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The Revelation

of [ST.] JOHN [THE DIVINE]*





EXPLANATORY NOTE

This posthumous work of Pastor Russell (arranged for use as a textbook) is much condensed, including the extracts from the Pastor's pen, all of which are referred back to his works. The abbreviations used are:

A, B, C, D,E, FThe six preceding volumes of "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES".
(Citations to E in italic figures refer to old editions, figures in ordinary type to later editions.)
B. S. M..........."THE BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY."
H....................."What Say the Scriptures ABOUT HELL?"
P-D................. "PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION" Scenario.
T....................."TABERNACLE SHADOWS."
S....................."SPIRITISM" Pamphlet.
Z......................"ZION'S WATCH TOWER," followed by year and page.

The citations to REVELATION and EZEKIEL refer to the comments herein, as well as to the Bible text.
Other abbreviations used are:

Barnes..........Barnes' "Revelation".
Brit................."Encyclopedia Britannica."
Buck..............Buck's "Theological Dictionary".
Coffin............Coffin's "Story of Liberty".
Cook.............Cook's "Revelation" ; a compendium of the presentations of seventy-two leading commentators on Revelation, in all languages and all ages of the Church.
Edgar............Edgar's "Pyramid Passages". Vol. II.
McC...............McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia.
Mosheim......Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.
S. B. D...........Smith's Bible Dictionary.
Smith.............Smith's "Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation".
Weym............Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech.



REVELATION 1

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THE MESSAGE FOR THIS DAY

The Revelation of Jesus Christ. — John the Revelator and the Prophet Habakkuk have foretold that the understanding of this revelation, given in 96 A. D., is set for an appointed time, the end of the age; and that, at this time, now, when the predicted "Faithful and wise servant" would be present with God's people, the vision would be made plain. — Rev. 1:10; Matt. 24:45; Hab. 2:1-3; 1 Pet. 1:13.
Which God gave unto Him. — "The declaration that 'the Son can do nothing of Himself,' if it were not backed up as it is by a score of other testimonies from the same Interested and inspired Teacher, is a contradiction to the common thought of Trinitarians, that the Son is the Father." — Z.'99-45; John 5:20; 12:49; 17:7,8.
To shew unto His [servants] SAINTS.† — "Our Lord Jesus has promised us that, as the Elder Brother (of the Gospel House of Sons), whatsoever the Father shall make known to Him He in turn will make known to us." — Z.'99-45.
The things. — The shifting scenes of Church and State, the history of the Gospel and Millennial Ages.
Which must shortly come to pass. — Which began at once, in St. John's day, and will continue until the completion of all that he foresaw.
And He sent. — He did not come Himself, but acted with the dignity becoming Him who is now the express Image of the Father's person. "Dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see." — Heb. 1:3; 1 Tim. 6:16.
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And signified it. — "Our Lord's revelation, which God gave Him after He had passed into glory. He sent and signified [signified, told in signs, symbols, etc.] to His Church." — B203.
By His angel. — The "angel" of Rev. 3:14 represented this messenger who appeared to St. John. Our Lord's promise in Luke 12:44 is not limited to activities on this side the veil.
Unto His servant John. — "This simplicity, common to all the Apostles, commends them to us as men of humble mind — the very kind we should expect our Lord to use as special messengers to His people." — Z/16-343; Rev. 19:10.
1:2. Who bare record. — Herein and previously, in the Fourth Gospel, and in the three epistles bearing his name.
Of the Word of God. — The Logos. St. John has had more to say of the Logos than had any other Apostle. "In olden times certain kings made addresses to their subjects by proxy, the king sitting behind a screen, while his word, or spokesman, stood before the screen, and addressed the people aloud on subjects whispered to him by the king, who was not seen, and such a speaker was termed the King's logos." — E94-85.
And of the testimony. — The daily words and deeds, during the three and a half years of His ministry.
Of Jesus Christ. — "The Faithful and True Witness." — Rev. 3:14.
[And of all] WHAT things [that] SOEVER he saw. — St, John's powers of observation were acute. His Gospel contains records of twenty-two events or teachings not mentioned by the other Evangelists.
1:3. Blessed is he. — The Elijah class.
That readeth. — Correctly interprets the symbolisms.
And they. — Plural.
