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- Submitted: Mar 16 2012 02:41 PM
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- Author: Richard C. Trench
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Trench, Richard - Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches In Asia
Revelation Exegesis Bible Interpretation Word Study Eschatalogy (Endtimes)
Richard C. Trench
9.x - 10.x
Richard Trench, Doctor of Divinity, and archbishop of Dublin 1864-1884, was also the author of the well-known Synonyms of the New Testament.
This commentary, which despite the title includes a commentary on 1:4-20, was written while Trench was Dean of Westminster. It is based on the lectures he gave three times to the theological students at King’s College London.
In the introduction Trench comments on the many exegetical problems as well as on “the entire originality of these seven Epistles”. “While the analogy of faith is perfectly preserved, while there is no difficulty in harmonizing what is here said of Christ’s person and offices with what is taught elsewhere, yet how wholly new a series of titles are these”.
Trench emphasises that “there is enough in these two chapters alone to render Arianism entirely untenable by any one who, admitting their authority, should consent to be bound in their interpretation by the ordinary rules of fairness and truth” (p. 9). But Trench did not only value the theological substance of Revelation.
“And, finally, the practical interest of these Epistles in their bearing on the whole pastoral and ministerial work is extreme” (p. 10). The seven messages “are full of teaching, of the most solemn warning, of the strongest encouragement” (ibid.). Indeed, “We learn from these Epistles the extent to which the spiritual condition of a Church is dependent upon that of its pastors; the guilt, not merely of teaching, but of allowing error …”
Trench laments that Revelation 2-3 is never heard in the Anglican Churches, and that private reading among the people is scant (p. 11). These are “chapters so rich in doctrine, in exhortation, in reproof, and promises …”
Authorship and recipients
Trench argues that the author is John the Apostle. The alternative is that John is a falsarius. (p. 14). He was banished to Patmos for his steadfastness in the faith of Christ Rev 1:9); he was only released at the accession of Nerva (see p. 37), and “The whole book breathes the very air of martyrdom” (p. 37).
Trench argues that ‘in (the) Spirit’ means “a condition in which there is a suspension of all the motions and faculties of the natural life” (p. 38). However, according to Rev 10:4, John was about to write, so some faculties were retained.
The Epistle – for, according to Trench, the Apocalypse is indeed an ‘epistle’ – is written to the seven church and the Church, they represent “in their mystic unity” (p. 16; cf. pp. 42-45).
Trench comments on the salutation, but does not explain what grace and peace really mean (p. 17). Perhaps he simply assumes that his readers know.
Key-note to the whole book
Commenting on ho erchomenos in Rev 1:4, Trench identifies the key-note to the whole book as “I come quickly.” “It is Christ’s word of comfort, or, where they need it, of warning, to his friends; of terror to his foes” (p. 19). This must be the meaning of ho erchomenos here as well. I agree. With Origen, Trench asserts that Rev 1:4 yields evidence for “the equal divinity of the Son with the Father” (ibid.).
Trench interprets the clouds that accompany Christ’s second coming in Rev 1:7 as “symbols of wrath” (p. 31). However, in the light of Daniel 7 this seems to me to be too one-sided. Trench also turns Zechariah 12:10 on its head (ibid.). ‘The Lord’s Day’ is Sunday (p. 40-41).
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION, Rev. 1:4-20.
I. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF EPHESUS.
II. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF SMYRNA
III. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF PERGAMUM.
IV. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF THYATIRA.
V. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF SARDIS.
VI. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA.
VII. EPISTLE TO THE CHURCH OF LAODICEA.
EXCURSUS. ON THE HISTORICO-PROPHETICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE EPISTLES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA.