Poole on Revelation 4:1: Revelation of Future Things

Verse 1:[1] After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and (Rev. 1:10) the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, (Rev. 11:12) Come up hither, (Rev. 1:19; 22:6) and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

[After these things] At another time, concerning which it was not needful to note anything particular (Grotius). After the first Vision, which I to this point recounted (Ribera, similarly Pareus, Gomar, Durham): that is to say, it was not yet the end of the Visions (Pareus). That μετὰ ταῦτα, after these things, is able to denote either, matter diverse from the former, or, a Vision diverse from the former. For here it is possible to gather, neither a certain order of the Visions, nor a time of their completion. Therefore, it is not necessary that what is represented in this Vision, namely, the destruction of the Jews, begin no earlier than the preceding Vision was completed (Hammond).

After this; after I had the first vision, mentioned Revelation 1, and had written what it was the pleasure of God I should write to the churches, in a book, perceiving the way God designed to reveal himself to me was by vision.

[I looked] A Vision is denoted, not fixed, but vague and uncertain. That is to say, I strained with my eyes, so that, since revelations of hidden things had been promised to me, with my eyes I might drink in what things were offered; and thus I composed myself for receiving them (Cotterius). It indicates a pious desire, and his serious concern, not resting in the preceding visions, but anticipating additional ones (Forbes). Others: Εἶδον is here to be taken like the Hebrew חָזָה, to see, after the use of the Prophets;[2] whence a Prophecy is called חָזוֹן, a vision, and a Prophet, חֺזֶה, a seer; and it is best explained by the following, I was in spirit (Hammond). Εἶδον, חָזֵ֣ה הֲוֵ֔ית, I was looking, Daniel 4:10[3] (Grotius).

I looked; I looked again, hoping and being desirous to see something further as to the mind of God.

[And behold (understanding, there was [Beza, Piscator]) an open door (this signifies that God was going to reveal wonderful and heavenly things to John [Grotius, similarly Ribera, Lapide, Forbes, Menochius]: Thus the heavens appeared opened both to John, Matthew 3:16 [Forbes], in which place see what things are said [Grotius]; and to Stephen, Acts 7:56, and to Jacob, Genesis 28;17: And what this phrase signifies the Lord clearly shows, when, promising a more plentiful dispensation of heavenly things, afterwards, says he, ye shall see the heavens opened[4] [Forbes]) in heaven] That is, either, 1. in the Church (Cotterius, certain interpreters in Durham), in which God dwells as in heaven (Cotterius), which often in this Book, and in the Scripture, is called heaven (Durham). Thus the open door will be a revelation of Sacred Scripture, which is kept in the Church, and through which we penetrate into heavenly secrets (certain interpreters in Pareus). Here, He declares that those things were going to be opened to John, namely, what things both at that time and in coming generations were going to be done in the Church, as in a certain kind of heaven, over which that highest Majesty exhibited in this chapter presides and rules (Zegers). Or, 2. the third heaven, concerning which there is a treatment in 2 Corinthians 12:2 (Durham, similarly Pareus, Gomar), the door of which is opened, so that John might be able to see God sitting on His throne, etc. (Menochius).

[And the first voice (namely, of God the Father, who is the ultimate author of the Apocalypse, Revelation 1:1 [Cotterius])] That is, Either the first of all those that he was going to hear afterwards (Ribera): or, that which he had heard in the first vision, Revelation 1:10, 12 (Grotius, similarly Ribera, Menochius, Pareus, Forbes). And first is here in the place of former, as in Revelation 2:4 and 1 Timothy 5:12 (Pareus).

[As of a trumpet (that is, loud [Cluverus, Grotius], and full of authority [Grotius], namely, the voice of Christ [Grotius, Cluverus], as we saw above [Cluverus]) speaking with me] Thus at the opening of the door of the Temple a trumpet sounded, to which it is here alluded (Lightfoot’s Harmony, Chronicle, and Order of the New Testament 155).

[Saying, λέγουσα] Supply ἦν/was: which sort of particles are often understood in this Book (Grotius). It was saying (Beza, Piscator).

