Poole on Revelation 5:13, 14: The Praise of All Creation!

Verse 13:[1] And (Phil. 2:10; Rev. 5:3) every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, (1 Chron. 29:11; Rom. 9:5; 16:27; 1 Tim. 6:16; 1 Pet. 4:11; 5:11; Rev. 1:6) Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him (Rev. 6:16; 7:10) that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

[And every creature, etc.] This is Prosopopœia[2] (Grotius, Ribera), whereby speech is attributed to inanimate or mute things (Grotius); which are here said to rejoice and to praise God (Ribera, Forbes), partly, 1. because in them the glory of God shines forth (Forbes); partly, 2. because they wait in expectation for liberation from vanity, Romans 8:19 (Forbes, Durham); [partly, 3.] so that all those things might be shown to be subject, not only to God, but also to Christ, and to serve His glory, Philippians 2:9, 10; Hebrews 1:6. See similar things in Deuteronomy 32:1; Psalm 19:1; Isaiah 1:2; Habakkuk 3:10. The opening of the Seals shows that there are no creatures which are not subject to Christ (Grotius).

[In heaven] Namely, the lowest, middle, and highest, as the Hebrews distinguish them (Grotius). The Sun, moon, stars, and all Saints (Tirinus).

[Upon the earth, and under the earth, and (καὶ/and I here take ἐξηγητικῶς/exegetically, namely, so that the preceding Hebrew expression might be explained by a Greek notion, as Ἀββᾶ/Abba is explained by πατήρ/ father:[3] See what things are on Revelation 5:3 [Grotius]) which are in the sea] That is, Men both living, and buried in the earth or seas (Beza).

[And what things, etc., καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς] And what things are in those (Beza, Piscator). Namely, in heaven, earth, and sea (Pareus, thus Ribera); or, the several parts of them (Ribera). It is an abridgement and epexegesis of the preceding expressions (Beza). Or, what things lie hidden in the innermost parts of the earth and sea (Cluverus); or, those things that are inmost in living beings and things, and escape the notice of the eyes of men, with a proof from the passage in Psalm 103:1, where in the Greek it is πάντα τὰ ἐντός μου, all my inner parts[4] (Grotius).

[Saying, λέγοντας] A change of gender because κτίσμα/creature is a collective noun,[5] etc. (Beza).

[To the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb] Thus also in Revelation 7:10; 14:4; 22:3 (Grotius). They conjoin these so that they might show that They are one, and Their praise one (Forbes, similarly Durham).

[Blessing, and honor, etc.] There is a similar δοξολογία/doxology in Revelation 1:6; and also in 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 Peter 4:11; etc. (Grotius).

And every creature which is in heaven, etc.: The meaning of the several phrases here used, is not to be strictly and particularly examined; the sense of them all in general is, to show the consent of all the angels and glorified saints, and of the whole church, in giving praise unto God, and particularly to the Lord Jesus Christ, (the Lamb,) for the work of man’s redemption; and their particular consent, that Christ is to be worshipped as the Father; and the consent and acquiescence of the whole creation in the counsel and purpose of God, and in the work of his providence, constituting Christ as the King, Priest, and Prophet of his church. And though inanimate creatures, or sensitive creatures, cannot speak, yet they are also said to join in these praises, as the glory of God shineth in them, and they, by him, shall be freed from that vanity under which they groan, Romans 8:19-21, and enjoy something of the liberty of the sons of God; and shall all be subject and obedient unto Christ in their respective stations and orders, Philippians 2:9, 10, and fulfil his will in the execution of his counsels and purposes in the government of the world, in order to the preservation of his church.

Verse 14:[6] (Rev. 19:4) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him (Rev. 4:9, 10) that liveth for ever and ever.

