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have all his saints!"f" "For the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;"g that is, in the morning of the resurrection; when Jesus will give him the morning Star."-See verse 28. This expression from him who is himself "the bright and morning Star," "the Resurrection and the Life," must indicate, that in giving himself, he will then make over to them all the benefits and blessings of the victory which he has achieved for them in the double nature of the Root and Offspring of David ;" and upon the enjoyment of which they will enter on that morning when "the Star of Jacob" shall arise and shine in his own glory, and they shall " attain unto the resurrection from the dead."* All this will be in virtue of their union with Him who will then rule those nations, (of ' unconverted Gentiles, as the word is usually translated, agreeably to Old ' and New Testament prophecies ;) • with a rod of iron,' &c.; even as he received of his Father the promise with power and authority to do. Oh, for an ear to hear what the Spirit saith to the churches,
that the kings and judges of the earth might be instructed to avoid the destruction; might kiss the Son, lest he be angry and they perish !
One word respecting Israel. Micah iv, sketching the same period, shews that when Jehovah shall thus have rebuked strong nations until he establish peace, he will reign in Mount Zion over the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah, from henceforth even for ever. "To the daughter
of Zion shall then come the first 'dominion, and the kingdom shall 'come to the daughter of Jerusalem.' The latter verses of Mic. iv, in reference to the execution of the judgement, assign it to the daughter of Zion, after her deliverance from Babylon. She shall thresh the nations, as sheaves of the floor," when the Lord hath gathered them together for that purpose; and
made her horn iron and her hoofs brass, to beat many of them in pieces." Thus, as stated in parallel prophecies concerning literal Israel,
He will perform the truth to Jacob
and the mercy to Abraham, which he sware to the fathers from the
f Ps. cxlix, 6-9; and Dan. vii, 27. 8 Ps. xlix, 14.
*The Greek is er vekρwv, which is translated from in six other passages, as in 1 Cor. xv, 12: Paul's object (Phil. 3) being, not the general resurrection, for that none can avoid; but "the first resurrection," "the better resurrection," "the resurrection of the just," which he elsewhere describes; and which we learn from Rev. xx, will take place in the morning of the millennial day; whereas "the rest of the dead live not again till the thousand years are finished." The xvth Cor. relates only to the dead in Christ who rise "at his coming." "When they put on incorruption and immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." "Over such the second death hath no power," whereas those raised after the 1000 years will be consigned to the second death.
+ See Psalm ii, 7-10; Dan. ii, 35, and vii, 14. It would interrupt our subject to explain that Psalm; but observe: it gives a short description of the conduct of those nations who have known and despised the Lord's Anointed, until his manifestation as King for their destruction, and for the recompence of those that trust in him. Many of our Lord's parables (as that in Luke xx, 9—18) repeat the same sketch.
If any would apply this to literal Babylon, they are requested to point out when the prophecy has come to pass since Judah's nearly separate return to Jerusalem : also to mark the sixth verse which agrees with Ezek. xxxvii, 16-22; and the words, "from henceforth even for ever" shall Jehovah reign over them in mount Zion. This has never been the case hitherto since that return.
Verse 1 presents a decisive testimony to Jesus as possessing another incommunicable attribute of Deity -infinity: for who less than infinite can he be, who hath the plenitude of the infinite and eternal Spirit at his disposal, to send forth his influences to the churches, that he may baptize whom he will “with with the Holy Ghost.”h Thus we see the Spirit proceedeth from the Son; just as in John xv, 26, he promises to send him from THE FATHER, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father."
