Revelation 19:20
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. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
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Revelation 19:20-21. And — The issue was such as might be expected: Christ and his saints obtained a full and entire victory; a victory as complete as when the generals and all the chief officers of an enemy’s army are made prisoners of war, and the rest are cut to pieces in the field of battle. For the beast — The idolatrous persecuting power represented thereby; and the false prophet, that wrought miracles before him — That, by pretended miracles and false doctrine, had supported the apostacy; that is, the antichristian tyranny, and the corrupt clergy, were taken, were made prisoners, and condemned to suffer the most exemplary punishment by the hands of justice. These both were cast alive — Without undergoing bodily death; into the lake of fire, burning with brimstone — And that, it seems, before the devil himself, chap. Revelation 20:10. Here is the last of the beast and of the false prophet. After several repeated strokes of divine vengeance, they are represented as delivered to suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. They are plunged at once into the extremest degree of torment, without being reserved in chains of darkness to the judgment of the great day. Surely none but the beast and false prophet of Rome, the persecutors and deceivers of that antichristian kingdom, could have hardened themselves thus against the God they pretended to adore; or refused to have repented under such dreadful and repeated visitations. And the remnant — Those of inferior rank and power, who had aided and abetted the apostacy, and concurred in opposing the truth and religion of Christ; were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which proceeded out of his mouth — That is, with the word of Christ, like the common soldiers of a conquered army, who fall in the field of battle, and are left there unburied, a prey to the fowls of the air, which feed on them, and are filled with their flesh — Their substance being seized for other persons, and other uses. A most magnificent description this of the final overthrow of the beast and false prophet, and all their adherents. It has, in particular, one exquisite beauty, that, after exhibiting the two opposite armies, and all the apparatus for a battle, (Revelation 19:11-19,) then follows immediately (Revelation 19:20) the account of the victory, without one word of an engagement or fighting. Here is the most exact propriety; for what struggle can there be between Omnipotence and the power of all the creation united against it? Every description must have fallen short of this admirable silence. The intelligent reader will easily observe, that the description is not only incomparably sublime, but strongly figurative; and that, speaking in plain language, its design is to show, in the most expressive manner, the complete downfall of Popery, with all its delusive and destructive abominations, and the triumphs of the pure and genuine religion of Jesus; the true word of God will in the end prevail over every species of superstition and idolatry: all the powers of antichrist shall be completely subdued: and the religion of Rome, as well as Rome itself, be totally destroyed.

19:11-21 Christ, the glorious Head of the church, is described as on a white horse, the emblem of justice and holiness. He has many crowns, for he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He is arrayed in a vesture dipped in his own blood, by which he purchased his power as Mediator; and in the blood of his enemies, over whom he always prevails. His name is The Word of God; a name none fully knows but himself; only this we know, that this Word was God manifest in the flesh; but his perfections cannot be fully understood by any creature. Angels and saints follow, and are like Christ in their armour of purity and righteousness. The threatenings of the written word he is going to execute on his enemies. The ensigns of his authority are his name; asserting his authority and power, warning the most powerful princes to submit, or they must fall before him. The powers of earth and hell make their utmost effort. These verses declare important events, foretold by the prophets. These persons were not excused because they did what their leaders bade them. How vain will be the plea of many sinners at the great day! We followed our guides; we did as we saw others do! God has given a rule to walk by, in his word; neither the example of the most, nor of the chief, must influence us contrary thereto: if we do as the most do, we must go where the most go, even into the burning lake.And the beast was taken - That is, was taken alive, to be thrown into the lake of fire. The hosts were slain Revelation 19:21, but the leaders were made prisoners of war. The general idea is, that these armies were overcome, and that the Messiah was victorious; but there is a propriety in the representation here that the leaders - the authors of the war should be taken captive, and reserved for severer punishment than death on the battlefield would be - for they had stirred up their hosts, and summoned these armies to make rebellion against the Messiah. The beast here, as all along, refers to the papal power; and the idea is that of its complete and utter overthrow, as if the leader of an army were taken captive and tormented in burning flames, and all his followers were cut down on the field of battle.

And with him the false prophet - As they had been practically associated together, there was a propriety that they should share the same fate. In regard to the false prophet, and the nature of this alliance, see the notes on Revelation 16:13.

That wrought miracles before him - That is, the false prophet had been united with the beast in deceiving the nations of the earth. See the notes on Revelation 16:14.

