Revelation 1:1c-2: A Faithful Witness

[96 AD]  Verse 1:  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, (John 3:32; 8:26; 12:49) which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which (Rev. 4:1; 1:3) must shortly come to pass; and (Rev. 22:16) he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John…

[And, etc., καὶ ἐσήμανεν ἀποστείλας, etc.] And (namely, Christ [Menochius]: or, which things, the copula in the place of the Relative pronoun [Grotius]) He signified (that is, either, He showed by signs and the obscurity of figures [certain interpreters in Ribera, similarly Cotterius]; rightly, if you observe the Apocalypse, how promiscuously it is set before mortals [Cotterius]: or rather, He manifested or indicated [Ribera, Gagnæus, similarly Pareus, Grotius], as the word is taken in John 12:33;[1] 18:32;[2] 21:19[3] [Ribera]: for it is explaind by δεῖξαι, to show, Revelation 22:6, and μαρτυρῆσαι, to testify/ witness, Revelation 22:16 [Pareus]) sending (that is, this Apocalypse [Menochius], that is, depositing it in his presence; to him entrusting this treasure, so that he might send it to the Church under his own seal [Cotterius]) by His Angel (sometimes by this, sometimes by that, Angel that He had sent: Now, this construction[4] is not dissimilar to Matthew 2:16[5] and 14:10:[6] Learn this also that, when God or Christ is said to have appeared, it ought to be understood as by an Angel acting in the name of God or Christ and representing His attributes: See on Revelation 1:13, and the things said on the Decalogue, and on Acts 18:9 [Grotius] [and what things others here and there produce to the contrary]: He makes use of an Angel as an instrument [Cotterius], either, so that He might preserve His own dignity; or, so that He might win confidence for the Prophecy [Durham]; or, because human weakness was not able to bear gazing upon His majesty [Brightman]) to His servant (namely, by special delegation and office [Durham]: He does not say to the Apostle; for those that are enlighted by Divine visions, for them especially a lowliness of spirit is fitting: So also Isaiah call himself a servant of God, Isaiah 49:5; and Daniel, Daniel 9:17 [Grotius]) John (Montanus), namely, the Apostle (Cotterius, Piscator, Grotius, Hammond, Durham, Erasmus, Beza): while the name of the Angel is suppressed (Cotterius). Now, the Prophets are wont to set down and repeat a number of times their names, so that those that trust good men might apply faith to their sayings (Grotius).

And he sent and signified it by his angel; first by one angel, and then by another, or (possibly) constantly by the same. Unto his servant John: who this John was, we shall declare further, Revelation 1:2, 4.


Verse 2:[7] (1 Cor. 1:6; Revelation 6:9; 12:17; 1:9) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things (1 John 1:1) that he saw.

[Who, etc., ὃς ἐμαρτύρησε τὸν λόγον—καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν—ὅσα τε εἶδε] Because John was a name common to many, he designates himself more particularly. Μαρτυρεῖν, to bear record, generally takes the Dative; but here the Accusative, because it is put in the place of κηρύσσειν, to proclaim, or ἀναγγέλλειν, to announce. See John 21:24[8] and Revelation 22:16,[9] 20.[10] Ἐμαρτύρησε μαρτυρίαν, he testified a testimony, is an expression both Hebraic and Greek. Thus 2 Kings 17:13 (Grotius). Who testified (that is, confirmed by his own testimony [Camerarius]; or, announced, or proclaimed [Vatablus, Grotius], to many peoples [Grotius]) the word of God (by which he understood, either, 1. Christ [Zegers, thus Ribera], with respect to His Divinity [Zegers], which he everywhere preached [Ribera], John 1:1 [Zegers]; or, 2. his Gospel [Piscator, Louis Cappel[11] on Revelation 19:10, Bede[12] and Lyra[13] and others in Pererius, Durham], the precepts of the Gosepl [Grotius]: To which it is opposed that the Gospel was written after the Apocalypse [concerning which see Pererius]: John testified concerning the word of God, that is, concerning the faith and doctrine of Christ, both by preaching, and by miracles and suffering for it [Pererius]: Or, 3. the Apocalypse [Cotterius, thus Lapide], which he calls the Gospel, that is, the best announcement of the coming persecution on account of Christ, and the blessedness following it [Lapide]) and the testimony of Jesus Christ (he explains what he said [Ribera]; that is to say, Concerning Jesus Christ, who is that word of God, for it is Hendiadys and Apposition [Lapide out of Ribera]: Of Christ, that is, concerning Christ; an objective Genitive [Piscator]: He understands, either, 1. the very things concerning which he bears testimony, or those things which Christ did, as the following things show [Grotius]; or, 2. the Gospel, as preached by Christ, who is called the faithful witness, Revelation 1:5, whence it is called both the testimony [both] of Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:8, [and] of God, 1 Corinthians 2:1 [Hammond]; or, 3. the Spirit of Prophecy, from a comparison with Revelation 19:10 [Louis Cappel on Revelation 19:10]; or, 4. the Apocalypse, which the Father by the words of this book [which are the word of God] signified, and which Christ confirmed by His own testimony: Note τὸ πρέπον, the correlation: For the testimony agrees with the Father, the Word with Christ, John 5:32; 12:47 [Cotterius]: The sense, that is to say, he who wrote this revelation, which is the testimony of Christ, and testified that that is from God [Menochius]: Here John commends his own confidence in delivering this Prophecy [certain interpreters in Gomar]: To others the sense is, Who singularly declared the word of God, that is, the testimony concerning Christ, both in writing and in word, from a comparison of Revelation 1:9; 6:9; 20:4 [Gomar]: He describes here his Apostolic function [Cluverus, thus Brightman], of which two certain and proper emblems are here related, a testimony presented to the word of God, etc., and a manifest confidence in the things that he solemnly asserts [Brightman]) and whatsoever he saw (Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, etc.). He explains what he understands [by] the testimony of Jesus Christ, namely, those things which he had seen, the Miracles, Death, restored Life, Ascension into heaven, of Christ. See 1 John 1:1-3 (Grotius, similarly Ribera). Others: This is to be referred to the Apocalyptic visions themselves (Lapide, similarly Louis Cappel, Piscator, Durham, Cotterius, Gomar). He teaches that he relates, not things imagined, but things done and seen, so that he might acquire authority for the work (Gomar). What things he saw, that is, John saw, since these visions were set before him (Menochius). He saw, namely, in the Spirit and in figure. Indeed, he heard many things, Revelation 22:8, but he saw a very great many. Thus verse 1, that He might show. What, says he, God speaks, Christ testifies, John saw, all that is worthy of faith. But the Apocalypse is of that sort (Cotterius). Some Greek Codices add here, καὶ ὅσα ἤκουσε, καὶ ἅτινά εἰσι, καὶ ἅ χρὴ γενέσθαι μετὰ ταῦτα, and as many things as he heard, and whatsoever things are, and what things must be after these (Gagnæus, thus Grotius). Which things crept in out of verse 19: for these things are not in the best manuscripts, nor in the Latin (Grotius). The things written near the division were copied into the context by unskilled copyists (Cotterius).

