Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
Re 19:1-21. The Church's Thanksgiving in Heaven for the Judgment on the Harlot. The Marriage of the Lamb: The Supper: The Bride's Preparation: John Is Forbidden to Worship the Angel: The Lord and His Hosts Come Forth for War: The Beast and the False Prophet Cast into the Lake of Fire: The Kings and Their Followers Slain by the Sword Out of Christ's Mouth.
1. As in the case of the opening of the prophecy, Re 4:8; 5:9, &c.; so now, at one of the great closing events seen in vision, the judgment on the harlot (described in Re 18:1-24), there is a song of praise in heaven to God: compare Re 7:10, &c., toward the close of the seals, and Re 11:15-18, at the close of the trumpets: Re 15:3, at the saints' victory over the beast.
And—so Andreas. But A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic omit.
a great voice—A, B, C, Vulgate, Coptic, and Andreas read, "as it were a great voice." What a contrast to the lamentations Re 18:1-24! Compare Jer 51:48. The great manifestation of God's power in destroying Babylon calls forth a great voice of praise in heaven.
Alleluia—Hebrew, "Praise ye Jah," or Jehovah: here first used in Revelation, whence Ellicott infers the Jews bear a prominent part in this thanksgiving. Jah is not a contraction of "Jehovah," as it sometimes occurs jointly with the latter. It means "He who Is": whereas Jehovah is "He who will be, is, and was." It implies God experienced as a PRESENT help; so that "Hallelujah," says Kimchi in Bengel, is found first in the Psalms on the destruction of the ungodly. "Hallelu-Jah" occurs four times in this passage. Compare Ps 149:4-9, which is plainly parallel, and indeed identical in many of the phrases, as well as the general idea. Israel, especially, will join in the Hallelujah, when "her warfare is accomplished" and her foe destroyed.
Salvation, &c.—Greek, "The salvation … the glory … the power."
and honour—so Coptic. But A, B, C, and Syriac omit.
unto the Lord our God—so Andreas. But A, B, C, and Coptic read, "(Is) of our God," that is, belongs to Him.
For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
2. which did corrupt the earth—Greek, "used to corrupt" continually. "Instead of opposing and lessening, she promoted the sinful life and decay of the world by her own earthliness, allowing the salt to lose its savor" [Auberlen].
avenged—Greek, "exacted in retribution." A particular application of the principle (Ge 9:5).
blood of his servants—literally shed by the Old Testament adulterous Church, and by the New Testament apostate Church; also virtually, though not literally, by all who, though called Christians, hate their brother, or love not the brethren of Christ, but shrink from the reproach of the cross, and show unkindness towards those who bear it.
And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
3. again—Greek, "a second time."
rose up—Greek, "goeth up."
for ever and ever—Greek, "to the ages of the ages."
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
4. beasts—rather, "living creatures."
And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
5. out of—Greek, "out from the throne" in A, B, C.
Praise our God—Compare the solemn act of praise performed by the Levites, 1Ch 16:36; 23:5, especially when the house of God was filled with the divine glory (2Ch 5:13).
both—omitted in A, B, C, Vulgate, Coptic, and Syriac. Translate as Greek, "the small and the great."
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
6. many waters—Contrast the "many waters" on which the whore sitteth (Re 17:1). This verse is the hearty response to the stirring call, "Alleluia! Praise our God" (Re 19:4, 5).
the Lord God omnipotent—Greek, "the Omnipotent."
reigneth—literally, "reigned": hence reigneth once for all. His reign is a fact already established. Babylon, the harlot, was one great hindrance to His reign being recognized. Her overthrow now clears the way for His advent to reign; therefore, not merely Rome, but the whole of Christendom in so far as it is carnal and compromised Christ for the world, is comprehended in the term "harlot." The beast hardly arises when he at once "goeth into perdition": so that Christ is prophetically considered as already reigning, so soon does His advent follow the judgment on the harlot.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
7. glad … rejoice—Greek, "rejoice … exult."
give—so B and Andreas. But A reads, "we will give."
glory—Greek, "the glory."
