1And I saw another mighty angel coming down from Heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. 2And he had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices.4Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.5And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand to Heaven6and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created the heavens and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be no more time;7but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, whenever he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.8And the voice which I heard from Heaven spoke to me again and said, Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.9So I went to the angel and said to him, Give me the little book. And he said to me, Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.10And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.11And he said to me, You must prophesy again before many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.
Jamieson Fausset Brown Bible Commentary 1
VISION OF THE LITTLE BOOK. (Rev 10:1
another mighty angel--as distinguished from the mighty angel who asked as to the former and more comprehensive book (Rev 5:2
), "Who is worthy to open the book?"
clothed with a cloud--the emblem of God coming in judgment.
a--A, B, C, and Aleph read "the"; referring to (Rev 4:3
) the rainbow already mentioned.
rainbow upon his head--the emblem of covenant mercy to God's people, amidst judgments on God's foes. Resumed from Rev 4:3
(see on Rev 4:3
face as . . . the sun-- (Rev 1:16
; Rev 18:1
feet as pillars of fire-- (Rev 1:15
; Ezek 1:7
). The angel, as representative of Christ, reflects His glory and bears the insignia attributed in Rev 1:15
; Rev 4:3
, to Christ Himself. The pillar of fire by night led Israel through the wilderness, and was the symbol of God's presence. 2
he had--Greek, "Having."
in his hand--in his left hand: as in Rev 10:5
(see on Rev 10:5
), he lifts up his right hand to heaven.
a little book--a roll little in comparison with the "book" (Rev 5:1
) which contained the whole vast scheme of God's purposes, not to be fully read till the final consummation. This other, a less book, contained only a portion which John was now to make his own (Rev 10:9
, Rev 10:11
), and then to use in prophesying to others. The New Testament begins with the word "book" (Greek, "biblus"), of which "the little book" (Greek, "biblaridion") is the diminutive, "the little bible," the Bible in miniature.
upon the sea . . . earth--Though the beast with seven heads is about to arise out of the sea (Rev 13:1
), and the beast with two horns like a lamb (Rev 13:11
) out of the earth, yet it is but for a time, and that time shall no longer be (Rev 10:6
) when once the seventh trumpet is about to sound; the angel with his right foot on the sea, and his left on the earth, claims both as God's, and as about soon to be cleared of the usurper and his followers. 3
as . . . lion--Christ, whom the angel represents, is often so symbolized (Rev 5:5
, "the Lion of the tribe of Juda").
seven thunders--Greek, "the seven thunders." They form part of the Apocalyptic symbolism; and so are marked by the article as well known. Thus thunderings marked the opening of the seventh seal (Rev 8:1
, Rev 8:5
); so also at the seventh vial (Rev 16:17
). WORDSWORTH calls this the prophetic use of the article; "the thunders, of which more hereafter." Their full meaning shall be only known at the grand consummation marked by the seventh seal, the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:19
), and the seventh vial.
uttered their--Greek, "spake their own voices"; that is, voices peculiarly their own, and not now revealed to men. 4
when--Aleph reads, "Whatsoever things." But most manuscripts support English Version.
uttered their voices--A, B, C, and Aleph omit "their voices." Then translate, "had spoken."
unto me--omitted by A, B, C, Aleph, and Syriac.
Seal up--the opposite command to Rev 22:20
. Even though at the time of the end the things sealed in Daniel's time were to be revealed, yet not so the voices of these thunders. Though heard by John, they were not to be imparted by him to others in this book of Revelation; so terrible are they that God in mercy withholds them, since "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The godly are thus kept from morbid ponderings over the evil to come; and the ungodly are not driven by despair into utter recklessness of life. ALFORD adds another aim in concealing them, namely, "godly fear, seeing that the arrows of God's quiver are not exhausted." Besides the terrors foretold, there are others unutterable and more horrifying lying in the background. 5
lifted up his hand--So A and Vulgate read. But B, C, Aleph, Syriac, and Coptic, ". . . his right hand." It was customary to lift up the hand towards heaven, appealing to the God of truth, in taking a solemn oath. There is in this part of the vision an allusion to Dan 12:1
. Compare Rev 10:4
, with Dan 12:4
, Dan 12:9
; and Rev 10:5
, end, with Dan 12:7
. But there the angel clothed in linen, and standing upon the waters, sware "a time, times, and a half" were to interpose before the consummation; here, on the contrary, the angel standing with his left foot on the earth, and his right upon the sea, swears there shall be time no longer. There he lifted up both hands to heaven; here he has the little book now open (whereas in Daniel the book is sealed) in his left hand (Rev 10:2
), and he lifts up only his right hand to heaven. 6
liveth for ever and ever--Greek, "liveth unto the ages of the ages" (compare Dan 12:7
created heaven . . . earth . . . sea, &c.--This detailed designation of God as the Creator, is appropriate to the subject of the angel's oath, namely, the consummating of the mystery of God (Rev 10:7
), which can surely be brought to pass by the same Almighty power that created all things, and by none else.
