Revelation 15:1 MEANING

Revelation 15:1

(1) And I saw another sign in (the) heaven.--The sign is, as we noticed before (Revelation 12:1), a token, not a mere empty wonder. This sign is called "great and marvellous;" it introduces a new set of scenes; the same characters will reappear, but we must start with fresh attention.

The seer sees seven angels (not "the seven angels;" it is perfectly needless to ask what angels, or to try and identify them with the trumpet angels) having seven plagues, the last, because in them is completed the wrath of God. The statement that these are the last plagues seems to show that the set of visions now commencing carry us down to the end of the age; there are no other plagues after these: they are the last plagues; the vials, like the seals and the trumpets, run up to the final consummation. They are plagues; the word carries us back to Egypt: on Egypt fell the ten plagues which showed forth God's righteous power, and exposed the hollow pretensions of the magicians and their gods; the wild beast-power and the false prophet-power of that day was crippled and exposed. In like manner upon the wild beast-power of later ages the plagues of God fall. They are plagues, because they are sent forth, not like the trumpets to warn men to repent, but upon those who have obstinately refused to return; they are not goads to the wavering, but they are strokes upon the wilful and hardened; they are directed against those who are deliberately hostile.

Verse 1. - And I saw another sign in heaven. The last time we had this expression was in Revelation 12, where the history of the war between Satan and the Church was begun. Once more we have a new departure, the seer again, as it were, returning to the beginning? in order to trace the course of the punishments inflicted on men for their worship of the devil. Revelation 15. gives a short summary of this, which is expanded in Revelation 16; and it is introduced, as usual, by a vision of the saints in glory, in order to comfort and support the Christian in his warfare (cf. Revelation 6:1, 2; Revelation 7:3; Revelation 14:1-5, 13). The "sign" is what is described in the following account. "In heaven" probably merely means in a conspicuous position (cf. Revelation 12:1). Great and marvellous. On account of the terrible nature of the events depicted. Seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God; seven angels having seven plagues, the last [ones], because in them is finished the wrath of God. The seer describes what he sees subsequently, as if all the actors were present at one moment. In reality, he sees the actions of the "seven angels" in succession. The number seven denotes the universal, all-extending nature of the plagues (see on Revelation 1:4; 5:1, etc.). They are the last plagues, because they lead on to the description of the final fall of the power of the devil in its various forms, and to the account of the last judgment of God and the eternal bliss of the saints in glory.

15:1-4 Seven angels appeared in heaven; prepared to finish the destruction of antichrist. As the measure of Babylon's sins was filled up, it finds the full measure of Divine wrath. While believers stand in this world, in times of trouble, as upon a sea of glass mingled with fire, they may look forward to their final deliverance, while new mercies call forth new hymns of praise. The more we know of God's wonderful works, the more we shall praise his greatness as the Lord God Almighty, the Creator and Ruler of all worlds; but his title of Emmanuel, the King of saints, will make him dear to us. Who that considers the power of God's wrath, the value of his favour, or the glory of his holiness, would refuse to fear and honour him alone? His praise is above heaven and earth.And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous,.... This chapter is a preparation to the pouring out of the seven vials, as Revelation 16:1 is to the sending of the seven epistles, and Revelation 2:1 to the seven seals and seven trumpets: the vision is called a "sign", because what was seen was significative of future events; a sign of the coming of Christ, of his kingdom, and of the destruction of antichrist; and it is said to be a sign "in heaven", where John was called up, and where he had his visions; and it was "another", a different one from that in Revelation 12:1 which represented the downfall of Paganism, but this the downfall of Popery; and it is a very "great" one, it is expressive of great things, as the fall of Babylon the great, or the judgment of the great whore, and the great glory of the church and kingdom of Christ; and it is "marvellous", for the two grand events it respects are very wonderful; as that antichrist, who was once in such power, should be destroyed, and that by such weak means, in the esteem of men, as the preaching of the Gospel, which is no less marvellous than the fall of Jericho by the sound of rams' horns; and that the church, which was in so low an estate in the wilderness, for the space of 1260 days or years, should become so glorious. The vision follows,

seven angels, having the seven last plagues; these are not the same angels that blew the seven trumpets, for they are not contemporary with them, but are more likely the same with those in the preceding chapter; though they seem rather to be different from them: if these were angels literally understood, their having plagues is no objection to their being good angels, since such are often the executioners of God's wrath; and that these good ones, appears from one of them talking with John, and showing him the judgment of antichrist, and another the bride, the Lamb's wife, and her glory, Revelation 17:1 though they seem rather to be the ministers of the Gospel, since they are said to come out of the temple, Revelation 15:6 and since the destruction of antichrist will be by the breath of Christ's mouth, or by the preaching of the Gospel; unless it should be thought that members of churches are designed, since these angels receive their vials from one of the four living creatures, Revelation 15:7 or preachers of the word; and may denote some very principal men, as kings, who will now be come to Zion, and be members of Gospel churches, and will be the nursing fathers and protectors of them; and these will hate the whore, and burn her flesh with fire; but of these angels, see more on Revelation 15:6. They are said to have "the seven last plagues"; that is, in their vials; for these seven plagues are the same with the seven vials of the wrath of God, to be poured out upon antichrist; and are no other than so many steps, ways, and means, by which God will bring on and finish his destruction: these are called the last plagues, because they will be in the last days: there have been plagues before, as at the destruction of the old world, and of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plagues of Egypt, and the downfall of several monarchies and kingdoms, and of Paganism in the Roman empire; but these will fall upon antichrist, and will be the last upon him, for they will issue in his utter ruin; they will be the last plagues upon the earth, there will be no other after them, but the conflagration of the world, and the general destruction of the wicked in hell. These plagues are the same with the third woe, and are an explanation of it, and belong to the sounding of the seventh trumpet, which brings in the kingdoms of this world to become the kingdoms of Christ, and the time of God's wrath upon the nations, or Gentiles, the Papists, and of judging the dead, and destroying them that destroyed the earth, Revelation 11:15 for these plagues do not follow upon the harvest and vintage, nor has this vision any respect to them, nor to be connected with the preceding chapter, but with Revelation 11:1 and gives an enlarged view, both of the glory of Christ's kingdom, and of the ruin of antichrist, by these plagues, called the last:

for in them is filled up the wrath of God; upon the beast, and his followers.

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