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Revelation 10:4

    Revelation 10:4 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

    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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

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

    American Standard Version (ASV)

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

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    And when the seven thunders had given out their voices, I was about to put their words down: and a voice from heaven came to my ears, saying, Keep secret the things which the seven thunders said, and do not put them in writing.

    Webster's Revision

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

    World English Bible

    When the seven thunders sounded, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from the sky saying, "Seal up the things which the seven thunders said, and don't write them."

    English Revised Version (ERV)

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

    Barnes' Notes on Revelation 10:4

    And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices - After he had listened to those thunders; or when they had passed by.

    I was about to write - That is, he was about to record what was uttered, supposing that that was the design for which he hart been made to hear them. From this it would seem that it was not mere thunder - brutum fulmen - but that the utterance had a distinct and intelligible enunciation, or that words were employed that could be recorded. It may be observed, by the way, as Prof. Stuart has remarked, that this proves that John wrote down what he saw and heard as soon as practicable, and in the place where he was; and that the supposition of many modern critics, that the Apocalyptic visions were written at Ephesus a considerable time after the visions took place, has no good foundation.

    And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me - Evidently the voice of God: at all events it came with the clear force of command,

    Seal up those things - On the word "seal," see the notes on Revelation 5:1. The meaning here is, that he was not to record those things, but what he heard he was to keep to himself as if it was placed under a seal which was not to be broken.

    And write them not - Make no record of them. No reason is mentioned why this was not to be done, and none can now be given that can be proved to be the true reason. Vitringa, who regards the seven thunders as referring to the Crusades, supposes the reason to have been that a more full statement would have diverted the mind from the course of the prophetic narrative, and from more important events which pertained to the church, and that nothing occurred in the Crusades which was worthy to be recorded at length: Nec dignae erant quae prolixius exponerentur - "for," he adds, "these expeditions were undertaken with a foolish purpose, and resulted in real detriment to the church," pp. 431, 432. Prof. Stuart (vol. ii. pp. 204-206) supposes that these "thunders" refer to the destruction of the city and temple of God, and that they were a sublime introduction to the last catastrophe, and that the meaning is not that he should keep "entire silence," but only that he should state the circumstances in a general manner, without going into detail. Mede supposes that John was commanded to keep silence because it was designed that the meaning should not then be known, but should be disclosed in future times; Forerius, because it was the design that the wise should be able to understand them, but that they were not to be disclosed to the wicked and profane. Without attempting to examine these and other solutions which have been proposed, the question which, from the course of the exposition, is properly before us is, whether, on the supposition that the voice of the seven thunders referred to the papal anathemas, a rational and satisfactory solution of the reasons of this silence can be given. Without pretending to know the reasons which existed, the following may be referred to as not improbable, and as those which would meet the case:

    (1) In these papal anathemas there was nothing that was worthy of record; there was nothing that was important as history; there was nothing that communicated truth; there was nothing that really indicated progress in human affairs. In themselves there was nothing more that deserved record than the acts and doings of wicked people at any time; nothing that fell in with the main design of this book.

    (2) such a record would have retarded the progress of the main statements of what was to occur, and would have turned off the attention from these to less important matters.

    (3) all that was necessary in the case was simply to state that such threaders were heard: that is, on the supposition that this refers to the Reformation, that that great change in human affairs would not be permitted to occur without opposition and noise - as if the thunders of wrath should follow those who were engaged in it.

    (4) John evidently mistook this for a real revelation, or for something that was to be recorded as connected with the divine will in reference to the progress of human affairs. He was naturally about to record this as he did what was uttered by the other voices which he heard; and if he had made the record, it would have been with this mistaken view. There was nothing in the voices, or in what was uttered, that would manifestly mark it as distinct from what had been uttered as coming from God, and he was about to record it under this impression. If this was a mistake, and if the record would do anything, as it clearly would, to perpetuate the error, it is easy to see a sufficient reason why the record should not be made.

    (5) it is remarkable that there was an entire correspondence with this in what occurred in the Reformation; in the fact that Luther and his fellow-laborers were, at first, and for a long time - such was the force of education, and of the habits of reverence for the papal authority in which they had been reared - disposed to receive the announcements of the papacy as the oracles of God, and to show to them the deference which was due to divine communications. The language of Luther himself, if the general view here taken is correct, will be the best commentary on the expressions used here. "When I began the affairs of the Indulgences," says he, "I was a monk, and a most mad papist. So intoxicated was I, and drenched in papal dogmas, that I would have been most ready to murder, or assist others in murdering, any person who should have uttered a syllable against the duty of obedience to the pope."

    And again: "Certainly at that time I adored him in earnest." He adds, "How distressed my heart was in that year 1517 - how submissive to the hierarchy, not feignedly but really - those little knew who at this day insult the majesty of the pope with so much pride and arrogance. I was ignorant of many things which now, by the grace of God, I understand. I disputed; I was open to conviction; not finding satisfaction in the works of theologians, I wished to consult the living members of the church itself. There were some godly souls that entirely approved my propositions. But I did not consider their authority of weight with me in spiritual concerns. The popes, bishops, cardinals, monks, priests, were the objects of my confidence. After being enabled to answer every objection that could be brought against me from sacred Scripture, one difficulty alone remained, that the Church ought to be obeyed.

    If I had then braved the pope as I now do, I should have expected every hour that the earth would have opened to swallow me up alive, like Korah and Abiram." It was in this frame of mind that, in the summer of 1518, a few months after the affair with Tetzel, he wrote that memorable letter to the pope, the tenor of which can be judged of by the following sentences: and what could more admirably illustrate the passage before us, on the interpretation suggested, than this language? "Most blessed Father! Prostrate at the feet of thy blessedness I offer myself to thee, with all that I am, and that I have. Kill me, or make me live; call or recall; approve or reprove, as shall please thee. I will acknowledge thy voice as the voice of Christ presiding and speaking in thee." See the authorities for these quotations in Elliott, vol. ii. pp. 116, 117.

    (6) The command not to record what the seven thunders uttered was of the nature of a caution not to regard what was said in this manner; that is, not to be deceived by these utterances as if they were the voice of God. Thus understood, if this is the proper explanation and application of the passage, it should be regarded as an injunction not to regard the decrees and decisions of the papacy as containing any intimation of the divine will, or as of authority in the church. That this is to be so regarded is the opinion of all Protestants; and if this is so, it is not a forced supposition that this might have been intimated by such a symbol as that before us.

    Wesley's Notes on Revelation 10:4

    10:4 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.