I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and - This whole clause is wanting in ABC, thirty-one others; some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text.
Saying - What thou seest, write in a book - Carefully note down every thing that is represented to thee. John had the visions from heaven; but he described them in his own language and manner.
Send it unto the seven Churches - The names of which immediately follow. In Asia. This is wanting in the principal MSS. and versions. Griesbach has left it out of the text.
Ephesus - This was a city of Ionia, in Asia Minor, situated at the mouth of the river Cayster, on the shore of the Aegean Sea, about fifty miles south of Smyrna. See preface to the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Smyrna - Now called also Ismir, is the largest and richest city of Asia Minor. It is situated about one hundred and eighty-three miles west by south of Constantinople, on the shore of the Aegean Sea. It is supposed to contain about one hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, of whom there are from fifteen to twenty thousand Greeks, six thousand Armenians, five thousand Roman Catholics, one hundred and forty Protestants, eleven thousand Jews, and fifteen thousand Turks. It is a beautiful city, but often ravaged by the plague, and seldom two years together free from earthquakes. In 1758 the city was nearly desolated by the plague; scarcely a sufficient number of the inhabitants survived to gather in the fruits of the earth. In 1688 there was a terrible earthquake here, which overthrew a great number of houses; in one of the shocks, the rock on which the castle stood opened, swallowed up the castle and five thousand persons! On these accounts, nothing but the love of gain, so natural to man, could induce any person to make it his residence; though, in other respects, it can boast of many advantages. In this city the Turks have nineteen mosques; the Greeks, two churches; the Armenians, one; and the Jews, eight synagogues; and the English and Dutch factories have each a chaplain. Smyrna is one hundred miles north of the island of Rhodes, long. 27° 25' E., lat. 38° 28' N.
Pergamos - A town of Mysia, situated on the river Caicus. It was the royal residence of Eumenes, and the kings of the race of the Attali. It was anciently famous for its library, which contained, according to Plutarch, two hundred thousand volumes. It was here that the membranae Pergameniae, Pergamenian skins, were invented; from which we derive our word parchment. Pergamos was the birthplace of Galen; and in it P. Scipio died. It is now called Pergamo and Bergamo, and is situated in long. 27° 0' E., lat. 39° 13' N.
Thyatira - Now called Akissat and Ak-kissar, a city of Natolia, in Asia Minor, seated on the river Hermus, in a plain eighteen miles broad, and is about fifty miles from Pergamos; long. 27° 49' E., lat. 38° 16' N. The houses are chiefly built of earth, but the mosques are all of marble. Many remarkable ancient inscriptions have been discovered in this place.
Sardis - Now called Sardo and Sart, a town of Asia, in Natolia, about forty miles east from Smyrna. It is seated on the side of mount Tmolus, and was once the capital of the Lydian kings, and here Croesus reigned. It is now a poor, inconsiderable village. Long. 28° 5' E., lat. 37° 51' N.
Philadelphia - A city of Natolia, seated at the foot of mount Tmolus, by the river Cogamus. It was founded by Attalus Philadelphus, brother of Eumenes, from whom it derived its name. It is now called Alah-sheker, and is about forty miles ESE. of Smyrna. Long. 28° 15' E., lat. 38° 28' N.
Laodicea - A town of Phrygia, on the river Lycus; first called Diospolis, or the city of Jupiter. It was built by Antiochus Theos, and named after his consort Laodice. See the note on Colossians 2:1. And, for a very recent account of these seven Churches, see a letter from the Rev. Henry Lindsay, inserted at the end of Revelation 3.
Saying - That is, literally, “the trumpet saying.” It was, however, manifestly the voice that addressed these words to John, though they seemed to come through a trumpet, and hence the trumpet is represented as uttering them.
I am Alpha and Omega - Revelation 1:8.
The first and the last - An explanation of the terms Alpha and Omega. See the notes on Revelation 1:8.
