Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 15

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Apocalypse 15

Supplemental Commentary:

IV.  THE SEVEN SIGNS  12, 1 -- 15, 4 (continued)

15, 1:  The Angels and the Plagues.  This is the seventh sign, appropriately having seven angels and seven plagues.  It is a token of something to follow and not a mere empty wonder.  This introduces a new set of scenes and serves as a transition to what follows.

15, 2-4:  The Sea of Glass.  This sea has already been referred to in 4, 6.  Mingled with fire: reflecting the lightnings that proceed from the throne of God.  Standing on the sea: i.e., standing on its shore.  Harps of God: belonging to the service of God.  These victors are not only those who have reached heaven, but also the faithful in Christ who are yet on earth, since the life of grace is the prelude to that Glory (Phil. 3, 20).  The song of Moses: the song of victory over Pharaoh and his army (Ex. 14, 26-31).  This song was sung by all the faithful; that of the Lamb probably by the one hundred and forty-four thousand, who alone could understand it.

V.  THE SEVEN BOWLS  15, 5 -- 16, 21

1.  Preparatory Vision  15, 5-8

The Angels and the Bowls.  As the seven signs correspond to the seven seals, so this group corresponds to the seven trumpets.

The temple of the tabernacle, etc.: the figure is from the tent built by Moses to  house the ark of the covenant, or testimony.  The ark was the perpetual witness of God's presence in Israel.  Its heavenly counterpart is here the inner shrine of heaven which is now opened.    7.  Golden bowls: the shallow cups which were used for incense.  The plagues poured forth from the bowls are not entirely natural.  They are not like the judgments of the trumpets, i.e., calls to repentance; they are rather plagues on those who have refused to repent and have rejected the Church of Christ.    8.  Smoke is the symbol of God's presence.  The vision resembles that of Isa. 6.  No one could enter, etc.: this may mean that the judgments of God are impenetrable and will not be understood until they are fulfilled at the time of Christ's Second Coming; or it may mean that God is inaccessible, i.e., no intercession will be able to arrest these judgments.


Confraternity Bible:

The Angels and the Plagues  1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues.  For in them has been completed the wrath of God.

The Sea of Glass  2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who had overcome the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God 3* and singing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
"Great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God almighty; just and true are thy ways, O King of the ages,

4* Who will not fear thee, O Lord, and magnify thy name? for thou alone art holy. 

For all nations will come and worship before thee; because thy judgments are manifest."
The Angels and the Bowls  5* And after this I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was opened in heaven, 6 and there came forth out of the temple the seven angels who had the seven plagues, clothed with clean white linen, and girt about their breasts with golden girdles.  7 And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.  8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the majesty of God, and from his power; and no one could enter into the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.
__________

*

3: The song of Moses: a hymn of victory over Pharaoh.  This victory finds its full expression in the sacrifice of the Lamb, and so the saints break into a more perfect melody, the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb.

4: Jer. 10, 7.

5: The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony: the inner sanctuary of the heavenly temple.