on Revelation 10 :11
Thou must prophesy again - Thou must write, not only for the instruction of the Jews in Palestine, but of those in the different provinces, as well as the heathens and heathen emperors and potentates in general.
The reader will find, on comparing this chapter with Daniel 8:1-27; Daniel 12:1-13, and Ezekiel 2:1-3:27, that there are several things similar in both; and the writer of the Apocalypse appears to keep these two prophets continually in view. I must once more say that I do not understand these prophecies, therefore I do not take upon me to explain them. I see with regret how many learned men have mistaken their way here. Commentators, and even some of the most modern, have strangely trifled in these solemn things; all trumpets, vials, woes, etc., are perfectly easy to them; yet from their descriptions, none get wise either to common sense or to the things that make for their peace.
On the same ground I cannot admit the interpretation that is given of the word χρονος, translated time in Revelation 10:6, which some have construed into an artificial period of 1,111 years, which they term chronos; hence we have the chronos, half-chronos, and non-chronos. Bengel has said much on these points, but to very little purpose; the word in the above place seems to signify delay simply, and probably refers to the long-suffering of God being ended in reference to Jerusalem; for I all along take for probable that this book was written previously to the destruction of that city.
on Revelation 10 :11
And he said unto me - The angel then said.
Thou must prophesy - The word "prophesy" here is evidently used in the large sense of making known divine truth in general; not in the comparatively narrow and limited sense in which it is commonly used, as referring merely to the foretelling of future events. See the word explained in the Romans 12:6 note; 1 Corinthians 14:1 note. The meaning is, that, as a consequence of becoming possessed of the little volume and its contents, he would be called to proclaim divine truth, or to make the message of God known to mankind. The direct address is to John himself; but it is evidently not to be understood of him personally. He is represented as seeing the angel; as hearkening to his voice; as listening to the solemn oath which he took; as receiving and eating the volume; and then as prophesying to many people; but the reference is undoubtedly to the far-distant future. If the allusion is to the times of the Reformation, the meaning is, that the end of the world was not, as would be expected, about to occur, but that there was to be an interval long enough to permit the gospel to be proclaimed before "nations, and tongues, and kings"; that in consequence of coming into possession of the "little book," the Word of God, the truth was yet to be proclaimed far and wide on the earth.
Again - πάλιν palin. This had been done before. That is, supposing this to refer to the time of the Reformation, it could be said:
(a) that this had been done before - that the gospel had been in former times proclaimed in its purity before "many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings"; and,
(b) that it would be done "again"; that is, though the Word of God had been hidden, and a mass of corrupt traditions had taken its place, yet the time would come when those pure truths would be made known again to all lands. This will explain the word "again" in this place - not meaning that John would do this personally, but that this would be in fact the result of the restoration of the Bible to the church.
Before many peoples - This word denotes people considered as masses, or as grouped together in masses, without reference to the manner in which it is done. It is used when we look on a mass of people, without taking into account the question whether they are of the same nation, or language, or rank. See the notes on Revelation 7:9. The plural is used here - "peoples" - perhaps to denote that those to whom the truth would be made known would be very numerous. They would not only be numerous in regard to the individuals to whom it would be communicated, but numerous considered as communities or nations.
And nations - The word "nations" here denotes people considered as separated by national boundaries, constitutions, laws, customs. See the notes on Revelation 7:9.
And tongues - People considered as divided by languages - a division not always or necessarily the same as that denoted by the word "people," or "nations" as used in this passage.
And kings - Rulers of the people. The meaning is, that the gospel would not only be borne before the masses of mankind, but in a special manner before kings and rulers. The effect of thus possessing the "little volume," or of the "open book" of revealed truth, would ultimately be that the message of life would be carried with power before princes and rulers, and would influence them as well as the common people.
In inquiring now for the proper application of this symbol as thus explained, we naturally turn to the Reformation, and ask whether there was anything in that of which this would he the proper emblem. The following things, then, are found in fact as occurring at that time, of which the symbol before us may be regarded as the proper representation:
(1) The reception of the Bible as from the hand of an angel - or its recovery from obscurity and forgetfulness, as if it were now restored to the church by a heavenly interposition. The influence of the Bible on the Reformation; the fact that it was now recovered from its obscurity, and that it was made the grand instrument in the Reformation, has already been illustrated. See the notes on Revelation 10:2. The symbolical action of taking it from the hand of an angel was not an improper representation of its reception again by the church, and of its restoration to its true place in the church. It became, as it is proper that it should always be, the grand means of the defense of the faith, and of the propagation of truth in the world.
(2) the statement that the little book when eaten was "in the mouth sweet as honey," is a striking and proper representation of the relish felt for the sacred Scriptures by those who love the truth (compare notes on Revelation 10:9), and is especially appropriate to describe the interest which was felt in the volume of revealed truth in the time of the Reformation. For the Bible was to the Reformers emphatically a new book. It had been driven from common use to make way for the legends of the saints and the traditions of the church. It had, therefore, when translated into the vernacular tongue, and when circulated and read, the freshness of novelty - the interest which a volume of revealed truth would have if just given from heaven. Accordingly, it is well known with what avidity and relish the sacred volume was studied by Luther and his fellow-laborers in the Reformation; how they devoured its doctrines; how they looked to it for comfort in their times of trial; how sweet and sustaining were its promises in the troubles that came upon them, and in the labors which they were called to perform.
(3) the representation that, after it was eaten, it was "bitter," would not improperly describe the effect, in some respects, of thus receiving the Bible, and making it the groundwork of faith. It brought the Reformers at once into conflict with all the power of the papacy and the priesthood; exposed them to persecution; aroused against them a host of enemies among the princes and rulers of the earth; and was the cause for which many of them were put to death. Such effects followed substantially when Wycliffe translated the Bible; when John Huss and Jerome of Prague published the pure doctrines of the New Testament; and when Luther gave to the people the Word of God in their own language. To a great extent this is always so - that, however sweet and precious the truths of the Bible may be to the preacher himself, one of the effects of his attempting to preach those truths may be such opposition on the part of people, such cold indifference, or such fierce persecution, that it would be well illustrated by what is said here, "it shall make thy belly bitter."
(4) the representation that, as a consequence of receiving that book, he would prophesy again before many people, is a fit representation of the effect of the reception of the Bible again by the church, and of allowing it its proper place there. For:
on Revelation 10 :11
10:11 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, Rev 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, Rev 11:2. Here is a reference to the great kingdoms in Spain, England, Italy, and c., 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.