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powerful subsidiary argument in favour of the later date. This will be expanded in the next section.
30. These things then being considered, -the decisive testimony of primitive tradition, and failure of all attempts to set it aside, the internal evidence furnished by the book itself, and equal failure of all attempts by an unwarrantable interpretation to raise up counter evidence.--I have no hesitation in believing, with the ancient fathers and most competent witnesses, that the Apocalypse was written at the end of the reign of Domitian, i. e. about the year 95 or 96 A.D.
TO WIIOM ADDRESSED.
1. The superscription of the book plainly states for what readers it was primarily intended. At the same time indications abound, that the whole Christian church was in view. In the very epistles to the seven churches themselves, all the promises and sayings of the Lord, though arising out of local circumstances, are of perfectly general application. And in the course of the prophecy, the wide range of objects embraced, the universality of the cautions and encouragements, the vast periods of time comprised, leave us no inference but this, that the book was intended for the comfort and profit of every age of the Christian Church. In treating therefore the question at the head of this section in its narrower and literal sense, I am not excluding the broader and general view. It lies behind the other, as in the rest of the apostolic writings. “These things," as the older Scriptures,
are written for our ensamples, upon whom the ends of the world are come :” or, in the language of the Muratori fragment on the Canon, John, though he writes to seven churches, yet speaks to all.”
2. The book then was directly addressed to the seven churches of proconsular Asia. A few remarks must be made on the general subject of the names and state of these churches, before entering on a description of them severally.
3. First, as to the selection of the names. The number seven, so often used by the Seer to express universality, has here prevailed in occasioning that number of names to be selected out of the churches in the district. For these were not all the churches coinprised in Asia proper. Whether there were Christian bodies in Colossæ and Hierapolis, we cannot say. Those cities had been, since the writing of St. Paul's Epistle, destroyed by an earthquake, and in what state of restoration they were at this date, is uncertain. But from the Epistles of Ignatius we may fairly assume that there were churches in Magnesia
and Tralles. The number seven then is representative, not exhaustive. These seven are taken in the following order : Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. That is, beginning with Ephesus, the first city in the province (see note, Acts ii. 9), it follows a line from South to North up to Pergamum, then takes the neighbouring city of Thyatira, and follows another line from North to South.
4. As regards the general state of these churches, we may make the following remarks:
We have from St. Paul, setting aside the Epistle to the Ephesians, not from any doubt as to its original destination, but as containing no local notices,—and that to Philemon, as being of a private character,—three Epistles containing notices of the Christian churches within this district. The first in point of time is that to the Colossians (A.D. 61-63): then follow the two to Timotheus, dating from 67 to 68. It is important to observe, that all these Epistles, even the latest of them, the second to Timotheus, have regard to a state of the churches evidently preceding by many years that set before us in this book. The germs of heresy and error there apparent (see Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles, & i. par. 12 ff.) had expanded into definite sects (ch. ii. 6,15): the first ardour with which some of them had received and practised the Gospel, had cooled (ch. ii. 4, 5, üi. 2): others had increased in zeal for God, and were surpassing their former works (ch. ii. 19). Again, the days of the martyrdom of Antipas, an eminent servant of Christ, are referred back to as some time past (ch. ii. 13).
