OTY The Revelation (2)d -John Gill

John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible.

OTY The Revelation (2)d -John Gill

Revelation 2:13

Ver. 13. I know thy works,.... Both good and bad, and which in that pure part of this church, which opposed the growing corruptions of antichrist, were for the most part good.

And where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]. Pergamos was a city very much given to idolatry, here Satan reigned while it was Pagan, and so was a fit emblem of the idolatrous church of Rome. Pausanias says {a}, the country the Pergamenes inhabited was sacred to the Cabiri, the chief gods of the Heathens. And the same writer {b} observes, that Aesculapius particularly was worshipped at Pergamos; and hence he is called by Martial {c} the Pergamean god; to his temple here, men used to go from different parts of the world for cure of diseases; hither Antoninus the emperor went for such a purpose, as Herodian {d} relates; and this being a common thing, hence Lucian {e} scoffingly says, that Aesculapius had an apothecary's shop at Pergamos.

As Rome, and its dominions, were the principal seat of the church in this period of time, it may well be called Satan's seat or throne; not only because it had been the seat of the Roman emperors, the ten horned and seven headed beast, Re 13:2; but because it was the seat of antichrist, which the great dragon Satan gave him, whose coming was after the working of Satan, and he was influenced by him; and who, like Satan, exalted himself above all that is called God; yea, placed himself in the temple of God, the church, as God, showing himself to be God, assuming that power to himself which only belonged to God.

Moreover, he may be called so for his enmity and malice against the saints, and for his art and subtlety, and insidious methods to ensnare and destroy them. Now to dwell where such an one has his seat, his throne, has a kingdom, power, and authority, must be very uncomfortable, as well as dangerous; and required great care, circumspection, and prudence how to behave: and yet to the commendation of this church it is said,

and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith: the pure members of this church are the two witnesses, which rose up at the beginning of the apostasy of Rome, and bore their testimony against it, and for the truth; and continued to do so amidst all the corruptions and persecutions of that state: these are the two olive trees, that, through the golden pipes of the word and ordinances, emptied the golden oil of Gospel truths out, of themselves, pure and incorrupt, and the two candlesticks that held forth the light of the Gospel in the darkest times of Popery; these held fast the name of Christ, or the Gospel, and denied not, but confessed the doctrine of faith in the worst of times.

They had the truths of the Gospel in their possession, which were dear and valuable to them; and whereas there was danger of losing them, they held them fast, with great courage, magnanimity, and strength, though the greater number was against them, and they were attended with reproach and persecution:

even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. Antipas is the proper name of a man; so a son of Herod was called {f}, even he that beheaded John, and mocked Christ: and there might be a man of this name at Pergamos, that might suffer martyrdom for the Gospel of Christ; and who was an emblem of the confessors, witnesses, and martyrs, that suffered for Christ, in this period of time, through their opposition to the popes of Rome; for Antipas is the contraction of Antipater, and is the same with Antipapas, or Antipappas, which signifies one that is against the pope, an opposer of that holy father; and so intends all those that made head against him, upon his rising and revelation, and when he assumed the power he did to himself; such as the Waldenses and Albigenses particularly, who set themselves against him, openly declared that the pope was antichrist, and that his government was tyrannical, and his doctrines the doctrines of devils, abominable and fabulous.

They bore a faithful testimony against all his corruptions and innovations, and became martyrs in the cause of Christ, many thousands of them being slain for his sake within the dominions of this firstborn of Satan. The Alexandrian copy reads "Anteipas"; and his name is left out in the Syriac and Arabic versions.

{a} L. 1. sive Attica, p. 8. {b} L. 3. sive Laconica, p. 215. {c} L. 9. Epig. 14. {d} Hist. l. 4. c. 14. {e} In Icaro Menippo. {f} Joseph. Antiqu. l. 17. c. 1. sect. 3. De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 28. sect. 4.

Revelation 2:14

Ver. 14. But I have a few things against thee,.... The members of this church before their open separation from the apostasy; who still continued in the communion of the corrupt church of Rome, though they remonstrated against the errors and evil practices that crept in; and so were a stumbling block, and a snare to others to join in their idolatry and superstition:

because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel,
to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication: which latter was in order to the former:

the instruction Balaam gave to Balak, which is here called his doctrine, was, that Balak should get some of the most beautiful women in his kingdom to ply the men of Israel, and draw them into uncleanness, and so to idolatry;

by which means, God being angry with them, he might get an advantage over them: that the Israelites did commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and eat things sacrificed to idols, and bowed down to Baal Peor, is certain, Nu 25:1;

but that this was brought about through the counsel of Balaam is not so plainly expressed, though it is hinted at in Nu 31:15; but the Jewish writers are very express about this matter. Jonathan ben Uzziel, one of their Targumists on Nu 24:14, has these words of Balaam;

"Come, and I will counsel thee, (speaking to Balak,) go and set up inns, and place in them whorish women, to sell food and drink at a low price: and this people will come and eat and drink, and be drunken, and will lie with them, and deny their God; and they will be quickly delivered into thine hands, and many of them shall fall.''

