In this chapter we have an account,
I. Of the measuring--reed given to the apostle, to take the dimensions
of the temple,
II. Of the two witnesses of God,
III. Of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and what followed upon it,
The Measuring of the Temple.
A. D. 95.
1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel
stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the
altar, and them that worship therein.
2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and
measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy
city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
This prophetical passage about measuring the temple is a plain
reference to what we find in Ezekiel's vision,
&c. But how to understand either the one or the other is not so easy.
It should seem the design of measuring the temple in the former case
was in order to the rebuilding of it, and that with advantage; the
design of this measurement seems to be either,
1. For the preservation of it in those times of public danger and
calamity that are here foretold; or,
2. For its trial; that it may be seen how far it agrees with the
standard, or pattern, in the mount; or,
3. For its reformation; that what is redundant, deficient, or changed,
may be regulated according to the true model. Observe,
I. How much was to be measured.
1. The temple; the gospel church in general, whether it be so
built, so constituted, as the gospel rule directs, whether it be too
narrow or too large, the door too wide or too strait.
2. The altar. That which was the place of the most solemn acts
of worship may be put for religious worship in general; whether the
church has the true altars, both as to substance and situation: as to
substance, whether they take Christ for their altar, and lay down all
their offerings there; and in situation, whether the altar be in the
holiest; that is, whether they worship God in the Spirit and in truth.
3. The worshippers too must be measured, whether they make God's glory
their end and his word their rule, in all their acts of worship; and
whether they come to God with suitable affections, and whether their
conversation be as becomes the gospel.
II. What was not to be measured
and why it should be left out.
1. What was not to be measured: The court which is without the
temple measure it not. Some say that Herod, in the additions made
to the temple, built an outer court, and called it the court of the
Gentiles. Some tell us that Adrian built the city and an outer
court, and called it Ælia, and gave it to the Gentiles.
2. Why was not the outer court measured? This was no part of the
temple, according to the model either of Solomon or Zerubbabel, and
therefore God would have no regard to it. He would not mark it out for
preservation; but as it was designed for the Gentiles, to bring pagan
ceremonies and customs and to annex them to the gospel churches, so
Christ abandoned it to them, to be used as they pleased; and both that
and the city were trodden under foot for a certain time--forty and
two months, which some would have to be the whole time of the reign
of antichrist. Those who worship in the outer court are either such as
worship in a false manner or with hypocritical hearts; and these are
rejected of God, and will be found among his enemies.
3. From the whole observe,
(1.) God will have a temple and an altar in the world, till the end of
(2.) He has a strict regard to this temple, and observes how every
thing is managed in it.
(3.) Those who worship in the outer court will be rejected, and only
those who worship within the veil accepted.
(4.) The holy city, the visible church, is very much trampled upon in
the world. But,
(5.) The desolations of the church are for a limited time, and for a
short time, and she shall be delivered out of all her troubles.
The Two Witnesses.
A. D. 95.
3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall
prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in
4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks
standing before the God of the earth.
5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their
mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt
them, he must in this manner be killed.
6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days
of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to
blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast
that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against
them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great
city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our
Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations
shall see their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not
suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them,
and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because
these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and a half the Spirit of life from God
entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear
fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them,
Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and
their enemies beheld them.
13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the
tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of
men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave
glory to the God of heaven.
In this time of treading down, God has reserved to himself his faithful
witnesses, who will not fail to attest the truth of his word and
worship, and the excellency of his ways. Here observe,
I. The number of these witnesses: it is but a small number and yet it
1. It is but small. Many will own and acknowledge Christ in times of
prosperity who will desert and deny him in times of persecution; one
witness, when the cause is upon trial, is worth many at other times.
2. It is a sufficient number; for in the mouth of two witnesses every
cause shall be established. Christ sent out his disciples two by two,
to preach the gospel. Some think these two witnesses are Enoch and
Elias, who are to return to the earth for a time: others, the church of
the believing Jews and that of the Gentiles: it should rather seem that
they are God's eminent faithful ministers, who shall not only continue
to profess the Christian religion, but to preach it, in the worst of
II. The time of their prophesying, or bearing their testimony for
Christ. A thousand two hundred and threescore days; that is (as
many think), to the period of the reign of antichrist; and, if the
beginning of that interval could be ascertained, this number of
prophetic days, taking a day for a year, would give us a prospect when
the end shall be.
III. Their habit, and posture: they prophesy in sackcloth, as those
that are deeply affected with the low and distressed state of the
churches and interest of Christ in the world.
