Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures





















WITH this tenth volume the New Testament Division of the American edition of LANGE’S Biblework is completed. The first volume (on Matthew) was published nearly ten years ago (October, 1864), seven years after the German original (1857). The remaining five volumes of the Old Testament Division have been distributed among competent American and English scholars, and will be published as soon as they are ready, without waiting for the German edition, which has been already anticipated in the recently published volume on the Minor Prophets. The completion of the whole series at no distant time, therefore, is placed beyond personal contingencies.

I have reason to be thankful to a kind Providence for life and strength, to my publishers for their energy, patience and perseverance, and to my forty-five contributors for their faithful and efficient co-operation in this laborious and complicated enterprise. I shall never forget the delightful associations with so many eminent Christian scholars, who, on my invitation, have made the treasures of foreign learning and the results of their own researches accessible to the English and American students of the Book of books. LANGE’S Commentary, we trust, will long be resorted to as a thesaurus of Biblical learning and piety from all ages and sections of the Christian Church.

This volume is devoted to the last and most difficult book of the Bible, the divine seal of the whole, the cross of crosses of commentators. The Apocalypse will not be fully comprehended until we see it in the light of the millennium and the new heavens on the new earth; nevertheless, even in its partial and imperfect understanding, it is continually fulfilling its noble mission as a book of hope and comfort in the Christian Church. The Jewish Prophets, in spite of all the obscurities and conflicting interpretations, served the same purpose under the Old dispensation long before they were fulfilled in the New. “How many passages in the prophets,” says the genial HERDER, “are obscure in their primary historical references, and yet these passages, containing divine truth, doctrine and consolation, are manna for all hearts and all ages. Should it not be so with the book, which is an abstract of almost all prophets and apostles?” It has been such a manna especially in ages of trial and persecution, and will continue to instruct, to warn, to cheer, and to assure the Church militant of the final triumph of Christ—the Alpha and Omega of history.

Dr. LANGE, in this Commentary, which appeared in 1871 (302 pages), boldly meets the difficulties, and marks a considerable advance in the deeper spiritual apprehension of the Apocalypse and its mysterious symbolism. (See his Preface.)

The American edition has fallen into able and faithful hands. The translation of Miss EVELINA MOORE is all that can be desired.

The additions of Rev. Dr. CRAVEN greatly enhance the value of the work. He has paid minute attention to the textual department, making use of the latest critical labors of TREGELLES and TISCHENDORF.1 He has throughout embodied the results of English scholarship, and of his own long-continued, careful and devout study of this book. We direct the reader’s attention especially to his clear and condensed abstracts of views of the different classes of Apocalyptic interpreters, scattered throughout the volume, and to his original discussions of the following important points:

Excursus on the Basileia

Excursus on Hades

Note on Symbolism

Note on the Living beings (Ζῶα)

Note on the First Six Seals

Note on the Great Tribulation

Note on the Seventh Seal and Trumpets

Note on the Witnesses

Note on the Future Advent of Christ

Note on the Theories concerning the Millennium

Note on the First Resurrection

Note on the General Resurrection and Judgment

Note on the New Jerusalem

This volume contains also a double Alphabetical Index, verbal and topical, to the whole New Testament Division of the Commentary. It was prepared with great care and skill by Mr. JOHN H. WOODS, A. M., of Jacksonville, Illinois, and will be found almost indispensable in the use of any of the ten volumes which it covers.







Consistorial Counselor and Professor of Theology in the University of Bonn.


Professor of Sacred Literature in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.



Rev. C. A. AUBERLEN, PH.D., D. D.,

Professer of Theology in the University of Basle, Switzerland.

Rev. KARL CHR. W. F. BÄHR, D.D.,

Ministerial Counselor at Carlsruhe.


General Superintendent at Altenburg, Saxony.


Professor in Berlin.


Gen. Superintendent of Silesia, and Prof. Honorarius of Theology in the University of Breslau.

Rev. F. R. FAY,

Pastor in Crefeld, Prussia.

Rev. G. F. C. FRONMÜLLER, Ph.D.,

Pastor at Kemnath, Würtemberg.


Prelate and Chief Chaplain of the Court, Stuttgart.


Professor of Old Testament Exegesis in the University of Berlin.


Dean of Marbach on the Neckar, Würtemberg.


Professor of Theology, and Superintendent at Leipzig.



General Superintendent in Königsberg.


Dean at Bayreuth, Bavaria.


Professor of Theology in the University of Utrecht.


Professor of Theology in the University of Basle.


Urach, Würtemberg.


Pastor at Elberfeld, Prussia.

Rev. FR. W. SCHULTZ, D.D.,

Professor of Theology in Breslau.


Professor of Theology in the University at Greifswald.




Professor of Christian Ethics and Apologetics at Princeton, N.J.




Professor in Crozer Theological Seminary, Upland, Pa.


Professor of Oriental Languages in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.


Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Greenville, S. C.


Pastor of the Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church, New York.


Brooklyn, N. Y.

Rev. E. R. CRAVEN, D.D.,

Pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church, Newark, N. J.


Chancellor of the University of New York.

Rev. GEO. E. DAY, D.D.,

Professor in Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.



Professor of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, Chicago, Ill.

Rev. L. J. EVANS, D.D.,

Professor of New Test. Exegesis in Lane Theol. Seminary, Cincinnati.


Principal and Professor of Divinity in the Free Church College, Glasgow.


Pastor of the Free Church, Larkhall, Scotland.


Chaplain and Prof. of Ethics and Law in U. S. Mil. Academy, West Point, N. Y.


Prof. of the Literature of the O. T. in Berkeley Divinity School, Middletown, Ct.


Lawrenceville, N. J.


Professor of Oriental Literature in the Theol. Seminary at Princeton, N. J.


New York.


Professor of Biblical Exegesis in the Theological Seminary, Rochester, N. Y.


New Brunswick, N. J.


Rector of Trinity Church, New Haven, Conn.


Professor of Sacred Rhetoric, etc., in the Theol. Seminary at Allegheny, Pa.


President of the Drew Theological Seminary, Madison, N. J.


Professor of Old Test. Literature and Exegesis in the Theol. Sem. at Allegheny, Pa.

Rev. A. C. KENDRICK, D.D., LL.D.,

Professor of Greek in the University of Rochester, N. Y.


Professor of Oriental Languages in Union College, Schenectady, N. Y.


Kingston, N. Y.


Professor of Biblical Exegesis in the Theol. Seminary at Allegheny, Pa.


Ass’t Professor of the Hebrew Language in the Theol. Sem. at Princeton, N. J.



Professor of the Hebrew Language and Literature in the Theol. Sem., Andover, Mass.


Philadelphia, Pa.


Newark, N. J.


Professor in the General Assembly’s and the Queen’s College at Belfast.


Professor of the Interpretation of the Old Test. in the Theol. Sem., Rochester, N. Y.


Professor of Biblical Literature in the Theological Seminary at Alexandria, Va.


Professor of Church History in the Theological Seminary at San Francisco, Cal.


Professor of New Testament Exegesis in the Theol. Seminary at Hartford, Conn.


Professor of Theology in the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia.


Professor of Systematic Theology in the Union Theological Seminary, New York.


Formerly Tutor in the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass.


Professor of Biblical Literature at Cambridge, Mass.


Professor of Exegetical Theology in the Drew Theological Seminary, Madison. N. J.

Rev. W. G. SUMNER, M.A.,

Professor in Yale College, New Haven, Conn.

Rev. C. H. TOY, D.D.,

Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis, Greenville, S. C.

Rev. E. A. WASHBURN, D.D., LL.D.,

Rector of Calvary Church, New York.


Professor of Modern Languages in Union College, New York.

Rev. C. P. WING, D.D.,

Carlisle, Pa.

Rev. E. D. YEOMANS, D.D.,

Lately of Orange, N. J.



THROUGH the gracious assistance of God, the New Testament division of our BIBLE-WORK is now entirely completed, with the present Theologico-Homiletical Commentary on the Revelation of John.

In the treatment of this Book, I have considered it expedient to give particular prominence to the theoretical, critical and exegetical section;—a foundation of more than ordinary solidity being necessary in order to an ampler doctrinal and homiletical utilization of this Scripture, which has sustained such manifold wrenchings from one extreme to another.

The first thing requisite was to give a more elaborate and definite form to the theology of Apocalyptics; as it is possible to rectify the existent grand misapprehensions concerning the peculiar characteristics of Hebrew Art, in respect of its perfection in the forms of Eschatological Prophecy,—misapprehensions peculiar to the traditional Hellenistico-humanistic point of view,—only by bringing about a thorough understanding of the magnitude of the contrast between the summits of Hellenistic and Theocratic culture.

With this task was linked the necessity for fixing our gaze more intently upon the symbolical side of Apocalyptics, and for tracing the Apocalyptic symbolism of the New Testament back to the more or less conventionally defined Old Testament elements of Apocalyptics. Nothing save a system of Biblico-prophetic symbolism which shall be founded upon well-ascertained rules, can, on the one hand, terminate the endless hap-hazard conjecture in which exegesis is wont to indulge and which results in the attributing of significations the most motley to the allegorical figures of Scripture; and, on the other hand, insure the decided appreciation of the peculiar character of allegorical Scriptures.

If it be an unmistakable fact that a certain Book is of an allegorical character, it must appear simply inadmissible, in explaining it, to pitch upon interpretations ad libitum, without finding out the symbolical key to the work. But, again, to handle a prophetico-poetic Book, composed in allegories, as if it were a work of literal meaning, is, manifestly, an utterly unreasonable and mischievous procedure. If the interpreter be not aware of the heaven-wide distinction between an explanation of an allegorical matter and so-called allegorical explanation, his ignorance is an intellectual calamity. But if he do know very well that an allegorical composition should be explained as such, and if he, nevertheless, in order to illustrate certain school-opinions, torture that allegorical composition until its language seems to be that of the letter, his conduct is a moral scandal.

What though ten or twenty arbitrary and fanciful interpretations have attached themselves to an allegorical passage?—that circumstance does not in the least destroy its allegorical character; on the contrary, it serves but to recommend, in the most pressing manner, an inquiry after the symbolical analogies and the fundamental character of the prophecy. Despair as to exegesis as we find it, need not drive us to despair as to the text to which such exegesis has affixed itself. The so-called synchrono-historical interpretation of modern times, has shown, clearly enough, into what absurdities the latter despair may lead men. The allegorical character of the Apocalypse, in general, being established, the symbolical nature of its numbers, in particular, is at the same time proved; and the great lost labor of a chronological computation of the numbers,—that chronic malady of Apocalyptic exegesis,—is, so far at least as the principle is concerned, at an end.

Since the Apocalypses branch into a twofold genealogy, a canonical and an apocryphal, the further task of ascertaining, and eventually establishing, the canonical character of our Book, has presented itself to us. Presumptuous skirmishers in the field of criticism conceive that they can, without compromising themselves, rail at the bare supposition that there are canonical books,—reviling such an assumption as a lack of intellectual freedom. The term canonical was, however, originally applied to the Greek Classics. Now should any one essay to ridicule the idea of the Classics, he would hardly escape the charge of literary barbarism.

In respect of the construction of the Apocalypse, we adhere to the opinion that it is systematically arranged in cyclical collective pictures [pictures of the whole], which are always representative of the entire Course of the World down to the period of its End, and yet, in the succession which they are made to observe, are constantly advancing nearer to that End. The succession of these cycles, which are modified by the number Seven, is in exact correspondence with the movement, development and perfection of macrocosmical life,—from within, outwards. The Seven Churches, in their symbolical significance, constitute not simply an introduction to the Book; as the kernel and centre of the World’s history, they form the determinative fundamental idea of the Book. The Seven Seals constitute the history of the World, in relation to the Seven Churches. The Seven Trumpets follow, as Divine judgments upon, or penitential [exhorting to repentance] trumpets over, seven specific corruptions or forms of sin in the Church. Then ensue the Seven Thunders, as sealed life-pictures of the times of awakening, and of reforms, in the Church. Only in face of these powers of the world to come, can the Seven Heads of the Antichristian Beast develop;—the seven world-monarchies ending in the consummation of Antichristianity in the Antichrist;—the demonic reaction of world-history against the Kingdom of God. On the other hand, Antichristian evil, on its side, calls forth the Seven Vials of Anger, the judgments of hardening, the last of which unfolds into the three special judgments upon the Harlot, the Beast, and Satan, being afterwards summed up again in the General Judgment of the World. That this General Judgment then ushers in the Seventh Day, the eternal Sabbath of God, is a conclusion which the Seer has scenically portrayed rather than expressly declared; his particular reason for withholding such a declaration is probably to be found in the fact that he has at the outset, in the Prologue, announced the complete revelation of God in Christ as a revelation of the Seven Spirits in Christ, or in the fact that the number Seven results from the number Six.

Within the development of the Septenary, we, with others, have retained the division of the Book into Two Parts: The World’s Course to its End, and The End itself.

In perfect consistency with this division, an earlier view is carried out, agreeably with which heavenly scenes precede the earthly occurrences. From beginning to end we find the entire sequence of troublous earthly times to be over-swayed by heavenly actions, by festal presentations of the Divine Council;—the gloomy Earth-pictures being thus ever ruled by radiant Heaven-pictures. The distinctions resulting from this law of the construction alone are qualified to dissipate the unclear and confused views which subsist in regard to the composition of the Apocalypse.

May our labor, under the blessing of the Lord, contribute somewhat toward the furtherance of an understanding of eschatological affairs; in particular, may it promote the wholesome and lively expectation of the Coming of Christ,—an expectation whose vocation it is, on the one hand, to subdue that indifferentistic spiritualism which disdains all knowledge of a real, eschatological Theology; on the other hand, to paralyze that fanatical separatism and spiritism which, in manifold respects, pervert the glorious prospects of the Church into ridiculous caricatures; and at the same time to disenergize the endless labors of formal chiliastic time-reckoners. * * * * * *

In general, we may regard the accomplishment of the Bible-work as a matter that has become independent of personal eventualities,—as a tolerably assured fact; and for this, in the name of Editors and Publishers, we offer thanks and praise unto the LORD, who hath helped us hitherto.




IT is with devout gratitude to God that, after more than two years of labor, I find myself enabled to lay Lange’s Commentary on the Apocalypse before the community. The publication has, much to my regret, been delayed far beyond the period originally contemplated. This delay was, in great measure, occasioned by a temporary indisposition, which, after the greater portion of the work had been placed in the hands of the printer, rendered expedient my absence for several months from the country.

Instead of presenting an extended Introduction, as originally designed, I confine myself to a brief statement of some of the difficulties, and one or two other matters, connected with the preparation of the work.


As is well known to scholars, the text of the Apocalypse is the most imperfect of the Recepta. Erasmus, for the preparation of this portion of his great and important work, had but one Manuscript, and that a cursive of (probably) the XII. Century. Not only was this MS. of but little, or rather no authority, but it was incomplete; gaps had to be supplied by re-translation from the Vulgate—the entire passage from the word Δαυείδ, Rev 22:16, to the close of the Book had to be thus prepared. The only copies of the Vulgate to which Erasmus had access were the corrupt printed editions then in common use. In addition to these sources of error, the work was so hurried through the press that several important mistakes of copyists found their way into the printed volume, where they have continued to the present day.

Even so late as 1844, Tregelles, when he first published his text of the Apocalypse, had access to but three uncial Codices, viz.: A., C., and the B. of the Apocalypse.2 Of these, C. is probably the oldest, but, being a palimpsest, is defective in many parts—eight entire chapters of the Apocalypse are wanting.

It was not until the discovery by Tischendorf of the Sinaitic MS., generally known as א., and the Porfirian, denominated P., both in 1862, that material was provided for a satisfactory emendation of the text. The recent great critical works of Tregelles and Tischendorf, based largely on these newly discovered Codices, did not appear until after the first part of this work was in the hands of the printer. Through the kindness of Prof. Tischendorf in furnishing advance sheets to Dr. Schaff, and of Prof. Abbott, of Harvard University, in allowing me the use of his copy of Tregelles’ Apocalypse until I could obtain one from Europe, I was enabled not only to continue my labor with the aid of these all-important works, but also to correct that which I had already prepared.

An elaborate and valuable article on the “Greek Text of the Apocalypse,” from the pen of the Rev. Thomas J. Conant, of Brooklyn, N. Y., may be found in The Baptist Quarterly, Vol. IV., pp. 129 sqq.


The emendation of the text made necessary, of course, to a considerable extent, a revision of the English Version. But beyond this, I felt it to be proper to extend the revision. As is well known, the original translators inclined to the free use of synonyms—rendering the same Greek word by several English terms, and again rendering several Greek terms by the same English expression. For instance, in the New Testament the word world is employed to translate αἰών, αἰώνιος, γῆ, κόσμος, οἰκονμένη; and each of these terms has at least one other rendering; δύναμις, δυνατός. ἐξουσία, ἰσχύς, κράτος are continually confounded, as are also θυμός, ὀργή, etc. It has been my effort to give to each Greek term its proper English equivalent, and, as far as possible, to employ that equivalent uniformly. Certain verbal and grammatical inaccuracies have also been corrected. It is also proper to remark that the first-class marginal readings (those marked with a †) have almost invariably been adopted.3

It is proper to state that in my revision I was greatly indebted to the Version of Alford, and the Translation for the American Bible Union, by the late learned and lamented Rev. John Lillie, D. D., of Kingston, N. Y.


Another great difficulty encountered by me was the selection of additional comments. No Book of the Bible has been the subject of so many and variant interpretations, by evangelical men, as the Apocalypse. More than twenty-six pages of Darling’s Cyclopædia Bibliographica are filled with the mere titles of Commentaries on the entire Book or portions thereof. It was desirable to present, as far as practicable, the views of all classes of interpreters. That this might be done, a selection of the following representative authors was made, and abstracts of their views prepared, viz., Moses Stuart, Elliott, Wordsworth, Lord, Alford, Barnes, and Glasgow. Additions also were made from the writings of Sir Isaac Newton, Bishop Newton, Bush, Auberlen, Trench (On the Seven Epistles), Brown (On the Second Advent); and in the Homiletical Department from those of Matthew Henry, Scott, Bonar, Vaughan, and others. The additions to the Homiletical Department were made, during my absence from the country, by the Translator; they meet with my entire approbation.


It will be evident to the reader that I must be classed with those who are generally known as pre-millenarians. My views have been frankly expressed and supported, but I trust not offensively, and I have endeavored fully to present the views of those from whom I differ. My own views, it is proper to remark, are considerably modified by my peculiar hypotheses in reference to the Basileia, and the twofold Future Advent of Christ. On both these subjects extended Notes will be found in the body of the work.

With these general remarks, and with the fervent prayer that God will use this publication for His glory and the increase of knowledge in the Church, I submit it to the Christian public.









The canonical Scripture which forms the close of the New Testament, and of the Biblical Books generally, the Revelation of St. John, is not only a peculiar, but also an entirely unique phenomenon; a unique phenomenon in the very series of Biblical Books themselves, so that it can be said: As the Bible stands alone amongst the writings of the world, so does the Apocalypse stand alone amongst the writings of the Bible. It is thus doubly a unique book and that—by virtue of its essence, mysterious even to enigmatical obscurity—in a three-fold relation: in respect of its origin, its form, and its operation.

As to its origin, it is one of the most strongly authenticated of the Books of the Bible; authenticated by its superscription, its historical statements (Rev 1:9), and the historical evidences accompanying it. And yet, among the New Testament Antilegomena, or Scriptures whose reception into the Canon has been protested against, this very Book is the greatest Antilegomenon; ecclesiastically questioned in ancient times and the subject of theological dispute in more modern days.

Its form, however, conjoins a fullness of antitheses, of which many can conceive only as contradictions. A claim to the ripest New-Testamentalness, or Christian knowledge and freedom—united to the semblance of an Old Testament spirit of wrath, of a Judaizing tendency in general. Utterances of the highest ecstasy, of a contemplation the most, direct, fully merged in the Divine revelation—framed in an expression apparently the result of an artistic culture and reflection the most exquisite. The richest fullness of Old Testament prophetic, evangelic and apostolic reminiscences,—and at the same time a prophetic originality which reminds us of the declaration, Behold I make all things new. An ideal peace which opens each new night-piece of earthly history with a pre-celebration of the heavenly, triumphant rule—conjoined to a feeling of human horror at the uncovered demonic abysses and the heavenly wrath-judgments. Finally, a work full of Greek elements of culture—in a form technically Hebrew, even in Hebraizing language.—All these antitheses announce a grandeur which, on a more cursory view, readily assumes the appearance of heterogeneousness. If we consider yet further that in the Apocalypse, still more than in the Epistles and Gospel of St. John, the severe expression of sublimity (here like a ghostly trumpet of judgment) is united to the simplest, pleasantest heart-words,—words sometimes of sympathy, sometimes of consolation and promise, so that the Book spreads itself out before us like the mantle of dusky night, broidered over with brilliant stars like jewels,—we shall understand the third mysterious feature of the Book, its even enigmatically marvelous operation.

Concerning the immediate operation of Christ Himself, we know that it was of a uniquely attractive and repellent character: those who came under His influence were attracted or repelled, in proportion to their spiritual affinity to, or alienation from, Him. The same truth continually obtains in regard to Christianity and also in regard to the Holy Scriptures. This two-fold operation, however, is inherent in the Apocalypse in a two-fold degree, and is there of so peculiar a sort as to be no longer the standard of simple piety. On the contrary, many men of piety and mark have been unable to accommodate themselves to the spirit of this Book, whilst the charm of its obscurity, giving promise, oft-times, of other revelations than the Gospel, has attracted impure and visionary minds. Still, every cavilling depreciation, as well as every fanatical misinterpretation, of this Book has for the most part betrayed a decided want—a want of that self-denying modesty which Socrates displayed in his treatment of the obscure writings of Heraclitus, or a want of that purity and integrity which never seek to supplement Christian knowledge through curiosity, secret-mongery and fantastical pictures of sensuous hope.

Thus, therefore, stands the mysterious tree of the Revelation before our eyes, unique of its kind. And yet, notwithstanding its uniqueness, or by reason of it, its roots are connected with great and varied spheres of literature. The Revelation, in respect of its intrinsic, apostolic wealth of light and life, is, as the last of the Biblical Books, intimately connected with them all. In respect of its prophetic and literary form, however, it stands in the centre of an extensive group of eschatological prophecies and apocalyptic writings, having common characteristic traits.

We shall arrive later at the general biblical kindred bearings of the Apocalypse; be it our next task to inquire into the whole phenomenon of Apocalyptics.


The origin of Apocalyptics—i.e., by way of prefatory definition: the sum of those forms of revelation which have reference to an ethico-physical end of the world—is situate as high and as deep as the origin of religion itself.

The most general sphere of Apocalyptics is the religious view of the world; their more definite home, the theocratico-Christian view of the world; the most peculiar region of their origin, however, is prophetic Eschatology.

The general religious view of the world, underlying all the religious systems of the human race, knows of a world-beginning, resting upon Divine power and wisdom; of a world-course, whose physical side is conditioned upon the moral conduct of mankind (or of the gods even), and placed, by Divine decree, under Divine guidance; hence also of a world-goal, whose attainment Divine retribution accomplishes in the form of the world’s end, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the world’s renewal.

The presageful expectation of the end of the world, within the general sphere of religion, rests, on the one side, upon definite signs of that most general Divine revelation which lies at the basis of all religion (Rom. 1:19, 20); especially upon the religious interpretation of the transientness of earthly things, of the catastrophes of development, of the types of consummation;—reposing, on the other side, upon the human longing after the realization of ideals.

But the more perfect a religious system is, the higher is its doctrine—in the form of prophecy—of the last things. This is true, for instance, of the Scandinavian Mythology.4

Purer in fashion, however, appears the expectation of a world-goal in that believing view of the world which is grounded upon the revelation of salvation; grounded first, in an imperfect shape, upon the basis of the Old Testamental, theocratic form of said revelation.

Yet in the Old Testament, the following premises are definitely declared:

1. The human world is, in respect of its plan [Anlage], a unitous humanity, and as it has a unitous foundation, so likewise it possesses a unitous destination to the Kingdom of God, and a unitous goal in a Congregation or City of God, which is to appear at the end of its development, being mediated by great moral conflicts and Divine judgments.

2. The whole physical sphere of humanity is engaged in a development unto perfection, which is entirely conditioned upon the ethical development of humanity.

3. This development is subject to the ideal plan of the Divine counsel and to the real supremacy of Divine guidance.

4. It is effectuated, however, not in accordance with laws of physical necessity, but in accordance with the ethical law of a reciprocity of action between the wisdom of God and the freedom of man; amid a preponderance of Divine governance, however, which makes even the contradictions of erring human wisdom minister to the eschatological world-plan.

5. The method of the Divine government of the world consists in its perfect ethical conditionality. Hence, the new periods of development are conditioned upon new epochs; instants of deliverance upon instants of judgment; the appearance of the world-goal upon the principle of the world-goal; the redemption upon the coming of the Messiah. Hence is evident the magnitude of the error of those who pretend to know of epochs without mediatory periods, or vice versa;—of judgments without deliverances, or, finally, of the first coming of Christ without His second coming, or, like all Chiliasts,5 of His second coming without the full truth and reality of the first.

6. The Old Testament has indeed with justice been denominated the religion of the future. Nevertheless, its prophecy and its longing, repose, for the most part, only in the expectation of the principial6 Messianic Kingdom and the Messianic personality; but the universal renewal of the world which is bound up with this principle, emerges but in rarer and obscurer forms, although in respect of the idea, it is present in sufficient plainness.

With Christianity, this view of the world is perfected. Here mankind appears entirely as a something that is in process of becoming, which, in its maturity, shall know but one division—that, namely, into kernel and husk, wheat and chaff,—to the end that in its kernel it may glorify God as a perfected Church of God. Earth itself, with all its life-forms, is in an eminent sense a star of becoming [i. e., growth, development], pointing off and up to stars of perfection and destined itself to become a star of perfection. Here [in Christianity] the human cosmos in its development is entirely conditioned upon the development of mankind; the development of mankind upon the development of the Kingdom of God; this latter upon the development of the sovereignty of Christ, from His first appearance in lowliness to His second appearing in glory. This entire movement, with its epochs and periods, ensues in accordance with the counsel, and under the guidance, of God. The first particular, therefore in which the New Testament is distinguished from the Old, is that the latter is pre-eminently the religion of the future, that the Theocracy gravitates outward toward the future point of the appearance of Christ and His Kingdom, whilst the New Testament is the religion of appeasement, in which believing humanity, in its glorified Redeemer, in its inner life, in the Holy Ghost, has already principially attained the goal of the world and thus already stands, internally, in the New Æon of perfection, existing meanwhile, in respect of its outward life, still in the Old Æon. Hence it is also that the Old Testament consists, in great measure, of prophetic books, while the New Testament has but one prophetic book. But even on New Testament ground, the religious yearning after perfection is not yet fully satisfied (Rom. 8:19 sqq.). For to the perfect truth of life, the full reality of life appertains; this reality, however, must have passed beyond the painful contradiction between the internal and the external life, the internal and the external world, having become a reality in which the whole outward appearance is translumined by the life of the spirit. Therefore, also, does the individual Christian, together with all believing Christendom, long for the consummation; and all the objective and subjective goals of longing are summed up in the one aspiration with which the Apocalypse closes: Come, Lord Jesus. To this longing, and to it alone, is the Apocalyptic Revelation given.

The religious longing of humanity, awakened by the Spirit of God, has in general ever been the human instrumentality of Divine revelation, of the self-communication of God in the prophetic contemplation of chosen men of God. The faithful of the primitive time addressed themselves, with their longing, to the obscurity of their own origin and the origin of all things; therefore the Spirit of God gave them a sufficient explanation concerning the Creator, the creation, the production and destination of man. But when this destination, in consequence of the fall, seemed utterly obscured and lost, the longing of the friends of God addressed itself entirely to the coming of salvation, and the Spirit of God gave them the promise of salvation in ever clearer traits: Victory over the Foe; rest from toil; blessing lifting above the curse; redemption from bondage. So soon, however, as a religious people had been converted into the typical people of the expectation and mediation of salvation, the longing directed itself to the Divine clearing up of the dark paths of the present, destined to be trod by men. This longing, likewise, did the Spirit of God answer, by giving the Law unto Moses. But the Law of the Present, in its outward figurativeness, was designed to kindle into flame the longing after the Future [Zukunft=future and coming] of the internal, essential Kingdom of God; and thus the longing of the Prophets, in the narrower sense of the latter term, took form, and the precursory appeasement of that longing was the Spirit of prophecy of and concerning Christ. As the fulfillment of prophecy lingered, however, all expectation of salvation was transformed into prayer, until the longing after salvation embodied itself, so to speak, in womanly receptivity. But as the mother of Jesus longed, with those about her, for the first coming of the Saviour, so, toward the end of the apostolic age, amid increasing signs of the great warfare of Antichristian powers against the Church of Christ, John longs for the second coming of his Friend. The Apostles, for the most part, had long since gone home to the Lord; the old friend of the Lord must wait so long in this world—under the act of persecution, wait as an exile on the rocky island—until at last was concentrated in him all the longing of the New Testament Church after Christ’s coming; his yearning blazed up on the Lord’s day, and thus the great prophetic disclosure concerning the coming of the Lord was apportioned to him.

Upon the basis of the general revelation of God through the creation and the conscience, arises the theocratic Christian revelation of salvation. This, in general, prophetic revelation begets again a revelation in the narrower sense of the term, viz., the prophetic disclosures concerning the future—the future of the Old and the New Covenant. Yet once more, however, within the prophetic Eschatology, there appears an entirely new, conclusive form of the Divine disclosures, and this form, the acme of all revelation, we call simply: Revelation, Apocalypse, because it is the revelation in the most eminent sense.

An unveiling of the future so vivid, that to the distempered vision of the reader it oft-times became a new veiling.


The name Apocalyptics, in its peculiar signification, first took its place in Theology with the perception that the New Testament Apocalypse belongs to an entire group of writings, partly canonical, partly uncanonical, all of which, by peculiar marks in respect of purport and form, are recognizable as a separate species of prophetic or pseudo-prophetic literature, being distinct from every other species of sacred writings, even though they do not all appear under the name of Apocalypses.7

The name Apocalypse (ἀποκάλυψις) disclosure, revelation, has primarily a more general meaning. The verb, like the noun, denotes in general every new revelation of God, coming from Heaven, through the Spirit of God, either to the individual man or to the human race,—and that in respect both of the purport and form of such revelation; pre-eminently, however, in respect of its purport.

But now a two-fold distinction comes into view. In regard to purport, we have to distinguish the Apocalypse, as the primary form of revelation, communicated by God to the beholding or believing human spirit, or appearing in and by it (Rom. 2:5; 8:19; Gal. 1:12), from its secondary form, the revealing or publishing of the revelation (φανέρωσις, John 2:11; 1 Cor. 12:7). This material distinction, again, is connected with the formal distinction, in accordance with which the Apocalypse, in its primary forms of ideal manifestation or vision, is consummated, supplemented, by real manifestations or miraculous facts, whilst the secondary form as, in the first place, a development of principial points of revelation, finds its continuation in prophetic inspirations.

Every Prophet is called to be a Prophet by a fundamental Apocalypse which “rends” the heavens above him, developing itself subsequently in most manifold inspirations. These inspirations are, in the Prophet’s own bosom, already revelations, (φανερώσεις); it is his province in his preaching to convert them into prophetic announcements for his cotemporaries, for the world.

But, once more, we have to distinguish the Apocalypse as a Divine fact, from its product, the Apocalypse as a human composition. The apocalyptic writing bears its specific name—which distinguishes it from all writings which are prophetic in a more general sense only—in accordance with a distinction which might at first sight be designated as conventional but which, upon closer inspection, is found to rest upon very decided distinctive marks.

The first mark respects form. The prophetic writings, in a more general sense, are collections of single prophecies, disposed with more or less order in regard to subject-matter,—in a word, anthologies; and their symbolic expression is transrupted by didactical sermons and exhortations [Paränesen, παραινέσεις]. In them, moreover, the source-points of the vision and the moral applications of the same, together with historical elucidations even, branch out very distinctly. An Apocalypse, on the contrary, is, on the one hand, the presentation of an uninterrupted succession of visions, following one upon another in cyclical divisions; on the other hand, a thoroughly unitous composition, a sacred work of art, whose style is, accordingly, altogether figurative or typical, even though it be based upon historical data; these historical data themselves attain a symbolical significance. The typical forms cease, however, to be purely individual [proper only to the person employing them—E. R. C.]; they assume the character of an historically conventional fixedness, i. e., a theocratic science.

The second mark respects the purport. The prophetic anthologies proceed in the main, from the present onward, through a fragmentary series of Messianic pictures, to the Advent of the Messiah, and if they do advance beyond His simple appearance and sketch the fullness of the times in eschatological traits, those traits are nevertheless exceedingly few and far between. For the most part, the second coming of the Messiah coincides for them with His first coming, and the great gulf between the two becomes manifest only from particular features of the suffering Messiah, particular intimations of the “travail of the Messiah.” On the other hand, the Apocalypses are eschatological from beginning to end. Not only the contrast between the suffering and glorified Christ, but also that between His first and second appearing, hence likewise that between Christ and Antichrist, nay, the contrast between the old and the new world, and consequently the end of the world itself, emerge boldly. In fact, the end of the world, or the course of the world, in its gravitation toward the end, forms the object upon which their gaze is concentrated—constitutes their peculiar point of view. This point of view they mediate, however, by a history of the world, eschatological in its modifications. The entire history of the world from the olden times, or from the first appearance of Christ, is in them unfolded in eschatological cycles, in which the entire course of the world is continually presented from different points of view—the cycles meantime progressing steadily toward the end. This type is, at all events, quite distinctly impressed upon the Apocalypse [of John]; and Hilgenfeld’s denial of the fact is based upon a hampered rationalistic view of the narrow scope of this Scripture. It is, on the contrary, remarkable that the idea of a universal history—whose germ was contained in Genesis—here appears in full development, though in Hebrew theocratic form, whilst classical historiography was unable to attain to this universalism. We find later, in the Gnostics, a striving after a universal view of the world which should set at nought the barriers of history and of our earth—but which did not succeed in passing beyond fanciful and heretical forms.

With this latter mark, the third mark of the Apocalypses is connected. Originating, as they did, in the Divine pacification and consolation of elect prophetic hearts, whose ardent longing blazes brightly in times of great tribulation in the Kingdom of God, they are in like manner designed to instruct, to comfort, and to pacify, first the servants of God, and through them, the churches in times of future new and similar tribulations; nay, to transmute all signs of terror into signs of hope and promise: whilst the aim of ordinary Prophecies consists pre-eminently in the satisfaction of the needs of the present in regard to enlightenment, discipline, consolation, and exhortation. These latter are writings concerning the future, for the present; the others are writings which, passing over the present, are intended preeminently for the future. This fact is quite one-sidedly presented by Hilgenfeld: “They were meant to fill up the times when there was no revelation with substitutes of prophecy.” The connecting link between Malachi and Christ was formed by the popular piety, longing, and hope of the true Israel, and not by pseudo-apocalyptic reveries.8

In proceeding to distinguish between genuine and spurious Apocalypses, we may put forth the general statement that the former contain a solution of the problem as to how the highest visions may be united to the highest forms of sacred art; the latter are at best poetic imitations, which, for visions, substitute compilations and extravagant fancies, and replace the theocratico-classical and mysterious artistic form with a manufactured and mystical chiar’ oscuro.


Particulars concerning the development of Apocalyptics in general may be found in Lücke’s work, the most prominent treatise on the subject: Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenbarung des Johannes, Bonn, 1848–52, p. 9–15. One of the first impulses to the Science of Apocalyptics was given in 1819, by the English Bishop Laurence, with his edition of Apocalyptic writings from the Ethiopian (Anabaticon of Isaiah; 4th Book of Esdras9); this, indeed, was after Semler had availed himself of such Apocryphal apocalypses as were known to him in interpretation of the Revelation of St. John, being followed by Conradi, and, shortly after, by Eichhorn and Bleek; see Hilgenfeld, p. 4. Subsequent to Bishop Lawrence’s work, Nitzsch, in the year 1820, sketched the idea of Apocalyptics. Lücke was spurred on in his task by the “report” of Nitzsch (1st edition, 1832). In 1833, A. C. Hofmann published a translation and exegesis of the Book of Enoch, with which he united a treatise upon the Apocalyptists of the olden time amongst the Jews and Christians, assuming the existence of a coherent whole, composed of apocalyptic literature, and commencing with the Book of Daniel. Quite a series of commentaries, from Ewald’s commentary on the Apocalypse, down to the present time, have promoted the general views upon this subject (see Lücke, p. 14). The following work by Hilgenfeld especially belongs here: Die jüdische Apokalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwicklung [Jewish Apocalyptics in their historical development], Jena, 1857. In accordance with the main features of the two main Apocalypses of the Old and New Testaments, Auberlen, with his Daniel and the Apocalypse, Basel, 1857, likewise claims a place here. [English Translation, Edinburgh, 1856, a work of rare merit.—E. B. C] In a more general sense, we mention here the Biblical Theologies, the Introductions to the New Testament, the books upon Eschatology and Chiliasm (particularly Conradi, Kritische Geschichte des Chiliasmus [Critical History of Chiliasm], II., p. 365; comp. 231, in the same vol.; III., 1, 60, 107). Note especially, however, the more or less comprehensive editions of Apocalyptic writings. Lücke dates the more distinct collections of apocryphal Apocalyptic writings from Gfrörer’s Prophetæ veteres pseudepigraphi, 1840; although this publication did not contain Apocalyptic matter simply (the more ancient collections of Fabricius and Philo were not formed from the point of view which assumed the existence of a general system of Apocalyptics). Subsequently Tischendorf issued: Apocalypses Apocryphæ Mosis, Esdræ, Pauli, Johannis, item Mariæ Dormitio, Leipzig, 1866. Particular Apocalypses were discussed by Lawrence (see above), Nitzsch (De testamentis 12 patriarch., Wittenberg 1810), Gieseler (Vetus translatio latina Visionis Jesaiæ, Göttingen, 1832), Hofmann (Das Buch Henoch, see above), Friedlieb (Die Sibyllinischen Weissagungen [The Sybilline Prophecies], Leipzig, 1852), Dillmann (Das Buck Henoch, 1853), Philippi (Das Buch Henoch, sein Zeitalter und sein Verhältniss zum Judasbriefe [The Book of Enoch, the time of its composition and its relation to the Epistle of Jude], Stuttgart, 1868; a monograph of sterling merit), Volkmar (Das 4 Buch Esra [second division of the Hand-Book of the Introduction to the Apocrypha], Tübingen, 1863), et al.

If it is with truth that we have designated the religion of Israel as the religion of the future, we may be permitted to designate Apocalyptics in particular as the vision of the future; partly as the actual prophecy, partly as the popular poetry of the future. Relatively, this applies again to the eschatological longing and hope of the New Testament faith; but particularly to the chiliastic-morbid Jewish-christian expectance of the future, in accordance with a condition of mind which looked for redemption more in the future Appearing of Christ than in the principial base-laying salvation of His first Advent.

The apocalyptical writings which have sprung up bearing these signs, are divided into the following classes:

a. Old Testament canonical Apocalypses;

b. Old Testament apocryphal Apocalypses;

c. The New Testament Apocalypse;

d. Jewish-Christian apocryphal Apocalypses.

a. Old Testament Canonical Apocalypses

We have elsewhere (Comm. on Genesis, p. 36 [Am. Ed.] already stated that for the appearance of the apocalyptic form we go back far beyond Daniel. And this we do in accordance with the two principal marks of an apocalyptic writing; the formal mark—unity of composition; and the material mark—the expectation of an eschatological judgment, passing beyond simple Messianism (first Advent); an expectation in accordance with which we might regard the whole non-Christian Jewish people, in its eschatological expectancy, as a permanent, plastic appearance or embodiment of apocryphal Apocalyptics.

With respect to the Old Testament Books—composed, as they are, in accordance with a unitous idea, organically membered, and closing, consequently, with themselves—the phenomenon of the ideal, unitous, organic structure of the Books goes back far behind the first Old Testament apocalypses, to the beginning of Old Testament literature; and when criticism, whose existence is demanded by the very spirit of revelation, shall have outgrown its boyhood, in which, in slavish dependence upon the new, it gives chase, with slackened rein, to the newest, the fact will doubtless be recognized that—with the exception of redactions of original memorabilia—men have done the reverend Scriptures great wrong by this endless untwisting and patching together of the Biblical Books, on the hypothesis of the most spiritless book-making. One composition, at least, it is impossible to misjudge as a whole, even though it may receive damage in particulars—and that is the grand old Book of Job.

In the introduction to the Comm. on Genesis (see above) we have given our reasons for distinguishing an entire group of Old Testament Apocalypses, although not until Daniel does the species appear with features fully stamped.10 The second part of Isaiah [ch. 40–66] is a unitous composition, having its point of gravitation, manifestly, in the eschatological world-consummation—i. e., it has the sign of the Apocalypse. This is true no less of the appendix to the Prophecies of Jeremiah (chap. 45–52). The apocalyptic conclusion of Ezekiel (chap. 37–48), the whole Book of Zechariah in its indissoluble unity, and particularly the Book of Daniel—with the exception of the sections from Rev 10:1–11:45, and 12:5–13, (see Comm. on Genesis, p. 38, Am. Ed.)—present, in form and purport, the Old Testament eschatological elements which in the original visions of the New Testament Apocalypse have arrived at their perfect significancy and configuration. “Among the minor Prophets we regard the Books of Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah as Apocalypses, predominantly depicting, in unitous composition, the judgment upon Antichristianity in its symbolical preludes.” (Genesis, p. 37. [Am. Ed.]).

b. Jewish Apocryphal Apocalyptics

Hilgenfeld (Vorwort VIII.) is doubtless in error in viewing the whole Apocalyptics of Judaism as a precursory history of Christianity, and in believing that he has found in Essenism an offshoot of Jewish Apocalyptics which conducts us directly to the threshold of Christianity. This idea, which will allow of no distinction whatever between the theocratic and churchly main current and those turbid secondary streams which have their rise in the popular fancy, is based upon the ruling impulse of that school which pseudo-critically jumbles together all things in whose disposition a critical arrangement is to be found;—the same school which regards the Gnostics as presenting a peculiar stage in the development of true Christianity, and zealously labors against the distinction between canonical and apocryphal writings as a hereditary evil of Theology itself. Such confusions, growing out of a special tendency, are rarely to be met with to the same degree in any other department of science. Philology, for instance, is careful to avoid mingling together, without distinction, nay, with a fanatical levelling impulse, ancient classics and obsolete popular literature, to the production of endless trouble and great confusion.