This now was the stumbling block he taught Balak to lay before them. And elsewhere {g} it is said,

"that Balaam, the wicked, gave counsel to Balak, the son of Zippor, to cause the Israelites to fall by the sword; he said to him, the God of this people hates whoredom, cause thy daughters to commit whoredom with them, and ye shall rule over them.''

And then they go on to relate how they built shops, and placed an old woman without, and a young woman within; and when the Israelites came to buy, how well they used them, and what familiarity they admitted them to; how they made them drink of Ammonitish wine, which inclined to lust and when the signified their desire, oblige them to worship Baal Peor, and renounce the law of Moses. Both Philo {h} and Josephus {i} speak of this counsel of Balaam, much to the same purpose. The Samaritan Chronicle says {k} that this counsel pleased the king, and he sent into the camp of Israel, on a sabbath day, twenty four thousand young women, by whom the Israelites were so seduced, that they did everything they desired them, which was just the number of those that were slain, Nu 25:9.

By Balaam may be meant the pope of Rome, for that name signifies, "the lord of the people"; and is very appropriate to him, who in this interval took upon him to be universal bishop, and lorded it over both church and state, in a most haughty and tyrannical manner; and the Balaamites were those who submitted to his power and authority, and received his doctrines; and by Balak, king of Moab, may be intended the secular powers, the emperors, kings, and princes of the earth, who were instructed by the popes of Rome, to draw their subjects into idolatry, which is spiritual fornication, to eat the breaden God, to worship the host, images, and saints departed; and which proved a snare, and a stumbling to some of this church, as to the Israelites of old, to do the same things.

{g} T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 28. 4. & Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 20. fol. 229. 1. Yalkut, par. 1. fol. 244. 3, 4. & par. 2. fol. 76. 4. {h} De Vita Mosis, l. 7. p. 647, 648. {i} Antiqu. l. 4. c. 6. sect. 6, 7, 8, 9. {k} Apud Hottinger. Exercit. Antimorin. p. 109.

Revelation 2:15

Ver. 15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans,.... These impure heretics sprung up in the time of the apostolic church, but their doctrines were not received, and their deeds were hated, see Re 2:6. This seems to design the doctrines of the church of Rome, which in this period took place; which forbid marriage to the priests, and recommended celibacy and virginity to others also; which were the source of all uncleanness and abominable lusts; for which pardons and indulgences were given, and, in process of time, brothel houses were set up, and licensed and encouraged by authority.

Which thing I hate; the doctrine of these men, as well as their deeds.

Revelation 2:16

Ver. 16. Repent,.... This is said to those who were truly godly in those times, but still retained their communion with these corrupt men, and had not, as yet, separated from then; nor had they protested against these evil doctrines and practices, at least but very coldly, and had too much connived at them; and therefore are called upon to repent of their lukewarmness, negligence, and sinful compliances:

or else I will come unto thee quickly: in a providential way, to rebuke and chastise for such remissness, indifference, and evil communication:

and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; of this sword, See Gill on "Re 1:16". And it is observable, that Christ does not say, "I will fight against thee"; the true members of his mystical body, though lax and supine, for Christ does not fight against his people, but for them; but he says, "and will fight against them"; the Balaamites and Nicolaitans, for their idolatry and uncleanness.

Revelation 2:17

Ver. 17. He that hath an ear, let him hear,....
See Gill on "Re 2:7".

To him that overcometh; the Balaamites and Nicolaitans, and do not give in to the doctrines and practices of the one, or of the other, whatever persecution and trouble he meets with, and endures on that account:

will I give to eat of the hidden manna; in opposition to eating things sacrificed to idols, refused by him. The allusion is to the manna which the Israelites ate of in the wilderness, which may be called "hidden": either because they knew not what it was, when they first saw it; or because it was laid up in a golden pot, and put in the most holy place, where it was secret, and none but the high priest could see it, and who entered there but once a year: or rather, because it was at first, hidden under the dew; for according to the account the Jews give of it, a dew first fell upon the ground, then the manna upon that, and then another dew upon the manna; so that there was a dew under it, and a dew over it; insomuch that it was as if it was laid up, they say, in a box or chests {l};

and they supposed the manna had respect to things future {m} and do expect it in the times of the Messiah. They say {n}, as the first, so the last Redeemer will cause manna to descend from heaven; and the clouds are by them reckoned the mills which will grind manna for the righteous in the world to come {o}: yea, they speak {p} of
amto anm, "hidden manna", as the food of the righteous, the very phrase here used.