Who bare record of the word of God: this phrase determines the controversy about the penman of this part of holy writ, and puts it out of doubt that it was John the apostle and evangelist; the phrase so agrees to John 1:19, 32, 34; 19:35. The word in the Greek signifies, bare testimony to, or of, the word of God. Some understand Christ, so called, 1 John 1:1, 2. Some would have the gospel meant by it; and if any think this the more probable sense, because, though Christ be elsewhere called the Word, yet he is not called the word of God; and it is not here in the dative, but the accusative case; I see no reason to contradict them. And of the testimony of Jesus Christ: by the testimony of Christ is to be understood the doctrine of Christ, called so, because it is a testimony concerning him; or rather, that which he testified, who is elsewhere called the true and faithful witness. And of all things that he saw: this may be understood with reference to what went before; so it agreeth with 1 John 1; or to what followeth in this Revelation, made to him in visions in a great measure.

[1] John 12:33:  “This he said, signifying (σημαίνων) what death he should die.”

[2] John 18:32:  “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying (σημαίνων) what death he should die.”

[3] John 21:19a:  “This spake he, signifying (σημαίνων) by what death he should glorify God….”

[4] That is, a participle of attending circumstance.

[5] Matthew 2:16:  “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sending forth (ἀποστείλας) he slew all the children that were in Bethlehem…”

[6] Matthew 14:10:  “And sending (πέμψας) he beheaded John in the prison.”

[7] Greek: ὃς ἐμαρτύρησε τὸν λόγον τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅσα τε εἶδε.

[8] John 21:24:  “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things (ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ τούτων), and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”

[9] Revelation 22:16a:  “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify (μαρτυρῆσαι) unto you these things (ταῦτα, in the accusative) in the churches….”

[10] Revelation 22:20a:  “He which testifieth (ὁ μαρτυρῶν) these things (ταῦτα, in the accusative) saith, Surely I come quickly….”

[11] Louis Cappel (1585-1658) was a Huguenot divine of broad and profound learning.  He served as a minister of the gospel and Professor of Hebrew and Theology at Saumur.  Although his expertise in the Hebrew language was beyond question, his denial of the authority of the vowel points and of the absolute integrity of the Hebrew texts were hotly contested.

[12] Bede (c. 672-735), known as the Venerable Bede, was an English monk whose fame rests largely on his ecclesiastical history of England (c. 731).  He wrote many other works, including commentaries on the Pentateuch, Kings, Esdras, Tobias, the Gospels, Acts, and the Catholic Epistles.  His interpretive work is characterized by his commitment to the tradition of the Fathers and by his use of the allegorical method of interpretation.

[13] Little is known about the early life of Nicholas de Lyra (1270-1340).  He entered the Franciscan Order and became a teacher of some repute in Paris.  His Postilla in Vetus et Novum Testamentum are remarkable for the time period:  Lyra was firmly committed to the literal sense of the text, as a necessary control for allegorical exposition; and he drew heavily upon Hebraic and Rabbinical materials.  His commentary was influential among the Reformers.

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