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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
Revelation 19

 

 

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Verse 1

1. λεγόντων is almost as nearly connected with ἤκουσα as with ὄχλου.

ἡ σωτηρίατοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν. Generally explained “Salvation [belongeth] to our God.” Cf. Revelation 7:10; also Revelation 4:11, Revelation 5:12-13, Revelation 7:12. ὦ βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας, Romans 11:33, might represent another not impossible construction.


Verses 1-6

Revelation 19:1-6. FURTHER THANKSGIVINGS


Verse 2

2. For the joy of the Saints in sympathy with God’s judgement see on Revelation 14:10. There is a passage somewhat like this in Enoch xlvii. 4: “Then were the hearts of the saints full of joy, because the number of righteousness was arrived, the supplication of the saints heard, and the blood of the righteous appreciated by the Lord of Spirits.”


Verse 3

3. καὶἀναβαίνει. Both the tense and the conjunction prove that the clause is part of the anthem.

εἰςαἰώνων. Hence Tyconius, excerpted by the homilist ap. St Augustine, Tom. III. Hom. xviii., inferred that Babylon was more than any single city, being the world-wide mystical city of pride.


Verse 4

4. καὶ ἔπεσανἀλληλούϊα. Cf. Revelation 5:14, where also the thanksgiving closes with the homage of the Living Creatures and the Elders.


Verse 5

5. ἐκ τοῦ θρόνου. Possibly the voice of Christ, cf. Revelation 3:21. αἰνεῖτε. Compare the opening of Psalms 134, 135.


Verse 6

6. ὄχλου πολλοῦ. Revelation 19:1.

ὑδάτων πολλῶν. Revelation 1:15, Revelation 14:2.

βροντῶν ἰσχυρῶν. Revelation 6:1, Revelation 14:2.

ἐβασίλευσεν. The aorist is quite appropriate though quite untranslateable. By destroying Babylon which reigned over all kings, God took the Kingdom and is glorified for this act. R. V[748] rightly retains the present of A. V[749]

ὁ παντοκράτωρ. Rather a name than an epithet, see on Revelation 1:8.


Verses 6-9

6–9. THE PROCLAMATION OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB


Verse 7

7. χαίρωμεν. The joy of the festival which makes heaven and earth one follows inseparably on the joy of the judgement on earth.

δῶμεν. The present subjunctive of this verb is not found in the New Testament, and even in the indicative the aorists are far commoner. If we read δώσομεν the construction will be substantially as in Micah 4:2, ἀναβῶμενκαὶ δείξουσιν ἡμῖν, though there the change of person makes it clear.

ὁ γάμος τοῦ ἀρνίου. The first suggestion of this image in the N.T. is in our Lord’s parables, St Matthew 22:3; Matthew 25:1-10 : it is more fully worked out by St Paul, Ephesians 5:22-32. But men’s minds were prepared for it by the language of all the Prophets about the spiritual marriage of the Lord and Israel: still more, perhaps, by that of the 45th Psalm, rising so far above the royal marriage that no doubt furnished its occasion. And there is little doubt that the Song of Songs was already mystically interpreted among the Jews, though its claim to a place in the Canon was still disputed.

ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ. Called by St John “the New Jerusalem,” Revelation 21:2, by St Paul, Galatians 4:26, “Jerusalem above,” as well as more simply the Church, Ephesians 5:23 sqq.


Verse 8

8. καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτῇ. “It was given to her”—the form is the same as recurs so often throughout the vision, from Revelation 6:2 onwards. This being so, it is not likely that this clause still forms part of the proclamation of the voice: it is the Seer’s description of the “making herself ready” which the voice proclaimed.

τὰ δικαιώματα, “righteous acts.” Every good work done by every single saint goes to make up the perfect glory of the Church as it shall be when at last complete. The doctrine of the Communion of Saints is contained in, or follows from, that of the holy Catholic Church.


Verse 9

9. καὶ λέγει. Who speaks? Plainly an angel (see Revelation 19:10), presumably the angel of Revelation 17:1. Possibly the same as the angel of Revelation 1:1.

μακάριοι. St John and “they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (Revelation 1:3) are made to realise heartily what our Lord’s fellow-guest (St Luke 14:15) said without seeing the full force of his own words. Of course, when we reduce the image to plain prose, “they that are called” are the same as the Bride: while St Paul again speaks of them as her children. All will rejoice together, and each will rejoice apart; each will have a joy of his own, and each will have his own sight of the joy of all.


