Poole on Revelation 4:2: "Behold, The Sovereign!"

Verse 2:[1] And immediately (Rev. 1:10; 17:3; 21:10) I was in the spirit: and, behold, (Is. 6:1; Jer. 17:12; Ezek. 1:26; 10:1; Dan. 7:9) a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.


[And immediately I was, etc., ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι] I am, or was, carried away (or, seized [Beza]; made [Montanus]; set [Piscator]) by the spirit (Vatablus, Beza), or, in the spirit (Montanus, Piscator). That is, raptured in ecstasy (Tirinus, Menochius, thus Lapide), abstracted from the senses (Ribera), into heaven he ascended,or was drawn (Grotius, Cotterius), by the operation of the Spirit (Cotterius); not in body, but ὀπτασίᾳ, in a vision, which is called spirit also in Revelation 1:10 (Grotius). The word spirit here denotes, either, 1. the Holy Spirit, the author of his translation into heaven, or rather, the spirit or mind of John, or the subject and mode of the perceived vision, from a comparison with Revelation 1:10 (Gomar). Now, this ecstasy was, either, 1. new, with the former finished (certain interpreters in Forbes, similarly Piscator, Cluverus): so that an actual distinction of matters spoken and of matters to be spoken is indicated (Piscator). Or, 2. only a more profound illumination (Cluverus), or a further exertion or rapture of spirit, or degree of translation, now necessary to perceive things more abstruse than the former (Forbes).


In the Spirit; in an ecstasy, as Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:2, and Peter, Acts 10:10, and Ezekiel, Ezekiel 3:12, and himself was both before and after this, Revelation 1:10; 17:3; 21:10.