the marriage of the Lamb is come—The full and final consummation is at Re 21:2-9, &c. Previously there must be the overthrow of the beast, &c., at the Lord's coming, the binding of Satan, the millennial reign, the loosing of Satan and his last overthrow, and the general judgment. The elect-Church, the heavenly Bride, soon after the destruction of the harlot, is transfigured at the Lord's coming, and joins with Him in His triumph over the beast. On the emblem of the heavenly Bridegroom and Bride, compare Mt 22:2; 25:6, 10; 2Co 11:2. Perfect union with Him personally, and participation in His holiness; joy, glory, and kingdom, are included in this symbol of "marriage"; compare Song of Solomon everywhere. Besides the heavenly Bride, the transfigured, translated, and risen Church, reigning over the earth with Christ, there is also the earthly bride, Israel, in the flesh, never yet divorced, though for a time separated, from her divine husband, who shall then be reunited to the Lord, and be the mother Church of the millennial earth, Christianized through her. Note, we ought, as Scripture does, restrict the language drawn from marriage-love to the Bride, the Church as a whole; not use it as individuals in our relation to Christ, which Rome does in the case of her nuns. Individually, believers are effectually-called guests; collectively, they constitute the bride. The harlot divides her affections among many lovers: the bride gives hers exclusively to Christ.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
8. granted—Though in one sense she "made herself ready," having by the Spirit's work in her put on "the wedding garment," yet in the fullest sense it is not she, but her Lord, who makes her ready by "granting to her that she be arrayed in fine linen." It is He who, by giving Himself for her, presents her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, but holy and without blemish. It is He also who sanctifies her, naturally vile and without beauty, with the washing of water by the word, and puts His own comeliness on her, which thus becomes hers.
clean and white—so Andreas. But A and B transpose. Translate, "bright and pure"; at once brilliantly splendid and spotless as in the bride herself.
righteousness—Greek, "righteousnesses"; distributively used. Each saint must have this righteousness: not merely be justified, as if the righteousness belonged to the Church in the aggregate; the saints together have righteousnesses; namely, He is accounted as "the Lord our righteousness" to each saint on his believing, their robes being made white in the blood of the Lamb. The righteousness of the saint is not, as Alford erroneously states, inherent, but is imputed: if it were otherwise, Christ would be merely enabling the sinner to justify himself. Ro 5:18 is decisive on this. Compare Article XI, Church of England. The justification already given to the saints in title and unseen possession, is now GIVEN them in manifestation: they openly walk with Christ in white. To this, rather than to their primary justification on earth, the reference is here. Their justification before the apostate world, which had persecuted them, contrasts with the judgment and condemnation of the harlot. "Now that the harlot has fallen, the woman triumphs" [Auberlen]. Contrast with the pure fine linen (indicating the simplicity and purity) of the bride, the tawdry ornamentation of the harlot. Babylon, the apostate Church, is the antithesis to new Jerusalem, the transfigured Church of God. The woman (Re 12:1-6), the harlot (Re 17:1-7), the bride (Re 19:1-10), are the three leading aspects of the Church.
And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
9. He—God by His angel saith unto me.
called—effectually, not merely externally. The "unto," or into," seems to express this: not merely invited to (Greek, "epi"), but called INTO, so as to be partakers of (Greek, "eis"); compare 1Co 1:9.
marriage supper—Greek, "the supper of the marriage." Typified by the Lord's Supper.
true—Greek, "genuine"; veritable sayings which shall surely be fulfilled, namely, all the previous revelations.
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
10. at—Greek, "before." John's intending to worship the angel here, as in Re 22:8, on having revealed to him the glory of the new Jerusalem, is the involuntary impulse of adoring joy at so blessed a prospect. It forms a marked contrast to the sorrowful wonder with which he had looked on the Church in her apostasy as the harlot (Re 17:6). It exemplifies the corrupt tendencies of our fallen nature that even John, an apostle, should have all but fallen into "voluntary humility and worshipping of angels," which Paul warns us against.
and of thy brethren—that is, a fellow servant of thy brethren.
have the testimony of Jesus—(See on Re 12:17).
the testimony of—that is, respecting Jesus.
is the spirit of prophecy—is the result of the same spirit of prophecy in you as in myself. We angels, and you apostles, all alike have the testimony of (bear testimony concerning) Jesus by the operation of one and the same Spirit, who enables me to show you these revelations and enables you to record them: wherefore we are fellow servants, not I your lord to be worshipped by you. Compare Re 22:9, "I am fellow servant of thee and of thy brethren the prophets"; whence the "FOR the testimony," &c., here, may be explained as giving the reason for his adding "and (fellow servant) of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus." I mean, of the prophets; "for it is of Jesus that thy brethren, the prophets, testify by the Spirit in them." A clear condemnation of Romish invocation of saints as if they were our superiors to be adored.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
11. behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him—identical with Re 6:2. Here as there he comes forth "conquering and to conquer." Compare the ass-colt on which He rode into Jerusalem (Mt 21:1-7). The horse was used for war: and here He is going forth to war with the beast. The ass is for peace. His riding on it into Jerusalem is an earnest of His reign in Jerusalem over the earth, as the Prince of peace, after all hostile powers have been overthrown. When the security of the world power, and the distress of the people of God, have reached the highest point, the Lord Jesus shall appear visibly from heaven to put an end to the whole course of the world, and establish His kingdom of glory. He comes to judge with vengeance the world power, and to bring to the Church redemption, transfiguration, and power over the world. Distinguish between this coming (Mt 24:27, 29, 37, 39; Greek, "parousia") and the end, or final judgment (Mt 25:31; 1Co 15:23). Powerful natural phenomena shall accompany His advent [Auberlen].