That hear the [words] WORD of this prophecy. — "All who have read and understood even a part of the teachings of the book were blessed as promised. It was an important aid to Luther in deciding that the Papacy, of which he was a conscientious minister, was 'Antichrist.' " — A27.
And keep. — Keep the eyes upon, observe (so the Greek Indicates). — Rev. 22:7.
Those things which are written therein. — "There is a blessing upon those who read this revelation, even though they do not understand, and a special blessing upon those who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and who conform their lives to the things therein written." — Z.'16-343.
For the time is at hand. — The fulfilments began at once, in St. John's own day.
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1:4. John to the seven churches. — Not merely the seven literal congregations mentioned in Verse ll and elsewhere, but to the epochs of the Church as a whole, from Apostolic days until now.
Which are in Asia. — In the Orient, the East, the early path of the sun. Before the Sun of Righteousness can Illuminate the world of mankind, its rays must first have passed through the Church, the first to greet and welcome the New Day.
Grace be unto you. — May favor, unmerited, be your happy portion.
And peace. — The Lord's special legacy to His Church. — John 14:27.
From Him. — Our glorified Lord and Head. — Rev. 1:8.
Which is. — Now self-existent, like the Father. — John 5:26.
And which was. — The Logos, the Father's Agent in the creation of all things (John 1:3), and subsequently, as man's Redeemer, "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death." — Heb. 2:9.
And which is to come. — In glory and great power at His Second Advent, "until He shall have set judgment in the earth." — Isa. 42:4.
And from the seven spirits. — Lamps of fire, or eyes. (Rev. 4:5; 5:6.) "In this symbolical picture the eye of the Lord is represented as seven or complete, all-seeing, everywhere, all-knowing. This is our confidence, this is our rejoicing." — Z.'05-318; Zech. 3:9, 4:10.
Which are before His Throne. — Which are "sent forth into all the earth." — Rev. 4:5.
1:5. And. — Kai, even. For a similar use of the word see the expression, "God Himself and our Father" (1 Thes. 3:11), which, in the Diaglott, is rendered, "God Himself, even our Father."
From Jesus Christ the faithful Witness. — "Who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession." (1 Tim, 6:13.) Our Lord's admission to Pilate, "I am a King; to this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" (John 18:37), was the direct cause of His death. The accusation set up over His head was, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." (John 19:19; Matt. 27:37.) Similarly faithful admissions may end the earthly careers of the feet-members of His Body.
The First Begotten of the dead. — "The First-Born of the dead ones." (Diaglott.) (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18; Acts 26:23.) "This verse clearly teaches what the creeds of Christendom ignore; namely, that our Lord was the first to experience a resurrection to perfection and eternal life in the full sense of the word." — Z.16-343; Acts 13:33, 34.
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And. — Even.
The Prince. — The King-Elect, now ruling in their hearts.
Of the kings of the earth. — His associate kings, "The kings of the East." (Rev. 16:12.) "All are to be awakened from the Adamic death, as though from a sleep. They will then be under the care of the Royal Priesthood, whose experience with sin, and whose victory over sin, well fitted them to be helpful toward those over whom they will reign, as Kings as well as Priests. (Rev. 5:10.)" — E487, 478.
Unto Him that [loved] LOVETH us. — Our Lord's love for us is ever-present.
And [washed] FREED us from our sins [in] BY His own blood. — "That it was the death of the Man Christ Jesus, His 'blood,' that secured our release from sin and death is most unequivocally stated in many Scriptures. See 1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 4:12; 20:28; Rev. 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Heb. 13:12." — E458, 446; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6; Rev. 14:4.
1:6. And hath made us. — And will make us during the Millennial Age.
[Kings and] A KINGDOM, priests. — The work of a priest is that of intervention and of instruction in righteousness. It logically implies subjects and a future work of salvation. — 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5.
Unto God and His Father. — "Unto the God and Father of Himself." — Diaglott. Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3.
To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. — "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth; .... and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen." (Psa. 72:8, 19.) "For ever and ever" is literally "for the ages of the ages." The Millennium and subsequent ages are the ages of the ages.
1:7. Behold, He cometh with clouds. — "While the clouds of trouble hang heavy and dark, when the mountains — kingdoms of this world — are trembling and falling, when the earth — organized society — is being shaken and disintegrated, some will begin to realize that Jehovah's Anointed is taking to Himself His great power and is beginning His work of laying justice to the line and righteousness to the plummet." — Z.'16-344; Matt. 24:30.