[Behold, a throne, etc., θρόνος ἔκειτο, etc.] So it was in all Prophetic visions, as in Exodus 24:10; Ezekiel 1:22; etc. (Alcasar in Lapide); thus Isaiah 6:1. He sees God on a throne, that is, God ready to administer judgments. Add Daniel 7:9, where ἐτέθησαν, were set, is used,[2] which is here ἔκειτο. For, κεῖσθαι, to be set, is wont to mean the same thing as to be put, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:3;[3] 1 Timothy 1:9[4] (Grotius). All allude unto the old Tabernacle (Grotius, similarly Mede), and to the type of that ancient encampment of Israel in the desert, as it will be evident by comparison. There in the midst was the Tabernacle, as here Throne of God, which Throne was no other than the Temple or Tabernacle; as those things which are said to be before the Throne show, as before the innermost chamber of the Temple, namely, the seven Lamps, comparable to the Lampstand of the seven oil lamps, and the golden Altar of incense, concerning which things see 1 Kings 6:20; 2 Chronicles 4:20, and indeed the Sea like unto Crystal, which the bronze Sea of Solomon was representing[5] (Mede’s Works 3:541). Thus the Temple is called His throne, Isaiah 6:1; Jeremiah 17:12; Ezekiel 43:7. And that such was this throne the entire Apocalypse supposes, inasmuch as we have an Altar before the throne, and before God, Revelation 8:3; 9:13; souls under the Altar, Revelation 6:9; the Temple, courts, and altar to be measured, Revelation 11:1; the Ark of the Testament seen in the Temple, Revelation 11:19; Angels coming out of the Temple, Revelation 14, 15, 17, 18. And this is most manifest out of Revelation 16:1, 17, where a voice comes from the Temple of heaven, from the throne, etc. (Mede’s Works 5:1122). The twenty-four elders surrounding the Throne most nearly correspond both in place and order to the Levites and Priests in the camp of Israel, whose courses were twenty-four.[6] The four living Creatures on every side correspond to the Israelite camps, having banner-animals of the same living Creatures, set at the four quarters of heaven (Mede’s Works 544). This throne corresponds to the innermost Chamber (Grotius, similarly Mede), which is especially called the Throne, to which the remaining parts of the Temple or Tabernacle are either supports, or steps, or footstools (Mede’s Works 544). Here is described the Theater of the Apocalyptic Visions (Mede’s Works 541), with which Visions this Preface squares most beautifully (Cluverus); partly, so that the Apocalypse might be commended by reason of its heavenly author (Gomar), and the Prophet might be stirred to observe these revelations and more confidently publish them under the name of God Himself; partly, so that this might be a mark of Divine direction (Cluverus), by which the souls of the faithful are fortified against the numerous dangers, defections, and struggles in the following history of the Church (Forbes, similarly Gomar), with false brethren, Apostles, heretics, tyrants and persecutors, and indeed wars, plagues, famine, etc. The prediction of all which was able to demoralize even constant souls, as if these things might happen with God either not knowing, or not caring (Gomar). [Thus they render the words:] A throne was set in heaven, and (understanding, a certain one [Beza, Piscator]) upon the throne sitting (Montanus, etc.), understanding, was (Piscator). Who was like unto a man, as it is proven out of Revelation 5:1 (Piscator). Now, this one was, either, 1. Christ (Ambrose in Lapide, Pareus), the Son of God, who sits upon the throne of His Father, Revelation 3:21, and to whom the Father gave all judgment, John 5:22. It is evident from this, that descriptions proper to Christ are attributed to this one sitting, both Revelation 4:8, 9 compared with Revelation 1:8, 18, and Revelation 21:6 (Pareus). Objection: But He is the Lamb before the throne, as it is evident from Revelation 5:6, 7 (Lapide). Response: Not absurdly is Christ represented with diverse figures in diverse respects, as walking among the lampstands, as sitting on the throne, as the Lamb, etc., just as the same Christ is the High Priest, the Altar, and the sacrifice, in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Pareus). Or, 2. God the Father (Grotius, Ribera, Pererius, Piscator), as it appears in Revelation 4:5; 5:7 (Grotius): or, 3. God absolutely and essentially (Lapide), or the whole Trinity (Pererius, thus Lapide): now, Christ is named distinctly as He is man (Pererius). God the Father, coming unto judgment, is undoubtedly understood in this representation. Now, the one that represents and signifies Him here appears to be James Bishop of Jerusalem, where the Christian Church was first founded, sitting on a throne or bishop’s chair, in council, as in Acts 15, whom the Apostles, who were there, and the Bishops of Judea surround (Hammond). Now, the scope of this vision is to represent the glory of God (Durham), either, 1. in the heavens (Durham, certain interpreters in Napier, Gomar). To which it is objected, 1. that no one is able either to comprehend, or to describe, this glory: 2. that the four living Creatures, and the twenty-four Elders, who are joined to this Throne, acknowledge themselves to reign upon the earth, Revelation 5:9, 10: 3. that among the four living Creatures famine arises, Revelation 6:6 (Napier’s Proposition 17). But these reasons evince nothing, 1. because we are able to grasp at least a shadow of that glory, which is here depicted: 2. both, because they do not say, we reign, but we shall reign; and, because the faithful that are in the heaven reign in a certain manner upon the earth, namely, in their head Christ, and in the truly faithful members conjoined to them: 3. because the famine is not in that place, but is predicted as future in the earth (Gomar). Or, 2. in the earth, in the Church militant (Durham), which goes by the name of Heaven (Napier, Durham), in the Prophets (Napier), and often in this book; of which also the events are here described, the theater of which is here represented. And this especially makes for the consolation of the Church entering into her struggles, for God is present and providing for her, etc. Add that the similitude between the presence of God in the Church and in heaven is not slight; and in both God has a Throne, here of Grace, there of Glory (Durham). Just as the entire following Prophecy has regard unto the condition of the Church, and the divine administration towards her in grace, and in anger against her enemies; so also in this chapter and in the following He sets down beforehand a magnificent vision of the general condition of the Church, and the administration of God towards her. Which is, as it were, an Isagoge or introduction to the following history. In the Isagoge are, 1. an eminent type of the Church militant, as it hitherto stood in the midst of and in resistance to all tribulations, and will be steadfast forever, by her king, God residing in her midst, etc., in this chapter: 2. A partial dispensation of this present Apocalypse and the matters in it, etc. (Forbes).



A throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne: God is constantly described, in the prophetical visions, as sitting upon a throne, to denote his power and dominion, that he is the King of kings, and Lord of lords.[7]See Daniel 7:9, etc.

[1] Greek: καὶ εὐθέως ἐγενόμην ἐν πνεύματι· καὶ ἰδού, θρόνος ἔκειτο ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ θρόνου καθήμενος. [2] Daniel 7:9: “I beheld till the thrones were cast down (רְמִיו; ἐτέθησαν, were set, in the Septuagint), and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.” [3] 1 Thessalonians 3:3: “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed (κείμεθα) thereunto.[4] 1 Timothy 1:9a: “Knowing this, that the law is not made (κεῖται) for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…[5] See Exodus 30:17-21. [6] See 1 Chronicles 24, 25. [7] Revelation 17:14; 19:16.

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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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