Have thou authority over ten cities.--The truth implied in Matthew 25:21 (where see Note), that the reward of faithfulness in this life, and probably in the life to come, will be found in yet wider opportunities for work in God's service, is stated here with greater distinctness. "Authority over ten cities" must have something corresponding to it, some energy and work of guidance, in the realities of the unseen world, and cannot simply be understood as fulfilled in the beatific vision or the life of ceaseless praise and adoration.
because thou hast been faithful in a very little; had preached the pure Gospel of Christ, and the whole of it, and sought not to please men, but the Lord only; not his own glory, but Christ's; abode by him and his interest, notwithstanding all reproaches and persecutions, and so acted a faithful part to Christ: "in a very little"; not that the Gospel is in itself little, or of small account; it is a treasure in earthen vessels; and contains the unsearchable riches of Christ: nor are gifts to preach it little things; they are instances of rich and amazing grace; but they are little, or, rather, the use and exercise of them are little, in comparison of the glory and happiness such faithful servants shall enjoy: from whence it appears, that since there is no proportion between what they do, and what they shall have, that therefore it is not of merit but of grace; and which is expressed in the following clause:
have thou authority over ten cities; which is to be understood, not in a literal sense, as if the apostles should have the jurisdiction over so many cities, or churches in so many cities among the Gentiles, after the destruction of Jerusalem, which were planted by their means and ministry; for nothing of this kind appears in the word of God: and much less after the second coming of Christ, shall faithful ministers of the word have power over so many cities, literally taken; for both in the kingdom state and in the ultimate glory, there will be but one beloved city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem: nor is any thing in particular, in a metaphorical sense, intended; only, in general, that the kingdom, and dominion, and the greatness of it, will be given unto them; and they shall reign with Christ on earth a thousand years; and shall also have a crown of glory, life, and righteousness bestowed on them, and shall sit on the throne with Christ; and besides all this, the persons they have been instrumental to, will be their joy, and crown of rejoicing. A learned writer (l) explains these ten cities, by the ten horns of the dragon, and beast in Revelation 12:3 by which are meant ten kings, or kingdoms, Revelation 17:12. These indeed will be overcome by Christ, and they that are with him, and will hate the Romish antichrist, and destroy him; so that, it seems, there will be revolutions in these kingdoms; and large conversions to the faith of Christ, which seems to be what this writer means by authority over them.
(l) Teelmanni Specimen Explic. Parabol. p. 51.