With which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast - notes on Revelation 13:16-18. By these arts they had been deceived - that is, they had been led into the alliance, and had been sustained in their opposition to the truth. The whole representation is that of an alliance to prevent the spread of the true religion, as if the papacy and Mohammedanism were combined, and the one was sustained by the pretended miracles of the other. There would be a practical array against the reign of the Son of God, as if these great powers should act in concert, and as if the special claims which each set up in behalf of its own divine origin became a claim which went to support the whole combined organization.

These both were cast alive into a lake of fire - The beast and the false prophet. That is, the overthrow will be as signal, and the destruction as complete, as if the leaders of the combined hosts should be taken alive, and thrown into a pit or lake that burns with an intense heat. There is no necessity for supposing that this is to be literally inflicted - for the whole scene is symbolical - meaning that the destruction of these powers would be as complete as if they were thrown into such a burning lake. Compare the notes on Revelation 14:10-11.

Burning with brimstone - Sulphur - the usual expression to denote intense heat, and especially as referring to the punishment of the wicked. See the notes on Revelation 14:10.

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."

The issue of this great battle will be the total ruin of all enemies of the church, their bodies being made meat for the fowls of the heaven, their souls cast into the bottomless pit of hell. The secular part of antichrist is here meant by

the beast; the ecclesiastical antichrist, by

the false prophet, that had cheated credulous princes and credulous people, with his pretended miracles, into an idolatry, that was but the image of the old idolatry of the heathens, in worshipping demons, and the images of such as were in great estimation amongst them while they were alive.

These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone; both these, the laic and secular popish party, and all their church party, that should be left to this day, shall all now be destroyed. In a matter of fact, not likely to appear in the world yet of two hundred years or more, and thus darkly foretold, who can be positive and particular? But this seemeth the sense of it, upon the former hypotheses: That the beast with the seven heads and ten horns, mentioned Revelation 13:1, and the beast with two horns, also there mentioned, Revelation 13:11, are antichrist, beginning with those Roman emperors that favoured the idolatry introduced by the bishops of Rome, and ending in ending in the universal bishop, or popes of Rome, and their clergy, who quickly wormed out the emperor’s power, and for one thousand two hundred and sixty years reigned, setting up idolatry and superstition, and corrupting the doctrine of faith, and for the six hundred years of time, persecuting the true church of Christ more notoriously. After which God will begin to reckon with him, gradually pouring out five vials upon him. I am very inclinable to think, that we in this age are yet under the pouring out of the second of these vials, seeing little yet effected towards the ruin of the papacy, more than the exposing of their idolatries and cheats to several princes and states, and to the generality of thinking people; nor hath the providence of God proceeded far in that as yet. The three other vials are yet to be poured out upon the papacy, besides that upon Euphrates, and then this last upon all the enemies of the church together: and who shall live when God shall do these things?

And the beast was taken,.... At the first onset, as soon as ever the battle begun, and carried away captive, as it was threatened he should, Revelation 13:10 and this by Christ, who will destroy him with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

And with him the false prophet; that is, the second beast in Revelation 13:11 as appears by the characters by which he is here described, or antichrist in his ecclesiastic capacity; that is, the pope with his clergy: and indeed, when the antichristian princes and states are taken and destroyed, which are the support of the Papacy, that must in consequence sink, be crushed and ruined; the Alexandrian copy reads, "and they that are with him, the false prophet Jezebel"; the false prophetess and her children, who will now be killed with death, Revelation 2:20

that wrought miracles before him: the beast, or the civil antichristian powers, even signs and lying wonders, which were approved of, and applauded by him, by which, believing them, he was confirmed in antichristian principles:

with which he deceived them that had the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image; the several subjects of the antichristian states; see Revelation 13:14 but none of God's elect, who cannot be seduced by such means, Matthew 24:24.

These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone; which is the second death, Revelation 21:8. The severe punishment of antichrist, considered in both his capacities, civil and ecclesiastic, is expressed by being "cast into a lake of fire", not material fire, but the wrath of God, which will be poured out like fire, and will be intolerable; and by this lake "burning with brimstone", which, giving a nauseous stench, aggravates the punishment. Says R. Joden (t), when a man smells the smell of brimstone, why does his breath draw back at it (or catch)? because he knows he shall be judged with it in the world to come. The allusion seems to be to the place where Sodom and Gomorrah stood, which is become a sulphurous lake, and is an emblem of the vengeance of eternal fire, Jde 1:7 and these two are said to be "cast alive" into it, which shows that they will not only suffer a corporeal death at this battle, and in the issue of it, but will be destroyed, body and soul, in hell: the phrase denotes the awfulness, inevitableness, and severity of their punishment; there seems to be some reference to the earth's swallowing up Korah and his company alive, Numbers 16:33 see Daniel 7:11.

