Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Revelation
Book: Revelation
Chapter: 11

The state of the Church is represented under the figure of a
Temple measured. (1,2) Two witnesses prophesy is Sackcloth.
(3-6) They are slain, after which they arise and ascend to
Heaven. (7-13) Under the seventh trumpet, all antichristian
powers are to be destroyed and there will be a glorious state of
Christ's kingdom upon Earth. (14-19)

1,2 This prophetical Passage about measuring the Temple seems
to refer to Ezekiel's Vision. The design of this measuring seems
to be the preservation of the Church in times of public danger;
or for its trial, or for its reformation. The worshippers must
be measured; whether they make God's Glory their End, and his
Word their rule, in all their Acts of Worship. Those in the
outer Court, Worship in a false manner, or with dissembling
hearts, and will be found among his enemies. God will have a
Temple and an Altar in the world, till the End of time. He looks
strictly to his Temple. The holy City, the visible Church, is
trodden under foot; is filled with idolaters, infidels, and
hypocrites. But the desolations of the Church are limited, and
she shall be delivered out of all her troubles.

3-13 In the time of treading down, God kept his Faithful
witnesses to attest the Truth of his Word and Worship, and the
excellence of his ways, The number of these witnesses is small,
yet enough. They prophesy in Sackcloth. It shows their
afflicted, persecuted state, and Deep sorrow for the
abominations against which they protested. They are supported
during their great and hard work, till it is done. When they had
prophesied in Sackcloth the greatest part of 1260 years,
Antichrist, the great instrument of the Devil, would War against
them, with force and violence for a time. Determined rebels
against the Light rejoice, as On some happy event, when they can
silence, drive to a distance, or destroy the Faithful servants
of Christ, whose doctrine and conduct Torment them. It does not
appear that the term is yet expired, and the witnesses are not at
present exposed to endure such terrible outward sufferings as in
former times; but such things may again happen, and there is
abundant cause to prophesy in Sackcloth, On account of the state
of religion. The depressed state of real Christianity may relate
only to the western Church. The Spirit of Life from God,
quickens dead souls, and shall quicken the dead bodies of his
people, and his dying interest in the world. The revival of
God's work and witnesses, will strike terror into the souls of
his enemies. Where there is guilt, there is fear; and a
persecuting Spirit, though cruel, is a cowardly Spirit. It will
be No small part of the Punishment of persecutors, both in this
world, and at the great Day, that they see the Faithful servants
of God honoured and advanced. The Lord's witnesses must not be
weary of suffering and service, nor hastily grasp at the reward;
but must stay till their Master calls them. The consequence of
their being thus exalted was a mighty shock and convulsion in
the antichristian empire. Events alone can show the meaning of
this. But whenever God's work and witnesses revive, the Devil's
work and witnesses fall before him. And that the slaying of the
witnesses is future, appears to be probable.

14-19 Before the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet,
there is the usual demand of attention. The saints and angels in
Heaven know the right of our God and Saviour to rule over all
the world. But the nations met God's wrath with their own Anger.
It was a time in which he was beginning to reward his people's
Faithful services, and sufferings; and their enemies fretted
against God, and So increased their guilt, and hastened their
Destruction. By the opening the Temple of God in Heaven, may be
meant, that there was a more free communication between Heaven
and Earth; Prayer and praises more freely and frequently going
up, graces and blessings plentifully coming down. But it rather
seems to refer to the Church of God On Earth. In the reign of
Antichrist, God's Law was laid aside, and made void By
traditions and decrees; the Scriptures were locked up from the
people, but now they are brought to the view of all. This, like
the Ark, is a token of the presence of God returned to his
people, and his favour toward them in Jesus Christ, as the
Propitiation for their sins. The great blessing of the
Reformation was attended with very awful providences; as By
terrible things in Righteousness God answered the prayers
presented in his holy Temple now opened.