{p. xxxi}



§ 1. Short Account of the Seer and his Work.

JOHN the Seer, to whom we owe the Apocalypse, was a Jewish Christian who had in all probability spent the greater part of his life in Galilee before he emigrated to Asia Minor and settled in Ephesus, the chief centre of Greek civilization in that province. This conclusion is in part to be drawn not only from his defective knowledge of Greek and the unparalleled liberties he takes with its syntax, but also from the fact that to a certain extent he creates a Greek grammar of his own.(1) He had never mastered the Greek of his own day. The language of his adoption was not for him a normalized and rigid medium of utterance: nay rather, it was still for him in a fluid condition, and so he used it freely, remodelling its syntactical usages and launching forth into unheard of expressions. Hence his style is absolutely unique. That he has set at defiance the grammarian and the usual rules of syntax is unquestionable, but he did not do so deliberately. He had no such intention. His object was to drive home his message with all the powers at his command, and this he does in some of the sublimest passages in all literature. With such an object in view he had no thought of consistently committing breaches of Greek syntax. How then is the unbridled licence of his Greek constructions to be explained? The reason, as the present writer hopes to prove,(2) is that while he wrote in Greek he thought in Hebrew and frequently translated Hebrew idioms literally into Greek. In Galilee he had no doubt used Aramaic as the ordinary vehicle of intercourse with his fellows, but all his serious studies were rooted in Hebrew. He had so profound a knowledge of the O.T. that he constantly uses its phraseology not only consciously, but even unconsciously. When using it consciously he uses the Hebrew text, and translates it generally first hand; but not infrequently his renderings are influenced not only by the LXX, but also by a later version, {p. xxii}which is now lost in its original form, but which was re-edited by Theodotion 100 years later.(3)

John the Seer was quite distinct from the author of the Gospel and Epistles.(4) That the Gospel and Epistles were from one and the same author, who was probably John the Elder, I have shown below.(5) That these two Johns belonged to the same religious circle, or that the author of the Gospel was a pupil of John the Seer, is not improbable.(6)

We gather from the Apocalypse that John the Seer exercised an unquestioned authority over the Churches of the Province of Asia. To seven of these, chosen by him to be representatives of Christendom as a whole,(7) he wrote his great Apocalypse in the form of a letter, about the year 95 A.D.(8) The object(9) of the Apocalypse was to encourage the faithful to resist even to death the blasphemous claims of the State, and to proclaim the coming victory of the cause of God and of His Christ not only in the individual Christian, and the corporate body of such individuals, but also in the nations as such in their national and international life and relations. It lays down the only true basis for national ethics and international law. Hence the Seer claims not only the after-world for God and for His people, but also this world. God's work will be carried on without haste, without rest, till "the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of God and of His Christ."

The Seer has used freely not only his own visions of various dates,(10) but also Jewish and Christian sources of Neronic and Vespasianic dates in the presentation of his great theme.(11)

The fact of his having freely used sources might seem to militate against the unity of his work.(12) But this is not so. A glance at the Plan(13) of the book will show how thought and action steadily advance step by step from its very beginning till they reach their consummation and culminate at its close.

But unhappily the prophet did not live to revise his work, or even to put the materials of 204-22 into their legitimate order.(14) This task fell, to the misfortune of all students of the Apocalypse, into the hands of a very unintelligent disciple. This disciple was a better Greek scholar than his master, for he corrects his Greek occasionally, and was probably a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian of Asia Minor. He had not his maste' s knowledge of Hebrew, if he had any knowledge of it, and he was profoundly ignorant of his master's thought. If he had left {xxiii} his master's work as he found it, its teaching would not have been the unintelligible mystery it has been to subsequent ages; but unhappily he intervened repeatedly, rearranging the text in some cases, adding to it in others, and every such intervention has made the task of interpretation impossible for all students who accepted such rearrangements and additions as genuine features of the text. Since, however, his handiwork and character are fully dealt with later, we need not waste more time here over his misdemeanours.(15)

When once the interpolations of John's editor, which amount to little more than twenty-two verses, are removed, and the dislocations of the text are set right,(16) most of the difficulties of the text disappear and it becomes a comparatively easy task to follow the thought of our author as it develops from stage to stage, from its opening chapters darkened with the shadow of the great tribulation about to fall on entire Christendom, till it reaches its triumphant close in the eternal blessedness of all the faithful in the new heaven and the new earth.