(t) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 51. fol. 45. 4.

And the beast {21} was taken, and with him {22} 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.

(21) Namely, that beast with seven heads; Re 13:1, 17:3.

(22) That is, that beast with two heads; Re 13:11, 16:14.

Revelation 19:20. This marks the culmination of many previous oracles: the messiah meets and defeats (Revelation 16:13 f.) the beast (i.e., Nero-antichrist, Revelation 11:7, Revelation 13:1 f.) and the false prophet (i.e., the Imperial priesthood = second beast of Revelation 13:11 f.) and their allies (the kings of the earth, cf. Revelation 11:9; Revelation 11:18, Revelation 14:8, Revelation 16:14, Revelation 17:12 f.), according to a more specific form of the tradition reflected in Revelation 14:14-20. Possibly the ghastly repast of Revelation 19:21 is a dramatic foil to that of Revelation 19:9. At any rate there is a slight confusion in the sketch, due to the presence of heterogeneous conceptions; whilst one tradition made messiah at his coming vanquish all the surviving inhabitants of the earth, who were ex hypothesi opponents of God’s people (cf. Revelation 2:26-27, Revelation 11:9 f., Revelation 12:9, Revelation 14:14 f., Revelation 16:13-16, Revelation 19:17 f.), the prophet at the same time used the special conception of a Nero-antichrist whose allies were mainly Eastern chiefs (Revelation 9:14 f., Revelation 16:12, Revelation 17:12 f.), and also shared the O.T. belief in a weird independent outburst from the skirts of the earth (Revelation 20:8). Hence the rout of nations here is only apparently final. See on Revelation 20:3. The lake of fire, a place of torment which burns throughout most of the apocalypses (Sibyll. ii. 196–200, 252–253, 286, etc.; Apoc. Pet. 8), was lit first in Enoch, (sec. cent.) where it is the punishment reserved for Azazel on the day of judgment (Revelation 9:6) and for the fallen angels (Revelation 21:7-10) with their paramours. The prophet prefers this to the alternative conception of a river of fire [Slav. En. 10.]. The whole passage reflects traditions such as those preserved (cf. Gfrörer ii., 232 f.), e.g., in Targ. Jerus. on Genesis 49:11 and Sohar on Lev.–Exodus (miracula, uariaque et horrenda bella fient mari terraque circa Jerusalem, cum messias reuelabitur), where the beasts of the field feed for one year, and the birds for seven, upon the carcases of Israel’s foes. The supreme penalty inflicted on the opponents of Zoroastrianism is that their corpses are given over to the corpse-eating birds, i.e., ravens (Vend. 3:20, 9:49). cf. Introd. § 4 b.

The messiah who forms “the central figure of this bloodthirsty scene,” written like the preceding out of the presbyter’s “savage hatred of Rome” (Selwyn, 83) has a semi-political rather than a transcendental role to play. The normal Christian consciousness (cf. Revelation 22:12) viewed the return of Jesus as ushering in the final requital of mankind; but in these special oracles (cf. Revelation 17:14) where a semi-historical figure is pitted against Christ on earth, the latter is brought down to meet the adversary on his own ground—a development of eschatology which is a resumption of primitive messianic categories in Judaism. The messiah here is consequently a grim, silent, implacable conqueror. There is no tenderness in the Apocalypse save for the pious core of the elect people, nothing of that disquiet of heart with which the sensitiveness of later ages viewed the innumerable dead. Here mankind are naïvely disposed of in huge masses; their antagonism to the messiah and his people is assumed to have exposed them to ruthless and inexorable doom. Nor do the scenic categories of the tradition leave any room for such a feeling as dictated Plutarch’s noble description (De Sera Uind. 555 E. F.) of the eternal pangs of conscience. Upon the other hand, there is no gloating over the torments of the wicked.

