Poole on Revelation 3:12, 13: Living Pillars in God's Temple

Verse 12:[1] Him that overcometh will I make (1 Kings 7:21; Gal. 2:9) a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and (Rev. 2:17; 14:1; 22:4) I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is (Gal. 4:26; Heb. 12:22; Rev. 21:2, 10) new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: (Rev. 22:4) and I will write upon him my new name.

[Who, etc., ὁ νικῶν, ποιήσω αὐτὸν,[2] etc.] It is a Hebraism, in the place of which the Greeks would say, τὸν νικῶντα ποιήσω, the overcoming one I will make (Grotius). Thus Revelation 2:26[3] (Piscator). He that overcometh (or, as far as it concerns him that overcomes [Piscator]: What things He had said to the Bishop, He extends also to others, as also above in every case [Grotius]) I will cause that he might be a pillar (that is, great and glorious [Lapide, Menochius, similarly Pareus]) in the temple of my God (Beza). Compare John 20:17 (Beza). In the Church (Gagnæus, Lapide, Menochius, Pareus), either, 1. militant (Gagnæus, Pareus), or in this life, as Arethas, Bede, Haymo, and Anselm[4] appear to have understood it. Thus the sense will be that he will be firm and unmovable, like a pillar, and by his word and example he will sustain the rest of the faithful (Ribera). Or, 2. triumphant (Gagnæus, Pareus, Gomar), in the heavens (Gomar, Lapide, Estius, Durham, Ribera). This I prefer (Durham, Ribera out of Ambrose), 1. for to this pertain all the promises made to the victor: 2. for nothing other is able to be expected by any victor whatsoever beyond heaven (Durham): on account of the following words, and he shall not go out, etc. (Durham, Ribera out of Ambrose). But how are there pillars in heaven, where no one is infirm, needing to be supported and strengthened? Response: He is called a pillar because he will be honored by all, as he who, while he lived, confirmed the tottering, etc. (Ribera). The use of pillars was twofold, 1. for support; 2. for decoration (Pererius out of Primasius, similarly Pareus). The sense: He will be for an ornament, etc. (Gomar). He will shine with remarkable brilliance, will be observed as equipped with many and great gifts, so that he might appear to adorn heaven itself and the heavenlies (Ribera). He has regard to the custom of the Romans, who were setting up pillars for victors, that is, monuments and statues of honor (Pareus). Others: He has regard to those two pillars that were in front of the Temple of Solomon, and on account of strength were called Jachin and Boaz,[5] 1 Kings 7:15, 21; 2 Chronicles 3:15-17 (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Pareus). Now, why He would make use of this similitude He will now explain (Grotius). The sense: He will stand eternally in heaven, like a pillar, lofty and glorious and liable to no alteration (Lapide). A stone is able easily to be moved; a pillar is more difficult (Cotterius).

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God: though by the temple of God in this place some understand the church of Christ on earth, where those always were, and are, and always shall be, most famous, who have overcome temptations best, from the world, the flesh, and the devil; yet, considering that all the promises before made to those who overcome are of another life, it seems best rather to interpret this so, that God would make such a one of fame and renown in heaven, great in the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:19, to sit upon a throne there, Matthew 19:28. He shall have a higher degree in glory, (for stars differ from one another in glory, 1 Corinthians 15:41,) pillars being not only for support, but ornament, and principal parts in buildings.

[And he shall go out no more] That is, he shall not be forced to flee again, as under Nero: Perpetually he shall abide in the Church of Sardis, just as those pillars were abiding in the Temple (Grotius). He, established upon the rock, indeed made a pillar of that Church, shall never go back from the faith of the Church (Gagnæus). Through the gift of constancy and perseverance, which I will give to him, he will persevere steadfastly (Lapide, similarly Pareus). This glory of the victors will be free from alteration, perpetual, eternal (Pareus). I will establish that one in heavenly glory (Lapide), of which he shall never be deprived (Menochius, similarly Ribera, Lapide, Gomar, etc.). There will be no interruption, as here, of communion between God and the faithful; neither shall He hide himself from them, nor shall they go back from God and play the harlot, etc. (Durham). But what here is this ἔτι/more? For this victor has never gone out from heaven, neither perhaps has he gone out of the Church (Ribera). Response: That adverb sometimes has regard only to the future time (Ribera, Gomar), not the past; that is, it excludes only the following future, it does not include anything which was (Ribera); as in Jeremiah 22:11, Shallum…shall not return here any more, that is, after this time he shall not at all return. For previously Shallum, as a captive, had never gone out of Judea. Thus in Tobit 3:9, of the virgin Sara it is said, let us no more see a son of thee,[6] that is, never; and in Acts 13:34, of Christ never corrupted it is said, He is not going to return any more unto corruption (Gomar our to Ribera). Nevertheless, these expressions in a certain way do have regard unto the past, and out of the past they lift either what was, or what was able to be previously (as Sara was able to have born children previously, and the body of Christ was able to be corrupted, if God preserved it not), or the state of the matter which previously obtained, as he that once went out is said no more to return, that is, no more to be in the place in which he previously was. So here, having entered into heaven, he is said to exit no more, for he is not going to return to his former state (Ribera).

