Revelation 11 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Revelation 11)

We are here at once in the centre of prophetic subjects-Jerusalem, the temple, the altar, and worshipers. The worshipers and the altar are recognised and accepted of God-those worshiping in the secret of God within. The general profession of Judaism is rejected and disowned. It is given up to be trodden down under the Gentiles, and that for the half-week of sorrow. Those who held the place of priests were owned. Real worshipers, according to God's mind, were there and owned; and God gave also an adequate testimony-two witnesses--what was required under the law; and they continue day by day constantly to give witness the whole period, or half-week. The witnesses were in sorrow and reproach, but with power; as Elias and Moses were when the people were in apostacy and captivity. It was not the re-establishment of Israel with royalty and priesthood, as it would be afterwards--the candlestick of Zechariah with the two olive--trees-but the sufficient witness to it. Nor could they be touched while the half-week of their prophecy lasted; their word brought death on their adversaries. We have priesthood and prophecy in the remnant, not of course royalty, but a testimony to it practically: suffering marked its absence, yet none could touch them till their time were come. In this they were like Christ in His humiliation in the midst of Israel; only He did not slay His enemies. In the Psalms we marked it out as the remnant's portion. Complete humiliation and the full answer of God to their prophetic word marked their state. But when they had finished their testimony, the case is different. They had to do with the beast out of the bottomless pit. They stood before the God of the earth-not preachers of heavenly gospel, but witnesses of God's title to the earth-of His love to His people in connection with it. They bore witness to God's claim when hostile Gentiles were in possession. The beast, now their hour is come, slays them, and their bodies are cast into the highways of the city. Those of the nations rejoice over them and make merry. The dwellers upon earth who would have the earth theirs and ease upon it; were delighted: for the witnesses of the God of the earth tormented them; but in three days and a half, quickened by the power of the Spirit of God, they ascended to heaven in a cloud, not as Christ did, apart, but in the sight of their enemies. A tenth of the great city of the world fell at the same time in the convulsion that took place on the earth; and the remnant are affrighted, and give glory to the God of heaven. But God was dealing already as the God of the earth. The second woe was now past.

Thus we get the close of the half week indicated; the seventh trumpet was quickly to sound, which was to finish the mystery of God. It sounds; and there were great voices in heaven declaring that the worldly kingdom of their Lord (Jehovah) and of His anointed (Christ) was come-the greatest woe and terror of all to the inhabitants of the earth. Satan's woe had been specially on Jews; man's woe, specially on the men of the Latin Empire; this is Gods woe when the nations are angry, and Gods wrath is come, and full reckoning and final deliverance come. We have again the elders here announcing the reason of praise and thanksgiving. Voices in heaven announce the fact of the reign of Jehovah and of His Christ according to Psalm 2, and that He (for, as ever, John unites both in one thought) should reign for ever and ever; and so it will be. But both the earthly and eternal kingdom are celebrated. Only in the eternal kingdom the distinction of the worldly kingdom and of Christ's subordination is omitted. In the thanksgiving of the elders, Jehovah Elohim Shaddai is also celebrated; as the great King who takes to Him His power and reigns; for it is God's kingdom. We have two parts in their statement: the nations angry-this brings in the time of God's wrath; and the time of the dead to be judged. This is the first half: man's wrath, and God's judgment. Then He gives reward to prophets, saints, and all that fear His name, and sets aside from the earth those who corrupted it. This is blessing. The first part is general, the time of wrath and judgment; the second is reward and deliverance of the saints on earth. This closes entirely the main symbolic history. The last trumpet has sounded, and the mystery of God is closed.

In what follows we have details: the beast, and the connection of the assembly and Jews with it; Babylon; and then the marriage of the Lamb; judgments of beast and false prophet; binding of Satan; two resurrections, and final judgment; and the description of the heavenly city. But this new prophecy begins (chap 12:19), as to earthly prophetic dealing, with special reference to the Jews. The temple of God is opened in heaven, the ark of His covenant, which refers to Israel is seen there. But judgment characterises it now; judgments of all kinds, those coming down from above, and subversion and disaster below. [1]


[1] Where the throne is set for judgment, it is characterized only by what proceeds directly from God. There are no earth quakes and hail; here there are.