A Commentary on Revelation Chapter 10


Early in the 16th century a revolution begun – the reformation movement. For centuries there had been friction between the Catholic Church and the people. One of the principle leaders of the movement was Martin Luther. He was bold enough to publish his protest in the “95 Theses.” This caused a revolt in Germany.  This soon had a domino effect throughout Europe. Pope Leo X excommunicated Martin Luther, but Luther burned the decree at Wittenberg. The cries arouse over the sale of indulgences. For money, the church would release people from crimes including murder (by selling indulgences). Then the pope claimed “infallibility.”  This supremacy was disputed by England and Germany. Papal power was weakened when she had two popes at the same time hurling words of anger against anyone who should support the other. At about the same time there was a movement in Switzerland by a priest named Zwingli. He married in 1524 openly disobeying the pope. John Calvin settled in Geneva and taught theology which was adopted by the Puritans of England and was carried across the Atlantic by the Pilgrims who came to America for freedom of religion. Scandinavia withdrew its support of the Catholic Church in 1527. Denmark abolished the authority of the bishops in 1536. The Netherlands went over to the Lutherans. Spain, France and Scotland were rejecting the authority of the pope. One by one the ten kingdoms of Europe were leaving the Catholic Church. The entire movement was about a BOOK called the BIBLE.


      1    Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars.

 There is little doubt that this belongs to the mighty Reformation movement approved by Heaven. He had a rainbow upon his head which was a symbol of hope and peace. The rainbow is a symbol of an agreement.

I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.  Gen. 9:13-16

In chapter nine we found the Mohammedan movement and the extension of their conquest under the Saracens until they controlled Asia, Africa, and Southwestern Europe.  Its conquests were completed according to prophecy; Constantinople was occupied and its empire established upon its ruins.  The year is 1453. We must look for an event after this date that historically corresponds to the symbols of this chapter.  As we examine the Scripture we notice that it is evidently a religious movement. An angel, rainbow, heaven, book, sea and land all occur in the text. No mention of the previous woe symbols. There is a mighty movement beginning in the fifteenth century that we will direct our attention to. About 70 years after the fall of Constantinople we see the work of Wycliffe, John Huss, and Jerome. The Reformation came at the right period in world history to fit this chapter. It was the greatest movement since the days of the Apostles.

      2    He was holding a little scroll, which lay open in his hand. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land.

He is seen holding a little scroll, not a sealed scroll, but an open scroll. The mighty Reformation period was all about a scroll. The Roman clergy had taken the Word of God from the people. They were opposed to its circulation. The Bible had been put into a dead language by the Roman Church and no one had a right to read it. Until Martin Luther found a Latin Bible in an Augustinian monastery he did not know there were Scriptures other than the ones given to him in the Catholic Breviary. A study of these Scriptures made him a Reformer. After you, my friend, read this little Book you will never be the same again. This movement rescued the greatest Book of all time. Please read the history of this mighty movement and see how aptly it is predicted here in the tenth chapter of the Revelation. He planted his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land. This mighty movement effected land and sea. In other words it effected the whole world. The movement spread through Germany, England, Scotland, Switzerland, the British Isles and across the sea to America and today there is not a country in the world untouched by the Reformation Movement.

      3    and he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke.

Seven thunders probably refers to the threatening blasphemous anathemas and thunders of damnation that issued from the Roman Potentate. This Roman apostate power that sits in the vatican on the seven hilled city or Rome sent forth Bulls and excommunication.  Le Bas says in his account of the life of Wycliffe, p.198, “The thunders which shook the world when they issued from the seven hills, sent forth an uncertain sound, comparatively faint and powerless, when launched from a region of less devoted sanctity.” When Luther published his Theses, an attack was made upon it by the Papal Legate (Cardinal Cajetan) in Germany. This seven hilled potentate, who claims to be the vicegerent of God thundered forth his voice of opposition. In the Epistle Dedicatory of our King James Bible you will find the following:

 by writing in defense of the Truth, which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed. So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish Persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness.

      4    And when the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven say, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said and do not write it down.”

Luther at first recognized the Pope’s word equal to Christ.  In 1518 he wrote to the Pope defending his course against Tetzel, but adding, “I will acknowledge thy voice as the voice of Christ speaking in thee.”  Later Luther said, “When I began the affairs of indulgences I was a most mad Papist, so intoxicated was I and drenched in Papal dogmas, that I would have been most ready to murder or assist others in murdering any person who would have uttered a syllable against the duty of obedience to the Pope.” Again he says, “After being enabled to answer every objection against me from Scripture, one difficulty alone remained–the church ought to be obeyed.  If I had then disobeyed the Pope, as I do now, I should have expected every hour that the earth would open and swallow me, as Korah and Abiram.”  At first the Reformers considered the words of the Pope as divine authority.  In 1520 the Pope sent forth his anathema and excommunication against Martin Luther.  He refused to listen to his thunder.  Luther summoned a vast audience to Wittemburg and tossed the Pope’s Bull into the fire.  This act electrified Europe.  Could there be a more striking fulfillment of this verse?