The Apocalypse consists of a Prologue 11-3 , the Apocalypse proper, consisting of seven parts-a significant number-and an Epilogue. The events in these seven parts are described in visions in strict chronological order, save in the case of certain proleptic visions which are inserted for purposes of encouragement and lie outside the orderly development of the theme of the Seer: i.e. 79-17 10-1113 14, and 12, which relates to the past, but forms a necessary introduction to 13.(17)

Thus there is no need to resort to the theory of Recapitulation which from the time of Victorinus of Pettau (circa 270 A.D.) has dominated practically every school of interpretation from that date to the present. So far is it from being true that the Apocalypse represents more or less fully, under each successive series of the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls, the same series of events, that the interpretation which is compelled to fall back on this device must be pronounced a failure. This principle of interpretation, like many other forlorn efforts in this field, arose mainly from the non-recognition by scholars in the past of the interpolations made in the text by the disciple and editor of the Seer.

§ 2.  Plan of the Book.

The Apocalypse consists of a Prologue, 11-3, a letter consisting of seven distinct parts : (1) 14-20, (2) 2-3, (3) 4-5, (4) 6- 203, (5) 219-222. 14-15. 17 204-10, (6) 2011-15, (7) 215a. 4d. 5b. l-4abc 223-5, and an Epilogue, 215c. 6b-8 226-7. 18a. 16. 13. 12. 10. 8-9. 20-21.

{xxiv} The Apocalypse consists of a Prologue, the Apocalypse proper-consisting of seven distinct parts, and an Epilogue. In the Prologue, 11-3, the Apocalypse is affirmed to have been given by God to Christ and by Christ to John. In the Epilogue the truth of the claims made in the Prologue is attested by God, 215c. 6b-8; by Christ, 226-7. 18a. 16. 13. 12. 10; and by John himself, 226-7. 18a. 16. 13. 12. 10. 8-9. 20-21.

The seven parts and the Epilogue constitute a letter, 14-2221, which, like the Pauline letters, opens with "John to the Seven Churches. . . . Grace unto you, and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from Jesus Christ" (14-5a), and ends with the words, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen."

The Prologue and Epilogue are not mere subsequent additions to the book. They are organic parts of it. Not to mention other grounds, this is at once obvious from the fact that the Prologue contains the first of the seven beatitudes of the Apocalypse (i.e. 13), and the Epilogue the seventh (i.e. 227). That there should be exactly seven beatitudes in our book and not more and not less, is at once intelligible to all students of the Apocalypse.(18)

The Book, apart from the Prologue and Epilogue, falls naturally into seven parts again a significant division. In Jewish writers the favorite division of a work was a fivefold one. Thus the five books of the Pentateuch, of the Psalms, of the Megilloth, of the Maccabean history by Jason of Cyrene, of I Enoch, of the Pirke Aboth. This fivefold division is clearly traceable in Matthew (see HoraeSynopticae2, 164; Hawkins). But the number five does not occur in our author save with evil associations (cf. 95.10 1710), whereas seven is a most sacred number in his regard.

The seven parts are as follows: (1) 14-20. John's letter to the Seven Churches, in which he tells how Christ had appeared to and bidden him to send to the Churches the visions written in this book. (2) 2-3. The problem of the book as reflected in the letters to the Churches how to reconcile God's righteousness and Christ's redemption with the condition of His servants on earth. (3) 4-5. A vision of God and a vision of Christ, who takes upon Himself the guidance of the world's destinies and its judgments. (4) 6-78. 81. 3-5. 2. 6. 13-9. 1114-13. 15-203. Judgments of the world. (5) 219-222. 14-15. 17 204-10. The Millennial Kingdom: attack of evil powers on the Beloved City at its close: their destruction and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire. (6) 2011-15. Heaven and earth vanish: final judgment by God Himself. (7) 215a. 4d. 5b. l-4abc 223-5. The {xxv} everlasting Kingdom in the new heaven and earth and the New Jerusalem.

In these seven parts the events described in the visions are in strict chronological order, save that the Seer is obliged in chap. 12 to consider past events in order to prepare for those in 13. But there are certain sections of the book lying outside the orderly development of the Seer's theme, sc. 79-17 1011-13 and 14.