that there should be time no longer--Greek, "that time (that is, an interval of time) no longer shall be." The martyrs shall have no longer a time to wait for the accomplishment of their prayers for the purgation of the earth by the judgments which shall remove their and God's foes from it (Rev 6:11
). The appointed season or time of delay is at an end (the same Greek is here as in Rev 6:11
, chronus). Not as English Version implies, Time shall end and eternity begin. 7
But--connected with Rev 10:6
. "There shall be no longer time (that is, delay), but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to (so the Greek) sound his trumpet (so the Greek), then (literally, 'also'; which conjunction often introduces the consequent member of a sentence) the mystery of God is finished," literally, "has been finished"; the prophet regarding the future as certain as if it were past. A, C, Aleph, and Coptic read the past tense (Greek, "etelesthee"). B reads, as English Version, the future tense (Greek, "telesthee"). "should be finished" (compare Rev 11:15
). Sweet consolation to the waiting saints! The seventh trumpet shall be sounded without further delay.
the mystery of God--the theme of the "little book," and so of the remainder of the Apocalypse. What a grand contrast to the "mystery of iniquity Babylon!" The mystery of God's scheme of redemption, once hidden in God's secret counsel and dimly shadowed forth in types and prophecies, but now more and more clearly revealed according as the Gospel kingdom develops itself, up to its fullest consummation at the end. Then finally His servants shall praise Him most fully, for the glorious consummation of the mystery in having taken to Himself and His saints the kingdom so long usurped by Satan and the ungodly. Thus this verse is an anticipation of Rev 11:15
declared to--Greek, "declared the glad tidings to." "The mystery of God" is the Gospel glad tidings. The office of the prophets is to receive the glad tidings from God, in order to declare them to others. The final consummation is the great theme of the Gospel announced to, and by, the prophets (compare Gal 3:8
spake . . . and said--So Syriac and Coptic read. But A, B, C, "(I heard) again speaking with me, and saying" (Greek, "lalousan . . . legousan").
little book--So Aleph and B read. But A and C, "the book." 9
I went--Greek, "I went away." John here leaves heaven, his standing-point of observation heretofore, to be near the angel standing on the earth and sea.
Give--A, B, C, and Vulgate read the infinitive, "Telling him to give."
eat it up--appropriate its contents so entirely as to be assimilated with (as food), and become part of thyself, so as to impart them the more vividly to others. His finding the roll sweet to the taste at first, is because it was the Lord's will he was doing, and because, divesting himself of carnal feeling, he regarded God's will as always agreeable, however bitter might be the message of judgment to be announced. Compare Ps 40:8
, Margin, as to Christ's inner complete appropriation of God's word.
thy belly bitter--parallel to Ezek 2:10
, "There was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe."
as honey-- (Ps 19:10
; Ps 119:103
). Honey, sweet to the mouth, sometimes turns into bile in the stomach. The thought that God would be glorified (Rev 11:3
, Rev 11:11
) gave him the sweetest pleasure. Yet, afterwards the belly, or carnal natural feeling, was embittered with grief at the prophecy of the coming bitter persecutions of the Church (Rev 11:7
); compare John 16:1
. The revelation of the secrets of futurity is sweet to one at first, but bitter and distasteful to our natural man, when we learn the cross which is to be borne before the crown shall be won. John was grieved at the coming apostasy and the sufferings of the Church at the hands of Antichrist. 10
the little book--So A and C, but B, Aleph, and Vulgate, "the book."
was bitter--Greek, "was embittered." 11
he said--A, B, and Vulgate read, "they say unto me"; an indefinite expression for "it was said unto me."
Thou must--The obligation lies upon thee, as the servant of God, to prophesy at His command.
again--as thou didst already in the previous part of this book of Revelation.
before, &c.--rather as Greek (epilaois), "concerning many peoples," &c., namely, in their relation to the Church. The eating of the book, as in Ezekiel's case, marks John's inauguration to his prophetical office--here to a fresh stage in it, namely, the revealing of the things which befall the holy city and the Church of God--the subject of the rest of the book.