Had ( εἶχον )
The best texts read ἔχων havingthe participle in the singular number agreeing with each one.
Each of them ( ἕν καθ ' ἑαυτὸ )
Lit., one by himself. The best texts read ἕν καθ ' ἕν oneby one or every one. Compare Mark 14:19.
Compare Isaiah 6:2. Dante pictures his Lucifer, who is the incarnation of demoniac animalism, with three heads and six wings.
“Underneath each came forth two mighty wrings,
Such as befitting were so great a bird;
Sails of the sea I never saw so large.
No feathers had they, but as of a bat
Their fashion was; and he was waving them,
So that three winds proceeded forth therefrom.
Thereby Cocytus wholly was congealed.”
“Inferno,” xxxiv., 46-52.
Dean Plumptre remarks that the six wings seem the only survival of the higher than angelic state from which Lucifer had fallen.
About him ( κυκλόθεν )
The best texts place the comma after ἕξ sixinstead of after κυκλόθεν aroundand connect κυκλόθεν with the succeeding clause, rendering, are full of eyes round about and within. So Rev.
They were full ( γέμοντα )
Read γέμουσιν arefull.
Round about and within
Around and inside each wing, and on the part of the body beneath it.
They rest not ( ἀνάπαυσιν οὐκ ἔχουσιν )
Lit., they have no rest. So Rev. See on give rest, Matthew 11:28; and see on resteth, 1 Peter 4:14.
Compare Isaiah 6:3, which is the original of the formula known as the Trisagion (thrice holy ), used in the ancient liturgies. In the Apostolic Constitutions it runs: “Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Hosts! Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory, who art blessed forever, Amen.” Afterwards it was sung in the form “Holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, have mercy upon us.” So in the Alexandrian liturgy, or liturgy of St. Mark. Priest. “To Thee we send up glory and giving of thanks, and the hymn of the Trisagion, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and ever and to ages of ages. People. Amen! Holy God, holy Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us.” In the liturgy of Chrysostom the choir sing the Trisagion five times, and in the meantime the priest says secretly the prayer of the Trisagion. “God which art holy and restest in the holies, who art hymned with the voice of the Trisagion by the Seraphim, and glorified by the Cherubim, and adored by all the heavenly powers! Thou who didst from nothing call all things into being; who didst make man after Thine image and likeness, and didst adorn him with all Thy graces; who givest to him that seeketh wisdom and understanding, and passest not by the sinner, but dost give repentance unto salvation; who has vouchsafed that we, Thy humble and unworthy servants, should stand, even at this time, before the glory of Thy holy altar, and should pay to Thee the worship and praise that is meet; - receive, Lord, out of the mouth of sinners, the hymn of the Trisagion, and visit us in Thy goodness. Forgive us every offense, voluntary and involuntary. Sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant that we may serve Thee in holiness all the days of our life; through the intercession of the holy Mother of God, and all the saints who have pleased Thee since the beginning of the world. (Aloud.) For holy art Thou, one God and to Thee.”
According to an unreliable tradition this formula was received during an earthquake at Constantinople, in the reign of Theodosius II., through a boy who was caught up into the sky and heard it from the angels. The earliest testimonies to the existence of, the Trisagion date from the fifth century or the latter part of the fourth. Later, the words were added, “that was crucified for us,” in order to oppose the heresy of the Theopaschites ( Θεός God πάσχω tosuffer
) who held that God had suffered and been crucified. To this was added later the words “Christ our king:” the whole reading, “Holy God, holy Mighty, holy Immortal, Christ our king that was crucified for us, have mercy on us.” The formula thus entered into the controversy with the Monophysites, who claimed that Christ had but one composite nature. Dante introduces it into his “Paradiso.”
“The One and Two and Three who ever liveth
And reigneth ever in Three and Two and One,
Not circumscribed and all things circumscribing,
Three several times was chanted by each one
Among those spirits, with such melody
That for all merit it were just reward.”
“Paradiso,” xiv., 28-33.
“When I was silent, sweetest song did flow
Through all the heaven, and my lady too
With them cried holy, holy, holy! “
“Paradiso,” xxvi., 67-69.
The interpretations of the symbols of the four living creatures are, of course, numerous and varied. Some of them are: the four Evangelists or Gospels; the four elements; the four cardinal virtues; the four faculties or powers of the human soul; the Lord in the fourfold great events of redemption; the four patriarchal churches; the four great apostles, the doctors of the Church; the four principal angels, etc. The best modern interpreters explain the four forms as representing animated nature - “man with his train of dependent beings brought near to God, and made partakers of redemption, thus fulfilling the language of St. Paul, that 'the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God'” (Romans 8:21; Milligan). Düsterdieck says: “The essential idea which is symbolized in the figures of the four living creatures may be expressed in such words as those of Psalms 103:22.” Full of eyes, they are ever on the alert to perceive the manifestations of divine glory. Covering their faces and feet with their wings (Isaiah 6:2), they manifest their reverence and humility. Flying, they are prompt for ministry. “We thus have the throne of God surrounded by His Church and His animated world; the former represented by the twenty-four elders, the latter by the four living beings” (Alford).
Which is to come ( ὁ ἐρχόμενος )
Lit., which cometh or is coming.