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Revelation 1:14: The Majesty and Loveliness of Christ, Part 2

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

Verse 14:[1] His head and (Dan. 7:9) his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and (Dan. 10:6; Rev. 2:18; 19:12) his eyes were as a flame of fire…

[Now, His head (that is, what is highest in Christ, namely, His Divinity [Ribera]) and hairs were white, etc.] The same thing that is attributed to God in Daniel 7:9 is here attributed to Christ (Grotius, similarly Cluverus): by which he elegantly indicates the equality and ὁμοουσίαν/consubstantiality of the Son with the Father (Cluverus). This was a symbol, either, 1. of the eternity of Christ (Zegers, thus Ribera, Cotterius, Piscator, Pareus, Durham, Gomar). This is suitable to that purpose, that it might be known that from Him are to be expected either eternal rewards or punishments (Ribera). Or, 2. that His judgments are pure (Grotius, similarly Piscator, Cluverus), free from stormy affections. See also Matthew 28:3 (Grotius). Or, 3. of aged dignity and prudence (Pererius, similarly Durham, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:200, Gomar). Or, 4. that Christ is the head of the Church, Ephesians 1:22, 23, to which He imparts cleanness and sanctity (certain interpreters in Gomar). But this suits not the context, since it sufficiently appears that the remaining members that are here examined are not to be understood concerning His mystical body, but concerning the person of Christ (Gomar).

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow: whiteness signifies purity; whiteness of hair signifies old age ordinarily, which commonly is attended with more prudence, as having most experience: hence this appearance of Christ may denote both his purity and wisdom, and that he is the Ancient of days; see Daniel 7:9, 13, 22; though there the term of Ancient of days belongs to God the Father, yet it also agreeth to Christ, who is equal with the Father, as to his Divine nature.

[His eyes as a flame of fire] This is attributed to God in Ezekiel 1:27, to Michael in Daniel 10:6. Again, to Christ in Revelation 19:12 (Grotius). In fire is both light and heat, and thus He proves and purges impurities, and consumes them. Here is thus denoted Christ’s, 1. wisdom (Gomar), penetration (Cluverus, Cotterius, Zegers, Pareus), omniscience (Piscator), by which He takes in all things, even internal things, Hebrews 4:13 (Grotius, similarly Cotterius, Cluverus, Zegers, Durham), as fire pentrates all things (Grotius); the clarity of the knowledge of Christ, and His foreknowledge of all things which happen in the Church or are ever going to be (Pererius). Or, 2. His grace in caring for and cleansing His own (Gomar), His exact care and perfect providence, which Christ has for His Church; who both illumines it, and teaches what things it is expedient to know (Pererius). Or, 3. His wrath and vengeance against persecutors of Christians, and other impious men (Menochius, similarly Tirinus, Pererius, Ribera, Pareus, Durham). For from the eyes of the angry fire appears to proceed, as it were, as we see in Homer[2] and Virgil.[3] But nothing prevents this from referring partly to the Church, and especially to heretics (Ribera). Christ dissembles none of the Church’s vices (Grotius).

And his eyes were as a flame of fire; such an appearance is applied to God, Ezekiel 1:27; Daniel 10:6; and to Christ, Revelation 19:12, to denote either Christ’s knowledge, wisdom, and omniscience; or his grace in purifying souls, as fire doth metals; or his wrath and anger against his enemies.

[1] Greek: ἡ δὲ κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ καὶ αἱ τρίχες λευκαὶ ὡσεὶ ἔριον λευκόν, ὡς χιών· καὶ οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ ὡς φλὸξ πυρός.

[2] For example, Iliad 1:104.

[3] For example, Æneid 4.

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