And he shall go no more out; he shall have an eternal inheritance, of which he shall not be dispossessed.

[And I shall write upon him (that is, upon his forehead, from a comparison with Revelation 22:4 [Piscator]; or, upon that [Lapide, Menochius]: He continues the Metaphor [Grotius, similarly Lapide, Menochius] of the pillar [Lapide, Menochius]: For on pillars were made inscriptions of such a sort as in the Psalms are called מִכְתָּב/writing: for thus the Greeks read in Psalm 16 and elsewhere, in which places now the Hebrew books have מִכְתָּם/Michtam: The Greeks render it στηλογραφία/writing[7] [Grotius]: Titles are wont to be inscribed on columns, and the names of victors or of those to whom they are erected and dedicated [Lapide]) the name of my God] That is, so that he might be called, and actually be, a son of God (Piscator, thus Pareus), namely, with the full fruition and majesty of adoption (Pareus): or the name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, which signifies that God is going to fulfill the promises, as it is able to be understood in Exodus 6:3, and with those things which were said on Revelation 1:4, 8. The sense: Those that will have been constant in this persecution are going to see by the Prophetic spirit how God according to His promises is going to triumph over the Jews and the Romans: which is the principal argument of the Apocalypse (Grotius). He alludes to pillars, on which the principal men erecting them arrange to have their own names inscribed; by which they were signifying that they were their own, dedicated and consecrated to their name, and therefore they were illustrious and glorious for themselves (Menochius out of Lapide). Such was the monument of Absalom, 2 Samuel 18:18. And statues consecrated to gods were displaying their inscribed names (Gomar). Now, such monuments were more or less glorious according to the dignity of the name inscribed on it. But nothing is more glorious than the name of God. Now, it here appears to be indicated that we in some manner will be partakers of the glory of God (Durham). The similitude was derived from ancient civil custom (Gomar), in accordance with which possessors on their goods (or precious things, which they desire always to possess, and in which especially they glory [Ribera]) were inscribing their names (Gomar, similarly Ribera, Cotterius), so that they might distinguish them from another’s, and in this way guard against injury (Gomar). Therefore, Christ wills that God is going to be our God (Cotterius, similarly Ribera), and is to be inherited by us completely, and is going to be glorified in us peculiarly, as in servants and mighty and faithful soldiers (Ribera); that Jerusalem [as it follows] is our mother; that He is our Lord, head, and savior (Cotterius). Moreover, this name of God is inscribed, both, 1. on the earth by the Holy Spirit, who seals to the consciences of His own that we are the Children of God, Romans 8:16; and, 2. when they are recognized outwardly by the faithful, and are named, as in Isaiah 60:4; and, 3. in heaven, when at the last judgment they shall be called the blessed of the Father, and be made known gloriously, Matthew 25:34; 1 John 3:2 (Gomar).

And I will write upon him the name of my God; as men use, upon pillars and monuments erected for their own use and honour, to write their names; so I will peculiarly own, and challenge such a one for myself.