[And…the living creatures, etc.] They approve that which the Angels at least with words (Grotius, similarly Piscator), but the whole World in actuality, was enjoying (Grotius). As the Church began the song, so also it closes it (Forbes, similarly Durham, Cluverus), both, roused by the example of the others to go on in the praises of God (Forbes); and, because this benefit pertains properly and primarily to it (Forbes, thus Durham). It confirms, therefore, with its own prayers whatever is brought forward by all creatures for the praise of God (Cluverus).

[Amen] Thus they speak, because the word was received in the Churches (Grotius); that is to say, Certainly it is so, or, it is appropriate (Menochius).

[They fell down, etc.] To exhibit honor, not only to God, as in Revelation 4:10, but also to Christ (Grotius).

[They worshipped (being silent, saying nothing, as if overcome and overwhelmed by the glorious Majesty of God [Durham]) the one living forever, etc.] That is, the eternal God (Menochius, thus Forbes). Thus they show that they, praising both the Lamb and the One sitting on the Throne, are only praising one (Forbes). This clause is missing in manuscripts[7] (Grotius). [Being about to advance to the Prophetic part of the Apocalypse, and being about to explain it out of the judgment of my Authors, I thought that some things were fit to be set in the place προθεωρίας, of a preface, which would give light both to this vision and the following. 1. It is first to be asked, what is the sequence of the following Visions, whether they exhibit an uninterrupted history of succeeding events in the same order, to which they might be compared, or the Prophecies are mingled, and the latter are synchronous with the former:] It is most certain that the state of the militant Church is here described from that time [whence the Apocalypse takes its beginning] unto the end of the world; but in what way this is done, in this Interpreters disagree. 1. Some maintain that the order of time is preserve here exactly, according to the order of the chapters. To which chapters 12-14 are objected, which are certainly synchronous with the preceding Visions, and explanatory of them. So also chapters 17 and 18. 2. Others think that the individual Visions have the same beginning and ending, and that in each the Prophecy is full, extending from the beginning of the Apocalypse to the end of the world. But it will be manifest that this is not valid in the principal Prophecies (Durham). 3. The entire Apocalypse would be able to be divided aptly into two books (Mede’s Works 723), or into two principal Prophecies, or into two Systems of Prophetic Visions, which proceed from the same Epoch, as if from the same starting gate, and close at the same end. The First Prophecy is of the Seals, and in those, of the Trumpets; for the seventh Seal is the Seal of the Trumpets. For what order of sense is not held in all the rest of the Seals, that is to be thought not to agree with the seventh alone; so that what Vision is made subject to the opening of a Seal, that is τὸ πρᾶγμα, the matter, of the Seal (Mede’s Works 528). Now, as the seventh Seal is divided into seven intervals of Trumpets, so also the seventh Trumpet is divided into seven intervals of Thunders. And these three Visions, arranged in this order, of Seals, Trumpets, Thunders, fill up the entire line of the Apocalyptic time, proceeding from the beginning unto the end of that stadium (More’s Works 18). The other Prophecy is τοῦ Βιβλιαριδίου, of the little Book, or of the open Book,[8] which covers again the times of the former Prophecy (Mede’s Works 528). The first covers the events of the Empire, that is, the Roman Empire, which had hitherto survived. The other, the events of the Church or Christian Religion (Mede’s Works 546, thus More’s Works 704), until at last both will have coalesced in the Church reigning, with the kingdoms of this world having been made our Lord’s, etc.[9] Just as Daniel, according to the successions of Empires,[10] both foresignified the advent of Christ, and distributed the events of the Jewish Church (Mede’s Works 546). The first begins at Revelation 4:1, and extends to Revelation 10:8. The other begins at Revelation 10:8, and extends to the end of the Book (Mede’s Works 722). Now, this new book in chapter 10, or, which I prefer, the new condition of the preceding Book, indicates a new series of prophecies, and indeed of a nature diverse from the former ones, which series begins all the way back from the first Epoch in that place, as many things indicate; 1. That an Affinity exists between the Introductions of these Prophecies (More’s Works 704), even unto the several beginnings of each of them, likewise also of the first Vision of all concerning the seven Churchs, as if of three entire Prophecies, by a sound as of a Trumpet from Heaven speaking with John it is proclaimed, as it appears from Revelation 1:10; 4:1; 10:8 (Mede’s Works 528) (where the voice of the Trumpet, which is suppressed in this third passage, is to be understood [More out of Mede]); as if the Holy Spirit had wished to distinguish this by a mark from the remaining Prophecies, the parts of those principal ones, in which you will see that no such thing is done (Mede’s Works 528). 