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And after that he must be loosed for a little season.'-After the expiration, the ending of the thousand years, the adversary is to be released from his confinement for a little time. That is, time figuratively speaking— duration of time in a literal sense not being the subject of consideration, whether the space spoken of be long or short; the same rule of construction applying to "a little time" as to a thousand years, or to twelve hundred and sixty days. The seventh king was to "continue a short space," (Rev. xvii. 10,) and there may be some correspondence between these two short reigns-different figures, perhaps, symbolizing the same truth. We may understand the nature of this liberation better when we come to examine the effect of it, as set forth in the great battle detailed in a subsequent part of this chapter, (vs. 7-10.) We notice here only that this confinement to the bottomless pit is represented to be something of a temporary character-something distinct from a final destruction, or a going into perdition; the pit representing a system apparently identic with hades, which itself is a subject of destruction, (v. 14.) Satan is first cast from heaven to earth; secondly, from earth into the pit; and finally, (thirdly.) into the lake of fire.
Vs. 4, 5. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them and (I saw) the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received (lis) mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This (is) the first resur
Καὶ εἶδον θρόνους· καὶ ἐκάθισαν ἐπ ̓ αὐτούς, καὶ κρίμα ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς· καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν πεπελεκισμένων διὰ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ καὶ διὰ τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ οἵτινες οὐ προσεκύνησαν τὸ θηρίον οὐδὲ τὴν εἰκόνα αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐκ ἔλαβον τὸ χάραγ μα ἐπὶ τὸ μέτωπον καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτῶν, καὶ ἔζησαν καὶ ἐβασίλευσαν μετὰ τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὰ χίλια ἔτη. Οἱ δὲ λοιποὶ τῶν νεκρῶν οὐκ ἔζησαν ἄχρι τελεσθῇ τὰ χίλια ἔτη· αὕτη ἡ ἀνάστασις ἡ πρώτη.
$ 447. And I saw thrones,' &c.; or, I saw seats, &c., that is, certain tribunals of judgment.-We have just had an account of a great battle; we have had the particulars of the loss suffered by the vanquished; their killed, and the prisoners taken; the manner in which these prisoners were treated; and, finally, the manner in which the instigator of the war is bound hand and foot and cast into prison. Throughout this narration, the process common in ancient times in the conduct of battles of extraordinary importance is supposed to be adopted. As a marriage feast is one mode of illustrating certain mysterious truths, a battle is another means of representing other mysteries. In both cases the customs of the times are to be taken into consideration.
Pursuing the analogy, the account being completed of the punishment to which the defeated rebels and their leaders have been subjected, we come next to a relation of the honours and rewards allotted to the victors. For
the distribution of these rewards we may expect to see something like a tribunal of judgment. The figure, however, is Asiatic, rather than Greek or Roman. With republics, or with aristocracies, and even with mixed monarchies, the seat of government is at home. A Grecian general would have submitted an account of his proceedings to an assembly of the people, and the meed of praise or blame would have depended upon the public voice. A Roman consul, or dictator, and even a Roman emperor, would have depended upon the action of a senate for a decree of triumph. But with the pure monarchies of the east, wherever the sovereign is to be found, there is also the seat of government. If a warlike sovereign takes the field himself, the tribunal of supreme judgment, as well as the legislative and executive power, is supposed to follow the commander-in-chief even on the battle ground.
In keeping with this view of Asiatic customs, we have no occasion to imagine a pause in the succession of the scenes here presented. It is as if immediately after a great military contest, in which the sovereign had commanded in person, seats of judgment were erected on the field bearing evidences of the recent triumph, for the allotment of rewards to those who had distinguished themselves, by judges appointed for the purpose.
