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An American commentary on the New Testament (Volume 7) online

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book was opened, which is the book of
life. Of him that overcometh, it is promised
that his name shall not be blotted out of the
book of life. It is the roll of the redeemed.
The names of the Lord's true people are all
there. And the dead were judged out of
those things which were written in the
books, according to their works. How
much of this whole description, now, we
ought in our interpretation to treat as fore-
shadowing actual occurrences, is a very dif-
ficult question. Two points, at least, may be
treated as certain : (1) That in this final judg-
ment there is to be an actual personal coming
of the Lord, in the overwhelming glory of a
divine manifestation. It is here that, in our
own system of interpretation, we find the
fulfillment of those predictions, scattered
through the New Testament especially,
which speak of that second coming. In this
connection it is that we trace the realization
of what Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians,


[Cn. XX.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it;
and death and hell delivered up the dead which were
in them : * and they were judged every man according
to their works.

14 And 'death and hell were cast into the lake of
fire. <*This is the second death.

13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it;
and death and Hades gave up the dead that
were in them: and they were judged every man

14 according to their works. And death and Hades
were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second

och.6:8 6 rer. 12 el Cor. IS : 26,54,65 cZ ver. 6 ; ch. 21:8.

(i The. 4 : is-18), so vividly depicts of the Lord's
descent from heaven "with the voice of the
archangel and the trump of God," the res-
urrection of the blessed dead and the glori-
fying "change" of living saints, while all in
one beatific company are "caught up to
meet the Lord in the air ' ' ; thenceforth to
be "ever with the Lord." For this coming
of the Son of man has two great purposes
to judge the wicked and the lost, and to re-
ceive unto himself the people who are his
"purchased possession." We may refer also
to 1 Cor. 15: 50, et seq., as being to a like
effect. (2) In some real and actual sense
there is to be a "judgment." The "books"
we look upon as belonging to the scenery of
the vision. They symbolize that perfect and
exact knowledge of each individual character
and life upon which the final judgment shall
be based. It is as if there were a record, in-
disputable, exact, confounding to all the
condemned, which shall absolutely justify
the final sentence, and vindicate forever the
unimpeachable rectitude of the divine ad-
ministration. The book of life symbolizes
the fact that of those which had been "given "
to him, the Kedeemer has "lost none." It
is as if a roll had been kept during all the
centuries of earth's history, and the name
there entered of every one saved by faith, or
embraced by the terms of the salvation pro-
vided in Christ. No name which a rightly-
founded Christian hope had expected to find
on that page shall fail to be there found.
Under this form of symbol, it is shown us
how, in that great day, this is a "hope that
maketh not ashamed." Yet within all that
is thus to be viewed as symbol is the certain
and literal fact, that in this way the affairs
of the world shall be finally wound up in
an assignment to each human being of that
ultimate unchangeable condition, of joy or
of woe, which his own life has prepared for

13. And the sea gave up the dead which
were in it; and death and hell [Hades]
gave up the dead which were in them :

and they were judged every man accord-
ing to their works. By "Hades " is meant,
of course, the world of spirits. "Death"
surrenders the body, and "Hades" the spirit.
Even "the sea" gives up the dead that were
in it. It is now that "the rest of the dead,"
the dead in the strict and literal sense, ' ' live
again." All are thus raised, the righteous
and the wicked the former "to life," the
latter "to shame and everlasting contempt,"
^ Dan. 12:7). The Scriptures know of no other
resurrection of the body but this.

14. And death and hell [Hades] were
cast into the lake of fire. We can only
understand by this that there will never again
be such a thing in the universe of God as
that "death" which was such a dread thing
in all human history such a separation of
body and spirit, the one returning to dust,
the other a disembodied inhabitant of a world
of souls. Events of this nature shall be
known no more. They belonged to the
history of man on the earth. Now that this
history is ended, they also are ended. Death
and Hades, as dread powers, are here personi-
fied. And this cessation of them is pictured
as the destruction of actual beings. [Death,
as representative of the dissolution of body
and soul, and Hades, as representing the
state of the wicked in the unseen world be-
fore the last judgment, will be swallowed up
forever in the second death, the lake of fire.
In the resurrection of the last day, that of
the wicked cannot be a resurrection to life,
but only to death, in the sense of being
finally condemned and of passing into their
final state of separation from God. A. H.]
This is the second death. Mention of
the "second death" has already been made
in ver. 6 of this chapter. Over the "blessed
and holy," the regenerated and saved, the
second death "hath no power." It is not
said to them as to the rest of mankind : "De-
part into everlasting fire, prepared for the
devil and his angels." We can understand
by this only the presentation in figurative
form of that final condition which awaits the




