Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 11

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Apocalypse 11

Supplemental Commentary:

III.  THE SEVEN TRUMPETS  8, 2 -- 11, 19 (continued)

3.  An Intermediate Vision and the Seventh Trumpet  10, 1 -- 11, 19 (continued)

11, 1-3:  The Meaning of the Temple.  It is not said by whom the reed was given, nor are we told who spoke the command.  It is probably Christ, as in 3.  A rod: i.e., a measuring rod.  The measuring implies the protection of the temple from destruction.  This symbolism has its basis in the Old Testament.  Cf. Ezech. 40, 3; 2 Kgs. 8, 2; Zach. 2, 2.  The temple is the Church of Christ, and the sense of the measurement is the preservation of the Church and everything necessary to its worship---temple, altar and worshippers.  The temple at Jerusalem, with its various parts, is the image.  All was to be measured except the Court of the Gentiles.  Why?  Because that belongs to the profane, who, by their idolatry, are to trample on the Church of Christ for forty-two months.  This refers to the conditions under which the Church must live.  The number of months is symbolic of a limited time.

11, 4-14:  The Two Witnesses.  The symbolism of this section is in general sufficiently evident with the exception, perhaps, of the two witnesses.  Some have thought them to be Elias and Henoch; others Elias and Moses; others Josue and Zorobabel.  They have many of the characteristics of all the great prophets of Israel.  But from the allusion in 4 to Josue, son of Josedec, and Zorobabel, John seems to imply that the two witnesses are the representatives of the civil and religious powers among the children of God.  Cf. Zach. 3, 4.  The two witnesses, then, represent the universality of Christian preachers and teachers; their mission is to combat the enemies of Christ and of His Church.  In this office they shall have considerable power; it will resemble the power of the ancient prophets.  But one day the world-power will be great enough to put them to death at Jerusalem, which signifies the whole of the profane world.  It is Sodom, for it is a place of immorality; it is Egypt, for the world is in bondage to sin; it is Jerusalem, for it is the apostate place where Christ is hated.  But there shall be a resurrection and Christ shall triumph; after three days and a half, symbolically, Antichrist shall be chained.

11, 15-19:  The Seventh Trumpet.  In the thought of John Christ is envisaged as already come; the parousia is accomplished.  The profane world is destroyed and the children of God enjoy an eternal reward.

Confraternity Bible:

The Measuring of the Temple  1 And there was given me a reed like to a rod, and I was told: "Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar and those who worship therein.  2* But the court outside the temple, reject it, and do not measure it; for it has been given to the nations, and the holy city they will trample under foot for forty-two months.  3* And I will grant unto my two witnesses to prophesy for a thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth."

The Two Witnesses  4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamp-stands that stand before the Lord of the earth.  5 And if anyone desires to harm them, fire will come out of their mouths, and will devour their enemies.  And if anyone desires to injure them, he must in this manner be killed.  6 These have power to shut heaven, so that it will not rain during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague as often as they desire.

7* And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will wage war against them, and will conquer them and will kill them.  8 And their dead bodies will lie in the streets of the great city, which is called mystically Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord also was crucified.  9 And men from the tribes and peoples and tongues and nations will look upon their bodies three days and a half; and they will not allow their dead bodies to be laid in tombs.  10 And the inhabitants of the earth will rejoice over them and make merry; and they will send gifts to one another because these two prophets tormented the inhabitants of the earth.

11* And after the three days and a half, the breath of life from God entered into them.  And they stood up on their feet, and a great fear fell upon those who saw them.  12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up hither."  And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.  13 And at that hour there was a great earthquake and the tenth part of the city fell; and there were killed in the earthquake seven thousand persons; and the rest were affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe is past; and behold, the third woe will come quickly.

The Seventh Trumpet  15 And the seventh angel sounded the trumpet; and there were loud voices in heaven saying, "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever."  16 And the twenty-four elders who sit upon their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshipped God, saying,
17 "We give thee thanks, O Lord God almighty, who art, and who wast,

Because thou hast taken thy great power and hast begun thy reign. 

18 And the nations were angered, but thy wrath came and the time for the dead to be judged,

And for giving the reward to thy servants---the prophets, and the saints, and those who fear thy name, the small and the great---

And for destroying those who corrupted the earth." 
19 And the temple of God in heaven was opened, and there was seen the ark of his covenant in his temple, and there came flashes of lightning, and peals of thunder, and an earthquake, and great hail.


2: Forty-two months: three years and a half.  The forty-two months of thirty days each correspond to the twelve hundred and sixty days of the prophesying of the two witnesses and to the three years and a half of the woman in the wilderness.  The period of forty-two months is the symbol of a period, limited in length, and under the control of Him who governs all things.

3: Two witnesses: Elias and Enoch, according to some authors; Christian preachers, according to another view.

7: Beast: no beast as yet has been mentioned.  This beast symbolizes Antichrist.

11: Three days and a half: this refers to the resurrection of the witnesses.