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A Brief Commentary On The Apocalypse by Sylvester Bliss

The Angel of the Everlasting Gospel.

|And I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting good news to preach to those dwelling on the earth, and to every nation, and tribe, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him who made the heaven, and the earth, and the sea, and fountains of water!| -- Rev.14:6, 7.

The era symbolized by the flight of this angel, has been applied, by different writers to the epoch of the Reformation, to that of modern missions, &c. The view here taken, is that it synchronizes with the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.

The angel flying through the midst of heaven, doubtless symbolizes a body of men conspicuous for their position, energetic in their movements, extensive in their operations, and urgent in their proclamation, -- whose teachings correspond with this announcement of the angel.

The message they bear is that of the everlasting gospel {GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER UPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER ALPHA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER GAMMA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER EPSILON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER LAMDA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER IOTA}{GREEK SMALL LETTER OMICRON}{GREEK SMALL LETTER NU}, (evangelion) -- which is, literally, the good news, the glad tidings; that which brings |life and immortality to light,| 2 Tim.1:10. It is a message which foreshadows the resurrection and coming judgment at Christ's appearing; and is therefore called |the gospel of the kingdom,| (Matt.4:23); -- the good news of the glorious kingdom of the Son of God.

It is the preaching of the everlasting gospel which is thus symbolized. It is no new gospel; for, |the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, -- saying: In thee shall all nations be blessed,| Gal.3:8. And not Abraham alone, but all the fathers |did eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that rock was Christ,| 1 Cor.10:3, 4. Of this gospel the Jewish nation and a few proselytes, were for ages the sole recipients. |Unto them were committed the oracles of God.| Rom.3:2. To them pertained |the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises,| Rom.9:4. But the time had been foretold when the Gentiles should come to their light, and kings to the brightness of their rising, Isa.60:3.

With the coming of Christ, and his rejection of that nation, the gospel, was no longer to be confined within its former narrow limits. The Savior said to his disciples: |Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,| Matt.28:19, 20. |Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,| Mark 16:15, 16. |Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, and he said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem,| Luke 24:45-47.

The fulfilment of those predictions and commands could not be more beautifully and appropriately symbolized, than by an angel flying |in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.| It could be no other gospel: for Paul testified: |Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed,| Gal.1:8, 9.

In accordance with the divine command, to preach the gospel to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem, the apostles began their mission; and when the Jews rejected their message, they turned to the Gentiles, and went everywhere preaching the word |according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith,| Rom.16:25, 26.

The first converts to the faith, comprised |Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians,| Acts 2:9-12. When the Jews contradicted and blasphemed, |Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles,| Acts 13:46. Afterwards Paul, in writing to the Colossians, refers to the gospel as that |which was preached to every creature which is under heaven,| Col.1:23.

This gospel was to be preached to those who dwell on the earth, and also to all nations. The symbolic earth of the Apocalypse, being generally admitted to be the Roman empire under a quiet government, its fulfilment would require an early introduction of the gospel there. Accordingly we find, within thirty years after the crucifixion of Christ, a flourishing church existing in the metropolis of the Roman empire, to which Paul addressed one of his most able letters. In it, he thanks God that their |faith is spoken of throughout all the world,| Rom.1:8. The apostle had then |fully preached the gospel of Christ| from Jerusalem |round about [the coast of the Mediterranean] unto Illyricum,| (Rom.16:19); -- a country on the Adriatic, or Gulf of Venice. He afterwards visited Rome, and is supposed to have preached the gospel as far west as Spain. The apostles spread Christianity throughout the Roman empire. Palestine, Syria, Natolia, Greece, the islands of the Mediterranean, Italy, and the northern coast of Africa, contained societies of Christians in the first century. In the second century societies existed, and Christ was worshipped, among the Germans, Spaniards, French, Celts, and Britons, and many other nations in Europe, and almost throughout the whole east. In the fourth century Christianity had become the prevailing religion of the empire.

In later times the gospel which began to be preached at Jerusalem, has been extended to more distant countries, and is still finding its way to every tribe and people that have not before heard its joyful sound. Thus has the light of the gospel nearly encircled the globe, having been, in one age or another, proclaimed in every known country -- fulfilling the words of the Saviour: |And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come,| Matt.24:14. |And the gospel must first be published among all nations,| Mark 13:10. It would not follow from these predictions that it must be preached at the same time to all nations, any more than the light of day shines on all parts of the earth at once: but all must have been illumined by it before the end.

In accordance with this view, those who are finally redeemed to God |out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation| (5:9), are those who will |have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb| (7:14), in consequence of this universal extension of the gospel.

The command to fear and give glory to God, and to worship the Creator of all things implies that it was to be proclaimed to worshippers of false gods, and was not a mere proclamation addressed to actual Christians. The Gentiles to whom the apostles preached were actual worshippers of such, and needed to be taught the worship of the true God. While Paul was at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. |Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands,| Acts 17:22-24. |Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led,| 1 Cor.12:2. |For they themselves show us of what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God: and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come,| 1 Thess.1:9, 10.

The great motive, to be held forth to induce men to turn from the worship of idols to that of God, was the certainty of the approaching judgment. In accordance with this, the apostles make constant references to it. The Corinthians are exhorted to |come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ,| 1 Cor.1:7, 8. As Paul |reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled,| Acts 24:25. He said to the impenitent Romans, that they were |treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,| Rom.2:5. The first things which were presented in all their teachings were |the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment,| Heb.6:1, 2. Thus |Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints,| Jude 14, 15.

As Christ was to judge the world |at his appearing and kingdom| (2 Tim.4:1), a reference to his coming always involved a consideration of the hour of his judgment; and his appearing was a great incentive to holiness. |For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,| Phil.3:20. And |when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory,| Col.3:4. |For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?| 1 Thess.2:19. |To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints,| Ib. 3:13. |For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord,| Ib. 4:14-17. |And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,| 2 Thess.1:7, 8.

Not only the apostles, but their successors, in succeeding ages, have constantly made reference to the judgment, as the motive to holiness. Beginning in the days of the apostles, the same gospel has been continued by a succession of men to the present time; and those who are now preaching, or who support those who so preach the everlasting gospel, in connection with the warning of approaching judgment, must be regarded as belonging to the same body of men symbolized by the angel flying in the midst of heaven.

Commencing in the apostolic age, sections of the globe were evangelized -- in Asia and Africa, that have never received the gospel since, either under the reformers or by modern missionaries. But beginning with the dispensation of the gospel to the Gentiles, its fulfilment is found in China, in Tartary, in Japan, in Egypt, and Ethiopia, and in lands so remote that no one can say it has not been almost universally promulgated.

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