Revelation 11:12 MEANING

Revelation 11:12
(12) And they heard . . .--Translate, And they heard (or, I heard; the MS. authority is divided, though the balance inclines to the first) a great voice out of the heaven saying to them. Come up hither. And they went up into the heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. The resurrection of the witnesses is followed by their ascension. It is the token that in this too they shall have a portion with their Lord; rejected and slain, there is welcome and honour for them; they take their place with those who through faith and patience inherit the promises; they rest from their labours. But this is not all. Like Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), they are taken up gloriously, but not, like Elijah, in comparative secret; their enemies see their exaltation. As for the witnesses themselves there is the welcome rest of heaven, so there is the visible recognition of their work and power on earth; the cause which seemed dead revives, and with its revival comes the recognition of those who laboured for it; the martyred are seen transfigured, they become glorious in the eyes of men:

"Persecution dragged them into fame,

And chased them up to heaven."

They went up in the cloud: There is here, perhaps, a touch of recollection. St. John remembers the cloud which received his Lord out of sight. Since then the cloud mingles with his every thought of ascension or descending from heaven. (Comp. Revelation 1:7; Acts 1:9.) The witnesses, like their Master, disappeared in the cloud.

Verse 12. - And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. The reading ἤκουσα, "I heard," for ἤκουσαν, "they heard," in a correction of א, and in B, Coptic, Armenian, Andreas, may have arisen from the similarity of the passage to Revelation 6:6; Revelation 9:13. Dusterdieck, who reads, "I heard," points out that in Revelation 6:11; Revelation 9:4, the phrase used in addressing others is, "It was said unto them." Thus the fate of the Church is that of her Lord, and it is the fate of each individual who may witness of God. Suffering, apparent extinction, perhaps, but ultimate triumph and ascension into the presence of God is their common inheritance. If so be that they suffer with him, they are also glorified with him (Romans 8:17). Alford remarks that "no attempt has been made to explain this ascension by those who interpret the witnesses figuratively of the Old and New Testaments, or the like." Is it not the resurrection of the just, of the witnesses of God, and their exaltation at the beginning of the last judgment? Thus St. Paul says, "But each in his own order: Christ the Firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming. Then cometh the end" (1 Corinthians 15:13). This "end" is immediately referred to by the seer. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them; in the cloud. The parallelism with Elijah and Christ (see vers. 5, 6, 8) is carried still further. The Church is triumphantly vindicated and glorified as they were; the only difference is that now all men behold it. The cloud is not that which hides them from view, but rather, like that in Revelation 14:14, something which exalts and enhances the glory of the witnesses. The effect upon the worldly is told in vers. 11, 13.

11:3-13 In the time of treading down, God kept his faithful witnesses to attest the truth of his word and worship, and the excellence of his ways, The number of these witnesses is small, yet enough. They prophesy in sackcloth. It shows their afflicted, persecuted state, and deep sorrow for the abominations against which they protested. They are supported during their great and hard work, till it is done. When they had prophesied in sackcloth the greatest part of 1260 years, antichrist, the great instrument of the devil, would war against them, with force and violence for a time. Determined rebels against the light rejoice, as on some happy event, when they can silence, drive to a distance, or destroy the faithful servants of Christ, whose doctrine and conduct torment them. It does not appear that the term is yet expired, and the witnesses are not a present exposed to endure such terrible outward sufferings as in former times; but such things may again happen, and there is abundant cause to prophesy in sackcloth, on account of the state of religion. The depressed state of real Christianity may relate only to the western church. The Spirit of life from God, quickens dead souls, and shall quicken the dead bodies of his people, and his dying interest in the world. The revival of God's work and witnesses, will strike terror into the souls of his enemies. Where there is guilt, there is fear; and a persecuting spirit, though cruel, is a cowardly spirit. It will be no small part of the punishment of persecutors, both in this world, and at the great day, that they see the faithful servants of God honoured and advanced. The Lord's witnesses must not be weary of suffering and service, nor hastily grasp at the reward; but must stay till their Master calls them. The consequence of their being thus exalted was a mighty shock and convulsion in the antichristian empire. Events alone can show the meaning of this. But whenever God's work and witnesses revive, the devil's work and witnesses fall before him. And that the slaying of the witnesses is future, appears to be probable.And they heard a great voice from heaven,.... The Complutensian edition reads, "I heard", i.e. "John"; and so the Syriac and Arabic versions; but the copies in general read "they"; not the enemies, but the witnesses: and this seems not to come from any Christian civil magistrate in the church, but from Christ himself; not but that Christ may make use of, such for the bringing of his people into a more glorious and comfortable state in this world:

saying unto them, come up hither; as the angel said to John, Revelation 4:1, and Christ will say to his people, though on another account, Matthew 25:34.

And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; which is to be understood not literally, for no man hath ascended to heaven, nor will any, until the thousand years are ended, when the saints will, in a body, ascend thither; but mystically, of a more glorious state of the church; so to ascend to heaven signifies a more exalted state in a prince, or a kingdom, Isaiah 14:13; and here intends a state of comfortable communion of the saints one with another, of great purity and holiness, of large enjoyments of blessings and privileges, and of great security from enemies, and of great glory, and honour, and power, that shall be bestowed upon them; they now dwelling on high, and their place of defence being the munition of rocks. This will be the beginning of the spiritual reign of Christ; and this ascension of the witnesses will be in a cloud, in allusion to our Lord's ascension to heaven, and as expressive of that glory and majesty which will be put upon these risen witnesses, and in which they shall enter into this happy state of things; or it may be, that this may denote that the first appearance of these happy times, and of Christ's spiritual reign in his church, and their more comfortable enjoyment, will be at first but dim and obscure, and yet such as, in comparison of their former state, will be visible to, and be taken notice of, even by their very enemies:

and their enemies beheld them; going up to heaven, or entering into a purer, and more glorious, and spiritual state; for the mountain of the Lord's house will be established upon the top of the mountains, and Jerusalem shall be made the praise of the whole earth, an eternal excellency, and the joy of many generations; and this shall be seen and known of all, though to their grief and sorrow.

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