And, What thou seest - The voice, in addition to the declaration, “I am Alpha and Omega,” gave this direction that he should record what he saw. The phrase, “what thou seest,” refers to what would pass before him in vision, what he there saw, and what he would see in the extraordinary manifestations which were to be made to him.
Write in a book - Make a fair record of it all; evidently meaning that he should describe things as they occurred, and implying that the vision would be held so long before the eye of his mind that he would be able to transfer it to the “book.” The fair and obvious interpretation of this is, that he was to make the record in the island of Patmos, and then send it to the churches. Though Patmos was a lonely and barren place, and though probably here were few or no inhabitants there, yet there is no improbability in supposing that John could have found writing materials there, nor even that he may have been permitted to take such materials with him. He seems to have been banished for “preaching,” not for “writing”; and there is no evidence that the materials for writing would be withheld from him. John Bunyan, in Bedford jail, found materials for writing the “Pilgrim‘s Progress,” and there is no evidence that the apostle John was denied the means of recording his thoughts when in the island of Patmos. The word “book” here ( βιβλίον biblion), would more properly mean a roll or scroll, that being the form in which books were anciently made. See the notes on Luke 4:17. And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia - The churches which are immediately designated, not implying that there were no other churches in Asia, but that there were particular reasons for sending it to these. He was to send all that he should “see”; to wit, all that is recorded in this volume or book of “Revelation.” Part of this Revelation 2; Revelation 3 would pertain particularly to them; the remainder Revelation 422 would pertain to them no more than to others, but still they would have the common interest in it which all the church would have, and, in their circumstances of trial, there might be important reasons why they should see the assurance that the church would ultimately triumph over all its enemies. They were to derive from it themselves the consolation which it was suited to impart in time of trial, and to transmit it to future times, for the welfare of the church at large. Unto Ephesus - Perhaps mentioned first as being the capital of that portion of Asia Minor; the most important city of the seven; the place where John had preached, and whence he had been banished. For a particular description of these seven churches, see the notes on the epistles addressed to them in Revelation 23.
And send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia - The churches which are immediately designated, not implying that there were no other churches in Asia, but that there were particular reasons for sending it to these. He was to send all that he should “see”; to wit, all that is recorded in this volume or book of “Revelation.” Part of this Revelation 2; Revelation 3 would pertain particularly to them; the remainder Revelation 422 would pertain to them no more than to others, but still they would have the common interest in it which all the church would have, and, in their circumstances of trial, there might be important reasons why they should see the assurance that the church would ultimately triumph over all its enemies. They were to derive from it themselves the consolation which it was suited to impart in time of trial, and to transmit it to future times, for the welfare of the church at large.
Unto Ephesus - Perhaps mentioned first as being the capital of that portion of Asia Minor; the most important city of the seven; the place where John had preached, and whence he had been banished. For a particular description of these seven churches, see the notes on the epistles addressed to them in Revelation 23.
