Revelation 18:20
Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
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(20) Rejoice over her. . . .—Better, Rejoice over her, O heaven, and the saints, and the apostles, and the prophets, because God has judged your judgment on (or, out of) her. The second portion of the chapter closes with this invitation to the saints to rejoice: they are summoned to rejoice because the law of retribution has worked on her. Your judgment (it is said to the saints) is judged on her. This does not mean a judgment which the saints have decreed, but the judgment which Babylon wrought on the holy is now exacted from her (comp. Revelation 18:6, and Revelation 6:10; Revelation 13:10). Heaven, and every class of those whose citizenship has been in heaven, are bidden by the heavenly voice to rejoice The covetous and the worldly mourn; their minds were set upon a material glory, which has slipped away from their grasp. All saintly souls, whose affections have been towards righteousness and the righteous King, can rejoice; for the wealth of holiness is imperishable. and the fall of Babylon is the removal of one vast hindrance to holiness. It has been argued that the verse represents the Apostles to be in heaven, and from this it has been inferred that the twelve must have all died before the Apocalypse was written, and, if so, St. John was not the writer. The verse, however, has no reference whatever to the question: it is not meant to state who have passed into heaven and who have not: it is simply a summons to all who have fought on the side of their Lord to rejoice at the removal of one of the great obstacles to the manifestation of Christ’s kingdom. Thus do all holy men, whether on earth or heaven, joy when any giant evil is swept away.

18:20-24 That which is matter of rejoicing to the servants of God on earth, is matter of rejoicing to the angels in heaven. The apostles, who are honoured and daily worshipped at Rome in an idolatrous manner, will rejoice in her fall. The fall of Babylon was an act of God's justice. And because it was a final ruin, this enemy should never molest them any more; of this they were assured by a sign. Let us take warning from the things which brought others to destruction, and let us set our affections on things above, when we consider the changeable nature of earthly things.Rejoice over her - Over her ruin. There is a strong contrast between this language and what precedes. Kings, merchants, and seamen, who had been countenanced and sustained by her in the indulgence of corrupt passions, or who had been enriched by traffic with her, would have occasion to mourn. But not so they who had been persecuted by her. Not so the church of the redeemed. Not so heaven itself. The great oppressor of the church, and the corrupter of the world, was now destroyed; the grand hindrance to the spread of the gospel was now removed, and all the holy in heaven and on earth would have occasion to rejoice. This is not the language of vengeance, but it is the language of exultation and rejoicing in view of the fact, that the cause of truth might now spread, without hindrance, through the earth.

Thou heaven - The inhabitants of heaven. Compare the notes on Isaiah 1:2. The meaning here is, that the dwellers in heaven - the holy angels and the redeemed - had occasion to rejoice over the downfall of the great enemy of the church.

And ye holy apostles - Prof. Stuart renders this, "Ye saints, and apostles, and prophets." In the common Greek text, it is, as in our version, "holy apostles and prophets." In the text of Griesbach, Hahn, and Tittmann, the word καὶ kai (and) is interposed between the word "holy" and "apostle." This is, doubtless, the true reading. The meaning, then, is that the "saints" in heaven are called on to rejoice over the fall of the mystical Babylon.

Apostles - The twelve who were chosen by the Saviour to be his witnesses on earth. See the notes on 1 Corinthians 9:1. The word is commonly limited to the twelve, but, in a larger sense, it is applied to other distinguished teachers and preachers of the gospel. See the notes on Acts 14:14. There is no impropriety, however, in supposing that the apostles are referred to here as such, since they would have occasion to rejoice that the great obstacle to the reign of the Redeemer was now taken away, and that that cause in which they had suffered and died was now to he triumphant.

And prophets - Prophets of the Old Testament and distinguished teachers of the New. See the notes on Romans 12:6. All these would have occasion to rejoice in the prospect of the final triumph of the true religion.

For God hath avenged you on her - Has taken vengeance on her for her treatment of you. That is, as she had persecuted the church as such, they all might be regarded as interested in it and affected by it. All the redeemed, therefore, in earth and in heaven, are interested in whatever tends to retard or to promote the cause of truth. All have occasion to mourn when the enemies of the truth triumph; to rejoice when they fall.

20. holy apostles—So C reads. But A, B, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Andreas read, "Ye saints and ye apostles."

avenged you on her—Greek, "judged your judgment on (literally, exacting it from) her." "There is more joy in heaven at the harlot's downfall than at that of the two beasts. For the most heinous of all sin is the sin of those who know God's word of grace, and keep it not. The worldliness of the Church is the most worldly of all worldliness. Hence, Babylon, in Revelation, has not only Israel's sins, but also the sins of the heathen; and John dwells longer on the abominations and judgments of the harlot than on those of the beast. The term 'harlot' describes the false Church's essential character. She retains her human shape as the woman, does not become a beast: she has the form of godliness, but denies its power. Her rightful lord and husband, Jehovah-Christ, and the joys and goods of His house, are no longer her all in all, but she runs after the visible and vain things of the world, in its manifold forms. The fullest form of her whoredom is, where the Church wishes to be itself a worldly power, uses politics and diplomacy, makes flesh her arm, uses unholy means for holy ends, spreads her dominion by sword or money, fascinates men by sensual ritualism, becomes 'mistress of ceremonies' to the dignitaries of the world, flatters prince or people, and like Israel, seeks the help of one world power against the danger threatening from another" [Auberlen]. Judgment, therefore, begins with the harlot, as in privileges the house of God.