And every eye shall see Him. — "He will not be visible to natural sight, but to the eyes of understanding, as these shall open to an appreciation of the punishments and blessings which will flow to mankind from His Reign. Our King will reveal Himself gradually. Some will discern the new Ruler sooner than will others. But ultimately 'every eye shall see [Greek, horao, discern] Him.'" — Z.'16-344.
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And they also which pierced Him. — "And I will pour upon the House of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem [the Jewish people], the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son." — Zech. 12:10.
And all kindreds of the earth shall [wail because of] BEWAIL Him. — "At the time of our Lord's Second Advent the world will be far from converted to God; for 'all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him.' Christ comes before the conversion of the world and for the very purpose of converting all mankind." — Z.'16-344.
Even so, Amen. — We cannot stop the clouds of the Time of Trouble, or the tears of disappointment, and later, of repentance; and we would not if we could. The trouble and the tears are a necessary preparation for the blessings which follow.
1:8. I am THE Alpha and I AM ALSO THE Omega. — Alpha is the first letter, and Omega the last letter, of the Greek alphabet.
The Beginning and the Ending. — "Our Lord's great honor is shown in that He was not only the first of God's creation, but the last. From this we are to understand that the great Jehovah did not directly employ His own power in creating either men or angels; but that He delegated His power to His Only-begotten Son." — Z.'93-115.
Saith the Lord GOD. — But not the clergy; they will have none of this doctrine.
Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. — "It is since His resurrection that the message has gone forth — 'All power in Heaven and in earth is given unto Me.' (Matt. 28:18.) Consequently it is only since then that He could be called the Almighty." — Z.'93-115; Rev. 1:4; 16:5-7.
1:9. I John, who [also] am your brother. — "Instead of adding titles to his name, as Reverend, Bishop, Overseer of all the Churches in Asia Minor, we find John introducing himself as 'your brother.' " — Z. '01-187.
And companion in tribulation. — "He was sharer with Christ, as a member of His Body, in His afflictions, in His endurance; and the brother of all fellow-disciples, sharers of the same sufferings, and prospectively of the same glory." — Z. '01-187; Matt. 20:23.
And [in] the kingdom. — Now, while "the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence;" and later, when "the Kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the Kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." — Matt. 11:12; Dan. 7:27.
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And patience [of] IN Jesus [Christ]. — When Saul persecuted the saints, he persecuted Jesus. When St. Paul suffered as a Christian, it was as part of the "dying of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 9:5; 2 Cor. 4:10.) What St. John cheerfully endured was endured by Jesus.
Was in the isle that is called Patmos. — "At the time of this vision St. John was a prisoner, exiled to the Isle of Patmos, a penal colony of those days [a convict quarry] — a rocky, barren island in the Ægean Sea. The crime for which he suffered this banishment was his faithfulness as the Lord's mouthpiece. St. John, the beloved disciple, in some measure, or degree, represented the last living members of the Body of Christ (John 21:20-23) — a class that see with the eyes of their understanding the visions and revelations which the beloved disciple saw in symbol in a trance. If, then, St. John's exile in any degree represents ostracism which the Lord's followers may expect in the close of this Age — a complete isolation from others and a treatment implying that they are prisoners — they may take comfort from the thought that our Lord's favor and revelation to St. John more than offset his persecutions." — Z. '16-343.
For the Word of God. — "St. John, with remarkable modesty, passes over his previous service for the Truth (Rev. 1:2), which had brought him his persecution, and lightly passes over the persecution itself, merely noting that he was in the island because of his fidelity to the Word of God." — Z. '01-187.
And for the testimony of Jesus. — As recorded in the Gospel according to St. John and the three Johannean epistles.
1:10. I was in the spirit. — "Visions are not realities, although symbolically representing them. (Dan. 7:1; Matt 17:9.) The visions granted to St John, recorded in the Revelation, are in no sense to be understood as realities." — Z. '16-343; Acts 10:10.
On the Lord's Day. — "According to our understanding of Bible chronology we today are living in the early dawn of this Day of Christ; and it is here, properly enough, that we begin to see the wonderful things of the Divine Character and Plan. But to see and to understand we must be 'in the spirit.' Only those who have become New Creatures in Christ can be expected to appreciate spiritual things; and this is the class which the Apostle John represented." — Z. '16-343.
And heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet. — "The fact that its location is mentioned implies that it bas a symbolic meaning. It signifies that the beginning of
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this Message was not in St. John's day, nor in the future, but that the things revealed had already commenced and were already to some extent in the past. As some features of the Revelation show, the voice from behind went back to the time of our Lord's earthly ministry." (Z. '16-344.) "As John heard a voice behind him and looked in that direction, so we who now are having the realities find that the Message is behind us, and turn and look toward the past to see the fulfilment of the various features of the Divine Plan and to hear and understand the Message given to His people by the risen Lord." — Z. '05-168.
1:11. Saying, [I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last: and] What thou seest, write in a book and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia. — "There are many reasons for concluding that while the messages were given to the seven churches specified and were applicable to them, they should properly have a still wider application to the whole Church of Christ, the number seven representing completeness, and the order representing different epochs in the history of the Church. To think otherwise would be to attach more importance to those comparatively small churches of Asia Minor than they would seem to have deserved, and would have implied an ignoring of other churches more numerous and more influential; as, for instance, the churches at Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, etc. Furthermore, the details of the messages given to these seven churches apply to and fit historically the one Church of the living God, over every member and branch of which the Lord has a care. This thought, that the seven represented completeness, we find emphasized in the other symbolical representations — in the seven golden candlesticks, the seven stars, etc." (Z. '05-168.) Colosse (Col. 1:2), Miletus (Acts 20:17) and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13) were churches in Asia, not here mentioned. The Asia mentioned is the westernmost province of Asia Minor.
Unto Ephesus. — The Apostolic Age of the Church.
And unto Smyrna. — The Church during the period of persecution by Pagan Rome.
And unto Pergamos. — The Church during the period of the rise of Antichrist.
And unto Thyatira. — The Church during the Dark Ages, the period of Antichrist's glory, and persecution by Papal Rome.
And unto Sardis. — The Church in the dawn of the Reformation.
And unto Philadelphia. — The Church in the period of reformation by sects.
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And unto Laodicea. — The Church in the time of the Lord's Second Presence.
1:12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. — "The Apostles saw in symbol what the Lord's people may now see with the eye of faith and understanding. Ha saw One like a son of man — like a man, like a priest, as Implied by the clothes described — walking amongst seven golden candlesticks, caring for them, trimming the wicks, seeing to the supply of oil, etc. Thus our Lord Jesus, our glorified Master, has directed respecting His people's affairs, inspecting and caring for the Church as a light-bearer, a candlestick. Alas, how poor the wicks have sometimes been! How feeble the light that has sometimes shone out! How much trimming has been necessary!" — Z. '16-344.
And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks. — "The Golden Candlestick, or Lamp-stand, which stood opposite the Golden Table, and gave light to all in the 'Holy,' was of gold — all of one piece hammered out. (Exod. 25:31-37.) It had seven branches, each of which held a lamp, making seven lamps in all — a perfect or complete number. This represented the complete Church, from the Head, Jesus, to and including the last member of the 'little flock' that He is taking out from among men, to be partakers of the Divine (gold) nature." — T. 115; Rev. 1:20; Zech. 4:2; Matt. 5:14-16.
1:13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks. — "The union, the relationship between them, being supplied by our Redeemer, the antitypical High Priest." — Z. '16-344.
One like unto the son of man. — "This symbolical picture has precious lessons for us, more valuable than an attempt to describe to our minds the appearance of our Lord as a Spirit Being, 'dwelling in light which no man can approach unto,' and which we cannot appreciate until we shall be changed to 'be like Him and see Him as He is.' — 1 John 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:50-53." — Z. '16-344; Dan. 7:13.
Clothed with a garment down to the foot. — "The glory of Christ was manifested in His own person, in His own ministry, and in that of His Twelve Apostles, His representatives — St. Paul taking the place of Judas; with their death the body of Truth was almost veiled throughout the eighteen centuries intervening, until now." — Z. '16-344.
And girt about the breast. — The support of the garment at the breast, instead of the neck, left the arms and shoulders uncovered, representing that the early Church was favored with the light of the true Gospel for a considerable time after our Lord and Head had completed His earthly ministry.
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With a golden girdle. — Gold is a symbol of the Divine nature; the girdle a symbol of service. (Rev. 15:6.) Throughout the Age the Lord has been serving His Church. "Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you that He shall gird Himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." "I am among you as he that serveth." —Luke 12:37; 22:27.
