And one of the four beasts
Or living creatures: now we hear of them, as of the four and twenty elders, under the blowing of the seventh trumpet, ( Revelation 11:16 ) with which this vision is contemporary; these living creatures are the ministers of the Gospel; (See Gill on Revelation 4:6) and this was one, or the first of them, who was like a lion, for fortitude and courage, and whose voice was as the noise of thunder, ( Revelation 4:7 ) ( 6:1 ) and so fitly represents those ministers who shall give out the vials of God's wrath: not any particular person is designed, who shall be at this time; and much less Luke the evangelist, as Lord Napier thinks; nor Peter, who prophesied of the last time, ( 2 Peter 3:10 2 Peter 3:11 ) as Grotius; but a set of Gospel ministers, comparable to one of the living creatures John had before seen; of whom it is said, that they
gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of
God, who liveth for ever and ever:
these seven vials are for the seven last plagues to be put into, and out of which they are to be taken, or poured, and inflicted; see ( Revelation 21:9 ) hence it appears, that the seven plagues, and the wrath of God, are the same thing, and both design God's judgments upon antichrist; and these being expressed by "vials", which are measures, and large ones, show the large abundance and plenteous effusion of God's wrath, and the secret, sudden, and irresistible power of it; and yet that it will be poured out in measure, according to righteous judgment, and therefore it is put into vials; and these golden ones, expressive of the purity, holiness, and justice of the divine proceedings: and it will be very terrible; it will be, not the wrath of men, but of God, and a cup of the fierceness of his wrath; it will be the wrath of the living God, of him that lives for ever, and as he is, such will his wrath be; it will continue for ever, for this wrath will issue in the everlasting destruction of antichrist: so the wrath of God is signified by a wine cup of fury, ( Jeremiah 25:15 ) and that destruction, and those plagues which God designed to bring upon Pharaoh, are by Jonathan ben Uzziel, in his Targum on ( Genesis 40:12 ) called (azgwrd) (alyyp) , "a vial of wrath", which he should drink of: and in the pouring out of there seven vials, there is in some of them a manifest allusion to the plagues of Egypt. So the cup of trembling, in ( Isaiah 51:17 ) is by the Targumists called (ylyp) , "a vial", and also "the cup of fury", ( Isaiah 51:22 ) and that these vials were not small narrow mouthed vessels, but large broad mouthed ones, and more properly basins or bowls, is manifest from the use of the word with Jewish writers. The dishes on which the loaves of the shewbread were set, each of which loaves was ten hands breadth long, and five broad F17, are by the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem on ( Exodus 25:29 ) ( Numbers 4:7 ) called (tlyyp) , "vials"; and so the chargers offered at the dedication of the tabernacle, ( Numbers 7:13 Numbers 7:84 Numbers 7:85 ) are, by the same, rendered vials, which weighed 130 shekels; and so the silver bowl they offered, is, by Josephus F18, called a vial: the bowls in ( Amos 6:6 ) are, by the Targum there, said to be "silver vials". The lordly dish brought by Jael to Sisera, ( Judges 5:25 ) the Targum calls the vial of the mighty ones; and the earthen vessels used at the trial of the suspected wife, and at the cleansing of the leper, are both by Jewish writers said to be "vials" F19. Now these vials were given to the seven angels by one of the living creatures, the ministers of the word; from whence it seems that these angels design members of churches, as distinct from ministers; and may intend civil magistrates, and very principal ones, as kings of the earth, who, in this state of things, and times, will belong to the churches, and will be the instruments of destroying antichrist: and these vials may be said to be given to them by the ministers, since they will execute this vengeance in consequence of their prayers, and the churches', called vials full of odours, ( Revelation 5:8 ) and because these great men will be stirred up by the ministers of the Gospel, and by their ministrations, to do this work; see ( Revelation 18:4-6 ) .
F17 Misn. Menachot, c. 11. sect. 4, 5.
F18 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 10.
F19 Misn. Sota, c. 2. sect. 2. Joseph Antiqu. l. 3. c. 11. sect. 6. Misn. Negaim, c. 10. sect. 1.