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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 19

Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy ScriptureOrchard's Catholic Commentary

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Verses 1-21

IXX:1-10. The exultation of the Saints. Heaven and earth exult over this Judgement. The hour for the Marriage of the Lamb is come, and his Bride is ready in ’linen white and shining’—the righteous actions of the Saints—contrasted with the purple and scarlet silks of the Harlot. 10. ’The spirit of prophecy is the witness given by—and to—Jesus.’

(b) IXX 19:11-21 A Group of Two Visions —11-16. The Destruction of the Beast and of the False Prophet is accomplished by One who rides on a white horse, ’Faithful and True’, the Judge. His sword is his Word: he wears many crowns of victory; he holds the Messianic iron-shod club; on cloak and thigh is engraved his Name—’the Word of God’—and yet, no one knows it but himself—and further: ’King of kings and Lord of lords’. A throng of white-robed fellow-conquerors escorts him.

11. The Lord is ’faithful’, keeping his promises to his followers.

12. The ’many crowns’ correspond to the conquered kingdoms: but the crowns of the Dragon (12:3) and of the Beast (13:1) are upon many heads. He to whom the now belong is One.

16. The name that all can read—’King of kings’, etc., is on his cloak and thigh; scl., where the folds of the cloak lie smooth: equestrian statues were sometimes thus engraved. The ’real name’, the ’Word of God’, is himself (cf.John 1:1): no one—not even we Christians here ourselves—can exhaust its meaning.

17-21. An Angel calls from the sun to ’all birds that fly’ to come and devour the flesh of all God’s enemies. The Beast assembles his armies: they and the False Prophet are seized and thrown into the lake burning with brimstone, and the Divine Word destroys the I rest. Cf.Ez 39:4, 17-20: and Matthew 24:28. The birds and their feast are as symbolical as the ’Sword’ which is the Word (Ephesians 6:17). Here (20) the Beast and Prophet are as symbolical as (20:14) Death and Hades which also are cast into the burning lake. (All ’brimstone’ allusions look back, presumably, to the destruction of the Cities of the Plain which left an indelible impression on the Hebrew mind.) But if the Beast, indeed, symbolizes the recurring attempt of the civil power to set itself up against God, to what can the False Prophet correspond in the successive centuries? After his first appearance the Second Beast, or False Prophet, plays no personal role. He has become a stock figure. But Fr Allo has suggested that he represented, rather than the Asiarch, that vague solvent ’ toleration’ which was then going to become Gnosticism (§ 965a) and which ended by mating with the Emperor cult seeing that all religions were in reality forms of the ultimate inexpressible One, itself best symbolized, in the sky, by the Sun, on earth, by the Emperor. The lazy flattering notion that all creeds are finally much of a muchness (except the Catholic Faith, consciously and admittedly unique and exclusive) is indeed as modern as it was prevalent in ancient but decadent days. There could then be two ’foci’ of anti-Christianity—the openly persecuting State, and the vague subservient ’religion’ which the State could patronize without damage to itself. Its role is as disastrous and more subtle. (I myself incline to think that the Second Beast was, at hrst, the Asiarch, but by now has become ’generalized’ and stands for all who wield authority delegated from imperial Rome—all official representatives of the Beast—and has in fact lost all separate personality.)

Bibliographical Information
Orchard, Bernard, "Commentary on Revelation 19". Orchard's Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/boc/revelation-19.html. 1951.
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