[And the name of the city of my God (that is, he shall always be called a true, full, and perpetual citizen of it [Ribera, similarly Drusius, Piscator, Pareus]: This name is ἐκκλησία καθολικὴ, the catholic Church, namely, free and flourishing under Christian Emperors [Grotius]: That is is to be understood here [Beza, Piscator]), of the new Jerusalem (that is, of the Church [Camerarius, Gomar, Pareus, Durham] triumphant [Pareus, Menochius, Durham]: He calls it new because the old was shadowing forth in a typical way the Church of Christ [Gomar]; or, oppositely, not to the Church of this age, which is the same as the heavenly, but to the Jewish Church [Cotterius]: He calls the heavenly fatherland Jerusalem, of which Jerusalem on earth was a figura, which is called old because it was previously known by men; but the heavenly is called new, not in itself, but to us who saw it not [Ribera]), which descends from heaven (not by local motion [Durham], but, either, 1. visionally, Revelation 21 [Pareus]; or, 2. because, although it was previously hidden in heaven, at the coming of Christ it began to be seen and known, and then its joys, both hope and eternity, became known to men by the preaching of the Apostles: therefore it is said, not to have descended, but to be yet descending [Ribera]: Or, 3. because it has a heavenly origin [Pareus, thus Gomar, Durham]) from my God] That is, it was procured by a marvelous benefit of God. See John 6:33, 38, 41, 42, 50, 51, 58, and compare the things said there with those which we shall have in Revelation 21. The language of descending signifies that what is here described is going to be in the earth. In some manuscripts it is ἡ καταβαίνουσα, which came down,[8] which savors sufficiently of the locution of John, who is wont to make use of direct expressions in the place of oblique expressions (Grotius).

And the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem; and I will write upon him, This man is an inhabitant of the new Jerusalem.

[And my new name] That is, either, 1. the name of Jesus (Ribera, Menochius); or, 2. that name, King of Kings, etc., as it is seen in Revelation 19:16 (Grotius, similarly Gomar, Piscator); see also Revelation 2:17 (Grotius); or, 3. the name of the Son of God (certain interpreters in Gomar), or of the Mediator (Durham); or, 4. a name, taken figuratively (some interpreters Gomar), that is, the glory and exaltation which Christ received after the resurrection, Philippians 2:9, of which he will be a sharer (certain interpreters in Gomar, Durham). The sense: I will acknowledge him as a Christian and as my own member (Gomar, similarly Ribera, Menochius); he will be a sharer in my salvation in a special manner, and by him the whole shall be possessed (Ribera).

And I will write upon him my new name; I will glorify him with that glory of which myself was made partaker, upon my ascension after my resurrection, John 17:22, 24.

Verse 13:[9] (Rev. 2:7) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

He that hath an ear, etc.: This we have met with at the close of every epistle: see the notes on Revelation 2:7.

[To the Churches] To the Church of Philadelphia and others in that part of Mysia (Grotius).

Those who think these churches were typical, and the matter of the epistles not only didactic and corrective, but prophetical, say, this church of Philadelphia was a type of all gospel churches which were to be in the world upon the Reformation; which more perfectly cast off antichrist, and would allow no key but that of the house of David, reforming themselves strictly according to the rule of the word, not according to state policy, and prudence.

[1] Greek: ὁ νικῶν, ποιήσω αὐτὸν στύλον ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ μου, καὶ ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι, καὶ γράψω ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ Θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς πόλεως τοῦ Θεοῦ μου, τῆς καινῆς Ἱερουσαλήμ, ἣ καταβαίνει ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου τὸ καινόν. [2] Ὁ νικῶν , the one overcoming, is in the Nominative case; however, instead of being used as the subject, there is a change of case, and the overcoming one is the object of the verb ποιήσω, I will make. [3] Revelation 2:26: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give (καὶ ὁ νικῶν καὶ ὁ τηρῶν ἄχρι τέλους τὰ ἔργα μου, δώσω αὐτῷ) power over the nations…” See what things are written on that passage. [4] Anselm (c. 1034-1108) was Bishop of Canterbury. He is remembered for his articulation of the satisfaction theory of atonement. He wrote Enarrationes in Apocalysim Sancti Joannis Apostoli. [5] יָכִין/Jachin, he will establish, is derived from the verbal root כּוּן, to be firm; בֺּעַז/Boaz signifies in strength. [6] Tobit 3:9: “Wherefore dost thou beat us for them? if they be dead, go thy ways after them, let us never see of thee either son or daughter.” [7] The title of Psalm 16: “Michtam (מִכְתָּם, meaning uncertain; στηλογραφία, a writing) of David.[8] Revelation 3:12b: “…which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down (ἣ καταβαίνει, which comes down, in the present tense, which reading is supported by the weight of the Byzantine textual tradition; ἡ καταβαίνουσα, which came down, an aorist participle, which reading is supported by Codices Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Ephræmi Rescriptus, as well as some of the Byzantine tradition) out of heaven from my God…[9] Greek: ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ Πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις.


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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