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
12. Identifying Him with the Son of man similarly described, Re 1:14.
many crowns—Greek, "diadems": not merely (Greek, "stephanoi") garlands of victory, but royal crowns, as King of kings. Christ's diadem comprises all the diadems of the earth and of heavenly powers too. Contrast the papal tiara composed of three diadems. Compare also the little horn (Antichrist) that overcomes the three horns or kingdoms, Da 7:8, 24 (Quære, the Papacy? or some three kingdoms that succeed the papacy, which itself, as a temporal kingdom, was made up at first of three kingdoms, the exarchate of Ravenna, the kingdom of the Lombards, and the state of Rome, obtained by Pope Zachary and Stephen II from Pepin, the usurper of the French dominion). Also, the seven crowns (diadems) on the seven heads of the dragon (Re 12:3), and ten diadems on the ten heads of the beast. These usurpers claim the diadems which belong to Christ alone.
he had a name written—B and Syriac insert, "He had names written, and a name written," &c., meaning that the names of the dominion which each diadem indicated were written on them severally. But A, Vulgate, Origen, and Cyprian omits the words, as English Version.
name … that no man knew but … himself—(Jud 13:18; 1Co 2:9, 11; 1Jo 3:2). The same is said of the "new name" of believers. In this, as in all other respects, the disciple is made like his Lord. The Lord's own "new name" is to be theirs, and to be "in their foreheads"; whence we may infer that His as yet unknown name also is written on His forehead; as the high priest had "Holiness to the Lord" inscribed on the miter on his brow. John saw it as "written," but knew not its meaning. It is, therefore, a name which in all its glorious significancy can be only understood when the union of His saints with Him, and His and their joint triumph and reign, shall be perfectly manifested at the final consummation.
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
13. vesture dipped in blood—Isa 63:2 is alluded to here, and in Re 19:15, end. There the blood is not His own, but that of His foes. So here the blood on His "vesture," reminding us of His own blood shed for even the ungodly who trample on it, is a premonition of the shedding of their blood in righteous retribution. He sheds the blood, not of the godly, as the harlot and beast did, but of the blood-stained ungodly, including them both.
The Word of God—who made the world, is He also who under the same character and attributes shall make it anew. His title, Son of God, is applicable in a lower sense, also to His people; but "the Word of God" indicates His incommunicable Godhead, joined to His manhood, which He shall then manifest in glory. "The Bride does not fear the Bridegroom; her love casteth out fear. She welcomes Him; she cannot be happy but at His side. The Lamb [Re 19:9, the aspect of Christ to His people at His coming] is the symbol of Christ in His gentleness. Who would be afraid of a lamb? Even a little child, instead of being scared, desires to caress it. There is nothing to make us afraid of God but sin, and Jesus is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. What a fearful contrast is the aspect which He will wear towards His enemies! Not as the Bridegroom and the Lamb, but as the [avenging] judge and warrior stained in the blood of His enemies."
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
14. the armies … in heaven—Compare "the horse bridles," Re 14:20. The glorified saints whom God "will bring with" Christ at His advent; compare Re 17:14, "they that are with Him, called, chosen, faithful"; as also "His mighty angels."
white and clean—Greek, "pure." A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, and Cyprian omit "and," which Origen and Andreas retain, as English Version.
And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
15. out of his mouth … sword—(Re 1:16; 2:12, 16). Here in its avenging power, 2Th 2:8, "consume with the Spirit of His mouth" (Isa 11:4, to which there is allusion here); not in its convicting and converting efficacy (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12, 13, where also the judicial keenness of the sword-like word is included). The Father commits the judgment to the Son.
he shall rule—The HE is emphatic, He and none other, in contrast to the usurpers who have misruled on earth. "Rule," literally, "tend as a shepherd"; but here in a punitive sense. He, who would have shepherded them with pastoral rod and with the golden scepter of His love, shall dash them in pieces, as refractory rebels, with "a rod of iron."
treadeth … wine-press—(Isa 63:3).
of the fierceness and wrath—So Andreas reads. But A, B, Vulgate, Coptic, and Origen read, "of the fierceness (or boiling indignation) of the wrath," omitting "and."
Almighty—The fierceness of Christ's wrath against His foes will be executed with the resources of omnipotence.
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
16. "His name written on His vesture and on His thigh," was written partly on the vesture, partly on the thigh itself, at the part where in an equestrian figure the robe drops from the thigh. The thigh symbolizes Christ's humanity as having come, after the flesh, from the loins of David, and now appearing as the glorified "Son of man." On the other hand, His incommunicable divine name, "which no man knew," is on His head (Re 19:12), [Menochius].