15 And whosoever was not found written in the book
of life was cast into the lake of tire.

15 death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not
found written in the book of Hie, he was cast into
the lake of fire.


AND 'I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the
first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
and there was no more sea.

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth : for the
first heaven and the first earth are passed away ; and

ach. 1:20....& I. 65: IT; 60:22; 2 Pet. 3: IS.... c oh. 20: 1L

unsaved. For them, and for "the devil and
his angels," it is a condition as real as it is
dreadful. The impersonalities named, death
and hades, the beast and the false prophet,
are described as sharing it under a pictorial
mode of representation, the meaning of which
is that they, in their power to deceive and to
destroy, to sadden and to wound, are to be
"felt and feared no more."

15. And whosoever was not found
written in the book of life was cast
into the lake of fire. With these terrible
words the record of man's history on earth
closes. As these are spoken the curtain
descends. "When next it rises, we shall see
"a new heaven and a new earth."


The fact should be emphasized that we
have now reached not only the end of the
Dispensation under which all the great events
so far represented on the Apocalyptic scene
have transpired, but the end also of the period
of human probation. The latter of these in-
dicates the great point of contrast between all
that has engaged us heretofore in these studies,
and that which is now to follow. The re-
maining two chapters set forth the final
states, either of the saved or of the lost.
Evidence of this will appear in the course of
the following exposition. With the judg-
ment, man's earthly history ends. The " mys-
tery of God" is "finished." Promise, and
prophecy, and type, have been all fulfilled;
the designs of God in appointing to man such
a dwelling-place, and for so long a period, have
been all accomplished. What remains of the
book is the lifting of a veil beyond which lie
the endless spaces of the changeless future.

Upon the final condition of lost men, our
book, in this part of it, does not dwell at
length. The two closing chapters are almost
wholly occupied with pictures of the saved in
their happy state. Only an allusion here and
there brings to our attention that contrasted
picture from which even inspiration seems to
turn away, as if it were too sorrowful and

terrible for steady contemplation. It is a
mystery into which we can have no desire to
penetrate. That the justice of the divine ad-
ministration, that principle of rectitude so
essential in a perfect moral sovereignty, will
be completely satisfied and vindicated, there
can be no doubt. That the doom of the
finally lost will be no more severe than those
great interests of universal justice demand,
we may be sure. All that is doubtful to us,
all that is hard to understand, all that appeals
to pity or to terror, we leave with that
"Judge of all the earth" who will "do

The indications are that the overthrow and
subjection of evil in the universe is to be com-
plete and final. If we knew all that is to be
known of reasons of the divine procedure in
permitting a calamity so fearful as the origi-
nal outbreak of evil that sin " which brought
death into the world and all our woe" we
should most certainly acquiesce in it as infi-
nitely to be approved. All the more are we
sure of this as we see that the period during
which evil shall have scope and opportunity has
its fixed and unalterable limit. The overthrow
of evil, however, will not be its annihilation.
Its "everlasting punishment," the "smoke"
of its "torment ascending forever and ever,"
necessitate the implication that there will be
those who suffer; otherwise the "punish-
ment," the "torment" is a clear impossi-
bility. But the world of doom will forever
be a region apart. Never again will evil be
suffered to break out of bounds, or Satan
allowed to go forth to deceive the nations.
Into the City of the Blessed "there shall in
no wise enter any thing that defileth, neither
whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh
a lie." ''For the former things are passed



1. And I saw a new heaven and a new
earth. A crucial question meets us in the
opening verse of this chapter. What is to be



