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:
Verse 1. - And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying; after these things I heard, as it were, a great voice of a great multitude, etc. The usual introduction to a new phase of a vision (see Revelation 4:1, etc.). The "great voice," as usual, characteristic of the heavenly utterances (see Revelation 5:2, etc.). Again, we are not told whose the utterance is. It may well be that of all the heavenly inhabitants and saints in glory (cf Revelation 7:9). As usual in the Apocalypse, at the termination of a description of the last judgment comes the triumphant song of the heavenly host (cf Revelation 7:9-17; Revelation 11:17). Thus the account of the conflict between God and the devil, which was begun at Revelation 12, is here concluded at ver. 8; after which the narrative takes a fresh departure, once more returning, as it were, to the beginning, and tracing anew this warfare. The remaining portion of the book is analogous to the latter part of Ezekiel. Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God; Hallelujah; the salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God. Η τιμή, "the honour," found in several cursives, is omitted in א, A, B, C, P, etc. So also with the word "Lord." Hallelujah - "Praise ye Jehovah" - is found in Psalm 135:1 and elsewhere. It is translated in ver. 5 of this chapter, as is St. John's custom (see on Revelation 9:11). It has been remarked that the word "Hallelujah" is chiefly used in connection with the punishment of the wicked; in which manner it is also used here. (For a similar ascription of praise, see Revelation 4:11, etc.)
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.
Verse 2. - For true and righteous are his judgments. This reason for the worship of ver. 1 is similar to that in Revelation 16:7 and Revelation 15:3. 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. A second reason for the worship of ver. 1. Corrupt the earth; as in Revelation 11:18, where a form of the same verb is used (cf. also Jeremiah 51:25). Her fornication; her unfaithfulness and deceit (see on Revelation 14:4, 8). The prayer of Revelation 6:10 has now been heard (cf. also Revelation 18:20).
And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
Verse 3. - And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up forever and ever; goeth up. The "smoke" is that of the burning of Babylon, mentioned in Revelation 18:9, 18. The final nature of this judgment is indicated by the closing words.
And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
Verse 4. - And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. (On "the twenty-four elders" as representing the Church of God, and "the four living beings" as typical of creation, see on Revelation 4:4, 6.) God that sitteth (present tense, as in ver. 3) on the throne; as he is described in Revelation 4:2 and Revelation 5:13. Amen; Hallelujah (see Psalm 106:48).
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.
Verse 5. - And a voice came out of the throne, saying. Ἐκ "out of," is found in א, P, 1, 34, etc.; ἀπό, "forth from," is supported by A, B, C, etc.; while B reads οὐρανοῦ, "heaven," instead of θρόνου, "throne." Alford suggests that the direction rather than the source of the voice is intended. It is impossible to say to whom the voice should be attributed (cf. Revelation 10:4, 8, etc.). As an invitation to the Church to praise God, we might expect the voice to be that of one of the elders. Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great, א, C, P, omit the first "and," thus reading: "ye his servants, ye that fear him," etc. The first words are a repetition of the "Hallelujah" of ver. 1. The following phrases are found in Psalm 134:1; Psalm 115:13.
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.
Verse 6. - And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude. This is the response to the invitation just uttered in ver. 5. Again "the voice of a multitude," as in ver. 1. And as the voice of many waters. That is, in its suggestiveness of great power and magnitude (cf. Revelation 1:15; Revelation 14:2; Psalm 93:3; Jeremiah 51:16). And as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying. A repetition of the idea contained in the preceding clause. The case of the participle is doubtful; A, P, and others have λεγόντων; many cursives א has ' λεγόντας; λεγούσων; the nominative λέγοντες is found in B and others. Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (On "Hallelujah," see ver. 1.) These words connect the present passage with Revelation 17:14. They exhibit, as it were, the culminating reason for this adoration of God. He has exhibited his almighty power in the overthrow of Babylon, who said, "I sit a queen;" and in the overthrow (which has yet to be narrated more fully) of the kings of the earth.
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.
