Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 19

Verses 1-99

Further Thanksgivings. Chap. 19 vv. 1 6

1. And after ] Omit “and.”

a great voice ] Read, as it were a great voice .

Salvation &c.] Cf. 7:10; also 4:11, 5:12, 13, 7:12.

and honour ] Should be omitted.

unto the Lord our God ] Read, [ are ] our God’s .

2. For the joy of the Saints in sympathy with God’s judgement, see on 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.”

3. And her smoke &c.] Perhaps best taken as a part of the anthem. For the word “rose up” should be “riseth.”

4. And the four and twenty &c.] Cf. 5:14.

5. Praise our God &c.] Compare the opening of Pss. 134, 135.

both small and great ] Psalms 115:13 . “Both” should perhaps be omitted.

6. great multitude ] v. 1, where the words rendered “much people” are the same.

many waters ] 1:15, 14:2.

mighty thunderings ] 6:1, 14:2.

the Lord God Omnipotent ] Read, the Lord our God : and the last word is that usually rendered “Almighty” rather a name “the Almighty” than an epithet see on 1:8.

reigneth ] The only translation that will give the sense without cumbrousness; though “hath taken the kingdom” might express the tense of the original more accurately.

The Marriage of the Lamb, vv. 7 9

7. honour ] Better, the glory .

the marriage of the Lamb ] The first suggestion of this image in the N. T. is in our Lord’s parables, St Matthew 22:2 , 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.

his wife ] Called by St John the New Jerusalem, 21:2, by St Paul both by that name, Galatians 4:26 , and more simply the Church, Ephesians 5:23 sqq.

8. And to her was granted ] Better, it was given to her the form is the same as recurs so often throughout the vision, from 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.

clean and white ] The epithets should be transposed, and “and” omitted, bright clean fine linen .

the righteousness ] Rather, the 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.

9. And he saith ] Who speaks? Plainly an angel (see v. 10), presumably the angel of 17:1.

Blessed are they , &c.] St John, and “they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein” (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.

These are the true sayings of God ] More literally, These words are [some add “the”] true (words) of God .

The Error of the Seer, v. 10

10. to worship him ] Perhaps understanding from the last words that the speaker was God Himself. 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. 11. 8:3.) 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 22:8.

I am thy fellowservant ] In a sense, the angels are even servants to the elect on earth, Hebrews 1:14 .

and of thy brethren that have , &c.] In the parallel passage, 22:9, we have “thy brethren the prophets,” and the sense seems to be the same here, from the last words of the verse.

have the testimony of Jesus ] 1:2, 9, 6:9, and, closest of all, 12:17. In all these the word rendered “testimony” comes near to the sense that became technical, of “martyrdom.”

for the testimony , &c.] Comparing 22:9 with the passages last cited, it seems that the sense of the passage is, “Martyrdom like thine” (the seer was at least a confessor, 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.

The Victory of the Rider on the White Horse, vv. 11 21

11. heaven opened ] 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 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.

a white horse ] 6:2, where see notes. Here, at least, there is no doubt about the interpretation.

and he that sat upon him ] Had better not be separated in punctuation from the previous clause: “behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him, [who was] called,” &c.

called ] There is some, but not sufficient, authority for omitting this word.

Faithful and True ] 3:14; also 1:5, 3:7.

in righteousness ] Isaiah 11:4 .

make war ] 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 Rom. xiii. 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.”

12. His eyes , &c.] 1:14.

many crowns ] These are distinctively kingly crowns, see on 4:4, 6:2. Their number marks Him as King of kings, v. 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.

a name written ] Probably on the forehead, as 14:1. There is some authority for the remarkable reading, “names written, and a name written which,” &c.

that no man knew , &c.] 2:17: for the Lord having such a name, see 3:12, and notes on both places.

13. vesture ] Or, cloak : it is the outer garment that is so described.

dipt in blood ] There is almost equal authority for this reading, “dipped,” or “dyed,” and for “sprinkled.” Either is almost equally supported by the language of Isaiah 63:1 , Isaiah 63:3 , “With dyed garments … their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments.” The reference to that passage is unquestionable, and so the primary meaning must be, as there, to describe the Conqueror as stained with the blood of His enemies . But no doubt 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.

The Word of God ] The only place in Scripture (unless Hebrews 4:12 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.

14. the armies which were in heaven ] 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, 14:19; St Matthew 13:39-42 ), but as spectators of His triumph, which is all that these armies seem to be.

fine linen, white and clean ] The dress of Angels in St Matthew 28:3 and parallels, Acts 1:10 ; but of Saints in this Book, 3:4, 7:9, and probably 4:4: compare the almost exactly similar words of v. 8. Here this costume contrasts with the blood-dyed one of their Leader. The probable meaning is, that they have no need to take part in the work of slaughter, see v. 21. We cannot argue that Martyrs who shed their own blood for their Lord are not included, nor yet that these are not of those for whom His Blood was shed; for 7:14 shews that that Blood does not leave a stain.

15. out of his mouth ] So 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.

sharp ] Some ancient authorities insert “two-edged,” from the parallel passage in ch. 1.

smite the nations ] 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.

shall rule them ] Lit. shall be their shepherd , as in 2:27, 12:5 Of course in all three places the reference is to Psalms 2:9 .

and he treadeth ] Isaiah 63:3 . The pronoun “he” is emphatic He Himself, by Himself, as is there expressed.

the winepress ] So we are obliged to translate the single word, e.g. at 14:19; while here we have the fuller phrase, “the winepress of the wine of”, &c.

fierceness and wrath ] Read, fierceness of the wrath .

16. on his vesture and on his thigh ] i.e, probably, beginning on the lower part of the cloak, and continued where the thigh projected from it as He rode whether this continuation was on the bare flesh, or (as seems likelier) on the skirt of the tunic.

King of Kings and Lord of Lords ] 17:14. Cf. Daniel 2:47 , Daniel 2:7 :14; also 1 Timothy 6:15 , where a title substantially (not verbally) the same as this is given to God the Father.

17. an angel ] Lit. one angel .

in the sun ] Perhaps he is the Angel of the Sun (like the other elemental angels in 16:5 and perhaps 14:18): but the “one” makes this less likely. Probably he is stationed there only as a position commanding the “mid-heaven” (on this word See on 8:13).

to all the fowls ] Ezekiel 39:17 sqq., of the slaughter of Gog and Magog: from which however this slaughter seems to be distinguished, see 20:8, 9.

the supper of the great God ] Read, the great supper of God . 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.

18. captains ] Lit. captains of a thousand ; see on 6:15.

19. the beasts and the kings ] Their confederacy under his leadership has been already intimated, 16:14, 16, 17:12 14. The so-called battle of Armageddon, there foretold, is here described.

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

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

miracles ] Should be “the signs” those described in 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.

21. And the remnant were slain ] They are not, at least at once, consigned to the same eternal torment as their leaders: but see 14:10, 20:15.

with the sword of him &c.] None of His followers have need to bear part in the battle: indeed they seem to bear no arms, v. 14. Compare the grand passage of St Chrysostom, in his 24th Homily on the Epistle to the Romans (on xiii. 12), already partly quoted on v. 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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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 19". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cgt/revelation-19.html. 1896.