Verse 10

10. προσκυνῆσαι αὐτῷ. Perhaps understanding from the last words that the speaker was God Himself. This is more probable than Weiss’s conjecture that the Seer took him for Christ, to Whom it is possible to ascribe all the previous commands to write, Revelation 1:11, Revelation 14:13, as well as Revelation 1:19. In Revelation 1:17 the Seer falls down at His Feet, and is raised up again apparently without worshipping. In the O.T. God had revealed Himself to men by means of angels, and men had, by falling at the feet of angels, rightly worshipped the God Who was present in them (see esp. Hosea 12:4 compared with Genesis 32:30). But since a more perfect revelation of God has been given by the Incarnation, no such divine presence in an angel is to be looked for. (So Jer. Taylor, Dissuasive from Popery, Part II. II. viii. 3.) We have therefore no need to suppose that the holy apostle was in intent guilty of idolatry; he meant the worship for God in the angel, but this being an angel and nothing more, it follows of course that he ought not to be honoured as God. See Revelation 22:8.

σύνδουλός σου εἰμί. In a sense, the angels are even servants to the elect on earth, Hebrews 1:14.

τῶν ἐχόντωνἸησοῦ. Cf. Revelation 22:9, τῶν ἀδελφῶν σου τῶν προφητῶν. The last words of the verse give the reason (γὰρ) why the two phrases are equivalent. Cf. for τὴν μαρτυρίαν Ἰησοῦ, Revelation 1:2, Revelation 6:9, and closest of all, Revelation 12:17. In all these μαρτυρία comes near to the sense, that became technical, of “martyrdom.”

ἡ γὰρ μαρτυρία. Comparing Revelation 22:9 with the passages last eited, it seems that the sense of the passage is, “Martyrdom like thine” (the seer was at least a confessor, Revelation 1:2, perhaps, as tradition says, a proved martyr in will) “and thy brethren’s involves in it the grace of prophecy, and so places the martyrs in so close communion with God that they need no angel mediator.” But what is said to St John as a prophet is in its measure true of all Christians. All in their measure are witnesses for Christ, and all partakers of His Spirit; and therefore all are prophets in the same sense that they are all priests and kings. Thus all, if not yet “equal with the angels” (St Luke 20:36), are brought too near to God to need angels to bring Him near to them.


Verse 11

11. τὸν οὐρανὸν ἠνεῳγμένον. Ezekiel 1:1; St Matthew 3:16, and parallels, St John 1:51; Acts 7:56; Acts 10:11. Something more seems to be implied than in Revelation 4:1; the “door” through which the seer was called up is not sufficient to let out this mounted army, or “the chariot of paternal Deity” which appeared to Ezekiel.

ἵππος λευκός, Revelation 6:2, where see note. Here at least, there is no doubt about the interpretation.

ὁ καθήμενος. Connected like the previous words with ἰδού.

καλούμενος. He is called Faithful and True (Revelation 3:14, also Revelation 1:15, Revelation 3:7), and rightly, but these are not His Name.

ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ. Isaiah 11:4-5, Psalms 96 [95]:13.

πολεμεῖ. In Psalms 45:3-5 (4–6) we have the same mixture as here of the Bridegroom with the triumphant Warrior. Compare St Chrysostom on Romans 13:12, “Fear not at hearing of array and arms … for it is of light that the arms are … As the bridegroom goes forth with joyous looks from his chamber, so doth he too who is defended with these arms; for he is at once soldier and bridegroom.”


Verses 11-21

11–21. THE VICTORY OF THE RIDER ON THE WHITE HORSE

There is no clear mark in the text that we have the beginning of a new vision here after the apparent break in Revelation 19:9-10. But for this break the connexion would be:—the seer hears the joyful summons to the Marriage of the Lamb, perhaps has a glimpse of the Bride in her white array; then Heaven is opened, he sees the Bridegroom in His robe red with blood, with the armies of Heaven in His train: again he sees the Herald Angel who bids all the fowls of the air to the bloody supper of the great God: he sees the doom of the Beast, and the False Prophet, and their host.


Verse 12

12. οἱ δὲ ὀφθαλμοί. Revelation 1:14.

