Joseph A. Seiss Picture

Joseph A. Seiss

1823-1904

The Apocalypse: The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Lutheran Minister and Theologian

Why Read This?

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In the tumultuous times in which we are living, it's not hard to imagine that the tribulation period may soon be upon us. Those times are described in the book of Revelation, and God has promised a special blessing for those who read it:

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things that are written in it; for the time is near.

But when you begin reading this book, a question comes to mind almost immediately. Verse 1 opens,

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants...

Have you ever wondered what this means? Did God reveal some information to Jesus that he didn't already know?

We have posted the preface and eight lectures from a commentary on the book of Revelation by Dr. Joseph A. Seiss. In his first lecture he addresses this question more fully than most commentators. In addition, he absolutely stirs your desire to delve further into this fascinating book that God used to close the New Testament canon.

In lecture 15 Seiss gives a sound warning to those who are saved, those who may think they are saved, and those who don't care whether they are saved: Take heed and repent!

All the lectures we have chosen to print here have something special that commends them. We hope these lectures encourage you to continue studying the Book of Revelation.

Of Mo­ra­vi­an roots, Joseph August Seiss stu­died for the min­is­try at Get­tys­burg Coll­ege and Sem­in­a­ry, Penn­syl­vani­a and was or­dained a Lu­ther­an minister in the 1840's (some sources say 1844, others 1848). Af­ter serv­ing con­gre­ga­tions in Vir­gin­ia and Ma­ry­land, he moved to St. John’s Lu­ther­an Church in Phil­a­del­phia in 1858. In 1874, he be­came pas­tor of the Church of the Ho­ly Com­mun­ion, also in Phil­a­del­phia. In addition, he served as pre­si­dent of the Penn­syl­van­ia Min­is­ter­i­um and the Gen­er­al Council.

His publications number more than a hundred, including commentaries on the Gospels and the books of Hebrews and Revelation. He also translated the fourth verse of the hymn, "Fairest Lord Jesus" (generally called "Beautiful Savior" in Lutheran hymnbooks), from German to English. Some hymnbooks credit him with translating all the verses.

Dr. Seiss' three-volume commentary on Revelation, The Apocalypse: A Series of Special Lectures on the Revelation of Jesus Christ (1865), is still readily available and well worth pruchasing and reading.

Preface

"There is a widespread prejudice against the study of the Apocalypse. Though it is the great prophetic Book of the New Testament, the last of all the writings of Inspiration, a special message from the ascended Savior to His Churches on earth, and pressed upon everyone's attention with uncommon urgency, there are religious guides sworn to teach "the whole counsel of God" who make a merit of not understanding it and of not wishing to occupy themselves with it..."

That is how Dr. Seiss opens his preface. Read what he thinks of this state of affairs and how he hopes his commentary will stir a real excitement for studying the book of Revelation.

Lecture First
Revelation 1:1-3

THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THE SUBJECT IS TAKEN UP--THE PREFACE--THE SCOPE AND CONTENTS OF THE BOOK--WHAT THE REVELATION OF CHRIST IS--JOHN IN THE DAY OF THE LORD--THE DERIVATION OF THE APOCALYPSE--THE VALUE AND PRECIOUSNESS OF THIS BOOK--OUR SPECIAL STUDY DEMANDED

Lecture Sixth
Revelation 2-3

THE SEVEN EPISTLES--A DISTINCT AND INVITING DEPARTMENT OF SACRED LITERATURE--STRANGELY NEGLECTED BY THE CHURCH--EACH EMBRACES SEVEN PARTS--THEIR TEACHINGS IN RELATION TO THE PARTICULAR CHURCHES ADDRESSED--CHRIST REMEMBERS HIS PEOPLE--SPEAKS TO THEM THROUGH THEIR MINISTERS--THE MORAL STATE OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCHES--THE IMPORTANCE ASSIGNED TO THE PRACTICAL IN RELIGION--CHRIST'S USE OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE SECOND ADVENT--THE FUTURE OF THE REDEEMED

