting joy will take place, Isaiah 35:10. Mr. Daubuz thinks, that the whole of this chapter belongs to the sixth seal, and that the promises in it are such as were to be accomplished at the opening of the seventh, and do not belong to the millennium state; but had their fulfilment in the times of Constantine, who he supposes is the angel that came from the east, who restrained the persecutors of the church, and introduced a general peace in church and state; and as he came with the seal of the living God, which he understands of the cross of Christ, he put upon his standard, and on the shields of his soldiers, so he sealed the servants of God on their foreheads with it, by allowing them to make a public profession of a crucified Christ, and by protecting them in that profession, even men of all nations, Jews and Gentiles; and particularly he thinks the innumerable palm bearing company may design the council of Nice, gathered by him, which consisted of the representatives of the whole Christian church in the several nations of the world, who had great honour, freedom, and immunities conferred upon them; and that the angels are the Christian magistrates, submitting to the Christian religion, and defending the church, which was now come out of the great tribulation of Heathen persecution, and had temples and places of public worship opened for them; in which they had full liberty to serve the Lord continually, without interruption; and were secure from all affliction and persecution, and were filled with joy and gladness; and the Lamb, by the means of Constantine, as Christ's vicar and servant, he declared himself to be, fed and protected the church in peace and quietness; all which are accomplished during the rest, or "silence", under the next seal; and which I should very readily agree to, since this interpretation carries on the thread of the prophetic history without any interruption, were it not for the description of the palm bearing company, both as to quantity and quality, and the declaration of the happy state of those come out of great tribulation, which I think cannot be made to suit with any imperfect state of the church on earth, without greatly lowering the sense of the expressions used; however, if anyone prefers this exposition to what is given, I am not much averse unto it.

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:17. ζωῆς goes with ὑδάτων (“living waters”) though prefixed for emphasis, like σαρκὸς in 1 Peter 3:21 (cf. Revelation 16:3 πᾶσα ψυχὴ ζωῆς); a favourite Johannine idea. In Enoch xlii, xlviii, the fountains contain wisdom which is drunk by all the thirsty, though in the centre there is also “a fountain of righteousness which was inexhaustible”; elsewhere in the division of Sheol assigned to the spirits of the righteous there is “a bright spring of the water of life” (Revelation 22:9) in accordance with the Pythagorean belief that the dead suffered from thirst in the underworld (Luke 16:24, cf. Dieterich, 97 f.). In the familiar vignette of ancient Egyptian eschatology, the deceased kneels before Osiris who pours out to him the water of life (the motto being that the soul may live); cf. Renouf’s “Hibb. Lect.,” p. 141, and for “living” waters as divine, R. S. 127. In the ideal realm of the good Shepherd-King Yima, Iranian belief saw neither hunger nor thirst for the faithful, and found no place for death (cf. Revelation 21:4) or falsehood (Revelation 21:8) of any kind (passages and parallels in Böklen, 133 f.).—ὁδηγήσει, a touch of local colour for Asiatic Christians, since sheep and shepherds were a common feature in the Lycos valley (C. B. P. i. 40–42); but the heaven of the Apocalypse is, in Semitic fashion, pastoral or civic, with touches of Babylonian splendour, unlike some later apocalypses, e.g., that of Peter (15 f.) where the Hellenic conception of Gods garden in the next world predominates (Dieterich, 19 f.).—Briggs explains the variants σκηνώσει ἐπʼ αὐτούς (Revelation 7:15) and σκ. μετʼ αὐτῶν (Revelation 21:3), ἀπὸ τῶν ὀφθ. (Revelation 21:4) and ἐκ τῶν ὀφθ. (Revelation 7:17) as variant translations of בקרבם ישׁכן and מציניהם; but, like ἐπὶ τὸ μέτωπον (Revelation 13:16), ἐπὶ τῶν μετώπ. (Revelation 7:3, etc.), these are probably nothing more than rhetorical variations. Unlike the synoptic tradition (e.g., Matthew 2:6) and the fourth Gospel (John 10:1; John 10:18), the Apocalypse confines Christ’s shepherding to the future life (see also Revelation 2:26-27). In Isaiah 53:6-7, the wayward roving habits of sheep express the temper of God’s people, whilst the patient submissiveness of a lamb for sacrifice denotes the function of God’s servant; in the Apocalypse, the latter (not the former) occurs. The saints are God’s flock in heaven, not on earth (contrast 1 Peter 2:25; 1 Peter 5:2 f.).