Jewish apocryphal Apocalyptics have produced two writings which, in common, have a Jewish character—especially in their imitation of Daniel—and yet stand in decided contrast one to the other. The Jewish stock of the Sibylline books, interpolated and supplemented by Christians, namely the third book of Esdras,11 has, like the book of the Wisdom of Solomon, an Alexandrian ground-tone; whilst on the other hand, the fourth book of Esdras, in its Hebrew-Pharisaic character, reminds us quite unmistakably of the book of Jesus Sirach. They possess in common the fundamental idea of the future victory of Judaism over the Gentile world-kingdoms. This fundamental idea can be attributed to the Book of Daniel itself only by a false religious taste; in that prophecy it is not the restoration of the Theocracy, but an entirely new Heavenly Kingdom of the Son of Man which puts an end to the kingdoms of the world. In both writings (3 and 4 Esdras) the dwindling away of the expectation of a personal Messiah is unmistakable (see Hilgenfeld, p. 77, 78, 86, 221 sqq.; Volkmar, Esra, 260).

On the other hand, there is a distinction between the two books which accords with the contrast between the Hebrew-Jewish and the Alexandrian-Jewish character; in the fourth book of Esdras, the Pharisaic hatred of the heathen is unmistakably prominent—for instance, in the joy of the blessed at the spectacle of the wicked burning in everlasting flames (Hilgenfeld, p. 201)—; whilst the Sibyl is continually warning the heathen against the service of false gods, and finally anticipates the general instruction of the Gentiles and their conversion to Monotheism (Hilgenfeld, 87, 88). They are distinguished furthermore in that the Hebrew Messiah stands back of the Messianic upliftment of the nation above the Roman world power, appearing only at the end of the world for judgment especially (Hilgenfeld, 220), while the Alexandrian Messiah is endowed with scarcely any distinctness of form.

Another distinctive mark is, that the Sibyl is glorified as prophecy come to the heathen from the theocratic source;—prophecy whose final aim, like that of Sophia [or Wisdom personified] in the Wisdom of Solomon, is the eschatological renewal of the world: while the Messianism of the fourth book of Esdras, as also of the book of Jesus Sirach, culminates in a growth of books or writings (Sirach 24:23; 4 Esdras at the close: Esdras’ 94 books [the English Version of the Apocrypha gives 204 (or nine hundred and four Marg.) as the number of the books that were written, 2 (4) Esdr. 14:44 ]; 24 open, 70 secret writings).

Neither is the contrast in the form, of the prophecy to be overlooked. The Alexandrian Sibyl prophesies from an irresistible impulse, in pathological ecstasy (Hilgenfeld, 51), whilst the visions vouchsafed to Esdras are mediated by ethical conduct, fasting and praying, and thus their revelations can assume a conversational form.

According to Friedlieb, the Jewish Sibylline books came into being from the years 160 to 40 B. C. (according to Bleek, an older portion is cotemporary with the Book of Daniel (?), a later part having been produced, he thinks, about 40 B. C.). The time of the Jewish ground-form of the fourth book of Esdras is differently estimated by different exegetes. This disagreement of exegesis is based upon the interpretation of the exceedingly obscure vision of the eagle (dream-vision of the second night). Lawrence interpreted the twelve wings of the eagle as referring to the ancient history of the line of Roman kings and the more modern additions to it; Gfrörer conceived the wings to refer to twelve Roman emperors and associate-emperors [Nebenkaiser], Lücke interpreted the eagle’s three heads as significant of Sylla, Pompey, and Cæsar, as an arbitrarily conceived, successive triumvirate. Least tenable is the view of Hilgenfeld, who seeks to construe the Apocalypse of Esdras into a continuation of the Sibyl, without recognizing the contrast which it presents to the latter; declaring the eagle’s twelve wings to be Alexander and the Egyptian kings who succeeded him. According to Volkmar (Das vierte Buch Esra, p. 338), the Jewish author wrote his Apocalypse in the autumn of the year 97, after the fall of Domitian. Contrary to this view is the fact that the second destruction of the Temple, in the year 70, is not mentioned in the book; Volkmar conceives it to be, “by way of disguise,” “parallelized” with the first destruction, i. e., represented by, and along with, the first. Since the eagle, i. e., the Roman world-kingdom, comes to its end by a lion, i. e., the Jewish Messianic Theocracy, we can think, in interpreting this vision, of no time save that of the first Jewish insurrection previous to the destruction of Jerusalem, or that of the insurrection under Bar-Cocheba. But since, moreover, the destruction of Jerusalem is itself not mentioned, we are constrained to interpret the vision (whose obscurity is perhaps owing to the circumstances of the period) as referring to the first Jewish war. The first three feathers of the eagle are intelligible enough (Hilgenfeld, 205): Cæsar, Augustus, Tiberius. The following nine feathers are very dimly pictured; they denote imperial pretenders rather than actual emperors. The number twelve, consequently, is more a symbolico-ideal number than one to be historically identified and referred. Only a few of the mock emperors, like Galba and Otho, momentarily attain dominion. The greatest of the three heads of the eagle, which now awakes, makes an end of the feathers, takes the two other heads along with it, and shakes the whole earth; but suddenly disappears. Finally, the head on the right side devours that on the left, and is left alone until the roaring lion makes an end of it. Now, if this head on the right side were Jerusalem’s great enemy, Vespasian, and the head devoured by it, Vitellius, we might go back for an interpretation of the middle head, which suddenly disappeared after shaking the whole earth, to Nero. In consideration of the dim and confused execution of the picture, the effort to interpret all the figures into a harmonious system is less requisite than inquiry into the spirit of the production as a whole; this is thoroughly consonant with the rancorous spirit of the pseudo-Messianic Jewish revolution. Ewald, after Conradi, has already set forth about the same view (see Hilgenfeld, p. 392, note).

In regard to the Book of Enoch, received by Hilgenfeld among the Jewish Apocalypses, we hold the argument of Philippi, who vindicates the original Christian character of the book, to be decisive.

On the other hand, the Ascension of Moses seems to form a supplement to the fourth book of Esdras, originating after the destruction of Jerusalem, for the uplifting of prostrate Judaism.12

c. The Apocalypse of John

As the Book of Daniel became a pattern for the apocryphal Apocalypses of Judaism, so the Apocalypse of John has been the exemplar for all Christian Apocalypses. But upon the side of Christianity also, nothing but a lack of spiritual taste, i. e., an unspiritual taste, can fail to recognize the distinction between canonical mysteries and apocryphal riddles, between a grandeur of forms in which order prevails, and an extravagance of forms over which confusion reigns.

d. The Christian (Jewish-Christian) Apocryphal Apocalypses

These arrange themselves primarily into two leading classes: 1. Christianized: 2. Originally Christian Apocalypses.

As Christianized Apocalypses we may name the previously mentioned Jewish Apocrypha, the Sibylline books, and the Book of Esdras. Bleek, Ueber die sibyllinischen Orakel. Theol. Zeitschrift von Schleiermacher. De Wette und Lücke, Vol. I. 20; II. 172 sqq. Friedlieb, Die sibyllinischen Weissagungen, and Hilgenfeld, Die jüdische Apokalyptik.

Amongst the Jewish-Christian Apocrypha which are imitative of the Apocalypse, the principal composition is the Book of Enoch—an Ebionite Jewish-Christian production—for an examination of which the reader is referred to Philippi’s work.

As the tissue of apocryphal, and, in many respects, heretical, fable has woven itself about the whole line of the most distinguished Biblical names and writings, so it is in especial with the bungling compositions of apocryphal authors. Most of them have issued forth from obscurity only to become again the prey of obscurity. We follow, in naming them, the Biblical thread:

1. Apocalypse of Adam (Lücke, p. 232).

2. The Book of Enoch, see above.

3. Apocalypse of Abraham. Ophitic. Lücke, 252.

4. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, see above.

5. Book of Elias, Hieronym. ad Sammachium, Ep. 101.

6. Book of Esdras, (Christianized, see above).

7. Ascensio Isaiæ Vatic. (see Gfrörer, Prophetæ Veteres Pseudepigraphi, p. 1).

8. Danielis, Tischend., Apocalypses XXX.

9. Apocalypsis Baruch (edidit Ceriani, Monumenta sacra, Mediolani, 1866, see Programm of Dr. Joseph Langen, Bonn, 1867).

10. Apocalypse of Peter (Lücke, p. 240).

11. Two Apocalypses of Paul, see Tischendorf, p. XIV. (Apocalypses Apocryphæ). On one of these, see Tischendorf, p. 34.

12. Apocalypse of a Pseudo-John, Tischend., Apocal. XVIII.

13. Of Bartholomew (Tischendorf, Apocalypses, XXIV.).

14. Of Mary (Tischendorf, XXVII).

15. Of Stephen (Lücke, p. 247).

To these may be added some miserable works whose web extends over the post-apostolic period or falls within it. Relatively, The Shepherd of Hermas. The account of an Apocalypse of Cerinthus is dubious (Lücke, 247). Finally, an Apocalypse under the name of Methodius of Constantinople.

Later or more modern apocalyptic productions have scarcely any significance bearing upon the characteristics of ancient apocryphal Apocalyptics, which (according to Lücke) became extinct in the fifth century. In Gfrörer’s collection the following are cited: Vita Merlini. Galfridi Liber de Prophetiis Merlini. Fratris Hermanni Monachi Vaticinium. Prophetia Malachiæ de Summis Pontificibus. Apocalyptic traits, however, are also visible in manifold form in the chiliastic writings generally.


The Holy Scriptures are, throughout, a record of the Providence of God, as exercised in the establishment of His Kingdom; hence they are themselves overruled by His Spirit. From beginning to end, they rest upon the synthesis of the living word, mighty in deed, and the spiritually significant, speaking fact. Consequently they are acquainted, on the one hand, with no idle words; on the other hand, with no silent facts. From beginning to end, they set forth the Divine in the human, the spiritual in the sensible, the eternal in the temporal, the infinite in the finite, i. e., they deal throughout in sense-imagery—being thus symbolical in the broader sense of the term.

This is true even of the historical portion of the Sacred Writings. The ideas which, are reflected in the histories have re-acted upon the symbolism and mode of expression of the facts recounted. And thus Biblical history, by virtue of its matter-of-fact foundations, is distinguished from all heathen mythicism; by virtue of the ideal transparency or significancy of its facts, from all the pragmatism13of profane historiography. Whilst the latter circles for the most part between secondary causes and proximate designs, Biblical historiography has in view the supreme causes and supreme designs, and hence recognizes the media between cause and design—secondary causes and secondary designs—so far as it mentions them at all, in their universal significance; none the less in the light of Supreme Providence.

This same character of the Holy Scriptures occasions in the didactic writings the sententious form; in the poetic writings in particular, the wealth of figurative expression and the significance of the composition; its most powerful appearance, however, is in the prophetic writings. Here it converts historical items into symbols of the idea (for instance, the king of Babylon), and ideas into historical forms (grass-eating lions); as a consequence, it shuts up revelation from all common sensuous apprehension of it—for instance, for the mass of the later Jews—whilst it sets it in the brightest light for the disciples of the truth; a fact which holds true in regard to the parables of the Lord, according to Matthew 13:13.

The simple sense-image, however, in accordance with the fullness of life and life’s illumination in the Holy Scriptures, branches out into three fundamental forms: ALLEGORISM, SYMBOLISM, and TYPISM.14

ALLEGORISM (allegory from ἄλλο ἀγορεύειν, to express something in words intended to convey a meaning other than their immediate one) is a form of imagery which, in accordance with the semblance of outward similarity, employs one phenomenon as the figure of another; imaging, especially, a more spiritual matter by means of a sensible phenomenon. The flowing element of allegory is the simple figurative expression, the rhetorical metaphor (the warrior, a lion; evil, a weed); an allegory is a poetically developed metaphor. It denotes its subject by another which has a similar appearance.15

SYMBOLISM (σύμβολον from συμβάλλειν) unites a sensible image with a spiritual background, which latter is more or less inwardly and essentially connected with the phenomenon which furnishes the image. The uniting of the two sundered portions of a pledge of hospitality directly unites the pledge with hospitality itself. In general, however, the symbol is based upon the connection of the sign and that which it signifies; so that thus something moral or spiritual is denoted by something perceptible to the senses (a scar, for instance),—the higher by the lower; the combination may either be a conventional one (social connection) or it may be founded upon natural relations. The flowing element of the symbol is metonymy—the change of names; hence, the symbol is a fixed metonymy. It denotes a higher object—one, especially, which addresses itself to the mind—by a lower one, perceptible to the senses, yet akin to the first; in short, symbol may be expressed in one word—the cognate.

TYPISM, finally (τύπος, τύπτω), denotes the impression produced by a blow; a carving; a plan, sketch, or outline; consequently, the germ of a future form. It is the commencement-point, situate on the same line of development with the object denoted; a real prophecy, which fulfills itself in the future object, being, notwithstanding the ideal identity of essence, distinct from it in the substantial reality—like the shadow from the substance which projects it. The flowing element of the type is most prominent in synecdoche, which embraces not only the whole with a part, but also the fulfilment with the base-laying. The type relates to things ideally the same in essence, and really distinct, though, it may be, symbolically cognate; it denotes a future already subsisting germ-wise in the present.

The allegory is a simple image; the symbol is a sense-image; the type is a fore-image. [A type is a symbol in that it is a sense-image, but it is a peculiar kind of symbol;—it is always of the future (a fore-image); it is some person, act, or institution introduced by God into the ritual or history of His people, not only as prefiguring the antitype, but as having an ideal identity therewith—as being, in a sense, the representative thereof; as, for instance, the priest, the sacrifice, of the old economy.—E. R. C.]

It is also necessary, however, to make a distinction between these figures, the hasty coinage of poesy, and complete poetic elaborations of their character. The poetic elaboration of the allegory is the fable (for the most part, though not exclusively, that which avails itself of the animal kingdom in setting forth its ideas); the poetic elaboration of the symbol is the parable, though the latter may in detail likewise employ allegorical features; the poetic elaboration of the type is prophecy, from the formal stand-point (the paramuthia [that speech or discourse which encourages, exhorts, consoles—E. R. C.]).

Nearly related as these forms are, manifoldly connected as they may be in the more elevated productions of the mind—in historical, poetical, and prophetic works—the mingling of them is still inadmissible, whether it be in their three ground-forms—allegory, symbol, type—or in their three-fold gradation from element to form, from the simple form to the poetic application.16

Similarly, distinction must be made between the allegorical exegesis (which has ever been an instinctive supplement of the Christian mind to a Hellenistically shallow, grammatico-historical exegesis) and the exegesis of allegorical or allegorico-symbolico-typical writings; just as we distinguish between a poetic representation of the immoral and immoral representations.17

Upon Biblical ground, we have also to distinguish between verbal-prophetic and real-prophetic types.18 We beg leave to designate, as the highest real types, the mental or mood types,19 i. e., Divine real prophecies, unconsciously uttered by men. The choice of the expression is of manifold importance here. The prophecy Gen. 3:[15] is significant of the Messianic Humanity [Christ]; the mental type denotes a unit. The same distinction obtains where the seed of Abraham is spoken of. Paul, Gal. 3:16, has in mind the real mental type which significantly attaches to the Abrahamic promise. Pss. 16 and 22 and many other passages come under this head; especially, the virgin, Is. 7. In accordance with the above, mental types frequently constitute the envelope of verbal prophecies, and form the transition from real to verbal prophecy.20

As further regards allegory in particular, it is self-evident that the entire realm of evil can be symbolized only by allegorical figures—i. e., figures of outward similarity—the world of nature not being related to evil; not even the creaturely serpent is so related, although it is the reflection of an extinct and ruder world-form (“in caverns dwells the dragons’ ancient brood”).

As, therefore, allegorism was requisite in the system of Sacred Writings, so, too, symbolism was necessary, since faith perceives in the visible world the phenomena of a higher and invisible one.

No less requisite, finally, was the typical presentation, as the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament form the documentary evidences of a religion of the future, and in the New Testament also, the sacred writers pass from picturing the joy and satisfaction of the faithful in the Christ appearing in the form of a servant, and for the accomplishment of the work of redemption, to a longing for His glorious second appearance, and to the prophetic pre-description of the same.

With all its figurativeness, however, Holy Scripture is far removed from a poetic fixation of images, which might degenerate into a spiritual image-worship; the commandment, Thou shalt not make unto thee any image, is borne in mind throughout. For this holy word, characterized by Kant as sublime, excludes, not plastic and painted images simply, but also images of the fancy, mental figures and likenesses, insomuch as these, by an erroneous or servile fixation of ideas and attributes, might seem to render finite the Divine. Hence the bold change of imagery (e. g., Ps. 18), a circumstance so surprising to a taste formed upon the Greek classics. This absence of fixation makes it possible for the Lion to denote Satan and also the Redeemer; because of it, a wisdom like that of the serpent can be recommended to the disciples; leaven can denote at once that which is worst (Matt. 16:6), and that which is most noble (Matt. 13:33); and the Christian sage can be represented under the figure of the unjust steward [Luke 16]. [Is it true that, in the parable referred to, the Christian sage is represented under the figure of the unjust steward? Is it not the fact that, from an example of worldly wisdom, our Lord would deduce instruction for His un-wise disciples?—E. R. C.]

It is true that the Biblical figures do assume, first in the historical and lyrical Scriptures, but particularly in the Apocalyptic region, a greater conventional fixedness. But this is the case, even here, within certain defined limits. And even here, the term Beasts may denote alternately the highest and the most debased (see Rev. 4 and 13).21


Literature: Bähr, Symbolik des mosaischen Kultus, 2 Vols., Heidelberg, 1837. (A new edition is about appearing. In the Introduction, the history of ancient symbolic literature is discussed). Nork, Etymologisch-symbolisch-mythologisches Wörterbuch, 4 Vols., Stuttgart, 1843–5. [Horne’s Introduction, Vol. I., p. ii. (on the general subject of interpretation), Appendix, No. II. Fairbairn On Prophecy, Edinburgh, 1856. Typology of Scripture, by Fairbairn, Edinburgh and Philadelphia, 1859. Daniel and Revelation, by Auberlen, Eng. Trans., Edinburgh, 1856. Theol. and Lit. Journal, by D. N. Lord, New York, 1848, Articles, pp. 1, 10, and (especially) 177, and throughout the following years. Premium Essay on Prophetic Symbols, by Winthrop, New York, 1854.—E. R. C.]

Since the Holy Scriptures nowhere concern themselves with school ideas, with anecdotes, with the pragmatism of worldly wisdom or worldly history, but with the life of man, placed, as it is, under the Providence of God as the supreme causality, and related to the final purposes of God, in accordance with the highest laws,—their aim thus being the representation of the infinite in the finite, the spirit-world in the natural world,—they have, on this very account, everywhere a symbolical side, a general symbolical character. The great misapprehension or unapprehension of this peculiar character results, on the part of some, in the conception of the matter-of-fact side of the Scriptures as pragmatically literal; on the part of others, in the stamping of their symbolical side as mythicism. The two tendencies are united in the fact of their turning the idiocratic Hebrew charism of revelation into a Græco-Roman one. Of course, the different Books of the Scriptures are symbolical in widely different degrees. As specifically symbolical in the broader sense, we have to consider the Apocalyptic writings.22

a. Symbolism of Numbers

See the Art. Zahlen [Numbers] among the Hebrews, in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopædie. Also Zahl [Number] in the Biblisches Wörterbuch für das christliche Volk. Zahlen in Winer’s Real-Wörterbuch, Vol. II. Kliefoth, Theologische Zeitschrift von Diekhof und Kliefoth, 1862. Lämmert, Zur Revision der biblischen Zahlensymbolik, Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1864, I.3. Bähr, Symbolik, I. p. 128 sqq. Kurtz, Studien und Kritiken, 1844, p. 315, sqq. [Brown, Ordo Sæclorum, London, 1844 (a most valuable work). Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, Title NUMBER. Auberlen, Daniel and Revelation (Eng. Ed.), pp. 131–141, 266, etc. White, The Symbolical Numbers of Scripture, Edinburgh, 1868.—E. R. C.]

One. The number of absolute unity, hence of Godhead, of omnipotence; of union, hence of power; of uniqueness or singleness, hence of individuality—of the mind at one with itself—of the one salvation “that is needful.”

Two. The number of revelation, hence of creation; of nature, hence of life; of harmonious contrast, hence of marriage, of friendship. But also the number of discord, of war, of ruin, of death. The number of witnesses, of certainty.

Three (2+1). The specifically sacred number. The number of life at one with itself in harmonious contrast; i. e., the number of spirit [Geist]; hence the number of the life that is in God.23 The number of the absolutely living, three-fold Personality, hence of holiness; the number of the new life, the victoriously ended conflict, the Resurrection. But also the number of unclean spirits (the 3 frogs) and of demonically great sufferings (the 3 woes). Comp. the Concordances. Three and a half (the halved seven): the number of the apparent discontinuance of the Divine work (see Lämmert).

Four (2+2). The number of double contrast, hence the number of space, of the world; the number of the ground-forms of Divine Providence in the world.

Five (2+3, life moved by spirit). The number of the hand, of action, of freedom, of folly as well as wisdom, of motion, of the course of the world (five foolish and five wise virgins; five fingers upon the hand).

Six (3×2 and 2×3, the struggle betwixt spirit and nature). The number of weeks, of labor, of laborious service, of toil and need, of the endless toil of demonic self-annihilation. But also, in the sacred sense, the number of holy operations,—the sacred six whose unity is seven.

Seven (3+4 or 6+1). The number of the world as under the dominion of spirit; of completed work; of rest, of cessation from labor and keeping of holy-day, of the full development of light and life; of the full revelation of spirit, in good as well as in evil, hence the number of time. [“The number seven has a mystical and symbolical significance throughout Scripture, and especially throughout Prophecy, which, however, in no way lessens its chronological value. It is the sum of the number of God, three, and the number of the world, four, and is thus the number of the Divine in relation to the world, of the inward perfection of God, as manifested and viewed in His manifold works and judgments. Where this number prevails God is revealed, and vice versâ. The inward objective foundation of the law lies in the seven spirits of God, who are the mediators of all His revelations in the world (Rev. 1:4, 3:1, 4:5, 5:6). The outward manifestation of the dignity of this number begins as early as the first Book and first chapter of the Old Testament, where the work of creation is divided by it, whilst it prevails throughout the whole of the Apocalypse, the last Book of the New Testament. Cicero styles the number seven rerum omnium fere nodus (Somn. Scip. 5).” AUBERLEN, Dan. and Rev., Eng. Ed., p. 133.—E. R. C.]

Eight (2×4). The number of the double world of the Cosmos, in the antithesis of Heaven and earth.

Nine (3×3). The number of the perfect movement of spirit, of renewal (the last simple number).

Ten (5+5). The number of numbers, hence the number of the completed course of time; of the full temporal development of life; the formal, worldly number of completeness. [“Ten is the number of what is human, worldly; it represents the fullness of the world’s manifold activity and development. We may illustrate this by examples taken from our Book (Daniel) where the world-power issues in ten heads and ten horns (2:41, 42, 7:7–24).” AUBERLEN, Dan. and Rev., Eng. Ed., p. 133.—E. R. C.]

Eleven (6+5). The number of the decline of day, of evening, of the evening of the world; of the Church convulsed by the storm raging in the world (Judas and Simeon, or Dan, dropped out).

Twelve (3×4). The number of the spirit-world; hence the number of the foundation, the mediation and consummation of the Kingdom of God. The number of the plenitude of the charisms, as well as the number of the restored number of completeness. The real, heavenly number of completeness.

Modifications of the Simple Numbers

Fractions: ½, 1/3, 1/5, 1/10. A divided heart (James 1:8). Beginning of judgment (Rev. 8:7 sqq.). The completion of satisfaction, atonement (Lev. 5:16). Theocratic tax (Gen. 14:20; Lev. 27:30). Partial ruin (Rev. 11:13). The half of seven, 3½, the number of the Divine work and Kingdom as apparently at an end. The number of apparent hopelessness and despair, Rev. 11:9, 12:14; comp. Dan. 12:7. This number is similar to the 42 months (Rev. 13:5), or the 1260 days (Rev 11:3, 12:6). This equal period of apparent disconsolateness is very differently apprehended by our believing contemporaries; opinions vary as to whether it should be reckoned as consisting of times, days, years or months. Even to the human mind, one day can be as one year, and vice versâ.


4+3. Fortunes of the world and spiritual fortunes. The septenary of the Apocalypse divided into two portions. In general, completed destiny (Matt. 5, the Beatitudes;24 Matt. 13, the Parables).

5+5. The entire evolutionary course of freedom in good and in evil (Matt. 25:1 sqq. 15).

7+1. Eight days. The round of life, in the antithesis of labor and rest, Luke 9:28.

9+90. Luke 15:4.

1000+600. Rev. 14:20. Comp. Düsterdieck, Komm. zur Apocalypse, p. 478. The number 1000 is an æon, and the number 600 a vast series.


2×2. The world. 2×12. The 12 Elders of the Old and the 12 Elders of the New Covenant. The Theocratic and the Churchly Presbytery in a dynamic sense. The charisms of the Old and the New Covenant in their plenitude.

3×2. The new principle. The new. The priestly blessing, Num. 6:24, 27. The thrice Holy ([Trisagion] Jehovah Sabaoth), Is. 6.—3×40=120. The new Church, Acts 1:15.

4×2, or 8. The universe, an antithesis of the upper and the lower world.—4×3. God’s world as a sanctified world.—4×10. Course of the world, a generation.

5×2. The Church of God in respect of its genuine and spurious constituents, Matt. 25:1.

(6×100) 60+6. The number 666. The number of endless toil and self-consumption which fail to attain the goal of spiritual rest, hence the number of Antichrist.

7×4. The month, the real theocratic measure of time.

7×10 The seventy souls as the totality of Israel (Gen. 46:27); the 70 disciples (Luke 10); 70 nations (Gen. 10). The fuller form 72=(6×12?). (The fullest number: 72×1000×2=144,000, Rev. 14:1). [“The number seventy is ten multiplied by seven; the human is here moulded and fixed by the Divine. For this reason the seventy years of exile are a symbolical sign of the time during which the power of the world would, according to God’s will, triumph over Israel, during which it would execute the Divine judgments on God’s people.” AUBERLEN, Daniel and Revelation (Eng. Ed., p. 134).—E. R. C.]

8×10 (see Ps. 90).

9 (?).

10×10. The worldly number of completeness.—10×100. The chiliad, the æon.—10×1000. The myriad, infinitude.

12×12, or 144. The elect of a period; these multiplied by 1000: the elect of all times.

b. Symbolism of Colors

Bähr I., p. 303 sqq. Friedrich, Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur, p. 426, 634, 671, 678. Winer, Art., Farben [colors]; Bibl. Wörterbuch, same article. The author’s “Vermischte Schriften,” Mörs, 1840, vol. I., p. 1, Symbolik der Farben. [Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Title COLORS.—E. R. C.]

Colors are brought into view in the Scriptures with the idea of the rainbow; in this phenomenon, however, it is not the individual colors, as such, but the entirety which possesses a lofty symbolical significance for the theocratic faith, Ezek. 1:28.

But in the brilliant coloring of the Tabernacle, the symbolism of individual colors meets us in four separate colors (Ex. 26). White, blue (yellow?), purple, scarlet.

The entire chromatic table of the Bible is drawn up by Winer, as follows: “No great variety of colors, natural or artificial, is presented in the Bible: besides white and black, (a) red is most frequently mentioned, in its varieties of brown-red (bay), crimson (purple-red), orange (minium); then (b) green; (c) pale yellow; (d) purple-blue (hyacinth-blue); (e) reddish or fox-brown; many of these appellations are indicative at once of the pigment used and its origin.”

On the interpretation of colors in general, compare the works above cited.

In the canonical Apocalyptic writings, the glorious appearance of Christ, in which several colors combine, first demands our consideration: Rev. 1:13–16, comp. Rev 10:1, 14:14; 19:11 sqq.; Rev 20:11—the white throne; Dan. 10:5, 6.

Further, the color of the horses which are placed under the worldly authority of Christ, see Rev. 6:2 sqq.; 19:11–14; Zech. 1:8, 6:2, 3.

Again, the brilliant coloring of the great harlot’s attire, Rev. 17:4, 18:12, 16. The color of the dragon, Rev 12:3; likewise the color of the horses of the horsemen of destruction, Rev 9:17, comp. Jer. 51:7.

The Woman clothed with the sun, chap 12:1 (who divides into two opposite forms, meeting us, on the one hand, under the figure of the harlot, Rev 16:1, and, on the other hand, under the figure of the tried Woman, clothed with shining linen at the appearing of Christ, Rev 19:8), comes forth at the end of the 1000 years as the Bride, adorned in the richest fashion, in the glory of God Himself, Rev 21:10, 11 sqq.

Those believers in Sardis, who have kept themselves from defilement, are clothed in white raiment, chap. 3. White is pre-eminently the color of innocence, purity, and righteousness, Rev. 19:11, 14; but also that of spiritual age, maturity, perfection, eternity, of heavenly existence, of heavenly victory (the white hair, white horse, white throne of Him who was like unto the Son of Man; the white stone, the white garments). White has connected with it the clear brilliancy of snow and crystal, Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:3; Rev. 1:14. Or, this color probably embraces those two symbols. See Rev. 2:17, 6:11, and other places. Black denotes, Rev. 6:5, famine, distress, or simply suffering; thus, Job 30:28, 30; Cant. 1:5, 6. An effective contrast is presented Lam. 4:7, 8. Red is of striking but also manifold significance. Blood-red (crimson) may, like blood itself, when taken in an active sense, denote war (Rev. 6:4), murder (Rev. 12:3), bloody victory (Is. 63.); but, in a passive signification, it may also denote a sacrificial death as the surrendering of life in blood (Lev. 17:11); the Atonement, with its propitiatory and cleansing power (1 John 1:7; Heb. 9:22; Rev. 7:14). Purple, on the other hand, as the color of royalty (Cant. 7:5; Matt. 27:28) or of kingly luxury and voluptuous ease (Luke 16:19). The Babylonian harlot decked herself with purple as a sign of her royal dignity, with crimson (scarlet) as a sign of her blood-shedding, with gold as a sign of her luxurious life. As the concrete form of red appears in blood, so the concrete form of yellow appears in gold. Yellow also, however, like red, separates into two distinct and diverse colors. Pale yellow is the color of expiring life, of death, of the kingdom of the dead (Rev. 6:8); golden or bright yellow is the color of agitated, intensified, radiant life (Ezek. 1:4: Rev. 1:15); a spurious imitation of this last is presented by minium, the yellowish red of idols (Wisd. of Sol. 13:14). Allied to this bright yellow is the red or fox color, and, according to others, the brown of Zech. 1:8. [The German Bible gives, in this verse, “red, brown and white horses,” instead of the speckled of the text and the bay of the margin of E. V.]. Two equally significant contrasts are formed by sapphire blue, the covenant color, the color of faithfulness, of heavenly stability (Ezek. 1:26), as, first, in antithesis to the green of the emerald, the color of the earth in her verdant spring-time, the color of hope, and, as the ground-tone of the rainbow sub specie æterni, the hue of heavenly promise (Rev. 4:3); and, secondly, in antithesis to a motley, speckled tint (Ezek. 16:16), the hue of manifoldness or diversity, of instability, of change; a final contrast to blue is presented by the sombre, grey, or unclean color of impurity, ashes, death (Job 30:19; Is. 61:3; Zech. 3:3, and many other passages).

c. Geometrical Figures. Forms of Measurement.

The quadrangular form of Paradise, as the ideal blossom of the world, indicated by its four rivers, is reflected, in a secular aspect, in the four corners of the world, out of which the four winds blow (Dan. 7:2); in a spiritual aspect, in the perfect square formed by the Holy of Holies (see Winer, Tabernacle) to which the imperfect square, the oblong of the Sanctuary, leads. The symbolical fulfillment of this square, from which the outer court has been cut off (Rev. 11:2), is the City of God of the glorified world, the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:2, 16); hence not merely a square, but, by reason of the height of the walls (which is to be symbolically understood), a perfect cube.

The quadrate of the earth is, however, enclosed by the circle of the earth (Is. 40:22), the world by the circuit of the heaven (Job 22:14); the abyss is likewise encompassed by a circle (Prov. 8:27)—the sphere of Divine Providence.

d. Elements and Natural Phenomena

Air, earth, water, fire, ashes, hail, lightning, thunder, storm, earthquake.

Air is a symbol of life, of the region of life (1 Thess. 4:17); hence the last judgment of hardening consists in the pouring out of the seventh vial of wrath into the air (Rev. 16:17), so that the sphere of life itself becomes a sphere of death. Air, as set in motion, or as wind, symbolizes the breath of spirit and the spiritual sphere; hence the prince of this world is said to rule in the air (Eph. 2:2); and, in contrast to the life-wind, which is a symbol of the Spirit of God (Ezek. 27:9; John 3), the winds of wild and demonic spiritual currents storm over the sea of the life of the nations, exciting it to the production of Antichristian forms.

Water is subject to the wind, as the passive natural life is to the motory spiritual life; water, especially as the billowy sea, stands in distinct contrast to earth as the firm element of the world, to the mountain and, in a most special degree, to the rock. As earth, on the one hand, denotes the earthly, the becoming, the beginnings of life, the transitory (John 3:31; 1 Cor. 15:47), the sphere of the becoming, in antithesis to Heaven, the symbol of the being, of perfection, of the glory of God, so, on the other hand, it denotes the religious-moral institutions and regulations of God, the traditional spiritual firmament over against the water-floods of human life, regarded either in its natural inconstancy or as agitated by demonic powers (Ps. 93; Job 38). The true government of God within the sphere of the religious moral order of things, the Theocracy, is a mountain of God upon earth, or rather a coronal of holy mountains (Pss. 15, 36:7, 65:6, 121:1), Hence it is that the Theocracy, in its secularization into Jewish ordinance, could approve itself a mountain that lay, an apparently invincible obstacle, in the way of the Apostles’ vocation; this same mountain, however, they were assured should by their faith be removed, nay, even be cast into the sea of nations (Matt. 17:20, 21:21). In consequence of this transposition of the Kingdom of God, there is a Christian order of things; it will be the sign of the last time, however, when the beast out of the earth—the old order of things—shall be subservient to the beast out of the sea. But though mountains depart and hills be removed (Is. 54:10), yet will not God’s mercy depart from His people; high above the mountains rises the eternal Rock, God Himself in His steadfastness and faithfulness (Deut. 32:31, etc.). And, therefore, in the last time the Mountain of the Lord shall be higher than all mountains; the ordinance of the Kingdom in the Church of God shall be exalted above all other and human ordinances (Is. 2:2).

Out of the rock of God’s steadfastness, the fountain of undying life breaks forth. The fountain is the origin of life—of Divine life (Jer. 2:13, 17:13) or of human spiritual life. All originalities, which make up the world’s history, are fountains; in the midst is the open fountain of salvation (Zech. 13:1). From the fountains issue brooks and streams,—tendencies, godly (Ezek. 47:1 sqq.; Shiloah, Is. 8:6) and ungodly (brooks [E. V.: floods] of Belial, Ps. 18:4); the character of the latter is that of stagnation, ending finally in the perfect stagnancy of the lake of fire. The streams empty into the sea, the great life of the nations (Dan. 7:2; Rev. 13). The sea itself is, after the judgment, divided into two distinct and opposite seas—the crystal sea which, in spite of its fullness, its plenitude of life, is transparent, a pure spiritual life, clear as crystal (Rev. 4:6)—and the lake or pool of fire, which, in spite of its great extent and its passionate, fiery storms, still remains a pool of absolute stagnation (Rev. 19:20, 20:14, 21:8).

Earth and water are still further to be considered as elements. The earth as a symbol of a rich and fruitful soil—in a spiritual as well as a material sense—in antithesis to dry, stony, and desert ground (Matt. 13); water as a symbol of vitalizing, refreshing affluences (Ps. 1). This latter element is likewise a symbol of cleansing, consecrative discipline (Ezek. 36:25), and of a penal judgment that leads through death to new life (1 Pet. 3:21). The water of the ocean is, moreover, a symbol of the separation between this life and the beyond (Deut. 30:13), just as the water of the flood symbolizes the separation between the old and the new world. Both imports of water are presented, however, in a yet higher degree in fire—fire as the vital element (Is. 4:5); fire as the refining and purifying25 (Mal. 3:3), the atoning (Lev. 16:27), transforming (2 Pet. 3:10), and destroying element (Rev. 20:9).

Under the head of natural laws and phenomena, the antithesis of day and night claims the first place. Both day and night have two aspects, for to the day of life (John 9:4) the day of judgment corresponds (1 Cor. 3:13), and to the night of darkness, full of secret works of wickedness (Rom. 13:12), the holy night of mystery corresponds (Luke 2:8).

The antithesis of light and darkness, on the other hand, is less ambiguous. Light, as symbolic of truth, is opposed to darkness, as symbolic of falsehood (1 John 1:6, 7). Yet there is also a holy darkness, as there is a holy night (Ex. 20:21).

The sunshine is rich in symbolical references, from the first blush of morning to the parting ray of evening (see the Concordances and Zech. 14:7). The sun can also smite, however (Ps. 121:6; comp. 91). And so, in contrast to the scorching, smiting, Oriental sun, the shadow, sister to the night, is adopted as a symbol of the tranquillizing, protecting, and refreshing vital operations of God (Ps. 17:8, etc.).

Over against the blue sky, the symbol of eternal faithfulness (Ezek. 1:26), we find the cloud, as a, medium of revelation and concealment (Ex. 13:21; 40:34, etc.); as, likewise, the rainbow, as a medium of communication between heaven and earth (Gen. 9:13; Ezek. 1:28; Rev. 4:3). Again, we have the cloudy darkness (Ps. 18:9–11), and the flying storm-cloud, the latter, as denoting the chariot of God, being indicative of His stormy Providence, as seen in great events.

The cherubim of the cloud and storm government of God (Ps. 18:10) are accompanied by the seraphim of the Divine fiery rule (Ps. 104.; Is. 6). These also were originally designated as cherubim—cherubim, however, who already wield the seraphic flaming sword (Gen. 3:24).

We meet with rain under the import of times of blessing in a reference to the history of Elijah (Jas. 5:18). Storm, in its grand signification, as the crisis of the customary order of life (Dan. 7:2; Luke 21:25), branches, on the one hand, into thunder and lightning (Pss. 11:6, 18; Matt. 24:27), on the other, into hail and (Rev. 16:21) meteors. The conjunction of judgment and salvation finds its climax in fire from heaven (Rev. 8:10; history of Elijah—the chariot of fire).

Exceedingly significant are the conjunctions of the wonderful shining of sun and moon, and the great hail storm in the history of Joshua (Jos. 10). Likewise the Divine signs in the history of Elijah (1 Kings 19:11 sqq.); the conjunctions of eschatological phenomena in the Lord’s Eschatological Discourse (see the Synoptists); and especially the marking, in the Apocalypse, of decisive crises in the Kingdom of God by great natural crises. The voice of Christ is as the sound of many waters (Rev. 1:15); i. e., it is perceptible from the life and operations of Christ in the stirrings of many nations. Particularly significant are the conjunctions: lightnings, voices, thunders (Rev. 4:5); voices, thunders, lightnings, earthquake (Rev 8:5); to these is added, in a third passage, a great hail (Rev 11:19; comp. Rev 16:18). Manifestations of God; epochs, new periods; earth-shakings, catastrophes of judgment.

e. Symbolical Items Drawn from Natural History

On precious stones, see my Vermischte Schriften, Vol. I., p. 15; Winer’s Bibl. Realwörterbuch and the Bibl. Wörterbuch under the head of Edelsteine [Precious Stones]. Calwer, Naturgeschichte (Stuttgart, 1836). [Smith’s Dict. of the BibleTITLE, Stones, Precious.—E. R. C.]

As the Gospel of John, by virtue of its perfect ideal view of the world, is rich in natural symbolism, so likewise is the Apocalypse, especially in the symbolization of subjects drawn from natural history.

In the first place, the symbolism of the twelve jewels in the breastplate of Aaron is resumed in the description of the New Jerusalem (chap. 21). As the jewels in the breastplate reflect the Twelve Tribes of Israel in their peculiarities, so in the Apocalyptic jewels the foundations of the wall of the City are mirrored, i. e., the complete number of the charismatic fundamental types of the eternal City of God; marked by the names of the Twelve Apostles. The twelve jewels, as foundations of the wall, are reflected in the twelve pearls that form the gates. The pearls stand toward the jewels as does Omega toward Alpha; they are the perfected lustre and splendor of appearance into which the charismatic foundations have developed; their perfection consists in the fact of their representing, in their quality of gates, on the one hand, the complete openness, universalism of perfect spiritual life, and on the other, its complete seclusion against everything that is base. This seclusion seems to be effected, however, only by a dynamically repellent agency which the pearls exercise of themselves (see Rev 21:25, 27).

The twelve jewels of the City of God are preceded by the three figurative jewels in the Theophany, Rev 4:3. Particular prominence is given to the jasper stone. Its lustre, together with that of the sardine stone, characterizes the appearance of God Himself upon His throne; it is likewise expressive (as the most precious of all stones) of the glory of God which lightens His City, and so we find it again as the material of which the wall of the City is built, and as the first jewel of the foundations. Undoubtedly, therefore, it is not the ordinary jasper, but the diamond (see Düsterd., p. 216). The stones in Aaron’s breastplate do not follow each other in the same order as those in the Apocalypse.

In the breastplate we have:

Sardius, Topaz, Emerald, Ruby,

Sapphire, Sardonyx {Ligure Jacinth} Agate,

Amethyst, {Turquoise Chrysolite Topaz} {Onyx Beryl} {Jasper Diamond}

In the foundations of the City of God:

{Jasper Diamond} Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald,

Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl,

Topaz, Chrysoprasus, Jacinth, Amethyst.

It is an unmistakable fact that the precious stones of the Apocalypse, chosen in accordance with the knowledge of antiquity, denote in general the elect of the City of God. As twelve, they indicate their numerical completeness (see chap. 7 and 14); as shining with a common lustre, their unity; as stones of different hues, their manifoldness; as brilliant stones, the glorification of this earthly life through the light of Heaven. It is, of course, not feasible exactly to combine the twelve Aaronic stones with the twelve sons and tribes of Israel, or altogether to identify the Apocalyptic stones with the respective characteristics of the twelve Apostles, though many analogies may be found in both tables. The stones are, however, most highly significant as bearing upon the Christian doctrine of personality. They proclaim the fact that the individual is not relaxed and dissolved by the universal, but fixed and clarified. Since the jasper is described as the most precious of all stones, and compared with the transparent crystal, nay, spoken of as a crystal jasper, the ordinary jasper cannot be meant. See above.

As an image of the pure and crystallized solar ray, of faithfulness in motion, of motion in faithfulness—hence, of light—gold has an inalienable reference to the sun itself, consequently, to the symbol of the face of God, or Christ, i. e., the manifestation of God’s love.

