Revelation 11:8

their dead bodies will lie in the street
Lack of burial is particularly repugnant to the Jews. 1K. 14:11; 1K. 16:4; 2K. 2K. 9:37; Ps. Ps. 79:3; Jer. Jer. 7:33; Jer. 8:1; Jer. 16:4, Jer. 16:6; Jer. 22:19; Eze. Eze. 29:5; Rev. Rev. 11:9+).”1 The beast and earth dwellers purposefully leave the bodies of the witnesses unburied as an intentional dishonor and insult (Isa. Isa. 14:20; Jer. Jer. 8:2; Jer. 14:16). This is another indication of the Jewishness of the context.2

the great city
The same phrase is used elsewhere to describe Babylon (Rev. Rev. 14:8+; Rev. 17:18+; Rev. 18:10+, Rev. 18:16+, Rev. 18:18+, Rev. 18:19+), earthly Jerusalem (Rev. Rev. 16:19+), and the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. Rev. 21:10+).3 Both Babylon and earthly Jerusalem have great significance in the scenario of the Tribulation. One is the center of the anti-God system of Babylon (Rev. Rev. 17:1+-Rev. 18:1+) whereas the other is the earthly city where God has placed His name (1K. 1K. 11:36; 2Chr. 2Chr. 33:4, 2Chr. 33:7; Dan. Dan. 9:19). It is within this latter great city, Jerusalem, that the Tribulation Temple will stand which Antichrist desecrates (Rev. Rev. 11:1-2+). The identity of the city among the three possible locations (Babylon, earthly Jerusalem, heavenly Jerusalem) is established by its identification as the place “where also our Lord was crucified.”

spiritually
πνευματικῶς [pneumatikōs] meaning in a manner consistent with the (divine) Spirit.”4 “ ‘Spiritually’ . . . shows this to be the language of allegory or metaphor. Neither Sodom nor Egypt is the city’s real name.”5 One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to assess the true spiritual conditions of His subject. He is represented by “seven eyes which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth” (Rev. Rev. 5:8+). His omniscient gaze burns away the dross of external representation to reveal the true character below (Rev. Rev. 4:5+). It is in this sense, as seen by the Spirit, that Jerusalem is called “Sodom and Egypt.”

called Sodom and Egypt
Both Sodom and Egypt typify cities which were opposed and judged by God. Sodom was an exceedingly wicked city which was overthrown for her sins by God’s judgment (Gen. Gen. 13:13; Gen. 19:24). Egypt was the nation which held Israel in bondage and was judged by plagues prior to the Exodus (Ex. Ex. 1:13-14; Ex. 3:7; Ex. 20:2). Jerusalem, in her godless state, is likened to both the wicked city and the wicked nation. Even though the two witnesses exhibit a Jewish ministry located in Jerusalem, they are rejected by the majority of the inhabitants—their fellow Jews. When Moses sang a song predicting the apostasy of Israel upon entering the Promised Land after his death, he referred to the Jewish nation as “a nation void of counsel,” whose “vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah” (Deu. Deu. 32:28-32). Isaiah used a similar analogy when describing God’s rejection of Israel’s insincere sacrifices: “Hear the word of the LORD you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah: ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?’ ” (Isa. Isa. 1:10). The sin of Jerusalem is said to be as the sin of Sodom in that it was flaunted openly (Isa. Isa. 3:8).6 Even the apostate prophets are likened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jer. Jer. 23:14). When rejected by the cities of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Jesus indicated that the cities which did not receive the apostles or their words would be considered worse off than Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment (Mtt. Mat. 10:14-15; Luke Luke 10:12). Although Jerusalem is here referred to as Sodom, Isaiah also indicated that Babylon’s eventual overthrow would be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah (Isa. Isa. 13:19). Elsewhere, Ezekiel describes the Northern Kingdom (Samaria) and the Southern Kingdom (Jerusalem) as idolatrous sisters, both of which committed harlotry in their youth while in Egypt (Eze. Eze. 23:2-4, Eze. 23:19, Eze. 23:27). Comparison with Egypt recalls the idolatrous golden calf which Israel made upon departure from Egypt (Ex. Ex. 32:4, Ex. 32:24).

where also our Lord was crucified
The MT and NU texts have their Lord instead of our Lord. Although the city has the spiritual attributes of Sodom and Egypt, its identity is clearly established as Jerusalem, the place of the crucifixion (Luke Luke 13:33; John John 19:20; Heb. Heb. 13:12). Concerning those who suggest some other location than Jerusalem, Bullinger observes: “A Sunday-school child could tell us where the Lord was crucified; but these learned men cannot.”7

Notes

1 J. B. Payne, “Burial,” in Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979, 1915), 1:556.

2 The Jewishness of Revelation contributed to its lack of acceptance in the Eastern Church. See Acceptance into the Canon.

3 The phrase “great city” in Revelation Rev. 16:19+ probably denotes Jerusalem: “The likelihood of Babylon’s being named twice (or even three times if ‘the cities of the nations’ refers to Babylon) in the same verse is quite remote. Revelation Rev. 11:8+ has a clear identification of Jerusalem as ‘the great city’ (Moffat, Ford). Furthermore, its separation from ‘the cities of the Gentiles (or nations)’ in the next phrase indicates that Jerusalem is in view. This interpretation that does justice to this context also concurs with predicted topographical changes that will take place around Jerusalem in conjunction with the second advent (Zec. Zec. 14:4) (Seiss). Jerusalem experienced a fairly severe earthquake earlier (Rev. Rev. 11:3+), but that was only partial. This earthquake will divine the city into three parts.”—Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1995), Rev. 16:19.

4 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 679.

5 Thomas, Revelation 8-22, Rev. 11:8.

6 “The reference to Sodom may relate to Dan. Dan. 11:37; the Beast may well encourage homosexual orgies, thus God’s blast of ‘Sodom.’ ”—Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 11:8.

7 E. W. Bullinger, Commentary On Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1984, 1935), Rev. 11:8.

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