These three additions, which do not carry on the action of the divine drama and are likewise breaches of unity in respect of time, are all proleptic. After 71-8 the visionary gaze of the Seer leaves for the moment the steady progressive unveiling of the events of his future and beholds in 79-17 the more distant destinies of the martyred faithful triumphant and secure before the throne of God in heaven (although these sealed members of the Church are not martyred till 13), and of the same host of martyrs on Mount Zion (during the period of the Millennial Kingdom) in 141-5. These visions are recounted out of their due order to encourage and inspire the Church in the face of an impending universal martyrdom. In the case of 10-1113 the explanation is different. Our Seer sees Rome to be the impersonation of sheer might, of wickedness and lawlessness, i.e. the Antichrist. But before our Seer's time in Christian circles Jerusalem was expected to be the scene of the appearance of the Antichrist (2 Thess. 24) and Rome was regarded as the representative of order. This former view of the Antichrist is preserved in this proleptic section, but no reference is made again to it throughout the remaining chapters.

In the analysis which follows the three proleptic sections are inserted on the right hand of the page:
Prologue, 11-3. 11-3. The Revelation given by God to Christ and by Christ entrusted to John. John's testimony to it as from God and Christ. The first beatitude on those who keep the things written therein.
I. John writes to the Seven Churches to tell them that he has seen Christ and been bidden by Him to send them the visions written in this book-14-20. 14-7. John begins his letter to the Seven Churches with the blessing of grace and peace from the Everlasting God and Jesus Christ, Lord of the dead and Ruler of the living, the Redeemer. 

19-20. John recounts his vision of the Son of Man in Patmos, who bids him to write down what he saw in a book and to send it to the Seven Churches.

{xxvi} II. Problem of the book set forth in the Letters to the Seven Churches, which reflect the seeming failure of the cause of both God and Christ on earth 2-3. 2-3. Letters to the Seven Churches. These implicitly set the problem. How are God's righteousness and Christ's redemption of the world to be reconciled with the condition of His servants on earth and the dominating power of evil thereon? Hence John's visions, embracing heaven and earth, begin in 4-5 with God and Christ as the Supreme Powers in the world
III. Vision of God, to whom the world owes its origin, and of Christ, to whom it owes its redemption 4-5. 4. Scene of John's visions is no longer earth with its failures, troubles, and outlook darkened with the apprehension of universal martyrdom, but heaven with its atmosphere of perfect assurance and peace and thanksgiving and joy. John's vision of God of a throne and of Him that sat thereon, to whom the Cherubim and Elders offered continual praise, and to whose will the whole creation owes its being.

5. Vision of Christ, who, having wrought redemption for God's people, takes upon Himself the guidance of the destinies of the world in a series of judgments.

IV. Judgments. First Series -the first Six Seals. 6. First series of judgments affecting all men alike, good and bad-the first six Seals.
Judgments. Second Series, 7-13-The seventh Seal and the Three Woes, bringing into manifestation the servants of God and the servants of Satan and Satan himself. Before the seventh Seal there is a pause on earth, during which God marks out His servants by a seal on their foreheads; after the seventh Seal there is a pause in heaven during which His servants prayers are presented before God both the sealing of the faithful and their prayers being designed to secure them against the Three Woes. 71-8. Further judgments stayed till the spiritual Israel are made manifest through the seal of God affixed on their foreheads and are thus secured against the Three Woes, against the first two absolutely, and against the spiritual effects of the third.

79-17. Proleptic vision of a vast multitude of the faithful in heaven, i.e. of those who had just been sealed and had died as martyrs-a vision subsequent in point of time to the visions in 13.

81.3-5. 2. 6. 13. The seventh Seal, introducing the Three Woes, is followed by silence in heaven, during which the prayers of the faithful are offered before God in heaven for protection against the Three Woes.

First and Second Woes bring Satan s servants into manifestation and affect only those who had not been sealed. 9-1114a. First and second demonic woes (heralded by trumpet blasts) affecting only those who had not been sealed, with torment and death respectively.
{xxvii} Third Woe, followed by two songs of triumph in heaven, brings into full manifestation Satan, his chief agents the two Beasts, and all his servants. Evil is now at its climax. All Satan's servants are visited with spiritual blindness and marked with the mark of the Beast. All the faithful are martyred. 10-1113. Proleptic digression on the Antichrist in Jerusalem a vision contemporaneous in point of time with 13.

1114b-19. Third and Satanic Woe heralded by a trumpet blast. Thereupon two songs of triumph burst forth in heaven declaring that God is King, and faithful and faithless alike will receive their due recompense.

12-13. Third or Satanic Woe. Satan at last fully manifest. Climax of his power and his apparent triumph on earth. In 12 the vision is retrospective: it recounts the birth and ascension of Christ and the casting down of Satan to earth facts closely connected; also Satan's persecution of the Church. In 13 Satan summons to his help the first and second Beasts. The faithless are spiritually blinded and marked by the mark of the Beast. All the faithful are martyred.