As gold, however, it is indicative of the spiritual solar ray—a celestially pure and right tendency and motion. So, doubtless, the golden girdle denotes a preparation for holy motion (chaps. 1:13, 15:6); the golden treasure, the true riches of active spiritual life (Rev 3:18); the golden crowns, the perfecting of holy living in royal liberty (Rev 4:4); the golden censer, the purity of the prayers ascending to heaven for the coming of the Kingdom (Rev 8:3); the golden vials of wrath, the Divine purity and integrity in the course of the judgments (Rev 15:7); the golden streets of the City of God, the sphere of holy life-motion (Rev 21:21).

Since the adornment of the harlot (Rev 17:4) is worldly, like the worldly merchandise brought to her by the merchants of the earth (Rev 18:12, 13, 14, 16), the passages referred to can contain nothing but a general allegorical symbolization of worldly show, in splendor, might, riches and pleasures, through the medium of precious stones, pearls, metals, products of the vegetable kingdom and works of art.

Together with the symbolical import of earth and sea, the symbolism of the vegetable world endows trees and all green things (chaps. 7:3, 8:7) with a like general significance. In accordance with well-known images in the Psalms (Pss. 1:3, 23:2, 92:12) the tree covered with verdure is indicative of prosperity in human relations. In particular, we would note the two olive trees, Rev 11:4, which recall the kindred passage in Zech. 4; in the latter place, however, the olive trees afford nutriment to a candlestick in the midst of them, whilst in the Apocalypse the olive trees themselves are, at the same time, candlesticks, i. e., not simply sources of Christian spiritual life, but likewise organs for the diffusion of the same. In the Old Testament passage, the prophetic and high-priestly offices seem to be intended, in their fructification of the kingly office; in the New, we regard the two olive trees as significant of the Christian Church and State. The vine of the earth (Rev 14:18), characterized as the object of the judgment harvest, doubtless denotes, in accordance with John 15:1; comp. Ps. 80:14, 15; Ezek. 15:2, 19:10, the entire human race in its higher destination; it is here contemplated, however, in that ironical perversion of its destiny of which it has in great part been guilty, bringing forth, it is true, grapes in abundance, yet grapes that have but the false semblance of love and joy, being fit only for the wine-press of wrath. On the other hand, the trees of life, chap. 22, constitute an individual sign of the great superiority of the new Paradise to the old. The one possessed a single tree of life; the other abounds in trees of life, standing on either side of the river; it has thus an avenue of trees or organs for the eternal preservation and invigoration of life, and not only do these refresh the blessed the whole year through, with their twelve manner of fruits, but their leaves also are for the healing of the nations.

The animal kingdom has contributed more abundantly to apocalyptic symbolism than has the vegetable, and that not merely in simple forms but also in allegorical compounds; not merely to denote bestial and demonic impulses,26 but also, in a remarkable degree, to illustrate the highest and holiest heavenly relations.

In general, the four living shapes or beasts before the throne of God, which we regard as four fundamental forms of the Divine government,27 primarily form a contrast to the beast out of the sea and to the beast out of the earth,, i. e., the true radical Antichrist and his prophet, the renegade from the old Christian order of things (chap. 13), and to the dragon, the ruler and inspiriter of them both (Rev 12:3), Satan himself.

The lamb is the symbol of the suffering, and in suffering triumphant, Christ. This figure is employed throughout the Scriptures, from the paschal lamb (Ex. 12) down; it receives special prominence at the hands of Isaiah (chap. 53), and is also a favorite image in the Johannean writings (John 1:29; comp. 1 Pet. 1:19), particularly in the Apocalypse (chaps. 5:6, 6:16, 7:10, 12:11, 14:4).

The horse, in the Apocalypse as in Zechariah (chaps. 1:8, 6:2, 3), is the symbol of a world-historical movement, or distinct fundamental forms of the course of the world.

The eagle (chaps. 8:13 to 12) has the significance of the horse, only in a higher degree. It denotes a ghostly or ideal and infinitely swift motion which (2 Sam. 1:23), as a rule, is directed towards light, the sun, heaven (Prov. 23:5, 30:19; Is. 40. 31); wonderfully rapid in descent also, as the astonishingly swift catastrophes of judgment (Job 39:30; Matt. 24:28). Hence, the eagle is particularly fitted to denote the wonderful Providence of God, as exercised towards His people (Ex. 19:4; Deut. 32:11); or to symbolize mighty sovereigns (Dan. 4:33), great military expeditions (Jer. 48:40), great spiritual princes (Ezek. 1:10; Rev. 12:14).

Highly remarkable and singular figures are the three frogs (Rev. 16:13). Their element—the swamp—their unanimity in the most perfect monotony, their loud nocturnal clamor and the emulousness with which they strive to outcry each other, are sufficiently characteristic features. Their number, however—three—denotes that they feign to be holy voices of the Spirit. They belong to the sphere of the dogs, which last, as Oriental wild dogs, are to be distinguished from the little dogs (Matt. 15; Tob. 5:16, [11:4] Dogs are a symbol of invincible vulgarity, associated though it may be with many gifts; of vulgarity in enjoyment (Prov. 26:11), in possession (Sirach 14:2),28 in a disregard for holy things (Psalm 22:16; Matt. 7:6), in sensual impurity generally (Rev. 22:15). In a more general sense, therefore, they are also a symbol of baseness (2 Kings 8:13). In connection with the swine, the dog denotes infinite activity and versatility (Eccl. 9:4) in what is base and sordid, whilst the swine is expressive of a debauched hebetude in the like (2 Pet. 2:22). The serpent bears sway over this domain, however; he is, in truth, serpent and swine in one, combining supreme demonic cunning with supreme bestial brutality; such is the dragon, i. e., Satan.

Not images of evil itself [in the sense of wickedness or sin—TR.], but images of the ill that is connected with evil, are the figures of the demonico-physical penal judgments; in the first place, the locusts that ascend out of the abyss (Rev 9:3). These are allegorical figures: locusts that touch no green thing, but bite and torment men; illusive figures, like tormenting shapes created by the imagination: like horses, and yet not like horses; with things like crowns as of gold on their heads, and yet neither crowns nor gold; faces, as it were the faces of men, and yet not men’s faces; their hair as the hair of women, and yet not women’s hair; teeth like lions’ teeth, and yet not lions’ teeth; breastplates as the similitudes of iron breastplates; the sound of their wings as the sound of war-chariots; tails like scorpions’ tails—all demonic phantasmagoria, hypochondria, forms of frenzy, self-tormentings of all kinds, such as make up the morbid dart side of the development of modern intellectual and spiritual life. Such is the appearance of these locusts, like the countless spawn of spiritual waste places—horses in their swiftness and strength; crowned with the phantasmal crowns of invincible phantasmal might; as human as though they looked through men’s eyes; as effeminate as though clothed with women’s hair; and yet, again, ferocious in strength, provided, as it were, with lions’ jaws; mercilessly hard and unconquerable, guarded as with iron breastplates; venomous as though stinging with scorpions’ stings; tormenting men five months, i. e., through the measure of the whole course of the veriest temporality ([moon, month] measurer of time29), five times repeated, in accordance with the number of moral freedom—here, freedom in false self-destination.

Still more fearful is the aspect of the tormenting spirits of the sixth trumpet (chap. 9.); the locusts tormented men, but these slay the third part of men; the former are to the latter as countless swarms of grasshoppers to a serried host of twice ten thousand times ten thousand (200 millions) horsemen. The riders have breastplates of fiery red, dark blue, and brimstone color(brimstone yellow); the heads of the horses are like lions‘ heads, and out of their mouths issue fire, smoke, and brimstone, as though they were dragons of hell. Thus, the horses are worse than the riders, who seem only to guide them. The horses kill by the three agencies, fire, smoke, and brimstone, as by different plagues. Besides this power in their mouths, they have power in their tails; those resemble serpents, having serpents‘ heads, which harm men.

We must consider that the sixth trumpet has reference to the approaching end of the world. This consideration points to demonic Antichristian corruptions which burst forth from the Euphrates (not from beyond the Euphrates, whence a way is prepared for the kings, Rev. 16:12)—(from Babylon)—as Babylonish distractions. Mark first the close connection in which they stand, and their release for judgment, under four angels of judgment. Next their number—two myriad myriads; a two-fold immensity, to be referred, doubtless, to the antithesis of the two Antichristian beasts. Moreover, it is not the riders, the directors of the horses, who are the real devastators, but the terrible horses themselves, i. e., wild and dreadful movements. Yet the riders are invulnerable; they have on breastplates corresponding in color with the deadly plagues that issue from the mouths of the horses; the flame-color with the fire, the steel-blue with the smoke, the brimstone-color with the brimstone. The men whom they kill, they kill not simply spiritually, but likewise physically;—with the fire of fanaticism; with the smoke of suffocating, negative self-consumings; with the brimstone of a morbid susceptibility for fire and suffocating glow. Thus are slain, snatched away into spiritual and bodily ruin, the third part of men, i. e., a great portion of those under mental or spiritual excitement, representatives of the human number of spirit; the rest of mankind are mortally wounded by the bite of their serpent-like tails, yet they do not repent, either of their idolatry, or of their lawlessness (murder, etc.). The judgment is imminent.

If heads may be regarded only as symbolizing the real principles of definite tendencies, or as the intelligent originators of them (Gen. 3:15; Ps. 68:21), the seven heads of the dragon denote seven ground-forms of mischievous demonic principles; the perfect number, seven, being significant of the pretended holiness and Divine origin of these principles. The seven heads of Antichrist represent these principles in their historical development, showing how they finally have borrowed the most perfect semblance of Christianity whilst existing in the element of hatred towards Christ; ay, how they can appear like seven holy mountains of world-historical firmness and order (Rev. 17). As the dragon appears as a monster, and moreover as a liar and braggart, having ten horns upon his seven heads—the emphatic expression of the entire course of the world—so, too, does Antichrist wear the semblance of a monster, and that in a peculiar degree (Rev. 13). For the horn is, in general, the symbol of power, particularly historical, royal power (Rev. 17:12). Still more monstrous, however, than the monster of Antichristianity, is the beast that comes up out of the earth; it has two horns [like a lamb], but it speaks as a dragon, i. e., not simply as Antichrist, but as the devil himself.

The fact that the eyes of the beasts ([living beings—E. R. C.] Rev. 4.) denote the consciousness of the spirit, His illimitable vision, requires no explanation. The feet, as figuring position (Rev 10:2), and the hands, especially the right hand, as figuring action, are also easily intelligible symbols.

The mention of these physical organs leads us to the contemplation of organic sufferings. Complete organic suffering constitutes the corpse (Rev 11:9), the symbol of complete deadness and annihilation, accompanied by a certain continuance of the dead or slain form. But the corpse, on Biblical ground, is like tinder which has been extinguished but which a spark may re-ignite; it may revive again. And thus it is with the Kingdom of God, when all seems lost.

Evil also may receive a deadly wound, however, which for the time may be healed (Rev. 13:3). Judgment that has taken up its dwelling within is more fell in its operation; this is symbolized by the sore (Rev. 16:2, 11); it is that self-dissolution of life that begins with perfect hardening. But, in face of this death-power, we behold the wondrous life-power of the Kingdom of God, indicated by the woman in travail (Rev 12:2). This last figure leads us to that department of symbolism which is connected with human life.

f. Human Relations

In accordance both with the Apocalypse (Rev 1:13) and the Book of Daniel (chap. 7), the human form, in its ideality, is specifically the form of Christ. As the Head of humanity, He is the essential and apparent Image of God; the Son.30 He, therefore, not only embraces humanity and reveals Divinity (Rev 10:1), but also rules over and through the Cosmos (Rev 1:17, 18). Therefore, His eyes are like a flame of fire, and His voice like the voice of great waters (great hosts of peoples).

She who gave birth to Him is the woman clothed with the sun, whose footstool is the moon, and who is adorned with a crown of twelve stars. The Kingdom of God, or the ideal Theocracy,31 bare Him in the radiant garment of the sun, i. e., the revelation of God; His Kingdom is elevated above the moon, i. e., above the changes of time; it is adorned with the crown of twelve stars, the complete number of all the great bearers of Divine revelation, whilst the Church has seven stars (angels or ideal genii of individual churches or congregations) and the seven individual churches or congregations themselves do but reflect the glory of the Kingdom faintly, as seven candlesticks. The great spiritual adornment of the woman, however, reposes also upon a cosmical foundation: The sun, with its group of stars, constitutes the Christological Cosmos in the narrower sense.

The travail of the woman is doubtless indicative of the birth-pangs of the Messianic time. The Spirit in the Kingdom of God apprehends that Satan is desirous to devour the child, i. e., He is the author of prophecy concerning the suffering Messiah (continuing it even into the New Testament: Simeon, John the Baptist, Mary of Bethany in the act of anointing Christ). He desired to devour Him; this is the Death of Christ, changed into the Resurrection. The child was caught up into Heaven—the Ascension of Christ. Besides the immediate application of this fact, however, the self-same thing is continually going on in the history of mankind. Satan is continually desiring to devour every new birth of the Church. But the true Christendom, as the Church Triumphant, is ever being caught up into Heaven, whilst Satan is continually being more and more cast out of the Heaven of the spirit and the spirit-realm into the external world.

The wilderness, whither the woman flees, is not difficult of comprehension: it is the region of asceticism.32 She is borne thither upon the wings of the great eagle. A super-terrestrial spirit of renunciation in heroic spirits—existing in a free form, even in the life of John—is the saving power that bears the New Testament Theocracy, the true Church, into the wilderness.

The water-flood, with which the serpent seeks to carry away the woman, is, in accordance with the idea of water-floods, a migration of a nation or nations (see Ps. 93). But the earth, that swallows up the flood, is the old order of things, conceived of not simply as secular authority, but likewise as legal and external Churchly authority. The forms of State and Church in the Middle Ages became victors over the flood of peoples in migration. Though it be true that the nations were partially influenced in their wanderings by a higher longing, it is nevertheless a fact that the first moving power of an Attila, for instance, was a demonically savage impulse; and, in every instance, the nations dashed themselves at first against the Church with a shock as of mighty waves.

It is an exceedingly note-worthy circumstance that the one Woman of whom we read in chap. 12. has, in the end of the days (chap. 17, 18, 19), divided into the antithesis of the Harlot and the Bride33 See above.

The two olive-trees of the interim are likewise introduced in the form of two personages endowed with miraculous power [the two Witnesses, Rev 11:3–13]. They are able to shut Heaven, to inflict external and internal judgments upon men. In the killing of them, however, we behold the Antichristian destruction of Church and State. In their dead bodies we have a certain continuance of their exanimate forms. In their resurrection, at the expiration of three days and a half, i. e., after the lapse of the resurrection period of three days—in the most hopeless hour, therefore—as also in their ascension, we see the exaltation of Church and State into the condition of, the unitous form of the Kingdom. Here we behold the coming forth of the Bride. As the matured, free and unique heavenly Church upon earth, she stands opposed to Antichristianity.

Over against the olive-trees stand the seven kings and the ten kings, as Antichristian powers.

The starting-point for the explanation of these kings is formed by the fact that a precursory judgment, executed by the angel of the seventh vial of wrath, has divided the one great city of destruction into three parts (Rev 16:19). The first part is constituted by Babylon in the narrower sense of the term; she is connected with the seven kings, or the seven holy, or rather mock-holy, forms of the Antichristian world-power. The second part is formed by the Beast in the narrower sense of the term, represented by the ten kings of the democratic world-power. The third part is formed by the final rising of Gog and Magog, under the conduct of Satan himself (chap. 20). The Babylonian Harlot is judged by the ten kings. The Beast, with the ten kings, is judged by the Parousia of Christ. The last anarchical rising is judged by fire that comes down from God out of heaven,—the fiery metamorphosis of the end of the world.

The Woman who at first fled from the dragon into the wilderness of a holy asceticism, seems to be again found in the wilderness, chap. 17. But her asceticism is now holy in appearance only. The Woman has become a Harlot, and has seated herself upon the organ of Satan, the scarlet, i. e., blood-colored, Beast; the Antichristianity of the last time. The beast is full of names of blasphemy, i. e., central principles of impiety; its seven apparently spiritual heads or governments are in contradiction to the ten horns of worldly power. The woman, in her false pomp, also sits on seven mountains, i. e., consecrated powers of order (see above, Mountain); and these are seven kings. It is, in the first place, declared concerning their unified personality, i. e., the Beast itself: It was, and is not, and shall ascend out of the abyss, and go into perdition. This fact excites the wonder of the Christian world here, chap. 17., and also according to Rev 13:3, where it is said: The deadly wound of the Beast was healed. The passages are unmistakably descriptive of Antichristianity in its continuance throughout the history of the world; in its heathen character it was, and received a deadly wound from Christianity; it arose again, however, an apparently Christian Antichristianity, and, in this character, as the perfection of wickedness, it is destined to go into perdition. Accordingly, by the seven kings, we are to understand, agreeably to the features presented in Dan. 7, seven world-powers, or phases of this gradually developing Antichristianity. We cannot assume that the Apocalyptist essentially differs from Daniel. It was necessary, however, for him to go beyond Daniel, in view, among other things, of the fact that Antichristianity would re-appear within Christianity; hence he substituted a round spiritual seven—taking for his point of departure the last kingly power—for the heathen worldly four of Daniel. As a fifth power, which to the Israelites had become a world-power, he might regard the Antichristianity of the Herodians, or the Jewish Hierarchy itself in its diffusion over the world; as the sixth, the Roman empire of his own time as distinguished from ancient Rome. The other, it is declared, is not yet come; that is, the apparently Christian, Antichristian world-power. Upon this point the prophecy is brief, in perfect accordance with the laws of prophecy in contra-distinction to historic prediction.

The passage, Rev 17:11, has been combined with the declaration concerning the deadly wound of the Beast, Rev 13:3, for the purpose of presenting an absurd fable of heathen or Jewish popular life as the main motive of the great prophecy of a Christian Apostle.34 The supporters of this view have failed to consider the serious injury which the adoption of such a popular error must necessarily inflict upon the entire Book. They are regardless of the distinction that exists between popular rumor and the opinion of morally cultured minds; between the generality of such minds and enlightened prophets of the Lord. Neither have they considered how impossible it is that the world-monarchies of Daniel, which invariably denote entire groups of kings, should here be converted into the names of single kings, of whom some are even highly insignificant. The confusion which such a proceeding would introduce into the Apocalyptic times is manifest.

It is deserting symbolical exegesis for literal interpretation to declare that the kings are real kings, instead of concrete world-powers; or to seek to define the numbers seven and ten in accordance with chronologic historical dates. Neither can Babylon be significant of Rome in a literal sense, though Rome be the symbolical centre of Babylon; and, notwithstanding the unmistakable allusion to Rome contained in the seven mountains (chap. 17), we must not be unmindful of the symbolic import attaching to the septenary, as well as to the figure of a mountain. When Christ is declared to be the Prince of the kings of the earth (chap. 1), the expression is manifestly a symbolically concrete term for the absolute-dynamical and dynamic-absolute dominion of the glorified Christ over all the world-powers of the earth. It is expressive of the dynamical principle of the personality, word, and Spirit of Christ, which principle overrules all materiality and all quantity. So, as the Crown of life, Christ Himself surpasses all the princely crowns or diadems of worldly dominion, and of spiritual victory in Heaven and on earth (Rev. 2:10, etc.). It is also requisite that we should regard city as a symbolical term for a centre of human fellowship, whether the city of destruction (Rev 16:19) or the City of God (Rev 21:10) be intended. No less symbolical is the temple, Rev 11:1. The exegetical assumption of modern critics that the last passage proves the Temple at Jerusalem to have been still standing at the time when the Apocalypse was written, affords another sign of the deep fall of these critics into a false literalism. The sharp distinction made by the Apocalyptist between the temple and the outer court, which last is not measured, but is given to the Gentiles that they may tread it under foot, is manifestly expressive of the distinction between the internal and the external Church, between the true, living congregation of God and a Christendom that is Christian in name only, being in essence truly heathen. It is an antithesis similar to that formed by the Kingdom of priests of the real spiritual life (Rev 1:6), and the merchants of the earth, who have been the intimate business friends of the false queen, just as the kings of the earth have been the associates of her revelry and debauchery. Again, in the merchants and kings we have, manifestly, two symbolic groups. One of these groups denotes all who have served and benefited the queen from self-interest; some of them being represented as egoists, who drift upon the ocean of popular life. The other group is indicative of all who have occupied a relation of mutual support to the false world-power, the enslaver of humanity, the Woman,—lending her the worldly arm of despotism, with a view to being made strong by her through her enslaving of men’s consciences.35

And now, in the midst of all these symbols, and in this out and out symbolical Book, what shall we say to those who ascribe a perfectly literal meaning to the term Jews36 (Rev 2:9, 3:9), and who, upon this term, erect an entire house of cards, made up of false critical hypotheses concerning the New Testament? Very strong faith is requisite for the assumption that such critics are thoroughly in earnest in thus literalizing, particularly as the Apocalyptist himself characterizes those people who claim that they are the true Jews, as a synagogue of Satan. One would suppose that, previous to the Apocalypse, there never had existed a spiritual conception of Judaism (see Rom. 2:29; Gal. 3:29). No less worthy of rejection is the Judaizing, chiliastic interpretation of the passage descriptive of the sealing (chap. 7) as referring to the national, external Israel. The Christians in the seven churches, which were in a great measure made up of Gentile Christians, must, we think, have better understood how to read a Christian symbolic Scripture than readers of this tendency, who hold that the congregation of believers who (as they suppose) are sealed towards the end of the world, are to be regarded as consisting purely of Jewish Christians. The above view would, moreover, necessitate the inference that precisely 12,000 should be sealed out of every tribe. Since the number twelve is the spiritual number of completeness, denoting the round fullness of the principial charisms of the life of Christ or the Kingdom of God, by the twelve thousand of each of the twelve tribes, the whole plenitude of charismatic forces in the development of the Kingdom of God is denoted; in the form of elect and tried souls, for such only are sealed. Since, however, this sealing has reference to the entire course of the seventh seal, i.e., of the seven trumpets, the interpretation which refers it to a Jewish church subsisting at the end of the world, is utterly incorrect. These hundred forty and four thousand would, moreover, in the true evening of the world, seem to have emerged from their probationary state on the earth (chap. 7) and to have attained to the triumphal state in Heaven (chap. 14). This time they appear as “virgins,” i.e., according to Rothe, celibates. Mark well, however, that, in adopting this interpretation, we have to conceive of them as 144,000 celibate Jewish Christians, assuming, moreover, that, on account of their celibacy, they have attained a more elevated position in Heaven. It is thus that the

Apocalypse is handled, whilst, in simple accordance with Biblical style, the sealed Israel denotes the sealed New Testament people of God, consisting of Jewish and Gentile Christians; and the idea of “virgins” is sufficiently explained by moral predicates, especially the genuinely Johannean predicate of purity and truth (Rev 14:5). Neither is it to be supposed that the plenary number of the elect in the Church Triumphant in Heaven and of the elect on earth in the Church Militant, necessarily denotes the same individuals. The entire people of God is denoted by the symbolical name Israel. And though the heathen [nations], Rev 22:2, and elsewhere, form an antithesis to these Jews, that term also is a symbolical expression for the, as yet, unredeemed, considered particularly as masses of peoples. Hence, therefore, it does not follow that the heathen [nations] and races [kindreds] and peoples and tongues, Rev 7:9, with which the sanctification of the principle of nationality in the Kingdom of God is explicitly declared, form a subordinate complement to the 144,000 elect of Israel; this is the less tenable, since the so-called Gentile Christians are already in Heaven (Rev 7:9), whilst the so-called Jewish Christians are still being sealed on earth; in antithesis to the 144,000 virgins standing upon the heavenly Mount Zion, whilst the heathen [nations] are still exposed to temptation on the earth (Rev 14:8). Further particulars we reserve for our EXEG. AND CHIT. NOTES in loc. Compare Düsterdieck, p. 274 sqq.

It would lead us too far if we should attempt to examine in detail all the human relations touched upon in the Apocalypse, in respect of their symbolical import, and we should also be obliged to repeat many of our explanations further on in this Commentary. Nevertheless, we present the following considerations under the following caption.

g. Human Ordinances, Affairs, and Relations

The Lord’s day [Rev. 1:10]. Sunday as the resurrection-day in the literal sense, and also at the same time as symbolical—the feast-day of the soul.

The trumpet [ch. 1:10]. The signal for the beginning of a new and holy Divine period; of a new Divine work; a new Divine war, judgment, and victory.

The book [i.e., the volume or roll, Rev 1:11]. Divine decrees in a mysterious envelope.

The book of life [ch. 20:12, 15]. The sum of those whose salvation is assured, being fixed by sealing, and founded upon election, calling, justification, and conservation amid trial and temptation.

The little book [ch. 10:8, 9, 10]. Prophecy relative especially to the end of the world. It is sweet in the mouth, the most delightful mystery, but agonizing in the belly, with its revelation of horrible depths of perdition and judgment.

The seven churches [ch. 1:11, etc.]. Types of the seven ground-forms in which the Church of Christ presents itself in secular and ecclesiastical history. [But, at the same time, literal churches. The view of the author seems first to have been advocated by Vitringa and Sir Isaac Newton.—E. R. C.]

The candlestick [ch. 1:12]. The Church as a light-bearer; like the star, a fountain of light issuing from the Lord, as the Primal Source.

The garment [ch. 1:13]. The festal high-priestly robe in a spiritual sense.

The altar [ch. 6:9, 8:3]. The symbol of all believing renunciation and devotion; not, however, in the coldness of indifference, but in the holy glow of a life of prayer.

Nicolaitans [ch. 2:6, 15] and Balaamites [ver. 14]. The former are a type of all such antinomianism as is inwrapped in spiritual rational forms. Jezebel [ch. 2:20] denotes the visionary, fanatic forms of antinomianism, whilst the Balaamites are indicative of sensually egoistic forms of the same.

Paradise. The new [ch. 2:7]. The new world, as a world of new, imperishable fullness of life, reposing upon the consummation of the congregation of human spirits under the influence of the Divine Spirit.

Tree of life [ch. 2:7, 22:2,14]. Trees of life, of which not only the fruits, but also the leaves are productive of health. The full healing power of nature, freed from all restraint and conjoined with the healing power of Christ and Christian spiritual life; present in distinct organs and forms.

Synagogue of Satan [ch. 2:9, 3:9]. A perversion of the elements of revelation to the service of darkness; a perversion based upon theories, and propagandist in character.

The second death [ch. 2:11, 20:14]. An unending consciousness of death, that has become an unending form of life. A dying and an inability to die.

The hidden manna [ch. 2:17]. See John 6:32; the nourishment of the personal life, through the most intimate and personal vital communion with Christ.

The white stone [ch. 2:17]. The eschatological justification in the judgment (Matt. 25), as a defence against every accusation and a removal of every stain. Christ’s confession of His confessor, before His Heavenly Father.

The secret name [ch. 2:17]. The mystery of a perfected, individually modified personal essence and self-consciousness.

The commission of fornication and the eating of things sacrificed to idols [ch. 2:14, 20]. Lapse into worldly opinions, customs, society.—Adulterers [ver. 22]. Those laden with the guilt of apostasy. Spiritual renegades on the down-hill road to apostasy.

Cast into a bed [ch. 2:22]. Sarcastic form of judgment. The vortex of antinomistical essence and perdition, changing from the semblance of Divine bliss to demonic torment.

The depths of Satan [ch. 2:24]. An ironical designation of the mighty lies, or the apparent depths of knowledge reposing in the principles of Satanic denial.

The rod of iron (Ps. 2) [ch. 2:27, 12:5]. The sceptre of Christ’s rule as a sceptre of judgment;—of such judgments as mediately proceed from His work. “I am come to kindle a fire.”

Defiled garments; White garments [ch. 3:4, 5]. Antithesis of a spiritual appearance defiled by carnality (avarice, ambition, sensuality), and such a development of the spiritual mind as has ripened into the adornment of blamelessness before the world and before God.

The open door [ch. 3:8]. Free spiritual ingress into the world in order to its conversion: a freedom of access mediated by the removal of traditional hindrances, and a Divinely effected susceptibility of souls for the testimony of Christ.

The Key of David [ch. 3:7]. The Potentate over the true communion of the Kingdom of God, having the power of reception and exclusion; in accordance with the typical import of David, as the royal vicar of God in the old Theocracy.

The pillar in the temple of God [ch. 3:12]. A man in Christ, whose importance is due to the fact that Christ has constituted him an ornament to His house, rather than that He has rested upon him a particle of the Temple’s weight.

Behold, I come quickly [ch. 3:11]. This quickly or soon is ever being more wearisomely protracted, in the judgment of modern exegetes; but it is in reality ever growing sooner, in accordance with the eschatological expectation of a faith that can distinguish between a religious and a chronological date.

The crown [ch. 2:10, 3:11]. The glory of victory, liberty, dominion. The Amen [ch. 3:14]. The personal centre and ultimate goal of all the promises of God and all the true religious hopes of humanity.

Cold, hot [Lange, warm], lukewarm [ch. 3:15, 16]. Indifferent; living; inwardly inclined to indifference, by a constant wavering betwixt God and the world.

The supper [ch. 3:20]. The festive solemnization of personal vital communion with Christ and the brethren; as a feast at even, commemorative of the termination of earthly woe, and of an arrival at the eve of heavenly felicity.

The seven seals [ch. 5:1]. The seven dark enigmas of worldly history, unsolvable for the natural human mind; rendered yet more terrible by the number six contained in them, which, to the worldly mind, gives them the appearance of endless woe;37 but endued with holiness and healing might by their union in the number seven.

The four riders [ch. 6:2–8]. Christ as a rider, i.e., as Lord over the world-historical movement corresponsive with Him; the three following riders being His esquires, i. e., absolutely and entirely subservient to the work of Christ.

Golden vials [ch. 5:8]. In form, holy, beauteous measures; made of the gold of purity, faithfulness, and vital freshness.

The new song [ch. 5:9, 14:3]. As the theocratic wonder, in word and deed, is the specifically new thing under the sun, and as consequently the redemption in Christ, as the New Testament, is the principial new world, so the new song is the celebration of the new world, as the anticipatory celebration of its perfected appearing.

The bow [ch. 6:2]. Attribute of the first Rider. An agency effectual at a distance; sure, decisive, victorious operation.

The great sword [ch. 6:4]. Attribute of War.

The balances and measures [ch. 6:5, 6]. Attributes of Poverty and Death.

Appearance of the kingdom of the dead, or the group of the powers of death [ch. 6:8]. Attribute of Death.

The souls under the altar [ch. 6:9]. All martyrdom a sacrificial suffering for the sake of Christ, and an actual prayer for the coming of perfect retribution.

The seal of God [ch. 7:2]. Positive confirmation and conservation of faithful souls amid the sorrows and temptations of the world; a fact and a consciousness in a unitous heroism.

Dan? The omission of Dan in the enumeration of the Twelve Tribes [ch. 7]. This is a mysterious circumstance; one, however, which assuredly is not to be explained by placing the Danites in the category of outcasts. It is based rather upon a conventional Israelitish symbolism, being supported by the fact that a great portion of the Tribe of Dan emigrated at an early period. The number twelve, in which no Tribe is missed, shows that deficits in the Kingdom of God are speedily remedied, as was the case when Judas dropped out of the company of Apostles (see Acts 1).

The living fountains of waters (Rev 7:17). See Ps. 23; here, in the sense of final and perfect thirst–quenching.

The golden censer and the incense [ch. 8:3, 4], Spirit and life of prayer.

Wormwood [ch. 8:11]. Here, the image of a fatal water-miasma. Spiritual water miasms are moral corruptions, infecting reformatory efforts of, and for, the popular life.

The three woes [ch. 9:12]. Why not seven? They appear as three specifically demonic and Antichristian sufferings, for the trial of the inhabiters of the earth. They are marked by the fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets (Rev 8:13).

The key of the pit of the abyss [ch. 9:1]. The abyss is here hell itself; the pit of the abyss, the channel of such Satanic operations as earth is the subject of38 (Matt. 13 these operations are presented under the figure of tares—evil principles); the fact that the pit was shut is indicative of the preponderance of the holy counter-operations and institutions of the Kingdom of God; the key to the pit denotes the opening of the channel by means of liberty in the abstract, falsely understood,—the administrator of this liberty being an angel of judgment; the ascending smoke is significant of demonic operations which darken the sun of life, the heavenly world, and spread abroad an unheard-of amount of psychical sufferings, hypochondrias, mental and spiritual maladies, despair, and the like.

Worship of devils and idolatry (Rev 9:20). In a general sense, the cowardly and hypocritical recognition of the power of evil, the homage offered to the geniuses of wickedness—a homage which, from time to time, makes its appearance, whilst it ever assumes mightier proportions—is a worship of the devil, in the broader sense of the term; it very readily unites with the grossest forms of idolatry,—especially figurative idolatry.

The measuring reed [ch. 11:1]. Temple, altar, and worshippers are measured. The measuring reed of the spiritual life defines the true temple of worship, the true altar of renunciation, the congregation of true offerers of prayer. The outer court, the heathen [Gentiles]: the outside of the Church, false Christians. The golden reed (Rev 21:15), the Divine consciousness and heavenly precision in respect to the City of God.

Sackcloth as the garb of the two witnesses [ch. 11:3]. Penitential robes. Gloomily austere phases of Christianity, in the forms of State and Church.

Power of the two witnesses. For instance, in pronouncing sentence of excommunication and outlawry; in declaring war and proclaiming peace.

The great city called Sodom and Egypt [ch. 11:8], On the one hand, sensuality carried to a pitch directly contrary to nature; on the other, worship of the dead, asceticism and sorcery; carnality and demonicalness—the one aiding the other, and both forming the sign of the city of destruction.

The wrath of the heathen [nations], and, in contrast, the wrath of God [ch. 11:18]. The two exercise a reciprocal action. Extreme excitement in the supposed autonomy of the heathenized nations, and extreme tension in the autonomy of God—the two in reciprocal agitation.

Worship of the dragon [ch. 13:4]. Similar to the worship of the devil. Cowardly homage offered to the illusive power and glory of Evil.

The tabernacle of God [ch. 13:6]. The communion of true believers. The Church in her inwardness and simplicity. See Acts 15:15, 16; Amos 9:11, 12.

Victory of the beast over the olive-trees [ch. 11:7]. The apparent victory of Evil, gradually issuing in the victory of Good. And that above all, in the history of the crucifixion of Christ. The history of the crucifixion is the history of the cross. The eschatological fundamental law, Rev 13:10: If the Church take upon herself to wield the arms of the State, she must expect to have those arms turned against herself.

The image of the beast [ch. 13:14, 15]. The worship paid to the images of the Roman emperors may serve as an analogue for the worship of the ideals current in the world; for the glorifications and feasts in honor of Antichrist and Antichristianity. The mark of the beast in the forehead and hand, as the Antichristian mark of citizenship (vers. 16, 17). The heathen custom of branding slaves may furnish the analogous idea; the true mark of the beast, however, is doubtless a spiritual signature; the mark on the brow denoting perfect shamelessness, and that on the hand perfect wrong-doing.

666. Six times and sixty times and six hundred times [ch. 13:18]. Constant recurrence of the number six; hence the number of aimless work, of infinitely vain exertion and lost toil, which things are to reach their climax in the Man of Sin.

144,000 [ch. 7:4, 14:1]. Twelve times twelve, or the number of the elect in all spiritual tribes or churches, multiplied by 1000 as the number of the æon of the whole Christian time-reckoning.

The voice [ch. 14:2]. The loud expression of a heavenly certitude. The art of singing the new song, ver. 4: the clear expression of heavenly bliss, an inimitable Divine art.

The virgins [ch. 14:4, 5]. It is evident from the context that they are chiefly characterized by integrity, purity, and truth.

The everlasting Gospel [ch. 14:6]. The Gospel in its first form extends from the first Parousia to the second; the everlasting Gospel extends from the second Parousia into endless æons. It is the Gospel of the final redemption through the final judgment.

The consummation of Babylon, the fall of Babylon [ch. 18 etc.]. A royal law of the moral world. See Is. 14 Jerusalem itself passed through a period of apparent bloom just prior to its destruction. The reign of Agrippa II.; the synagogues scattered everywhere; the proselytes and proselyte colonies; an apparently flourishing culture, and a national pride morbid in its excess.

The wine of wrath of fornication [ch. 18:3]. The wine of wrath, the judgment of God in the midst of the intoxication of fanaticism; the wine of the wrath of fornication, drunken exhilaration in the intoxication of apostasy.

The cup of His indignation [ch. 14:10, 11]. Lofty irony! Here expressive not so much of the Divine measure as of the visibility of this judicial dispensation.

The sickle [ch. 14] The instrument of judgment. The catastrophe which suddenly cuts short the old course of things.

The harvest [ch. 14:15]. The fully matured judgment. [The harvest is properly the ripened crop—the peoples matured for judgment.—E. R. C.].

The wine-press [ch. 14:19, 20]. The crushing disaster accompanying the judgment and pressing from all crimes all their consequences; the process being at first attended, for the most part, with healing results (Is. 63:3), but at the end being principally damning in its character.

The bridles of the horses [ch. 14:20]. If the blood of the slain reaches to the bridles of the horses, it brings the horses, the organs of motion in the history of the world, to a standstill; the course of time is arrested. The space filled by the judgment is designated by the 1600 furlongs or stadia—that measurement being the length of Palestine, which symbolizes the whole world.

The song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb (Rev 15:3). In the light of the New Testament, the Old Testament becomes new, and the Law becomes another form of the Gospel.

The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony (Rev 15:5). The inner and lofty primal region of the glory of God, and of His legislation.

The seven golden vials [ch. 15:7]. As wrath is the lofty synthesis of righteousness and love, so the judgments of wrath are highly consecrate in respect of their sacred measures and their awful contents.

The Euphrates. The boundary line between the civilized and the barbarous world of antiquity; on this side, Babylon (Rev 9:14), on that side, the kings of the barbarian world (Rev 16:12). Armageddon (Zech. 12:11, 14:4; Joel 3:2, 12). Is there a reference to 2 Kings 23:29, or Judges 5:19? See EXEG. NOTES. At all events, it is the place of the incipient judgment upon Antichristianity.

The golden cup in the hand of the woman [ch. 17:4]. Seduction in the guise of conversion to the truly holy. The mother of harlots and abominations. Not merely a harlot, but also a procuress in a spiritual sense.

The drunken woman [ch. 17:6]. The complete intoxication of consummate fanaticism.

The seven mountains and the seven kings [ch. 17:9, 10]. Seven forms of worldly civilization and worldly powers represented by the City of the Seven Hills.

The beast itself as the eighth king [ch. 17:11]. The beast, which is said to be of the seven kings, becomes itself the eighth king, through its intervals of existence. The heathen Antichristian world-power revives again in a Christian world-power.

The going forth out of Babylon [ch. 18]. As the Christians went forth from Jerusalem when her judgment began. For the judgment is half immanent,—the intoxication of wrath.

The triumphal song and the lamentation [ch. 19:1–7, 18:17–19]. The judgment in respect to its two sides; their reflection in the Kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness.

The sea-farers [ch. 18:17]. See above.

The merchants [ch. 18:11]. See above.

The millstone [ch. 18:21]. It is cast into the sea of the life of the nations, and now begins a storm that comes as a judgment upon the beast. The smoke (ver. 18), the dark and gloomy phenomena of judgment.

Amen; Hallelujah [ch. 19:4]. Both real, God’s prophecy, word and work sealed, and the eternal praise of God grounded thereon.

The Marriage of the Lamb [ch. 19:7]. Those called to the Marriage [ver. 9]. See Matt. 25:1 sqq.

The Woman, the Bride [ch. 19:7]. The perfected Church.

Her adornment [ver. 8]. The glorious appearance of her inner life.

The testimony of Jesus. Rev 19:10; Matt. 10:32; Luke 12:8; Matt. 25.

The name of Christ, His secret (Rev 19:16; comp. Rev 2:17; Matt. 11:27).

The vesture of the Prince of victory (Rev 19:13). His blood is, in the first place, the color of His personal, priestly righteousness.

The sword and the rod (Rev 19:15). Justice and government.

The fowls (Rev 19:17). Where the carrion is, etc.

The thousand years [ch. 20:2–7]. See above.

The first resurrection (Rev 20:4–6). The vernal bloom of the new spiritual humanity in its elect ones; the foretoken of the general resurrection. Excommunication and reception of the Gentiles [ch. 21:26, 27]. A complete antithesis of dynamical operations of repulsion and attraction. [See Add. NOTE on the FIRST RESURRECTION in the Comment on Rev 20, pp. 352 sqq.—E. R. C.]

h. Terrestri-cosmical

The antithesis of Heaven and earth appears throughout this Book in all its significance—a significance intimated as far back as Gen. 1:1; the region of the perfection of heavenly being extending over the region of becoming. Hence, throughout the Apocalypse, the heavenly triumphal feasts precede the conflicts of earth. When finally, however, the true Heaven in Heaven, the City of God, descends upon the earth, it is a sign that earth itself has been perfected into a centre of Heaven,—a centre of Christ’s presence, of God’s glory, of the perfected Church (Rev 20, 21).

Connected with the earth and its cosmical position are the notations of time. The half-hour, the smallest measure of time [in the Apocalypse],—a pause replete with expectation; a moment of extremest tension. The hour, a great and unique period of decision (Luke 22:53); see the last hour, 1 John 2:18. The day, symbol of day’s work in its movement towards the end of the world, that great evening when labor is done. The 1260 days, the great period of the Church as a regulated course of things, arranged in days’ works which are preparatory to the end of the world. Three days and a half, the fractional week; the overpast time of resurrection and hope; the time of extreme despondency. Amongst the diurnal seasons, morning and evening are especially significant. Morning as the cheerful dawn of a new period; evening as a symbol of the end of the world (Ps. 30:5; Zech. 14:7). Night, as a symbol of darkness and misfortune (Is. 9:2, 21:11), is possessed of peculiar grandeur and solemnity at midnight; just at this awful climax, however, its higher import unfolds. Night—the time of secrecy (the darkness in the Holy of Holies); of conception and birth (Job 3); of meditation (Ps. 1:2)—has been consecrated as a period of salvation, both by the first coming of Christ and by the expectation of His second Advent; and the effulgence in the time of the consummation of all things is pictured as a higher union of day and night (Rev. 21:23. See below). If, however, the night be divided into night-watches, the conflict of the day is transferred, with increased hotness, to the night. The week: the little periodical alternation of seasons of darkness and light. The 70 weeks, seven times seven such revolutions of light and darkness to the consummation of the Messianic Kingdom. Thence, 62 weeks to the death of Christ (Dan. 9:26). One week, the Apostolic age, with the destruction of Jerusalem in the midst of the week (ver. 27). Finally, 7 weeks, until the Messiah appears as King in His glory; the New Testament time (ver. 25). The month, or the greater periodical revolution of time, as alternating seasons of light and darkness (42 months=1260 days). The year, the greatest symbol of the revolution of time, as an alternation betwixt diverse periods of conflict between light and darkness; therefore the period of history,—a great day’s work of God. A thousand years, a complete æon; used especially to denote a transition-period culminating in the appearing of the æon of consummation at the second Parousia of Christ. The indefinite form—three times and a half (Rev. 12:14)—is an involved [mathematical] term for the obscure form, three days and a half. Amongst the seasons of the year the symbol of autumn is particularly intelligible (Rev. 14:15). The symbolism of spring finds its most beautiful expression in the Song of Solomon, Rev 2:11–13. As summer appears in connection with autumn, so winter is found in connection with spring. In regard to the change of day and night, we have already touched upon an antithesis which should not be overlooked; viz., that in the City of God of the new earth, the contrast of day and night is removed (Rev 21:25; 22:5—the region of eternal sunshine), whilst the damned are assigned to a region of change and of becoming,—a region where the contrast of day and night continues, where they are tormented day and night from æon to æon [ch. 14:11]. Not only does the change of day and night continue, therefore, but there is likewise a succession of different æons.