Rejoice over her, thou heaven; that is, over her ruin, which is not a more proper object for the sorrow and mourning of all her adherents and dependants, than of the joy of all spiritual, heavenly persons, which are the true church, who oppose this antichristian synagogue.

And ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her: you also that were apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and such as have been exercised as prophets in revealing to men God’s mind and will, do you rejoice, for God hath revenged you upon her, for your doctrine corrupted by her, your rules of worship violated, and some of your blood that hath been spilt, and for all the indignities you have suffered from her.

Rejoice over her, thou heaven,.... This is said by the voice from heaven, Revelation 18:4 which having called upon the saints to come out of Babylon, and to take vengeance on her, now calls upon all good men to rejoice at her ruin, while others were weeping and wailing; not at that, simply considered, but as the justice of God is displayed therein: heaven may be literally understood, which sometimes is addressed when anything of very considerable note and moment is done or spoken of, whether it be something exceeding bad, as in Isaiah 1:2 or something exceeding great and good, as in Psalm 96:11 or else the inhabitants of heaven, either the angels, who as they rejoice at the good and happiness of the saints, so at the confusion and destruction of their enemies; and the Syriac version reads, "heavens and angels"; or else the souls of men departed, particularly the souls under the altar, that have been long crying for vengeance on account of the shedding of their blood, Revelation 6:9 who may be made acquainted with Rome's destruction; or rather the true church of Christ upon earth, which in this book often goes by the name of heaven, in opposition to the apostate church, called the earth, because its members, doctrines, and ordinances, are from heaven, and its happiness lies there:

and ye holy apostles and prophets; the Alexandrian copy and Complutensian edition read, "and the saints, and the apostles, and prophets"; making three distinct sorts of persons, of which heaven, or the church, consists: by "saints" may be meant private members of churches, who are sanctified by the Spirit of God, and live holy lives and conversations; and by "apostles", not the twelve apostles, or persons in such an office as they were, but ordinary ministers of the word, who are sent forth to preach the Gospel, and will be upon the spot at the destruction of Babylon, and will be such as shall have preached and defended the pure apostolic doctrine; and by "prophets" are intended not the prophets of the Old Testament, nor such under the New who had the gift of foretelling things to come, but such who have a gift of interpreting the Scriptures and preaching the Gospel; the same with the two witnesses, who till this time will have prophesied in sackcloth, but shall now put it off, and put on the garments of praise and joy:

for God hath avenged you on her; or "judged your judgment on her"; that is, has executed righteous judgment on her, for all the evils done by her to the saints in ages past, the predecessors of the persons here mentioned, as well as to themselves: vengeance belongs to the Lord, and he will avenge his elect sooner or later.

Rejoice over her, {12} thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.

(12) The other consequence on the ruin of Babylon, is the exultation or rejoicing of the godly in heaven and in earth as was noted in this verse.

Revelation 18:20. The heavenly voice—not John,[3994] to whom this demand is not well adapted[3995]—exhorts not only heaven (together with all who dwell therein, Revelation 12:12), but also all who on earth belong to the Lord, to joy over the city thus perishing. Earthly believers—who are exhaustively enumerated by the three categories οἱ ἅγιοι, οἱ ἀπόστολοι, and οἱ προφῆται,[3996] in which the most general conception precedes, and then two particular classes are mentioned, because they, being first attacked by the hatred of the secular power,[3997] have an especial reason to rejoice over the vengeance inflicted by God’s judgment—are mentioned besides “heaven,” because it is intended to express that to the entire number of those who belong to the Lord,[3998] the destruction of the city is a joyful proof of the righteousness and glory of their God.

ὅτι ἔκρινεν, κ.τ.λ. This fact, upon which the lamentation of the inhabitants of the earth is based,[3999] is the foundation of the joy of all the saints. But also in the phraseology, this diversity of relation is marked; the judgment of God, which the city has incurred,[4000] has brought about a ΚΡΊΜΑ, i.e., an act fulfilled by the ΚΡΊΝΕΙΝ, which[4001] is called a judgment of believers (ΚΡ. ὙΜῶΝ), since this judgment executed in the city, taken upon her (ἘΞ ΑὐΤῆς),[4002] is the justification and satisfaction of those believers persecuted by the worldly city, but now avenged on it.

[3994] Züll.

[3995] Cf. Revelation 12:12.

[3996] Cf. Revelation 11:18.

[3997] Cf. Revelation 18:24.

[3998] For critical inferences this passage is not adapted. With the same justice with which it would be inferred that John does not belong to the apostles, we may also conclude that he does not belong to the prophets.—The state of the case is different, however, in Revelation 21:14.

[3999] Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19.

