Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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APOCALYPSE - Chapter 1

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Apocalypse i.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1-3. The Apocalypse, or Revelation. I rather prefer the word Apocalypse, which the Latin interpreter did not think fit to change. --- Of Jesus Christ....by his Angel, sent to his servant John. So that these things were immediately revealed to St. John by an Angel, who represented and spoke in the person of Christ.--- Which must shortly come; and as it is again said, (ver. 3.) the time is at hand. This cannot be meant of all things in the Apocalypse, where mention is also made of the day of judgment, and of the glory of heaven at the end of the world. It can only mean, that some things were to happen shortly, i.e. what is said of the seven churches. (Chap. ii. and iii.) Or the persecutions foretold should begin shortly. Or else these expressions are only to signify, that all time is short, and that from the coming of the Messias, we are now in the last age, or the last hour. See 1 John ii. 18. (Witham) --- St. John excites their attention by the most pressing motives, the approach of the events. Whatever explanation be given of this book, it is equally true in all, that the time is at hand, when it will begin to be accomplished. To find our consolation and happiness in this sacred book, according to the promise of the Holy Spirit, we must peruse it with faith and humility, receive the interpretation of the Church with submission and docility, and practise the truths contained with fidelity and promptitude. What is the life of man, since ages are but moments that escape us? Eternity is but a moment, but a moment that will never end.

Ver. 4-6. John to the seven churches,[1] afterwards named; and by them, to be understood of all churches, bishops, and people in the like dispositions. --- From him, who is, who was, and who is to come. As these words are only applied, and applicable to him, who is truly God and eternal, Alcazar (p. 176) applies them to God the Father. Others think them to be spoken of God, as the word God agrees to all the three divine persons, who are one and the same God. See Ribera. --- And from the seven spirits. Alcazar understands them of seven of God's attributes, or perfections, but, by the common exposition, are meant seven of the chief created spirits, who in a special manner assist at the throne of God, employed to execute God's commands, as Raphael saith, (Tobit. xii. 15.) I am one of the seven who stand before God. (Witham) --- Spirits, &c. Some understand this of the Holy Ghost, on account of his seven gifts; but the most literal interpretation is of the principal Angels, who always surround the throne of God, and are his ministering spirits. (Calmet) --- And from Jesus Christ,[2] made man, and the Redeemer of mankind, whom St. John here names after the seven spirits, because he continues his discourse about Christ, who is the faithful witness; testified and approved of God by so many miracles, prophecies, &c. He is the chief of the martyrs or witnesses, as the Greek word signifies. --- The first begotten of the dead, both first in dignity, and first that rose to an immortal life. --- The prince of the kings of the earth, whose power is infinitely greater than all theirs; and this to put the suffering Christians in mind, that they needed not to fear the persecuting emperors, who have no power after this life. --- And Christ hath made us a kingdom, inasmuch as by his grace he has made us members of his true Church, called the kingdom of God, and promised us to reign with him in his glorious kingdom in heaven. --- And hath made us priests to God, and his Father, to offer up spiritual sacrifices. See 1 Peter ii. 9. --- To him be, or is due, glory and empire, for ever and ever. Amen. That is, to Jesus Christ. (Witham)

Ver. 7. Behold he cometh, or is to come at the day of judgment. (Witham)

Ver. 8. I am Alpha, and Omega. These, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, signify the same as what follows, the beginning, and the end, the first cause and last end of all intelligent beings, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty. These words agree only to him, who is the true God, and here are applied to our blessed Redeemer, who is to come and judge all. (Witham)

Ver. 10. On the Lord's day.[3] Not on the Jewish sabbath, which is our Saturday, but on the Christian sabbath, our Sunday, called the Lord's day. The Church, in the apostle's time, changed the day of rest, on which the Jews were commanded to rest and sanctify that day, from Saturday to Sunday, from the last day of the week to the first. They judged this only to be an indispensable precept, that some day or some time should be appointed, in a special manner, for God's service and worship, on which Christians should also abstain from servile works, that were not of necessity: as to the determination of such a day of the week, they judged that the Church had power to change the day. The late pretended reformers have all agreed with us in this change. And if they would have all that is expressed in this commandment, to be of an indispensable and unchangeable obligation, according to the letter of the law, they ought certainly to observe, to sanctify, and to abstain from all servile works on Saturdays, or on the Jewish sabbath. --- A great voice, as of a trumpet. To signify the importance of things to be revealed. (Witham) --- Voice, &c. This was most likely St. John the Baptist, who calls himself the voice of one crying in the desert, and who in Malachias is called the Angel of the Lord, as he is also styled in the first verse of this chapter. (Pastorini)

Ver. 12. I saw seven golden candlesticks, which, by the last verse of this chapter, represented the seven Churches of Asia. We may suppose these candlesticks to have been shewn to St. John, like what is described, Exodus xxv. 31. For in these visions of St. John are frequent allusions to the former tabernacle, and to things relating to the service and worship of God, which Moses was ordered to make. (Witham)

