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The Explanation Of The Apocalypse

v. 1. Ephesus. Part of this Church he blames, and part he praises, according to the character of the name. For Ephesus is said to be interpreted, “a great fall,” as well as “my will in it.”

stars. That is, Who has you in His right hand, and seeks you by His power.

walketh. Who goes about in the midst of you, and searches the hearts and the reins of all.

2. I know. I see, that is, that thou art diligent in the practice of good works, and bearest calmly the insufferable injuries of the wicked, for thou hast diligently examined the words and works of the false Apostles, and hast not been willing to give way to them in anything.

4. love. In the person of some, thou hast forsaken the love which began at first, and if they do not regain it, I will deprive them of the promised reward of light. But in others, thou hatest the examples of evil men, idolatry, that is, and fornication, for these are the deeds of the Nicolaitans, as is shewn in what follows.

7. ear. He indicates that he writes for all the churches the things which he addresses to them individually; for it was not the Church of the Ephesians alone, which, if it did not repent, was to be removed from its place; nor was Satan’s seat at Pergamos alone, and not rather in every place. In like manner also, the other things of the several churches are common to every church.

overcometh. The “tree of life” is Christ, by the vision of Whom in the celestial paradise, and in the present body of the Church, holy souls are refreshed.

8. Smyrna. He speaks to this church of enduring persecution, and its name also agrees with this. For Smyrna is interpreted “myrrh,” which denotes the mortification of the flesh.

the first. He who both created all things, and renewed all things by His death. This is a suitable preface when he is going to enjoin patience.

9. tribulation. Yea, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Fortunatus has beautifully expressed this in a short verse, saying:

“In narrow realm the poor man reigns possessing God.”

Jews. “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him.” For Jew is a name of religion. And so also the Apostle says, “who is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart,” “not in the letter.”

10. devil. These words apply to the Universal Church, against which the devil is always exercising an enmity from which there is no escape.

ten days. He means the whole of the time during which the commandments of the decalogue are necessary. For as long as thou shalt follow the light of the divine word, thou must needs suffer imprisonment from the enemy who opposes thee. Some understand that the ten persecutions of the heathen, from the Emperor Nero to Domitian, are signified.

death. He shews how far the ten days reach, in that he counsels them to keep the faith unto death.

11. second death. He who shall have remained faithful unto the death of the flesh, will not fear the death of the soul.

12. Pergamos. Pergamos is interpreted, “dividing their horns,” for by his judgment he made a distinction between the virtues of the faithful and the perfidy of the Nicolaitans, that “the horns of the sinners might be broken, and the horns of the righteous one exalted.”

sword. He has fitly mentioned first His judicial power, for He was to assign rewards to the victors, and punishment to the transgressors.

13. seat. I approve indeed of thy patience, because although thou dwellest among the reprobate, thou dost not honour Me in name alone, as called Christian, but with perfect faith, even in the time of a persecution unto death. But I do not approve of this, that I see seducing teachers even in thee.

Antipas. Some understand a martyr who suffered at Pergamos, others the Lord Christ, who even now is put to death by the unbelieving, so far as in them lies.

14. eat. These are the two principal things in which all the carnal exercise themselves, “whose god is their belly, and their glory in their shame.” But besides this, every evil work is idolatry and spiritual fornication.

15. Nicolaitans. The Nicolaitans are named from Nicolas the deacon, of whom Clement relates that, when he was reproved for his jealousy of a most beautiful wife, he answered that whoever would might take her to wife, and says that, on account of this, unbelievers taught that the Apostles allowed to all a promiscuous and common intercourse with women. And the Nicolaitans are reported to have put forth some fabulous and almost heathen statements concerning the beginning of the world, and not to have kept their meats separate from things offered to idols.

17. manna. He who shall have despised the allurements of the flesh in spite of the advice of hypocrites, will of right be satisfied with the sweetness of the invisible bread which comes down from heaven.

stone. That is, a body which is now made white by baptism, and is then refulgent with the glory of incorruption.

name. That we should be named, and should be, sons of God.

knoweth. Because “he who says that he knows God, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,” for the hypocrite tastes not how sweet the Lord is.

18. Thyatira. Thyatira is translated, “for a sacrifice;” and the saints “present their bodies a living sacrifice.”

eyes. He explains farther on what eyes of flame are, saying, “I am He Who searcheth the reins and the hearts, and I will give to every one of you according to your works.”

feet. This also he explains to be, that “the last works of this church are more than the first.”

20. Jezebel. In thy work indeed, and thy faith, thou art to be praised. But in this thou art to be blamed, that thou dost not confute with proper energy the synagogue of false Apostles, which pretends to be Christian. The name Jezebel, which implies “an issue of blood,” belongs to heretics; and in particular, she is conjectured to be a woman in the aforenamed church, who teaches the evil deeds which have been mentioned, who was to be a figure of the Jezebel throughout the world, whom also he manifestly threatens with vengeance.

seduce. Under the name of Christ forsooth, she taught spiritual fornication and idolatry, for how could she openly teach the worship of idols, when she said that she was a prophetess in the Church.

22. bed. It is brought to pass by the just judgment of God, that she should lie in a lied of eternal punishment, who made the wretched lie down in a bed of lust.

23. children. He here names the posterity and works of the woman, “children,” and he threatens them not with the momentary death of the body, but the eternal death of the soul.

hearts. Under the reins he signifies delights, under the heart thoughts.

works. Our works and words, no doubt, may be known to men. But with what intention they are accomplished, and whereunto we desire to attain by their means, He alone knows Who perceives what each one thinks, and in what he takes delight. And with what consistency in punishing fornication and idolatry, which are open faults, can He be said to be a discerner of secret things, unless these names may be applied even to the least offences? “Thou wilt destroy,” he says, “all those who commit fornication from Thee.” And the same Apostle John, who heard this, when he reasoned of false brethren, ended by saying, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”

24. you. As he commends repentance to the ungodly, and threatens them with punishment, so he exhorts the godly to patience by holding forth eternal rewards.

known. So, again, they who work iniquity know not God, although they preach Him. In this way also, God Who knoweth all men, knoweth not those who work iniquity.

send. I will not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able to endure; otherwise: “Beware,” He says, “of false prophets,” for I send unto you no new doctrine; but keep that which ye have received unto the end.

25. overcometh. The Church has this power in Christ, as the body in the Lord: for “in Him,” according to the Apostle, “God has given unto us all things.”

27. iron. With inflexible justice He rules the meek, that they may the more bring forth fruit, but overthrows the contumacious, that they may either perish for ever, or that earthly desires may be destroyed in them, and the impure things of the old man, whatever has been contracted and wrought in them from the sinful clay.

28. star. Christ is “the morning star,” Who promises and reveals to the saints the eternal light of life, when the night of the world is past.








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