5. It is also important to notice that Laodicea is described (ch. iii. 17) as boasting in her wealth and self-sufficiency. Now we know from Tacitus (see below, $ iv. par. 12), that in the sixth year of Nero, or in the tenth, according to Eusebius (and apparently with more accuracy), Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake, and recovered herself by her own resources, without
assistance from the Head of the state. How many years it might take before the city could again put on such a spirit of self-sufficing pride as that shewn in ch. iii. 17, it is not possible to fix exactly: but it is obvious that we must allow more time for this than would be consistent with the Neronic date of the Apocalypse. This is confirmed when we observe the spiritual character given of the Laodicean church,—that of lukewarmness, and reflect, that such a character does not ordinarily accompany, nor follow close upon, great judgments and afflictions, but is the result of a period of calm and prosperity, and gradually encroaching compromise with ungodliness. 6. I may
further mention, that the fact of the relation here shewn to exist between John and the churches of proconsular Asia, points to a period wholly distinct from that in which Paul, or his disciple Timotheus, exercised authority in those parts. And this alone would lead us to meet with a decided negative the hypothesis of the Apocalypse being written under Nero, Galba, or even Vespasian. At the same time, see note on ch. ii. 20,—the mention of eating things sacrificed to idols there identifies the temptations and difficulties which beset the churches when the Apocalypse was written, with those which we know to have been prevalent in the apostolic age, and thus gives a strong confirmation of the authenticity of the book.
I now proceed to consider these churches one by one.
7. Ephesus, the capital of proconsular Asia, has already been described, and a sketch of its history given, in the Introduction to the Epistle to the Ephesians, $ ii. parr. 1–6. More detailed accounts are there referred to. The notes to the Epistle will in each case put the student in possession of the general character and particular excellencies or failings of each church, so that I need not repeat them here. In reference to the threat uttered by our Lord in ch. ii. 5, we may remark, that a few miserable huts, and ruins of great extent and massiveness, are all that now remains of the former splendid capital of Asia. The candlestick has indeed been removed from its place, and the church has become extinct. We may notice, that Ephesus naturally leads the seven, both as the metropolis of the province, and as containing that church, with which the Writer himself was individually connected.
8. SMYRNA, a famous commercial city of Ionia, at the head of the bay named after it, and at the mouth of the small river Meles: from which Homer, whose birthplace Smyrna, among other cities, claimed to be, is sometimes called Melesigenes. It is 320 stadia (40 miles) north of Ephesus. It was a very ancient city: but lay in ruins, after its destruction by the Lydians (B.C. 627), for 400 years (till Alexander the Great, according to Pliny and Pausanias; till Antigonus, according to Strabo). It was then rebuilt, 20 stadia from old Smyrna, and rose to be, in the time of the first Cæsars, one of the fairest and most populous cities in Asia. Modern Smyrna is a large city of more than 120,000 inhabitants, the centre of the trade of the Levant. The church in Smyrna was distinguished for its illustrious first bishop the martyr Polycarp, who is said by Irenæus to have been put to death in the stadium there in A.D. 166.
9. PERGAMUM (sometimes Pergamus), an ancient city of Mysia, on the river Caïcus, an “illustrious city” (Strabo). At first it appears to have been a mere hill-fortress of great natural strength ; but it became an important city owing to the circumstance of Lysimachus, one of Alexander’s generals, having chosen it for the reception of his treasures, and entrusted them to his eunuch Philæterus, who rebelled against him (B.C. 283), and founded a kingdom, which lasted 150 years, when it was bequeathed by its last sovereign Attalus III. (B.c. 133) to the Roman people. Pergamum possessed a magnificent library, founded by its sovereign Eumenes (B.c. 197—159), which subsequently was given by Antony to Cleopatra, and perished with that at Alexandria under Caliph Omar. It became the official capital of the Roman province of Asia. There was there a celebrated temple of Æsculapius, on which see note, ch. ii. 13. There is still a considerable city, containing, it is said (Stuart, p. 450), about 3000 nominal Christians. It is now called Bergamah.
10. THYATIRA, once called Pelopia and Euippia, a town in Lydia, about a day's journey south of Pergamum. It was perhaps originally a Macedonian colony. Its chief trade was dyeing of purple, cf. Acts xvi. 14 and note. It is said to be at present a considerable town with many ruins, called Ak-Hisar, and to contain some 3000 Christians.
