Pristine Grace

Rev 20:11-15, (GILL)
11  And I saw a great white throne,.... This vision refers not to the Gospel dispensation, from the exaltation of Christ to his second coming; when he sat down on his throne at the right hand of God, and was declared Lord and Christ; when there was a shaking of the heavens and the earth, a removing of the Mosaic economy, and the ordinances of the ceremonial law in Judea, and of Paganism in the Gentile world; when the Gospel was preached to all nations, and the dead in sins were quickened, and arose and stood before the throne of grace; when the books of the Scriptures were opened and explained, and the book of life was also opened; and by the conversion of some, and not others, it was known who were written in it and who were not, and men were judged to be alive or dead in a spiritual sense, according to the influence the opening of these books had upon them; and the powers of the world, comparable to a sea, and of death and hell, were not able to hold in the dead in sin, when they were called to life, with respect to whom death and hell were destroyed; nor was the Gospel the savour of death to any but to such who were not written in the book of life. This, in other words, is the sum of Cocceius's sense of this vision; but this affair will be over, and all God's elect gathered in by the preaching of the Gospel, before this vision takes place: nor does it respect the restoration of the Jews, who now are as dead, like Ezekiel's dry bones, but will at this time be quickened, and stand upon their feet an exceeding great army, and will be gathered from the several parts where they are as dead; and when it will be known by their conduct and behaviour who are God's elect among them, and who are not; which is Brightman's interpretation of the vision: but this, as we have seen, will come to pass according to the vision in the preceding chapter, before the thousand years begin; whereas this vision will not begin to be accomplished until they are ended: it is best therefore to understand it of the general judgment at the last day, which is the common sense of ancient and modern interpreters; though it seems only to regard the judgment of the wicked, for no other are made mention of in it: the "throne" here seen is a throne of judgment; it is called a "great" one, because a great Person sat upon it, the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, even he who is the great God, and Judge of the whole earth; and because of the great work that will be transacted upon it, the judgment of all the wicked; this will be the greatest assize that ever was held; it is called the judgment of the great day, and the great and dreadful day of the Lord, #Jude 6 Mal 4:5 this throne is also said to be a "white" one; just as the same Person is said to sit upon a white cloud, and ride upon a white horse, Re 14:14 it may be in allusion either to a white and serene cloud, or to a throne of ivory, such an one as Solomon made, 2Ch 9:17 and this is either expressive of the majesty and splendour of it, it being a throne of glory, or a glorious throne, Mt 25:31 or else it may denote the purity and justice of him that sits on it, according to which he will proceed in judgment, and finish it; his character is the righteous judge, and the judgment he will execute will be righteous judgment:

and him that sat on it; the throne was not empty, one sat upon it, who is no other than the Son of God; to whom all judgment is committed, and who is ordained to be Judge of quick and dead; and is every way fit for it, being of great knowledge, wisdom, and sagacity, and of great integrity and faithfulness, as man and Mediator, and being, as God, both omniscient and omnipotent, and so capable both of passing a right sentence, and of executing it; to which may be added, his great majesty and glory, necessary to strike an awe, and command an attention to him:

from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away, and there was found no place for them; which is to be understood not figuratively, as in Re 6:14 where in the one place is described the destruction of Paganism, and in the other the destruction of the Papacy, and all antichristian powers; but literally, and not of the present earth and heaven, as they now are, for these will be burnt up with fire at the beginning of the thousand years, but of the new heaven and new earth, at the end of them; and the phrases of fleeing away, and place being found no more for them, show the entire annihilation and utter abolition of them; after this there will be no place in being but the heaven of angels and saints, and the lake of fire, in which are the devils and damned spirits: but though this is mentioned here, it will not be till after the judgment is over; for how otherwise will the dead have a place to stand in before the throne, or hell, that is the grave, and also the sea, give up their dead, Re 20:12 but it is observed here, though afterwards done, to set off the majesty of the Judge upon the throne, at whose sight, and by whose power, this will be effected.

12  And I saw the dead,.... An account being given of the Judge, next the persons to be judged are described, and in this clause, by the state and condition in which they had been; for it cannot be thought they were dead when they stood before the throne, but were raised from the dead; for this character is not descriptive of them as dead in trespasses and sins, though they are such as die in their sins, and rise in them, who are meant, but as having been corporeally dead; these are the rest of the dead, the wicked, who lived not again until the thousand years were ended, Re 20:5 as for the righteous, they will be judged upon their resurrection from the dead in the beginning of the day of the Lord; and will be declared righteous and blessed, and be called upon and introduced to inherit the kingdom prepared for them, which they shall have possessed a thousand years when these wicked dead will be raised: who are said to be small and great; which may refer either to their age, being children and adult persons; or to their condition, being kings and peasants, high and low, rich and poor; or to their characters, as greater or lesser sinners; and this description respects them as they are in this world, and is designed to show that no consideration whatever, of age, condition, or character, will exempt them from the general judgment. This is a way of speaking used among the Jews [h], who say,

"in the world of souls, Mynjqxw Mylwdgh, "the great and the small", stand before God.''