1:14. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow. — "The head, with its white hair, is not to teach us that our Lord in glory has the form of a man, with white hairs, but merely suggestive and symbolic of knowledge, experience, wisdom." — Z.'01-188; Matt. 17:2.
And His eyes were as a flame of fire. — "His eyes like a flame of fire tell us in symbol that our Master is all-seeing, omniscient; that He is not deceived by outward forms and ceremonies; but that He can, and does, read every thought and intent of the heart." — Z. '16-344; Rev. 19:12.
1:15. And His feet like unto fine brass. — "The feet, described as like furnace-refined copper, seem to say that those who belong to the Body of Christ, and whom the Lord would use in His service, 'the feet' members of the Body, must, in their contact and dealings with the world, be refined, purified, clean — 'Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord's house.'" — Z. '01-188; Ezek. 1:7.
As if they burned in a furnace. — "In the end of the Age, the feet members of the Body of Christ will be illuminated by the Truth and will shine forth — not like the Head, but as polished brass. We have shining upon us with almost burning brightness the focused rays of Divine inspiration and revelation from the past 6,000 years. How it should consume in us all the dross of selfishness! How it should purify us! How humble it should make us!" — Z. '16-344.
And His voice as the sound of many waters. — "The many waters signify peoples, nations and languages, as elsewhere explained in this book. Thus our Lord, present with His Church, speaks to her and through her by many tongues, in many languages." — Z.'01-188; Rev. 19:6.
1:16. And He had in His right hand. — "This One whom we thus know, thus recognize, as the Instructor and Caretaker of the candlesticks, we are also to recognize as having in His right hand — in His favor as well as His power — seven stars, the angels, the messengers, of the seven Churches. That they are in His right hand seems to teach us that these should be considered as in some special sense under the Master's guidance, protection and care in the interest of the Churches which they represented," — Z,'16.345; Jer. 22:24,
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Seven stars. — "Apparently the stars represent special ministers, or servants of the Church. In Revelation 12:1 the Church is pictured as a Woman crowned with twelve stars. These stars evidently represent the Twelve Apostles as the special lights of the Church. Similarly, in the picture before us, the seven stars which the Lord holds in His right hand seem to represent special light-bearers in the Church — in each of its seven phases, or stages, of development. It will be noticed that the messages to the various Churches are sent by these stars, messengers, angels, as though our Lord would have us understand that the appropriate message for each appropriate epoch in the Church's experience would be sent by the Lord through a particular star, or messenger, whom He would especially commission as His representative. Our Lord Himself is represented by the great light of the sun; and His special messengers in the Church throughout the entire period of the Gospel Age are consistently enough represented as stars." — Z. '16-345; Rev. 1:20.
And out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword. — "No part of the description could more thoroughly convince us that the description of our Lord given here is symbolic. As a symbolic picture, it speaks to us of the Word of the lord, the Sword of the Spirit, 'sharper than any two-edged sword.' (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12.) It reminds us that our Lord's words are not one-sided, not directed merely against sin in one class, but that His Word is sharp, cutting in every direction; that sin is reproved by Him as much when found in His most earnest followers as when found elsewhere. It assures us that none need attempt to pluck out the mote from his brother's eye without first getting rid of the beam in his own eye; and that if we do not show mercy to those who are our debtors we must not expect mercy from Him who has purposed to extend His mercy toward us. How heart-searching is God's Word when we understand it — not merely as a compendium of rules and regulations, but when we catch the spirit of it! Then we come to see that its requirement is love out of a pure heart; first, to the Heavenly Father; secondly, to our Lord and Head; thirdly, to all His brethren; fourthly, to the world in general, groaning and travailing in pain, waiting for the blessings of the coming Day of Christ; and fifthly, toward our enemies also, sympathetically realizing that they are warped, twisted and blinded through the deceitfulness of sin and through the machinations of the great Adversary. — 2 Cor. 4:4." — Z.16-345; Rev, 2:12, 16; 19:15, 21; Isa. 11:4.
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And His countenance [was as the sun] shineth AS THE SUN in his strength. — "And his face was as it were the sun." — Rev. 10:1; Acts 26:13.