He hath also the seven stars or ministers under his government to rebuke, chasten and judge. It is remarkable, that Jesus commences every one of the seven epistles by asserting his intimate knowledge of the works of each minister and member; thus resting his ability and right to judge upon these attributes, which are essential to his executing judgement and justice upon the earth, as the righteous branch raised unto David, the king that shall reign and prosper, Jehovah our righteousness. This other attribute of deity, his omniscience, he evinced in all his anticipatory manifestations to the fathers; also in the days of his flesh; and in his subsequent appearances to Paul and John.i
Verse 2. So nearly extinguished
h John i, 33; and xx, 22.
was the flickering flame of this lamp of the candlestick, that except its angel, according to the priestly office, trimmed it watchfully, it would go out, as one of the lamps of the foolish virgins who took no oil with them. In this case "the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night" upon this church. Compare Luke xxi, 35, 36 with 1 Thess. v, 2—11, and it will appear, that that day so cometh only to the wicked; for when "they shall say, Peace and safety! sudden destruction cometh upon them," the spiritually dead. But ye, brethren, who live unto God, being quickened together with Christ, are not in darkness (unwatchful through unbelief of this prediction) that that day should overtake you as a thief. How consonant is this with Jesus' words; If therefore thou wilt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
In John's writing to the angel of each church, the Lord evidently addresses his exhortation to the whole of each church; (whose works, whatever their human reputation, were not fulfilled" or "fulfilled" or "perfect" in his sight;) for in verse 4 he distinguishes a few even among them, though but a few, who kept their garments unspotted from the world. These he by grace accounts worthy to walk with him in white,—each one that overcometh. And what is the victory that overcometh the world? even our faith, which is imputed for righteousness; for the same shall be clothed in white raiment:" i.e. made white in the blood of the Lamb: who therefore promises not to blot his name out of the book of life.
Verse 5. In this verse there appears to be an allusion to the cus
i Compare 2 Chron. xxviii, 9; John ii, 24; xxi, 17; Acts i, 24.
tom of Israel every new year's eve
though revealed, they had not expected because of unbelief.
The Lord further promises,
will confess his name before my Father, &c." This he will do in that day when the sons of God will be manifested in their resurrection bodies, the day of adoption, to wit the redemption of the body.n May we stand in awe while remembering the fearful alternative, that if we deny him before men, he also will deny us before his Father!
Verse 7. Jesus "the Amen," "the Truth," assumes to himself the absolute perfections of God, viz. holiness and truth. He at the same time asserts universal irresistible power, in reference to the dominion promised to the Son of David, to admit into or exclude from his kingdom and shut up in endless separation from God, whom he will. This also is the prerogative of God. Jesus seems here to appropriate that prerogative peculiarly to himself, in opposition to the subsequent assumption of Antichrist. tion of Antichrist. (See on chap.
Verses 8-10. In affirming his omniscient view, and comparative approval of the works of the Philadelphian church, Jesus graciously assures them he has set before them
an open door." Some think this expression signifies, free access, as part of God's family, to the throne of grace and kingdom of glory. But his Gospel opened the way of admission to both, before all to whom its sound went forth; especially to individuals who received its doctrines, in every church and nation. Therefore some privilege seems intended by which this church was distinguished from others.
j Isa. iv, 3. k Dan. xii, 1. 1 Rev. xxi, 27. 1 John iii, 10.
m Phil. iv, 3. n Luke xx, 36, and o Job xi, 10.
Probably his providential dispensation for its continuance as a church, as it remains to this day ;* and if this interpretation be correct, it will continue till his return, glorifying him by maintaining, though feebly, a christian profession, and persevering in patient expectation of his fulfilling the promises of his word ;P or by enduring persecution with constancy through that faith which is the evidence of things not seen. This no man could hinder: and thus they kept his word of promise, his truth and ordinances, and so did not deny his name. To confess it, is to contend earnestly for the glorious truths it unfolds: but their witness was rather negative than positive. They did not boldly confess him unto martyrdom, nor declare his fame, nor spread his glory, nor even uphold the churches connected with them under John's jurisdiction: alas, for their short comings! Yet the all merciful eye did not despise their little strength, nor reproach them that his name was not to them so precious and efficacious, as to those who cherish it as the name that is above every name, the name of healing virtue, and refreshing odor, "like ointment poured forth."-Still it was not "denied!" Therefore the Saviour adds promise upon promise.
His and their enemies shall bow before them, and be constrained to acknowledge his distinguishing favor towards them.