Now that the destructive work of messiah is over, the ground seems clear for his constructive work (cf. Ps. Sol. 17:26 f.). But the idiosyncracies of John’s outlook involve a departure from the normal tradition of Judaism and early Christianity at this point. Satan, who survives, as he had preceded, the Roman empire, still remains to be dealt with. The third vision of doom, therefore (Revelation 20:1-10) outlines his final defeat, in two panels: (a) one exhibiting a period of enforced restraint, during which (for 2, 3 and 4–7 are synchronous) messiah and the martyrs enjoy a halcyon time of temporal and temporary bliss, (b) the other sketching (Revelation 19:7-10) a desperate but unavailing recrudescence of the devil’s power. The oracle is brief and uncoloured. It rounds off the preceding predictions and at the same time paves the way for the magnificent finalê of 21–22, on which the writer puts forth all his powers. But it is more than usually enigmatic and allusive. “Dans ces derniers chapitres les tableaux qui passent sous nos yeux n’ont plus la fraícheur vivante de ceux qui ont précédé. L’imagination ayant affaire à des conceptions absolument idéales et sans aucune analogie avec les réalités concrètes de la nature, est naturellement moins sûre d’elle-même, et ne parvient plus aussi facilement à satisfaire celle du lecteur” (Reuss). Ingenious attempts have been made (e.g., by Vischer, Spitta, and Wellhausen) to disentangle a Jewish source from the passage, but real problem is raised and solved on the soil of the variant traditions which John moulded at this point for his own Christian purposes. In the creation-myth the binding of the chaos-dragon or his allies took place at the beginning of the world’s history (cf. Prayer of Manass. 2–4). As the dragon came to be moralised into the power of spiritual evil, this temporary restraint (cf. on Revelation 19:2) was transferred to the beginning of the end, by a modification of the primitive view which probably goes back to Iranian theology (cf. Stave, 175 f., Baljon, Völter, 120 f., Briggs, etc.). The conception of messiah’s reign as preliminary and limited on earth was not unknown to Judaism (Encycl. Relig. and Ethics, i. 203 f.) or even to primitive Christianity (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:21-28, where Paul develops it differently). But the identification of it with the sabbath of the celestial week (which was originally non-messianic, cf. Slav. En. xxxii. 33.) and the association of it with the martyrs are peculiar to John’s outlook. A further idiosyncracy is the connection between the Gog and Magog attack and the final manœuvre of Satan. The psychological clue to these conceptions probably lies in the prophet’s desire to provide a special compensation for the martyrs, prior to the general bliss of the saints. This may have determined his adoption or adaptation of the chiliastic tradition, which also conserved the archaic hope of an earthly reign for the saints without interfering with the more spiritual and transcendent outlook of Revelation 20:11 f. His procedure further enabled him to preserve the primitive idea of messiah’s reign [4] as distinct from that of God, by dividing the final act of the drama into two scenes (4 f., 11 f.).—With the realistic episode of 1–3, angels pass off the stage (except the angel of Revelation 21:9 f. and the angelus interpres of xxii. 6–10), in accordance with the Jewish feeling that they were inferior to the glorified saints to whom alone (cf. Hebrews 2:4) the next world belonged. There is no evidence to support the conjecture (Cheyne, Bible Problems, 233) that ἄγγελον in Revelation 19:1 represents “an already corrupt text of an older Hebrew Apocalypse, in which mal’âk was written instead of mikâ’çl” (cf. above on Revelation 12:7).

20. was taken] Scarcely a strong enough word—“was seized” or “overpowered.”

the false prophet] So called in Revelation 16:13 : see Revelation 13:11 sqq.

miracles] Should be “the signs”—those described in Revelation 13:13 sqq.

were cast alive &c.] In Daniel 7:11 the Beast is slain and his body burnt. Perhaps the one indicates the fate of the empire, the other of its personal ruler.

Revelation 19:20. [213] Ἐπιάσθη) The beast was taken: but the angel ἐκράτησε, laid hold of the dragon, ch. Revelation 20:2. The beast and the false prophet even then shall be reduced to extremities; the dragon shall have strength, but shall be restrained.—ζῶντες, alive) This destruction is much more dreadful than the death itself of the body. Comp. respecting the Son of Perdition, 2 Thessalonians 2:8; also Daniel 7:11; Daniel 7:26, and Isaiah 11:4, where רשע, LXX., ἀσεβὴς, the Chaldee paraphrast has ארמילום רשיעא, the impious Roman.—ΤῊΝ ΛΊΜΝΗΝ ΤΟῦ ΠΥΡῸς, the lake of fire) The word gehennah [hell] does not occur in the Apocalypse.

[213] 17. δεῦτε, Come hither) The victory cannot but follow. Beforehand the flesh of the enemy is already given to be torn in pieces by birds.—V. g.

19. μετὰ, with) The enemies will undoubtedly attempt to attack the saints on the earth. But Christ the Lord, with His heavenly band, will engage with them.—V. g.

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). Revelation 19:20Was taken (ἐπιάσθη)

See on Acts 3:7.


See on Revelation 13:16.

Lake (λίμνην)

See on Luke 5:1.


See on Revelation 14:10.

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