The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Bede the Venerable’s Commentary on Revelation 11:4-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 18, 2016

Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks that stand before the Lord of the earth.

olive trees. The Church is irradiated by the light of the two Testaments, and ever waits upon the commands of the Lord. So also the prophet Zechariah saw one candlestick with seven branchesu, and these two olive-trees, that is, testaments, pouring oil into the candlestick. This is the Church with its oil, which never fails, which makes it shine for the light of the world.

Rev 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire shall come out of their mouths and shall devour their enemies. And if any man will hurt them, in this manner must he be slain.

fire. If any one harms the Church, he is condemned by a retributive sentence of the same harm; and is consumed by fire. For “all they who take the sword shall perish with the swordv.” And so the Chaldean flame which was prepared for the children of God, slew the ministers of ungodliness themselves. Or: he who is to be changed for the better, is spiritually consumed in a good fire, by the prayers of the mouth of the Church. “Thou wilt heap,” he says, “coals of fire upon his headx.”

Rev 11:6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: And they have power over waters, to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.

power. All power in heaven and earth is given to the Church in Christ, for the keys of binding and loosing are committed to it. But spiritually also, the heaven is shut, that it rain no rain, in order that blessing from the Church may not come down upon the barren earth. As the Lord saith of the Father to His vineyard, “I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon ity.”

waters. Not only do they make to cease the waters, but they also render those which had come down useless; and this is, to turn the waters into blood. The sweet savour of Christ, which comes with fragrance from the Church, is “to some a savour of death unto death, to others a savour of life unto lifez.”

Rev 11:7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the abyss shall make war against them and shall overcome them and kill them.

testimony. He shews clearly, that all these things take place before the last persecution, by saying, “when they shall have finished their testimony;” namely, that which they give, until the revelation of the beast, who is to come forth from the hearts of the ungodly. It is not that they do not then strive boldly to resist the enemy by the same testimony, but that the Church, as is supposed, will then be left destitute of the gift of miracles, while the adversary is resplendent with them in the sight of all through lying wonders. For, as the Lord says, “Want shall go before his facea.”

kill. He will overcome in those who shall succumb, he will kill in those who, with laudable patience, shall be slain. Or: if he shall overcome and kill spiritually, we may take it of a part of the witnesses, as the Lord says in the Gospel, “They will deliver you up to affliction, and kill youb;” which Luke the Evangelist intimates to have been spoken of a part, saying, “Some of you they will killc.”

Rev 11:8 And their bodies shall lie in the streets of the great city which is called spiritually, Sodom and Egypt: where their Lord also was crucified.

bodies. “If they have persecuted Me,” He says, “they will also persecute youd.” It is no wonder, then, if the city of the ungodly, which feared not to crucify the Lord, has His servants also in derision, even when they are slain. And such things as these ecclesiastical history relates to have often occurred.

Sodom. That is, “silent and dark,” having forsooth neither the light of faith, nor the voice of confession. For “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvatione.” These regions, for a sign of spiritual punishment, were visibly smitten with these plagues, that is, with devouring fire, and water turned into blood.

Rev 11:9 And they of the tribes and peoples and tongues and nations shall see their bodies for three days and a half: and they shall not suffer their bodies to be laid in sepulchres.

see. He said not the peoples and tribes will see, but, many from among the peoples who openly deride the saints, when others believe.

tombs. He has spoken of their wish and their opposition: not that they are able to effect that the Church should not be their memorial; as it is said, “Ye neither enter in, nor suffer others to enter inf,” seeing that some do enter in, although they oppose. But they will evidently effect, in respect of the bodies of the living and of the slain, that neither are the living suffered to meet together for their memory by the celebration of holy offices, nor the slain to have their names recited for their memory, nor to have their bodies buried for their memory as witnesses of God.

Rev 11:10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them and make merry: and shall send gifts one to another, because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt upon the earth.

rejoice. As often as the righteous are afflicted, the unrighteous exult and feastg, as, “while the ungodly is lifted up, the poor is consumedh.”

tormented. Because of the plagues with which the human race is vexed, because of their testimony to God, even the very sight of the righteous oppresses the unrighteous; as they themselves say, “He is grievous unto us even to beholdi.”

Rev 11:11 And after three days and a half, the spirit of life from God entered into them. And they stood upon their feet: and great fear fell upon them that saw them.

days. Thus far the angel has spoken of the future, and now he brings in, as accomplished, that which he hears is to come to pass, namely that, after the reign of Antichrist has been destroyed, the saints have risen to glory.

fear. He has spoken of all the living, because even the righteous who shall remain alive will greatly fear at the resurrection of those who sleep.

Rev 11:12 And they heard a great voice from heaven, saying to them: Come up hither. And they went up to heaven in a cloud: and their enemies saw them.

cloud. This is the same that the Apostle said, “We shall be caught up in the clouds into the air, to meet the Lordj.”

enemies. Here he has distinguished the unrighteous from those of whom he had said, that they feared in common with them.

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