Revelation 10: A Divine Commission Given

Revelation 10

1 Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, 3 and called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring.

This Chapter is one that emphasizes the full scope of John’s commission as a prophet. He is to have a worldwide ministry. Although he never carried his message to the whole world in person, nevertheless, his message has been delivered to the world throughout all ages by means of his writings. This passage confirms to John that he indeed has a prophetic call. Remember that he is in exile and needs confirmation that his message needs to be written down. The message applies to God’s people of all ages, as well.


Feast of Pentecost El Greco 1600

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. EL Greco painting cs. 1600 from Wikipedia

That brings us to the reason for the interlude between the sixth and seventh trumpets. We had a similar interlude between the sixth and the seventh seals. There was a need for explanation of security of God’s people in the midst of the seal judgments. Here the judgments are more intense and there is need for explanation as to what God’s people are to be doing while judgment falls on God’s opponents. They are in need of assurance that the message is still effective in the midst of active opposition! The key verse comes at the end.

God has commissioned John and His people to preach to all nations — “you must prophesy!” vs. 11

I. God is sovereign over the land and the sea. vs. 2

vs. 1 The Identity the Angel — “Another” is allos = “another of the same kind.” The terminology used rules out the identification of this figure as the Lord Jesus himself. Jesus is always identified forthrightly in the Revelation of John. “Christ is never called an angel in this book, and this angel is not accorded divine honors. — Leon Morris

The angel is invested with divine power because he has a divine mission to perform. The tense of verb is the present tense participle = “coming down.” John actually sees this angel make his descent. The direction of descent in the vision indicates that John is now seeing things from the earthly perspective, whereas before he was seeing things from the heavenly viewpoint. So ought we if we are to prophesy God’s Words to our age.


The Holy Spirit rides in the chariot of Scripture, and not in the wagon of modern thought. Scripture is that ark of the covenant which contains the golden pot of manna, and also bears above it the divine light of God’s shining. The Spirit of God works in, by, and through, and with the Word; and if we keep to that Word, we may rest assured that the Holy Ghost will keep with us, and make our testimony to be a thing of power.
— C. H. Spurgeon, from a Sermon delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, April 19th, 1891

The Angel’s Appearance — Clouds are identified in Psalm 104:3 as God’s chariots. The rainbow brings to mind Rev. 4 — a rainbow surrounded the throne. His countenance was brilliant cf. Rev. 1:16.


Angel of the Revelation by William Blake, between circa 1803 and circa 1805

vs. 2 The Scroll in his Hand—The word for “scroll” in Rev. 5:2 is biblion (the Greek word from which we derive our English word “bible”) . Here the word is biblaridion. This is the only use of this word in the New Testament, so it is difficult to determine its exact meaning. It seems to be a diminutive form of biblos (“little scroll”) This small scroll lay open on the hand of the angel, whereas the other scroll (in Rev. 5) was sealed. The tense of the verb anoigô (“to open”) is perfect tense. It had been opened in the past and still lay open on the palm of the angel in the present.

What is the significance of this “little scroll?” It contains God’s purposes which he has been pleased to reveal to man i.e. his program for the end of the world. Since it is a diminutive form, it only contains a portion of that program, and is not comprehensive like the other scroll in Rev. 5 & 6. Humans can only comprehend a portion of God’s wisdom, Therefore, God only entrusts a portion of it to man.

Collossus of Rhodes 1911

The famous Colossus of Rhodes, familiar to all of Asia Minor though long gone by the time of writing. One greater than the ancient Colossus delivered John’s and our commission. 

The Size and Posture of the Ange l — The angel’s posture denotes that he has authority over the entire earth — water and land. The angel’s size defies description. It would be a great  encouragement to a small group of beleaguered Christians to know they had such colossal forces at work in their behalf.

II. God knows all, but we His servants know only what He has revealed in His Word vs. 3-4.

vs. 3b … When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. 4 And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” 

The Angel’s Shout — The loud shout brings on the sounding of the seven thunders. Note carefully that the phrase has the definite article, and, therefore, is identified as a specific group of thunders.


vs. 4 The Seven Thunders — The seven thunders gave forth revelation about the plan of God for the end of the world. John understood what they revealed, and he was about to write when he was stopped. N.B. the use of the prohibitory subjunctive = me + aorist subjunctive indicating, “Do not even begin to write.”

All we have to help us in interpreting the seven thunders is in Psalm 29. Note the recurring phrase, “The voice of the Lord.”

3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

“Either the seven thunders were [only] intended for John’s [personal] illumination and were not essential to the main vision of the seven trumpets, or the reference is designated to strike a note of mystery with reference to God’s revelatory activities (cf. II Cor. 12:4). As the visible portion of an iceberg is only a small part of it, so God’s disclosures reveal only part of his total being and purposes.”

I take the second view. God makes sure we do not assume to know it all.

A Caveat — The fact that John does not give us all the visions relating to the future should caution us about being so dogmatic about our different systems of interpreting prophecy. We do not have all of the pieces of the puzzle! This portion of revelation was deliberately sealed up. Leon Morris, on page 138 of his commentary, brings out that sealing in apocalyptic writings signifies that which is to be kept hidden (Cf. Daniel 12:4).

When I was in Seminary, there was a clothes closet we visited often. It had books and games. We once took a puzzle. That puzzle drove us all crazy. It didn’t have missing pieces. An imp had thrown extra pieces into it from another puzzle! I took that puzzle back minus the extra pieces. 

Puzzle Wikipedia

We do not have extra pieces in the Revelation puzzle, but we have pieces God has deliberately left out to make us humble as we read it and proclaim it. Like the apostles at the ascension, ““It is not for [us] to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But … [we are to] be His witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

A father wanted to read a magazine but was being bothered by his little girl, Shelby. She wanted to know what the United States looked like.

Finally, he tore a sheet out of his new magazine on which was printed the map of the country. Tearing it into small pieces, he gave it to Shelby, and said, “Go into the other room and see if you can put this together. This will show you our whole country today.”

After a few minutes, Shelby returned and handed him the map correctly fitted together. The father was surprised and asked how she had finished so quickly. “Oh,” she said, “on the other side of the paper is a picture of Jesus. When I got all of Jesus back where He belonged, then our country just came together.” (see Map and the Face of Jesus, below.)

If we read Revelation to find the place Jesus deserves in our hearts and lives, instead of looking for times and seasons, He’ll put us back together right and our country as well!

Next time more on Revelation 10.

Notes (Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation) 

Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.

ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from

Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.

Map and the Face of Jesus. (2020). Accessed 2 August 2020 from ttps://

Spurgeon, C. H. (1891). Accessed 2 August 2020 from

© 2020 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

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