2. That it is necessary that thou prophesy again, etc., in Revelation 10:11 (Mede’s Works 528, More’s Works 705), is not to be taken simply, since he had already prophesied in this sense again and again; but the sense is that now to thee it is to be begun again to prophesy all the way back from the first Epoch of those times from which thou hadst hitherto prophesied; otherwise this expression would be without all reason (More’s Works 705). But to prophesy here is not to begin a new prophecy from the ovum, but to prophesy again concerning the matters pertaining to the sixth Trumpet, concerning which nothing had been previously said (Anonymous 93); that is to say, To thee it is to be begun again where thou didst leave off (Anonymous 107). 3. The particular bitterness of this Prophecy, Revelation 10:9, 10, that is, inasmuch as it contains the calamities of the Church (More’s Works 705). But not a few things are able to be set against this opinion; 1. that John makes only a single Book of the Apocalypse, and concludes it in one volume, and calls it revelation, Revelation 1:1, not revelations (Anonymous 91). Therefore, it is false that the Book is to be divided into two Prophecies. Although if there be two Prophecies, yet it does not follow that they are contemporaneous, and begin and end at the same time (Anonymous 107). 2. That that little book had some Prophecy written upon it, is not evident, nor is it said in the text, but it is asserted gratuitously: for this little book is nowhere designated by its Prophecies, like the preceding Book, Revelation 5:2-5: that it was open, not sealed, teaches that there was no secret in it, and it was only one paper-leaf, and that small, and far smaller than the preceding Book; which accordingly was not able to contain all the following Prophecies, which are fuller and more excellent than the former (Anonymous 90). 3. That that voice in Revelation 10:8 is not said to be the voice of a trumpet, neither has it respect unto that voice in Revelation 4:1, but unto that in Revelation 10:4. If it be so, it would no more demonstrate that the Prophecy of the little Book is contemporaneous with the Prophecy of the Seals, than that voice in Revelation 4:1 proves that the Prophecy of the Seals is contemporaneous with the Vision of the seven Churches, before which also the voice of the Trumpet had been set, Revelation 1:10 (Anonymous 108). 4. That the sixth Trumpet does not cease at Revelation 10:7, but at Revelation 11:14, and therefore that part of chapter 11 pertains to the Sealed Book, and to its seventh Seal, Revelation 8:2; and the seventh Trumpet does not cease with chapter 11, neither is any Period set over against this Trumpet, as against the fifth and sixth, Revelation 9:12 and 11:14, and accordingly it extends to chapter 12 and all the following (Anonymous 91). [These things concerning the third opinion.] 4. There is here an ordered succession of times and events following one upon another, from the beginning of fulfillment unto the end of the world; and the Visions are not to be mixed together, as if the same things were contained in the first and last, or as if what things were completed earlier were related later. This is shown, both, 1. by the words, after this, afterwards, then I saw, etc., which are repeatedly inserted; and also one Vision is always produced from the other, in the same way that in fulfillment one event itself is wont to beget the next; and, 2. that the plagues in Revelation 15 and 16 are called the last (Cluverus’ Apocalyptic Dawn 1:2:3:22). The Apocalyptic Prophecies will be fulfilled in the same order in which they were revealed to John. This is proven, 1. because the Histories describe the events in that order in which they happen. If someone should write a Chronicle of England, certainly he would not put Henry VIII before Henry VII, otherwise how great would be the Chaos there. As a Chronicle is a history of events already past, so the Apocalypse is a history of events to come. 2. Because the events at once and together, and not at diverse times, revealed (that the Apocalyptic Prophecies are of this sort, we previously delivered as proven) happen in the same order in which they were revealed; as it is evident from that Prophecy of Daniel concerning the four Monarchies, Daniel 7, and that concerning the Ram and the He-goat, Daniel 8. 3. Because all these Prophecies were written in one Book, not in two. 4. If those Prophecies which were previously revealed should happen after those which were afterwards revealed, why, I ask, were the former revealed earlier? 5. From the numbers, which are here ordinal, not cardinal, first, second, etc., namely, of the Seals, Trumpets, Vials; and accordingly a Seal happens after a Seal, and a Trumpet after a Trumpet, and a Vial after a Vial; and the seven Trumpets are the offspring of the seventh Seal, and therefore they happen after the end of the sixth Seal; and the seven Vials are the offspring, although not immediate nor equal, of the seventh Trumpet, and therefore they happen after the end of the Prophecy of chapter 14 (Anonymous 93, etc.). The three principal Prophecies of this Book, namely, of the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, are not contemporaneous, but they exhibit a continuous series of events from beginning to end; yet under diverse forms or types, by changing Seals into Trumpets, and Trumpets into Vials, because of the diversity of the events. Showing this are, 1. the order which is diligently preserved among the Seals, Trumpets, and