Verse 7. - Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him; let us rejoice and be exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto him. Alford reads δώσομεν, "we will give," with א, A. P, 36; but the T.R. δῶμεν, "let us give," which is found in א, B, 1, 7, 38, Vulgate, Cyprian, Primasius, is to be preferred. For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. This is somewhat anticipatory; the full vision of the bride of the Lamb is reserved until Revelation 21. But the rejoicing over Babylon and the harlot naturally suggests the allusion to Christ's faithful Church, just as the vision of Revelation 7. is suggested by the concluding words of Revelation 6. "The marriage of the Lamb" is the figure under which is depicted that complete union between Christ and his faithful Church, which will be consummated at the last day, when Satan has been overcome and sin destroyed. It stands in contrast with the fornication of the harlot - the union of the spiritually unfaithful portion of Christ's Church with the powers of the world (see on Revelation 17:1, 2). Alford remarks, "This figure, of a marriage between the Lord and his people, is too frequent and familiar to need explanation (cf. in the Old Testament, Isaiah 54:1-8; Ezekiel 16:7, etc.; Hosea 2:19, etc.; and in the New Testament, Matthew 9:15; Matthew 25:1, etc.; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25, etc.)." This symbol of the wife or bride indicates the redeemed, who have already in several places been alluded to in this book (Revelation 7:9; Revelation 12:1; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 17:14, "they that are with him"). The saints have made themselves ready by enduing themselves with the robe of righteousness (ver. 8).
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.
Verse 8. - And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; and it was given unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, bright [and] pure. The double nature of the process is here set forth. "It was given her," the power comes from God (cf. Revelation 13:5, etc.), and yet "she arrays herself;" the action is still voluntary. (On "white linen," see on Revelation 4:4; 7:9; 15:6.) The following words are a sufficient commentary. This verse appears to contain the words of the writer, the heavenly song having ceased at the end of ver. 7. For the fine linen is the righteousness of saints; the righteous acts of the saints. That is, their former righteousness, exhibited in fidelity to God and hostility to the world, obtained and retained by the grace of God, now forms their chief glory. So "their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).
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.
Verse 9. - And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb; which are bidden (Revised Version). Cf. the command in Revelation 1:11 and Revelation 21:5, and the prohibition in Revelation 10:4; cf. also the expression in Revelation 14:13, "Blessed are the dead," etc. It almost seems as if the writer has in his mind the connection of ideas indicated by the words quoted above on ver. 8, "Their works do follow them." The figure of the "marriage supper" is rather a new symbol than the continuation of the symbol of the bride; though very probably suggested by it. For those who partake of the "marriage supper" are those who constitute the bride, viz. the faithful Church of God. Cf. Revelation 3:20, the words which are spoken by the "Amen, the faithful and true Witness" (Revelation 3:14): "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It is impossible to say who the speaker is that thus addresses St. John, except in so far as may be gathered from ver. 10. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. Cf. the words of Revelation 3:14, quoted above, and Revelation 21:5; also the "Yea, saith the Spirit" of Revelation 14:13. (On the word "true," see Revelation 3:7.) These words have been restricted to different portions of the Apocalypse by different commentators; but it seems best, on the whole, to understand them as referring to the whole series of visions connected with the harlot and Babylon and the faithful bride of Christ.
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.
Verse 10. - And I fell at his feet to worship him. The same thing happens again in Revelation 20:7, 8, and this makes it improbable that St. John imagined the angel to be Christ himself, as some think. More probably (as Alford, Bengel, Vitringa, Wordsworth, and others) St. John was so overwhelmed with the tremendous character of the revelation just made to him, that in his humility he pays undue reverence to the angel who had communicated it to him. This reverence may not have been exactly of the nature of that which he would render to God; but it is evident, from the reproof of the angel, that it was more than could be becomingly and safely paid to a created being. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus; saith... I am a fellow servant with thee and with thy brethren, etc. So the apostles styled themselves (Romans 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, etc.). (On "hold the testimony of Jesus," see Revelation 1:2, 9; Revelation 12:17.) Worship God. Such also is the command of our Lord (Matthew 4:10). For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Like the words of ver. 8, these words are probably an explanation added by St. John. To prophesy is to understand and proclaim the truth concerning God, especially in the face of prevalent ignorance or opposition; this is also what is meant by holding "the testimony of Jesus." The angel in revealing these visions, the martyrs in openly professing Christ, St. John in receiving and handing on the Apocalypse, were prophesying. Thus it was that the angel announces himself to be the fellow servant of St. John, and a fellow servant with the prophets, and with those "who keep the sayings of this book" (Revelation 22:9).
