On his vesture and on his thigh a name written - Dr. Dodd has well observed on this passage, that "it appears to have been an ancient custom among several nations to adorn the images of their deities, princes, victors at public games, and other eminent persons, with inscriptions, expressing either the character of the persons, their names, or some other circumstance which might contribute to their honor; and to that custom the description here given of Christ may possibly have some allusion.
"There are several such images yet extant, with an inscription written either on the garment, or on one of the thighs, or on that part of the garment which was over the thigh; and probably this is the meaning of the apostle. And as these inscriptions are placed on the upper garment, Grotius seems very justly to have explained the words επι το ἱματιον, by his imperial robe, that his power in this victory might be conspicuous to all. But as a farther confirmation of this sense of the passage it may not be improper here to describe briefly several remarkable figures of this sort, which are still extant." This description I shall give from my own examination.
The second is a small figure of brass, about six inches long, with a loose tunic, which is suspended from the left shoulder down to the calf of the legs. On this tunic, over the left thigh, is an inscription (perhaps) in very ancient Latin characters, but in the Etruscan language, as the learned author conjectures. It is in one line, but what it means is equally unknown.
A. Poblicius. D. L. Antioc.
Ti. Barbius. Q. P. L. Tiber.
In the latter tract, sec. 16, fol. 232, 3, and in Rab. Tanchum, fol. 66, mention is made of the guardian angels of the Israelites, who were clothed with purple vestments, on which was inscribed המפורש שם shem hammephorash, the ineffable name. See more in Schoettgen.
As these kinds of inscriptions on the thigh, the garments, and different parts of the body, were in use among different nations, to express character, conduct, qualities, and conquests, we may rest assured that to them St. John alludes when he represents our sovereign Lord with an inscription upon his vesture and upon his thigh; and had we not found it a custom among other nations, we should have been at a loss to account for its introduction and meaning here.
And he hath on his vesture - That is, this name was conspicuously written on his garment - probably his military robe.
And on his thigh - The robe or military cloak may be conceived of as open and flowing, so as to expose the limbs of the rider; and the idea is, that the name was conspicuously written not only on the flowing robe, but on the other parts of his dress, so that it must be conspicuous whether his military cloak were wrapped closely around him, or whether it was open to the breeze. Grotius supposes that this name was on the edge or hilt of the sword which depended from his thigh.
A name written - Or a title descriptive of his character.
King of kings, and Lord of lords - As in Revelation 17:5, so here, there is nothing in the original to denote that this should be distinguished, as it is, by capital letters. As a conspicuous title, however, it is not improper. It means that he is, in fact, the sovereign over the kings of the earth, and that all nobles and princes are under his control - a rank that properly belongs to the Son of God. Compare the notes on Ephesians 1:20-22. See also Revelation 19:12 of this chapter. The custom here alluded to of inscribing the name or rank of distinguished individuals on their garments, so that they might be readily recognized, was not uncommon in ancient times. For full proof of this, see Rosenmuller, Morgenland, vol. iii. pp. 232-236. The authorities quoted there are, Thevenot‘s Travels, vol. i. p. 149; Gruter, p. 989; Dempster‘s Etruria Regalis, t. ii. tab. 93; Montfaucon, Antiq. Expliq. t. iii. tab. 39. Thus Herodotus (vol. ii. p. 196), speaking of the figures of Sesostris in Ionia, says that, “Across his breast, from shoulder to shoulder, there is this inscription in the sacred characters of Egypt, ‹I conquered this country by the force of my arms.‘” Compare Cic. Verr. iv. 23; LeMoyne a.d. Jeremiah 23:6; Munter, Diss. a.d. Revelation 17:5, as referred to by Prof. Stuart, in loco.
Before His presence “all faces are turned into paleness;” upon the rejecters of God's mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. “The heart melteth, and the knees smite together, ... and the faces of them all gather blackness.” Jeremiah 30:6; Nahum 2:10. The righteous cry with trembling: “Who shall be able to stand?” The angels’ song is hushed, and there is a period of awful silence. Then the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: “My grace is sufficient for you.” The faces of the righteous are lighted up, and joy fills every heart. And the angels strike a note higher and sing again as they draw still nearer to the earth. GC 641.1
The King of kings descends upon the cloud, wrapped in flaming fire. The heavens are rolled together as a scroll, the earth trembles before Him, and every mountain and island is moved out of its place. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people.” Psalm 50:3, 4. GC 641.2
“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17. GC 642.1Read in context »
The kingdom of God's grace is now being established, as day by day hearts that have been full of sin and rebellion yield to the sovereignty of His love. But the full establishment of the kingdom of His glory will not take place until the second coming of Christ to this world. “The kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,” is to be given to “the people of the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:27. They shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them “from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:34. And Christ will take to Himself His great power and will reign. MB 108.1
The heavenly gates are again to be lifted up, and with ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands of holy ones, our Saviour will come forth as King of kings and Lord of lords. Jehovah Immanuel “shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one.” “The tabernacle of God” shall be with men, “and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 21:3. MB 108.2
But before that coming, Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” Matthew 24:14. His kingdom will not come until the good tidings of His grace have been carried to all the earth. Hence, as we give ourselves to God, and win other souls to Him, we hasten the coming of His kingdom. Only those who devote themselves to His service, saying, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8), to open blind eyes, to turn men “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them which are sanctified” (Acts 26:18)—they alone pray in sincerity, “Thy kingdom come.” MB 108.3Read in context »
Poor, weak, miserable man spat in the face of the King of glory, while a shout of brutal triumph arose from the mob at the degrading insult. They marred with blows and cruelty that face which filled all heaven with admiration. They will again behold that face, bright as the noonday sun, and will seek to flee from before it. Instead of that shout of brutal triumph, they will wail because of Him. EW 179.1
Jesus will present His hands with the marks of His crucifixion. The marks of this cruelty He will ever bear. Every print of the nails will tell the story of man's wonderful redemption and the dear price by which it was purchased. The very men who thrust the spear into the side of the Lord of life will behold the print of the spear and will lament with deep anguish the part which they acted in marring His body. EW 179.2
His murderers were greatly annoyed by the superscription, “The King of the Jews,” placed upon the cross above His head. But then they will be obliged to see Him in all His glory and kingly power. They will behold on His vesture and on His thigh, written in living characters, “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” They cried to Him mockingly, as He hung upon the cross, “Let Christ, the King of Israel, descend from the cross, that we may see and believe.” They will behold Him then with kingly power and authority. They will demand no evidence of His being King of Israel; but overwhelmed with a sense of His majesty and exceeding glory, they will be compelled to acknowledge, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.” EW 179.3Read in context »
Those who are looking for the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, as King of kings and Lord of lords, in life and character will seek to represent Him to the world. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” They will hate sin and iniquity, even as Christ hated sin. They will keep the commandments of God, as Christ kept His Father's commandments. They will realize that it is not enough to acquiesce in the doctrines of truth, but that the truth must be applied to the heart, practiced in the life, in order that the followers of Christ may be one with Him, and that men may be as pure in their sphere as God is in His sphere. There have been men in every generation who have claimed to be the sons of God, who paid tithes of mint and anise and cummin, and yet who led a godless life; for they neglected the weightier matters of the law—mercy, justice, and the love of God.... RC 59.2Read in context »