In respect to the earth’s space–relations, the most prominent antithesis is that of land and water, earth and sea. Earth symbolizes life in its theocratic, ecclesiastic, or political organization (Pss. 93:1, 96:10; Rev.13). The sea, on the other hand, symbolizes the billowy life of peoples (Pss. 65:7, 89:9, 93:3, 4; Dan. 7; Rev.13). Accordingly, the earthquake is a shaking of all ancient authorities and regulations (1 Kings 19:11, 12; Matt. 28:2). The stormy flood of ocean, on the other hand, is a vehement agitation of national life—an onslaught, frequently, against the holy mountains, or the holy mountain of God (Pss. 15:1, 65:7; Is. 2). The second power [mathematical] of earth is the mountain,—high and highly consecrate order. The third power is the rock,—the Divine will, purport, Spirit, and design pervading the history of the world; everything striking against this rock is dashed in pieces (Deut. 32:31, 37; Ps. 18:2; Is. 8:14; Matt. 16:18. See above).

Christ’s Kingdom is most significantly compared to a stone which detaches itself from a mountain—that is, the old Theocracy.

The import of the sea also is multiplied to a second and third power in the abyss, and the pit of the abyss; in the complete unchaining of all national life and its connection with all demonic influences of hell. In the consummation, however, the sea of the unfreely flowing national life is to vanish from earth (Rev. 21:1), to form, in its precipitation, the pool of fire,—absolute stagnation in the form of passionate fermentation and commotion. The clear proceeds of land and sea, meantime, form the heavenly sea of crystal, wherein the infinite fullness, freshness, and movement of life are joined with infinite moral firmness and solidity, and ideal transparency and clearness.

Diminutive forms of the earth are, especially, islands; the remote islands of secluded branches of peoples (Ezek. 27:3, et al.; Rev. 16:20).

Diminutive forms of the sea are rivers, or spiritual currents (spirits of the times, Is. 8:6); and springs, or spiritual sources, creative personalities (Ps. 46:4, 39 and other passages).

Individual Images

The four corners of the earth [Rev. 7:1, 20:8]. Indicative of the uttermost ends of the earthly world; last and highest power [mathematical] of spiritual heathenism in antithesis to the Christian οἰκουμένη of the Millennial Kingdom. In connection with this, we have the term—

Gog and Magog [ch. 20:8]. Symbolical designation of the Eastern barbarians as the last enemies of the Kingdom of God. See Ezek. 38 and 39.

The mountain that fell, burning, into the sea [ch. 8:8]. An old order of things which, blazing up in fanaticism, plunges into the service of absolute democracy. Poisoning of the popular life.

The third part of the waters become wormwood by means of the star “Wormwood.” The embitterment of a great spirit results in the embitterment of many rivers, or currents of the age, issuing from many fountains, or original spirits or minds.

i. Siderial

As Heaven in general is used as a symbol, in contrast to the symbolical import of earth (see Terrestri-cosmical, Rev. 12), so the heavenly luminaries and signs, in particular, are exalted symbols.

Such is, above all, the sun. Considered by itself alone, it denotes the spiritual centre of the Cosmos, the revelation of God upon the earth; finally, the appearing of Christ (Mal. 4:2; Rev. 10:1).

As the companion of the sun, shining with its reflected lustre, the moon may, on the one hand, denote the Church; as a symbol of change, however, and as a counterpart of the sun, it appears not to have been employed very extensively in this sense. The stars, considered apart, denote exalted spirit-forms, originally heavenly beings (Is. 14:12; Rev. 1:20).

In connection with the moon and stars, the sun appears (Rev. 12:1) as the symbol of the Christian Cosmos, a local centre of the entire Cosmos; at times it also, in this connection, symbolically represents the entire Cosmos.

The dawn is a very obvious symbol for the rising of light (Is. 58:8); such likewise is the morning-star, the herald of the coming sun: they both particularly symbolize the rising of the Sun of righteousness within the heart (2 Pet. 1:19). Christ Himself, in His first Parousia, is related to His second Parousia as the Morning-star to the Sun and the great Day of Eternity.

All extraordinary signs in the Heavens are symbolical tokens that, with the spiritual development of mankind in the Church of Christ, a development continuing to the end of the world, there corresponds a cosmical development in the sphere of the world, so that these signs are to be regarded as signals on the heavenly heights telling of spiritual events of which earth is the scene (comp. Matt. 24:29; Luke 21:25; Heb. 12:26; Rev. 6:12. The author’s Leben Jesu, Vol. II., Part iii., p. 1276).

Special Items

The sun black, the moon like blood, the stars falling, etc. (Rev 6:12 sqq.). Cosmical import: metamorphosis of the old solar planetary system.

A burning star falls from Heaven upon the rivers and fountains [ch. 8:10]. An apostasy in the spirit-world, having earth for its goal, and poisoning the third part of the mental and spiritual tendencies and original minds (like the burning mountain that falls into the sea, an authority that apostatizes from itself to the popular life).

The tail of Satan casts the third part of the stars of Heaven upon the earth [ch. 12:4]. Great apostasy in the Kingdom of God, the spiritual Heaven. Transfiguration of spiritual powers into earthly pseudo–political forms.

Signs of the false prophet [ch. 13:13]. Illusive wonders. Magical miracles.40 The two greatest signs: [1] He makes fire fall from Heaven in the sight of men; according to human judgment. False imitation of Elijah; misuse of the great ban.—[2] He gives a spirit to the image of the beast so that it speaks. The ideal of the beast, a demonic, forced and falsified caricature of public opinion.

The fire from God out of Heaven, which devours the Satanic host of Gog and Magog [ch. 20:9]. The cosmical fiery metamorphosis of the earth at the end of the world, 2 Pet. 3:10.

The new Heaven and the new earth [ch. 21:1]. The cosmical union of the two spheres of spirit—the one existing in this world, the other in the world beyond—as the appearance of the new and eternal city of God.

k. Sub-terrestrial Demonic Figures

Hades (Sheol), the realm of the dead (Rev 6:8), must be regarded as entirely distinct from the pool of fire, Gehenna, hell (Rev 19:20, 20:14, 15). The abyss (Rev 9:2) seems to denote a transition-form. As Hades and the pool of fire are used symbolically, the former denoting the power of the realm of the dead even upon earth, and the latter signifying not merely the sphere of the damned, but also the manner of their spiritual existence—extreme turbulence of passion in the midst of extreme stagnation—so the abyss, likewise, has a symbolical import. It seems to denote the original region of psychico-demonic moods (Rev 9:5); according to this, Abaddon or Apollyon should be regarded as the personification of God-deserted demonic melancholy and insanity.41 The influences issuing from the abyss are, however, less pernicious than the pneumatico demonic corruptions which come from the Euphrates,—that is, from Babylon.

A synagogue of Satan is spoken of in the epistle to Smyrna (Rev 2:9), and in the epistle to Philadelphia (Rev 3:9); a throne of Satan is mentioned in the epistle to Pergamus (Rev 2:13); and we meet with the term “depths of Satan,” i.e., pretended depths, ironically so-called, in the epistle to Thyatira (Rev 2:24). Satan himself appears (Rev 12) as a great red (blood-colored) dragon (a union of serpent and swine). He has seven heads,—as if he were engaged in a spiritual work, holding forth the promise of a Sabbath—but ten horns of worldly power; he is thus characterized as a monster, yet nevertheless adorns himself with seven crowns,—in the semblance of holiness. His tail drags the third part of the stars from Heaven, i.e., not by intelligence, but by a wild vivacity, by his apparent power, he drags a multitude of spirits away with him,—not only in the angelic, but also in the human world; the latter is what is particularly meant here. For Heaven denotes also that Heaven on earth that consists of pure spiritual life, the centre of the Kingdom of God, the inner congregation of God. From Heaven to the earth, i.e., a symbolical third part of human congregations, or individual churches, make use of the old established order of things (the earth) in the service of Satan. It is the intention of Satan to devour the holy child; not only is the child, however, personally rescued by being caught up to Heaven, but the universal Christ, also, of the inner congregation of faith, continues to find refuge in Heaven (our citizenship is in Heaven [Phil. 3:20]), and from this Heaven of the pure spiritual Church, Satan is cast out by Michael and his angels (by the sovereign rule and authority of Christ and the operations of His Spirit). The woman finds refuge in the wilderness, in the unapproachableness of holy theocratic (not hierarchic) asceticism and renunciation; Satan’s attempt upon her life is defeated by the earth; this, as the mighty spiritual and secular order of things, obtains the mastery over the floods of peoples with which Satan sought to overwhelm the Church. Thus, Satan’s rage is powerless to reach either Christ or the essential Church; he, therefore, turns his efforts against Christians, as individuals (Rev 12:17).

l. Sub-terrestrial and Terrestrial Demonic Forms

In connection with the plenitude of heavenly, angelic appearances contained in the Apocalypse, the scantiness of its symbolism in reference to the demon-realm is very remarkable. In this point also it agrees perfectly with the Gospel of John, from which the healings of demoniacs are omitted. An explanation of both circumstances may probably be found in the fact that for John demonic beings retreated into the back-ground, leaving the more conspicuous place to demonic operations.

This very peculiarity lends additional distinctness to Satan, the principal demonic figure; to Antichrist, as his mature and world-historical organ in humanity,—the Bold or Wicked One, we may call him simply; and, as the organ of apostasy in the old religious moral world, to the false Prophet, whom we will call the Vile or Base One.

The human earth is under the influence of another cosmical region which has been the scene of a fall. The centre of this fall—a fall of spirits—is Satan, a fallen angel-prince; a non plus ultra, not of heavenly genius, but of talents originally worldly and still further secularized. The medium of demonic influence consists, not in magical operations, but in sympathetic, pseudo-spiritual operations; signals of false, pretended liberty. The bestial symbol of Satan is the dragon, as the union of serpent and swine.

Antichrist is the last and most perfect of the many Antichrists. He is neither the embodiment of evil (Daub, Judas Iscariot), nor a genius of evil, but man, deformed, through apostasy, into the most perfect organ of demonic worldliness in the working of mighty lies. His origin is the life of the nations demonically unchained—the sea (Rev. 13; Dan. 7).

The false Prophet is the finished birth of worldliness in the secularized old theocratic, or rather hierarchico-political, order of things; he proceeds out of the earth. His tendency is to secure from Antichrist as large a share as possible of that universal dominion which is apparently devolving upon him; if possible, to trick him out of his booty; at all events to bear off a considerable portion of it out of the ruin of the old relations of things, by means of hypocritical homage to Antichrist, and by advancing his principles. The instrument which he makes use of for the furtherance of his ends is the false miracle, supported entirely by moral jugglery. His character, consequently, is that of true villainy, the type of which was Judas, who also thought to secure booty from ruin. His end is the pool of fire.

The insignia of Antichrist, or the demonic Beast, are similar to the insignia of the Devil himself. He, however, makes an open show of his insolence, and wears ten crowns instead of seven. He has also, in boldest despotism, set his crowns upon his horns. The diverse Danielic world-monarchies are united in him—the Leopard, the Bear, the Lion, hence, too, the fourth form, the monster (Dan. 7:4–6). His apparent triumph is promoted by three things: first, by the healing of his deadly wound; secondly, by the boldness of his blasphemies (Rev. 13:5, 6); finally, by the accession of the great renegade, the false Prophet, the Beast of the earth, in whom the real spirit of the earth—i. e., of the old traditional order of things—accomplishes its apostasy. Yes, the Beast of the earth seduces “the earth” itself into worshipping Antichrist. The outward appearance of this Beast of the earth is characteristic; it is the form of the consummate hypocrite. He has two horns like a lamb [the Lamb?], but he speaks like a dragon [the Dragon?]. The wonders which he does, however, consist in jugglery; for only in a lying, magical way can he cause fire to fall from Heaven, and make the image of the Beast speak. His last and mightiest operation he effects by means of the ban of the mark. He completes the Antichristianity of the first Beast, as Judas completed the Antichristianity of the Jews.

m. Heavenly forms

Heaven itself. In the concrete conception of the term, Heaven is the region of the absolute manifestation of God in the glory of Christ (Rev 4:1 sqq.); in the spiritual acceptation, it is the region of the heavenly spirit-life, ideal Christianity (Rev 12:7). Michael and his angels, i. e., the sovereign rule of Christ in His organs, vanquishes Satan and his angels within the ideal Church (inward and outward foes). The consequence is, however, that Satan is cast upon the earth, i. e., upon the earthly Churchly-political order of things.

Jehovah. God reveals Himself in the Apocalypse first as Jehovah; that is, as He Who is, Who was, and Who cometh (Rev. 1:4); this is in entire conformity to the believing expectation that His last manifestation will be in perfect unison with the Old and New Testament manifestations of Him. His manifestation is seven-fold in the Seven Spirits (see Isaiah 11:2) that, as individual forms of the life of Christ, are all concentrated in the fullness of the Spirit resting upon the Son (Rev 1). This position of the Seven Spirits is likewise in accordance with the expectation of the perfect manifestation of Christ in seven forms throughout the ages. Then Jehovah appears as the All-Ruler upon the heavenly throne, and the glory of His throne and government is depicted anew, in symbolic traits. His appearance is described (Rev 4:3); His heavenly Presbytery, the four and twenty elders (ver. 4); His manifestation or revelation (ver. 5); the celestially pure character and the operation of His government (the sea of glass) and the four fundamental forms of His government, the four beasts or living shapes (vers. 6–8). These glorify Him in the first place, for they are the fundamental forms of His government itself (Rev 8:9). This actual glorification is reflected in the contemplation and praise of the elect heavenly spirits (vers. 9, 10). In His hand is the sealed book with the enigmas of the world’s history (Rev 5:1). Furthermore, He appears as He that sitteth upon the throne, i. e., the absolute Governor (Rev 6:16). The prayers of the saints come before God (Rev 8:4). Even the Angel who wears the features of Christ, swears by Him as the One who liveth from eternity to eternity, the Creator (Rev 10:6). He is in particular the God of the earth (Rev 11:4), whose spirit of life re-animates the slain and faithful witnesses (ver. 11), proving Himself, by His raising of them, to be the God of Heaven, the Almighty One (ver. 17). His, also, is the Kingdom wherein the power of Christ rules (Rev 12:10). He is the Father of Christ (Rev 14:1). He is, Himself, primarily the Alpha and Omega, the absolute Cause and the absolute End of all things; and He is the living unity of this antithesis as Jehovah, Who is, Who was, and Who cometh (Rev 1:8; comp. 21:6). But in union with Him, Christ also is Alpha and Omega, Rev 22:13 (1:11).

In yet another passage [besides Rev 10:6] God the Judge is declared to be also the Creator. Thus the Apocalypse, like the Gospel and Epistles of John, opposes the germs of Gnosticism (Rev 14:7). Hence, also, the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb accord in His praise [ch. 15:3, 4]. His glory fills the heavenly Temple (Rev 15:8). The last plagues are vials of His wrath [ch. 15:1, 6, 7, 16]; and He it is Whose name men blaspheme on account of these plagues. He exercises absolute sovereignty over the world; He is ruler, therefore, even over evil, in that He turns it into judgment (Rev 9:5, 14, 13:5, 15, 15 [16], the judgment of impenitence, Rev 17:17). The rich doxologies of the Apocalypse are for the most part addressed to God, Rev 4:8, 11 (comp. Rev 5:13, where the doxology of God is joined with that of the Lamb, the former, however, being placed first, Rev 7:12, 11:16, 17, 12:10, 19:1, 6); worship is likewise addressed to God. His is the Kingdom (Rev 19:6); He executes the final judgment (Rev 20:9, 12); from Him the new Jerusalem descends out of Heaven upon the earth and becomes the tabernacle of God, the Most Holy Place of His dwelling on earth itself (Rev 21:2, 3); He is the Beatifier (ver. 4). The relation betwixt God and the Lamb comes out distinctly in Rev 21:23, where it is declared that the glory of God lightens the City of God, and the Lamb is the light thereof; i. e., Christ the visible image, the perceptible manifestation of God (see Rev 22:3, 5). As the God of the spirits of the Prophets, God is likewise the primal source of the Apocalypse itself (ver. 6).

Christ is adorned with all the features of the glorified God-manhood. The revelation of God is also the revelation of Christ. Grace proceeds from Him, as from Jehovah. His titles and traits combine His heavenly glory with His earthly work of redemption and salvation; chs. 1:5, 6, 11–18; 5:6–14; 6:2; 7:17; 11:15; 12:10; 14:1, 2, 14; 19:11, 16; 21:23, 22:3. The motive of His glorification is everywhere His great work of redemption. This thought runs through the entire Book as its fundamental idea. He is the Lamb that was slain (Rev 5:6, 12); as Prophet, He is the Amen, the faithful Martyr (Rev 3:14); as High-priest, He is the Atoner (Rev 1:5, 7:14); as King, the Liberator or Redeemer (Rev 5:9), the Prince of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5), the dynamical Prince of the world’s history (Rev 6:1); in the end appearing victoriously as such,—a King of kings and Lord of lords, Who has made His people a Kingdom of priests (Rev 1:6, 5:10, 19:16); the most mysterious of all personalities (Rev 19:12); in respect of His essential relation to the Father, the Logos of God (Rev 19:13); in respect of His human nature, the Root of the race of David and the Morning-star of mankind (Rev 22:16).

The Holy Ghost is here glorified in concrete conceptions in the Seven Spirits; in the Spirit that takes possession of the spirit of the Prophet, becoming therein the spring of all visions (Rev 1:10, 4:1, 2); He is also glorified as the principle of the certitude of eternal salvation and blessedness (Rev 14:13); and as the principle of the Church’s longing for the Coming of her Lord (Rev 22:17). In accordance with the symbolical style of the Book, He also, like Christ Himself, several times appears in angelic form.

God’s seat or throne, in its symbolical significance, requires no explanation. Since the Presbytery of Israel, like that of the Apostolic Church, consists of twelve persons, the twenty-four elders form a double Presbytery. This double Presbytery may, doubtless, be regarded as symbolically expressive of the choicest spirits, selected, on the one hand, from the human world, and, on the other, from the angelic world, and represented by the Patriarchs of Israel and the Twelve Apostles. We have elsewhere designated the four living shapes or beasts as fundamental forms of the Divine government.42 Each of these Cherubim has six wings,—symbols of agitated, infinitely lively omnipresence. Each is covered with eyes, within and without,—symbols of omniscience and wisdom. They rest not day and night; they are ever conscious, moving, active, like the absolute rule of Divine Intelligence,—glorifying God continually as the Holy One and Jehovah.

Here, in the solemn company that surround the Almighty, angels are not immediately mentioned; in the progress of the action, however, they are brought in (Rev 5:11), and they appear throughout the Book as the media of God’s government. For the designation of personal angelic essences is connected with the idea that all manifestations and providences of God are, in a symbolical sense, angels. It is a mysterious circumstance that the principal angel of the Revelation, the Angel of Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1), likewise declares himself to be a personal angel (Rev 19:10, 22:9). The prominence of angelic apparitions—in which Lücke pretends to discover a discrepancy between the Johannean Gospel and the Apocalypse—is primarily explained by the fact that we have here to do with an epoch of revelation, and that the final epoch, in which, as even the Gospels affirm, Christ is to appear in company with His angels [Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38. See Comm. on John, Am. Ed., p. 611.—TR.]. The symbolical character of the Book must also be taken into account; in accordance with this, the spirits (heads?43) of the churches are called angels (Rev 2 and 3). With the book of the seven seals, a strong angel makes his appearance, proclaiming the difficult problem of its unsealing (Rev 5:2). And now countless hosts of angels come forward, praising the Lamb (ver. 11). The four angels who hold the four winds of the earth (Rev 7:1) are, we believe, symbols of the spiritual powers that hold the spirits of mankind in check; above them is set the Angel of Sealing, who, in accordance with the analogy of Scripture, is a symbol of the Spirit of God (ver. 2). He also is followed by a host of angels praising God (vers. 11, 12). Now the vision passes on to seven distinct angels who stand before God,—the angels of the trumpets—summonses to repentance, embodied in actual events (Rev 8:2). Even these appear to be dependent upon the Angel who has in charge the prayers of the saints. Here again, doubtless, we have a symbol of the Holy Ghost, Who, awhile ago, was represented by the Angel of the Sealing. An antithesis to the angels holding the four winds (Rev 7:1) is formed by the four angels bound by the Euphrates, gloomy and mysterious forms which are identified with the judgment of the horsemen themselves (Rev 9:15). That which constitutes them angels is not the character of personality, but the character of a Divine mission or the unity of four missions—corresponding to the whole world—of divine probational judgments. The absolute sovereignty of God over demonic darkness makes even Abaddon-Apollyon an angel of the abyss (Rev 9:11).

Since the Parousia of Christ cannot yet be referred to in Rev 10:1, the mighty angel described there as bearing a complete resemblance to the image of Christ, is also, doubtless, a symbol of the Spirit of God. The Spirit of Sealing, the Spirit who represents the saints, by offering all their prayers before God, is also the Spirit of Prophecy concerning the approaching Coming of Christ. The Spirit of God has the little book of the eschatological Gospel in His hand. He over-rules the earth and the sea—stable order and the surging life of the nations. His voice is as the voice of a lion. Moved by Him, the seven thunders utter their voices; these thunders represent the entire course of reformations and missions in the Christian Church; a full revelation concerning these is withheld, because such revelation would encroach upon the free-agency of man. It is likewise the prerogative of the Spirit of God to swear, i. e., to give certainty to the spirit of man. He is the author of New Testament prophecy (ver. 11). He distinguishes between the Temple of true worshippers and the outer court of the Church, which the Gentiles tread under foot (Rev 11:1, 2). He it is Who causes the two olive-trees to be olive-trees, for oil is a symbol of the Spirit. That Michael, with his angels, in conflict with the Dragon and his angels, is indicative of the Spirit of Christ in His authoritative government, is to us an indisputable fact. The eagle flying through Heaven (ch. [8:13] 14:6) should likewise be noticed here as the angel of Apocalyptic Revelation to John himself, whose attribute the eagle has become. He flies through the midst of Heaven with his eschatological message, for this revelation flies through the whole sphere of the Christian spirit.

The Angel of Prophecy is succeeded by the Angel of the Church Triumphant (ver. 8); he is followed by the Angel of Judgment (vers. 9–11). The relation and conduct of the angels mentioned (Rev 14:14–20) is very mysterious. The form like unto the Son of Man, sitting upon the cloud and bearing the harvest-sickle, i. e., commissioned to cut short the course of the world in order to judgment, is unmistakably Christ. The other angel, charged with the mandate to Christ, will then denote the message of the Father, Who hath reserved the time and the hour to Himself (ver. 15). Over against the specific harvest of Christ there is, however, also another harvest of condemnatory judgment. Accordingly, the fire-angel of the cosmical government of God, the angel who is [ideally] one with the altar of the universal sacrifice of the world in its old form (ver. 18) commands the angel who, in fellowship with Christ, executes the final judgment upon the earth, to thrust in his sickle also for the judgment of wrath. This latter angel with the sickle issues from the Temple (ver. 17); he appears further on (Rev 15:6) to branch into the seven angels who dispense the vials of wrath. It is a very significant fact that these angels of judgment receive their vials from one of the four beasts [living-beings (Rev 15:7)]; according to this, this individual life-form of Divine government intervenes between them and God. That the judgments executed are not blind events is shown by one of the seven angels, who acts as interpreter of these judgments (Rev 17:1, 7). This, therefore, is the Angel of Prophecy (Rev 14:15). Distinct from him is the Angel of Judgment itself (Rev 18:1 sqq.; comp. Rev 14:17). Somewhat obscurely the Prophecy goes back to the Angel of the Apocalypse in general (Rev 19:9); again, however, we find the Angel of Prophecy (Rev 14:15, 17:1, 7), whilst after him the Angel of Judgment again appears (Rev 19:17; comp. 18:1). His standing in the sun probably denotes the cosmical nature of the final judgment which he announces. The blessing of the renewal of the world attends upon the angel who shuts Satan up in the abyss (Rev 20:1, 2). This angel has the same key that Christ has (Rev 1:18—not to be confounded with Rev 9:1). Subsequent to the consummation, as the union betwixt heaven and earth, we hear no more of angels until finally at the close, the Angel of the Revelation of Christ is again mentioned (ch.22:8, [21:9?]).

Angels alternate in a remarkable manner with heavenly voices. It is in accordance with the high ecstatic condition of the Prophet that the wonders of vision should be conjoined with wonders of hearing (Rev 5:2, 11, 6:7, 10, 8:13, 10:3, 14:6, 7, 9, 15, 18:2, 19:17), or should alternate with them. The characterization of the heavenly voices is likewise significant. The first voice—and this is usual—introduces the vision. “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” The same voice further on resembles the sound of many waters (Rev 1:15). Again it is like a trumpet (Rev 4:1). From the throne of God proceed lightnings and voices and thunders (Rev 4:5),—holy revelations which become voices, voices which become thunders. A voice out of the midst of the four beasts (Rev 6:6) causes the famine to appear as an infliction of specially conscious Divine dispensation. The prayers of the saints, having ascended to heaven, retroact upon the earth in voices and thunders, in lightnings and earthquakes (Rev 8:5). Here preachings, words of thunder, precede the lightnings of new illumination and the shocks of mighty changes. A voice from the four horns of the altar (Rev 9:13) directs, in conformity to this its origin, the immolation of a third part of mankind through the medium of a penal judgment (comp. Rev 16:7). It is in consequence of a heavenly voice that the Prophet eats the mysterious little book; the Holy Ghost quickens the word (Rev 10:8). A great voice from Heaven summons the two risen witnesses up to Heaven; a new and great revelation requires a new heavenly condition of State and Church in the form of the perfected Kingdom (Rev 11:11, 12). Herewith are connected the great voices in Heaven announcing the dawn of the consummation (Rev 11:15. Similarly the great voice, Rev 12:10). At the opening of the Temple in Heaven, which now follows, a great hail accompanies the lightnings and voices and thunders and earthquakes (Rev 11:19). The more detailed development of this latter figure (Rev 16:18, 21) makes the hail appear in the light of a great, terrible, and distressful decomposition of cosmical relations. The anticipatory celebration of the consummation in the heavenly Church of the elect is especially solemn (Rev 14:1 sqq.). Here the perfected life of nations, of geniuses or prophets, and of art, is united in the harmony of a new and lofty song: The voices of many waters, of a great thunder, and of harpers, singing a song that only the elect and holy company can learn. In yet fuller tones resounds the heavenly concert after the fall of the harlot, in anticipatory celebration of the marriage of the Bride (Rev 19:1–7). It is also a heavenly proclamation that causes the writing of these words: Blessed are the dead, etc. (Rev 14:13); and how often have they been rewritten! Again, the command to go forth from Babylon comes immediately as a voice from Heaven (Rev 18:4).


a. Sacred Vision

The Theology of the prophetic subjective form of this is wrapped in obscurity as yet.

Orthodoxism makes no distinction between objective phenomena addressing themselves to the common empirical perception of the five senses, and objective phenomena observable by the prophetic perception alone. Theosophy makes no distinction between the perceptive forms of the heathen mantic condition, in which man becomes the un-free, constrained tool of a mysterious influence, supposed to be of ghostly [spirit] origin—in a word between the pathologico-somnambulic form of perception—and the ethical ecstasy of the theocratic domain, in which the Seer is freed from the limits of common empiricism. Pantheistic rationalism makes no distinction between those salutiferous visions which are the sources of the higher life, yea, of the recovery of mankind, and fanatical hallucinations whose end is the mad-house (Strauss).

A result of the orthodoxistic confusion of ideas is the fact that the prophetic vision is regarded as merely one form of revelation among several; whilst, on the contrary, the vision is really the medium of all forms of revelation. This truth is expressed by the threefold development of the Hebrew terms denoting prophetic sight: [1] The Seer or Prophet (רֹאֶה); [2] The Proclaimer of new things (נָבִיא); [3] The Beholder or Seer (חֹזֶה).

The first thing that we shall premise relative to the subject of prophetic vision and also, in especial, of Apocalyptic vision, is the mysterious fact that a twofold form of consciousness is peculiar to the human soul,—a day consciousness, and a night consciousness. The latter forms the background of life, but is, however, generally veiled and hidden.

Our second premise is as follows: The liberation of the second consciousness was a thing of more ready occurrence when the nations were in their youth and filled with youthful presentiments, than whilst they were passing through the middle age of their development; a new liberation of this night-consciousness is in prospect for the time of perfect development.

It is a well-known fact that this second form of consciousness, the universal existence of which is betrayed by the most manifold signs, manifested itself among the Greeks in a pathological form (manticism [μαντεία, sooth-saying, divination]); this pathological form comes in contact with the ethical form only in the teachings of Socrates (daimonism [δαιμόνιον]), being converted in the writings of Plato into a sort of theory; whilst on the line of Semitic tradition, the ethical form of vision has, amid the reciprocal action of Divine grace and the ethical struggling of elect spirits, been made the actual organ of revelation.

A polarity, therefore, meets us in all cases: a harmonious contrast of Divine manifestations and human visions or transports—based, these latter, upon the being rapt out of the condition of ordinary consciousness (ecstasy). Without a Divine manifestation through the Holy Ghost, Who subserves Himself not only of natural phenomena and spiritual messengers, but also of the capacities and aptitudes of the human organism, there is no vision; without vision there is no Divine manifestation. Now although this contrast is harmonious and indissoluble in its nature, it is also one of great magnitude; it is, therefore, necessary for us to distinguish between forms of revelation which are predominantly objective and those in which the subjective element preponderates. The most objective form is that powerfulness of manifestation which reveals itself not only to the Prophets in the centre, but also, with a startling might, to profane individuals in their company (Moses in Egypt; Elijah on Mount Carmel; Christ in the Temple; Saul on the way to Damascus). The most subjective form of revelation is inspiration; such as traverses, unwaning, like a midnight sun, the consciousness of the Apostles. The perfect contrast is thus stated: the objective Divine novelty—the wonder, and the subjective Divine novelty—the prophietic word or the preaching Prophet himself.

Founded upon the psychological and historical conditions of revelation is the fact that its subjective forms can admit of augmentation to the richest degree, and diminution to a vanishing point. The beginning of revelationary vision is a visional hearing in a dream (Samuel); a form which is introduced by the natural-prophetic, significant dream (e. g., Joseph’s dream, Gen. 37), but must, however, be distinguished from that. The end of revelationary vision is an Apostolic illumination, the echo of which is heard long after in the Bath-kol.44

It results from the distinction of epochs and periods in the inner, pneumatic history of the world, that the miraculous forms of revelation become latent in the times of periodical development. From the universality of the prophetic aptitude in mankind (this is not saying as much as if we were to say—from the universality of the Christological [Theological?—E. R. C.] aptitude—comp. Acts 17:27), and from the momentousness of the human life, especially the Christian life, the expectation likewise results, however, that extraordinary and mysterious events will take place in all times.

Within the cycle of revelation the wonder of hearing develops into the wonder of vision; and the vision of the Seer, from whom the consciousness of the distinction betwixt empiric and prophetic sight is, as yet, absent, is developed in ghostly, historical events and visions, in the experience of which the consciousness of the distinction between this inward sight and common empiricism commences and continually increases.

But this suspense between prophetic experiences and the experiences of the five senses, does but constitute a transition between the incipient and the meridian point of prophecy. In the life of Abraham heavenly manifestation becomes a continual higher empiricism; he walks, like a holy child, on the borders of the spirit-world. In the life of Christ, on the other hand, the suspense between prophetic and ordinary vision is also done away with. His constant and every-day experience is for Him the recognized medium of an uninterrupted vision.

Not even the Apostles were able to walk on these heavenly heights of spirituality in this vale of earth. Christ walked in a faith that was, at the same time, sight; but the Apostles walked in faith, not in sight. Doubtless, however, their life of faith was founded upon, and interspersed with, moments of sight, whilst the intervals were filled up with the power of inspiration—a power which, indeed, for the moment and in particular relations, might sometimes be obscured [diminished]. On the other hand, however, there were also moments in the lives of the Apostles when momentary Divine manifestations were theirs in so rich and mighty a form as to develope into actual and lasting inspirations. The Sacred Writings were the issues of these forth-gushing springs.

On the meridian of a perfect union betwixt manifestation and inspiration, the canonical Apocalypse took its rise. It was based upon visions whose foundation was a burning longing for the Coming of the Lord; a longing awakened by the peculiar and oppressive character of the times, and cherished in minds that, by reason of their ideal nature, possessed a higher prophetic calling. Under the reciprocal action of this yearning and the Spirit of revelation, the visions took shape. In this longing, in the pangful attraction of love to the Coming of the Lord, the Old Testament Prophets could compete with the Apostles, and thus some of the former became, perforce, Apocalyptists. Each party excelled the other in some particular. The men of the Old Testament had not found satisfaction in the principially perfected redemption, as had those of the New Testament; their faith was pre-eminently hope; hence their longing in the face of the threatening of apparent ruin was more full of human passion, more darkly glowing, and their Apocalyptic productions were more richly colored, more manifold, more original. In the case of the Apostles, on the other hand, the New Testament longing developed gradually out of the most complete satisfaction drawn by faith from the principial redemption and overcoming of the world; the Apostles’ longing was based upon this faith and soothed by it. And thus many passed away as martyrs in the first full enjoyment of the principial consummation; and in the case of a few only there was gradually developed a more distinct Apocalyptic vision (Peter, Paul). But one, John, the friend of Jesus, became the Seer and Prophet of His Advent in the truest sense. Hence the New Testament Seers continued scholars of those of the Old Testament in regard to Apocalyptical forms likewise. Whilst the latter were in advance of the former, so far as the painful pressure of unsatisfied longing is concerned, the former excelled in the universality, the spiritual clearness and fullness of their Apocalyptic views.

b. Sacred Vision in its Conjunction with Sacred Art; or Apocalyptic Composition

The real problem of Apocalyptics is set forth in the question: How can visional ecstasy be conceived of as united to a calmly conscious, self-reflecting working of the materials gathered in such ecstasy into literary form and shape? The common prejudice is against such a combination. Not only ecstasy, but enthusiasm, or inspiration even, is regarded as forming a contrary antithesis to the reflective presentation of ideas or events and the artistic shaping of thought. Unconsciousness and naïveté of feeling are held to be requisite for the presentation of sacred matters. This opinion has a certain truth only as opposed to an over-nicety and artificialness of expression, affectation, false oratoricalness, and poetastery; it is, for the most part, however, itself biased by the mistaken idea that poetry and Prophecy must have a mantic ground-form. The example of poetry even, true, original and elevated poetry, exhibits a direct contradiction of this notion. There certainly does exist a distinction between the original conception of a poem and the artistic elaboration of it. But the mightier the conception, the richer the equipment of fundamental forms, poetic shapes and euphony that accompany it; besides, the original inspired contemplation of a subject continues, as a creative and formative power, throughout the entire calm, reflective and artistic process of elaboration. This is true of art in general; otherwise there could be no question of sacred art. Though we must, therefore, distinguish between the prophetic rapture, which can be so intensified as to cause the Prophet to sink, fainting, upon the earth, and the subsequent preaching of that which he has seen—yet the rapture is, in the first instance, as an ethical mood, fructified by the word of preaching, and in the word of preaching the continuous rapture attains its most complete expression. This fact is presented in the highest degree in the reciprocal operation of the mightiest manifestations and the calmest formative activity of inspiration, in which activity the original Divine voices shape themselves into the human word. Inspiration is in such perfect agreement with the most thorough deliberation and sober-mindedness that it may be clothed in all forms of true learning and pure art. This is true in the fullest degree of the Biblical Apocalypses; they are living syntheses of theocratic revelation and Hebrew art. The Johannean Apocalypse constitutes, in a three-fold aspect, the zenith of the canonical Apocalypses: first, it forms the zenith of eschatological vision; secondly, it forms the zenith of sacred art—art which is Hebrew, though breathed upon by the Greek spirit of measure and symmetry; and, thirdly, we behold in it the zenith of the union of vision and art. Thus it is in itself a typically prophetic presentation of the end of the world, in which the fullness of holiness shall appear in the full radiance of beauty—an intimidating and repellent mystery to the eyes of the profane world.


The fundamental traits of Apocalyptic composition are already indicated by the general character of sacred composition.

In respect of the inner side of this sort of composition, we distinguish the sacred motive; the sacred design; and the sacred haste of execution from motive to design. In respect of the formal side, we distinguish the theocratic—world-historical foundation; the solemn language, replete with beauty, simplicity, and devotion; and the cyclical movement toward the goal in a series of original, circular pictures of the whole [Gesammtbilder=panoramas?].

If we apply ourselves directly to the tracing out of these features in the Apocalyptical Scriptures, we shall observe that, in respect of their motive, a world-historical state of necessity in the Church of God begets, within an elect and praying prophet-heart, that unique state of necessity to which Heaven opens;—opens, in order that, by the discovery of a glorious Messianic picture of the future, the fact may be revealed that the temporal necessity of the Church rests upon a Divine plan and is designed to lead to a triumph, the certainty of which is already rejoiced over in Heaven. Hence it is that, in the Apocalypse, every gloomy, distressful scene on earth is supported by a radiant, festive scene in Heaven, and analogies are found even in the Old Testament Apocalypses. Comp. Is. 40, 49, 58; Ezek. 37.

The design of the Apocalypse, both in the Old and the New Testament Scriptures, is practical in the higher sense of that term. It is intended that the Church of God—in the persons of His prominent servants, in the first place (Rev. 1:1)—shall receive, in chromatic rays, the requisite amount of light concerning the future, to enable her to find her way in situations of the greatest obscurity; it is likewise intended that she should possess a treasury of consolation at which she may always be able to quicken her longing, hope, patience, and perseverance, and, above all, her love: in this sense, Prophecy shall ever open more fully to her in accordance with her need, whilst it presents an impenetrable veil to the profane gaze of worldliness as well as to hypocritical chiliastic desires. This design is plainly revealed in the Apocalypse of John in a number of passages, and especially in the seven epistles and at the close; it is, however, the design of all Apocalypses. Comp. Is. 40:1; Dan. 12:10.

The holy haste of execution, its rapid gravitation to the final goal, is announced in the brevity of expression; the rapid succession of scenes; the ever new configurations of the end; and the strong expression of a presentiment of the end, to which the whole intervening period seems but a brief time. In consideration of the last-mentioned fact, it is a senseless proceeding to interpret the promises of a speedy fulfillment, e. g., Rev. 1:1, as based upon a chronological error. That the Apocalypse intends the sayings concerning the speediness of the end in a religious sense, and not in an ordinary chronological signification, is proved by the ages which this same Apocalypse interposes between the stand-point of the Seer and the day of final decision (comp. 1 John 2:18, “the last hour;” likewise Haggai 2:6).

Revelation, in accordance with its theocratically world-historical character, takes in the entire breadth of the world, the entire length, height, and depth of its course, in a manner of which we find scarcely the faintest idea in classical historiography. This character is most clearly pronounced in the Apocalyptic Scriptures. The Book of Daniel presents a construction of the world’s history agreeable to the predominant character of the pre-Christian time: the world-monarchies occupy the foreground of the picture until the Kingdom of Christ puts an end to them. In the Apocalypse of John, the entire history of the world is presented in the New Testament light: the Kingdom of God occupies the foreground, arrayed for the final decisive combats with the world-power, whose advances become constantly bolder and more threatening. Even in this Book, however, the vision of the seven seals (Rev 6), and the figure of the Woman clothed with the sun (Rev 12), as well as many another feature, carry us back to the old time before Christ. Manifold are the links connecting the Biblical Books in harmonious sequence, so that one Book rests not only upon the knowledge, but also upon the basis, of the preceding one. Thus, the Apocalypses are joined to all the foregoing Biblical Books; and as the whole of the Old Testament is reflected in the Prophet Daniel, so the Apocalypse of John presents the image of both the Old and the New Testament. Nay, more, this unique conclusion of the whole of the Sacred Writings is likewise the conclusion of their mysteries; in it, their very first Book, Genesis, is most clearly mirrored, thus imaging for us the Genesis of the first world in the Genesis of the second. Especially close, however, is the connection of the Apocalypse of the New Testament with the Apocalyptic Scriptures of the Old Testament; and that not in regard to the subject-matter alone, but also in respect of its figurative language and its art. The entire learning of the Old Testament, as well as the entire Eschatology of the Gospels and all other New Testament Books, is here reproduced in a perfectly original form; above all, we recognize here the elements of Eschatology presented in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel; as also those of Zechariah in particular, as well as the most manifold traits of other Prophets.

The solemn, devotional language of Holy Writ—language beautiful in its simplicity, and yet ghostly in its sublimity—is the property, in a peculiar degree, of all its Apocalypses; from the Apocalypse of Isaiah, through the Eschatologies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, down to the Revelation of John. In the latter, however, we have, added to the Hebrew and Hebraizing expressions of the Prophet—who speaks in the spirit (ἐν πνεύματι), not in the language of apostolic, didactic mediation (ἐν τῷ νωΐ)—a Christian Greek element, viz.: the hymn, which consists in lyrical outgushes and also in the most metrical domination of the material by the form. The general admiration excited by the diction of Habakkuk, and by the mysterious chiar’ oscuro of Zechariah, is a well-known fact; it will be found, however, on examination, that Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah also employ a language peculiarly Apocalyptical.

