The Interpretation begins with the words, And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the Ark of the Testament: and it continues to the end of the Prophecy. The Temple is the scene of the visions, and the visions in the Temple relate to the feast of the seventh month: for the feasts of the Jews were typical of things to come.
The Passover related to the first coming of Christ, and the feasts of the seventh month to his second coming: his first coming being therefore over before this Prophecy was given, the feasts of the seventh month are here only alluded unto.
On the first day of that month, in the morning, the High-Priest dressed the lamps: and in allusion hereunto, this Prophecy begins with a vision of one like the Son of man in the High-Priest’s habit, appearing as it were in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, or over against the midst of them, dressing the lamps, which appeared like a rod of seven stars in his right hand: and this dressing was performed by the sending seven Epistles to the Angels or Bishops of the seven Churches in Asia, which in the primitive times illuminated the Temple or Church Catholic. These Epistles contain admonitions against the approaching Apostasy, and therefore relate to the times when the Apostasy began to work strongly, and before it prevailed.
It began to work in the Apostles’ days, and was to continue working till the man of sin should be revealed. It began to work in the disciples of Simon, Menander, Carpocrates, Cerinthus, and such sorts of men as had imbibed the metaphysical philosophy of the Gentiles and Cabalistical Jews, and were thence called Gnostics. John calls them Antichrists, saying that in his days there were many Antichrists. But these being condemned by the Apostles, and their immediate disciples, put the Churches in no danger during the opening of the first four seals. The visions at the opening of these seals relate only to the civil affairs of the heathen Roman Empire. So long the Apostolic traditions prevailed, and preserved the Church in its purity: and therefore the affairs of the Church do not begin to be considered in this Prophecy before the opening of the fifth seal. She began then to decline, and to want admonitions; and therefore is admonished by these Epistles, till the Apostasy prevailed and took place, which was at the opening of the seventh seal. The admonitions therefore in these seven Epistles relate to the state of the Church in the times of the fifth and sixth seals. At the opening of the fifth seal, the Church is purged from hypocrites by a great persecution. At the opening of the sixth, that which letted is taken out of the way, namely the heathen Roman Empire. At the opening of the seventh, the man of sin is revealed. And to these times the seven Epistles relate.