Whatever elements have been employed in the following series (Revelation 7:8-11.) of trumpet-visions, no adequate data exist to prove that John has edited a Jewish or Jewish-Christian source here any more than in 6. The vision, which forms the result of the breaking of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1-2), opens, after a prelude (Revelation 7:2-5), in Revelation 8:6 and does not close till Revelation 11:19 (cf. Revelation 8:5).

Revelation 7:17. [87] ὍΤΙ) כי preceded by not, often has the meaning of but.—ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ) ἘΝ ΜΈΣῼ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ John saw ΤῸ ἈΡΝΊΟΝ: ch. Revelation 5:7. In this place alone he says, ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΘΡΌΝΟΥ: comp. ἈΝᾺ ΜΈΣΟΝ, 1 Corinthians 6:5.—ἘΠῚ ΖΩῆς[88] ΠΗΓᾺς ὙΔΆΤΩΝ) The natural construction would be, ἘΠῚ ΠΗΓᾺς ὙΔΆΤΩΝ ΖΩῆς; but ΖΩῆς is put first for the sake of emphasis (as ΣΑΡΚῸς, 1 Peter 3:21), and ΠΗΓᾺς ὙΔΆΤΩΝ is, as it were, one compound word, so that it may be, zu den Lebens-Wasser-brunnen. See App., Ed. ii.—ἐκ) Again see App., Ed. ii. Wolf joins ἈΠῸ and ἘΚ, below, ch. Revelation 22:19. And thus in one sentence John may have written ἘΚ, and below ἈΠΌ.[89]

[87] Ver. 14. οἱ ἐρχόμενοι, those who are coming) Therefore their number is not yet complete, and for this very cause so much the less to be exactly defined (ver. 9).—ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ ἀρνίου, in the blood of the Lamb) The number of this multitude cannot be reckoned; and therefore it comprises the blessed dead even of the Old Testament: and they have their own part also in the blood of the Lamb.—V. g.

[88] AB Vulg. read ζωῆς: Rec. Text, without old authorities, ζώσας. Cypr. changes the order, “fontes vitæ.”—E.

[89] ABCh Vulg. Cypr. 310, have ἐκ: Rec. Text, without good authority, ἀπό.—E.

Verse 17. - For the Lamb which is in the midst-of the throne shall feed them; shall be their Shepherd. Compare the description of the position of the Lamb given in Revelation 5:6. The position here indicated is the same as that there described. The Lamb is between the throne and those surrounding it, towards the middle of the throne. Christ is set forth in the character of Shepherd, as in John 10:11 and John 21:16. And shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and shall guide them unto fountains of waters of life (Revised Version). "Of life" is an addition to the passage as found in Isaiah (cf. John 7:37-39, where the expression is used of the Holy Spirit). And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. A reference to the tribulation of ver. 14.

Revelation 7:17In the midst (ἀνά μεσον)

See on Revelation 5:6.

Shall feed (ποιμανεῖ)

See on shall be shepherd of, Matthew 2:6; see on Acts 20:28; see on 1 Peter 5:2. Compare Psalm 23:1.

Shall lead (ὁδηγήσει)

See on Luke 6:39.

Living fountains of waters (ζώσας πηγὰς ὑδάτων)

For the participle living, read ζωῆς of life, and render as Rev., fountains of waters of life. Compare Psalm 23:2. In the Greek order, of life stands first as emphatic.

All tears (πᾶν δάκρυον)

Rev., correctly, every tear. Compare Isaiah 25:8.

Revelation 7:17 Interlinear
Revelation 7:17 Parallel Texts

Revelation 7:17 NIV
Revelation 7:17 NLT
Revelation 7:17 ESV
Revelation 7:17 NASB
Revelation 7:17 KJV

Revelation 7:17 Bible Apps
Revelation 7:17 Parallel
Revelation 7:17 Biblia Paralela
Revelation 7:17 Chinese Bible
Revelation 7:17 French Bible
Revelation 7:17 German Bible

Bible Hub

Revelation 7:16
Top of Page
Top of Page