On this verse Dr. A. Clarke remarks, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and] — this whole clause is wanting in ABC; thirty-one others; some editions; the Syriac, Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, Arethas, Andreas, and Primasius. Griesbach has left it out of the text.” He also states that the phrase “in Asia” is wanting in the principal MSS. and versions, and that Griesbach omits this too from the text. Bloomfield also marks the clause, “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and” — as without doubt an interpolation, and also the words “in Asia.” It would then read, “Saying, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches; unto Ephesus,” etc. (See translations of Whiting, Wesley, American Bible Union, and others. Compare remarks on verse 4.)DAR 341.3
Abraham could not explain the leadings of Providence; he had not realized his expectations; but he held fast the promise, “I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” With earnest prayer he considered how to preserve the life of his people and his flocks, but he would not allow circumstances to shake his faith in God's word. To escape the famine he went down into Egypt. He did not forsake Canaan, or in his extremity turn back to the Chaldean land from which he came, where there was no scarcity of bread; but he sought a temporary refuge as near as possible to the Land of Promise, intending shortly to return where God had placed him. PP 129.1
The Lord in His providence had brought this trial upon Abraham to teach him lessons of submission, patience, and faith—lessons that were to be placed on record for the benefit of all who should afterward be called to endure affliction. God leads His children by a way that they know not, but He does not forget or cast off those who put their trust in Him. He permitted affliction to come upon Job, but He did not forsake him. He allowed the beloved John to be exiled to lonely Patmos, but the Son of God met him there, and his vision was filled with scenes of immortal glory. God permits trials to assail His people, that by their constancy and obedience they themselves may be spiritually enriched, and that their example may be a source of strength to others. “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil.” Jeremiah 29:11. The very trials that task our faith most severely and make it seem that God has forsaken us, are to lead us closer to Christ, that we may lay all our burdens at His feet and experience the peace which He will give us in exchange. PP 129.2
God has always tried His people in the furnace of affliction. It is in the heat of the furnace that the dross is separated from the true gold of the Christian character. Jesus watches the test; He knows what is needed to purify the precious metal, that it may reflect the radiance of His love. It is by close, testing trials that God disciplines His servants. He sees that some have powers which may be used in the advancement of His work, and He puts these persons upon trial; in His providence He brings them into positions that test their character and reveal defects and weaknesses that have been hidden from their own knowledge. He gives them opportunity to correct these defects and to fit themselves for His service. He shows them their own weakness, and teaches them to lean upon Him; for He is their only help and safeguard. Thus His object is attained. They are educated, trained, and disciplined, prepared to fulfill the grand purpose for which their powers were given them. When God calls them to action, they are ready, and heavenly angels can unite with them in the work to be accomplished on the earth. PP 129.3Read in context »
When John was old and gray-headed, he was given a message to bear to the persecuted churches. The Jews made several attempts to take his life, but the Lord said: “Let him live. I who created him will be with him and will guard him.” Constantly this aged disciple bore testimony for the Master. In beautiful language, with a musical voice, speaking in a way that impressed the hearts of all who heard him, he told of the words and works of Christ. He was sent as an exile to Patmos, but Christ visited him in his exile, and communicated to him the grand truths found in the Revelation. 7T 288.1
As those who have spent their lives in the service of God draw near the close of their earthly history, they will be impressed by the Holy Spirit to recount the experiences they have had in connection with His work. The record of His wonderful dealings with His people, of His great goodness in delivering them from trial, should be repeated to those newly come to the faith. The trials also that have been brought on the servants of God by the apostasy of some once united with them in labor, and the working of the Holy Spirit to make of none effect the falsehoods told against those who were holding the beginning of their confidence firm unto the end, should be related. 7T 288.2
The old standard-bearers who are still living should not be put in hard places. Those who served their Master when the work went hard, who endured poverty and remained faithful to the truth when our numbers were small, are ever to be honored and respected. I am instructed to say: Let every believer respect the aged pioneers who have borne trials and hardships and many privations. They are God's workmen and have acted a prominent part in the building up of His Work. 7T 289.1Read in context »
To us also the promise of Christ's abiding presence is given. The lapse of time has wrought no change in His parting promise. He is with us today as truly as He was with the disciples, and He will be with us “even unto the end.” 8T 17.1
“Go forth preaching the gospel to all nations,” the Saviour says to us, “that they may become children of God. I am with you in this work, teaching, guiding, comforting, strengthening you, giving you success in your work of self-denial and sacrifice. I will move upon hearts, convincing them of sin, and turning them from darkness to light, from disobedience to righteousness. In My light they shall see light. You will meet the opposition of satanic agencies, but put your trust in Me. I will never fail you.” 8T 17.2
Think you not that Christ values those who live wholly for Him? Think you not that He visits those who, like the beloved John, are for His sake in hard and trying places? He finds His faithful ones, and holds communion with them, encouraging and strengthening them. And angels of God, that excel in strength, are sent forth by God to minister to His human workers who are speaking the truth to those who know it not. 8T 17.3Read in context »