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Commentary On Revelation by E.W. Bullinger


Our next evidence is the title given to the book by the Holy Spirit who inspired it.

It is not |the Revelation of St. John the Divine,| which is man's title for it. Indeed, among the later MSS., we find fifteen or sixteen various titles; but the Divine title given in the text, is |The Revelation of Jesus Christ.|

The word (...) apocalupsis. Hence the title of |Apocalypse| so frequently given to the book.

It is from the verb (...) apocalupto to unveil, from (...) apo away from, and (...) kalumma a veil. Hence Apocalypsis means a taking away of a veil (as when a statue is said to be unveiled), and thus bringing into view that which had been before hidden as by a veil. Unveiling is the equivalent English word.

It is used, of course, in two senses: viz., of a bringing to knowledge by the removing of the veil of ignorance; or of the visible appearance of one who had previously been unseen, as though hidden by a veil.

Our point is that, whenever this word is used of a visible person or thing, it always denotes the visible manifestation of that person; and it is the same in the case of all material or visible things.

This is not a matter of opinion, but it is a matter of fact, on which our readers can easily satisfy themselves by examining the passages.

The word occurs eighteen times; and in the following ten places is used of a person.

Luke ii.32 - |A light to lighten the Gentiles,| literally |a light for a revelation to the Gentiles.| What was this light? It was a person, even the Saviour in Simeon's arms, of whom he could say, |Mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.|

Rom. ii.5 - |The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.| Here it refers to the visible judgment of God, which will be manifested to all in |the day of wrath.|

Rom. viii.19 - |The manifestation of the sons of God:| i.e., the visible revelation of the sons of God, when they shall appear and be manifested in glory with Christ (Col. iii.4).

1 Cor. i.7 - |Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.| Here, without doubt, it refers to the personal appearing of Christ. This passage occurs in one of the earlier epistles of St. Paul, written during the Dispensation of the Acts, while the offer of the Kingdom and the King was still open to Israel (iii.19-21), before the sentence of judicial blindness was passed upon Israel (Acts xxviii.25,26). The words Parousia (1 Thess., &c) and Apocalypse were suitable for that Dispensation; and, of course, necessitated the personal presence of the Lord Jesus.

2 Cor. xii.1 - |I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.| Here the word is joined to visions as though it meant visible manifestations of the Lord. Verse 7 may mean either a revelation of truths, or visible scenes of glory, or both.

Gal. i.12 - |I neither received it (i.e., the Gospel which he announced) from man, neither was I taught it [by man], but by a revelation (i.e., a vision or visible appearance) of Jesus Christ.| There is no reason whatever why the word should not have both meanings. Why should not the Lord have appeared to him, and made known to him that message which was given to him? It must have been made known to him in some way; and he distinctly says it was by Jesus Christ (not by the Holy Spirit). Therefore it must have been in one of those many |visions| which he says he saw at different times; and probably during those three preparatory years which he spent in Arabia (Gal. i.17,18).

In verse 16 it is the verb that is used and not the noun, and therefore it does not come within our inquiry.

2 Thess. i.7 - |When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels.| Here, though the English uses the verb, the Greek has the noun, and reads, |And to you who are troubled, rest with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with His mighty angels.| There can be no doubt about this passage. (See below, the chapter on |The scope of the book, gathered from its place in the Canon.|)

1 Pet. i.7 - |Might be found unto praise and honour and glory at (the) revelation of Jesus Christ.| The context shows that the meaning here is the same as in 2 Thess. i.10, and refers to His visible manifestation with His People in the air at His Revelation.

But, if Peter's words are taken as referring to the remnant, then the visible manifestation is to them.

So in verse 13, we have the same expression, |at (the) revelation of Jesus Christ.|

Also in iv.13 where we read of the time |when His glory shall be revealed;| i.e., visibly manifested.

Now from all these ten passages, is it not clear that the word Apocalupsis, when it refers to what can be seen (such as a thing or a person), always means that visible manifestation of that person or thing?

If so, that is what we have in this book. We have an account of the various events which are to take place in heaven and on earth, connected with His visible unveiling. It is His Apocalupsis which God gave Him the right or authority to show, make known, or represent to his bondservants what must shortly come to pass.

It is this thrusting of the sense of making known a truth into the word which, when used of a person, means the appearance of that person, that has led people commonly to speak of this book in the plural, |the RevelationS.|

We have therefore, in the Title of this book, further evidence that the subject of this whole book is the visible appearing of Jesus Christ in power, and glory; and for judgment in the earth. It is not a series of revelations about Jesus Christ; but the book which gives us the particulars about the events which are connected with His revelation or appearing. And it is made known, it says, specially, to his |servants,| as we saw in our previous point.

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