The disputations of the schoolmen, about the age and stature in which mankind will rise and be judged, are vain and foolish: these John saw stand before God; that is, Christ, who is God and Judge of all; before his judgment seat and throne, in order to be judged; for they will stand not as ministering to him, nor as having confidence before him; in this sense they shall not stand in the judgment, Ps 1:5 but as guilty persons, to receive their sentence of condemnation. The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions read, "before the throne"; the sense is the same; for if they stood before the throne, they must stand before God, that sat upon it: and the books were opened; the book of God's omniscience, which contains all the actions of the wicked, in which all their sins are taken notice of, and will now be brought to light; and the book of his remembrance, in which they are all written as with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond; and the book of the creatures, which they have abused, and which will witness against them; and the book of providence, the riches of whose goodness have been despised by them; and the book of the Scriptures, both of law and Gospel, as well as the book of nature, of the light of nature, see Ro 2:12 to which may be added, the book of conscience; the consciences of men will be awakened, and will accuse them, and bear witness against them, and be as good as a thousand witnesses:

and another book was opened, which is the book of life: the same that is mentioned in Re 3:5 the book of eternal election,See Gill on "Re 3:5",See Gill on "Re 13:8",See Gill on "Re 17:8". No other use seems to be made of this book in the judgment of the wicked, than only to observe whose names were not written in it, as appears from Re 20:15 reference seems to be had to Da 7:10. It is a notion that has obtained among the Jews [i], that

"at the beginning of the year (or every new year's day) Nyxtpn Myrpo g, "three books are opened", one of the wicked perfect, another of the righteous perfect, and a third of those between both; the righteous perfect are written and sealed immediately for life; the wicked perfect are written and sealed immediately for death; the middlemost are in suspense, and continue from the beginning of the year to the day of atonement; if they are worthy, they are written for life, if not worthy, they are written for death:''

and in the same treatise [k], they represent God at the same time of the year as a

"King, sitting on a throne of judgment, and the books of the living, and the books of the dead, Nyxwtp, "open", before him:''

this with them was a prelude and a figure of the future judgment:

and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; that is, they were sentenced to everlasting condemnation and death, according to the just demerit of their wicked works; for no other are done by wicked men, nor can any other be in the books, since they are without God and Christ, and destitute of the Spirit, have no principle of grace to act from, nor any good end in view in any action of theirs. So the Jews say [l],

"all the works which a man does in this world are "written in a book", and they come into thought before the holy King, and they are manifest before him.''

[h] Tzeror Hammor, fol. 154. 2. [i] T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 16. 21. [k] T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 32. 2. & Erachin, fol. 10. 2. [l] Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 3.

13  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it,.... Which is not to be interpreted metaphorically of the world, and the men of it, who are like the troubled sea; but literally of the sea, and of all such who have been drowned in the waters of it, as were Pharaoh and his host; or have died upon the mighty waters, and have been cast into them, and devoured by the fishes; and particular regard may be had to the men of the old world, drowned by the flood; these shall be raised from thence; the sea shall deliver them up: now this, and what is expressed in the next clause, will not be done after the judgment is set, the books are opened, and the sentence passed, but before all this, and in order to it, as the last clause of this verse shows:

and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; "death", which is here represented as a person, and elsewhere as a king, reigning and having power over men, signifies death in general, and every kind of death of which men have died, whether natural or violent, over whom it will now have no longer dominion, but will be obliged to deliver up all its subjects; and "hell" signifies the grave, which will now be opened, and deliver up all its prisoners, all that have been buried in the earth; see Job 26:5 the Ethiopic version adds, "and the earth delivered up them that were dead in it": but this seems unnecessary after the former:

and they were judged every man according to their works; some to greater, some to lesser punishment, as their sinful works deserved.

14  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire,.... Death cannot be taken properly, nor hell be the place of torment, for devils and damned spirits; since that is that lake of fire, for then the sense would be, hell is cast into hell; but either by these the devil is meant, who has the power of death, and is the prince of hell, were it not that the casting of him into this lake is mentioned before in Re 20:10 or it denotes the destruction and abolition of death and the grave, that from henceforth they should no more have power over men, nor have any under their dominion, and in their hands; and so what has been promised will now be fully performed, Ho 13:14 see Re 21:4 or rather the wicked dead, which they shall have delivered up, and will be judged and sentenced to eternal death, Re 20:13

this is the second death; or the destruction of the soul and body in hell, which will consist in an eternal separation of both from God, and in a continual sense of his wrath and displeasure. The Alexandrian copy and the Complutensian edition read, "this second death is the lake of fire"; and so the Arabic version, "and this is the second death, even the lake of fire"; and not much different is the Ethiopic version, "the second death, which is the fire of hell".

15  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life,.... Upon the opening of it, Re 20:12 as all that worship the beast, and wonder after him, Re 13:8 and all wicked men, everyone of them:

was cast into the lake of fire; where are the devil, beast, and false prophet, Re 19:20. It is a saying of R. Isaac [m],

"woe to the wicked, who are not written aqtpb, "in the book", for they shall perish in hell for ever and ever:''

and in the Targum on Eze 13:9 it is said of the false prophets,

"that amle yyx btkb, "in the writing of eternal life" (or in the book of eternal life), which is written for the righteous of the house of Israel, they shall not be written.''

There seems to be some allusion in the phrase used here, and in the preceding verse, and elsewhere in this book, to the lake Asphaltites, a sulphurous lake, where Sodom and Gomorrah stood, which the Jews call the salt sea, or the bituminous lake; and whatsoever was useless, or rejected, or abominable, or accursed, they used to say, to show their rejection and detestation of it, let it be cast into the sea of salt, or the bituminous lake; thus, for instance,

"any vessels that had on them the image of the sun, or of the moon, or of a dragon, xlmh Myl Mkylwy, "let them cast them into the salt sea", or bituminous lake [n].''

[m] Tosaphta in Zohar in Gen. fol. 78. 2. [n] T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 42. 2. Vid. ib. fol. 49. 1. &. 53. 1. & 71. 2. & Nazir, fol. 24. 2. & 26. 1, 2. Bava Metzia, fol. 52. 2. Temura, fol. 22. 2. & Meila, fol. 9. 2. & 10. 1.

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