[Cn. XXI.

understood by the "new heaven and new
earth " ? A correct exposition of much which
follows will depend upon the answer to this
question. There are two words in the Greek
(vios and (caiwk), representative of our English
word "new." These two words distinguish
shades of meaning which our own language
does not express in any such way. It is the
second word ((tatvds), which occurs in this
place, and, indeed, throughout the book; as
where we read of the "new name" (oh. 2:17),
the "new song" (5:9;H:s), "new Jerusalem,"
in ver. 2 of this present chapter, and the
making all things new," in ver. 5. A further
example of New Testament usage, in this
regard, is at Matt. 13: 52, where the wise
householder is described as bringing out of
his treasure "things new and old" ; also, at
Matt. 27 : 60, and John 19 : 41, where the
tomb in which our Lord was laid is spoken
of as " new." The latter word (KCU.VOS), is used
in all these places, and in others similar. It
is the word employed in speaking here of
the "new heaven and new earth." Perhaps
a passage somewhat more to the present pur-
pose, is that at Luke 22 : 20, where our Lord
says: "This cup is the new [<c<ui>] testament
[covenant] in my blood." The distinction in
the two Greek words (vos, KCUVOS), seems to be
that, while the former expresses newness of
aspect, appearance, the latter denotes new-
ness in kind; newness in contrast to what is
old; a sense strongly implied in all the cases
noted above. A word is also used by our
Lord (Matt. 19:28), apparently in allusion to the
same "new heaven and new earth," men-
tioned in our passage, a study of which may
help us at this point: "Verily, I say unto
you, ye which have followed me, in the re-
generation, when the Son of man shall sit on
the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon
twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Israel." It is not, we should observe: "ye
which have followed me in the regeneration,"
as is sometimes read; but, "ye which have
followed me," shall in the regeneration sit
upon thrones, etc. The mention of the Son of
man sitting on the throne of his glory, points
forward to that "regeneration" of which we
are to learn in our present chapter; the mak-
ing all things new. The word for "regene-
ration," (iroAivytiwia), is the same as is used to
denote the Christian new birth in Tit. 3: 5,
where we read of "the washing of regenera-

tion." The Christian new birth is a new
creation only in a figurative sense, implying
transformation, radical moral change the
human nature, the man, retaining its per-
sonal identity unchanged. Our Lord's use
of the word in reference to that "new birth"
of the physical creation to which we are now
directing attention, warrants a view of the
new heaven and the new earth somewhat
corresponding to that "new man in Christ
Jesus," which is the result of spiritual re-
generation. For the first heaven and the
first earth were passed away. We may
here refer to the passage in 2 Pet. 3:7: " But
the heavens that now are, and the earth, by
the same word, have been stored up for fire
[or stored with fire}, being reserved against
the day of judgment and destruction of un-
godly men." (Revised Version). It does not
belong to us, in this place, to discuss at length
the words quoted. We may note, however,
that they do not necessarily teach that the
heaven, or the heavenly bodies, and the
earth, are to be absolutely consumed by fire,
nor that the words before considered in 20 : 14:
"Before whose face the earth and the heaven
fled away," are to be so understood. Peter
does not say, or imply, in the words quoted,
that the earth shall be actually burned up.
In ver. 10, of the same chapter, the words
occur, in our version : " The earth also, and the
works that are therein, shall be burned up."
But there is here a disputed reading. The
text of Westcott and Hort has, "shall be dis-
covered" (eirpeeijo-erat) ; although the revision
translates "burned up," with the note in the
margin. "The most ancient manuscripts
read discovered. 11 "Shall be found," is pro-
posed as an alternative. Ellicotfs and the
Speaker 1 s Commentary suggest that the diffi-
culty found in the obscurity of the passage in
this translation, might be relieved by giving
it the interrogatorial form: "And shall the
earth and the works therein be found?" 1
We need not decide the point here. It will
suffice to say that even taking the rendering
"burned up," we are not obliged to conclude
that the destruction of the earth by fire will
be total, or that more is implied than such
changes, by means of fire and, perhaps, of
other physical agencies, as will adapt it to

i Alford thinks that the word (eupeflijowai), shall be
found, grew out of the word urentur, (shall be burned
up), in the same Latin version.