The apostle does not say how many seats or thrones he saw-perhaps this is not material; whatever the number, we suppose these tribunals to represent something of the same character as that ascribed to the thrones of the twenty-four elders, (§ 121.) The law and the testimony are here, as elsewhere, the criterion of judgment: the testimony itself comprehending the whole evidence of divine revelation, whatever is judged must be judged by this standard; corresponding with the language of the prophet, Is. viii. 20, already quoted.
$448. And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded,' &c.-The word translated beheaded is from the verb 7ɛlexio, to strike with an axe. The kind of axe with which the blow is struck, must be gathered from the circumstances of the case. The noun élezes may signify a common axe, a battle-axe, or the axes borne by the lictors amongst the Romans before their consuls, (Donnegan.) The term occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; in the Septuagint it is applied to the instruments of stonecutters and carpenters, or their uses. The custom of bearing axes by the lictors, probably arose from the previous very general use of the pole-axe in the field of battle. Taking into consideration the peculiarity that the assembly now described is supposed to be called together immediately after a great military conflict, we think that the allusion here is to the use of the battle-axe. Our translators have employed the term beheaded apparently from associating with the Greek word the idea of the use of the axe by order of the civil magistrate only.
If it had been said, I saw the souls of them that were slain, or of them that were killed by the sword, the reference would have carried us back to the followers of the beast slain by the sword out of the mouth of the Word of God. To avoid this misconstruction, the figure of a different weapon is employed for designating the wounded or killed on the side of the King of kings. The sword is peculiarly the weapon of the Holy Spirit. The poleaxe is the human instrument of warfare; the more appropriately so in this case, from having been first employed as an instrument of labour in the works of men, afterwards as a military equipment, and finally as a symbol of the power of the magistrate in carrying into effect the sentence of the law. In witnessing the late battle, the apostle saw the remnant of the beast-party (all except the two chiefs) slain by the sword. He now sees the souls of those on the other side that were slain by the axe, (bipennis, securis bellica.)*
The term soul or souls is very frequently employed in Scripture, by way of periphrasis, for the being itself. Perhaps it would be sufficient to consider it so intended here," I saw those that were slain or killed. That is, I saw them restored to life—a restoration implied in the subsequent declaration, that this is the first resurrection; although the having been struck with an axe does not necessarily imply death. These souls might be taken as combatants on the side of truth, severely wounded in the cause, but not killed. Where the term soul is employed in contradistinction to that of body, we suppose it expresses the immortal part of the being; where it is employed in contradistinction to the term spirit, we take it to apply to something in a natural or physical sense, as distinguished from the same thing in a spiritual sense. There is nothing here, however, indicating either of these contrasts. If we consider the killing or beheading of these beings equivalent to a separation of the natural from the spiritual sense, their resurrection would be a reunion of these two senses; but perhaps such a supposition at present would be premature.
For the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.'-From this designation of the cause, on account of which these souls had suffered, we pre
* We have the authority of a Roman poet for considering the battle-axe, so common a weapon in ancient warfare, (that is, soon after the siege of Troy,) as to have been wielded even by female combatants.
At medias inter cædes exultat Amazon,
At circùm lectæ comites. Larinaque virgo,
E. xi. 648-657.
sume them to be the witnesses whose souls were seen under the altar. that this beheading, as it is called, is a second martyrdom, but that the two representations point to the same truth. The first series of developments terminated with the conclusion of the sixth chapter, immediately after the description of the coming of the great day of wrath. The revelation of the state of the souls under the altar formed part of this series. They were then told that they should rest for a season, and white robes were given them. This position of rest, and enjoyment of white clothing, described in the sixth chapter, corresponds, we apprehend, with the reigning with Christ a thousand years, in the twentieth chapter. It might be said, indeed, that these souls of the beheaded are probably the brethren of those whose bodies were under the altar, and that the period alluded to, Rev. vi. 11, has now approached. We do not suppose these brethren to be literally such, or even collateral evidences or witnesses: we are rather inclined to consider them corresponding illustrations; the witnesses under the altar, and the witnesses killed or wounded in the battle with the beast, being the same elements of revelation, bearing testimony to the truth as it is in Jesus.
