Revelation 10 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Revelation 10)

Verse 1

[1] And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

And I saw another mighty angel — Another from that "mighty angel," mentioned, Revelation 5:2; yet he was a created angel; for he did not swear by himself, verse 6. Revelation 5:6 Clothed with a cloud - In token of his high dignity.

And a rainbow upon his head — A lovely token of the divine favour. And yet it is not too glorious for a creature: the woman, Revelation 12:1, is described more glorious still.

And his face as the sun — Nor is this too much for a creature: for all the righteous "shall shine forth as the sun," Matthew 13:43.

And his feet as pillars of fire — Bright as flame.

Verse 2

[2] And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,

And he had in his hand — His left hand: he swore with his right. He stood with his right foot on the sea, toward the west; his left, on the land, toward the east: so that he looked southward. And so St. John (as Patmos lies near Asia) could conveniently take the book out of his left hand. This sealed book was first in the right hand of him that sat on the throne: thence the Lamb took it, and opened the seals. And now this little book, containing the remainder of the other, is given opened, as it was, to St. John. From this place the Revelation speaks more clearly and less figuratively than before.

And he set his right foot upon the sea — Out of which the first beast was to come.

And his left foot upon the earth — Out of which was to come the second. The sea may betoken Europe; the earth, Asia; the chief theatres of these great things.

Verse 3

[3] And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.

And he cried — Uttering the words set down, verse 6. Revelation 10:6 And while he cried, or was crying - At the same instant.

Seven thunders uttered their voices — In distinct words, each after the other. Those who spoke these words were glorious, heavenly powers, whose voice was as the loudest thunder.

Verse 4

[4] And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.

And I heard a voice from heaven — Doubtless from him who had at first commanded him to write, and who presently commands him to take the book; namely, Jesus Christ.

Seal up those things which the seven thunders have uttered, and write them not — These are the only things of all which he heard that he is commanded to keep secret: so something peculiarly secret was revealed to the beloved John, besides all the secrets that are written in this book. At the same time we are prevented from inquiring what it was which these thunders uttered: suffice that we may know all the contents of the opened book, and of the oath of the angel.

Verse 5

[5] And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,

And the angel — This manifestation of things to come under the trumpet of the seventh angel hath a twofold introduction: first, the angel speaks for God, verse 7; Revelation 10:7 then Christ speaks for himself, Revelation 11:3. The angel appeals to the prophets of former times; Christ, to his own two witnesses.

Whom I saw standing upon the earth and upon the sea, lifted up his right hand toward heaven — As yet the dragon was in heaven. When he is cast thence he brings the third and most dreadful woe on the earth and sea: so that it seems as if there would be no end of calamities. Therefore the angel comprises, in his posture and in his oath, both heaven, sea, and earth, and makes on the part of the eternal God and almighty Creator, a solemn protestation, that he will assert his kingly authority against all his enemies.

He lifted up his right hand toward heaven — The angel in Daniel, Daniel 12:7, (not improbably the same angel,) lifted up both his hands.

Verse 6

[6] And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

And sware — The six preceding trumpets pass without any such solemnity. It is the trumpet of the seventh angel alone which is confirmed by so high an oath.

By him that liveth for ever and ever — Before whom a thousand years are but a day.

Who created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the things that are therein — And, consequently, has the sovereign power over all: therefore, all his enemies, though they rage a while in heaven, on the sea, and on the earth, yet must give place to him.

That there shall be no more a time — "But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, the mystery of God shall be fulfilled:" that is, a time, a chronos, shall not expire before that mystery is fulfilled. A chronos (1111 years) will nearly pass before then, but not quite. The period, then, which we may term a non-chronos (not a whole time) must be a little, and not much, shorter than this. The non-chronos here mentioned seems to begin in the year 800, (when Charles the Great instituted in the west a new line of emperors, or of "many kings,") to end in the year 1836; and to contain, among other things, the "short time" of the third woe, the "three times and a half" of the woman in the wilderness, and the "duration" of the beast.

Verse 7

[7] But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel — Who sounded not only at the beginning of those days, but from the beginning to the end.

The mystery of God shall be fulfilled — It is said, Revelation 17:17, "The word of God shall be fulfilled." The word of God is fulfilled by the destruction of the beast; the mystery, by the removal of the dragon. But these great events are so near together, that they are here mentioned as one. The beginning of them is in heaven, as soon as the seventh trumpet sounds; the end is on the earth and the sea. So long as the third woe remains on the earth and the sea, the mystery of God is not fulfilled. And the angel's swearing is peculiarly for the comfort of holy men, who are afflicted under that woe. Indeed the wrath of God must be first fulfilled, by the pouring out of the phials: and then comes the joyful fulfilling of the mystery of God.

As he hath declared to his servants the prophets — The accomplishment exactly answering the prediction. The ancient prophecies relate partly to that grand period, from the birth of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem; partly to the time of the seventh angel, wherein they will be fully accomplished. To the seventh trumpet belongs all that occurs from Revelation 11:15. And the third woe, which takes place under the same, properly stands, Revelation 12:12; 13:1-18.

Verse 8

[8] And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.

And — what follows from this verse to chap. xi. 13, Revelation 11:13 runs parallel with the oath of the angel, and with "the fulfilling of the mystery of God," as it follows under the trumpet of the seventh angel; what is said, verse 11, Revelation 11:11 concerning St. John's "prophesying again," is unfolded immediately after; what is said, verse 7, Revelation 11:7 concerning "the fulfilling the mystery of God," is unfolded, Rev. xi. 15-19, Revelation 11:15-19 and in the following chapters.

Verse 9

[9] And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.

Eat it up — The like was commanded to Ezekiel. This was an emblem of thoroughly considering and digesting it.

And it will make thy belly bitter, but it will be sweet as honey in thy mouth — The sweetness betokens the many good things which follow, Revelation 11:1,15, etc.; the bitterness, the evils which succeed under the third woe.

Verse 11

[11] And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

Thou must prophesy again — Of the mystery of God; of which the ancient prophets had prophesied before. And he did prophesy, by "measuring the temple," Revelation 11:1; as a prophecy may be delivered either by words or actions.

Concerning people, and nations, and tongues, and many kings — The people, nations, and tongues are contemporary; but the kings, being many, succeed one another. These kings are not mentioned for their own sake, but with a view to the "holy city," Revelation 11:2. Here is a reference to the great kingdoms in Spain, England, Italy, etc., which arose from the eighth century; or at least underwent a considerable change, as France and Germany in particular; to the Christian, afterward Turkish, empire in the east; and especially to the various potentates, who have successively reigned at or over Jerusalem, and do now, at least titularly, reign over it.