2 And I John saw "the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of neaven, prepared 'as a
bride adorned for her husband.

2 the sea is no more. And I saw 1 the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

oI-52: 1; Gal. 4:16; Heb. 11 : 10; 12 : 22; IS: 14; ch. S: 12 ; rer. 10....& In. 54: 5; 61:10; 2 Cor. 11 : 2. 1 Or, tkt koly city

Jerutalem coming down new out of heaven.

the new life that is to be lived upon its surface.
There have been already many such changes
in the physical history of our globe. There
is nothing unlikely, but much in itself prob-
able, in the idea that still another and a yet
more signal change awaits it. The earth as
it now is, was fitted to be the abode of human
beings during the long ages appointed for
the working out of God's plan of redemption.
When that period ends, it is natural to sup-
pose that a new phase will appear in even the
earth's own condition, and that through ap-
propriate transformations it will be itself re-
generated, and so made a fitting abode for
regenerated man. It would be, besides, quite
in the order of customary divine procedure,
if all this were to come about, in part at least,
in a use of agencies and laws already active.
It is often remarked how the elements of
fresh physical revolutions are stored beneath
the earth's crust, and in its atmosphere, with
a possibility of outbreaks such as shall con-
sume what is now seen upon its surface, and
possibly change the very "elements" of
things in nature. It is more difficult to see
in what sense the old "heaven" shall "pass
away," and a "new heaven" appear. Per-
haps all we need to infer is, that such changes
in atmospheric conditions and the relations of
other worlds to our own, as are necessarily
involved in those transpiring in the earth
itself, will occur. "We understand, therefore,
from the words under consideration, only
that the old earth and heaven "pass away"
in the sense of experiencing changes which fit
them for the new and heavenly life of the
redeemed, and that in this sense there will be
"a new heaven and a new earth." All that is
involved in this no one can safely undertake to
show. And there was no more sea. "And
the sea does not exist longer," will be a literal
rendering. The explanations proposed are
numerous. The Speaker 1 8 Commentary groups
them thus: (1) The sea exists no longer, be-
cause the "new earth" has arisen out of the fire
(Beda, De Wette, Ebrard, Alford, Bisping);
(2) The former "sea" has passed away, like
the former "earth"; but this does not pre-
clude a "new" sea, any more than a "new"

earth (Dfisterdieck); (3) The sea of the
nations, the wicked, restless world (St. Au-
gustine, Hengstenberg, Wordsworth); (4)
Because in Paradise there was no sea, and
here all is Paradise (Zullig); (5) Because no
longer required to separate and keep apart
divisions of the human race (Andreas, Ger-
lach) ; (6) The old heaven and earth of the
former Israel having passed away, the sea,
the emblem of the Gentiles, is no more (I.
Williams). The Speaker's Commentary pre-
fers the exposition noted as (3). The view
of Carpenter seems substantially the same.
Underlying this figurative sense, however,
why may there not be a literal one, as in that
of the new earth? The earth will be new
physically, as well as in a higher and wider
sense than simply a physical one, whatever
that may import in a high spiritual sense,
involving all that belongs essentially to the
new, glorious, and immortal life of its re-
deemed inhabitants. We doubt if it is con-
sistent with the rules of correct interpreta-
tion, to treat the new earth as involving thus
the literal with the figurative, and to take the
word "sea" only in a sense strictly sym-
bolical. All that which the sea has symbol-
ized in various parts of this book will doubt-
less have passed away. But why not the sea
itself, at least in so far as will satisfy the real
import of the passage? The redeemed race
will be one, no longer many, and no longer
needing to be protected against each other's
aggression by interposed oceans. The con-
ditions of life will be changed, and that
"highway of nations," now used for so
many purposes, will be needed no longer.
The physical uses of these wide watery tracts
will be called for no more, under conditions
so "new" as will exist in the "new heaven
and new earth." We can see no serious ob-
jection to taking the words "there shall be no
more sea," in the same blending of the literal
and figurative, as in the sense of the new
earth and the new heaven.