διαδήματα πολλά. These are distinctively kingly crowns, see on Revelation 4:4, Revelation 6:2. Their number marks Him as King of kings, Revelation 19:16 : perhaps also as both King and Priest, as in Zechariah 6:11 sqq., and in the use of the triple crown by modern popes. Tyconius thinks of the “multitudo coronatorum”: their glory is His.

ἔχων, like πλήρης, St John 1:14. This nominative is connected in sense with the preceding parenthetical clause, while the only possible construction for it is to be found in a forced connexion with the finite verbs before the parenthesis.

ὄνομα γεγραμμένον. See crit. note. The name is probably on the forehead (as Revelation 14:1).

ὃ οὐδεὶς οἶδεν, Revelation 2:17; for the Lord having such a name, see Revelation 3:12, and notes on both places.


Verse 13

13. βεβαμμένον. See crit. note. There is nothing to suggest either βεβαμμένον, ῥεραντισμένον, or ῥεραμμένον in Isaiah 63:1; Isaiah 63:3, LXX.: the Hebrew would suggest both, “Theodotion” at any rate the latter: whichever be the original reading the other is probably an additional reference to Isaiah: for until there was a system of something like chapters and verses, marginal or interlinear quotations had to serve the purpose now served by marginal references. In Isaiah the Conqueror is described as stained with the blood of His enemies. If this decides the primary meaning here, it is legitimate for the Christian to remember, in interpreting both passages, that the way that Christ overcomes His enemies is by shedding, not their blood, but His own. Moreover in Isaiah the Redeemer and champion of Israel is the Father rather than Christ: so that, as the figure has certainly received some change in its application, it is unobjectionable to suppose a direct reference to the Passion. If so, as this passage obviously refers back to the vision of the Man Child, it would be impossible to regard that vision as purely Jewish.

ὁ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ. The only place in Scripture (unless Hebrews 4:12 is to be so interpreted, which is not probable) where this exact phrase is used of the personal Word, the Son of God. But of course the use of “the Word” in St John 1:1 is the same in principle and meaning.


Verse 14

14. τὰ στρατεύματα ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. According to ordinary O.T. usage (e.g. 1 Kings 22:19) this would mean the holy Angels exclusively, or at least primarily. But some think that the glorified Saints are at least included: it seems in harmony with the ideas of this Book to represent them, not indeed as executing Christ’s vengeance (which the Angels do, Revelation 14:19, Matthew 13:39-42), but as spectators of His triumph, which is all that these armies seem to be.

βύσσινον λευκὸν καὶ καθαρόν. The dress of Angels in St Matt, Matthew 28:3 and parallels, Acts 1:10; but of Saints in this Book, Revelation 3:4, Revelation 7:9, and probably Revelation 4:4 : compare the almost exactly similar words of Revelation 19:8. Here this costume contrasts with the blood-dyed one of their Leader. The contrast is plainly intentional (for the mention of the armies interrupts the description of the Leader). If we explain it by supposing that they have no need to take part in the work of slaughter, it will follow, since there is blood on His raiment, that He has already executed judgement on Jerusalem and trodden the winepress there, Revelation 14:20, and is now to do the like to the kings of the earth. If the armies in heaven are Saints, as the ancients seem to suppose, we must understand that their robes are washed white in His Blood, Revelation 7:14, which perhaps weakens the contrast which is expressed by pointing to another which is not. οὶ μετʼ αὐτοῦ, Revelation 17:14, are most naturally explained as the faithful on earth. On the whole it seems simplest to take the heavenly armies for the Angels, the rather that the Saints who are to reign with Christ have not yet risen at this point of the vision.


Verse 15

15. ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτοῦ. Song of Solomon 1:16, proving, if proof were needed, the identity of the “Son of Man” of that passage with “the Word of God” of this. For the meaning, see the notes there.

πατάξῃ τὰ ἔθνη. God is said to smite men with plagues, e.g. Zechariah 14:18, but nowhere else with a sword. Are we to infer from 1 Chronicles 21:12 what this sword will be? Certainly the ascription to the Lord of the fierce struggles of a human warrior is markedly avoided.

καὶ αὐτὸς ποιμανεῖ. Lit. “shall be their shepherd,” as in Revelation 2:27, Revelation 12:5. Of course in all three places the reference is to Psalms 2:9.

καὶ αὐτὸς πατεῖ. Isaiah 63:2. The twice repeated pronoun is very emphatic: it is He who shall fulfil the promised vengeance for which the elect have cried so long.