IV. How they were supported and supplied during the discharge of their
great and hard work: they stood before the God of the whole earth, and
he gave them power to prophesy. He made them to be like Zerubbabel and
Joshua, the two olive-trees and candlestick in the vision of Zechariah,
&c. God gave them the oil of holy zeal, and courage, and strength, and
comfort; he made them olive-trees, and their lamps of profession were
kept burning by the oil of inward gracious principles, which they
received from God. They had oil not only in their lamps, but in their
vessels--habits of spiritual life, light, and zeal.
V. Their security and defence during the time of their prophesying:
If any attempted to hurt them, fire proceeded out of their mouths,
and devoured them,
Some think this alludes to Elias's calling for the fire from heaven, to
consume the captains and their companies that came to seize him,
2 Kings 1:12.
God promised the prophet Jeremiah
Behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people
shall be wood, and it shall devour them. By their praying and
preaching, and courage in suffering, they shall gall and wound the very
hearts and consciences of many of their persecutors, who shall go away
self-condemned, and be even terrors to themselves; like Pashur, at the
words of the prophet Jeremiah,
They shall have that free access to God, and that interest in him,
that, at their prayers, God will inflict plagues and judgments upon
their enemies, as he did on Pharaoh, turning their rivers into
blood, and restraining the dews of heaven, shutting heaven up, that
no rain shall fall for many days, as he did at the prayers of Elias,
1 Kings 17:1.
God has ordained his arrows for the persecutors, and is often plaguing
them while they are persecuting his people; they find it hard work to
kick against the pricks.
VI. The slaying of the witnesses. To make their testimony more strong,
they must seal it with their blood. Here observe,
1. The time when they should be killed: When they have finished
their testimony. They are immortal, they are invulnerable, till
their work be done. Some think it ought to be rendered, when they
were about to finish their testimony. When they had prophesied in
sackcloth the greatest part of the 1260 years, then they should feel
the last effect of antichristian malice.
2. The enemy that should overcome and slay them--the beast that
ascendeth out of the bottomless pit. Antichrist, the great
instrument of the devil, should make war against them, not only with
the arms of subtle and sophistical learning, but chiefly with open
force and violence; and God would permit his enemies to prevail against
his witnesses for a time.
3. The barbarous usage of these slain witnesses; the malice of their
enemies was not satiated with their blood and death, but pursued even
their dead bodies.
(1.) They would not allow them a quiet grave; their bodies were cast
out in the open street, the high street of Babylon, or in the high road
leading to the city. This city is spiritually called Sodom for
monstrous wickedness, and Egypt for idolatry and tyranny; and here
Christ in his mystical body has suffered more than in any place in the
(2.) Their dead bodies were insulted by the inhabitants of the earth,
and their death was a matter of mirth and joy to the antichristian
They were glad to be rid of these witnesses, who by their doctrine and
example had teased, terrified, and tormented the consciences of their
enemies; these spiritual weapons cut wicked men to the heart, and fill
them with the greatest rage and malice against the faithful.
VII. The resurrection of these witnesses, and the consequences thereof.
1. The time of their rising again; after they had lain dead three
days and a half
a short time in comparison of that in which they had prophesied. Here
may be a reference to the resurrection of Christ, who is the
resurrection and the life. Thy dead men shall live, together with my
dead body shall they arise. Or there may be a reference to the
resurrection of Lazarus on the fourth day, when they thought it
impossible. God's witnesses may be slain, but they shall rise again:
not in their persons, till the general resurrection, but in their
successors. God will revive his work, when it seems to be dead in the
2. The power by which they were raised: The spirit of life from God
entered into them, and they stood upon their feet. God put not only
life, but courage into them. God can make the dry bones to life; it is
the Spirit of life from God that quickens dead souls, and shall quicken
the dead bodies of his people, and his dying interest in the world.
3. The effect of their resurrection upon their enemies: Great fear
fell upon them. The reviving of God's work and witnesses will
strike terror into the souls of his enemies. Where there is guilt,
there is fear; and a persecuting spirit, though cruel, is not a
courageous, but a cowardly spirit. Herod feared John the Baptist.
