Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 15

Verse 1

1. ἄλλο σημεῖον. Besides those of Revelation 12:1; Revelation 12:3. Here preparation is made (as in Revelation 8:2) for another sevenfold series of visions. Some have attempted to see a sevenfold series in the three preceding chapters—its elements being the successively appearing figures of the Woman, the Dragon, the Man Child, Michael, the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Lamb. But this seems rather far-fetched: at any rate, it is not likely to have been consciously present to St John’s mind.

πληγὰς ἑπτὰ τὰς ἐσχάτας. Literally “seven plagues, the last,” the fact that “in them is filled up [or rather “fulfilled, finished”] the wrath of God” is given as the reason why these plagues are the last.

Verse 2

2. θάλασσαν ὑαλίνην μεμιγμένηυ πυρί. Probably describes an optical appearance much like that of Revelation 21:18; Revelation 21:21. It gives no reason for doubting that this is the same sea of glass as in Revelation 4:6 : it is not till now that the Seer’s attention is specially directed to it, and he now describes it in more detail than before.

τοὺς νικῶντας ἐκ. Cf. ὁ νικῶν in chaps, 2. 3. Lit. “them that overcome from,” R.V[519] “come victorious from,” the victors (the present, like οἱ προσκυνοῦντες “the worshippers” Revelation 14:11, rather excludes than marks time) have fought their way clear of all those dangers and temptations.

ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν. Perhaps literally, for “a sea of glass” would of course be a solid support; or if not, they might walk upon the sea like their Lord, sustained by faith. But perhaps no more is meant than when we speak of a town lying “on the sea”: this is supported by the fact that Israel sung the song of Moses on the shore, after their passage. And the preposition, though naturally translated “on,” is the same as in the phrase “stand at the door” in Revelation 3:20.

κιθάρας. As Revelation 5:8, Revelation 14:2 : though the harpers here are not the same as in the first place, and perhaps not as in the second.

Verses 2-4


It seems that here we have a vision of what follows the judgement on the Beast and Babylon, announced in chap. Revelation 14:8-11; as in chap, Revelation 7:9-17 we have a vision of what follows the Great Tribulation announced, but only announced, at the end of chap. 6.

Verse 3

3. τὴν ᾠδὴν ΄ωϋσέως. Exodus 15—the song of God’s redeemed people, delivered from their enemies, and confident of coming, but not come yet, “unto the rest and to the inheritance which the Lord their God doth give unto them.” There is probably no allusion to their coming from the “Red Sea” of martyrdom: that is a pretty conceit, but below the dignity of prophecy.

τοῦ δούλου τοῦ θεοῦ. Exodus 14:31 is particularly referred to; but also in Numbers 12:7; Joshua 1:1-2; Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:13; Joshua 1:15; Joshua 22:5; Psalms 105:26 “the servant of the Lord “is used as a special honourable title of Moses: cf. Hebrews 3:5.

τῆν ᾠδὴν τοῦ ὠρνίου. For the Lamb has redeemed them, as Moses redeemed Israel. “The song of the Lamb” is not a different song from “the song of Moses,” but the same interpreted in a higher sense: well illustrated by the Christian use of Psalms 114, and the other Passover Psalms, in our Easter services.

΄εγάλα καὶ θανμαστά. There may be references to Psalms 111:2; Psalms 139:14; Psalms 145:17 : but this psalm rather continues the spirit of those than combines their words. It is noticeable that this song, almost alone of those occurring in this book, has the parallelism or quasimetrical structure of Hebrew poetry.

ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν ἐθνῶν. See crit. note. The thought is the same as in chap. Revelation 11:15; Revelation 11:17. God, Who of old sanctified to Himself a peculiar people, has now taken the heathen also for His heritage. The expression here and in the following clause (which fixes the sense and the text) is taken from Jeremiah 10:7.

Verse 4

4. This verse proves that Revelation 15:2-4 are originally rather the epilogue to chap. 14 than part of the introduction to chap. 16. There we are told again and again that the seven last plagues only lead to blasphemy, here the victors exult in a judgement which convinces all. See Romans 3:19; Philippians 2:11; Exodus 7:3; Exodus 8:15 &c. It is better with Westcott and Hort to put the note of interrogation after ὅσιος: the connexion is, Who dares withhold his worship from the one righteous God? Who can withhold it when every nation is subdued to His worship by the manifestation of His Almighty Power in righteous acts?

ὅσιος. Not the same word (ἅγιος) as is applied to God in Revelation 4:8 &c., but ordinarily used of human piety or holiness—and in that sense applied to our Lord, in His human character, in Hebrews 7:26. It is only used of God here and in Revelation 16:5 (the true text): in both places the sense is that God is “justified in His saying and clear when He is judged.” Here it may also be meant that in this none of the gods is like unto Him, cf. Psalms 82:1.

πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἥξουσιν. Psalms 86:9; Isaiah 66:23.

δικαιώματα. Righteous acts, as in Revelation 19:8. The word only occurs four times besides in the plural in the New Testament: Romans 2:26 and in a slightly different sense Luke 1:6, Hebrews 9:1; Hebrews 9:10.

Verse 5

5. ἠνοίγη. No translation seems to connect ἠνοίγη directly with ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, and the connexion is less in the style of the Book than the ordinary connexion ὁ ναὸς ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, though the former might be supported here by the parallel in the next verse ἐξῆλθονἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ.

ὁ ναὸς τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ. For ὁ ναὸς see Revelation 11:19; for τῆς σκηνῆς τοῦ μαρτυρίου the one New Testament parallel is Acts 7:44; cf. Exodus 27:21; Numbers 1:50 &c. It is not clear whether we are to translate the temple of the heavenly tabernacle, or the heavenly temple of the tabernacle. To say that the holy place of the heavenly tabernacle is opened, is to say no more than that the heavenly tabernacle is opened. Possibly, as we are told that not only the Ark, but the Tabernacle which Moses made according to the pattern shewed unto him in the Mount, was brought up into Solomon’s Temple, it may be meant here that the heavenly Temple contains the archetype of the earthly tabernacle. In any case the Tabernacle is mentioned because its origin was more directly divine than that of the Temple. Compare 1 Chronicles 28:19; Exodus 25:40; Exodus 26:30.

Verses 5-8


Here the description of the vision announced in Revelation 15:1 begins, though the Seer still anticipates, see on Revelation 15:6 : for the relation of Revelation 15:1; Revelation 15:5, see on Revelation 12:14.

Verse 6

6. οἱ ἔχοντες. The phrase describes their office: we see in the next verse that they did not come out having them.

ἐνδεδυμένοι λίνον καθαρὸν λαμπρόν. See crit. note for the evidence for λίθον. If this strange reading be right, the nearest parallel is Ezekiel 28:13—where comparing the next two verses, it seems as though the human “king of Tyrus” were identified with a fallen Angel, perhaps the patron of the city. Therefore these holy Angels may be here described as clothed in glory like his before his fall. In choosing between the alternative readings, little weight is due to the fact that in other Greek prose λίνον means flax, not linen, less to the probability that most writers would have preferred the plural to the singular. It may have a little weight that white linen, Revelation 19:8, is itself a splendid dress, and that golden girdles would be more in place on it than on robes jewelled all over. On the other hand, everywhere else in this Book linen is βύσσινον.

περὶ τὰ στήθη. As in Revelation 1:13, where see note.

Verse 7

7. φιάλας. See on Revelation 5:8.

Verse 8

8. καπνοῦ. Isaiah 6:4.

οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο. Exodus 40:35; 1 Kings 8:11.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 15". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.