It remains to be seen, whether this 9th verse refers literally to early Judaizing teachers who had the circumcision of the flesh but not of the heart, and who are designated by the Searcher of hearts as part of the congregation of Satan's worshipers; or whether, as the concluding prediction argues, it refers to the Mahomedan delusion, from which he preserved the Philadelphian church alone, and which shall be dispelled before the rays of that truth which beams from this as well as distant churches, though yet too feebly to penetrate the surrounding darkness.
In proportion as this church kept his truth, he engaged to keep it from falling into this apostacy, which he foretold was about to spread over all that western empire,† to try its inhabitants and prove whom they served. Thus believers are kept from the power of delusions and temptations in proportion as they exercise faith in his word of promise. How needful is the word of his patience to a a church or person surrounded by heresies and persecution!
Verse 11. Did but the mental eye consider this promise, how
*"The captivity and ruin of the seven churches was completed by the Ottomans A. D. 1312, and the lords of Ionia and Lydia still trample on them, &c. But Philadelphia distant from the sea; forgotten by the emperors, and encompassed by Turks, Philadelphia alone is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins. Her sons defended their religion and liberty above 80 years and then capitulated."-(Gibbon.) These facts prove the locality of the churches addressed.
"All the world," the Greek is Oureμevn, inhabited or civilized earth, as each successive empire considered itself! The expression is used Matt. xxiv, 14; Luke ii, 1, &c. to denote the Roman empire, or Christendom, the scene of trial, it being the only professing part of the globe, therefore the only one liable to a trial of faith. The temptation was to try them which dwell on the earth;" it could not have been supposed to affect angels or justified spirits; therefore this expression also denotes (as it usually does in this revelation) the Roman earth. The dominions of the Babylonian empire are called the earth in Ezra i, 2: sometimes Judea has this extensive appellation. Luke iv, 25; Roman ix, 27-29.
P Ps. cxxx, 5; and 1 John ii, 5, with Ps. cvi, 24.
should we love his appearing and
Verse 12. In the conclusion of each epistle the Lord returns to particularize each person marked by his all-seeing eye, as having overcome by grace. The promise now given is, that he shall abide as a pillar in the temple of God: for the whole Church is a building fitly framed together, founded and built upon Christ Jesus, for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Each individual is a living stone of it, or a pillar unalterably dedicated to the glory of his grace, who accepts each in the beloved: for some suppose in this figure an allusion to the custom of inscribing memorials of victory and honor to the glory of a victor or king. That which perfects the bliss of saints is, that being once
caught up to meet the Lord, they shall ever be with the Lord," beholding his glory. They will be subject to no more conflict or peril of losing the crown of life, the promised possession, the reserved inheritance, the glory then revealed.* As "C the Son abideth ever," so his redeemed go no more out.' In many instances, writing the name on the forehead is a token of proprietorship. At this day the initials of a master's name are sometimes branded on the shoulder of a slave; and probably these texts allude to some similar custom in the east. I conceive this token of perpetual consecration, or unalienable possession, in this verse, denotes 1st. the Father's recovery of right over his rational creature, in body, soul, and spirit, as on the first creation, by restoration to him in Christ Jesus; in whom, by whom, and for whom they live for evermore. 2nd. His new name in the millennial dispensation, Immanu-EL, (Isa. vii, 14, and repeated Rev. xxi, 3, on his return to " dwell with men,") is therefore also inscribed on each ransomed one, as that of their purchaser, the Father's name being written as their proprietor. Possibly the inscription of the name of the city of God, new Jerusalem, denotes their being endowed with a right of inheritance there, when the name of the city shall be, The Lord is there."u Thus Psalm lxxxvii, 6, Jehovah will count when he reckons up the 'people, that this and that man was born there,' i. e. has the claim to inheritance as a child of adoption and grace, and entitled to the privileges of the new Jerusalem, the city of the living God.▾ The
9 Chap. ii, 10; 2 Tim. iv, 8. r 1 Cor. ix, 25; Heb. x, 35-37. s Chap. iv, 4, 10. t 1 Pet. v, 4. u Ezek. xxxviii, 35. v Heb. xii, 22.
* Jeremiah was, in the sense of uncompromising firmness and enduring faithfulness, encouraged to persevere, by Jehovah's likening him to "a pillar of iron." (Chap. i, 18, 19.)