Lecture Twelfth
Revelation 6:3-8

JUDGMENT OF THE QUICK AND OF THE DEAD--FALSE NOTIONS CORRECTED--THE SEVERAL SEALS PARTIALLY CONTEMPORANEOUS--OPENING OF THE SECOND SEAL--BRINGS WARS AND BLOODY STRIFES--THIRD SEAL--BRINGS SCARCITY AND FAMINE--FOURTH SEAL--BRINGS GOD'S FOUR SORE JUDGMENTS--THE WAY TO ESCAPE THESE DREADFUL CALAMITIES--THE FAITHFUL SERVANTS OF GOD EVER SAFE

Lecture Fifteenth
Revelation 7:1-8

THE SEALING OF THE 144,000--MERCY IN THE MIDST OF JUDGMENT--ARE JEWISH PEOPLE--ARE DESCRIBED BY THEIR TRIBAL NAMES--THE NUMBER OF THEM--THE NATURE OF THEIR SEALING--NOT A MERE ARBITRARY OR EXTERNAL WORK--THE AGENT PERFORMING IT--AN IMPARTATION OF THE HOLY GHOST--HOW MANIFESTED IN THESE SEALED ONES--THE INTENT AND EFFECT OF THIS SEALING--GOD NOT YET DONE WITH THE JEWS--OUR CALLING

Lecture Seventeenth
Revelation 8:1-5

SILENCE IN HEAVEN--ITS MEANING AND DURATION--THE SEVEN ANGELS OF GOD'S PRESENCE--THE HIGHEST CREATED BEINGS--ECONOMY OF THE HEAVENS--THE SEVEN TRUMPETS--SIGNIFICANCE OF TRUMPETS--ORIGINALS OF THE ANCIENT RITES--"ANOTHER ANGEL"--REASONS FOR REGARDING HIM AS THE SAVIOUR--WHY THE PRAYERS OF SAINTS ARE HERE OFFERED--THEIR GREAT BURDEN--THEIR ACCEPTANCE--THE POWER OF PRAYER--THE FIRE OF JUDGMENT--WHY MEN ARE DAMNED--THE FIRE CAST INTO THE EARTH--ITS EFFECTS--A VINDICATION OF THE STUDY OF THESE THINGS

Lecture Twenty-Fifth
Revelation 11:15-19

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET--THE GRAND CLIMACTERIC--"DAYS" INCLUDED--TEXT A SYNOPSIS--VOICES IN HEAVEN--EMOTION OF THE ENTHRONED ELDERS--TEMPLE IN HEAVEN OPENED--ARK APPEARS--NATURE AGITATED--GOVERNMENT OF THE WORLD CHANGED--EARTH'S DESTROYERS DESTROYED--THE DEAD JUDGED--THE PROPHETS AND SAINTS REWARDED--ALL CONCERNED IN THESE THINGS.

Lecture Thirty-Fifth
Revelation 14:14-16

THE VISION OF THE HARVEST--A HARVEST OF WOE AND JUDGMENT--THE PARTICULARS OF THE DESCRIPTION--THE ANGEL-CRY FOR THE SENDING OF THE SHARP SICKLE--THE REAPING--THE VISION OF THE VINTAGE--THE ANGEL OUT OF THE TEMPLE--THE GREAT CRY FROM THE ALTAR FOR THE SENDING OF THE SHARP--SICKLE--THE GATHERINIG OF THE VINE OF THE EARTH--THE TREADING OF THE WINE-PRESS.

Lecture Forty-Ninth
Revelation 21:9-27

THE NEW JERUSALEM--MATERIALISM IN THE REVELATIONS OF THE FUTURE--A LITERAL CITY--HOW THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB--ITS DERIVATION--ITS LOCATION--ITS SPLENDOR--ITS AMPLITUDE--ITS SYSTEM OF ILLUMINATION--ITS LACK OF A TEMPLE--ITS RELATION TO THE WORLD AT LARGE--ITS SUPERLATIVE HOLINESS.

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