11. Sandis, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lydia, lay in a plain between the mountains Tmolus and Hermus, on the small river Pactolus : 33 miles from Thyatira and 28 from Philadelphia by the Antonine Itinerary. Its classical history is well known. In the reign of Tiberius it was destroyed by an earthquake, but restored by order of that emperor. It was the capital of a “ conventus” in the time of Pliny; and continued a wealthy city to the end of the Byzantine empire. More than one Christian council was held here. In the eleventh century Sardis fell into the hands of the Turks, and in the thirteenth it was destroyed by Tamerlane. Only a village (Sart) now remains, built among the ruins of the ancient city.
12. PHILADELPHIA, in Lydia, on the N.W. side of Mount Tmolus, 28 miles S.E. from Sardis. It was built by Attalus Philadelphus, King of Pergamum. Earthquakes were exceedingly prevalent in the district, and it was more than once nearly demolished by them. It defended itself against the Turks for some time, but was eventually taken by Bajazet in 1390. It is now a considerable town named Allahshar, containing ruins of its ancient wall, and of about twenty-four churches.
13. LAODICEA,“ Laodiceia ad Lycum,” was a celebrated city in the S.W. of Phrygia, near the river Lycus. It was originally called Diospolis, and afterwards Rhoas : and the name Laodicea was owing to its being rebuilt by Antiochus Theos in honour of his wife Laodice. It was not far from Colossæ, and only six miles W. of Hierapolis. It suffered much in the Mithridatic war : but recovered itself, and became a wealthy and important place, at the end of the republic and under the first emperors. It was completely destroyed by the great earthquake in the year 62 A.D.: but was rebuilt by the wealth of its own citizens, without help from the state. Its state of prosperity and carelessness in spiritual things described in the Epistle is well illustrated by these facts. St. Paul wrote an Epistle to the Laodiceans, now lost. See Col. iv. 16, and this Introduction, ch. xiv. S iii. 2, 3. It produced literary men of eminence, and had a great medical school. It was the capital of a
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ventus" during the Roman empire. It was utterly ravaged by the Turks, and "nothing,” says Hamilton, can exceed the desolation and melancholy appearance of the site of Laodicea." A village exists among the ruins, named Eski-hissar.
14. See for further notices on the Seven Churches, Dr. Smith's Dictionary of Geography, from which, among other sources, the above accounts are compiled. In those works will be found detailed references to the works of various travellers who have visited them.
OBJECT AND CONTENTS.
1. The Apocalypse declares its own object (ch. i. 1) to be mainly prophetic; the exhibition to God's servants of things which must shortly come to pass. And to this by far the larger portion of the book is devoted. From ch. iv. 1 to xxii. 5, is a series of visions prophetic of things to come, or introducing in their completeness allegories which involve things to come.
Intermixed however with this prophetic development, we have a course of hortatory and encouraging sayings, arising out of the state of the churches to which the book is written, and addressed through them to the church universal.
2. These sayings are mostly related in style and sense to the Epistles with which the book began, so as to preserve in a remarkable manner the unity of the whole, and to shew that it is not, as Grotius and some others have supposed, a congeries of different fragments, but one united work, written at one and the same time. The practical tendency of the Epistles to the Churches is never lost sight of throughout. So that we may fairly say that its object is not only to prophesy of the future, but also by such prophecy to rebuke, exhort, and console the Church.
3. Such being the general object, our enquiry is now narrowed to that of the prophetic portion itself: and we have to enquire, what was the aim of the Writer, or rather of Him who inspired the Writer, in delivering this prophecy.
4. And in the first place, we are met by an enquiry which it may be strange enough that we have to make in this day, but which nevertheless must be made. Is the book, it is asked, strictly speaking, a revelation at all? Is its so-called prophecy any thing more than the ardent and imaginative poesy of a rapt spirit, built up on the then present trials and hopes of himself and his contemporaries? Is not its future bounded by the age and circumstances then existing ? And are not all those mistaken, who have attempted to deduce from it indications respecting our own or any subsequent age of the Church ? 5. Two systems of understanding and interpreting the book have