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.
Verse 11. - And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse. A new vision now opens, which is, however, part of the preceding series, commencing at Revelation 13:1. The destruction of certain forms of evil - typified by Babylon and the harlot - has been declared; the final overthrow of the dragon has vet to be related, though there may be no such separation in the actual infliction of these punishments as there necessarily is in the relation of them. The warfare now to be described must be understood to be that which is taking place between the hosts of Christ and Satan throughout the period of the world's existence. The heaven opened (cf. Revelation 4:1). A similar figure has been already employed in the first seal vision (Revelation 6:2). It has been pointed out that the same image is employed at the beginning and at the end of the description of the warfare between Christ and the devil. He who is the First and the Last, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8), rides forth conquering and to conquer (Revelation 6:2). And he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. Even the participial construction here employed connects this account with Revelation 6:2. "Faithful and True" are the titles applied to our Lord in Revelation 3:14, which see. In righteousness he cloth judge; cf. Isaiah's prophecy of Christ: "But with righteousness shall he judge the poor" (Isaiah 11:4); cf. ver. 2 of this chapter. The purposes of this expedition are "to judge and make war."
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.
Verse 12. - His eyes were as a flame of fire; and his eyes [are] a flame of fire. Again as in Revelation 1:13. "Fire" is the type of purity and judgment (see Psalm 97:3; Isaiah 47:14; Isaiah 66:15; Amos 5:6; 1 Corinthians 3:13, etc.; Revelation 3:18). And on his head were many crowns; and upon his head [are] many diadems. Διαδήματα, " kingly crowns " (cf. Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1), because he now comes as a King to judgment. The plurality of "crowns" points to his character as King of kings (see Revelation 17:14; cf. Revelation 13:1). And he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself; hath a name... no, one knoweth. Evidently the "new name" of Revelation 3:12, the significance of which St. John is unable to comprehend (see on Revelation 2:7; 3:12). From the connection with the preceding clause, we naturally infer that this name was written upon his forehead (cf Revelation 7:3); 16:1); but the writer does not explicitly state this. In B, twenty-five cursives, and Syriac, the words, "names written and," are inserted before "name."
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Verse 13. - And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and he [is] arrayed in a garment, etc. The idea here is evidently derived from Isaiah 63:3, "I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury: and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment" (cf. ver. 15). Probably the similarity of this passage has caused the reading, "sprinkled with blood," which is found in a few manuscripts. In the original passage in Isaiah, the blood is doubtless the blood of his enemies; but it is possible that there is here a reference to the blood of Christ himself, which he shed in his warfare with Satan. And his Name is called The Word of God. Only in St. John's writings does this title appear - a strong argument in favour of his authorship of the Apocalypse (cf. John 1:1; 1 John 1:1). This cannot be the "name" of ver. 12, which, as there explained, is unknown. This Name, the Word of God, is appropriately used when he is going forth to judgment.
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Verse 14. - And the amiss which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean; which are... white, pure. These armies are not merely the angels, but the "called, chosen, and faithful" of Revelation 17:14, "the bride" of ver. 8, who are described as being arrayed in white in Revelation 6:11, and ver. 8 of this chapter. Those commentators who consider that the angels only are intended, and not the saints, forget the double nature of the vision; it is not only a description of Judgment meted out, but also of a war waged. (On "white" and "fine linen," see previous chapters.)
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.
Verse 15. - And out of his month goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a red of iron. The description is still similar to that given in Revelation 1. (see Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12, 16). (For the last clause, see Revelation 2:27; Revelation 12:5; and cf. Isaiah 63:3.) The symbolism is descriptive of warfare, victory, and judgment. "He" is emphatic: "he shall rule" - no longer the kings of the earth. The nations; in the sense of the ungodly (cf. Revelation 16:19, etc.). And he treadeth the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God; the wine press of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath, etc. In Revelation 14:10 we have the figure of "the wine of the wrath" of God, and in Revelation 14:19 that of the "wine press of the wrath;" here the two are combined (cf. also Isaiah 63:3, quoted on ver. 13).