Of special moment for the true position of exegesis, is the cyclical movement of the Apocalypses, from the stand-point of the Seer to the final goal of the world. The least of the Apocalyptic Writings cannot, indeed, be affirmed to present such an arrangement, though even in them a similar organization is observable, in the division of the special topics of which they treat into rounded and distinct discourses. (Comp. the [Lange] Comm. on Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah). On directing our attention to the greater Apocalypses, we find that the cyclical construction, in three stages, of the unitous Eschatology (Is. 40–66), is marked both by the peculiar character of those stages (I. The restoration of Israel as the servant of God, including the promise of the Messiah, 40–48. II. The Messiah as the Servant of God, the suffering Redeemer of Israel, 49–57. III. The Messiah as the victorious Servant of God; and the consummation of the Kingdom of God (58–66 ), and by their significant concluding formulas. In Rev 48:22, we read: “There is no peace, saith the LORD, unto the wicked.” In Rev 47:20, the terms are stronger: “But the wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. [But] there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” Strongest of all is the close, Rev 66:24: “And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against [apostatized from] Me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” This climax is, manifestly, a development of the final judgment—a development continually increasing in power, and pointing at last to the lake of fire spoken of in the Apocalypse, Rev 19:20, 20:10, 14, 15 (comp. Matt. 25:41).

The Eschatology of Jeremiah is unfolded in a series of pictures of judgment, beginning with Rev 4645 and closing with Rev 51:64. That this Eschatology forms a cyclical composition, is proved by the unitous line of judicial pictures and their close in the judgment upon Babylon, which also points to the fall of the antitypical Babylon (Rev. 18).

In the Eschatology of Ezekiel, three cycles are distinctly visible. I. The Vision of the Resurrection of Israel; the Union between Israel and Judah; and the Eternal Kingdom of the Messiah, as a revelation for the Gentiles (Rev 37). II. The Judgment upon the northeastern Antichrist, Gog in the land of Magog, the prince in Ros,46 Meshech, and Tubal (chs. 38 and 39). III. The new Mystical Temple upon a high mountain in the land of Israel, the place of the Throne of the Incarnate Jehovah (Rev 43:6, 7); from this Temple, a stream, adorned on either side with trees of life, issues for the rejuvenation of the world (Rev 47), chs. 40–48. Ezekiel’s vision of the resurrection of Israel points to the first resurrection of the Apocalypse (Rev 20). His vision of the judgment of Gog points to the Apocalyptic final judgment upon the last form of Antichristianity under the same name (Rev 20). The new Temple upon the high mountain, with its river and trees of life, finds its final fulfillment in the City of God, with its paradisaical trees of life (Rev. 21 and 22).

In regard to the Prophet Daniel, we have already remarked, in the Comm. on Genesis (Introduction [Am. Ed., p. 38]), that we consider the portions, (Rev 10–11:44, and Rev 12:5–13), as an interpolation.47 Irrespective of this interpolation, the work falls into two sections, each of which is composed of cyclical pictures. In the first part (Rev 1–6), Daniel appears as the interpreter of foreign oracles within heathenism itself; in the second part, he is no longer the expounder of obscure, dream-like, ghostly, Divine voices and writings within heathenism, but a Prophet of the clearer revelations of Jehovah for His people. In the first part, God’s judgment upon the works of heathen arrogance and pride are unfolded, whilst pious men of Israel are wonderfully preserved and glorified; in the second part, the sufferings of the Kingdom of God under the final and the typical Antichristianity are portrayed, together with the triumph of God’s Kingdom. Upon the Introduction, Rev 1, in which the continuance of a holy Israel, in the midst of heathen temptations, is depicted as the basis of Prophecy and the foundation for the coming of the Kingdom of God, follow the oracles of the first part: a. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the monarchy-image; confirmation of the Messianic conclusion of the dream, in the preservation of the three men in the fiery furnace through the medium of the fourth Man among them, the “son of the gods” (chs. 2 and 3). b. The dream of the tree that reached unto Heaven; fulfillment of the dream in the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar; and his repentance (Rev 4). c. The oracle in the banquet-room of Belshazzar, and the judgment upon his pride; downfall of Belshazzar; fresh exaltation of Daniel; his apparent fall, and wonderful preservation in the den of lions (chs. 5 and 6). The second part reverts to the time of the first part. Daniel’s own visions begin with the dream-vision of the four Beasts as forms of the four world-monarchies (Rev 7); manifestly, the Israelitish pendant to the dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Rev 2). The second vision of Daniel (Rev 8) passes beyond the dream-form; it manifestly presents the precursory, typical Antichristianity of Antiochus Epiphanes, which must by no means be confounded with the final Antichristianity sketched in Rev 7:7, 8; a sufficiently distinct pendant to the fall of the mighty tree (Rev 4) Daniel’s third vision is even mediated by the Prophet’s earnest prayer for Mount Zion; it is, therefore, a highly developed form of the vision. It has reference to the import of the seventy weeks determined by Jeremiah, after which Jerusalem—in a thoroughly Messianico-eschatological sense—should be restored. We read the conclusion of the vision in the following connection: “And even to the summit [‘double sense: to the uttermost, and to the top of the Temple’] come the abominations, the ravages, and until destruction, which is firmly decreed, is poured out upon the desolator” (see Comm. on Matthew, p. 425, Am. Ed.) [Dan. 9:27]. But he shall set up his palace-tents between the sea and the mountain of the holy ornament, yet shall go on towards his end without deliverance [ch. 11:45]. At that time, however, shall Michael arise, the great chief that standeth for the sons of thy people—it shall indeed be a time of tribulation, such as never was until that time, but, at the same time, thy people shall be delivered, all that are written in the Book of Life—and many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, etc.” [ch. 12:1 sqq.]. In this rounded form the vision constitutes a pendant to the ghostly writing on the wall in the banqueting-room of Belshazzar. With the abominable desecration of the vessels of the Temple, corresponds the abomination of desolation which reaches the summit (double sense [the uttermost, or]), the pinnacle of the Temple; with the sudden fall of Belshazzar, corresponds the destruction that suddenly comes upon the desolator. At the same time, many features of the Book of Daniel point to the Apocalypse. The typical Antichrist of Dan. 8, who has already in Rev 7 appeared in the most general outlines of his antitype, points to the perfect antitype in the Apocalypse. The seventy weeks—which are to be interpreted symbolically, not chronologically—are thus divided (see the Symbolism of Numbers, above): 1. Sixty-two weeks of the troublous restoration of Jerusalem with streets and ditches, but in strait of times; the time until the appearing and slaying of the Messiah. At the end of these weeks, the Anointed, Who is not yet the Prince, shall be cut off. 2. One week. Appearance of the prince, who is not an anointed one. Renewal of the covenant in this week for many, and, in antithesis, cessation of the sacrifice. Downfall of the Jewish State and worship. 3. Seven weeks to the Anointed, Who is, at the same time, the Prince. This is the shadowy sketch of the time from the destruction of Jerusalem to the Parousia of Christ, in which two features only are distinctly prominent: the renewed covenant of the many, on the one side; the contrasted lasting desolation, on the other (the shortened days of tribulation, see Comm. on Matthew, Rev 24 [p. 425, Am. Ed.]).

With Daniel’s symbolical reckoning of time, corresponds the symbolical reckoning of the Apocalypse (chs. 11, 12); to the troublous time of the Theocracy in the sixty-two weeks, corresponds the travailing Woman, menaced by Satan (Rev 12); to the slaying of the Messiah, corresponds His translation to Heaven. To the prince, who is a desolator, corresponds the whole development of New Testament Antichristianity. The appearance of the anointed Prince coincides unmistakably with the Parousia of Christ. In Daniel, however, the anointed Prince manifestly appears in the form of Michael. Finally, an antithesis corresponding to the antithesis of the times is formed by the fact that Daniel is commanded to seal up his writing (Rev 12:4), whilst John receives an exactly contrary command (Rev. 22:10).48

We have already presented our views in regard to the unitous composition of those Prophecies that come under the name of Zechariah, in the Introduction to Genesis (p. 39, [Am. Ed.]). Not only the whole beginning of the disintegration of this Scripture into two parts—a procedure based upon a misunderstanding;—not only the misapprehension of the manifest traits of a later Israelitish age in the second part, but also, in particular, the limitation of the Prophecies to the circumstances characterizing the time of the Prophet, without a due regard to the fact that he has throughout employed the circumstances of his time as symbols and types, has occasioned a permanent and increasing prejudice in favor of the division of the Book. We, however, in spite of a criticism which, though fully warranted in setting forth its peculiar views, is still in its youth, cling to the assumption that the whole Book forms a unitous Apocalypse; its first part, depicting the coming of the Messianic Kingdom; its second, the coming of the Messiah Himself; types cyclically progressive being employed in each case. We regard the opening (Rev 1:1–6) as an introduction, instead of holding, with Kōhler, that it forms the first section of the first part. The first vision (Rev 1:7–17) is promissive of the restoration of the Israelitish Theocracy. In connection with the second vision (vers. 18–21, Heb. text 2:1–4), which announces the destruction of the four hostile powers that have scattered Israel,49 it forms the first cyclical general picture. The third vision (Rev 2:1–13, Heb. text 2:5–17) depicts the immeasurable fullness and superb security of the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem; with it, the fourth vision, the cleansing of the priesthood from its defilement, even to the point of the coming of the Tsemach ([E. V. Branch=Sprout] Rev 3:1–10), must unite to form the second cyclical picture of the future. In the two sons of oil, the fifth vision sets forth the ramification of the Theocracy into the princely and priestly offices; it is the duty of these offices, themselves being filled with the Spirit, to nourish the unitous candlestick of Israel, the light of the world, with the oil of the Spirit; keeping themselves, meanwhile, from the way of violence. Israel is to use no violence toward the Gentile world, but to maintain a severe discipline within; accordingly, the sixth vision (Rev 5:1–4) is conjoined to the fifth (Rev 4), thus presenting the third general picture in its two aspects. According to the seventh vision (Rev 5:5–11) the theocratic domain is purified from all unrighteousness; a threatening antithesis to this is presented outside of the Theocracy, in the fact that this unrighteousness is set down in the land of Shinar. Hence, in the eighth, or last vision (Rev 6:1–8), God’s judgment upon the Gentile world is exhibited as going forth into all the quarters of Heaven; this, and the seventh vision, form the fourth cyclical general picture.

The conclusion of the first part, from Rev 6:9 to Rev 8:23, then unmistakably forms the transition to the second part, which consists of a cyclical series of typical representations of the Messiah.

In the first place, Joshua, the High-priest, is, by a solemn crowning, constituted a type of the coming Messiah, Who is to be at once Priest and King (Rev 6:9 sqq.). Furthermore, the Prophet himself becomes a momentary and extraordinary type of the Messiah (Rev 6:15 sqq.). Hence he decides the question which the Israelites put to the Priests, as to whether the extraordinary fasts of the exile should be continued; answering the inquiry for the Priests as well as the people, he declares that there is henceforth no ordinance of fasts; that the people are to observe the moral commandments of truth, mercy, and compassion, which, to their destruction, they formerly despised; now, however, judgment should be turned away from them, and, after the restoration of Israel, the fast-days should become joyful feast-days; yea, the salvation of Israel should be diffused amongst all nations (Rev 7 and 8).

In this transition, the unitous picture of the time of the Messiah is laid before us. It is the programme of the second part, from Rev 9 to the close. Here, in this second part, the future of the Messiah is unrolled before our eyes in typical acts, representative of individual items in His career.

First type. Advent and appearance of the Messiah in poor and humble guise (Rev 9; comp. Matt. 21:5; John 12:15). Here the barren present and proximate future of the Prophet (Israel’s restoration in antithesis to the judgments upon the neighboring Northern nations,—judgments, however, conducing to their conversion) become the basis of a prophecy concerning the Coming of the Messiah; the perspective of this prophecy is manifestly eschatological (vers. 13, 14 sqq.). This picture corresponds with the first vision (Rev 1:7–17)

Second type. Jehovah’s leading the people back out of the heathen world through the sea of tribulation or anguish may be the most obscure Messianic type of this series; its Messianic character is nevertheless sustained by the clearer types of chs. 9 and 11. The point of departure is the hope of a universal restoration of Israel, conjoined with a universal judgment upon the heathen; accordingly, this type corresponds with the second vision, the vision of the destruction of the horns (Rev 10 We, like Neumann and Kliefoth, account vers. 1 and 2 as forming a part of this section).

Third type. The Messiah, typically represented by the Prophet, is under valued at thirty pieces of silver, i. e., the absurdly cheap price of a slave (Matt. 26:15; Ex. 21:32). The historical point of departure are the imminent judgments upon the shepherds in Israel (not the Gentile shepherds of the peoples, spoken of in the preceding section) who overshadowed the land like the cedars of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan. With this type the third and fourth visions correspond, especially the filthy garments of Joshua (chs. 2 and 3). The leading thought is that the Prophet, the Prophethood, takes the place of the unfaithful shepherds after Jehovah’s destruction of the three shepherds50 in one month; with his double staff (Grace [Beauty, Eng. Ver.] embracing the Gentile world, and the Theocratic Band uniting Judah and Israel) he [the Prophet—always as a type of Christ] feeds the flocks—the sheep of slaughter in company with the poor of the flock, for the sake of the latter;51and even after his rejection, he is commanded to assume the same office (ver. 15) on account of the necessity for an offset and antithesis to the worthless shepherds yet to come.

Fourth type. The lamentation of all the families of Israel over the mortal suffering that they have inflicted upon the visible appearance of Jehovah, the Messiah, a result of the victory over all heathen, vouchsafed by Jehovah to the ideal Theocracy (Rev 12, particularly vers. 10–14). The very pre-supposition of this Prophecy is altogether eschatological; it is the expectation of the perfect fulfillment of the destiny of Jerusalem and Judah; the anticipation of a victory over all nations of the Gentiles—a victory conditioned upon the sanctification of Israel. Thus, it is a Prophecy, every feature of which is symbolical. With it corresponds the fifth vision, of the victory of Zerubbabel through the Spirit of God; and the sixth vision, of the sanctification of Israel (Rev 4 and 5:1–4).

Fifth type. Development of the period of the Spirit of God: prepared by a general mistrust of Prophets, the prophetic form of teaching, psychical inspiration, and the prophetic insignia—a mistrust occasioned by the many false prophets; introduced by the judgment, arising from that mistrust, which was visited upon the last and highest Prophet, and by the scattering of His flock (Rev 13, especially ver. 7; comp. Matt. 26:31). The two characteristics of this period are, first, the fountain opened for sin in Jerusalem—completed salvation, accessible for all: secondly, the destruction of all idolatry, even the most subtile; the destruction even of the extinct prophetic form; and the banishment of the unclean spirits from the land. This recalls the seventh vision (Rev 5:5–11), in which the unclean spirit, under the figure of a woman, is borne out of the holy land by flying women, whose wings are energized by the wind, i.e., the Spirit.

Sixth type. Antichristianity in its temporary victory: and the appearing of the Lord for judgment. The new world. On the one side, the region of judgment, a region of absolute confusion, self-destruction, and withering; on the other, an absolute consecration of all life to God (Rev 14, especially vers. 3–7). In this type the eighth vision, as a picture of the final judgment, is reflected; especially when regarded in its connection with the crowning of Joshua (Rev 6).

The Book of Zechariah, with its symbols, particularly its horses, colors, horns, its measuring-line, its stone with seven eyes, its sons of oil, its roll, its forms of women, its Shinar, its crowns, its sea-waves and rivers, its pictures of judgment and deliverance, its appearance of Christ, and its glorious ideal of the new world (Rev 14:21), reminds us in many respects of the Apocalypse. It particularly resembles that Scripture, however, in its cyclical collective pictures, with their advance to the final eschatological form.

Apart from every other consideration, this universal appearance of the cyclical method in the Apocalyptic Books of the Old Testament is decisive against all interpretations of the Johannean Apocalypse, which, after the manner of secular historiography, aim at its resolution into periods following each other in chronologic succession.

The law of the cyclical method rests, first, on the peculiarity of all sacred literature, which aims at edification, not at the imparting of historical knowledge. Secondly, on the peculiarity of Prophecy, which has for its aim great and momentous facts, not particularities. Thirdly, on the peculiarity of the vision, which scans the succession of the ages in collective pictures forming a living, genetic chain.


When science shall have arrived at a perfect appreciation of the grand and world-historical antithesis between Judaism and Hellenism, between the Theocratic and the Humanistic tendency, then, and not till then, can Exegesis, Criticism, Theology in general, enter upon a new stage of development.

Until that time, Sacred History and Literature, being viewed from Hellenistic standpoints, must continue to endure manifold misrepresentations and even misusage.

For a long time the Biblical language was held in disesteem; the New Testament Greek, especially, being looked upon as a barbarous idiom, whilst the great contrast between the modes of mediation and the secularity of the Greek language, and the immediateness and spirituality of that mode of expression which lies at the basis of the New as well as the Old Testament were disregarded. Neither was any distinction made between the blending of Greek and Hebrew in the traditional Alexandrian Greek of Scripture [of the Septuagint] and that grand linguistic formative process which came into operation on the basis of New Testament spiritual life, and continually exerted a creative energy in the production of new verbal, adjective, and substantive forms. This fact was likewise the fertile source of a multitude of critical abortions.

Furthermore, until to-day, Biblical Historiography, as well as the Sacred History upon which it is founded, has been examined by a standard of ideas drawn from classical antiquity. Orthodoxy competed with neology in insisting upon the most rigidly literal acceptation of Scripture terms. Indeed, neology is but following in the footsteps of orthodoxy, in maintaining now that the Bible inculcates the doctrine that the work of creation was completed in six astronomical days, etc., though this in the case of neology is done in disparagement of the Scriptures, whilst the stragglers who bring up the rear of the older orthodoxy set forth the same views in praise of the Bible.

Thus it happens that the one class speak of perfectly literal historical reports; the other class, of myths. That the one class attribute the character of Greek pragmatism—such a conception of events as proceeds, in treating them from secondary causes and immediate human designs—even to the Biblical historic style; whilst the other class handle a historiography that mounts to the Divine prime causality, and aims at portraying ultimate designs, in accordance with the ideas of common pragmatism, i. e., omitting secondary causes. True Biblical Historiography, however, in its character of historic symbolicalness, presenting, as it does, all individual actual items in the light of ideal and universal significance, passes between these two modes of procedure, like a living spirit between two sleeping sentinels.

The facts upon which Sacred History is based are treated by the one class as a long line of marvellous, i. e., purely external Divine facts; by the other, as a series of merely mental or spiritual, and in many cases morbid, conceptions. The one class regard the subjective visions as utterly unreal items of revelation; whilst the other class identify even objective visional perceptions of true Divine manifestations and heavenly appearances with the godless hallucinations of fantastical enthusiasts. Sacred History, however, is throughout a Divine-human mystery; a tissue of heavenly and earthly threads; a line of points of union betwixt Heaven and earth; betwixt the surest Divine deeds and facts and the innermost life of the human spirit in its æonic contemplation, averted from the world. There has been no more absurd deliverance in modern times than the claim that a really risen Christ would have been obliged to show Himself on the streets of Jerusalem, or even to present Himself for examination before an academic committee.

If we look at both together, the facts and their presentation, a climax of critical absurdity has been reached in the turning of the inspired, original productions into conglomerates of the most external book-making. And if, in other respects, this principle obtains, viz.: that the first and lower exigencies of man awakened language—spoken language, we mean—and the higher exigencies of his spirit gave rise to written language or literature—surely the next step would be to assume that the sublime prophetic and evangelic facts must, perforce, have been immediately fixed in written memorabilia. If, however, the more ancient doctrine of inspiration despised such mediations, for the sake of heightening the miraculousness of inspiration—in this point, also, modern criticism is its heir. It is to the interest of modern criticism to beget the opinion that a spiritless and superstitious literature had come limping a long way behind the sublime facts which it aspired to record.

The Hellenizing view is the product of the misapprehensive handling of the Prophets and the prophetic style. For instance, it is a specifically Greek sentiment that the passion-picture of Isaiah 53 presents the ideal of the Jewish nation or even of the Prophethood. The Greek, indeed, knows of such ideals that hover above the School until they evaporate over the School-masters. The Hebrew, on the other hand, beholds all his ideals in the form of fiery visions, in process of becoming actualities. Hence, his suffering Servant of God can be none but the Messiah in historic reality.

Finally, it is a well-known fact that the peculiar character of Biblical Poetry has been greatly depreciated, Greek models being made the standard of criticism. The critics have constantly sought for Greek images, the Greek or even the Germanic metre, even classical forms of poetic composition, finally, instead of being satisfied with kindred analogies and types.

People failed to recognize the immense antithesis between the æsthetic interest of the beautiful and the ethical interest of the holy. So, primarily, in reference to the poetic image. The Greek elaborates his image and worships its beauty. The Hebrew employs images for the sole purpose of corporealizing or illustrating thought, or conveying a clear idea of the contemplations and sensations of his spirit. Hence the great changes, as well as the immense circuit and bold use, of his images. Compare especially Pss. 18 and 22.52

The Apocalyptic Writings form the perfect point of union of Hebrew Prophecy and Poetry; the acme of pure and original Hebrew art; albeit, this dominant type of Hebrew art evinces its New Testament universalistic transfiguration in a plenitude of elements that recall the products of the Greek mind. As, however, in the first Genesis, the Bible begins with the most art-less form of Hebrew Historiography, so, in the second Genesis, at the close of the Apocalypse, it ends with the most art-full form of Hebrew Visionography, of Hebrew Apocalyptics. It is no wonder, then, that the Apocalypse must remain a sealed Book for all who read it with the spectacles of Hellenizing conceptions; as, on the other hand, it will be a misleading meteor to all who pretend to read it with Chiliastic longings—to all who, with the allegorizing spirit of orthodoxism, look upon it as a historical painting in allegorical figures and colors, and based upon absolute inspiration.

As the specific characteristics of Hebrew art we would mention these three features: Historical Dynamics; Ideal Symbolism; Ethico-pastoral Practice.





In the Apocalypse of John, Canonical Apocalyptics have found their ultimate and highest expression, as well in a material as in a formal aspect.

In a material aspect, we have first to note the clearness of the laws of development, in accordance with which the course of the world,53 in its Christological modification, continually approaches its goal. Next we would call attention to the clearness of the dynamical relations. In the midst of the synchronistic circle stands the Church, represented in the Seven Churches, ruled over by Christ the Redeemer, as He walks through the Churches, bearing the sword of His word. About the Church, for the furtherance of her life and of the design which she is to accomplish, moves the collective Divine dispensation of worldly history, in its eschatological modification; represented in the Seven Seals. At the opening of these seals, the history of the world is seen to be under the dominion of Him who rides upon the white horse—even Christ as the Prince of victory. The sombre horsemen in His train—Death and Famine, and the whole realm of the dead [Hades]—must, like esquires, serve His purposes. And His all sovereign might is manifested no less clearly in the martyrdom of His witnesses throughout the course of history, and in the convulsions of the evening of the world. From the concursus of the Church, and the sufferings of world-history, the Seven Penitential Trumpets [trumpets calling to repentance] are developed;54 from this very circumstance of their origin, we should beware of regarding them as predominantly physical events. The counterpart [Gegenbild] of the seven trumpets are the Seven Thunders, indicated in the course of the sixth trumpet, or rather, in the introduction to the seventh. These constitute the most mysterious side of the history of the Kingdom of God [Church]; a side which, consequently, remains hidden, although, as a whole, it may be apprehended in the mind of the Song of Solomon of Thunder.55 The preachings of repentance, in their totality, awaking, as they do, on the one hand, the Seven Thunders (Reformations—we will call them), occasion in the region of impenitence, on the other hand, the full manifestation of the Seven-Headed Beast out of the abyss, the Antichristian powers. This, however, occasions in its turn the pouring out of the Seven Vials of Wrath, or judgments of hardening and destruction, the last of which develops into the actual final catastrophe. With the final judgment, Christ is fully manifested as the Prince of Victory. In the united lustre of the Seven Spirits He appears, for the purpose of opening the great Day of Judgment, which, as the great Saturday of a thousand years, begins with the judgment upon cultivated Antichristianity, and closes with the judgment upon the final rabble-Antichristianity, bringing in at last the eternal Sunday. The above are, manifestly, theocratically synchronistic circumstances, concentric circles.

With equal clearness the theocratic chronological succession of time is unfolded. The story of earthly affairs invariably has a heavenly scene for its point of departure; in the latter, the Divine counsel, the Divine foresight of coming events, the Divine celebration of victory, are presented in advance. On this brilliant ground, earthly phenomena develop themselves septenariously. At first they appear in four more general fundamental forms: the four churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamus, Thyatira; the four Apocalyptic horsemen; the first four penitential trumpets, embodied in facts affecting the earth and the human race; the four or five fallen heads of the Beast (or world-monarchies);56 the first four vials of wrath which, like the first four trumpets, are restricted to the domain of man, yet verge upon the kingdom of demons.

The four fundamental forms are regularly followed by the last three, which lead us into the realm of spirits, and are thus indicative of the exceeding imminence of the final catastrophe. First, we have the last three churches: the dead, the living, the lukewarm church. The last three seals: the martyrs; the cosmical catastrophe; the seventh seal as the source of the trumpets. The last three trumpets: opening of the abyss; loosing of destructive powers; the seventh trumpet as the transition to the seven heads of Antichrist. The last three or four heads of the Beast (Rev 17:10).57 The last three vials of wrath: demonic sufferings, seditions, and judgments, especially the judgment upon Babylon. The seventh of the seven generally forms the transition from one series, which it concludes, to the following series. Thus, the seventh seal is the point whence the trumpets issue; the seventh trumpet, the point at which the seven-fold Antichristianity is developed. The other transitions of this sort are less prominent, yet are implied by the context. The condition of the church of Laodicea is, unmistakably, a motive for the speedy coming of the Lord; and His coming begins in the vision of the seals.58 Similarly, the Beast’s seventh head, changing into the eighth (Rev 17:11), is the connecting-point for the seven vials of wrath, though the presentation of the vials is significantly intertwined with the presentation of Antichristianity. Apart from the fact that the number six is unfolded here in the number six hundred and sixty-six, with which the opening of the vials of wrath is connected in perfectly regular succession, the difficulty arising here in respect to the connection is solved thus: the summary final judgment of the seventh vial of wrath, Rev 16, is divided into three great separate judgments (ver. 19): 1. The judgment upon precursory, absolute Antichristianity; the fall of Babylon or the great Whore, who is finally judged in the seventh head of the Beast, which head, however, reappears at last as the eighth head (Rev 17:1–18:10). 2. The judgment upon the ten kings, or fully developed radical Antichristianity (Rev 19:11–20:6). 3. The judgment upon the ultimate devilish-bestial Antichristianity of Gog and Magog (Rev 20:7–15).

The greatest obscurity that spreads over the Apocalypse arises, doubtless, from the fact that the seven thunders (Rev 10) are not disclosed, but must, exceptionally, be sealed up (Rev 10:4), because it was inadmissible that the sketching of them should alter, as it necessarily would have done, the ethical character of their forthgoing in their own time. If, nevertheless, they be reckoned in, there are formed upon the foundation of the Seven Spirits united in Christ, seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders, seven heads of the Beast, seven vials of wrath. One might conjecture that the Seven Spirits at the commencement of the Apocalypse were designed, as the first septenary, to complete the seven times seven; and that it was so designed, in accordance with the fact that the Christian Sunday precedes the week days. But, according to Hebrew typism, the number seven is the unity which is developed out of the number six; consequently, here also, doubtless, the seventh seven must be transferred in thought to the close.

In this great picture of the world’s development, the dynamical relations of the Kingdom of God are in perfect keeping with its innermost relations, as has been already intimated. Heavenly scenes oversway earthly ones; Christ, in His heavenly, terrestrio-churchly spiritual power, oversways the Church; the Church oversways the world of history; the world of history oversways nature, the whole cosmos. Together with Christianity, Anti-christianity waxes toward its complete ripeness. With the greatest universalism, such as embraces Heaven and Earth, Time and Eternity; such as brings into view, in the history of Christ’s Church, the whole celestial world and all the demon-realm, there corresponds, in wondrous harmony, a wealth of concrete traits. These traits are composed of elements of homiletical warmth, doctrinal distinctness, and even deep religious philosophy—elements jointly characteristic of the Johannean mind, and agreeing with the tenor of the Johannean Gospel and Epistles.

As elements of religious philosophy and dogmatics we mention the following:

Rev 1:4–6, 8, 13 sqq. Chs. 4, 5, The Whole Heavenly Vision. Rev 6:1 sqq., 12 sqq. The Great Sealing, Rev 7:1 sqq. 9. Rev 8:4. The Three Woes, Rev 8:13. The Abyss and Apollyon, Rev 9 The Oath of the Angel, or the Divine Assurance in reference to the End of the World, to be found also in the heart of the Church itself, Rev 10:6. The Little Book, or the charm and dread of eschatological investigations, Rev 10:9. The Inner and Outer Church, Rev 11:1, 2. The Olive Trees, Rev 11 The Woman clothed with the Sun, Rev 12 The Dragon, Rev 12:3 sqq. The Twofold Antichristianity; The Mark of the Beast; The Number 666, Rev 13 Mark of the Elect—readiness for suffering, sincerity, or simplicity, Rev 14 The Everlasting Gospel (of the second Parousia); The Judgment of the World as a Harvest in a twofold sense, Rev 14:13 sqq. The Sea of Glass and the Lake of Fire. The sorest Divine Judgments in the hands of the Angels, measured in golden vials, Rev 15 Retribution for the Martyrs’ Blood, Rev 16:5, 6. Blasphemies of the Hardened, vers. 11, 21. Division of the one final judgment into three parts, Rev 16:19. The Great Whore, chaps. 17 and 18. The Æons of Judgment, Rev 19:3. His Name is called, The Word [Logos] of God, Rev 19:13. His Vesture, dyed with Blood. Distinction in the Judgments, Rev 19:20, 21. The Second Judgment. The Millennial Kingdom and the First Resurrection. The Third Judgment, Rev 20 The General Resurrection; The Final Judgment. The Book of Life, Rev 20 The Bride. The City of God, Rev 21 The City of God,—absolutely Open; absolutely Shut (the Attraction of Salvation; the Ban of Dynamical Repulsion), Rev 21 The River of Life and the Trees of Life of the New Paradise, Rev 22 The Beholding of God, the Bliss of the Redeemed, vers. 4, 5; Christology, ver. 16.

The following are familiar as homiletical elements of great value: Rev 1:17, 18. The Seven Epistles throughout, chs. 2, 3. The Doxologies, Rev 4:11; 5:9, 10, 12, 13, 14; 7:12; 11:15 sqq. The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb, Rev 15:3; 19:1 sqq. Rev 5:5. Rev 6:9–11. Rev 7:13–17. Rev 9:20, 21: Impenitence. Rev 12:9–11: The Judgment of Rejection, and Heavenly Blessedness; similarly, Rev 14:11–13. Rev 18: The Cry of Triumph, Babylon is Fallen. The Merchants of Babylon. Desecrated Art, Rev 18:16, 22. Rev 19:9. Rev 21:3–8. The City of God, Rev 21:22–27. Rev 22:7: Behold, I come quickly, etc. The Time of Decision, Rev 22:11, 12. Alpha and Omega. Without, Rev 22:15. Divine Assurance and Human Longing in regard to the Coming of Christ. The Gospel in the light of Eschatology, Rev 22:17. Sanctity of the Book of Revelation, Rev 22:18, 19. Ground-tone of the Revelation: The Divine Promise, I come quickly; and the Human Prayer, Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The Benediction in view of the End of the World, Rev 22:21.

Passing to a consideration of the formal perfection of the Apocalypse, we must premise that the art of its construction has necessarily been brought into view in the preceding pages, along with the presentation of its material wealth. Categories of the construction: antithesis of the heavenly—branching into the world of spirits and the domain of œcumenical manifestations; and the worldly—branching into the earthly-human and the ghostly-demonic. This antithesis unfolds itself more and more fully through the different dynamical cycles of the world’s development. All these cycles start from a Christological beginning of the world, and touch, in closing, upon its end; the conclusion of each cycle, however, brings the end of the world nearer and nearer, until the Last Day unfolds its whole import in the Æon of a thousand years, forming, according to the grand conception of Irenæus, a bridge from the old world to the new.

What is true of the artistic construction of the Apocalypse in general, likewise holds good of its allegorical, symbolical, and typical single figures; of the wealth of its learned reproduction of ancient Apocalyptic figures, as well as of its original creations, and its treatment—partly fixed and partly free—of Apocalyptic images.

If we wish to gain a clear idea of the wealth of forms which the Apocalypse has woven, with the greatest art, into one magnificent tissue, let us fix our eyes more particularly upon the grand similitudes, the rich maxims, the significant dialogues, the warm exhortations, the glowing prayers, the New Testament songs, the sublime doxologies which it contains.

Thus, the Apocalypse is not a morbid Judaistic first-birth of a New Testament literature, as the Tübingen school has declared, but the noble and grand conclusion of Holy Writ; the crown of Canonical literature; as a Sacred Book, calculated, we might almost say, more for the readers of the last times, after those of the Apostolic Age, than for the readers of the Middle Ages, or of any mediate time whatsoever. It forms the conclusion, in the first place, of the Johannean Scriptures; secondly, of the New Testament; thirdly, of the whole Bible. In a special sense, it closes Eschatological Prophecy; in the most special sense, it is the close of Canonical Apocalyptics. It is the mystery of the living union of the highest Theocratic-Christian Eschatology, with the perfection of Hebrew New Testament universal Christian art.

Constituting, on the one hand, as a Holy Scripture, the conclusion of the old records of Revelation, and having for its object the close of the old form of the world, it is, on the other hand, a Pneumatic Genesis. It regards the last woes of the old world as the birth-pangs of the new world, and unrolls this new world before our eyes as the new, second, Spirit-born creation; as the new Paradise; presenting it to us as a radiant and developed picture, with a perspective reaching into the furthest æons. Hence, the first Adamic Genesis is reflected in this second, Christological one; the earthly days of creation of the one are mirrored in the heavenly days of creation of the other. Together with this antithesis in the kindred subject-matter of both Scriptures, there appears a proportional antithesis in the kindred form of the two. The first Genesis is written with the stylus of child-like simplicity; and yet there is something sublime in this child-like form, on account of its adjustment to the great subject-matter, with a distinctly symbolical, anti-mythical consciousness. The last Genesis is written in the most finished, artistic style of Hebrew poetry; in its case, however, the evangelic subject-matter, with its wealth of promises, permits—throughout the artistic form of the Book, replete with ghostly sublimity—the traits of a child-like warmth of feeling and simplicity to appear.

Passing to a consideration of special items, the creation of light on the first day is reflected in the lustre of the Seven Churches. The antithesis of Heaven and earth is reflected in the revelation of the glory of Heaven above the gloom of earth, anguished with the mysteries of the Seven Seals. The antithesis of land and sea—of the earth with its plants, and the sea with its waters—is reflected in the vision of the Trumpets. The appearance of the sun on the fourth day is reflected in the Angel like the sun, who comes down to earth. The demonic Beast, rising out of the sea, corresponds to the fifth day. The Beast out of the earth is the antitype of the sixth day. The Man of the sixth day, as well as his Paradise, is reflected in the festive Congregation of 144,000 perfected souls on Mount Zion; his more perfect image, however, is visible in the Appearance of Christ, the New Man. So, too, the Paradise of the seventh day is reflected in the New Paradise. And this (the New Paradise) is likewise the perfect antitype of the seventh day, being the Sabbath of God, the eternal Sunday—allegations not applicable to the Millennial Kingdom, which does but precede this Sunday, like a great, Divine Saturday.59

Further particulars concerning the construction of the Apocalypse, see further on.

[The following sentence, the conclusion of the article on the Apocalypse in Schaff’s Hist. of the Ap. Church (pp. 418–427),—a sentence replete with beauty as well as truth—is quoted as the fitting conclusion to this section: “The mystic John, the Apostle of completion, was, by his sanctified natural gifts, as well as by his position and experience, predestinated, so to speak, to unveil the deep foundations of the Church’s life and the ultimate issue of her history; so that in the Apocalypse the rejuvenated Apostle simply placed the majestic dome upon the wonderful structure of his Gospel, with the golden inscription of holy longing: ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ ”—E. R. C.]


The sudden and total change in the opinion of modern criticism concerning the genuineness of the Apocalypse, alone makes sufficiently manifest what our sentiments should be as to the infallibility of said criticism, and demonstrates the folly of those who suffer themselves to be overawed by its prejudices, as evinced in its premises, results, and dogmatic utterances. In one point, it is true, Lücke and, with him, the Schleiermacher school, and Baur and, with him, the so-called Tübingen school agree, namely, in the assumption that the man who wrote the Apocalypse could not have written the fourth Gospel.60

In the case of Lücke, apart from the influence of traditional and temporal prejudices, we may regard the absence of a comprehension of the fundamental diversity of Evangelico-didactic mediating forms and Apocalyptico-symbolic immediate forms, as one of the chief sources of his declaration against the authenticity of the Apocalypse; though upon this diversity rests the difference between a form of language61 more purely Greek and that which possesses a more Hebraizing character, as well as the apparent difference in the eschatological ideas presented in the Gospel and the Apocalypse. Eusebius, in particular, with his presbyter John, has been a misleading guide in this connection.62

That which the prejudice of the Schleiermacher school-theology accomplished in Lόcke’s case was brought about in the case of Baur by the Hegelian school-philosophy, by which he was enslaved. In the application of the deductions of the Hegelian philosophy to the Apocalypse, however, Baur has far exceeded all the bounds of simple philosophical bias. We cannot comprehend how a theologian who showed himself prone to interpret purely historical writings (for instance the Epistle to Philemon) allegorically or symbolically, could, in dealing with a truly allegorico-symbolical writing, so completely turn the tables, and attempt to force upon this Book, of all others, a historical and literal signification. In thus doing, he sought, indeed, to establish a basis for his utterly false and infirm construction of history, alleging the Apocalypse to be the record of a presumptively narrow Ebionite Judo-Christianity. He has thus, however, with one stroke of his pen, utterly caricatured and robbed of dignity, not the Apocalypse only, but also the historical portrait of John, one of the finest in the gallery of great men.

The points of unity in the Apocalypse and the Gospel, as well as the Epistles of John, subsist, first, in the subject-matter: Agreement in the doctrine of the Revelation of God; in the doctrine of Christ, especially as the Logos; in the doctrine of the Kingdom of Light, and the Kingdom of darkness; in the doctrine of Satan, of the Redemption, of the Church’s gradual progress in development; finally, in the doctrine of Antichristianity, and in the doctrine of Eschatology in general. The fact that John does not give Antichrist the title of Antichrist, is indued with significance for those only who cannot accommodate themselves to the allegorical portrayal of Antichrist.

In conjunction with the above-mentioned material points of unity, we have the idiocrasies of the Johannean images and expression, the unitous character of which is apparent even through the contrast of the Evangelic and the Apocalyptic style. Christ, the Logos; the Light; the Lamb; the Redeemer, with His blood; the Bridegroom. The Church, the Bride. Christ’s gifts, the water of life, manna, etc. Comp. Guerike, p. 549. In respect to the similarity of diction (in upholding which we submit that it is in perfect conformity to speech ἐν πνεύματι that, in its originally Greek, yet more Hebraizing expression, it should suffer the mother tongue of the Seer to be more apparent through it), Guerike’s collection of examples, p. 550, note 1, may be compared. As to the alleged difference between the idiocrasies of the Gospel and Apocalypse, which, according to Lücke and others, occur in matter and form, the greater part of the spoils of these commentators are dependent upon the false literal apprehension of the Apocalypse, whereby a distinction is converted into a contradiction by the process of forcing a purely spiritual meaning upon the Gospel, and, on the other hand, grossly materializing the Apocalypse. Over and above the inner grounds for a belief in the genuineness of the Apocalypse, we have historical testimonies to its authenticity. These may be classified as direct and indirect.

Direct testimonies: Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Tryph.Ἀνήρ τις, ᾧ ὄνομα Ἰωάννης, εἷς τῶν ἀποστόλων τοῦ Χριστοῦ.”). Irenæus (Hæres. IV., 20, 11: Sed et Joannes, domini discipulus in Apocalypsi; and other passages). Clement of Alexandria (the witness of John, which is cited in Stromata IV., is in Stromat. II. denominated ἀποστολικὴ φωνή). The Muratorian fragment. Advers. Marcion III., 14: Tertullian (Nam et Apostolus Joannes in Apoc.; and other passages). Likewise, Origen, etc. See Kirchhofer, Quellensammlung zur Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Kanons bis auf Hieronymus, Zürich, 1842, p. 296 sqq.

Of almost equal weight are isolated indirect testimonies. The statement of Andreas, Proleg. in Apoc., in regard to the testimony of Papias (on this compare the voluminous discussions). The statement of Eusebius in regard to Apollonius, Hist. Eccles. v. 18. To these add the Apocalyptic reminiscences in the Shepherd of Hermas and elsewhere (e. g., in the letter of the church at Vienne and Lyons). On the strength of the general corroboration of the Apocalypse by historical testimonies, comp. besides Guerike, p. 533, and Langen, Grundriss der Einl. in das Neue Testament, Freiburg, 1868, p. 152, a number of Commentaries, especially that of Ebrard, p. 1 sqq. Deserving of special consideration is the fact that most of the witnesses to the authenticity of this Scripture stood in closest connection with the school and tradition of Asia Minor; this is particularly the case with Irenæus. Finally, we have the self-witness of the Apocalyptist, Rev 1:1, 2, 9, 22:8, and it is as little possible to set this aside as to do away with the tradition of the Apostle John on Patmos; on the contrary, each lends support to the other. Düsterdieck (p. 65) in vain seeks to invalidate this testimony. He even goes so far as to declare that this self-witness proves the Apocalyptist not to have been the Apostle John. The sum of the matter, however, is that Düsterdieck was unable properly to appreciate the import of the prophetico-symbolical style. What grounds are those that he puts forth ! No trace of Apostolic authority in the seven Epistles ! No trace of the intimate relation between the Apostle and the Lord ! Of course the names of the Twelve Apostles, Rev 21:14, are likewise assumed to prove the non-Apostolic character of the Apocalyptic John. For other remarks of a similar nature, evidencing a lack of even an elementary understanding of symbolism, see p. 96 sqq.

