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Poole on Revelation 3:15: Christ as Witness-Bearer

Verse 14:[1] And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans (or, in Laodicea[2]) write; (Is. 65:16) These things saith the Amen, (Rev. 1:5; 19:11; 22:6; 3:7) the faithful and true witness, (Col. 1:15) the beginning of the creation of God…

[Of Laodicea, ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ] It was a city of Lydia by the river Lycus (Grotius, similarly Gomar), where, before the coming of Paul to that place, a certain Church of dispersed Jews was (Grotius).

The church of the Laodiceans: We read of this church, Colossians 4:16. Laodicea was a city in Lydia, by the river Lycus: see Revelation 1:11.

[These things saith the Amen, etc., ὁ Ἀμήν, etc.] Amen (or, that Amen [Estius]; that One whose name is Amen [Piscator]: That One who is the Amen [Menochius]; that is, faithful and true [Castalio, thus Lapide, Menochius, Hammond], as it is next declared [Castalio]; steadfast [Lapide, Menochius], immutable, who is always the same [Ribera]; indeed, steadfastness itself, fidelity [Lapide], truth [Camerarius, Lapide, Gomar], as in Isaiah 65:16 [Gomar], where God is called אֱלֺהֵי אָמֵן, the God of truth/Amen[3] [Grotius, Drusius]: Perhaps the Amen is a brief expression in the place of the God of Amen [Drusius]: Amen is a particle of one strongly asserting, or swearing [Cluverus, thus Pareus]: From the adverb He made a noun, just as the Latins say clarum manè, cras illud, cras hesternum, clear morning, that tomorrow, yesterday’s tomorrow:[4] Now, Christ signifies that He is the One through whom all promises are fulfilled, according to 2 Corinthians 1:20 [Grotius]), the faithful and true witness (Beza, Piscator), as in Revelation 1:5 (Gomar). He who testified of the truth of God (Cotterius, similarly Gomar), both by words and His own blood (Gomar, similarly Hammond), and therefore properly μάρτυς/martus,[5] a martyr (Hammond). He repeats this here, [either, 1.] so that the certainty of the promises of eternal life might stir the languid (Grotius). For the Bishop of Laodicea, while he with the Church was pressed by persecutions, began to doubt within himself concerning the promises of Christ, and often then to relax from the study of virtue; which is always wont to happen when faith and hope languish, or totter (Ribera). Or, 2. because He was about to say some things not having the appearance of truth, as that it would be better to be cold than tepid; that this Bishop was poor and blind; and that He promises to such a one such great things (Menochius, thus Lapide out of Alcasar). Or, 3. so that He might show that His testimony concerning the hidden hypocrisy of this Church, etc., is well-founded (Durham).

These things saith the Amen: Amen, as we have oft noted, is a particle used in asserting, and in wishing, or praying; here it hath the use of a noun, and is assertive, he that is true, as it followeth. He may be conceived thus to preface his epistle, to ascertain to the ministers of this church the truth of what he blames in them; or of the threatenings or promises contained in it; to which purpose he also calls himself the faithful and true witness: see the notes on Revelation 1:5.

[Who, etc., ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ Θεοῦ] The beginning (or, head [Castalio]) of the creature (or, of the creation [Vatablus], or, of the work [Beza, Piscator]) of God (Beza, Piscator); that is, Of all the works of God the most excellent and foremost, like the Elephant in Job 40:19, is called the chief of the works of God (Castalio). The Arians snatch this up greedily, and thence they gathered that Christ was a mere creature, although the first, through which the rest were formed. This, if it be so, would be understood concerning His human nature only; and indeed not in the first and proper creation, but the second and metaphorical, or regeneration, with respect to the beginning of the new world, etc. (Gomar). The beginning of the new creation (Grotius, thus Ribera), or of the new creature; that is, either, of man renewed by the grace of Christ, for creature sometimes in Scripture, especially in the New Testament, signifies man alone; or properly, of the renovation of that (Ribera). Consult 2 Corinthinas 5:17;[6] Galatians 6:15.[7] See also Colossians 1:15[8] and James 1:18[9] (Grotius): so that the sense might be that the Author of all holiness and of regeneration is He who afflicts thee, so that thou mightest be renewed through those afflictions (Ribera). He says this so that the Laodicean Bishop might take for himself the example of Christ, who is truly רֺאשׁ דַּרְכֵי אֵל, the Head of the ways of God.[10] Ἀρχὴ denotes, both, 1. the cause, as in Aristotle’s Metaphysics 4:1, and in Ecclesiasticus 37:16;[11] and, 2. supremacy and rule, as in Aristotle’s Metaphysics 4:1, and in the Septuagint version of Genesis 1:16;[12] and, 3. the chief, as in Ephesians 3:10;[13] Colossians 1:16;[14] Titus 3:1.[15] Hence Christ is able to be called ἀρχὴ, that is (Gomar), either, as the efficient cause of every creature (Gomar, similarly Vatablus, Beza, Cotterius, Durham, Lapide, Tirinus): or, the ruler, or chief of the creature (Gomar, Ribera, Pareus), ruling over all creatures, as the creator (Ribera).

The beginning of the creation of God: those that deny the Divinity of Christ, are deceived in their thoughts that this text will afford them any defence for their error; for ἀρχὴ, the word here used, doth not only signify the cause, but principality, or the chief, or prince, Ephesians 3:10; Colossians 1:16.Hence Christ is said to be ἀρχὴ, which we translate the beginning, because he was the Creator, the efficient cause of the creation, or hath a lordship over the whole creation; all power both in heaven and earth being committed to him, and all knees both in heaven and earth bowing down to him, Philippians 2:10. Unless we had rather interpret it of the new creation, either in the world, so he was the beginning of the gospel; or in particular souls, so he is the beginning of regeneration and sanctification. But though this be a truth, and consistent enough with the Greek phrase, Galatians 6:15, yet I see no reason why we should fly to it against the Arians, or their spurious offspring; for taking the creation, as ordinarily it signifies, the giving all creatures their first being, Christ was the efficient cause of it, and so the beginning of it, without him was nothing made;[16] and he hath a lordship and dominion over it.

[1] Greek: Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον, Τάδε λέγει ὁ Ἀμήν, ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ θεοῦ. [2] Revelation 3:14a: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans (Λαοδικέων, in the Textus Receptus; ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ, in Laodicea in the great majority of Byzantine manuscripts) write…[3] Isaiah 65:16: “That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth (בֵּאלֹהֵ֣י אָמֵ֔ן); and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth (בֵּאלֹהֵ֣י אָמֵ֑ן); because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes.” [4] Both manè, in the morning, and cras, tomorrow, are adverbs, which also functioned as indeclinable nouns. [5] Revelation 3:14b: “…These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness (μάρτυς)…[6] 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (κτίσις): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.[7] Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (κτίσις).[8] Colossians 1:15: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature (κτίσεως)…[9] James 1:18: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures (κτισμάτων).[10] Proverbs 8:22. [11] Ecclesiastes 37:16: “Let reason go before (ἀρχὴ, be the beginning of) every enterprise, and counsel before every action.” [12] Genesis 1:16: “And God made two great lights; the greater light for ruling (εἰς ἀρχὰς) the day, and the lesser light for ruling (εἰς ἀρχὰς) the night: he made the stars also.[13] Ephesians 3:10: “To the intent that now unto the principalities (ταῖς ἀρχαῖς) and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God…[14] Colossians 1:16: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities (ἀρχαί), or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.[15] Titus 3:1: “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities (ἀρχαῖς) and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work…[16] See John 1:3.

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