Vials, as it is evident from this chapter and 8:13 and chapter 16. It is evident that there is order among the first six Seals, equally also among the first six Trumpets and Vials. Hence in the same manner also the seventh Seal will contain matters following the sixth Seal, just as the sixth contained matters following the fifth, etc. The rationale is the same in the case of the Trumpets and Vials. Therefore, the Trumpets, which are contained under the seventh Seal, are not contemporaneous with the six prior Seals; neither are the Vials, which are contained under the seventh Trumpet, contemporaneous with the six prior Trumpets. And, 2. the diverse material of these Prophecies. For by them the state of the Church, according to its diverse periods, is designated; both the sorrowful state, and that, either, under Heathen persecutors, that which has regard to the Seals; or, under Heretics and especially Antichrist, which the Trumpets designate: and the joyous state, when she emerges by degrees from the tyranny of Antichrist, and punishments exacted against the Church’s enemies; that which the Vials express. And, 3. that these Prophecies neither begin simultaneously, nor end simultaneously. The first Vial is poured out upon the worshippers of the Beast, who had not arisen under the Seals, and was persecuting the Church under the Trumpets, Revelation 11. Next, the Vials are said to carry the last plagues, Revelation 15, or, which is the same thing, the last woe. Hence it follows that these Prophecies are not contemporaneous, but that one follows upon another (Durham). The principal thread of the Series and Order of the Apocalyptic Visions, beyond controversy, is to be established as the Vision of the seven Seals, which runs directly and clearly from the beginning to the end of them (More’s Works 18), and comprehends the entire series of events. The first six Seals contain the beginnings of sorrows: the seventh Seal begets the seven Trumpets, and in them the subsequent, more grievous evils: the seventh Trumpet has the effusion of the third, and also newest, wrath from the seven Vials, unto the final destruction of the enemies of the Church, which, with these evils driven off, in this life by a plenitude of grace, according to the attentive expectation of future glory, is adorned (Forbes). [And these things, concerning the first and principal question, it has been pleasing to present at greater length, for these things appeared, without being tiresome, to fortify the way to understanding all the following Visions. In the remaining Prolegomena I will be briefer.] 2. When we establish the order or sequence in the Trumpets and Seals, we do not thus understand it, as if what is referenced under one Seal would be completely past and finished before another Seal would be opened, etc. For the white horse of the first Seal, and the red of the second, are yet ridden under the Vials, as we shall see in chapter 19. But here we think to be regarded, both the rising of events, so that the white horse precedes the red, etc., so that the Seals precede the Trumpets, etc.; and the greater eminence of degree, so that that evil is designated which especially prevails in the Church, of which sort was open persecution, which the Seals exhibit, as it is proven out of the fifth Seal; and heresy, which the Trumpets designate, as it is evident out of Revelation 11-13. 3. The three explanatory Prophecies are contained under the three principal Prophecies, and are contemporaneous with them, in which explanatory Prophecies what things were treated more briefly and obscurely in the principal Prophecies are exhibited more fully and clearly, and with diverse forms, instruments and circumstances. Of these Prophecies the first is chapter 12, which is contemporaneous with the Seals, as proves, both its agreement with chapter 6, for both treat of the infancy and first afflictions of the Church; and, that the persecution of the Dragon, chapter 12, immediately precedes the rising of the Beast, chapter 13, the rising of which is contemporaneous with the Trumpets. The second Prophecy is chapters 13 and 14, which agrees and in contemporaneous with the Trumpets, for as the Seals precede the Trumpets, so also the Dragon precedes the Beast; and the rising and reign of Antichrist immediately precedes his ruin, therefore it precedes the Vials, which the Trumpets also do. The third is chapters 17, 18, etc., which corresponds and is contemporaneous with the Vials, as it is apparent, for it treats of the ruin of Antichrist, which the Vials both begin and complete, and of the blessed state of the Church, etc. And this is the reason of the altered sort of speech. The Holy Spirit, when He narrates events about to happen successively, expresses them in the number seven; but when He stops the course, and makes a digressions for amplification and explication of matters, or for the preparation and consolation of the faithful, He employs another form of speech; and when He returns to the former plan, He also returns to the same form of expression (Durham’s Commentary upon the Book of Revelation 329, etc.). [4. It is to be asked concerning the Epoch of the Apocalypse.] It appears remarkable to some that here no certain Epoch is assigned to the Apocalyptic Visions (as to those of Daniel, Daniel 9:24), but that all, on account of an uncertain beginning, as uncertain as the