[4000] Revelation 18:8 : κρίνας αὐτήν; the aor., as in this passage, ἔκρινεν. Revelation 18:10 : ἡ κρἰσις σου.

[4001] Cf., on the other hand, Revelation 17:1, where the harlot was designated as the direct object.

[4002] Cf. Revelation 6:10.

Revelation 18:20. This verse interrupts the sequence of 19 and 21 in which the ruin of Rome is illustrated by the dramatic action of the angel. The awkward shift from description to an apostrophe, and the evidently Christian tone of the cry, betray an editor’s hand. His object is to render explicit the moral reasons why Christians should delight in the downfall of the city. He writes in the same triple rhythm as the source, and his hand is to be seen in the whole verse not simply in καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι. The voice from heaven is thus made to pass into a closing apostrophe to heaven and its inhabitants (cf. Revelation 11:18), imitated from Jeremiah 51:48 (Heb.). John seems to assume that all had a case against Rome as victims of her cruelty, probably in the main as martyrs and confessors. “Apostles,” omitted in Revelation 18:24, has here (as in Revelation 2:2) its wider sense (otherwise Revelation 21:14), but it must include Peter and Paul (Zahn, Einleit. § 39, n. 4).—ὅτι κ.τ.λ. = “for God has judged her with your judgment,” i.e., vindicated you (done you justice, given you your due) by lexacting vengeance upon her. She who once doomed you is now doomed herself (cf. Revelation 16:6).—εὐφραίνου. Cf. En. lxii., where the kings and rulers condemned by messiah to eternal torment are to be “a spectacle for the righteous and his elect; they will rejoice over them because the wrath of the Lord of spirits resteth upon them, and his sword is drunk with their blood”; also Isaiah 30:29, for the call to exult over a fallen oppressor. A Parisian workman, who was looking down at the corpse of Robespierre, was overheard to mutter, with relief, “Oui, il y a un Dieu”.

The Rejoicing over them in Heaven, Revelation 18:20-2420. Rejoice over her] Revelation 12:12. There may be a reminiscence of Jeremiah 51:48. We cannot tell if the words are those of the angel of Revelation 18:1, of the voice of Revelation 18:4, or of the seer himself: perhaps the second is most likely.

holy apostles and prophets] Read, the saints and the apostles and the prophets.

avenged you] Lit., judged your judgement, condemned her for her condemnation of you. Notice the mention of “apostles” as well as other “saints,” as proving that apostles suffered in Rome; and so confirming the unanimous tradition as to the martyrdom there of SS. Peter and Paul. Notice also (in reference to the theory mentioned on Revelation 2:2) St John’s recognition of the latter as an apostle. Whether he had himself been condemned to death at Rome cannot be determined: the tradition to that effect was ancient, but not demonstrably so ancient, nor so wide-spread or so confirmed by scriptural evidence (see on St John’s Gospel John 21:18-19).

Revelation 18:20. Οἱ ἅγιοι, the holy) These are put before the apostles and prophets, either as it were a genus before the species, or as those, some of whom were slain before the apostles and prophets.

Verse 20. - Rejoice over her, thou heaven. These words are best understood as being uttered by the writer, as in Revelation 12:12 (see on Revelation 12:10). And ye holy apostles and prophets; and ye saints, and ye apostles, and ye prophets, is read in א, A, B, P, etc., and adopted by the Revisers. The Authorized Version reading is found in C, 1, 17. Not only the heavenly inhabitants are to rejoice, but also those on earth who have been persecuted by her, as mentioned in ver. 24. The time is again described which has been already referred to in former parts of the book, and especially in Revelation 11:18. Some authors have held this verse to prove that the writer of the Apocalypse was not the Apostle John; either because

(1) he speaks as if he were not an apostle, or

(2) because they assume that all the apostles are here referred to, and that they are in heaven.

There is no ground for either presumption:

(1) A rhapsodical utterance of this nature cannot be interpreted literally;

(2) the word "apostles" cannot be limited to the twelve;

(3) as Dusterdieck justly observes, one might as well argue that the writer was not a prophet.

By the "prophets "are primarily intended, perhaps, the Christian prophets (cf. Ephesians 3:5); but if Babylon is typical of the hostile world power, and the harlot of the faithless, worldly portion of God's Church, as we have seen them to be, the words are applicable to the Church of God in all ages. For God hath avenged you on her; for God hath judged your judgment on her. The answer to the prayer of the martyrs in Revelation 6:10. The words, "your judgment," probably mean "that judgment which is her due for her treatment of you," as in the Authorized Version. Hengstenberg gives "the doom which she pronounced upon you." Wordsworth, laying stress upon ἐξ, "out of," makes the words mean, "He has taken your cause out of her hands into his own." Revelation 18:20Hath avenged you on her (ἔκρινεν τὸ κρίμα ὑμῶν ἐξ αὐτῆς)

Rev., more literally, hath judged your judgment on her or from her. The idea is that of exacting judgment from (ἐξ). Compare the compound verb ἐκδικεῖς avenge, or exact vengeance from (Revelation 6:10). The meaning is either, that judgment which is your due, or what she hath judged concerning you.

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