[Come up hither] As formerly Jerusalem, so also the Church, as a high place, is to be surmounted by ascent; for, although it is militant in the earth, it is the same as Jerusalem ἄνω/above, Galatians 4:26 (Cotterius). Come up, as by scaling Jacob’s ladder[5] (Grotius): By which an ascent above the earth and earthly affections is required of John and all the readers of this prophecy, so that they might penetrate into the secret things of God (Forbes, similarly Napier, Durham). Question: Of what sort was this Vision and ascent? Response: Not real (Tirinus), for heaven does not have a door, but imaginary, or mental (Tirinus, thus Menochius, Durham); not in the body, but in the mind and spirit (Lapide, similarly Cluverus). By this door John ἐν ἐκστάσει, in ecstasy, is admitted into heaven, just as Ezekiel, although physically removed, was admitted into the Temple.[6] See a similar thing in 2 Corinthians 12:2 (Grotius). This sight was presented to the mind of John, demonstrated from a comparison of similar passages, Revelation 1:10 and elsewhere (Gomar). Others: This opening of heaven and vision was actual and by the eyes of the body (certain interpreters in Gomar, similarly Durham), as in Matthew 3:16; Acts 7:56 (Gomar). With God strengthening him, so that he might look into the place of the glory of God, etc. (Durham).

And, behold, a door was opened; I saw the heavens opened, as Matthew 3:16; Acts 7:56. In heaven; he, doubtless, meaneth the third heavens. Such a vision, as to this particular, John had at Christ’s baptism, Matthew 3, and Stephen when he was stoned. He also heard the voice of one speaking aloud to him, like the voice he heard, Revelation 1:10; which said, Come up hither, into heaven, the new Jerusalem which is above; as the old Jerusalem stood upon a hill, or rising ground, so as they who went thither are constantly said to go up, Isaiah 2:3; Acts 11:2; Galatians 1:17, 18; 2:1.

[And I will show to thee what things must be after these] Namely, concerning the Jews (Grotius); or, what things shall happen to the Church (Menochius, similarly Ribera, Pareus, Durham, Tirinus), both, 1. to the Church militant (Tirinus), from this time unto the end of the age (Ribera, Menochius); and, 2. to the Church triumphant (Tirinus), which chiefly regard the future life (Cotterius): that is to say, Hitherto I have showed thee what is the state of the Church in the present time; now I will show thee what the future state will be (Piscator). Consult Revelation 1:19 (Piscator, Cotterius). Hence it is gathered that the following visions treat of future things (Cluverus, similarly Cotterius, Durham), and that those things are ineptly drawn by many unto past things (Cluverus). Yet not in these are all events predicted, but the principal only, and those things which regard the Church and her enemies. Now, the following prophecies, or visions, are, either, 1. principal and primary; which are three, concerning the seven Seals in chapter 6, the seven Trumpets in chapters 8-11, and the seven Vials in chapters 15 and 16: or, 2. secondary and explanatory, which explicate matters contained in the former, of which sort are chapters 12-14, 17-21 (Durham).

And I will show thee things which must be hereafter; not which have been, (for to what purpose had that been)? But which shall happen hereafter both to my church and to her enemies: from which it appears, that God did not here show his prophet the destruction of Jerusalem, for that was already past, in the time of Titus Vespasian the Roman emperor, about the year 69, or 70, after the incarnation; this (as all confess) was in Domitian’s time, about the eleventh or twelfth year of his reign, about twenty-six or twenty-seven years after that was past, which makes the notion of two late annotators very strange.

[1] Greek: Μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, καὶ ἰδού, θύρα ἀνεῳγμένη ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἡ φωνὴ ἡ πρώτη ἣν ἤκουσα ὡς σάλπιγγος λαλούσης μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ, λέγουσα, Ἀνάβα ὧδε, καὶ δείξω σοι ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα. [2] For example, Ezekiel 12:27: “Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision (הֶחָזוֹן) that he seeth (חֹזֶה) is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.[3] Daniel 4:10: “Thus were the visions (וְחֶזְוֵי) of mine head in my bed; I saw (חָזֵ֣ה הֲוֵ֔ית), and behold a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great.[4] John 1:51. [5] Genesis 28:12. [6] See Ezekiel 1; 2; 8-10.


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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