accounting of the time, fluctuates. And Erudite men still doubt from what point it is to be begun, whether from the Nativity of Christ, or from His Passion in 33 AD (More’s Works 34) and the beginning of Christianity (Mede’s Works 535), or from the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, or in fact from the time in which this Revelation was made to John (More, similarly Mede). But, be that as it may, I think that no one will doubt that thence the beginning of the Seals, as far as the matters to be conducted at that time, is to be deduced (Mede’s Works 535). But I contend that here an Epoch is most certainly fixed, namely, in chapter 17, which contains a key, as it were, of this entire structure of Prophecies (More’s Works 34), on which you might safely plant your foot, and thence as from a Station or Watchtower you might lay out the rest of the Apocalypse. And therefore this only and alone of all the Visions does the Angel interpret for John, so that access might be opened through this to the rest, otherwise inaccessible (Mede’s Works 537). Now, while all the Apocalyptic Visions, which, set in a direct order, occupy the entire line of Apocalyptic time, are distributed into the Antemedialia, which pertain unto the first part of the line, and the Medialia, which pertain unto the next part, and the Postmedialia, which pertain to the third or last part, and the Mixed (More’s Works 18), the Holy Spirit wished to assign the Epoch of the Medial Visions, rather than the Antemedial; partly, because the Medial Visions denote those times in which the Church begins to apostatize into Idolatrous and Pagan Rites, concerning which times it was of greater concern that Christians be warned, than from what year the Antemedial Visions begin; partly, because it was more appropriate that the Epoch for those Visions be set, the time of which is limited by clear references, of what sort are the Medial, than for those of which the duration is signified by either no, or yet obscure, reckoning, of which sort are the Antemedial (More’s Works 34). [5. It is to be asked concerning the scene of these Visions:] In the first six Seals, I would also add in the first six Trumpets, Grotius locates the scene of all the Visions in Judea, and concludes the same in the destruction of Jerusalem (More’s Works 18). If this be so, these Prophecies would have been vain, inasmuch as concerning those matters which were already previously spoken by Christ to John, and concerning which it had been written, indeed more fully and clearly than is here done, in Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21 (Anonymous 37, similarly More). Who ever has been thrown into ecstasy, so that he might discern things which were already known? Would this Book be so celebrated, which no one was worthy to open except Christ? In fact, not one of the Seals was fulfilled, either in Judea, or before the destruction of Jerusalem, as we shall see in its order and place (Anonymous 37). [6. Some things concerning the Seals are to be foreshadowed in general:] The scope of the seven Seals in general is that, with the intervals of the time, which was about to begin, distinguished through the characters of events, it might be revealed, of what sort, with the order of the calamities of the Roman Empire hastened along, the future might be, that Christ might undertake war with the gods of this world, and conquer them, etc. The first six Seals, by the sixfold character of the events, distinguish as many intervals of the yet standing and flourishing Roman Empire; until at last with the sixth Christ utterly destroyed the power of Idols in that world. Now, I call characters the greatly eminent Cases of the Roman Empire, even indeed cases domestic and having arisen in the Empire itself, by which, as by emblems, the intervals might be distinguished. Now, while those characters of the cases pervade hardly the entire interval of the Seal, and therefore are not at all sufficient by themselves to circumscribe their intervals with a certain beginning and end; for this reason, the Holy Spirit in the four first Seals (in which it was especially needful, partly on account of the cause already mentioned, partly on account of the inequality of the intervals) employed the four living Creatures in turn unto this matter; each one of which indicates an Epoch of a Seal agreeing with its own compass point (Mede’s Works 546). It is common to the six Seals that a significant speech is annexed to each advancing type. It is common to the first four that their types are horses, and riders upon the horses; and next that to each is joined the voice of one of the four living Creatures (Forbes, similarly Durham), to excite attention for perceiving these things: inasmuch as the reason of which is reckoned by the prudent alone, and by those that are attentive (Forbes). Now, the fifth and the sixth have no such voice, since those speak distinctly by themselves (Durham). And by horses (through which also events not at all dissimilar are expressed in Zechariah 1:8; 6:2, 3), that is, swift, wild, and bold beasts, the speed, and the enormous energy of these judgments, is declared. The rider, governing the horse and receiving the power of operating, shows that the providence of God is directing and governing all those events (Forbes). [With these things set down beforehand, let us approach unto the words of the text.]