1:17. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. — "So great was the splendor that St. John fell as dead, just as Daniel did in the presence of the mighty One whom ha saw, and just as Saul of Tarsus did before the majesty presented to him. (Dan. 10:4-11; Acts 9:3-9.) So it is symbolically with the Christian, when once he gets a glimpse of the glories of the Divine Character. When once we get a true view of Him with whom we have to do, as the great Heart-searcher and Caretaker of His Church, we fall before Him, humbled to the dust, realizing that we are imperfect, that we cannot stand before our Master, that we are unworthy of His blessing." — Z/16-344; Ezek. 1:28.
And He laid His right hand upon me. — "As our Lord touched St. John gently, raising him up, so He has spoken to us comfort, peace and love, assuring us that we have a High Priest that can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, One who is able to sympathize and mercifully to assist." — Z. '16-345.
Saying [unto me, Fear not]; I am the First and the Last. — "We must recognize that our Lord is the One who was the beginning of the creation of God and the end of it, the One by whom are all things, next to the Father in everything pertaining to the affairs of the Universe. — Col. 1:15; Rev. 3:14; John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:6." — Z.'16-345; Rev. 1:11; 2:8.
1:18. I am He that liveth, and was dead. — "The Lord now liveth, and in order to appreciate this we understand that He was dead for parts of three days — not merely apparently dead, but actually dead — His soul poured out unto death, made an offering for sin. — Isa. 53:10-12." (Z.'01-189.) "It was because Christ's soul (being) was dead that the Apostles could declare that unless His soul, being, were made alive again by a resurrection there could be no hope in Him as a Savior and a Life-giver." — Z. '01-122.
And behold, I am alive for evermore, [Amen ]. — "Death has no more dominion over Him. (Rom. 6:9.) Neither sacrifices of the Mass nor death in any sense or form ever will be needed. His work is perfect. 'It is finished!'" — Z. '16-345; John 19:30.
And have the keys of [hell] DEATH. — "He has the key, the power over death, in order that those who have not yet gone into the tomb, but who are under the death sentence, may all be ultimately delivered into the full liberty of the sons of God — righteousness and life everlasting. — Rom. 8:21." — Z. '16-345.
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And of [death] HELL. — 'These words imply that the Lord's people go to Hades, and that the hope when going down to Hades, to oblivion, is that in due time our great Redeemer shall unlock this figurative prisonhouse of death and bring forth the captives. This is the significance of the statement that He has the keys — He can open; all power is given into His hand. In preaching at His First Advent, He declared this to be the Gospel. (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18.) How full of meaning are these Scriptures when viewed from the proper standpoint; how confusing and absurd when viewed from any other!" — E397, 378.
1:19. Write THEREFORE the things which thou hast seen. — John was personally familiar with the first epoch, then already in the past. "What he wrote of that epoch (Rev. 2:1-7) serves as a guide to what follows.
And the things which are. — John was writing in the second epoch, already in its persecution era. — Rev. 2:8-11.
And the things which [shall be] MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS hereafter. — The five remaining epochs of the Church, and the Kingdom to follow.
1:20. The mystery of the seven stars. — Every true reformer must go contrary to the current of his times; and, in proportion as he has the Master's spirit, he cannot fail to be, like Him, a man of mystery to his own generation — "a Stone of Stumbling and a Rock of Offense" — to those who have not "ears to hear."
Which thou sawest in My right hand. — Small wonder that these great reformers; seemed almost to have charmed lives!
And the seven golden candlesticks. — "The Candlestick, or Lampstand, represents the nominal, rather than the true Church. This is shown by the fact that in addressing each, of these churches the Lord finds fault with the many and approves the faithful few." — Z. '16-344.
The seven stars. — "The star-light is the Heavenly light, the spiritual enlightenment or instruction. The lamp-light is the earthly light, representing good works, obedience, etc., of those who are exhorted to let their light so shine that it will glorify their Father in Heaven." — Z. '16-345.
Are the angels of the seven churches. — "The title is borrowed from the Jewish Synagogue, in which the angel, or messenger of the assembly, was the person who presided over and arranged the meetings for worship." (Cook.) — Mal. 2:7; Hag. 1:13.
And the seven candlesticks [which thou sawest] are the seven churches. — "Alas! The Master evidently found but few good works, little glorifying light shining out from His earthly representatives in many of the seven epochs of the history of the Church.." — Z. '16-344; Rev. 1:12; Zech. 4:2.
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