141-7. Proleptic vision (a) of the Church triumphant on earth in the Millennial Kingdom and the conversion of the heathen a vision contemporaneous with 204-6, and (b) in 148-11. 14. l8-20 of judgment of Rome and of the heathen nations-a vision contemporaneous with and summarizing 18. 1911-21 207-10.
Vision of the entire martyr host in heaven who had proved themselves victorious over the Beast and his image. 155-8. Vision of the martyred host (martyred in 13) standing on the sea of glass before God, singing praises and proclaiming the coming conversion of the nations.
Judgments. Third Series, 155-203

(a) Preliminary judgments-the Seven Bowls affecting the heathen who alone survive.

155-8. The Seven Bowls of God's wrath entrusted to the Seven Angels. 

16. The Seven Bowls.

(b) Successive judgments affecting the powers of evil in succession.

(c) Destruction of Rome and the Seer's appeal to Heaven to rejoice over its doom.

The response of all the angel and martyr hosts in songs of thanksgiving.

171-6 Vision of the Great Harlot seated on the Beast. 

178-18. Interpretation of this vision.

181-19. 21-23d Vision of her destruction. 

1820. 23f-24 The Seer's appeal to Heaven to rejoice.

191-3. Thanksgiving song of the angels.

194 165b-6 Thanksgiving song of the Elders and Cherubim.

167. Thanksgiving song of the altar beneath the throne.

195-8. Thanksgiving song of the martyr host in heaven.

{xxviii} (b) Destruction of the Parthian hosts by Christ and His elect.  Lost (though referred to proleptically in 1714 and presupposed in 1913: possibly displaced by the interpolated passage, 199-10).
(g) Destruction of the hostile nations by Christ and the armies of Heaven. The Beast and False Prophet cast into the lake of fire, and Satan chained for 1000 years. 1911-21. The Word of God and the armies of Heaven destroy the hostile nations. The Beast and False Prophet cast into the lake of fire. 

201-3. As Satan was cast down from heaven on the fresh advent of Christ, on Christ's second advent he is cast into the abyss and chained for 1000 years.

V. Millennial Kingdom: Jerusalem down from heaven to be its Capital. Reign of the martyred Saints for 1000 years. 219-222. 14-15. 17 204-6. Vision of the Heavenly Jerusalem coming down come from heaven to be the abode of Christ and the glorified martyrs who are to reign with Christ 1000 years and evangelize the nations.
Final attack of the evil powers on the Saints in the Beloved City: their destruction and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire. 207-10. Close of the Millennial Kingdom. Satan loosed: march of Gog and Magog against the Beloved City: their destruction and the casting of Satan into the lake of fire.
VI. Heaven and Earth having vanished, a great white throne appears, before which the dead come to be judged by God Himself.  2011.15. Vision of a great white throne, and of Him that sat thereon. Disappearance of the former heaven and earth. Judgment of those risen from the dead, both bad and good. Death and hell cast into the lake of fire.
VII. The Everlasting Kingdom established in which God and Christ dwell with man. Reign of all the saints for ever and ever. 215a. 4d. 5b. 1-4abc 223-5. The new heaven, the new earth, and the New Jerusalem. The faithful reign as kings for ever and ever,
Epilogue. 215c. 6b-8. God's testimony to John's book and His message to mankind through John of divine sonship for them that overcome. 

226-7. 18a. 16. 13. 12. 10 Christ's testimony to John's book. The seventh beatitude. Christ's speedy coming to judgment.

22 8. 9. 20-21. John' own testimony. Christ's final words. John's prayer and benediction.

1. See pp. cxvii-c1ix
2. See pp. cxlii-clii.
3. See pp. lxvi sqq., lxxx sq.
4. See pp. xxix-xl.
5. See pp. xli-xliii.
6. See pp. xxxii-xxxiv.
7. See p. lxxxix sq. note.
8. See p. xxiv.
9. See p. ciii sq.
10. See pp. xc, xciv.
11. See p. xc sq.
12. See pp. lxxxvii-xci.
13. See pp.xxiii-xxviii.
14. See pp. l-lv.
15. See pp. l-lv.
16. See pp. lvi-lx.
17. See p. xxv.
18. Sec note on i. 3; also footnote1 in vol. ii. 445.

Scanned and corrected by Daniel J. Dyke