2. And I John saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down from God out


[Cn. XXI.

8 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God i.v with men, and he
will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and
God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he
shall i dwell with them, and they shall be his
peoples, and God himself shall be with them, s and be

a Lev. 26: 11, 12; Kiek. 43:7; 2 Cor. 6:16; oh. 7 : 15. 1 Or. tabernacle.... 2 Some ancient authorities omit, and be their God.

of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband. The name, "John," should
be omitted. The descending city is seen in
vision. By "the holy city" we understand
the redeemed church in its final felicity and
glory. Its descent out of heaven belongs to
the scenery of the vision, and symbolizes
that manifestation of the church in this
final heavenly state in which all the results
of completed redemption shall gloriously
appear. In the imagery here, as seen in
connection with ver. 1, 2 of the next chapter,
there is a blending of the city and the
garden Jerusalem and Eden. Both are
used to represent the final state of the saved:
Eden as implying the recovery in redemption
of all that had been lost in the fall, and Jeru-
salem as implying the security of the re-
deemed. The garden had lain open to the
tempter. Man's condition then was one of
moral trial. Man redeemed will be safe for-
ever. Of this, the walled city is the expres-
sive symbol. The use of the city Jerusalem
to represent this is eminently appropriate.
Jerusalem was the central scene of the divine
manifestation during the long ages of time.
The temple and worship of the true God were
there, and there only, in all the earth. The
revelations of himself which God made
during those centuries culminated there.
"When Christ, the God manifest, came, it
was to this "holy city." Through its gates
he passed, when that word to Zion was ful-
filled: "Behold thy King cometh!" There
he manifested his divine power and sove-
reignty. There, also, he suffered, "the just
for the unjust." Over its doom he wept the
beloved city. Herein were types significant
of great things, and in the New Jerusalem all
these types are fulfilled, as we shall see.
Commentators seem to puzzle themselves
unnecessarily over the clause : "Prepared as a
bride adorned for her husband." If the
marriage of the Lamb occurred before the
millennium, they ask, how is it that now, after
a period of a thousand years, she is still
spoken of as the "Bride"? "It is rather
awkward," writes Dr. Brown, "to suppose
a bridal preparation and the presentation of

the parties to each other, a thousand years
after the union has been consummated."
This is to invent difficulties. There is noth-
ing said, here, of "a presentation of the
parties to each other," neither is it said or
implied that the church comes from heaven
as a bride. The simile is used merely to
describe the glorious appearance of what is
seen, and is a simile purely. The marriage
of the Lamb came in that consummation of
his redeeming work which was seen in the
millennium. His redeemed people now ap-
pear as "a glorious church, not having spot,
or wrinkle, or any such thing ; holy and with,
out blemish," (E P h.5:27). This is all that the
simile imports. The bearing upon this of
ver. 9 will be noticed presently.

3. And I heard a great voice out of
heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle
of God is with men, and he shall dwell
with them. Literally, " he shall tabernacle
with them." The best manuscript also reads :
"a great voice out of the throne." In ch. 7
occurs what resembles the closing words of
our present passage, and yet differs. "We
there read, as in the correct translation, and
in allusion to the redeemed, " God shall taber-
nacle over them," "shall spread his taber-
nacle over (en-1) them." Here we read: "God
shall tabernacle with (/iera) them." It is
the same general idea, but in the words
now before us expressed in a specially em-
phatic way. "What is said is that God will
have his dwelling in the midst of them.
And they shall be his people. The word
in the Greek is plural "peoples." It will
be noticed that the revision so translates. It
would seem that a distinction is intention-
ally made between those who are "redeemed
out of every tribe, and tongue, and nation,
and people" (ch. 5:9), and that one people who
were anciently chosen, not as God's sole elect
ones, but as a typical people foreshadowing
the later "election of grace." This redeemed
company is not only "a multitude which no
man can number," but represents in its vast
and various assemblages all the world's ages
and "peoples." And these are all God's
"peoples." Distinctions of nationality will


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