It is demonstrable that the arguments adduced in denial of the genuineness of the Apocalypse are, as a general rule, rooted in misunderstandings and prejudices.63 The most ancient prejudice regarded the Apocalypse as chiliastic, because Chiliasm was wont to lean for support upon the Apocalypse. True Chiliasm, however, consists not in the symbolical application of the number one thousand to the transition æon between the earthly and the heavenly world, but in the following particulars: 1. In a principial unsatisfiedness with the first Parousia of Christ, and a consequent transferring of the full principial redemption to His second Parousia; hence, in a subtilely carnal lust of outward appearance. 2. In the chronological computation of the times before the advent of the thousand years, literally understood; with a constant tendency to assign the termination of those times to as early a period as possible, in a common chronological sense. 3. In the idea that, in consequence of a gradual preponderance of the Kingdom of God in the outer world, there will arise, in idyllic wise, a Millennial Kingdom, sensuous, or even Jewish in form,64 before the Parousia of Christ (comp. Confessio August, Art. XVII.), whilst Scripture holds in view a spiritualized Millennium, ushered in by a fearful epic catastrophe; a Millennium which is not to commence until after Christ’s appearance, i. e., after a single, final appearing, which shall then suffer no interruption whereby a third would be rendered necessary (as Stier, among others, assumed).65

The second prejudice,66 represented by Luther (see Guerike, p. 531), did not find a sufficiency of orthodox dogmatism and doctrine of justification in this Scripture; nay, it even took offence at the vision form. The doctrine of justification by faith alone, laying, as it does, the foundation of salvation in the forum of conscience in view of the first Coming of Christ (Rom. 3), cannot, without a slavish adherence to the letter of the great dogma, be transported to the forum of the last judgment in view of Christ’s second Coming; this position is clearly proved by the Eschatological Discourse of the Lord, Matt. 25:31 sqq. The double meaning of the question concerning the relation of good works to salvation must be met by a strict distinction between principial and eschatological σωτηρία67 [salvation].

The more recent prejudice, represented by the greatest humanist of modern times, Göthe,68 irrespective of its material estrangement from the Christian monotheistic purport of the Apocalypse, stood before this Scripture as before an enigmatical sphynx; and this was the case because minds occupying the summit of school Hellenism, are not in possession of the theoretic key to an understanding of a production which formed the summit of the Hebrew theocratic view.

The Schleiermacher prejudice (Introduction to the New Testament), in consequence of a one-sided spiritualism [Spiritualismus] 69 that could not accommodate itself even to the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, much less to the Eschatology, i. e., the whole ideal realism, of the Apocalypse, was unable to settle to its own satisfaction the question of harmony between the Gospel and the Apocalypse; and this, especially, as the expressed opinions of Schleiermacher, in regard to the Apocalypse, betray a cognizance of it for the most part superficial.

The prejudice of Baur, finally (see Düsterdieck, p. 64), the worst of all prejudices, treated the Apocalypse as a monument of Ebionite Jewish-Christian narrow-mindedness. That Dr. Hitzig endeavored to prove that John Mark was the author of the Apocalypse, is a fact that requires but a passing mention.

Addendum: Relative to the Life of John

In respect to the personality of the Apostle himself, to the history of his life, and to his other writings, we refer to the Introduction to the Commentary on the Gospel of John, p. 3 sqq. [Am. Ed.].

We must supplement the sketch there given with the remark that Keim’s assertion, to the effect that John never resided in Ephesus, has been conclusively refuted by Steitz in Studien und Kritiken, 1868, No. 3, p. 487: “The tradition concerning the activity of the Apostle John.”


The point of departure for an investigation into the locality and time of the composition of the Apocalypse is given by the following passage in the introduction to this Book, Rev 1:9: “I, John, your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

It is a well-known fact that banishment for the sake of the Christian faith was a form of imperial violent justice, of whose exercise under Nero nothing is known; it was employed, however, by Domitian in company with other regular measures.70 Neander (I. 51) is incorrect in denominating the order for the expulsion of the Christians from Rome, which was issued by Claudius in the year 53, and directed primarily against the Jews (Christians, of course, being relatively implicated), an order of banishment. Irrespective, moreover, of the fact that Nero’s persecution of the Christians was mainly local, and, hence, necessarily affected two71 Apostles who were sojourning in Rome at the time, but left unscathed an Apostle who can scarcely have been settled in Ephesus so soon, but was probably working quietly somewhere in the East72—irrespective of this fact, we repeat, it is in the highest degree improbable that Nero should have put two Apostles to death, and, when he did take hostile notice of the third, should have let him escape with a simple banishment to Patmos. Under Domitian, on the other hand, together with the execution of Christians, we meet with instances of their political banishment. This fact, alone, assigns the Scripture which we are examining, which manifestly originated on the basis of the Apostle’s banishment to Patmos, to the time of Domitian.

Guerike has been persuaded by modern criticism73 to depart from the traditional hypothesis that the Apocalypse was written under Domitian, and to transfer it to the time of Nero. The testimony of Irenæus, which, on account of its Johannean references, is of the greatest weight in this matter, runs thus (Vol. V., Rev 30): “The Apocalypse was beheld not long ago, but in the time of our own generation (near our own day), toward the end of Domitian’s reign.” This, Guerike (p. 62) interprets as having reference to Domitius Nero; as if 

in the time of Irenæus, any man would have applied the name of Domitian to Domitius Nero. The reasons adduced by Guerike in favor of the origin of the Apocalypse in the time of Nero, are the issue, for the most part, of grand misunderstandings. Had Jerusalem been already destroyed, he declares, in the first place, the Apocalyptist would, in some manner, have referred to the fact. It was a most natural proceeding, however, in pursuance of the Lord’s precedent, Matt. 24, to point forward to the destruction of the city, if that destruction had not already taken place. Just this is the case, he continues, with reference to those passages that treat of the Temple of God, Rev 11:1, of the treading of the Holy City under foot, ver. 2, and of the partial destruction of the Holy City, Rev 11:13. Here Guerike falls entirely out of the symbolical apprehension of the Book, back into the literal historic understanding of it—a thing which has happened to so many exegetes on so many different occasions, giving rise to endless confusion. In accordance with the interpretation which we have just stated, it would be necessary, likewise, to understand the “Jews,” Rev 2:9, and 3:9, literally, and, consequently, in company with the disciples of the Tübingen school, to regard the Apocalypse as an Ebionite production. It would, however, also be necessary to understand the passage cited, Rev 11:2, as declaring that the Temple itself should be preserved, and only the outer court be abandoned to destruction; similarly, the Prophet would necessarily seem to declare that only the third [tenth? Rev 11:13—TR.] part of the city should be destroyed, and that by means of an earthquake, and not by the Romans; and also that only seven thousand men should perish on this occasion, and not hundreds of thousands. Again, the passage, Rev 17:11, “or, rather, vers. 7–12,” is regarded as indicating the time of the composition of the Apocalypse to have been at least immediately subsequent to Nero. Here, also, the erroneous hypothesis shows a lapse into pure, and compared with the Apocalyptic view, shallow historicalness. The seven kings, it is asserted, denote the first seven Roman emperors; the eighth denotes the returning Nero (p. 525, note 2). Thus, Guerike, though apprehending the passage merely as a type, avows his faith even in this most absurd and untenable invention of modern criticism, viz.: that an Apostolic man such as John shared the vulgar and ridiculous popular superstition relative to the return of Nero.74 Guerike likewise cites the Hebrew coloring of the Apocalypse in support of his views. He believes this to be an indication that the author of the work in question had not yet attained that command of the Greek, in writing, which he afterwards possessed. Even in regard to the manner of thinking, Guerike pretends to discover in the Gospel and the first Epistle of John an advance in pneumatical repose and clearness (see p. 530, especially the note). So soon as there is a thorough appreciation of the character of the Apocalyptic vision, in respect to the idiocrasy of the visionary mode of contemplation ἐν πνεύματι (1 Cor. 14), as well as in respect to the laws of Apocalyptic diction—which is as distinct from historical diction as the diction of the Greek tragic poets is from Attic prose—these ideas of an advanced literary and dogmatic culture of the Apocalyptist will—as unsupported misconceptions of the law of diverse styles, a law extant not only among the Hebrews, but also among the Greeks—be set down to the account of the prejudices of modern criticism.75

Let us review the historical testimonies concerning the time and place of the origin of the Apocalypse.76 The principal testimony is that of Irenæus (Advers. Hæres., V., 30, 3; in Eusebius, Hist. Eccles., III., 18, see above). The testimony of Eusebius and Jerome is similar. Clement of Alexandria and Origen offer no contradiction. Clement says (Euseb. 3, 23, and Quis Dives, § 42): “As, after the death of the tyrant, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus.” Origen (on Matt. 20:22, 23) calls the tyrant “the king of the Romans.” The testimony of Irenæus outweighs opposite and conflicting declarations: the declaration, namely, of the Syrian Apocalypse, followed by later exegetes (see Guerike, p. 61), to the effect that John was banished under Nero; and the declaration of Epiphanius, that his banishment took place under Claudius. Hengstenberg has shown in detail the correspondence of the contents of the Apocalypse to the time of Domitian, and the history of his time. He brings forward, in support of his position, these three traits especially, viz.: that martyrdom was already a fact of long standing in the memory of the Church; that a condition of the churches, such as is depicted in the Seven Epistles, warrants the assumption that those churches had already been in existence for a considerable time; and that the despotic rule of Domitian is plainly reflected in the description of the Beast.77 Hengstenberg further pertinently remarks, that the opposite conclusions, which some profess to draw from individual passages of the Apocalypse, are attained only by affixing a literal interpretation to these passages, in contravention of the character of this symbolical Scripture.

In a chronological reference we have the following to remark. In accordance with the second Epistle to Timothy, we must necessarily suppose that Timothy was still the head of the Ephesian Church at about the time when a John, or a pseudo-John, is declared to have taken upon him to write, in an episcopal character, to the whole diocese of this metropolis.78

The Apocalypse, therefore, belongs to the time of Domitian; and in respect of its visional origin, it came into existence on Patmos. Where it was written—whether in Patmos or in Ephesus—might appear doubtful. The circumstance that the Apostle despatches an epistle to Ephesus is, however, in favor of the assumption that he indited the Book whilst he was still on Patmos.

The darkest point amongst many dark points attaching to modern criticism, is the supposition that the popular Roman tradition setting forth the speedy return of Nero, as one who was not really dead, but only reported so to be, could have been weakly accredited by an Apostolic man such as the author of the Apocalypse is, perforce, admitted to be, and that it could have been made a principal item in his visionary task.

It is as little within the bounds of possibility that the Apocalyptist, as a mere successor of Daniel, should have contemplated by the Great Beast (Rev. 13), which embraces all the four Danielic beasts, i. e., all the world-monarchies, a single king; or that he should have reduced a symbolical king, signifying an entire world-monarchy, to a single individual king.


Though the Old Testament Prophets were forced lamentingly to cry: “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed” (Is. 53:1), still their word did not return void, but did substantially accomplish that whereto it was sent (Is. 55:8–11). Though Jewish national pride did sensuously and chiliastically misinterpret the prophetic pictures of God’s Kingdom, with disastrous effects for the great fanatical mass of the Jewish people, yet the elect of the nation have taken counsel of the prophetic Word concerning Israel’s future, and have found it a compass in all times of darkness. It has lifted up and quickened their hope; it has inspired them with patience and perseverance in the sorest struggles; and, through the better understanding of its spiritual meaning, they have learned to find in its symbolical promises the true path of the future, and have thus been taught renunciation of the world and the abandonment of all sensuous hopes relative to the Kingdom. With the aid of the prophetic Word, the pious of Israel could familiarize themselves with the idea of a poor Messiah; of a Messiah who should, through suffering, attain unto glory. The prophecy of John the Baptist is founded upon the word of the Old Testament Prophets; and the like is true of the whole theocratic self-surrender and import of Mary. Nay, Christ Himself found a comforting confirmation of the rightness [appointedness] of the different stages of His life and passion in the Old Testament Prophecies, as is proved by the whole series of His references to the Old Testament. Thus, too, the Apostles, with the clearest spiritual vision, connected all their promulgations, doctrines, prophecies, and consolations with the Old Testament in general; more particularly, however, with the prophetic word; and, finally, in the most special manner, with eschatologico-apocalyptic prophetic words—with passages in the second half of Isaiah; with Zechariah and Daniel.79

It is, consequently, to be expected that the Apocalypse should be destined to fill a similar place in the times of the New Covenant; that, in an analogous manner, it must, therefore, necessarily remain, for the majority of Christians, an obscure Book—a Book, not simply mysterious, but even enigmatical; that it should be an occasion to many of misunderstanding, of visionary and fanatical misinterpretation, as was the Old Testament Eschatology to the Pharisees; that it should become an offence to many, as were the Prophets to the Sadducees; and yet that it should continue to be, to the kernel of the Christian Church, a guiding-star over the path of the future, shining all the brighter for the gathering gloom of the times. Hence it follows that, in this its import and destination, it will be subject to constant development and confirmation in the days of the future.

It is said that the Chiliasm of the primitive age of Christianity was kindled and nourished by this Book. In the Thessalonian Church, however, chiliastic expectations developed themselves before there was an Apocalypse. And as surely as the second Epistle to the Thessalonians refuted such chiliastic fancies, so surely has the Apocalypse, with its grand perspective into a distant future of the Kingdom of God, and with its exhortation to martyr-patience, exercised a similar composing and purifying influence; whilst, on the other hand, throughout the actual martyr-period, it comforted, strengthened, and lifted up afflicted believers in the midst of their great temptations.

Possible though it was in the Middle Ages for men, in the most subtile chiliastic enthusiasm, to imagine that they had already reached the time of the Millennial Kingdom, yet, even then, the healthful counter-operation of the Apocalypse was not lacking. The signs of this Book gradually encouraged the firmer minds to make a bold stand against the boundless encroachments of the Hierarchy; and though false anticipations and wild extravagancies are to be met with at this time, as in the case of Frederick II. of Hohenstaufen, in the visionary and enthusiastic Franciscans, and many quiet thinkers and prayers, owing to the fact that they held Antichrist to be significant of the Papacy, still the large element of truth in the partly defective, partly erroneous exegesis of the time served to weaken the terrible spell in which priestly despotism held men’s consciences, and, by means of the Mystics and the various forms which Protestantism assumed in the Middle Ages, to prepare the way for the Reformation. It was relatively a small thing for Boniface to fell the great oak of Thor, at Geismar,80 in comparison with the boldness that was requisite finally to lay the axe to the tree of the conscience-despotism of the Middle Ages.

It is true that, in the period of the Reformation, a new chiliastic misunderstanding was inflamed by the coloring and images of the Apocalypse; a misunderstanding resident chiefly in the minds of the fanatical masses. Since that day there has been a constant growth of miniature chiliastic absurdities, the offspring of a sensuo-enthusiastic apprehension of the Apocalypse. But though ancient Protestant orthodoxy was fain to view the sombre times in which it was placed through so rosy a medium as to fancy itself in the midst of the Millennial Kingdom; though it recently, in the person of Hengstenberg, could even believe this Kingdom to be already past; and though, on the other hand, a rationalistic exegesis, under the pretence of according greater weight to the historical basis of this Book, has robbed it of its eschatological import, its high signification, as portraying the history of God’s Kingdom; it has, nevertheless, worked out its destination in the centre of the evangelical congregations of the faithful, fostering the hope of better times; animating the cause of missions; stripping the idols of the modern day—for instance, the first Napoleon—of their magic lustre; and confirming more and more the lofty middle station of the faithful as between the hierarchic and anarchic minds of the most recent times.

Doubtless, in the future, the importance and influence of this Book will constantly increase with the increasing confusion and gloom of the times, with the increasing danger which they offer to sound and sober faith.

But, in considering the grand position which, as the New Testament Book of Futurity, the Apocalypse now occupies and shall continue to maintain, let us not forget the quiet influence which it has exerted as a word of God, opened here and there by one and another believer; a word embracing the past and every present, as well as the future; a word which has operated through all the Christian ages to the instruction and edification of the Church, and especially of individual, contemplative readers of the Bible; operated as an inexhaustible spring of instruction, and even of study, of consolation, of elevation, of warning, and direction.

It is, further, a wonderful fact that this most mysterious of all the Biblical Books seems destined to mediate, in its retroaction, an ever richer explanation of all Holy Scripture—above all, of the Prophetic writings, especially the Old Testament Eschatologies and Apocalypses.

Notwithstanding all this, the Apocalypse is not a popular Scripture. Its author is conscious, at the very beginning of his work, that his revelation is designed, primarily, only for the servant of the Lord, in a special sense; and though at the end he repeats the direction given him, that the Book shall remain unsealed (Rev 22:10), he is, nevertheless, convinced that, unsealed, it will be a sealed Book to many; that many will add to it and many take away from it. Accordingly, he has furnished the holy and glorious concluding Scripture of the Bible with an earnest warning, though he was unable to prevent men from ignoring the pure sense of even this warning word. Christ makes an entirely analogous provision in reference to the Law, Matt. 5:19 (comp. Comm. on Matthew, p. 110 [Am. Ed.]). He who augments the terrors of the Apocalypse by englooming additions, prepares for himself an additional burden of Apocalyptic plagues. But he who superficializes its prophecies, lessens his share in the great epic, triumphal joys of the Kingdom of God. If he have done this in innocent narrow-mindedness, an idyllic measure of joy may still be his; he may “sport with the lamb on the water’s edge,”—he can have no conception of the joys of the lofty watch-tower. Even modern criticism, so one-sided in many respects, has felt itself constrained occasionally to make laudatory mention of the religious importance and influence of the Apocalypse, comp., e. g., Reuss (Die Geschichte der heiligen Schriften N. T., p. 146).


The history of the various explanations of the Revelation of John has been treated in detail in Lücke’s work: Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung in die Offenbarung Johannis [Attempt at a Complete Introduction to the Revelation of John], p. 950 sqq. Bleek also has given a somewhat circumstantial account of it in his Lectures on the Apocalypse [Vorlesungen über die Apocalypse], p. 23 sqq. De Wette has given a synoptical view of it in his Commentary, Introduction, p. 14 sqq.

In sketching briefly the essential points of Exegesis, we follow the plan of Lücke; without, however, sharing his views. In accordance with the fundamental principle that the situation of the Church has, in every age, exercised a decisive influence upon the interpretation of this Book, we distinguish: 1. The pre-Constantinian Martyr Era. 2. The Old Catholic Era, extending to the beginning of the Middle Ages, or to Gregory the Great. 3. The first and predominantly Theocratic half of the Middle Ages, to the time of Innocent III. 4. The second and altogether Absolutist-Hierarchical half of the Middle Ages, reaching to the Reformation. 5. The period of Old Protestant Theology. 6. The Pietisto-Mystical period. 7. The Historico-Critical and Rationalistic period. 8. The Modern Time, as the period of the most manifold antitheses and of incipient universal Apocalyptics.

I. The Pre-Constantinian Period

Fundamental Thought: The Millennial Kingdom is to come; according to the chiliastic view, its coming is imminent. Here, however, we must disclaim the false idea entertained by Lücke, and many modern exegetes, who confound the expectation of a real, triumphant Kingdom of God, which, in a symbolical sense, is to last a thousand years, with Chiliasm proper. This fundamental error, alone, obscures the worth of the otherwise so valuable work of Lücke; its value is no less diminished by his modern definition of historical interpretation, according to which definition only the lower region of the people makes genuine history. Another faulty feature of his book is the failure to distinguish between symbolical and allegoristic interpretation, the latter of which invariably forms the complement of a false historical interpretation. Finally, we would call attention to his own misunderstanding of the idea of recapitulation, and his polemic against the misunderstood idea of the same.

The Chiliasm which was already germinant in the time of the Apostles (see 1 Thess.), which did not wait for the Apocalypse, which attained its rudest development in the Chiliasm of Cerinthus, was followed by the Church-historical Chiliasm of the Montanists. In antithesis to this last, the Apocalypse was rejected by the Alogians, and by Carius in Rome. It was recognized, indeed, by Origen, but allegoristically treated by him (allegorical it was of itself). Origen’s disciple, Dionysius of Alexandria, denied that it was written by the Apostle John, yet admitted its canonicalness; he, however diminished its dignity and worth by assigning the authorship of it to the presbyter John, in which opinion he appears to have been timidly followed by Eusebius.

On the other hand, the realistic apprehension of Justin Martyr and Irenæus—the latter of whom is the most important authority concerning the Apocalypse of this period—with all its uncertainty in exegetical method, must, in respect of its sound churchly bent, be carefully distinguished from chiliastic notions;81 so much the more, since Irenæus couches in symbolical terms his grand conception of the Millennial Kingdom as a transition period intervening between the form which the Kingdom of God wears in this dispensation and that which it will assume in the dispensation to come.

Hippolytus was akin to Irenæus. He was especially versed in Apocalyptic symbolism: he was, however, on the one hand more historical (literal) than Irenæus, and, on the other, because more historical, more allegoristic.

The Martyr Victorinus of Petabio (A. D. 303) coincides with this period so far as time is concerned; in point of fact, however, he forms the beginning of the following period.

Lactantius anticipated the arrival of the Millennial Kingdom at the end of the sixth series of a thousand years—soon, therefore (in about two hundred years); he believed that Rome should first fall, as also the dominion of Antichrist, who, according to him, was to come out of the East.

II. The Old Catholic Time Down to Gregory the Great

Fundamental Thought: The Millennial Kingdom has already appeared with the Victorious Coming of Christ. There is still extant a Commentary on the Apocalypse written by Victorinus, bishop of Petabio, in Pannonia.82 He regards the thousand years as an approximate designation of the time that should elapse from the first Coming of Christ to the end of the world. The details of his interpretation are somewhat grossly historical and allegoristic. ‘Yet he gives the first sketch of the cyclical mode of presentation, in contradistinction to the chronological method (Lücke, p. 980). For a long time subsequent to him, the study of the Apocalypse was checked by the Dogmatics of the Synods, the criticism of Eusebius, et al., and the Church’s satisfaction with its connection with the State. “Not until the end of the fifth century did there appear among the Greeks the first connected and complete Commentary on the Apocalypse, written by Andreas of Cappadocia.” This work is in many respects correctly symbolical; frequently, however, Origenistically allegoristic. Lücke censures its author for not referring Rev 6:12 to the destruction of Jerusalem, and for “not even interpreting Rev 11:1 sqq. as relating to the Temple at Jerusalem.” Andreas’ exegesis approaches more nearly to that of Lücke in Rev 11:8 and 11:13; but his refusal to interpret Rev 17:8 as having reference to the returning Nero, declaring that this notion is based upon unchristian γσητεία, Lücke considers as denoting a want of proper regard for historical truth! In some other respects, also, he evidences a more correct understanding of the Apocalypse than was possessed by Lücke (see Lücke, p. 987), e. g., in the assumption that the seven heads and mountains are seven world-kingdoms. Many points, we admit, are involved in perplexity and uncertainty, especially the sequence of events. He, also, placed the time of the Millennial Kingdom in the period intervening between the first Coming of Christ in the flesh and the coming of Antichrist.

The second independent Greek commentator is Arethas, who succeeded Andreas in the archiepiscopal chair of Cæsarea, in Cappadocia, in the sixth century.

In the Latin Church, Augustine and Jerome are the first whose views claim our attention; they wrote no Commentaries on the Apocalypse. Augustine’s view of the “ recapitulation” of the Apocalypse is a totally external one (Lücke, p. 994), like his analogous view of the days’ works of creation.83 He, too, regards the Millennial Kingdom as significant of the present rule of Christ. Jerome interprets allegorically, e. g., he makes the Holy City denote the present world. The Donatist Tichonius, a contemporary of Augustine, wrote a Commentary on the Apocalypse which, altered probably in conformity to the views of the Church, has been classed among the works of Augustine. Primasius and Cassiodorus made use of Tichonius. Primasius, likewise, favored the view of the parallel recapitulative style of the Apocalypse.84 Cassiodorus also reckoned the Millennial Kingdom from the birth of Christ; he held the first Resurrection to be significant of Baptism.

“The view of the antithesis between the Church and the worldly State was now continually and increasingly pressed upon the Apocalypse.”—LÜCKE.

III. First and Predominantly Theocratico-Hierarchical Half of the Middle Ages to the Time of Innocent III

Fundamental Thought: The Millennial Kingdom threatens to come to an end in this period, with the advent of the year 1000 (or, regarding the number as an approximate one, somewhat later). The first commentators of this period are Bede and Ansbert. The former followed the method of Tichonius. Ansbert availed himself of the writings of Victorinus. He is in favor of the so-called recapitulatio, and (justly) declares the application of Rev 13:3 to Nero to be absurd. Next come Berengaudus, the Benedictine, Haymo, bishop of Halberstadt, and Walafried Strabo, in the ninth century; no one of these gives evidence of particular originality.

“The conventional interpretation of the Apocalypse, according to which the Millennial Kingdom was dated from the first Appearance of Christ, etc., was productive, especially in the last decades of the tenth and in the beginning of the eleventh century, of a great movement in the Church. Men expected the speedy coming of Antichrist, and the end of the world.” The end of the world did not come, and the delusion passed away. Now, however, the interpretation was modified into a symbolical acceptation of the number one thousand, as denoting an indefinite age.

Lücke leaves undecided the query as to whether the Greek exegete, Œcumenius, wrote a Commentary on the Apocalypse (Lücke, p. 992).

In the twelfth century, Richard of St. Victor produced a Commentary on the Apocalypse. In the thirteenth century, his example was followed by Albertus Magnus. The Commentaries attributed to Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas belong to a later time. The mode of interpretation continues, as a whole, historico-allegoristic.

IV. Second and Absolutist-Hierarchical Half of the Middle Ages from Innocent III. to the Reformation

Fundamental Thoughts: 1. The Millennial Kingdom is soon to expire. 2. It is soon to arrive. The method is the same as in the preceding period. Predominant practical and arbitrary application of the Apocalyptic predictions to the circumstances of the time.

“The prevalent custom of attributing to the Apocalypse imaginary allegorical and mystical meanings was the occasion of a growing abuse of this Scripture. Any historical condition of the Church whatsoever—every stand-point assumed by individuals or classes—every party aim, even—every curious inquiry into the future—every craving after it was believed to be provided with its immediately corresponding Divine prophetic word of condemnation, of encouragement, or consolation—nay, it was even maintained that the Apocalypse furnished exact information in regard to the time of these various phenomena.” (LÜCKE, p. 1005.)

“The Romish Church commenced this public abuse.” Innocent III. declared that Mohammedanism was Antichristianity, and Mohammed the false prophet. Subsequently, the Hohenstaufens were called Antichristianity; and, again, the heretical opposition was thus denominated. The opposition turned the tables. Gregory IX. first called Frederick II. the Beast of the abyss; whereupon Frederick retorted by applying the same appellation to the Pope.

There is a celebrated interpretation of the Apocalypse from the pen of the Abbot Joachim of Floris, in Calabria.85 From this and other writings of Joachim, the visionary and enthusiastic party of the Franciscans fabricated the “Everlasting Gospel,” after Rev. 14:6. This suggests the Introductorius in Evangelium Æternum, by Frater Gerhardus. (We must also mention the Postils on the Apocalypse, by John Peter de Oliva, A. D. 1297). The disposition of the Ages into the Kingdoms of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, forms the chronological clue of Frater Gerhardus’ work; according to him, the period of consummation begins with the year 1254. Joachim of Floris, however, construed the Apocalypse as, from its nature, it should be construed, i. e., more or less cyclically (see Lücke, p. 1009). Joachim does not regard the Papacy itself as Antichrist; Antichrist, he declared, was mixtus—compounded of the corruption of the Church, the enmity of the State to the Church, and Saracen and heretical opposition; “Rome, as the carnal Church, is the new Babylon; the Papacy is, as Dante represents it, Antichristian only in its secularization.” “Not merely the fanatical Franciscans, but also the Catharists, and Apostolicals, the Waldenses, the Wicliffites, and Hussites, armed themselves with the Apocalypse as an offensive and defensive weapon against Rome and the Roman Papacy.”

Both sides indulged in chronological computations, suiting them to their respective interests (see Lücke, p. 1010 sqq.). Nicholas de Lyra regarded the Apocalypse as a prophetic mirror of all history. Laurentius Valla and Erasmus explained only the verbal sense of the Apocalypse, avoiding deeper investigations; yet Erasmus, in one remark of his, hinted at an historical interpretation, as representative of the then existing time.

V. Period of Old Protestant Theology down to the Appearance of Pietism

Fundamental Thought: The thousand years are past. Over against this orthodoxistic opinion, the Anabaptist view: The thousand years have just dawned. Method still litero-historical as a whole, in conjunction with allegoristic details. Prominent antithesis between the chronological and the parallel disposition of the Apocalypse.

“The interpretation of Luther marks, in general, the spirit in which the Apocalypse was henceforth interpreted and used in the new Church. Down to more modern days, it belonged to the churchly character of Protestant exegesis to regard the Apocalypse as a prophetic compendium of Church History; the reference of its prophecy to the Antichristianity of papal Rome being looked upon as a settled thing. This is the spirit of almost all the Commentaries of the Reformed as well as the Lutheran theologians of this period. The only particular point of difference in them is, that some, like Luther, Chytræus, and the generality, assume an historical progress in prophetic development; whilst others, like Conradi, apply the law of parallelism to the Apocalypse, and assume a progress from the obscure to the plain. Only a few, like Theodore Beza and Joachim Camerarius, refrained from a prophetic interpretation, and directed their energies principally to a discussion of the verbal meaning and the immediate historical references of the Apocalypse.” Lücke.

The interpretation of Luther, in the Preface to the Apocalypse (see Lücke, p. 1014), is very external and abortive; it is arranged to suit the facts of Church History. The thousand years, as he thinks, extend from the time of the Apocalyptist to Gregory VII. The Catholic interpretation of this period is akin to the Protestant, with the exception, of course, of a polemic resentment of the charge of Antichristianity (Lücke, p. 1019). Among the Catholic exegetes, we must mention Bellarmine, Ribeira, Alcassar (the latter, according to Hentenius and Salmeron, makes the following disposition of the Apocalypse: [1] Conflict of the Church of Christ with the synagogue, chs. 5–11; [2] with Roman heathenism, with worldly power and fleshly wisdom, chs. 12–19; [3] Victory, repose, and glorification of the Church, chs. 20–22). Alcassar’s follower was Cornelius à Lapide. His first Protestant opponent was David Paræus, whose system of interpretation was partly cyclical, partly chronological (according to Collado, Lausanne, A. D. 1551; he, however, took for granted a perfect parallelism between the seals, trumpets, and vials of wrath). Leading idea: The Apocalypse a drama. The summit of anti-papistical interpretation was reached in the Commentary of the fanatical Hoe von Honegg. An approach to the cyclical apprehension of the Apocalypse is marked by the synchronistic method of the English commentator Mede (first part of the Apocalypse: the fortunes of the Kingdom; second part: the history of the Church). Cocceius apprehends the Apocalypse as portraying the history of the Church.86 Witsius, the antagonist of Cocceius, was in favor of the “recapitulation” theory. Grotius, according to Lücke’s ideas, represented a great progress in exegesis; he explained the Apocalypse in the light of the historical events of its time, and of the time immediately subsequent to its composition. The Millennial Kingdom, he declares, commenced with the edict of Constantine, in the year 311. Hammond and Clericus interpret similarly. To this period belong also, on the one hand, the fanatical book of Eleonore Petersen; on the other, the explication of Bossuet, after Alcassar, Grotius, and Hammond. Bossuet applies the number 666 to Dioclesian; the loosing of Satan at the end of the thousand years, he thinks, has reference to the Turks and Lutheranism. The French Catholic exegetes, Le Maître de Sacy and Aubert de Versé, in point of characteristics, likewise belong to this period.

VI. The Pietistic-Mystical Period

Predominant Fundamental Thought: The Millennial Kingdom is to come. Application of Apocalyptic chronology in a cabalistic, rather than a symbolical, sense.

The Spenerian hope of better times leaned for support on the Apocalypse; it marks the beginning of a turn in exegesis (Lücke, p. 1028). Even the important work of Vitringa (Ἀνάκρισις, etc.) which Lücke does not sufficiently appreciate—once more placed Antichrist’s appearance in the future, and found many followers (see the notes in Lücke, p. 1035). He restored the polemical interpretation of the Apocalypse against Rome—an interpretation which had been discarded by Grotius.

The more definite application of Apocalyptic numbers was commenced by the English exegete Whiston (a theologian and mathematician). He first declared that Christ’s Coming should take place in the year 1715; and then transferred it to 1766. The great philosopher Isaac Newton was the author of Observations on Daniel and the Revelation of John. He supposed that the Revelation was written in the reign of Nero, and believed that it could be understood only so far as it was fulfilled; the grand revolution of things predicted in Rev. 10:7 and 11:12 had not yet come to pass, according to him. In complete contrast to Newton, the master of numbers, the theologian Albrecht Bengel, in various writings (Lücke, p. 1039), especially in the “Erklärte Offenbarung Johannes,” founded his interpretation particularly on the definition of the Apocalyptic numbers. On his elaborate and ingenious theory of numbers, comp. Lücke (p. 1040 sqq.) and Burk, Leben und Wirken Bengels [Life and Labors of Bengel] (p. 260 sqq.). In Bengel’s exegesis historistic error walks hand in hand with chronistical misunderstanding. The Angel with the everlasting Gospel (Rev 14:6) was declared to be Johannes Arndt or his school. The Angel who announces the fall of Babylon (Rev 14:8) was thought to be Spener or his school. The Millennial Kingdom, it was said, was to begin on the eighteenth of June, 1836. Notwithstanding the impugnment of the Bengelian system, on the part of Pfeiffer and Kohlreiff principally, that exegete found admiring followers; by some, his system is conserved, with modifications, down to the present day. Lücke furnishes us with a record of his earlier disciples, p. 1044 (note 2; in reference to the diffusion of his system in England and Denmark, see p. 1045, note 1). The person who most overrated him was Œtinger, although the latter endeavored to combine the system of Bengel with the thoroughly chiliastic Apocalyptics of Swedenborg. The more recent followers of Bengel, forming an antithesis to the historico-critical and rationalistic mode of interpretation which has come in vogue since his day, are mentioned by Lücke, p. 1055. They are as follows: Michael, Friedrich Semler, Jung Stilling (Siegesgeschichte), Typke, Gerken, Opitz, Leutwein, Rühle von Lilienstern, Sander. A long series of writings, reaching down to the present time, are by Lücke regarded as offshoots of the Bengelian bent, p. 1055, note 4.

VII. Historico-Critical and Rationalistic Period

Fundamental Tone or Key-note: Predominant Volatilizing of Apocalyptic Eschatology; especially the Prophecy of the Millennial Kingdom; amid a constantly gaining confounding of such Prophecy with Chiliasm.

The motive or inciting cause of the period which we are at present examining—a motive whose sketching by Lücke is not distinguished for clearness—was, negatively, that system of criticism which maintained that the Apocalypse consisted of purely supernatural predictions of Church History and church-historical numbers; and which applied such exegesis to the support of chiliastic extravagances. Positively, it was the felt need of a firm historical and psychological basis for the prophetic glimpses of futurity. The errors of this new critical bent were the issue, in part, of the delight which was occasioned by the novel historical stand-point—historical, it was believed, for the first time in a true sense. For the rest, these errors proceeded from doubt as to the Spirit of Prophecy, as to the authenticity of the Apocalypse, as to the demonic forms of the kingdom of darkness, and as to the reality of Biblical Eschatology.

According to Lücke, Abauzit of Geneva inaugurated this tendency in his Essai sur l’Apocalypse. “The Revelation, written probably under Nero, is nothing—according to its own profession—but une extension de la prophétie du Sauveur sur la ruine de l’ Etat Judaïque.” The German Wetstein was guilty of a curtailing and stinting of the Apocalypse, similar to that attempted by the French Swiss. According to Wetstein, Gog and Magog made their appearance in the rebellion instigated by Barcochba. Harenberg took sides with Abauzit, submitting, however, that the last four chapters of the Apocalypse are eschatological. He believed the Book to have been originally written in Hebrew. Semler87 “thought that the true original spirit of the Apocalypse was Jewish chiliastic fanaticism.”

On the common basis of a one-sided criticism, Herder formed an antithesis to Semler in this question as in other and more general respects. The contrast is exhibited in his work entitled: Maran-Atha, das Buch von der Zukunft des Herrn, des Neuen Testaments Siegel.88 [Maran-Atha; the Book of the Coming of the Lord: the Seal of the New Testament.] The historical perspective of this book is, like that of Abauzit, barren and contracted in the extreme: it consists of Jerusalem and the Jewish war. The formal treatment of the Apocalyptic theme, on the contrary, is enthusiastic, full of idealization, and appreciation of the figurative language of the Orient (see Lücke’s commendation). Herder called the Apocalypse: “A picture-book, setting forth the rise, the visible existence, and the future of Christ’s Kingdom in figures and similitudes of His first Coming, to terrify and to console.” Hartwig, though the disciple of Herder, abandoned the Oriental view for the Greek, holding, with Paræus, that the Apocalypse was a drama. This dramatical view of the Scripture in question was subsequently fully carried out by Eichhorn. Others, taking a more general, poetical view of the Apocalypse, made metrical versions of it; of these the chief were those of Schreiber and Münter, and one by a follower of Bengel, Ludwig von Pfeil. The interpretation already advanced by many, according to which the Apocalypse depicted the downfall of Judaism and heathenism, and the tranquillity and glory of the Kingdom of Christ, re-appeared in the writings of Herrenschneider (Tentamen Apocalypseos). Johannsen, in his Offenbarung Johannes, set forth a similar view. Thoroughly novel and original, at variance both with the ancient Church-historical and the modern synchrono-historical view, is the book which appeared under the title of Briefe über die Offenbarung Johannis. Ein Buch für die Starken, die schwach heissen, Leipzig, 1784. [Letters on the Revelation of John. A Book for the Strong, who are called Weak]. “The [anonymous] author interprets all specials as generals, relative to the laws, arrangements and developments of nature and of the human life in general; amid, and according to, which laws, arrangements, and developments, God’s Kingdom on earth shall one day be perfected.” Kleuker maintained once more the eschatological signification of the Revelation (Ueber Ursprung und Zweck, etc. [On the Origin and Design, etc.]). On the other hand, Lücke mentions as followers of the bent of Herder and Eichhorn, Lange, Von Hagen, Lindemann Matthäi, Von Heinrichs (p. 1055).

VIII. Modern Times as the Period of the most Manifold Antitheses and of Beginning Universal Apocalyptics

Fundamental Tone or Key-note: Gradual forthcoming to view of the Theocratic mode of presentation in historical Cycles and conventional Biblical and Apocalyptical Symbols; amid the working of Chiliastic, historistic, and neocritical Antitheses.

The first impulse to the furtherance of the study of the Apocalypse, by the study of Apocalyptic literature, was given by Corrodi in his critical history of Chiliasm, of which he had, however, no clear conception. With critical studies, in detail, on the literature of this subject, Bleek entered the lists as early as 182089 (Lücke, p. 1058). He was followed by Ewald, with his Latin Commentary, issued in 1828. Züllig’s work, entitled: Johannes, des Gottbesprachten eschatologische Geschichte [The Eschatological History of John, The man to whom God spoke], combined great pretensions with the most limited field of view, restricting the prophecy of the Book to the destruction of Jerusalem; in its formal aspect, however, it furnished archæologico-apocalyptic material. Lücke closes the examination of the achievements of German Theology in this direction with the names of Tinius, De Wette, Hofmann, Hengstenberg, Thiersch. The first is designated as popular; his views occupy a middle station between the ancient and the more modern treatment of the Apocalypse. De Wette bears off the palm. The reactionary sentiments of Hengstenberg—to whose learning and achievements, in particular directions, special prominence is given—are, according to Lücke, conjoined with elements truly promotive of the growth of Apocalyptic science; for instance, the chapter on the time of the composition of the Apocalypse is an article of considerable value. It is a well-known fact, however, that Hengstenberg’s Commentary (popularized by Dressel, and translated into Dutch by Schotel), has given marked offence by its false restoration of the obsolete view in regard to the Millennial Kingdom—as if it were already past. The refutations90 of this view, however, have occasioned fresh vindications of it—effusions which seem to indicate that the doctrine in question is regarded as a choice and precious item of genuine Lutheranism.91

Lücke has given utterance to an acknowledgment of the mediatory view of Thiersch (in his work, Die Kirche im apostolischen Zeitalter, p. 251 sqq.) in terms more favorable than could have been expected after his deliverances against the “recapitulation” theory. Thiersch thinks that the Apocalypse, as a whole, should be regarded as a cyclical arrangement of visions, and maintains that, in detail, it possesses the character of prefigurative types of the development of the judgment of the world. Lücke’s acknowledgment has almost the aspect of assent.

In conclusion, Lücke glances at the most recent Apocalyptic Theology of the English Church “on both sides of the water.” He also submits a list—laying claim to our thanks in so doing—of the most important English Apocalyptic works of modern times. This list, communicated to Lücke by Dr. Geibel of Lübec, contains the following names: Whitaker, Galloway, Woodhouse, Holmes, Fuller, Cunningham, Gauntlett, Tilloch, Culbertson, Croly, Woodhouse again, Hutcheson, Jones, Irving, Addis (p. 1066 sqq.). Lücke gives special prominence, however, to a work with which he is personally acquainted, viz.: Samuel Davidson’s Introduction to the New Testament, etc., 3 vols., London, 1848 to 1851.

Davidson distinguished a fourfold manner of apprehending Apocalyptic Prophecy.

1. Preterists The prophecies contained in the Apocalypse were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of heathen Rome. This is the view of Bossuet, Grotius, Hammond, Wetstein, Eichhorn, Ewald, De Wette, Lücke, and others, among whom is the American expositor, Moses Stuart.

2. Continuists. The Apocalyptic prophecies are predictive of progressive history, being partly fulfilled, partly unfulfilled. Thus, Mede, Brightman, Isaac Newton, Woodhouse, Cunningham, Birks, Elliott (and many Germans).

3. Simple Futurists. According to these, only the first three chapters relate to the historical present of the Seer, all else having reference to the absolute future of the Lord’s Appearing. Thus, Burgh, Maitland, Benj. Newton, Todd, and others.

4. Extreme Futurists. Even the first three chapters of Revelation are a prophecy relative to the absolute future of Christ’s Coming—being a prediction of the condition of the Jews after the first Resurrection. Kelley, and some Irish authors.

Lücke’s criticism of this system, see on p. 1068.

Davidson himself regards the Apocalypse as a prophetic poem of the Hebrew order, i. e., an Apocalypse. He justly maintains that the ages should be regarded as symbolical, not chronological, periods. Notwithstanding this, however, he lays down a historical, not a synchronistic, succession of prophecies: Jerusalem, heathen Rome, the heavenly Jerusalem; viewing them, however, in the light of symbolical terms. He also judges the Millennial Kingdom to have commenced with the conquest of heathen Rome, but makes it a period of indefinite duration; in this particular he, in some measure, resembles Hengstenberg.

Lücke’s work is supplemented in De Wette’s Commentary, p. 14 sqq., by a number of notices (representatives of Parallelism, p. 15; the exegetes Seraphinus de Fermo, Ubertinus de Casalis, Lambert, Bullinger, Conrad, Jurieux, Launoi, Crocius, Matth. Hofmann, Calovius, Lüderwald, Holzhauser, Franz, Baumgarten-Crusius). This catalogue of Apocalyptic literature is continued by Bleek; the work of this commentator, however, mingles views relative to the authenticity of the Apocalypse with those which have reference to its contents. Bleek embodies his own sentiments in the following propositions: 1. The Apocalypse was not written by the Apostle John, but by John the Presbyter of Papias; 2. It is not, as Eichhorn maintains, a general description of Christianity, as elevated above Judaism and heathenism; but is intended to console and lift up the oppressed Christendom of its time by pointing to the nearness of the Lord’s return (by an error, then?); 3. The Parousia of Christ is connected with the fall of heathenism, and especially of Rome, as the principal seat of heathenism; the destruction of Jerusalem, on the other hand, forms no particular item in the prophetic delineation of this Scripture; neither do the visions of the first part of Rev 9 contain any reference to particular historical events of the Roman-Jewish war.