§ 449. Which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image,' &c.--` These particulars may be necessary to contrast more pointedly the condition of the individuals here spoken of, with that of the opposite class elsewhere described; the comparison serving to indicate the kind of enjoyment granted to these sufferers in the cause of truth. "They have no rest, day nor night," it is said, (Rev. xiv. 11,) "who worship the beast, and his image," &c.; the smoke of their torture ascending up for ever. On the other hand, those that do not worship the beast, &c., live and reign with Christ a thousand years; consequently, as we conceive, this millennial state is the opposite of the state of no rest, and of continual torture, or trial as by a refiner's fire. Corresponding with the idea before suggested, that this figure of a thousand years is intended to express a position, not a period of time in the ordinary sense.
And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.'-The accuser is bound and confined to the pit for a thousand years, and the elements of truth live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. This term of years thus, as in the case of the twelve hundred and sixty days, &c., serves the purpose of a standard of equivalents, ($ 240 ;) a scale of comparison, indicating the manifestation of the restriction of the power of the accuser to the bottomless pit position to be equal to a reigning with Christ, on the part of the elements of truth. To be secure from the power of the accuser, is to be in a position of rest as regards the works and requisitions of the law. Such is the position of those spoken of as not having worshipped the beast, because their position is the opposite of those which have worshipped him.
'But the rest [ren:ainder] of the dead lived not.'-The words rendered the rest here, are the same as those translated the remnant in the preceding chapter-oi hool, the remaining ones. These remaining ones cannot be those on the side of the Word, which had not suffered death; because these could not be said to be of the number of the dead. The only remaining ones to which this reference can be made, are the dead slain by the sword of the Word, whose flesh was given to the birds. These, although entirely destroyed by the first death, are capable of being again, by divine power, restored to life. They do not share in the first resurrection; but that there is another resurrection, in which they will share, is implied. They have all partaken, we may presume, of the worship of the beast or of his image, or they have received his mark in their foreheads, or in their hands; for which reason they cannot live and reign with Christ, or participate in the position designated by this thousand years' reign. They have a resuscitation to undergo, but it is something irrespective of this millennial position; and is, therefore, described as not taking place till after the termination of the thousand years. In effect, where Christ reigns these elements of subserviency to the beast can find no place. So, too, in the nature of the case, they can find no place in the order of things, or in the arrangement of principles, constituting the first resurrection or position of rest.
V. 6. Blessed and holy (is) he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they
Μακάριος καὶ ἅγιος ὁ ἔχων μέρος ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῇ πρώτῃ· ἐπὶ τούτων ὁ δεύτε· shall be priests of God and of Christ, andρος θάνατος οὐκ ἔχει ἐξουσίαν, ἀλλ ̓ ἔσονshall reign with him a thousand years. ται ἱερεῖς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καὶ βασιλεύσουσι μετ ̓ αὐτοῦ χίλια ἔτη.
$450. Blessed and holy,' &c.-Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, it is said, Rev. xiv. 13; and the reason assigned for this blessedness is, that those thus dead rest from their labours, (§ 338;) the same blessed position of rest being spoken of in one part of the Apocalypse as being dead in Christ, which in another part is termed a first resurrection. The disciple in Christ is accounted dead to the law, as if in Christ he had suffered the penalty of the law, and could therefore be no more obnoxious to its requisitions; at the same time, in Christ he is also accounted justified, freed from the power of the law, and thus raised to a new position of lifea first resurrection. So it is said, (Rev. xvi. 15,) Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garments;-he that is always clothed with the garments of salvation—the covering of his Saviour's merits, the robe of his Redeemer's righteousness. He, too, in this state of readiness, (§ 367,) is in a position corresponding with that of the first resurrection, as well as with that of rest. As with the disciple, so with the elements of the economy of grace personified as disciples, ($ 427.) Blessed are those called to the marriage