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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 19

6. The Hosts in the Heaven




"And the Hosts in the heaven followed him upon white horses, having been invested with fine linen white and pure".

These hosts being invested with the same clothing as the betrothed, indicates that they are the same persons. The fine linen investing the betrothed is declared to be representative of the righteous deeds, ta dikaiomata, of the saints. This is equivalent to saying, that the betrothed of the Lamb is constituted of the Saints. Hence the wearers of the fine linen, which is granted specially and exclusively to approved saints, whether on foot or "upon horses," are known to be saints by their uniform. The white and pure fine linen deeds shine forth resplendently in a pure and bright nature like that of the angels; for the saints are made "equal to the angels," when "the mortal is swallowed up of life". In the scene before us, they illustrate the name YAHWEH Tz'vaoth, which signifies in plain English, He who shall be hosts. The Eternal Spirit, who named himself YAHWEH at the bush, manifests himself in Jesus and his Brethren, who are the Commander and his Hosts of this remarkable scene. Each one of them is a distinct spiritual entity - an incorruptible and immortal flesh-and-bones organization, which is Spirit-body, or a man like to the Lord Jesus after he had been "revived" or quickened (Luke 24:39; Rom. 14:9). The first man Adam is multiplied into thousands and tens of thousands of millions, by a natural law, so "the second Adam the Lord from heaven," who is "the Lord the Spirit",(*) multiplies himself into hosts of immortals after his own image (1 Cor. 15:49) by the creative operation of his almighty power. These tz'vaoth, or hosts, in the heaven, cannot be computed; for they are "a multitude which no man can number," taken out from among "all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues," by the belief and obedience of the truth; and who "stand before the throne and before the Lamb," whom "they follow whithersoever he goeth," "upon white horses," "clothed with white robes;" and when "the war of the great day" is over, holding "palms in their hands," the emblem of victory (Apoc. 7:9; 14:4).
But, though no man can compute the number of these heavenly hosts, they are symbolically represented by the number of their nationality, and measured by its cubical contents; or by 144,000, and 144 cubits, respectively (ch. 14:1; 21:17). They are the kings and lords, the official companions of the Great King, who accompany him in all his enterprises against the nations. They are the third angel, and the angels of the harvest and vintage scenes of ch. 14; Joel3:13: they tread "the vat of the wine of the indignation, and wrath of the all-powerful Deity,"
without the city, by the space of a thousand, six-hundred furlongs; or during the forty years of the seventh vial judgments upon "the Air".

(*) It is worthy of note here, that Jesus having just emerged from the sepulchre, refused to allow himself to he touched; and gave as a reason for the interdict, that he "had not yet ascended to his Father" (John 20:17); or been "revived," anezese, as it is in Rom. 14:9. But on the evening of the same day he appeared in the midst of the eleven apostles, and invited all present to touch, or handle him and see, that he was not a terrifying thing (Luke 24:37-39). In the evening the cause no longer existed that obtained in the morning, why he should not be touched or handled. He had doubtless been the subject of the ascent to the Father, and therefore they might handle him; but if he had not, the same objection to touching him would have been in force in the evening as in the morning.

But, when they saw him in the evening, at what were they in consternation and affright? Luke says, according to the Common Version, "they supposed they had seen a spirit". Although they were engaged in talking about the Lord Jesus with certain who had seen and eaten bread with him some hours before, when Jesus himself stood in their midst, they were in such consternation at his unexpected apparition, that they failed to recognize him, or to discern whether what they saw in human shape were substantial "flesh and bones," or an unsubstantial spirit. It seems to have been a question with them of substance or shadow. If not substance, what might he the disposition of the invisible original towards them who cast the shade, or spirit. was the spirit apparent for good or for evil towards them? They evidently concluded that it was an evil spirit they thought they saw, for they were in consternation and affright.

Luke's words in the Greek are edokoun pneuma theorem, "they seemed to themselves to behold a pneuma," or spirit. But this word pneuma is made to signify many things. Before me are over thirty applications of the word to things. Among them is given "the human soul after its departure from the body, a spirit". The Pharisees believed in such apneuma; but their opponents the Sadducees denied that there was any such thing (Acts 23:8). Apneuma of this sort was aphantasma or phantom of the popular mind of the first century, as it continues to be of the nineteenth. The Eleven did not see a disembodied human soul; but "they seemed to themselves to behold" some-thing equivalent to it, popularly styled "a ghost", orpneuma - a terrifying thing by which men, women, and children, have been scared in all ages.

The lord Jesus had been mistaken for a terrifying pneuma, or unsubstantial shade of evil, before. He appeared to his disciples in their ship, in the fourth watch of the night, walking on the sea. This is related by Mark in ch. 6:49, and by Matthew ch. 14:26. In narrating the incident they both testify that they cried out in consternation, exclaiming that what they saw was aphantasma. They mistook him for the same thing, on the sea before, and in Jerusalem after, his resurrection; and with the same terrifying accompaniments: I conclude, therefore, that Luke's pneuma, and Matthew and Mark's phantasma, are the same sort of aphantom) and that the reading of phantasnia for pneuma in Luke 24:37, adopted by Griesbach (a German Hebrew and Greek scholar who specialized in the text of Scripture) is correct. The thing signified is the same, so that any dispute is a mere strife of words.

The sense of pneuma in verse 37, fixes its signification in verse 39, because the pneuma in the fortieth verse, is the subject of criticism in the latter. Speaking of such a pneunia, the Lord Jesus said, "a pneuma bath not flesh and bones, as ye see me having". He had ascended to the Father, or they would not then be invited to handle him; nevertheless, he was not a phantasmial  pneuma, but still substantial flesh and bones, only incorruptible and deathless - incorruptible and undying flesh and bones which is "spirit", pneuma hagiosunes, in contrast with flesh, blood and bones, which is "flesh", and therefore corruptible and mortal. what Jesus was on that evening of the third day, he is now. He is "the Lord the Spirit," substantial, incorruptible, deathless and omnipotent flesh and bones, which now "flourish as an herb," and which say, "O Yahweh, who is like unto thee, who delivereth the poor from him that was too strong for him?" It is "of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones," the faithful are the "members;" for what he is now in respect to body, flesh, and bones, they hope to be when he shall appear to make manifest the hosts of the heaven in the scenes of this chapter.




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