Matthew Henry Complete

Commentary on The Revelation

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Chapter 10

This chapter is an introduction to the latter part of the prophecies of this book. Whether what is contained between this and the sounding of the seventh trumpet (11:15) be a distinct prophecy from the other, or only a more general account of some of the principal things included in the other, is disputed by our curious enquirers into these abstruse writings. However, here we have,

  1. A remarkable description of a very glorious angel with an open book in his hand (v. 1-3).
  2. An account of seven thunders which the apostle heard, as echoing to the voice of this angel, and communicating some discoveries, which the apostle was not yet allowed to write (v. 4).
  3. The solemn oath taken by him who had the book in his hand (v. 5-7).
  4. The charge given to the apostle, and observed by him (v. 8?11).

Verses 1-7 Here we have an account of another vision the apostle was favoured with, between the sounding of the sixth trumpet and that of the seventh. And we observe,

I. The person who was principally concerned in communicating this discovery to John—an angel from heaven, another mighty angel, who is so set forth as would induce one to think it could be no other than our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

II. His station and posture: He set his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth, to show the absolute power and dominion he had over the world. And he held in his hand a little book opened, probably the same that was before sealed, but was now opened, and gradually fulfilled by him.

III. His awful voice: He cried aloud, as when a lion roareth (v. 3), and his awful voice was echoed by seven thunders, seven solemn and terrible ways of discovering the mind of God.

IV. The prohibition given to the apostle, that he should not publish, but conceal what he had learned from the seven thunders, v. 4. The apostle was for preserving and publishing every thing he saw and heard in these visions, but the time had not yet come.

V. The solemn oath taken by this mighty angel.

Verses 8-11 Here we have,

I. A strict charge given to the apostle, which was,

II. An account of the taste and relish which this little book would have, when the apostle had taken it in; at first, while in his mouth, sweet. All persons feel a pleasure in looking into future events, and in having them foretold; and all good men love to receive a word from God, of what import soever it be. But, when this book of prophecy was more thoroughly digested by the apostle, the contents would be bitter; these were things so awful and terrible, such grievous persecutions of the people of God, and such desolation made in the earth, that the foresight and foreknowledge of them would not be pleasant, but painful to the mind of the apostle: thus was Ezekiel’s prophecy to him, ch. 3:3.

III. The apostle’s discharge of the duty he was called to (v. 10): He took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up, and he found the relish to be as was told him.

IV. The apostle is made to know that this book of prophecy, which he had now taken in, was not given him merely to gratify his own curiosity, or to affect him with pleasure or pain, but to be communicated by him to the world. Here his prophetical commission seems to be renewed, and he is ordered to prepare for another embassy, to convey those declarations of the mind and will of God which are of great importance to all the world, and to the highest and greatest men in the world, and such should be read and recorded in many languages. This indeed is the case; we have them in our language, and are all obliged to attend to them, humbly to enquire into the meaning of them, and firmly to believe that every thing shall have its accomplishment in the proper time; and, when the prophecies shall be fulfilled, the sense and truth of them will appear, and the omniscience, power, and faithfulness of the great God will be adored.


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