DE WETTE, in compiling his own Commentary, availed himself freely of the manuscript of Bleek (see Bleek, p. 62). De Wette sets forth the view which he himself entertains under three heads: 1. Nero, the Antichrist. 2. The occupation—not destruction—of Jerusalem, an event which, for the Apocalyptist, is still in the future (the scope of Apocalyptic prophecy, then, is narrower than that of the Eschatological Discourse of Christ, Luke 21:24!). 3. The Millennial Kingdom, intervening between the conquest of Antichrist and the end, and commencing after the first Resurrection.

LÜCKE, besides viewing Rome as the new Babylon, maintains that Jerusalem presents an antithesis to the Kingdom of Christ, though he apprehends this antithesis in a less absolute sense (to which Bleek takes exception, Beiträge zur Evangelien-Kritik, p. 187, and Studien und Kritiken, 1855, p. 163).

After an exposition of the fundamental idea of his book, Bleek first introduces FR. SANDER (Versuch einer Erklärung, etc.). Sander supposed that 1847 was the decisive year when the Millennial Kingdom should begin. Chr. Hofmann’s view, in “Weissagung und Erfüllung,” pp. 300–378, is sketched on p. 66 of Bleek’s work. Then follow Hengstenberg, Ebrard, Auberlen. Incidental mention is likewise made of Elliott and Gaussen. The editor of Bleek’s Lectures has added an examination of the Commentary of Düsterdieck (Part XVI. of Meyer’s Commentary).

The leading positions of CH. HOFMANN are as follows: The Apostle John was the author of the Apocalypse; he wrote in the reign of Domitian; the prophecies form distinct series, which, in part, run parallel with each other. The Woman, Rev 7, is the Israelitish Church; the Wilderness is the land of Israel, in the last days, when that land shall again—according to the whole Judaizing school of Hofmann—become the seat of Sacred History. Babylon is Rome; the Seven Kings are seven world-kingdoms. The Beast out of the Abyss is Antiochus Epiphanes!

HENGSTENBERG: John is the author of the Apocalypse; he wrote it in the time of Domitian. Its contents are: prophecies relative to world and Church history—principally fulfilled; they are arranged in seven groups, supplementary to each other. The Beast is the God-opposed world-power; it is portrayed in seven phases. The Head wounded to Death is the Roman world-power. The Battle, Rev 19, denotes the Christianization of the Germans! The Millennial Kingdom is past, having begun with the Christianization of the Germans. We have no warrant for assuming that any reference is made to the Romish Church, or to Judaism, or to idolatry in the abstract; but reference is had to the anti-Godly and anti-Christian temper of the world. No personal appearance of Antichrist is taught; no first Resurrection, in the true sense of the term, but the bliss of believers in the other world is set forth. The liberation of Satan, the time of Gog and Magog, is significant of our own time, especially since 1848 (according to this theory, Satan would now not only be bound, but must even already be cast into the lake of fire).

EBRARD (conclusion of Olshausen’s Commentary, Vol. VII.). He remarks, by way of preliminary, that his is the first attempt on record, distinctly and thoroughly to separate the interpretation of prophecy from the question as to its fulfillment (Bleek is of opinion that he has not zealously prosecuted this endeavor). His views are as follows:—

The Seven Churches have a typical significance for the later Church. The Seven Heads of the Beast are seven world-monarchies. The sixth head is the Roman world-monarchy. This Roman world-power is the Beast that ascended out of the Sea; one with the Whore or Babylon.

The Ten Horns are the Germanic and Slavonic tribes of the migrating nations; these inflict a deadly wound on the Roman world-power, which, however, revives in the new Roman Empire. The Papacy itself is the Beast that ascends out of the Earth, the False Prophet. The Seventh Head are ten kings in the last time. Then ensues the kingdom of the personal Antichrist and the fall of Babylon; finally, the return of Christ. The Forty-two Months=1260 days (chs. 11:2, 3, 12:6, 13:5) are a mystical term for the entire period from the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus to the conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation. Wonderful preservation of the corporeal Israel during the Antichristian time. The two witnesses are the Law and the Gospel. The 3½ days, Rev 11:9, 11, like the 3½ times, Rev 12:14, are equivalent to 3½ years.

AUBERLEN (Der Prophet Daniel und die Offenbarung Joh., Second [German] Edition, 1857): Daniel forms the basis of the Apocalypse. The Beast out of the Sea is the world-power in general. The Seven Heads are seven world-monarchies. Conditional identification of the Woman in Rev 17:3, with the Woman in Rev 7 The Flight of the Woman into the Wilderness is the transfer of the Church of God from the Jews to the Gentiles, and its establishment at Rome. The Harlot is the secularized Church of God in the world; not merely the Catholic Church, though that is denoted in a special degree. The Seven Mountains, Rev 17:9, are seven great world-powers, though with allusion to Rome. The Beast slain, as it were, to Death, and thus having a similarity to Christ, is an externally Christian world-kingdom which bears the Woman, the Harlot. Hereby are denoted a secularized Christianity and a Christianized world (making mutual concessions: the mark of the Christian ages). The Wound is healed; this denotes the modern apostasy, the beginning of which appeared in the bestial outbreaks of the French revolution. The Eighth Head is the kingdom of Antichrist. The Millennial Kingdom and the first Resurrection are to be apprehended literally (in the Chiliastic sense, writes Bleek) and as future.

DÜSTERDIECK turns back into the track of the Schleiermacher spiritualistic school of Bleek, De Wette, Lücke, and others. His idea of the ethical conception of inspiration, i.e., humanly conditioned inspiration, which he distinguishes from the rationalistic conception of Eichhorn and the magical (abstract supernatural) conception of Hengstenberg, seems to have led him to this stand-point; he, however, manifests an approach to Hengstenberg in regarding the form of the visions as a part of their substance.

In the most recent times, the cultivation of the Apocalyptic field has resulted in a very extensive literature. We distinguish: 1. Works which pertain preëminently to the criticism of Apocalyptics. 2. Theologico-critical Treatises. 3. Theological and theologico-practical Commentaries. 4. Monographs. 5. Chiliastic Monographs. 6. Edifying and homiletical matter on the whole Apocalypse and on individual sections.

1. With the general prefatory dissertations on Apocalyptics we may rank the most recent Commentaries on Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Daniel. In reference to the latter Apocalyptist, see the Introduction to the Commentary on Daniel (of the Lange series), pp. 20 and 45 [Ger. Ed.] (reference may also be had, at some future time, to the Introductions to Ezekiel and Zechariah). We have already examined the Apocrypho-Apocalyptic literature.

2. The theologico-critical Treatises include, above all, the articles in Theological Dictionaries, especially the article on the Revelation of John in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie; further, Dissertations on the Last Things (Althaus, Luthardt, Gerlach, etc.). Works on the Biblical Theology of the New Testament, and on the Apostle John and his writings. Isolated writings: Wieseler, Zur Auslegung und Kritik der Apok. Literatur, 1. Beitrag, Göttingen, 1839. Dannemann, Wer ist der Verfasser, etc., Hanover, 1841. Stern, Einleitung, Breslau, 1851. Hosse, Die Prophetie der urchristlichen Gemeinde, oder der rechte Standpunkt der Betrachtung der Offenbarung St. Johannis (Monatsschrift für die Evang. Kirche von Rheinland und Westfalen, 1853, No. 7). Rinck (Wilhelm Friedrich), Apokalyptische Forschungen, Zurich, 1853. Das System der Apokalypse nach J. Medus v. Gräber (Evangelisches Gemeindeblatt, 1861, No. 17 sqq.). Volkmar, Eine neutestamentliche Entdeckung, Zurich, 1862. Kelly, The Revelation of John, London, 1860. Luthardt, Die Offenb. Johannis, übersetzt und kurz erklärt für die Gemeinde, Leipzig, 1861. (Idem, Die Lehre von den letzten Dingen, 1861.) Delitzsch, Handschriftliche Funde, 1. und 2. Heft, Leipzig, 1861–62. Lämmert, Zur bibl. Zahlen-Symbolik (Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, 1864, p. 3 sqq.). Idem, Die Cherubim der Heiligen Schrift, Jahrbb. für deutsche Theol., 1867, p. 587). Schröder, Ueber die Auffassung der Offenb. Joh. (Ibid., 1864, p. 518). Ibid., Schmidt, Die eschatologischen Lehrstücke in ihrer Bedeutung, etc., p. 577). Engelhardt, Einiges über symbolische Zahlen (Jahrbb. für deutsche Theol., 1866, p. 301). Zahn, Der Hirt des Hermas, Gotha, 1868. Riggenbach, Johannes der Apostel und der Presbyter (Jahrbb. für deutsche Theol., 1868, p. 319). Löwe, Weissagung und Weltgeschichte in ihrer Zusammenstellung. Zugleich als Schlüssel, etc., Zurich, 1868. Grau, Ueber Inhalt und Bedeutung der Offenb. Joh. (in the pamphlet: Zur Einführung in das Schriftthum Neuen Testaments, fünf Vorträge, Stuttgart, 1868). Tischendorf, Appendix Novi Testamenti Vaticani, Leipzig, 1869. Weiss, Apokalyptische Studien (in Studien und Kritiken, 1869, No. 1).92

3. Commentaries: Older writings, Heidegger, De Babylone magna. Semler, Corrodi, Hartwig, Donker-Curtius, Rettig, Wünsch, Kleuker, Heinrichs, Laurmann, J. W. Grimm, Kolthoff, Matthäi, Scholz. See, besides, a list of older and more recent dissertations in Reuss, Einleitung, p. 152. Holzhauser, Erkl. der Offb. Joh. von den sieben Zeitaltern der Kathol. Kirche, 1827. Von Brandt, Die Offb. erklärt, Leipzig, 1845. Schlipf, Backnang, 1847. The Second Epistle of Peter, etc., and Revelation, with Notes, New York, 1854. Stern, Komment. über die Offb. des Apost. Joh., Schaffhausen, 1854 (Catholic theology). Auberlen (1854–57, see above). Hahn, Leitfaden zum Verstdädniss, etc., Salon, 1851. Christ. Paulus, Blicke in die Weissagung der Offb. Joh., Stuttgart, 1857. Blicke in die Apok., Basle, 1857. Gräber, Versuch einer historischen Erkl. der Offb. Joh., mit besonderer Berücksichtigang der Auslegungen von Bengel, Hengstenberg und Ebrard, Heidelberg, 1857 (a valuable work, apart from its chronologico-historical method. The same person wrote: Das Jahr 1866 und die Offb. Joh., Elberfeld, 1867). Düsterdieck, Kommentar (Part XVI. of Meyer’s Commentary, 1859). Benno, Cisterzienser, Die Offb. Joh., München, 1860. Vetter, Die letzten Dinge der Offb., Breslau, 1860 (Idem, Die Lehre vom tausendjährigen Reich). A. H. W. Brandt, Anleitung zum Lesen der Offb. St. Joh., Amsterdam, 1860. Sabel, Die Offb. Joh., aus dem Zusammenhang der messianischen Reichsgeschichte ausgelegt, Heidelberg, 1861. Ewald, Die Joh. Schriften, 2 Vols., 1862 (Volkmar, also 1862). Gärtner, Erklärung des Propheten Daniel und der Offb. Joh., sowie der Weissagung von Hesekiels Gog (Hesekiels von Gog), Stuttgart, 1863. Kemmler, Die Offb. Jesu Christi an Joh., etc., Tübingen, 1863 (Chronological, see Palmer’s review of the work in the Jahrbuch für deutsche Theologie, 1863, p. 365). Richter, Kurzgefasste Auslegung der Offb. St. Joh., Leipzig and Dresden, 1864. Holtzmann, Die Offb. des Joh., in Bunsen’s Bibelwerk, 4 Parts, 1864. Jessin, Die Offb. des Joh., 1864. Blech, Erläuternde Uebersicht, Dantzig, 1864. The Apocalypse Popularly Explained, London, 1852. Lämmert, Die Offb. Joh. durch die Heilige Schrift für alle Bibelfreunde ausgelegt, Stuttgart, 1864 (see the Jahrbb. für deutsche Theologie, 1865, p. 560, review by Palmer). Pacificus, Die Weissa-gungen, etc., Leipzig, 1864. Heinrich Böhmer, Die Offb. Joh. Ein neuer Versuch, ihr Dunkel zu lichten, Breslau, 1866 (reviewed by Düsterdieck in the Jahrbb. für deutsche Theol. 1867, p. 127). Fr. de Rougemont, La Révél. de St. Jean, expliquée par les écritures et explicant l’histoire, précédée d’une brève interprétation des prophéties de Daniel, Neuchatel, 1866 (the writings referred to by De Rougemont are by Nicolas, Von Orsbach, Faber, Jurieux, Newton, Digby, Guers, Elliott, Cunningham, Geymonat, Auberlen, Steinheil, N. von B., Vitringa, Lambert, Darby, Kelly, B. W. Newton, Mousseaux, Bossuet, etc.). Riemann, Die Offb. Joh. für das Christl. Volk, mit 3 Anhängen, Halle, 1868. H. W. Rinck, Die Zeichen der letzten Zeit und der Wiederkunft Christi. Erklärung der Hauptabschnitte der Offb. Joh. für die auf ihren Herrn wartende Gemeinde, Basle and Ludwigsb., 1868 (by the same, Die Lehre der Heiligen Schrift vom Antichrist and Die Schriftmässigkeit der Lehre vom tausendjährigen Reich). Older works, particularly by Stilling, Siegesgeschichten, 1799. Nachtrag zur Siegesgeschichte, 1805. Rühle von Lilienstern, 1824. Weigenmeier, Tübingen, 1827. Sander, 1829. Osiander, 1831. Von Brunn (2 Parts, 1832). Schlüssel zur Offb. Joh. durch einen Kreuzritter. Fr. Von Meier, Karlsruhe, 1833.93

4. Monographs: Riemann, Die Lehre der Heiligen Schrift vom 1000jährigen Reich und vom zukünftigen Reiche Israel (in opposition to Diedrich), Schönebeck, 1858. Flörke, Die Lehre vom tausendjährigen Reiche, Marburg, 1859. Nepomuk Schneider, Die chiliastische Doktrin und ihr Verhältniss zur Christlichen Glaubenslehre, Schaffhausen, 1859. Huschke, Das Buck mit 7 Siegeln, Leipzig, 1860. Kraussold, Ueber das tausendjährige Reich und die Offb. Joh., Erlangen, 1863. Das tausendjährige Reich gehört nicht der Vergangenheit, sondern der Zukunft an (in opposition to Hengstenberg), Gütersloh, 1866. The Symbolical Numbers of Scripture, by Rev. Malcolm White, Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark. Christ’s Second Coming, Will it be Pre-Millennial? by D. Brown, Edinburgh. Fairbairn, The Typology of Scripture, 2 vols., 4th Ed., Edinburgh. Wemyss, Clavis Symbolica; or, Key to the Symbolical Language of Scripture, Edinburgh. Van Eldik, Commentatio de septem Epist. Apoc., Lugd. Bat., 1827. Lämmert, Babel, das Thier und der falsche Prophet, Gotha, 1863. Hebart, Für den Chiliasmus, ein Gutachten, Nuremberg, 1859. Chantepie de la Saussaye, De Toekomst. Vier eschatologische Voorlezingen, Rotterdam, 1868. Christiani, Bemerkungen zur Auslegung der Apok., mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die chiliastische Frage, Riga, Bacmeister. Gottlieb, Ursprung, Ausbildung und Ende der Erde, Heidelberg, 1869.

5. Chiliastic Works: Broschüren von Zimpel (Schaffhausen, 1859,1860,1861; Frankfort, 1866). Cumming, Die grosse Trübsal ([The Great Tribulation], Studal, 1862). [Lectures on the Apocalypse, First and Second Series, etc.], Clöter, Eine Heerde unter Einem Hirten im Königreich Jesu auf Erden vor dem jüngsten Tag, Stuttgart, 1859. Charbonnel, 60 Jahre noch und die Welt ist nicht mehr, Stuttgart, 1850. Older works, by Petersen, Leutwein, Tübingen, 1821,1830.

In reference to chiliastic writings, we would here again remark that it is necessary to distinguish, with a clear perception of Church history, between the Biblical doctrine, of the Millennial Kingdom in a symbolical sense and actual Chiliasm. Some commentators—as, for instance, Schleìermacher—have fallen into the error of regarding the doctrine of this subject as set forth in the Apocalypse itself, as Chiliasm.

6. Works of an edifying and homiletical character: Literature on separate portions of the Apocalypse: Schmidt, Ein Votum über die homiletische Behandlung der Apok., Stuttgart, Schober, 1867. Lucius, Die Offb. Joh. in 231 Predigten, Dresden, 1870. Bengel, 60 Reden mit Pfeil’s Liedern; 60 Gebete, Tübingen, 1831. Roos, Erbauliche Reden über die Offb. Joh., Tübingen, 1781. Idem, Deutliche und zur Erbauung eingerichtete Erklärung, etc. Hahn, Erbauungsstunden über, etc., Stuttgart, 1795. Hermes, Versuch zeitgemässer Betrachtungen, etc., Leipzig, 1801. Schulthess, Homilien über die Offb. Joh., Winterthur, 1805. Idem, Auslegung und christerbauliche Nutzanwendung, etc., Zurich, 1805. Frisch, Apok. Katechism., Winterthur, 1804. J. J. Hess, Briefe über die Offb. Joh., 1843. Frantz, Betrachtungen, Quedlinb., 1838. Winkler, Tägliche Betrachtungen, Stuttgart, 1842. Spurgeon, Stimmen aus der Offb. Joh., Ludwigsburg, 1862.

Poetical Literature on the Apocalypse: Pfeil, 1759; Schreiber; Lavater, Jesus Messias, oder die Zukunft des Herrn in 24 Gesängen, Zurich, 1780; Münter, Copenhagen, 1784; Venator, Die Offb. St. Joh., Darmstadt, 1846; in verse, Leipzig, 1864. Diedrich, Die Offb. Joh. kurz erläutert, Neu-Ruppin, 1865. Harms, Die Offb. Joh., gepredigt nach einzelnen Abschnitten aus derselben, Kiel, 1844. Wächtler, Die Offb. St. Joh., für die christliche Gemeinde ausgelegt in Predigten, 2 vols., Essen, 1855. W. Hoffmann, Maranatha; Part 2d, Die Weissagungen der Apostel, Berlin, 1858. Zuschlag, Die Offb. Joh. in Bibelstunden, Leipzig, 1860. Vetter, Die Offb. St. Joh. auf Bibelstunden eingerichtet, Breslau, 1859. Beckholz, Ludwigsburg, 1860. Guenning, Blicken in de Openbaring, 4 deelen, Amsterdam, 1867. Deutinger, Die christliche Ethik nach dem Apostel Johannes; Vorträge über die Briefe und die Offb., Regensburg, 1867. Tomlin, Scriptural and Historical Interpretation of the Revelation, Macintosh, 1868. Bengel’s Offenbarungsgedanken. Aus den 60 Reden, Stuttgart, 1867. Freybe, Von unsers Herrn Christi Wiederkunft, Parchim, 1868.

The Seven Epistles: Meister, Pastoralbriefe des Sohnes Gottes. Wichelhaus, Die 7 Sendschreiben des Herrn, Predigten, published by Sander, Elberfeld, 1827. Heubner, Predigten über die 7 Sendschreiben, 3d Ed., Berlin, 1850. Zorn, Die 7 Sendschreiben und die 7 Siegel, Bayreuth, 1850. Van Oosterzee, Christus unter den Leuchtern. Uebersetzt von Petri, Leipzig, 1854 (the title of the original Dutch work is: Stemmen van Patmos, Rotterdam, 1854. A new translation by Merschmann has recently been announced). Vetter, Die 7 Siegel, Breslau, 1859. Huschke, Das Buck von 7 Siegeln, Leipzig, Dresden, 1860. Roffhack, Schöpfung und Erlösung nach Offb. 4 und 5, Barmen, 1866.

The Seven Trumpets: Vetter, Die 7 Posaunen, Breslau, I860.94

Antichrist (Rev 13): Comenius, Cerberus Triceps, Stockholm, 1641. J. H. Hess, Der Antichrist, Winterthur, 1831. Viedebandt, Die beiden Hauptparteien, Bibelstudien über Off b. St. Joh., Kap. 12 u. 13.

The Seven Vials of Wrath: Vetter, Breslau.

Chap. 17: Geist der Zeit in seinen Werkzeugen und Folgen, Stuttgart, 1848. Blicke in die Vergangenheit, etc. (chs. 11–19), Elberfeld.

Chap. 20: Röbbelen, 1861. Seyfferth, Das tausendjährige Reich, New York.

Chaps. 21 and 22: Ewald, Die Herrlichkeit des neuen Jerusalems, 2 vols., Bremen, 1738–40.


Having laid the preceding history of the exposition of the Apocalypse before our readers, there remain but a few points to glance at, and those more especially of a general character.

The literature on the Apocalypse, like that on the Canticles, is of immense extent. The charm of mystery, of the most significant images, of a language expressive of the strongest feeling, as well as the piquancy of a striking singularity and an apparent sensuousness of view, all these traits combine to assemble exegetes and ascetics, devout men and visionary enthusiasts, allegorists, critics, and criticists of all kinds, before the sanctuary of these Books. From the history of general exegetical literature alone, might be gathered an extensive history of the literature on the Apocalypse. We must limit ourselves here to a mention of the most noted catalogues, the best synopses, and a few suggestive supplementary remarks.

According to Heidegger’s Enchiridion, p. 661, the exegesis of the Apocalypse—apart from Commentaries embracing the entire Scripture, or the whole of the New Testament—seems to have been treated, principally, by Reformed and Catholic Theologians. The Biblical Archivarius of Lilienthal, p. 707 sqq., however, shows that Lutheran Theologians have likewise been extensively engaged in the interpretation of this Scripture; with especial reference to the question of Chiliasm. Still, the Bibliotheca Theologica of Walch, Part IV., p. 760 sqq., also represents the Reformed literature on the Apocalypse as particularly extensive. Fuhrmann’s Handbuch der Theolog. Literatur, Vol. II., 1st half, p. 343, presents but a meagre account of the more recent literature on this subject (Vogel, Herder, Münter, Eichhorn, Sam. Gottl. Lange). Two lists of the principal works on the Apocalypse are contained in Wiener’s Handbuch der Theolog. Literatur, p. 274 (on Daniel, p. 221), and in the first supplement, p. 42 (Daniel, p. 35). There are much more extensive lists in Danz’ Wörterbuch der Theol. Literatur, pp. 53, 57 (Daniel, pp. 206–208) and in Supplement I. (reaching to the year 1841–42), p. 6 (Daniel, p. 25). The account of Apocalyptic literature is carried down to the present day by the catalogues in Hagenbach’s Encyklopädie, p. 190 (Daniel, p. 187); in Hertwig, Tabellarische Uebersicht, p. 77. Guerike, Isagogik, p. 490. Reuss, Geschichte der Heiligen Schriften Neuen Testaments, 4th Ed., p. 147 (Gnostic Apocalypses, p. 260. Apocryphal Apocalypses, p. 270. On Apocalyptic exegesis, pp. 576, 603).

On the Book of Daniel, Keil, Einleitung ins A. T., p. 438. Comp. also the articles on the Revelation of John, and Daniel, in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopädie.

The following Commentaries likewise furnish catalogues of literature: De Wette, p. 22 sqq. Olshausen, Ebrard, p. 15 sqq.

For more general lists, see Lange’s Comm. on Matthew, p. 19 [Am. Ed.]. John, p. 46 sqq.

In Lücke’s Versuch einer vollständigen Einleitung, there is much literary information in the notes. 95

[In Darling’s Cyclopædia Bibliographica, London, 1859, there are more than 52 columns consisting of the Titles of Special Works on the Apocalypse.—E. R. C.].


We are not referring now, primarily, to that misconception which the Apocalypse, as a Biblical Book, must suffer in company with all other Biblical Books, or to that which, as a Prophetic Book particularly, it shares with all Prophetic Books—the misconception of unbelief;—we have reference at present to the misconception which it, specially, experiences at the hands, perchance, of earnest Christian men, or, it may be, of highly gifted minds.

Passing by the misunderstandings of the old Alexandrian school—such as, for instance, were occasioned in the mind of Dionysius of, Alexandria by the spiritualism [Spiritualismus] of that school—three great instances drawn from the more modern period, subsequent to the Reformation, will suffice fully to illustrate this surprising fact. Three great men, of different tendencies, whose views we have already cited on another occasion, measured their intellectual strength against the Apocalypse, and signally came short in the effort. We have reference to LUTHER, GOETHE, and SCHLEIERMACHER.

LUTHER says, in his Preface to the Revelation of St. John, 1522: “I suffer every one to exercise his own judgment in regard to this Book of the Revelation of John. I have no desire to tie any one down to my error or prejudice. I say what I feel. I judge this Book to be neither Apostolic nor Prophetic, for more reasons than one. First and foremost, the Apostles did not deal in visions, but prophesied in words, clear and direct, etc. My mind cannot suit itself to the Book, and to me the fact that Christ is neither taught nor recognized in it, is good and sufficient cause for my low estimation of it,” etc. Luther, in his preface to the edition of 1534, considerably modified this indiscreet deliverance, conserving, nevertheless, the expression of doubt (see Guerike, Isagogik, 531).

GOETHE gives utterance to the following sentiments in his Letters to Lavater (see footnote, p. 58): “I am a man of the earth, earthy; to me the parables of the un just steward, the prodigal son, the sower, the pearl, the lost piece of money, etc., etc., are more Divine (if aught Divine there be about the matter) than the seven messengers, candlesticks, seals, stars and woes.” It may be seen from this sketch that Goethe did not plunge very deeply into the study of the Apocalypse.

The opinion of SCHLEIERMACHER is particularly unfavorable (Einleitung ins Neue Testament. Vol. VIII. of his Sämmtliche Werke, p. 449 sqq.). This commentator perceives, as he thinks, a lack of unitous connection in the Apocalypse; he discovers in it nothing but universal plagues, represented under sensuous images to which he can attach no great religious value. Viewing the Scripture in question thus one-sidedly, it seems to him a matter of indifference whether the visions be understood or not, and his inference is, that “even a thoroughly correct interpretation of this Book would be productive of but little profit.”

Schleiermacher delivered lectures on Church History, yet one grand fact seems to have escaped his observation, viz., that, in the darkest times of the Church, the Apocalypse contributed much to the maintenance of Christian hope and steadfastness. The circumstance that he regarded the Book as Chiliastic, in accordance with an exceedingly superficial prejudice, is deserving of nought save a passing mention.

The cause of this misapprehension is far more evident in the case of Schleiermacher than in the case of Luther. In the Apocalypse, as well as in the Epistle of James, Luther seems to have missed the doctrine of justification. Schleiermacher, on the other hand, was unable to accommodate himself to the Hebrew-symbolical style either of the above-mentioned Epistle or of the Apocalypse. He brought his Hellenizing mode of view to bear upon these Scriptures in particular.

The criticism of the school of Baur has recently reached its meridian in the sphere of the Protestant union. Under this head belongs: Schellenberg, Die Offb. Joh. Ein Vortrag, Mannheim, 1867 (see the Theol. Jahresbericht for 1867, p. 179).

Any attempt to award a full measure of appreciation to the Holy Scriptures, particularly those of the Old Testament (Schleiermacher’s misconception of that is well known)—the Prophetic Writings more especially, and hence most especially the Apocalypse—is still greeted with general coldness and disfavor; and the principal reason of this is, doubtless, the confounding of the Hebrew revelational style of writing, and the Græco-Roman intellectual style. For a more general treatment of this subject, we refer our readers to the introductory remarks on Apocalyptics.


Under the caption: The True Principles of Exegesis, Ebrard (p. 27 sqq.) lays down the following canons:

1. The exegete is by no means to turn to those ‘lights which Church History affords,’ but is independently to interpret the given text, as such, in accordance with the general rules of exegesis.

2. The business of the exegete is not to query whether such and such a prophecy has been fulfilled; it is his simply to question—what is written here? etc.

3. Exegesis must be conjoined with a careful consideration of its roots in the Prophecies of the Old Covenant.

4. There must be a careful comparison of similar and dissimilar items.

5. Nothing should be symbolically interpreted which is not proved to be symbolical in the Apocalypse itself or by Old Testament visions. Nothing should be apprehended literally which is demonstrated to be a symbol.

6. In exegesis we are not to proceed from the external and formal sides of prophecies, but, on the contrary, always and everywhere from the subject-matter.

The result of these provisions is couched in the following terms: “That school which, in the Revelation of John, finds the fundamental points of Churchly development prophesied; which discovers in it neither conjectures and ideas, nor passages of Church-historical or eschatological detail, but real, true prophecy, is as yet in its infancy.”

Such is, doubtless, the case. So far as exegesis is concerned, however, it can assuredly be productive of no harm, if we make use of such “exegetical illuminations” as Church History may offer, as well as examine into the fulfillment of prophecy, reserving to ourselves full liberty the while.

We need not here repeat the rules of general theological hermeneutics. If, however, we follow the progress of Apocalyptics, a series of definitions will result from the chain of developments—ranging themselves thus: 1. Revelation; 2. Prophecy—Messianic Prophecy, in particular; 3. Eschatological Prophecy, or Apocalyptics.

Parallel with these three material elements we find the following formal elements: 1. Historicalness in ideal significance; 2. Symbolical colors and forms in the service of holy, i. e., objective-subjective, vision; 3. A Hebrew ground-form, which has thoroughly adopted the New Testament idea of universalism; or the perfect synthesis of the Hebrew art-form and Hellenic culture. Let us briefly examine the result.

1. Revelation. It is to be decided whether the Apocalypse really pertains to the sphere of Revelation. And, in handling this question, we must admit that a critical discrimination between genuine and non-genuine chronicles of Revelation is not an art of the most recent times only; far less is it the art of indiscriminately rejecting all that ecclesiastical criticism has won by dint of persevering labor through long centuries. It being, then, ascertained that our Apocalypse, regarded both as a visionary fact, and as a written production, belongs to the sphere of Revelation, it necessarily results that its character as a Revelation must be defended against the tendencies of deistic and pantheistic exegesis. And this most especially in respect to its fundamental idea—the foretokens of, and preludes to, the coming of the Lord for the perfect revelation of His Kingdom. In antithesis to this fundamental idea, the utter frivolity of fictitious motives, such as, for instance, the wretched Neronic tradition, should be shown up. The mere fact that it is a Revelation, proves that the Apocalypse consists neither of mere histories, for the satisfaction of idle curiosity or a profane thirst for knowledge and love of science, nor of bare didactic conceptions, but of ideally significant facts appertaining to the Kingdom of God.

And here be it remarked that the present use of the term historical is calculated to mislead. Deism, in its day, bestowed the epithet of historical on that method which, for instance, constructed the Personality of Christ from Essenism, or translated the word pistis (πίστις) by fidelity to conviction; without questioning where, in the old time, the primeval source of all these things, whose novelty was but apparent, might be situate. In reality, the conception of an all-embracing, primitive cell was involved here. This hatred of the truly new and original is the property, in a still higher degree, of what are denominated modem times [Neuzeit]. Pantheistic rationalism regards Christianity as the product of a compound of Judaism and heathenism. The fact that both these were instrumental in preparing the way for Christianity, rationalism transposes into the assurance that they were the parents of it. Away with originalities!—seems to be the cry. Down, especially, with the highest of them, their peculiar stand-points, and aspects! History begins in the lowlands of humanity.—Then Gehazi must needs be more historical than Elijah, because he is so very human. Judas must be more historical than John. And, finally, the superstitious working up of the Neronic tradition must be more historical than the prophetico-original world-view of a John.

2. Prophecy. Prophecy, in the more general sense of the term, is the organ of the new; of the heavenly source-points of the Kingdom of God; of new words, new works. Prophecy, in the stricter sense, is the opening of new source-points within a sphere that had become historical—the sphere of individual, legal Judaism; the opening of source-points of theocratico-human universalism, of preludes to, and proclamations of, Christianity. This Prophecy is materially conditioned by contemporary inducements, formally conditioned by contemporary conceptions.

The fact that Prophecy has its points of departure in its own time must not lead us to conclude, however, that it is confined to its own time—least of all, to the errors of its time. What we have to conclude from this fact is that Prophecy, as the conditional disclosure of the eternal, which embraces the three periods—the past, the present, and the future—will be demonstrated to be the exegesis of the past, the pastorate of the present, and the guiding-star of the future, by means of its delineation of the fundamental traits of that future. Whilst it is said that Prophecy contemplates the future on a reduced scale in perspective concentration, it must be admitted that the religious measurement of time is totally distinct from the common chronological measurement. The difference is infinite between an Apostle’s declaration: The Lord cometh quickly, and the same affirmation in the mouth of a Chiliast. The former does not reckon; he speaks forth his strong presentiment of the speedy Coming of Christ, because to him the history of the world is principially fulfilled; because he feels the Christologically winged, ever more rapid pace of its history to be a continual Coming of the Lord. But the Chiliast reckons;96 for to him and his impatience the interval between the first and second Advents of Christ is so much dead space. When, however, the chiliastic impulse begins to assume an authoritative tone with its chronology, the Prophetic and Apostolic spirit brings to light the critical sobriety of its consciousness, effecting this now by the designation of seventy weeks, now by a statement of other symbolical measures of time. Surely it is but a starveling branch in the midst of the Theology of the present day—this confounding of the religious dates of Prophets and Apostles with chiliastic determinations of times and seasons.

3. Eschatological Prophecy. The distinctive mark of Eschatological Prophecy is this: with the genuine characteristics of true perspectivity, it must reach to the second Parousia. Now a spiritualism [Spiritualismus] which regards the idea of the second Parousia as a chiliastic error, cannot fail to be dissatisfied with this claim. To such spiritualism the very idea of Apocalyptic Prophecy is itself a πρῶτον ψεῦδος. Upon these premises a lengthy strife as to details might be carried on; but we have here to do simply with the collision of opposite principles. It is, indeed, not every negation of the eschatological expectation that has a principial consciousness. Manifestly false, however, is every view that leaves the chariot of Ezekiel, near the first Parousia, deep in the sand of the common historical circumstances of his time. As it may be said with truth that the Baurian Theology causes the Christology of the “Jewish Apostles” to fall behind the Christology of an Isaiah, and makes the characters of the Evangelists and Apostles vanish like murky shadows behind the distinct and shining forms of the Prophecies; so, likewise, it is claimed that the New Testament Apocalyptist knew really less of the future than his brethren of the Old Testament, or at least that his writings reveal less than the eschatological discourses of the Lord and the Apostle Paul. If we have become truly acquainted with the mode of Old Testament Prophecy, we shall not look upon those fundamental traits of the eschatological future which are presented in the Apocalypse as a ground-plan of either Church or world-history; much less shall we be able to mistake the parallel points in the character of Apocalyptic Prophecy, or fail to recognize its cyclical progression.

4. Historicalness in ideal significance, i. e., Hebrew theocratico-religious style. This caption is expressive, on the one hand, of the reality of the historical basis of the Apocalypse (the personal Christ; the Redemption, the Church, the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of darkness, the Resurrection, etc.); on the other hand, of the ideal significance of that basis, which makes it impossible that the Apocalypse should anywhere be purely historical; hence, chs. 2 and 3 may not be restricted to the seven churches of Asia Minor; chs. 5 and 6 cannot have reference to periods of the Church’s history; nor can Rev 7 and other passages be applied to the Jewish nation, etc.

5. Symbolical colors and forms in the service of holy, i. e., objective-subjective vision. If the colors are symbols, so too are the forms. And, consequently, so likewise are the numbers. It is unnatural, in a symbolical writing, to treat the numbers in accordance with either their common value or their literal value. Again, as it is necessary to distinguish betwixt symbols and dogmas, not taking for granted that a symbol—as, for instance, a beast, a lion—always denotes the same idea, but modifying the signification of the symbol by the context, so it is likewise necessary thoroughly to distinguish those visions which are produced by the Spirit of God from morbid subjective hallucinations, with which they now are often frivolously identified.

6. A Hebrew ground-form which has thoroughly adopted the New Testament idea of Universalism; or, the complete Synthesis of the Hebrew Art-form and Hellenic Culture. In the first place, we have to reject the common enthusiastic, as well as the common humanistic, notion which maintains the existence of a strife between the perceptions of immediate ecstasy, the mediation of those perceptions through the instrumentality of religious writings, aided by a knowledge of previously existing Holy Scriptures, and the framing of said perceptions in artistic forms. Secondly, we would controvert the notion which represents those moments of inspired conception and the moments when the mind, looking in upon itself, passes in review and commits to writing the treasures which have been entrusted to it, as mutually exclusive the one of the other. An ordinary knowledge of the nature of high poetic productivity should lead the critic beyond this sorry judgment. But the point upon which the greatest stress should be laid is this, viz.: that it is an hypothesis utterly contradictory of ethical psychology to suppose that exalted revelations could, by any possibility, have been poured into the vessel of narrow and impure folk-prejudices, folk-traditions, and fantastic extravagances. The wise man indeed says: Apples of gold in dishes [pictures] of silver, but never: Apples of gold in unclean earthen shards! Again, the identification of Apocalyptic forms with forms of Greek poetry, or the dissection of the Revelation into various irreconcilable parts, or the non-appreciation of its unitous composition, is totally at variance with the idea of the Apocalypse.

According to Reuss (p. 147) the following leading tendencies have been developed in exegesis:

1. The Chiliastic tendency. This he should have divided into: (a) the true eschatological tendency; and (b) its caricature, the really Chiliastic tendency.

2. The moral spiritualizing [spiritualisirend] tendency—more accurately defined: the religious-practical allegorizing tendency. This, however, may also be chiliastic.

3. The historizing tendency in various modifications; (a) Church-historical with polemic reference to the Papacy; (b) Political phases, in their relation to the development of the Kingdom of God; (c) Having reference only to the immediate period of the Jewish war.

4. Idealizing modernization of eschatological elements.

5. The purely historical tendency which is determined to insure the views of primitive times in full possession of their rights, and seeks to interpret the Book by them alone, without any regard to the views current in our own day. Reuss mentions Ewald, De Wette, Düsterdieck, Bleek, Volkmar, as representatives of this last tendency—a fact in itself sufficiently illustrative of his conception of the “purely historical.”

Davidson’s arrangement of systems, noted by us under § 5, is of greater value.

Auberlen distinguishes [Daniel and Revelation, p. 359 sqq., Eng. Ed.]: 1. The Church-historical view: Bengel, the English and French commentators; Elliott, Gaussen. 2. The view which conceives of the Apocalypse as portraying contemporaneous history: Ewald, De Wette, Lücke, etc. 3. The conception of it as descriptive of the History of the Kingdom of God: Von Hofmann, Hengstenberg, Ebrard—to this third class of exegetes Auberlen himself belongs.

This simple and attractive disposition, however, includes important varieties under its several rubrics. And beside the pure forms, there are also mixed forms of interpretation.

In accordance with our view of the style of theocratic revelation, we might lay down the following distinctions:

1. Abstract historical view: (a) Absolutely Divine Church and world-historical predictions; (b) Absolutely human combinations of contemporary history and popular prejudices; (c) Theosophic and chiliastic mixed forms, confusing—not reconciling—the two elements of which they are composed.

2. Abstract idealistic view: (a) Quietistic allegorizings for private edification; (b) Modern allegorizings as translations of theocratic concretes into deistic or pantheistic abstracts; (c) Chiliastic, mixed forms—Swedenborg and others.

3. Concrete Christological forms: (a) Cyclical view; (b) Rhapsodical view; (c) Mixed forms.


The Apocalypse, in respect to its formal side, constitutes the meridian of Hebrew poetry and art, embracing in its individual forms the most diverse elements. In respect to its constructive side, again, it is, in accordance with the character of all Apocalypses, a finished composition, a unitous work of art, as are the Biblical Apocalypses in general; beyond the circle of these, the same may be affirmed of the Book of Job, and, in a certain sense, of the Biblical Books throughout. If the laws of this construction be but recognized, the obscure Book of Revelation will present itself to our eyes as a radiant constellation, a symmetrical cathedral, built upon a plan of perfect clearness and transparency.97

In the first place, the Apocalypse is a unitous ideal representation, furnished, like the Gospel of John, with a Prologue and an Epilogue.

The Prologue of the Apocalypse relates to the revelation of the second Coming of Christ, imparted to the Apostle John for believers—the seven churches in particular. Similarly, the Prologue of the Gospel relates to the revelation of Christ’s first Coming for the Jews, the disciples of John in particular. The Prologue is comprised in Rev 1:1–8.

In the Epilogue of the Apocalypse the Lord enacts certain definite regulations in reference to His Coming, as in the Gospel of John; here, however, He definitely proclaims His speedy approach, and in the stead of the two Apostles, Peter and John, He sets forth, on the one hand, the word of prophecy concerning His Coming, and, on the other hand, the Church’s prayer for that Advent. The Epilogue is comprised in Rev 22:6–21.

The fundamental idea or theme of the Apocalypse itself is: The near Advent of Christ, as the end of the world, in order to the perfect revelation of the Kingdom of God, or the transfiguration of the world into the Father’s House, the City of God; considered in respect to its presages and signs, for the instruction, warning, strengthening, and elevating of the believing Church.

The mediation of Christ’s Coming is developed agreeably to the idea of a great Divine week; this, as the week of the second creation—the creation of an eternal spirit-world—forms both a contrast and a parallel to the Divine week of the first creation, whose Sabbath was the consummation of the natural world in the appearance of the first man. The characteristic of the Apocalypse, therefore, is the number seven. Seven churches; seven seals; seven trumpets; seven thunders; seven heads of Antichrist, or seven mountains; seven vials of wrath; the seventh Day appears as the perfect revelation of the Seven Spirits in the glorified Christ.

As within each individual seven, within the seven churches, seven seals, etc., a quaternary is set off against the following ternary—the quaternary forming the universal foundation; the fifth image, in the ternary, the special form of the crisis; the sixth the actual culmination of the crisis (the ἀκμή); the seventh image being the consummation or fruit of the foregoing ones, the bud of a following septenary—so it is with the arrangement of the seven principal items; here, too, a quaternary precedes the ternary. The first four images—the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven thunders—are descriptive of the course of the world as its approaching end; the last three images, on the contrary—the seven heads of Antichrist, the seven vials of wrath, and the seventh day, are descriptive of the end itself in its development from the judgment to the glorification of the world. In accordance with the above, the movement of the Apocalypse may be divided into two parts: the course of the world to the end, chs. 1–9, and the course of the world in the end, chs. 12–2198. We have only to remark that the fragmentary and mysterious sketch of the time of the seven thunders forms the transition from the first to the second half.