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
Verse 16. - And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written. What this means is doubtful. The following suggestions have been made:
(1) The name, written at length, is written partly upon the vesture and partly upon the thigh itself, where the garment would (in an equestrian figure) fall away from the thigh (Alford).
(2) The name is written on the vesture, even (καί) on that part of it which covers the thigh (De Wette, Dusterdieck, Hengstenberg).
(3) On the thigh, as the place where the sword usually hangs.
(4) A reference to the custom of engraving the name of the artist upon the thigh of a statue (Cic., 'Verr.,' 4:43; see Wetstein). KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. As in Revelation 17:14 (but inverted), where, as here, it portrays the victorious career of Christ over the "kings of the earth."
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;
Verse 17. - And I saw an angel standing in the sun. That is, in mid heaven (as in Revelation 8:13, etc.); in a place befitting his glory, and also whence he can appropriately issue his summons. And he cried with a loud voice. As is usual in all the heavenly utterances (see Revelation 5:2, etc.). Saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven; the birds that fly in mid heaven (Revised Version) (vide supra); see Ezekiel 39:17, et seq., for the origin of the imagery here employed. Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; come, be gathered together unto the great supper of God (Revised Version). Not, of course, the "supper" of ver. 9, but rather a contrast to it; that supper which is reserved for the ungodly, at which they form the prey. The language is employed in filling in the accessory details of the central image, and must not be pressed too far in particular directions; e.g. Andreas considers the birds to be good angels.
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.
Verse 18. - 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 (cf. the description in Ezekiel 39:17). All men; that is, all the ungodly. Cf. the description of the same event at the conclusion of the seal judgments (Revelation 6:15). The whole account indicates the widespread and complete nature of God's judgments, which none shall be able to escape.
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.
Verse 19. - And I saw the beast; viz. that described in Revelation 13:1, typical of the hostile world power. And the kings of the earth, and their armies. The kings summoned by the unclean spirits of Revelation 16:13, 14, typical of the forces which the beast employs in his spiritual warfare with God. The armies are the adherents of the beast, described in Revelation 13. - the ungodly, those who follow the world rather than God. Gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. Gathered as described in Revelation 16:14 and ver. 17 of this chapter. Again (as in ver. 7) a double operation. The gathering is voluntary on the part of the wicked (Revelation 16:14), and yet it is overruled by God, and made to serve his ends (Revelation 19:17). Him that sat on the horse; Christ (see ver. 11). "His army" consists of the faithful followers of Christ. They are here pictured as a heavenly army (ver. 14), because the victory which they achieved is the leading feature here depicted, but their warfare took place while they were on earth (cf. Revelation 14:13). The war (with the article); viz. that war which is perpetually waged between the powers of light and darkness, and which will not be terminated until the great judgment.
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.
Verse 20. - 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; that wrought the signs in his sight (Revised Version). Here we have described the destruction of the earthly manifestations of Satan's power; the means by which he seeks to achieve his purposes, and which we have interpreted as the hostile world power and self deception (see on Revelation 13.). The whole account contained in vers. 11-21 is a brief recapitulation of the whole period of warfare between Christ and Satan, with special attention given to the final overthrow of the powers of evil. It, therefore, covers the same ground as the vision of seals, and then that of the trumpets, then that of the vials, and afterwards that of the beasts, each occupies. The chief difference is that in all those visions the everyday conflict is more particularly described; whereas in this passage the termination of the conflict is specially brought before us. The same ground is covered in the next chapter, advancing, however, one step further, and showing us the final punishment of Satan himself, as well as of his instruments (Revelation 20:10). These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone; they twain were cast alive into the lake, etc. (On "brimstone," etc., see on Revelation 9:17, 18. Cf. Revelation 20:10, 14, 15; Revelation 21:8.) This "lake of fire" is the place of punishment for Satan and his hosts; not the place in which he at present works and reigns - which is described as the abyss (Revelation 9:1; Revelation 11:7; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:1, 3).
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.
Verse 21. - 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. The remnant; that is, the adherents of the beast, the "armies" of ver. 19. (For this description of Christ, see vers. 11, 15.) Spiritual death is inflicted upon those who have proved themselves hostile to God. The last sentence emphasizes the nature of the punishment by the reference to the indignity offered to their bodies after death.
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