[1] Greek: καὶ πᾶν κτίσμα ὅ ἐστιν ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἐν τῇ γῇ, καὶ ὑποκάτω τῆς γῆς, καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης ἅ ἐστι, καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς πάντα, ἤκουσα λέγοντας, Τῷ καθημένῳ ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καὶ τῷ ἀρνίῳ ἡ εὐλογία καὶ ἡ τιμὴ καὶ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. [2] That is, Personification. [3] Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6. [4] Psalm 103:1: “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me (וְכָל־קְרָבַי; καί πάντα τὰ ἐντός μου, in the Septuagint), blesshis holy name.” Ἐντός/within, an adverb, is here used absolutely, τὰ ἐντός, the inner parts. [5] Κτίσμα/creature is neuter, singular; λέγοντας is a masculine, plural participle. [6] Greek: καὶ τὰ τέσσαρα ζῶα ἔλεγον, Ἀμήν. καὶ οἱ εἰκοσιτέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι ἔπεσαν καὶ προσεκύνησαν ζῶντι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. [7]Him that liveth for ever and ever is wanting in Codices Alexandrinus, Sinaiticus, Ephræmi Rescriptus, and the majority of Byzantine manuscripts. [8] See Revelation 10. [9] Revelation 11:15. [10] See Daniel 2; 7.


Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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