In accordance with the law of prophetic sight, the individual items of the septenary do not follow each other chronologically, like different historical periods (as Bengel and many others maintain); on the contrary, the individual visions are invariably pictures of the whole course of the world, characteristic of this course in its various aspects and dynamical relations, and linked together like rings. Accordingly, the seven churches, the pictures of Church-history, appear as the dynamical forerunners of the history of the world. The history of the world, in its seven seals, is the womb of those facts which pre-eminently preach repentance, i. e., the seven trumpets. In the midst of the seven trumpets, the seven mysterious thunders are heard; these are, doubtless, spring and summer messengers for the rejuvenation of the Church. But over against the ever richer, purer, and riper development of Christianity, and almost outstripping it, the parallel development of Antichristianity is seen, the Beast with its seven heads. These seven heads call forth the final judgments, the judgments of hardening, poured forth from the vials of wrath; these judgments are to be carefully distinguished from the penitential trumpets [trumpets calling to repentance]. The last judgment of wrath signalizes the turning-point which brings with it the Coming of the Lord—the seventh day.

But though the seven principal items do not, as chronological sections, progress from the beginning to the final goal, yet there is an advance toward the end in the point of view which each predominantly exhibits. They gravitate toward the goal of the Coming of Christ. And, in this respect, the seven seals are more eschatological than the seven churches; the trumpets more eschatological than the seals, and so on. Nevertheless, the first item, the series of the seven churches, comes in contact with the end of the world, Rev 3:20, 21, and even the last items, the vials of wrath, and the seventh day, reach back into the beginning of the Christian course of the world. See Rev 13, the characteristics of the world-monarchies.

That which exhibits the construction in all its sublimity, however, is the idea of the absolute teleology of the Divine Government; the absolute and yet free sway of Divine Providence above a fluctuating liberty in the history of mankind, and over the demonic powers of hell; these hellish powers, with ever increasing boldness, induced by their apparent triumphs, are making constant advances against the Divine Rule, until, in the end, the complete unveiling and exhaustion of the Satanic kingdom results in the complete revelation of Heaven and the perfect appearing of the Kingdom of God, both Kingdoms grappling together at last in personal concentrations. This idea of the heavenly assurance of victory finds its expression in the fact that a heaven-picture invariably precedes an earth-picture; a heavenly pre-celebration of the victory of Christ is the invariable forerunner of the earthly crisis, of earthly strife and woe, the conflict of the Church Militant.

With the progress of these heavenly festivals of victory, in their eschatological succession, there is a corresponding progression in the forms of their revelation, i. e., the visions of the Apocalyptist. Thus, the one Apocalypse develops into a unity in the organic manifoldness of individual Apocalypses.

In accordance with the preceding remarks, the contents of the Apocalypse may be arranged as follows:

The Theme of the Book, which may be found in the conclusion of the Prologue, Rev 1:7, 8, is the great Advent of Christ. The Prologue itself characterizes the Book as the Revelation of the Coming of Christ, Rev 1:1–7, 8. The Epilogue proclaims the nearness and grand import of that Coming, Rev 22:6–21. The Apocalypse itself, therefore, begins with Rev 1:9, and closes with Rev 22:5. It falls into two parts: 1. The course of the world to the end of the world, chs. 1:9–11:14. 2. The end of the world to the glorification of the world, chs. 11:15–22.99


PART I.—Course of the world to the end, or the future generally, as the Coming of Christ. The seven churches; the seven seals; the seven trumpets; the seven thunders, chs. 1:9–11:14.

1. The seven churches or lights. First day of creation: Let there be light, chs. 1:9–3:22.

a. Heaven-picture. Heavenly appearance of Christ, and ideal forms of the Church; the stars in His hand; the candlesticks at His feet, Rev 1:9–20.

b. Earth-picture. Earthly forms of the Church in the series of the seven churches; and the Lord in the spiritual coming of His word to them, chs. 2:1–3:22.

α. The first four churches in their conflict between light and darkness, pictures of the developing Church: The active church; the martyr church; the mixed church; the enthusiastic church.

β. The three fundamental forms or aspects of the matured Church: The church cold in death; the church warm with life; the dying and lukewarm church (the world within; Christ without).

2. The seven seals or enigmas of world-history in its relation to the Church; unsealed by Christ. Or the second day of creation: Heaven and earth, chs. 4:1–6:17.

a. Heaven-picture. Heavenly aspect of world-history, chs. 4:2–5:14.

b. Earth-picture. The unsealed seven (i. e., the six, which develop into the seventh), Rev 6

α. First four seals. Universal fundamental aspects of world-history in its eschatological modification. War, dearth, and mortality under the supremacy of Christ, or the teleology of the Kingdom of God.

β. The succeeding seals. Martyrdom of the Kingdom of God. Convulsions of the earthly cosmos. Dawn of the day of wrath.

3. The seven trumpets, issuing from the seven seals. Third day of creation. Separation betwixt land and water, and appearance of vegetation, chs. 7:1–9:21.

a. Heaven-picture. Sealing of the people of God in this present world, indicated by the sealing of the elect of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Consummation of the people of God in the other world. Or the firmament of God (Ps. 93) in contradistinction to the billowy sea of world-history, Rev 7:1–17.

b. Earth-picture. The seven (relatively six) trumpets. Or penal judgments, through the prayers of the saints converted into disciplinary sufferings in order to awakening, chs. 8:1–9:21.

α. First four trumpets: Judgment upon the spiritual (and physical?100) earth. Upon the spiritual world-sea. Upon spiritual fountains and rivers. Upon spiritual celestial lights, in their outward appearance, Rev 8

β. The two succeeding trumpets: Demonic psychical sufferings originating in the abyss, as the first woe from the abyss; and pneumatic world-plagues, Rev 9 The second woe, completed in chs. 10 and 11.

4. The seven thunders, or rejuvenizing voices delaying the trumpet of final judgment, the seventh trumpet (ὅ κατέχων; τὸ κατέχον). Fourth day. Appearance of the sun over earth and sea, chs. 10:1–11:14.

a. Heaven-picture. Heaven on earth in the sun-like radiance of the manifestation of Christ upon earth. Sealing of the seven thunders, Rev 10:1–7.

b. Earth-picture. Suggestive episodes of the time of the seven thunders. Eating of the little book. Measurement of the Temple, and separation of the outer court. The two olive-trees, or witnesses of Christ. Slaughter of them; their resurrection and ascension. Rise of Antichristianity, chs. 10:8–11:14.

PART II.—The end of the world, to the glorification of the world, chs. 11:15–22: 5.

5. The Beast with seven heads, or Antichristianity. Fifth day of creation. Marine animals, chs. 11:15–13:18.

a. Heaven-picture, chs. 11:15–12:17.

b. Earth-picture. The Beast out of the sea, or Antichristianity as developed out of national life. The Beast out of the earth, or Antichristianity as developed out of the old religious and secular order of things, chs. 12:17–13:18.

6. The seven vials of wrath, or judgments of hardening. Sixth day of creation, as the day of the appearing of the New Man from heaven, chs. 14–20:15.

a. Heaven-picture of the incipient judgment (general view), chs. 14–15:8.

b. Earth-picture of the incipient final judgment (general view). The seven last plagues, Rev 16:1–21.

α. First four plagues. Judgment of hardening upon the earth; upon the sea; upon the rivers (spiritual currents); judgment of the transformation of the sunshine of revelation into fiery heat (comp. the first four trumpets).

β. Fifth and sixth vials of wrath. Judgment upon the seat of the Beast. Judgment of the loosing of the kings of the East (see the fifth and sixth trumpets).

γ. The seventh vial of wrath, or the ramification of the one judgment into three judgments, Rev 16:19–21.

a. Final judgment on the great Whore, executed by the ten kings, representatives of dechristianized national life, chs 17 and 18.

b. Final judgment on the ten kings, completed by the Appearance of Christ, chs. 19–20:6.

c. Final judgment upon Gog and Magog, the last rabble-remnants of Antichristianity, incited to rebellion by Satan; accomplished by fire from Heaven; the fire of the terrestrial metamorphosis, Rev 20:7–15.

A. First final judgment, or the judgment on the great Whore; absolute Babylon. A judgment of reprobation, chs. 17 and 18.

a. Heaven-picture of the reprobatory judgment on Babylon, Rev 17.

b. Earth-picture. Fall of Babylon, Rev 18.

B. Second final judgment, as a damnatory judgment upon the radical dominion of the Beast and the false Prophet, Rev 19:1–21.

a. Heaven-picture. Pre-celebration of the visible appearing of the Kingdom of God, Rev 19:1–16.

b. Earth-picture. Victory of Christ, at His appearing, over the Beast; and the result of victory; the Millennial Kingdom, chs. 19:17–20:5.

C. Third judgment, or the fiery judgment on Satan himself, and the last anarchical rebellion instigated by him on earth, Rev 20:6–15.

a. Heavenly pre-celebration of the consummation, Rev 20:6–8.

b. Consummate victory over Satan and his kingdom on earth. The general resurrection and the general judgment, 20:9–15.

7. The seventh day. As the day of the finished new creation, and the eternal new world, 21–22:5.

a. Heaven on earth, or the City of God, the new Paradise, Rev 21.

b. Earth glorified to Heaven, or the Land of God, the Paradisaic world, Rev 22:1–5. THE EPILOGUE, Rev 22:6–21.




1. The last three churches; the last three seals; the last three trumpets; the last three kings; the last three vials of wrath.

2. The three woes.

3. The three frogs, (a) Out of the mouth of the Dragon; (b) out of the mouth of the Beast; (c) out of the mouth of the false Prophet.

4. The three parts of the great city, Sodom and Egypt, devastated by the seventh vial of wrath; and the ensuing three judgments: (a) Judgment upon Babylon; (b) judgment upon the Beast and the false Prophet; (c) judgment upon Satan, together with his last organ, Gog and Magog. The two or three [? ] forthgoings of Antichristianity from the Euphrates.


In submitting, on the following page, parallels of the seven sevens, it is not with the intention of establishing a thorough analogy of the individual numbers in respect to their denotations; several such analogies will, however, appear—especially between the trumpets and the vials of wrath.102


The Seven Churches.

The Seven Seals.

The Seven Trumpets.

The Seven Thunders.

The Seven Heads of Antichrist.

The Seven Vials of Wrath as Judgments of Hardening.

The Seven Spirits Revealed in the Perfected Chirst.


The Rider on the White Horse Chirst.

Penitential Judgment on the Earth.

(Reformations; Scaled. Significant Episodes.

(The Two Beasts.) The Seven Kings.

Poured out on the Earth.


The Red Horse. War.

Penitential Judgment on the Sea.

The Little Book.

First King—Already fallen.

Poured into the Sea.


The Black Horse Dearth.

On the Rivers and Fountains.

Separation betwixt the Temple and the Outer Court.

Sec’d King—Already fallen.

On the Rivers and Fountains.


The Pale Horse. Death. Power of Death.

Partial Darkening of Sun, Moon and Stars.

The Two Witnesses.)

Third King—Already fallen.

Into the Sun.



 F’rth King—Already fallen.



The Martyrs.

Locusts out of the Opened Pit of the Abyss. Tormentors of Mankind.

 Fifth King.

On the Seat of the Beast.


The Earthquake as a Presage of the End of the World.

Horsemen loosed from the Euphrates. Slayers of Mankind.

 Sixth King, who is.

On the River Euphrates.


Seventh Seal as the Substance of the Trumpets or Penitential Judgments.

Seventh Trumpet: Announcement of the Last Penitential Judgment on Antichristianity.

 Seventh King, who is to come.

Into the Air.



 The Beast Himself as the Eighth King, ramifying into the Ten Kings.



[1]My thanks are due to Professor TISCHENDORF, who kindly forwarded me the advanced sheets of his text of the Apocalypse before they were published in the second volume of his eighth critical edition of the Greek Testament. May his health be restored to complete the Prolegomena of this invaluable work.

[2]This Cod. is not, as is supposed by many, the great Cod. Vaticanus. The Vaticanus, or B. proper, lacks the Apocalypse, which is supplied by an uncial of inferior value known as “the B. of the Apocalypse.” In the following work this inferior Cod. is styled B *.; the few instances in which B. simple occurs, are errors.

[3] Marginal Reference Marks in the English Version.

Three distinct marginal reference marks were employed by King James’ Translators, indicating three entirely distinct classes of marginal readings, viz.: the dagger (†), the parallel bars (║), and the asterisk (*). The dagger (†) was used when the literal rendering of the original term was placed in the margin and the opinion of the Translators as to its meaning was given in the text; the most conspicuous instance of this is in Is. 26:4, where the margin gives “rock of ages,” the literal rendering of צוּד עוֹלָמִים, and the text reads “everlasting strength.” Where this mark appears, the marginal reading is always preceded by the abbreviation Heb. (Hebrew), Chald. (Chaldaic), or Gr. (Greek). The parallel bars (║) were employed when the margin presented an alternative translation of the original, as in John 16:8, where the text reads “reprove” and the margin “convince.” Where this sign was used by the Translators, the marginal reading was preceded by the conjunction Or. The asterisk (*) was used to indicate a marginal comment or Scripture reference, as in the titles to the Books of Job and the Psalms. This mark has almost entirely disappeared from modern editions of the English Bible, the parallel bars having been substituted in the majority of instances where the reference is to a comment, as in 2 Chron. 20:36, and letters where it is to another Scripture.

The knowledge of the significance of these marks has almost entirely disappeared from the Church. As illustrations of the truth of this remark, reference need only be made to the almost universal disuse of the asterisk in our modern editions of the Bible; and the further fact that almost all the private publishing houses of Great Britain and America have substituted letters for the dagger and the parallel bars. This lapse of knowledge is doubtless due to the fact that King James’ Translators published no statement as to the significance of the marks employed by them. They adopted them from the Geneva Bible, the Version in common use in Great Britain, merely substituting the dagger (†) for the double dagger (‡). The “Address to the Christian Reader” in the Geneva Bible contains a full explanation, and consequently, at the time of the publication of the amended (King James’) Version, the significance of these signs was as well understood as that of the letters of the alphabet. Doubtless the Translators regarded a statement as unnecessary, not contemplating the fact that, in the absence of a perpetual reminder, knowledge of the meaning of such arbitrary signs would in a few generations pass away.

In the year 1871, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the Directors of the American Bible Society to publish, in their future editions of the Scriptures, a brief statement concerning the meaning of these marks, and also concerning the significance of words printed in capital and italic letters. The publication of such a statement would be of immense advantage to the students of the English Version.

[4]Lücken, Die Traditionen des Menschengeschlechts. Münster, 1856, p. 376 sqq.

[5][It is difficult to conceive of the mode in which this imputation could be justified. Some Chiliasts may have held the opinion here attributed to them, but, most certainly, not all; nor is there any thing in the essential doctrines of Chiliasm to make this a necessary part of the system.—E. R. C.]

[6][Prinzipiell=so far as principle is concerned.—TR.]

[7]The newness of Apocalyptics as a branch of exegetical theology is evidenced by the fact that there is no article under that head either in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopædie or in Schenkel’s Bibellexikon. Hilgenfeld seems still to entertain the opinion that in the upbuilding of a system of Apocalyptics it is necessary to confound the canonical with the uncanonical forms of that species of writing (Introduction, p. 5). He says, p. 8, in his note: “What an unreasonable requisition upon science to insist at the outset upon this hair-splitting separation betwixt canonical and uncanonical matter!” A requisition upon science that she should not, with a radicalism void of all spiritual taste, make a literary Thohu Vabhohu of the whole mass of scientific acquisitions, is surely well-founded, however. We have to do here simply with a peculiar kind of religious theocratic composition.

[8][The following remarks by Auberlen (Daniel and the Revelation, Eng. Trans. Edinburgh, 1856, p. 80) are worthy of highest consideration: “The name Apocalyptic (in the use of which we are justified by Rev. 1:1), already signifies that the divine communication and revelation are more prominent in the prophet than the human mediation and receptivity; for ἀποκάλυψις (revelation) signifies a divine,—προφητεία (prophecy, Weissagung) a human activity. Comp. Dan. 2:22, 23, where it is said of God, that ‘He revealeth (αὐτος ἀποκαλύπτει LXX.) the deep and secret things; He knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with Him;’ and Rev. 1:1, 2, where the supernatural fact is three-fold. God gave the revelation to Jesus Christ, and He, through His angels, signified it to John for the purpose of further spreading it. All biblical prophecy, of course, is based on divine revelation, so that these two words designate, the one the subjective, the other the objective side of the same thing (see 1 Cor. 14:29, 30), and are sometimes used indiscriminately, as when John calls his Apocalypse, which is styled ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Rev. 1:1), ‘the words of this prophecy’ (Rev. 1:3). For this reason, however, a distinction is likewise made between the two expressions, and they are used as two distinct species of the same genus, according as the objective revelation, or the subjective prophetic inspiration, is more prominent. Thus St. Paul distinguishes them in 1 Cor. 14:6, ‘either by revelation or by prophecy.’ The prophet stands in connection with the outer world. He addresses words to the prince and the people, as in the Old Testament, to the congregation [Church], as in the New, words with which the Spirit of God, pervading the human spirit with His mighty influence, supplies him. But while the prophet speaks in the Spirit (comp. 1 Cor. 12:3, ἐν πνεύματι Θεοῦ λαλῶν), the apocalyptic seer is in the Spirit, in his whole person (Rev. 1:10; 4:2). The united activity of soul and body, which forms the link between man and the outward world, recedes altogether into the background, so that St. Paul, speaking of such a state from his own experience, can say he does not know whether he was in the body, or out of the body (2 Cor. 12:2, 3). It is the spirit only, that which connects us with God and the invisible world, which is active, or rather recipient, in the apocalyptic state; for all proper human activity towards God can consist only in receiving. Here, where the object is not so much to influence the immediate contemporaries of the seer, as that the seer may receive disclosures for the benefit of all succeeding generations, he is alone with God while He reveals Himself, and perceives only what is disclosed to him from above, as the veil which hides the invisible world is drawn from off his spirit (απο-καλυπτειν). ‘The heavens were opened,’ says Ezekiel (1:1), ‘and I saw visions of God.’ This state is therefore called a trance,” etc.—E. R. C.]

[9][“The classification of the four books which have been named after Ezra is particularly complicated. In the Vatican and other quasi-modern editions of the LXX., our (Eng. Apoc.) 1st Esdras is called the first book of Esdras, in relation to the Canonical book of Ezra, which follows it, and is called the second Esdras. But in the Vulgate, 1st Esdr. means the canonical Book of Ezra, and 2d Esdr. means Nehemiah, according to the primitive Hebrew arrangement, mentioned by Jerome, in which Ezra and Nehemiah make up two parts of the one book of Ezra; and 3d and 4th Esdr. are what we now call 1 and 2 Esdras.”—SMITH’S BIB. DICT. TIT. ESDRAS.—E. R. C.]

[10][Does not the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24) possess all the characteristics of the true Apocalypse?—E. R. C]

[11]See Bleek, Hilgenfeld, Friedlieb.

[12]A fragment of tills lost book has recently been found. See Langen, Das Judenthum in Palastina zur Zeit Christi (Bonn, 1866, p. 2).

[13][The German Pragmatik, which is here translated pragmatism, has the wide sense of the Greek word from which it is derived, and not the one-sided and purely offensive meaning of the English derivatives from πράγμαTR.]

[14]See the author’s treatise: Ueber die Beziehungen, welche zwischen der allgemeinen Symbolik und der kirchlichen Symbolik obwalten. Deutsche Zeitschrift für christliche Wissenschaft, etc., 1855, Nr. 4–6.

[15]The most modern Natural Science allegorizes nature in a high degree, inasmuch as it deals pre-eminently with the outward similarities of created beings, at the expense of inner essential marks.

[16]It would lead us too far astray from our more immediate subject if we should attempt an exposition of the principle here laid down, together with an examination of extant theories and works upon symbolism—for instance, Bähr’s excellent work upon the subject.

[17]A well-known critic of the Tübingen school reproached the author with interpreting the Apocalypse “allegorically.” He should have said—interpreting it as an allegorical writing, in accordance with its character. The Tübingen school, which can allegorize the Pauline Epistles, takes a different view of matters in approaching the Apocalypse, and strives to apprehend it literally, thus hoping to make good a charge of Judaizing. Such proceedings are euphemistically denominated—tendency. After a similar fashion, Rothe confounds philosophic dogmatics and dogmatical philosophy.

[18][A real prophecy, or real type, is a prophecy or type embodied in some person, act, event, which shadows forth some other person, act, or event, yet in the future. Thus, in the destruction of Jerusalem, we have a real type of the final destruction of the world. A verbal prophecy or verbal type, on the other hand, is a prophecy or type set forth in words simply.—E. R. C.]

[19][Gemüthstypus, Stimmungstypus. Gemüth is a collective term for the affections, desires, impulses, will; it corresponds sometimes to soul, sometimes to mind, sometimes to heart. Stimmung denotes the disposition or (literally) tuning of a man; it may be used in a permanent or a transitory sense. In the latter sense it corresponds to the English mood. A Gemüthstypus or Stimmungstypus, then, is presented when the inner man of some individual is so worked upon as to prefigure the state of one who is yet to come. Pss. 16, 22 (as above cited) and 41. afford notable instances of the Gemüthstypus.—TR.]

[20][The meaning of Lange in this somewhat obscure paragraph seems to be: The man himself in the mood in which he makes the unconscious (as to its prophetic nature) utterance, together with the utterance itself, constitute the complex type of the antitype in a similar mood, and making similar utterances. Thus, David uttering the 22d Psalm was a type of the suffering Messiah making similar lamentations. In such case the words spoken are not only typical, but verbally prophetic of that which is to be; and “form the transition from real to verbal prophecy.”—It must be acknowledged, however, that it is difficult to reconcile this explanation with the references to Gen. 3, 17, 25, where the speaker is not an inspired man making utterances, of the prophetic nature and force of which he is unconscious, but Jehovah Himself (see Comm. on Genesis, p. 235, Am. Ed.).—E. R. C.]

[21][In the German Version, as in the English, the two words ζώον (Rev. 4), and θηρίον (Rev. 13.), are erroneously rendered by but one term, viz.: Thier in the former and Beast in the latter. But is it not most strange that Lange, who recognizes the Scriptural distinction in the Commentary, should thus ignore it in the Introduction?—E. R. C.]

[22]Compare the author’s lecture: Ueber die Beziehungen welche zwischen der allgem. Symbolik und der kirchlichen Symbolik obwalten. See above. Comm. on Matthew, p. 123. [Am. Ed.]

[23]See Lämmert, “Zur Revision,” etc. See above.

[24][Lange recognizes but seven Beatitudes in Matt.5., regarding the eighth and ninth as summations of the preceding seven. See Comm. on Matthew, p. 101, Am. Ed.—E. R. C.]

[25][This property of fire is set forth in the very word purify, which, doubtless, comes to us, through the Latin, from the Greek πῦρ,, fire.—TR.]

[26]Comp. the four beasts, Dan. 7., and the four bestial shapes, Ezek. 1., Rev. 4. In the one place, demonic impulses; in the other, heavenly forms. [See foot-note* p. 14.—E. R.C.]

[27]See the author’s Leben Jesu, Vol. I., p. 234.

[28][The reference is manifestly incorrect. The one intended by the author cannot be discovered.—TR.]

[29][See Müller’s Science of Language, Vol. I., p. 16.—TR.]

[30][As the Head of humanity, He is THE MAN—“The last Adam,” 1 Cor. 15:45; as the promised Seed, Gen. 3:15 (including the idea of Headship), He is the Song of Solomon OF MAN—E. R. C.]

[31][By “the ideal Theocracy” Lange intended, beyond doubt, to indicate the ideal or true Church, continuing one and the same through all dispensations. (See Comm. on Matthew, p. 73, Am. Ed.) He could not have contemplated the Christian Church as such, since that was introduced by Him—in no sense “bare Him;” and that he did not intend to indicate the Jewish Church as such, is made manifest by the subsequent reference to “the seven churches.” Thus the Church is described by the preceding phrase as “the Kingdom of God.” If this description be correct, “the Kingdom” had really come when Daniel prophesied concerning its coming,—when the Baptist heralded it as “at hand,”—when our Lord taught His disciples to pray “Thy Kingdom come.” For further remarks on the Kingdom of God, or the Basileia, the reader is referred to the Excursus on that subject under Rev 1:9.—E. R. C.]

[32][Auberlen supports, by strong arguments, the opinion that the wilderness is symbolical of the heathen lands in which the Church took refuge when she was driven from Palestine. Elliott (Horæ Apocalypticæ, 5th Ed., Vol. III., p. 45) contends, in accordance with the author, that by the flight is symbolized, not a change of place, but a change of state. He differs from Lange, however, as to his explanation of that state, viewing it as implying “the faithful Church’s loss of its previous character of Catholicity or universality, its invisibility in respect of true Christian public worship, and destitution of all ordinary means of spiritual sustenance.”—E. R. C.]

[33]The author communicated the idea of this division of the one form of the Woman into two opposite forms to the late Dr. Auberlen, in a letter written, if we mistake not, subsequent to the issue of the first edition of his work on Daniel and the Revelation.

[34]See Düsterdieck, p. 439. Victorin, Corrodi, Eichhorn, Ewald, Lücke, De Wette, Bleek, Baur, Volkmar, and others, p. 440; Düsterdieck opposes this idea. Weiss does the same in his treatise in Studien und Kritiken, 1869, No. l.

[35]F. Baader: The despot and the hierarch play into each other’s hands.

[36][The remarks of the author proceed upon the assumption that the terms Jews and Israel can be “literally” (normally) applied only to the natural seed of Abraham. This was the old Jewish idea; an opinion repugnant to one of the first principles of the Abrahamic Covenant, which recognized proselytes as forming as integral a portion of Israel as the natural seed, Gen. 17:12,13;—condemned by the Baptist in the declaration, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham,” Matt. 3:9; Luke 3:8;—and denied and disproved by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans; conf. 2:28, 29, 4:10–17, 9:25, 26, 40:17–24. After the breaking off of the natural seed, and the engrafting of the new stock, there was, of necessity, a two-fold use of the terms. Sometimes, and in the most proper sense, they were applied to the covenanted seed (consisting of both the natural seed and proselytes—the Christian Church) who enjoyed the Divine favor, as in Rom. 2:29; Gal. 6:16; and sometimes to the community (consisting principally of the natural seed—the Jewish nation), which, as a community, had been “broken off,” although it continued to hold covenant relations and is to be grafted in again. The former of these uses was not of course forbidden by the fact that the adopted seed were for the most part uncircumcised, since it is within the power of the institutor of a covenant to change the seal thereof, as has been done in the present case. No confusion can possibly arise from this double use of the terms, since the context always determines the special sense. Both these applications of the terms are literal, or more correctly speaking, normal; neither is, in any proper sense, figurative. The error of those contemplated by Lange consists, not in their contending for a literal application of the term, but in their ignoring the first and most important of its literal meanings.—E. R. C.]

[37] [This remark tends to the destruction of all confidence in the symbolical significance of numbers. If it be valid here, it is valid wherever seven occurs, since every seven contains six. On this platform every superior number contains all the symbolic significance of all the numbers inferior to it, which is to reduce the whole matter to an absurdity. These remarks, of course, do not extend to the expressed integers of composite numbers, as 6+1=7.—E. R. C.]

[38] [Remarks on this and many other topics presented in the Introduction are reserved for the Commentary.—E. R. C.]

[39][We have to note a variation in translation here; the German Version reads thus: Nevertheless, the City of God, where the holy dwelling-places of the Most High are, shall still be joyful with her springs.—TR.]

[40][Do not the words of our Lord, Matt. 24:24, and those of Paul, 2 Thess. 2:9, imply that the miracles are to be real? The terms employed on both these occasions (σημε͂ια and τέρατα) are those used to indicate the miracles of our Lord Himself. The phrase τέρασι ψεύδους (miracles of falsehood) of 2 Thess. 2:9, does not necessarily mean aught else than miracles to confirm the “lie” (ψεύδει) which (verse 11) the Apostle declares that those who are deluded shall believe; and this seems to be its most natural interpretation. There can be little doubt that the signs and wonders (σημε͂ιον and τέρας,—LXX.) of which Jehovah warned His people, Deut. 13:1–3, were real miracles, which God would empower false prophets to work for the purpose of proving Israel.—E. R. C.]

[41] [See Excursus on Hades, under Rev 20:13, 14.—E. R. C.]

[42] Leben Jesu, Vol. I., p. 235. Schleiermacher, p. 454, thinks that three more beasts [living-beings] are wanting, Rev 6, to complete the idea of the four beasts [living-beings], which interpret the first four seals. The four beasts [living-beings], however, refer to the fundamental forms of the world’s history. [See Comment, on Rev 4:6, p. 154.—E. R. C.]

[43]The Epistles are a component part of the Apocalypse itself, and not merely preparatory thereto. Hence their terminology, likewise, is symbolical—a fact unrecognized by Irvingism. It is not supposable that the heads of the churches should bear a relation to the churches, like that of stars to candle-sticks.

[44][We subjoin the following from Kitto’s Cyclopædia. The whole article, which is too long for insertion here, is worthy of perusal. “BATH KOL (בַּת קּוֹל, daughter of the voice). Under this name the Talmud, the later Targums, and the Rabbinical writers make frequent mention of a kind of oracular voice, constituting the fourth grade of revelation, which, although it was an instrument of Divine communication throughout the early history of the Israelites, was the most prominent, because the sole, prophetic manifestation which existed during (and even after) the period of the second. Temple.”—E. R. C.]

[45] Relatively, the Apocalypse of Jeremiah begins with Rev 45, as we have stated in the Comm. on Genesis.

[46][In the E. V., Ezek. 38:3, etc., the Hebrew expression נְשִׂיא רֹאשׁ is translated the chief prince; the entire expression may be rendered as above. See Robinson’s Gesenius, under ראֹשׁ The LXX. gives Ῥώς.—E. R. C.]

[47] [“Compare, however, upon this point, Hengstenberg: Authentic des Daniel.” Note by Tr. of Comm. on Genesis, Am. Ed., p. 38.—E. R. C.]

[48] [“This prophecy is called the Revelation, with respect to the Scripture of truth, which Daniel was commanded to shut up and seal, till the time of the end. Daniel sealed it until the time of the end; and, until that time comes, the Lamb is opening the seals; and afterwards the two witnesses prophesy out of it a long time in sack-cloth before they ascend up to Heaven in a cloud. All which is as much as to say that these Prophecies of Daniel and John should not be understood till the time of the end; but then some should prophesy out of them in an afflicted and mournful state for a long time, and that but darkly, so as to convert but few. But in the very end, the Prophecy should be so far interpreted as to convert many.” SIR ISAAC NEWTON.—E. R. C.]

[49]I now am doubtful as to whether the four world-monarchies are intended by this, since the Prophet limits the work of the horns to the past.

[50]In accordance with the context, none but Israelitish shepherds can be intended here; and, moreover, such as were destroyed in one (symbolical) month. If the month denote a short periodical change—the Babylonish captivity, for instance—those three false prophets might be meant upon whom Jeremiah proclaims judgment (Rev 29:22, 32), viz: Ahab, Zedekiah, Shemaiah. Are not, however, the three Old Testament offices intended, whose place the Messiah Himself assumes?

[51][A variation in translation. The G. V. renders Zech. 11:7, thus: And I took charge of the sheep of slaughter for the sake of the poor (wretched) sheep.—TR.]

[52] [See extract from TRENCH, in foot-note, p. 106.—E. R. C.]

[53] [For remarks on the term world, see Introduction by the Am. Ed.—E. R. C.]

[54] [This sentence is somewhat obscure. By the concursus (the original term reproduced) is meant, probably, the pleading assemblage under the altar, brought to view in the opening of the fifth seal, Rev 6:9–11 (and referred to, 7:9, 14); and by the sufferings of world-history are intended the sufferings under the sixth seal, 6:12–17. From the events of these two seals are “developed,” according to the hypothesis of Lange (see p. 83), those of the seventh, or of the trumpets, in the blowing of which is the unfolding of the seventh seal (8:1–6).—E. R. C.]

[55] [Rev. 10:3, 4. By Divine direction the Thunders were not written, but sealed up. Must not their meaning remain hidden until set forth by the voice of another inspired Teacher?—E. R. C]

[56] [The division of the Scripture is into five and two, Rev. 17:10; the division into four and three, hypothesized by Lange, here manifestly fails. The three heads spoken of in the following paragraph can be obtained only by regarding the eighth (ver. 11) as an independent division parallel with the seven, when manifestly it is either a transformation of the seventh (see Lange further on in the same paragraph), or a heading up in one of the entire seven.—E. R. C.]

[57] [See preceding note.—E. R. C.]

[58][Is this more clearly set forth as a motive than was the declension of Ephesus (2:5) or Pergamus (2:16) or Sardis (2:3), or the faithfulness of Philadelphia (3:11)?—E. R. C.]

[59] Sander, likewise, characterizes the Millennial Kingdom as a fore-Sabbath.

[60]See the strong antithesis: Entweder, Oder [either—or] by De Wette and Lücke in Guerike, Isagogik, p. 534, note 2.

[61]See the author’s Miscellaneous Writings, Vol. II., p. 173. On the indissoluble connection betwixt the individuality of the Apostle John and the individuality of the Apocalypse.—Lange’s Apostolic Age, I. p. 83.

[62]See Guerike, Die Hypothese von dem Presbyter Johannes als Verfasser der Offb., Halle, 1831. The author’s Hist. of the Apostolic Age, I., p. 215. Guerike, Isagogik, pp. 534, 545, 605.—Zahn, Ueber Papias, Stud. und Kritiken, 1866, IV. (Hilgenfeld, 1867, I.). Riggenbach, Joh. der Apostel und der Presbyter, Jahrb. für deutsche Theol., II. Heft, 1868, p. 319 sqq. See also the Appendix, p. 334, on an Essay by Dr. Milligan, in Aberdeen (London, 1867), [and Schaff: History of the Ap. Church, pages 418–427 (New York, 1853).—E. R. C.].

[63]The presbyter Gaius of Rome. The Alogians (these, however, did not deny the authenticity of the Apocalypse). The Peshito (omission). Dionysius of Alexandria (inventor of the presbyter John). Eusebius, doubtful.

[64]For an illustration of the most recent Judaizing interpretation of Scripture, comp. the idea which some English and German writings present of Israel’s prerogatives at the end of the world, and of the restoration of Jewish rites.

[65] [Chiliasts, or Millenarians, do indeed defer the full redemption (the ἀπολύτρωσις) to the second coming of Christ (see Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14, 4:30); they, by no means, however, transfer the “full principial redemption” to that period. Lange seems to have contemplated, under this term, not the general class who are so styled by the English-speaking Church, but some peculiar section thereof. The essential doctrines of Chiliasm are: 1. The establishment of the Millennial Kingdom (political and righteous) in a glorious personal advent of Christ. 2. Two resurrections; the first, that of the righteous dead (or the specially faithful) at the establishment of the Kingdom; the second, a general resurrection at the close of the Millennial æon. Within the limits of these fundamental doctrines the different subordinate views, as is to be expected on such a subject, are many. See foot-note, on p. 62.—E. R. C.]

[66] Further particulars in regard to these prejudices, see below.

[67] Time seems to have worked a conviction in the minds of many that it is a necessary part of Lutheran orthodoxy to regard the Millennial Kingdom as situate in the Middle Ages, as does Hengstenberg, or at least to deem this doctrine worthy of serious consideration.

[68] See Göthe’s Letters to Lavater, published by Hirzel, Leipzig, Weidmann, 1833, p. 47.

[69] [See foot-note, p. 133.—E. R. C.].

[70]Dio Cassius, B. 67, “Domitilla.” See Hengstenberg, pp. 31, 40.

[71] [Lange here assumes the residence of the Apostle Peter at Rome. For a full discussion of this subject, see Schaff’s Hist. of the Ap. Church, p. 362 sqq.—E. R. C.]

[72]Why not in Pella, preparing for the settlement of the Christians there?

[73]See authorities; for instance, note 3, p 523. Baur, Lücke, Reuss, Thiersch.

[74] The application of this popular romance to the criticism of the Apocalypse will ever remain a melancholy symptom of that narrow-minded desire for innovation peculiar to modern criticism. Modern critics believe that they make the biblical facts truly historical only by transporting them out of the visionary sphere of the elect, of the Apostles themselves, into the cloudy region of popular tradition—dragging them, as it were, from Tabor to the market-place. And it is even asserted that such a fable of the masses was a main motive of the Apocalypse, and that it is now the guiding-star to its chronology. Comp. against this view (as has been already recommended) Düsterdieck; also a Treatise by Weiss, in Theolog. Studien und Kritiken, 1869, Part 1st, entitled: Apokalyptische Studien. The value of Weiss’ contribution is, however, considerably lessened by its support of the same prejudice that gave birth to the unlucky invention above mentioned. Even he maintains that it was a common supposition of the Apostolic period that the return of the Lord would take place in the then current age; and the recognition of this belief he declares to be the common property of modern Theology! The true cannon, that all Prophecy must take its departure from the history of the time in which it is given, is thus transformed into the erroneous canon that confines it to that time.

[75] Comp. the author’s Apostolisches Zeitalter, Vol. I., p. 186.

[76] Das Apostolische Zeitalter, Vol. II., p. 448.—Guerike, p. 61 sqq.

[77] See Hengstenberg, I. p. 1. Lange’s Apostol. Zeitalter, II., p. 452.

[78] In an ecclesiastical reference it is declared by many that a presbyter John, in Ephesus, took upon himself to despatch a grand exhortation to the seven churches, though the authority of presbyters was limited to the church to which they belonged.

[79] [Jewish national pride did, indeed, ignore those Prophecies which foretold an Advent of the Messiah in humiliation, and Jewish carnalism did misinterpret those which spoke of the future Kingdom as one of righteousness. With these errors Chiliasm has no sympathy. But Jewish piety never relinquished Israel’s hope of a political Kingdom to be established on earth (in which righteousness should prevail). This hope Chiliasm also entertains. It is from a failure to distinguish between a mere political Kingdom, and a political Kingdom established and conducted on principles of righteousness and in which righteousness shall dwell, that much of the opprobrious denunciation of Chiliasm proceeds; as though one should charge upon the advocates of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, that they contemplate a sensuous Heaven, and place the gratification of carnal lusts amongst the joys of the blessed. This failure to distinguish is akin to that of the Jews of our Saviour’s day; although, it is admitted, it occurs at a different stand-point. It may also be observed, that a great system is not properly chargeable with the extravagancies of a few individual supporters. (See also the Excursus on the Basileia, p. 93 sqq., especially Part II.)—E. R. C.]

[80] [See Neander’s Church History, Vol. III., p. 51 (Am. Ed.)—E. R. C.]

[81] In opposition to Lücke, p. 935.

[82] Whilst much, relating to this subject, that belongs to the former period, has been lost.

[83]Multa dicuntur, ut mentem legentis exerceant.”

[84] His interpretation of the name 666 is interesting (see Lücke, p. 997).

[85] Admiranda Expositio venerabilis Abbatis Joachim in Librum, etc.

[86] Anton Driessen was a fantastical follower of this commentator; he flourished in the beginning of the eighteenth century (see Lücke, p. 1038).

[87] For particulars relative to Abauzit and Semler, see Bleek, pp. 55–57.

[88] See Bleek, pp. 58, 59.

[89] See Bleek, Vorlesungen [Lectures], p. 60.

[90] Hebart, Für den Chiliasmus, Nuremberg, 1859. Riemann, Das 1000 jährige Reich gehört nicht der Vergangenheit, sondern der Zukunft an, Gütersloh, 1860. Die 1000 Jahre. der Offenb. Joh., Evang. Gemeindeblatt für Rheinl. und Westf., 1861 (Nos. 12, 13). Rinck (H. Wm.), Die Schriftmässigkeit der Lehre vom tausendjährigen Reich (Elberfeld, 1866). Christiani, Uebersichtliche Darstellung des Inhalts der Apokalypse. The same, Bemerkungen zur Auslegung der Apokalypse (Riga, Bacmeister). Volk, Der Chiliasmus seiner neuesten Bekämpfung gegenüber, Dorpat, 1869.

[91] Althaus, Diedrich, two Treatises, “Wider den Chiliasmus” Brunn, Keil, Kommentar zu Ezechiel, etc.

[92] Writings for and against Bengel’s system, see the catalogues of literature. Opitz, Kurze Uebersicht, 1816. Tinius, Der jüngste Tag, Bautzen, 1836. Idem, Die Offenb. Joh., Leipzig, 1839.

[93] Swedenborg, Apocalypsis explicata secundum sensum spiritualem ed. Tafel, Tübingen, Verlags-Expedition, 1862.

[94] Armbruster, Die 7 letzten Posaunen (?) Oder Wehen (!), Stuttgart, 1830.

[95] Antiquarian catalogues of Apocalyptic literature: Steinkopf in Stuttgart, Catalogue 18, 22,29; Heckenhauer in Tübingen, No. 34; Hanke in Zurich, No. 65; J. Moore, at Delft, Maske, Breslau, 91.

[96] [A few may reckon, but not all—E. R. C.].

[97] Comp. Lange’s Apost. Zeitalter, Vol. II., p. 454.

[98] [See Introduction by the American Editor.—E. R. C.]

[99] [See Introduction by the American Editor.—E, R. C.]

[100] This is contradicted by Rev 9:3.

[101] The visions of the fore-festivals in Heaven might be represented in a similar table.

[102] There is also a correspondence, by no means indistinct, between the Rider on the white horse and the first penitential judgment [judgment calling to repentance], as also the first judgment of wrath, upon the earth. To the rider on the red horse, the penitential judgment and the judgment of wrath upon the sea of nations correspond. To the black horse, or Dearth and Tribulation, the penitential judgment and the judgment of hardening upon streams and fountains, i. e., intellectual tendencies and original minds, correspond. To the pale horse, or Death and Sheol, the judgment consisting in the obscuration of the Sun of Life, Revelation, corresponds. Under the quinary, the heavenly subtilty of the martyrs corresponds with the psychical and demonic subtilty of the plague of locusts, and the torments of the Beast himself. Under the senary, the eschatological earthquake corresponds with the loosing of the horsemen from Euphrates, and with the drying up of that river. That the seventh seal is productive of the seven trumpets, and that these, with the increased power of the seven thunders, occasion the manifestation of Antichristianity; and, finally, that Antichristianity induces the sending of the vials of wrath, are palpable facts. With the decomposition of the air, or the separation of spirits, of the seventh vial of wrath, the Parousia is also indicated.


Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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