Ver. 13. And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, i.e. walking among the candlesticks, like unto Christ, as he many times called himself the Son of man, and at other times told the Jews he was the Son, the only begotten Son of God. By this walking among the candlesticks is signified his providential care over all the particular Churches, which make up one Catholic Church. --- With a long garment,[4] and a golden girdle, with a resemblance of the habit of the priests. (Witham) --- Jesus Christ is in the midst of his Church to enlighten it, to defend and sanctify it, the true model of pastors, who should reside in the midst of their flock, be clothed with sanctity and justice, and girt with the golden girdle, i.e. with singular purity, always ready for combat and labour, by their charity and zeal.

Ver. 15. His feet like unto fine brass, to signify the purity and steadfastness of his steps and actions. --- His voice as the sound of many waters, the sound of his preaching by himself, and by his apostles, has been heard throughout all nations of the world. (Witham)

Ver. 16. In his right hand seven stars, which, as it is said, (ver. 20.) were the Angels, i.e. the bishops of the seven churches, by this comparison is expressed their dignity. --- And from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword. The word of God preached is compared to a two-edged sword. (Ephesians vi. 17. and Hebrews iv. 12.) It also signifies God's severity in punishing sinners. (Witham)

Ver. 17. I am the first and the last. These are the words of the Son of man, or of him that represented our Saviour, Christ, to St. John. To be the first and the last, is another expression agreeing only to him who is the true God, as it is divers times applied by the prophet Isaias. (Witham) --- From the 12th verse to this place we have a description of the Son of man, i.e. Christ. The different emblematical descriptions of his countenance, his dress, &c. are similar to what are used by other prophets, and easily explained of his attributes, his eternity, vengeance, &c. &c. (Omnes passim.)

Ver. 18. And alive, and was dead; always living as God, and as man was dead, died on the cross for the salvation of all men, rose again, triumphed over hell, death, and sin, and am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell, power over all, all things being made subject to me, even as man, or as God and man. (Witham)

Ver. 20. Angels. These are the seven bishops of the churches. Christ's having them in his right hand, shews the care he takes of his Church. (Calmet)


[1] Ver. 4. Ab eo qui erat, & qui est, & qui venturus est, apo tou o on, kai o en, kai o erchomenos, as if it was said, apo tou os legetai o on, &c.

[2] Ver. 5. Qui est testis fidelis, o martus o pistos. Martyr ille fidelis.

[3] Ver. 10. In Dominicā die, en te kuriake emera.

[4] Ver. 13. Vestitum podere, endedumenon podere. See Exodus xxviii. 51.; Daniel x. 5.

Bible Text & Cross-references:

St. John is ordered to write to the seven churches in Asia: the manner of Christ's appearing to him.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him to make known to his servants the things which must shortly come to pass: and signified, sending by his Angel, to his servant, John,

2 Who hath given testimony to the word of God, and the testimony of Jesus Christ, what things soever he hath seen.

3 Blessed is he, that readeth and heareth the words of this prophecy: and keepeth those things which are written in it: for the time is at hand.

4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia. Grace be unto you, and peace from him, *who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits which are before his throne:

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, *the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth: who hath loved us, and washed us from our sins *in his own blood,

6 And hath made us a kingdom, and priests to God and his Father: to him be glory and empire, for ever and ever. Amen.

7 *Behold, he cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him. And all the tribes of the earth shall bewail themselves because of him: Even so: Amen.

8 *I am Alpha, and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.

9 I John, your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom, and patience in Christ Jesus, was in the island, which is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus:

10 I was in the spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11 Saying: What thou seest, write in a book: and send to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamus, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicia.

12 And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me: and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks,

13 And in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, one like to the Son of man, clothed with a long garment, and girded about the paps with a golden girdle:

14 And his head and his hair were white, as white wool, and as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire,

15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as in a burning furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters:

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and from his mouth came out a sharp two-edged sword: and his face as the sun shineth in his strength.

17 And when I had seen him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not: *I am the first and the last,

18 And alive, and was dead; and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell.

19 Write, therefore, the things which thou hast seen, and which are, and which must be done hereafter.

20 The mystery of the seven stars, which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks: the seven stars are the Angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.



4: Exodus iii. 14.

5: 1 Corinthians xv. 20.; Colossians i. 18. --- ** Hebrews ix. 14.; 1 Peter i. 19.; 1 John i. 7.

7: Isaias iii. 13.; Matthew xxiv. 30.; Jude i. 14.

8: Isaias xli. 4. and xliv. 6. and xlviii. 12.; Apocalypse xxi. 6. and xxii. 13.

17: Isaias xli. 4. and xliv. 6. and xlviii. 12.; Apocalypse xxi. 6. and xxii. 13.