Now this being the food of the children of Israel in the wilderness, is very fitly mentioned here; since the church, in this period of time, in which antichrist arose, was obliged to flee into the wilderness, and there abide during his reign, and where she is nourished with this hidden manna; by which may be meant the Gospel, which is soul quickening, comforting, strengthening, and satisfying food, by which the saints are nourished up unto everlasting life, and which is hid to the world, which the men of it know nothing of; and especially Jesus Christ, the sum and substance of it, may be meant, and that secret spiritual consolation enjoyed in communion with him, and by eating him, or feeding by faith upon him; in what respects Christ may be compared to manna, See Gill on "Joh 6:32".

And he may be said to be "hidden", because he is unknown to men, until revealed; and is wholly hidden from carnal and unregenerate men, and is enjoyed only by believers; and it may denote the private way, in which the true church of Christ had communion with him in his word and ordinances in the wilderness, and during the dark times of Popery. Philo the Jew {q} often interprets the manna by the "Logos", the Word of God, the most ancient Word of God.

And will give him a white stone. The phrase, "to add a white stone", with the Latins, is used to give one's approbation of anything; and could it be applied here, might signify the approbation Christ gives of his church and people here, amidst the testimonies they bear, and the persecutions they endure for his name's sake, and that which he will give of them before his Father, angels, and men, at the last day: white stones were used on various accounts.

The Grecians used them to mark good or lucky days with them, as they called them; and could the allusion be thought to be to this custom, the sense would be, that Christ promises, to his people that overcome, happy days, after the times of Popish darkness and persecution were over:

white stones were also given to the conquerors in the Olympic games, with their names upon them, and the value of the prize they won; and, here applied, may respect the crown of life and glory given to them who are more than conquerors through Christ, with their right and title to it, and the excellency of it. The Romans in judgment used to give their suffrages for condemnation by casting black stones into the urn, and for absolution white stones; to which Ovid has respect, when he says {r},

"Mos erat antiquis, niveis atrisque lapillis, His damnare reos, illis absolvere culpa.''

And this is thought by many to be referred to here, and may denote, that though the pure members of Christ, and who abhorred and protested against the abominations of the church of Rome, were charged with heresy and schism, and what not, yet Christ would absolve them, and justify them from all those charges. But rather the allusion is to a custom among the Jews, who used to examine the priests and Levites before they went to their service, or to the sanhedrim, to judge and pass sentence, whether their ways and works were right; and if they were as they should be, they gave them avdqmd armwx, "the stone of the sanctuary":

if not, they might not enter on business, as it is said; "and of Levi he said, thy Urim and thy Thummim be with thy Holy One", De 33:8 {s}. Now on the Urim and Thummim, the stones in the high priest's breastplate, were engraven the names of the children of Israel; and, as the Jews say, the name Jehovah, to which reference may be had in the following clause; and may denote that the church, though in the wilderness, is regarded by Christ, is bore upon his heart and cared for by him; and also its spotless purity in him, and justification by him.

And in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth [it]; by this name may be meant, either the name of "Jehovah" our righteousness, which is the name both of Christ, and of his church, Jer 23:6, or the name of a child of God, sometimes called a new name;

see Isa 56:5; and so designs the blessing of adoption; this may be said to be a new name, because renewed, manifested to, and put upon the people of God, when they are made new creatures, though provided in predestination, and in the covenant of grace from eternity; and because a renowned and excellent one, better than that of the sons and daughters of the greatest prince on earth; and because a wonderful one, being an instance of amazing love and grace; and is what "no man knoweth", but the receiver of it;

the Father of these adopted ones is unknown to natural men; and so is Christ, through whom this blessing is bestowed; and the Spirit of God also, who witnesses to it; and the persons that enjoy it, and the blessing itself, and the inheritance to which they are adopted: and this new name being on the white stone, may show that the blessings of justification and adoption, though they are two distinct ones, yet they are inseparable: they go together, and both give a right to the heavenly inheritance; and they are also, as well as the hidden manna, gifts of free grace, and not owing to the works and merit of men, and are given by Christ, and in and through him.

At Rome, some white stones have been dug up, some lesser, some greater, with names and letters, and other engravings upon them, which Pignorius {t} has given the figures of; and to such some have thought the allusion here is, and may serve to illustrate this passage. The Ethiopic version, instead of a "white stone", reads, a "famous book".

{l} T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 75. 2. Jarchi in Exod. xvi. 13, 14. Mitzvot Tora, pr. affirm. 30. {m} Tzeror Hammor, fol. 38. 4. {n} Midrash Shirhashirim, fol. 11. 2. Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2. & Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2. Pesikta in Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 75. 4. {o} Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Numb. fol. 96. 2. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 68. 4. {p} Zohar in Numb. fol. 88. 1. {q} Alleg. l. 2. p. 93. Quod det. potior. p. 176. Quis rer. divin. Haeres. p. 491, 492. & Leg. Alleg. l. 3. p. 1103. {r} Metamorphos. l. 15. fol. 1. {s} Zohar in Lev. fol. 8. 1. {t} De Servis, p. 342.

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