      5-6 Then the angel I had seen standing on the sea and on the land raised his right hand to heaven. And he swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created the heavens and all that is in them, the earth and all that is in it, and the sea and all that is in it, and said, “There will be no more delay!

This refers to the end of Papal powers–No longer would mankind be without an OPEN BOOK.

      7    But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

This was anticipatory. For the fulfillment we must wait for chapter eleven and verse fifteen. The end has come, the brightness of Zion’s glad morning has arrived and heavenly beings join in songs of praise and thanksgiving because the mystery of God is finished. In other words the written word of God will be available to all. I will attempt to give a synopsis of how we got our Bible. In giving the following critique of the Bible it is not meant to be complete in every detail but rather an outline.

There are three early copies of the Bible.

l.    The Codex Sinaiticus, The word “Codex” means bound. This copy was made in the fourth century. England purchased it from Russia in 1933 and put it in the British Museum.

2.   The Codex Alexandrinus, (5th century edition) It is written in Greek and contains the entire Bible except for forty pages.

3.   The Codex Vaticanus. Parts of it are lost. It is in the Vatican library. It was written in Greek.  Originally the books of the bible were on scrolls. One would unroll the scroll to read the book. Then separate sheets of papyrus were folded and sewn together at the fold. Sets of these were bound together in the form we call a “codex”, and this form was the format for our modern book.

As Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, translations of the Bible were begun–in Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic and Latin.  Since Latin was the official language of the Roman Empire, the Latin Vulgate soon became the official Bible. The Emperor Constantine was probably responsible for most of the manuscripts that remain.

In the fourth century a brilliant young monk, Jerome, made a translation of the Scriptures into the Latin.  For the next 1,000 years it was the main Bible of the Catholic Church.  For centuries, the only Bibles were hidden away in monasteries by monks. During the Dark Ages, very little Bible translation was attempted.  The Word of God was locked up in the Latin language, which was unknown to the common people.  In 1320-1384 John Wycliffe, an Oxford Priest who had been a Rector of 3 English Churches, made a copy of the Latin Bible into English.  He was persecuted for his work–discharged from the university and 44 years after his death his bones were dug up by the Catholic Church and burnt in public disgrace.

John Gutenberg of Mainz Germany printed the first book on his printing press in 1450.  It was a Bible.  John Huss worked for an open Bible at Prague’s University.  He was tried as an Heretic and burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Church.  Swingli was working in England for an open Bible.  He was buried as a traitor.

William Tyndale was a courageous Reformer who was determined that we should have a copy of the Word of God.  He graduated from Oxford.  He was driven from England to Germany where he translated the Old and New Testaments.  The first copy was printed in Cologne Germany in 1525.  Henry the VIII had him strangled and burned at the stake.

Miles Coverdale  was a friend of Tyndale.  He published a Bible which was largely based on Tyndale’s.  In 1530 King Henry VIII broke with Rome and permitted him to publish his Bible in English.  Coverdale dedicated his Bible to King Henry VIII.  In 1553-1568 under the reign of Bloody Mary, Christians flew to Germany and Switzerland.  In Geneva they published a Bible in 1560 called the Breeches Bible.

In 1568 A Revision of the Great Bible was published.  They called it the Bishops Bible. The Archbishop of Canterbury was responsible for its publication.

The Catholic church came out with a version in 1610 called the Douay Bible.  It was an English Version.

In 1611 The King James translation was offered to the English speaking people.  King James of England financed the project and it was dedicated to him.  See the Epistle Dedicatory.

Thank God that no longer do you and I have to hear of the forbidden practice of reading our Bibles.  No longer can any ecclesiastical Diocese declare you guilty of heresy and worthy of death for no other charge except Reading the Holy Scriptures and believing them.  NO WONDER THE VERSE UNDER CONSIDERATION SAYS, “There will be no more delay!”

      8-9 Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me once more: “Go, take the scroll that lies open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.”  So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll.  He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.”

This has been called the BITTER SWEET.  God’s judgments make up the bitter and the sweet.  When John ate (consumed) the contents of the “open Bible” it was sweet, but an open Bible brought bitterness and sorrow and hardships.  When the Bible was restored to the world it was sweet.  But the persecutions that followed were bitter.

He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws.  The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time.   Dan 7:25

      10  I took the little scroll from the angel’s hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.”  So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.   Eze. 3:3

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.   Jer. 15:16

      11  Then I was told, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings.”

This probably refers to the return of John from Patmos to Ephesus where he published his vision on Patmos.  I remember Jesus telling Paul that he would not die in the ship wreck.

Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.  Acts 27:23,24