τὴν ληνὸν τοῦ οἵνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς ὀργῆς. Cf. Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 14:19, Revelation 16:19.


Verse 16

16. ἐπὶ τὸ ἱμάτιον καὶ ἐπὶ τὸν μηρόν. See crit. note. The meaning probably is “on the vesture of His thigh,” i.e. on the border of His cloak. Strangely enough the name of a statue was sometimes put on the thigh; this possibly suggested the image: the vesture is mentioned to shew the name was not on the flesh.

βασιλεὺς βασιλέων καὶ κύριος κυρίων. Cf. Revelation 17:14, and θεὸς τῶν θεῶν καὶ κύριος τῶν κυρίων καὶ βασιλωὺς τῶν βασιλέων, Daniel 4:31 (LXX.). Βασ. βασιλέων is found on Parthian coins.


Verse 17

17. ἕνα ἄγγελον. Probably ἕνα is merely the indefinite article as in Revelation 8:13, though here it is possible to think of one angel standing apart from the heavenly armies who roll by.

ἐν τῷ ἡλίῳ. Perhaps he is the Angel of the Sun (like the other elemental angels in Revelation 16:5 and perhaps Revelation 14:18): but the ἔνα makes this less likely. Probably he is stationed there only as in a position commanding the μεσουράνημα (on this word see on Revelation 8:13).

πᾶσιν τοῖς ὀρνέοις. Ezekiel 39:17 sqq., of the slaughter of Gog and Magog: from which however this slaughter seems to be distinguished, see Revelation 20:8-9.

δεῦτε, συνάχθητε. The imperative immediately after δεῦτε is found twice in St John 4:29; John 21:12; once in St Matthew 28:6, nowhere else in New Testament. δεῦτε in the Septuagint commonly represents a Hebrew verb, and it is not certain that δεῦρο ἀκολούθει, Matthew 19:21 and parallels is exactly similar.

τὸ δεῖπνον τὸ μέγα τοῦ θεοῦ. In Ezek. l.c. it is called a sacrifice, sacrifices being the only ordinary occasion for a feast of flesh: cf. Isaiah 34:6, which was probably in Ezekiel’s mind.


Verse 18

18. χιλιάρχων. See on Revelation 6:15.


Verse 19

19. τὸ θηρίον, καὶ τοὺς βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς. Their confederacy under his leadership has been already intimated, Revelation 16:14; Revelation 16:16, Revelation 17:12-14. The so-called battle of Armageddon, there foretold, is here described.


Verse 20

20. ἐπιάσθη. Like a thief or a rebel. The word is found oftener in the Fourth Gospel than in all the rest of the New Testament. It is found six times of schemes to ‘take’ Christ; twice in the narrative of the miraculous draught of fishes; twice in the Acts, once of the arrest of St Peter; once in St Paul of the attempt to arrest him at Damascus.

ὁ ψευδοπροφήτης. So called in Revelation 16:13; see Revelation 13:11 sqq.

τὰ σημεῖα. Those described in Revelation 13:13 sqq.

ζῶντες ἐβλήθησαν. 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.

τῆς καιομένης. As if after τὸ πῦρ τῆς λίμνης, cf. Revelation 21:8 ἐν τῇ λίμνῃ τῇ καιομένῃ πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ.


Verse 21

21. οἱ λοιποί. They are not, at least at once, consigned to the same eternal torment as their leaders; but see Revelation 14:10, Revelation 20:15.

ἐν τῇ ῥομφαίᾳ τοῦ καθημένου. None of His followers have need to bear part in the battle: indeed they seem to bear no arms, Revelation 19:14. Compare the grand passage of St Chrysostom, in his 24th Homily on the Epistle to the Romans (on Revelation 13:12), already partly quoted on Revelation 19:11. “What then, is there no necessity for thee to fight? Yea, needful is it to fight, yet not to be distressed and toil. For it is not in fact war, but a solemn dance and feast day; such is the nature of the arms, such the power of the Commander.” The victory is so plainly designated as one to be gained by purely spiritual means, that it is by no means certain that the armies to be overthrown are to be understood of an actual military confederacy. More probably, the confederacy of the powers of the world, under the leadership of Antichrist, will be primarily intellectual and spiritual.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Revelation 19:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/revelation-19.html. 1896.

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Monday, November 18th, 2019
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