He which testifies these things said, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
As to the expression "quickly," it is to be understood either on the principle
(1) that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years; or
(2) that there are many advents of Christ besides that last glorious one of which the New Testament says so much.
In support of this it is to be noted that the prophecies of this book, as other prophecies, refer to classes of events, and not exclusively to any one event. Hence, wherever there is like conduct, whether good or evil, there will be like recompense. Persecuting governments, and religions upholding them, will bring down on themselves Divine judgments. Such conditions of things were present when St. John wrote, and the punishment of them was speeding on to its fulfilment. So we prefer to understand the words of our text. Now, of the comings of Christ there are four, though not to all of them can the "quickly" of the text be applied, except on the principle first named above, and which St. Peter teaches us.
I. TO PUNISH NOTORIOUS WRONG. The destruction of Jerusalem was then, when St. John wrote, nigh at hand. The overthrow of the persecuting, pagan Roman empire was not far off; and, again and again, in the judgments that have befallen nations and wicked rulers and Churches, of which the records of history tell so much, may be seen fulfilments of this word. And without any vindictive spirit, from pure love of truth and righteousness, and from concern for human well being, the faithful Church has responded, and will respond, to the announcement of Christ's advent for this end: "Amen. Even so," etc. What a solemn reminder does this give to those who, in daring, presumptuous way, sin against God! In the midst of their proud defiance of the Lord, he may - it is likely that he will - come and judge them for their sins.
II. TO REIGN ON EARTH. That he will thus come the Scripture statements plainly declare. And these statements are very numerous. This coming of the Lord is perpetually referred to in the New Testament, and is predicted likewise in the Old Testament. No doubt the apostles believed it would be in their time. The Lord had not said it would not, and hoping that it might - their wish becoming father to their thought - they spoke and wrote as if it would. We are distinctly forbidden to look to them for information as to the date of this advent, for the Lord said to them, "It is not for you to know." Therefore any words of theirs that seem to imply, as they do, the speedy coming of Christ, are to be read with this remembrance, that it was not given to them to speak authoritatively on this matter. And in the later Epistles it is evident that their earlier thoughts had become modified, and they had learnt to contemplate as probable the fact that the Lord's advent would not be in their time; and hence they give directions for the ordering of the Church after they are gone (cf. Second Epistle to Timothy, etc.). And the declarations concerning our Lord's advent to reign on earth are to be understood literally. Many, no doubt, affirm that they are to be all interpreted of a spiritual reign, and to be explained as figures, metaphors, and the like. But we have a principle of interpretation laid down for us in the predictions concerning our Lord's first advent. What was there said of him literally came to pass. A large part of the gospel history may be compiled from those ancient prophecies which told of what literally came true in the life and death of our Lord. The Scriptures were fulfilled in him in no figurative, but in a literal sense. So was it, and, therefore, we believe, so will it be. And when we think of what is involved in the coming of our Lord to reign - of glory to God, of good to man - how can the Church do otherwise than say, "Amen. Even so," etc.?
III. TO RECEIVE US UNTO HIMSELF. For death is for us practically a coming of the Lord. We go to be with him; he comes to receive us. And this, at the furthest, will be "quickly." "Brief life is here our portion." Few and evil are the days of our pilgrimage. And to this coming the believer assents. Not from any fretful longing to have done with this life - such longing is always more or less morbid, though explicable and excusable under the distressing circumstances in which it is felt and uttered - but to Christians, as to others, life is and should be sweet, precious, clung to. But his "Amen" here is that of submission, of cheerful assent and acquiescence to the Lord's will. For him death has no terrors, but is the entrance on eternal joy. Nevertheless, the ties of earth, the claims and needs of those we love, are many and strong, and therefore for their sake life is precious. Otherwise death has no sting.
IV. TO JUDGE THE WORLD. This is not the same as his coming to reign. Then he shall come for his saints, but in this last advent he shall come with them. Then shall the great white throne be set up, then shall be gathered all nations, and then the final judgment take place. And this, too, for each one of us, comes "quickly." For after death it virtually takes place. We each go to our "own place." But can we each one say concerning this coming of the Lord, "Amen. Even so," etc.? - S.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.