KING OF KINGS—Compare Re 17:14, in contrast with Re 19:17, the beast being in attempted usurpation a king of kings, the ten kings delivering their kingdom to him.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
17. an—Greek, "one."
in the sun—so as to be conspicuous in sight of the whole world.
to all the fowls—(Eze 39:17-20).
and gather yourselves—A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read, "be gathered," omitting "and."
of the great God—A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read, "the great supper (that is, banquet) of God."
That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
18. Contrast with this "supper," Re 19:17, 18, the marriage supper of the Lamb, Re 19:9.
captains—Greek, "captains of thousands," that is, chief captains. The "kings" are "the ten" who "give their power unto the beast."
free and bond—specified in Re 13:16, as "receiving the mark of the beast." The repetition of flesh (in the Greek it is plural: masses of flesh) five times in this verse, marks the gross carnality of the followers of the beast. Again, the giving of their flesh to the fowls to eat, is a righteous retribution for their not suffering the dead bodies of Christ's witnesses to be put in graves.
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
19. gathered together—at Armageddon, under the sixth vial. For "their armies" in B and Andreas, there is found "His armies" in A.
war—so Andreas. But A and B read, "the war," namely, that foretold, Re 16:14; 17:4.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
20. and with him the false prophet—A reads, "and those with him." B reads, "and he who was with him, the false prophet."
miracles—Greek, "the miracles" (literally, "signs") recorded already (Re 13:14) as wrought by the second beast before (literally, 'in sight of') the first beast. Hence it follows the second beast is identical with the false prophet. Many expositors represent the first beast to be the secular, the second beast to be the ecclesiastical power of Rome; and account for the change of title for the latter from the "other beast" to the "false prophet," is because by the judgment on the harlot, the ecclesiastical power will then retain nothing of its former character save the power to deceive. I think it not unlikely that the false prophet will be the successor of the spiritual pretensions of the papacy; while the beast in its last form as the fully revealed Antichrist will be the secular representative and embodiment of the fourth world kingdom, Rome, in its last form of intensified opposition to God. Compare with this prophecy, Eze 38:1-39:29; Da 2:34, 35, 44; 11:44, 45; 12:1; Joe 3:9-17; Zec 12:1-14:21. Daniel (Da 7:8) makes no mention of the second beast, or false prophet, but mentions that "the little horn" has "the eyes of a man," that is, cunning and intellectual culture; this is not a feature of the first beast in the thirteenth chapter, but is expressed by the Apocalyptic "false prophet," the embodiment of man's unsanctified knowledge, and the subtlety of the old serpent. The first beast is a political power; the second is a spiritual power—the power of ideas. But both are beasts, the worldly Antichristian wisdom serving the worldly Antichristian power. The dragon is both lion and serpent. As the first law in God's moral government is that "judgment should begin at the house of God," and be executed on the harlot, the faithless Church, by the world power with which she had committed spiritual adultery, so it is a second law that the world power, after having served as God's instrument of punishment, is itself punished. As the harlot is judged by the beast and the ten kings, so these are destroyed by the Lord Himself coming in person. So Zep 1:1-18 compared with Zep 2:1-15. And Jeremiah, after denouncing Jerusalem's judgment by Babylon, ends with denouncing Babylon's own doom. Between the judgment on the harlot and the Lord's destruction of the beast, will intervene that season in which earthly-mindedness will reach its culmination, and Antichristianity triumph for its short three and a half days during which the two witnesses lie dead. Then shall the Church be ripe for her glorification, the Antichristian world for destruction. The world at the highest development of its material and spiritual power is but a decorated carcass round which the eagles gather. It is characteristic that Antichrist and his kings, in their blindness, imagine that they can wage war against the King of heaven with earthly hosts; herein is shown the extreme folly of Babylonian confusion. The Lord's mere appearance, without any actual encounter, shows Antichrist his nothingness; compare the effect of Jesus' appearance even in His humiliation, Joh 18:6 [Auberlen].
had received—rather as Greek, "received," once for all.
them; that worshipped—literally, "them worshipping" not an act once for all done, as the "received" implies, but those in the habit of "worshipping."
These both were cast … into a lake—Greek, "… the lake of fire," Gehenna. Satan is subsequently cast into it, at the close of the outbreak which succeeds the millennium (Re 20:10). Then Death and Hell, as well those not found at the general judgment "written in the book of life"; this constitutes "the second death."
alive—a living death; not mere annihilation. "Their worm dieth not, their fire is not quenched."
And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
21. the remnant—Greek, "the rest," that is, "the kings and their armies" (Re 19:19) classed together in one indiscriminate mass. A solemn confirmation of the warning in Ps 2:10.