VIII. The ascension of the witnesses into heaven and the consequences
1. Their ascension. By heaven we may understand either some more
eminent station in the church, the kingdom of grace in this world, or a
high place in the kingdom of glory above. The former seems to be the
meaning: They ascended to heaven in a cloud (in a figurative,
not in a literal sense) and their enemies saw them. It will be
no small part of the punishment of persecutors, both in this world and
at the great day, that they shall see the faithful servants of God
greatly honoured and advanced. To this honour they did not attempt to
ascend, till God called them, and said, Come up hither. The
Lord's witnesses must wait for their advancement, both in the church
and in heaven, till God calls them; they must not be weary of suffering
and service, nor too hastily grasp at the reward; but stay till their
Master calls them, and then they may gladly ascend to him.
2. The consequences of their ascension--a mighty shock and convulsion
in the antichristian empire and the fall of a tenth part of the
city. Some refer this to the beginning of the reformation from
popery, when many princes and states fell off from their subjection to
Rome. This great work met with great opposition; all the western world
felt a great concussion, and the antichristian interest received a
great blow, and lost a great deal of ground and interest,
(1.) By the sword of war, which was then drawn; and many of those who
fought under the banner of antichrist were slain by it.
(2.) By the sword of the Spirit: The fear of God fell upon many.
They were convinced of their errors, superstition, and idolatry; and by
true repentance, and embracing the truth, they gave glory to the God
of heaven. Thus, when God's work and witnesses revive, the devil's
work and witnesses fall before him.
The Seventh Trumpet.
A. D. 95.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices
in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for
ever and ever.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on
their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art,
and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy
great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the
time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou
shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the
saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and
shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was
seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were
lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and
We have here the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, which is
ushered in by the usual warning and demand of attention: The second
woe is past, and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly. Then the
seventh angel sounded. This had been suspended for some time, till
the apostle had been made acquainted with some intervening occurrences
of very great moment, and worthy of his notice and observation. But
what he before expected he now heard--the seventh angel sounding. Here
observe the effects and consequences of this trumpet, thus sounded.
I. Here were loud and joyful acclamations of the saints and angels in
1. The manner of their adorations: they rose from their seats, and
fell upon their faces, and worshipped God; they did it with
reverence and humility.
2. The matter of their adorations.
(1.) They thankfully recognize the right of our God and Saviour to rule
and reign over all the world: The kingdoms of this world have become
the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ,
They were always so in title, both by creation and purchase.
(2.) They thankfully observe his actual possession of them, and reign
over them; they give him thanks because he had taken to him his great
power, asserted his rights, exerted his power, and so turned title into
(3.) They rejoice that this his reign shall never end: He shall
reign for ever and ever, till all enemies be put under his feet;
none shall ever wrest the sceptre out of his hand.
II. Here were angry resentments in the world at these just appearances
and actings of the power of God
The nations were angry; not only had been so, but were so still:
their hearts rose up against God; they met his wrath with their own
anger. It was a time when God was taking a just revenge upon the
enemies of his people, recompensing tribulation to those who had
troubled them. It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his
people's faithful services and sufferings; and their enemies could not
bear it, they fretted against God, and so increased their guilt and
hastened their destruction.
III. Another consequence was the opening of the temple of God in
heaven. By this may be meant that here is now a more free communication
between heaven and earth, prayer and praises more freely and frequently
ascending and graces and blessings plentifully descending. But it
rather seems to intend the church of God on earth, a heavenly temple.
It is an allusion to the various circumstances of things in the time of
the first temple. Under idolatrous and wicked princes, it was shut up
and neglected; but, under religious and reforming princes, it was
opened and frequented. So, during the power of antichrist, the temple
of God seemed to be shut up, and was so in a great degree; but now it
was opened again. At this opening of it observe,
1. What was seen there: the ark of God's testament. This was in
the holy of holies; in this ark the tables of the law were kept. As
before Josiah's time the law of God had been lost, but was then found,
so in the reign of antichrist God's law was laid aside, and made void
by their traditions and decrees; the scriptures were locked up from the
people, and they must not look into these divine oracles; now they are
opened, now they are brought to the view of all. This was an
unspeakable and invaluable privilege; and this, like the ark of the
testament, was a token of the presence of God returned to his people,
and his favour towards them in Jesus Christ the propitiation.
2. What was heard and felt there: Lightnings, voices, thunderings,
an earthquake, and great hail. The great blessing of the
reformation was attended with very awful providences; and by terrible
things in righteousness God would answer those prayers that were
presented in his holy temple, now opened. All the great revolutions of
the world are concerted in heaven, and are the answers of the prayers
of the saints.
Matthew Henry "Verse by Verse Commentary for 'Revelation' Matthew Henry Bible Commentary".