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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 14

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verses 1-5

1 5 .] The Lamb on Mount Sion, and his hundred and forty-four thousand . And I saw, and beheld the Lamb (viz., the same which before was seen in the midst of the throne, ch. Rev 5:6 al.) standing upon (see on this accus., when the super-position is first mentioned, note, ch. Rev 4:2 ) the mount Sion (as in ch. 11, the holy city is introduced as the seat of God’s true Church and worship, so by a similar figure (not the same, for thus Mount Sion would be outside the ναός , and thus given to the Gentiles) the holy mountain Sion is now chosen for the site of the display of God’s chosen ones with Christ, the Son of David, whose city Sion was), and with Him an hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father (observe the tacit assumption that all understand Who is imported by the Lamb) written on their foreheads (first observe the contrast: the nations of the earth, constrained to receive the mark of the beast on their forehead and hand, and the Lamb’s elect, marked with His name and that of His Father. The question next meets us, Are these 144,000 identical with the same number in ch. Rev 7:4 ? This question clearly must not be answered merely by the absence of a defining article here, to identify these χιλιάδες as those there spoken of. For it might well be, that the reader should be meant to identify the two in his mind, by recognizing the marks common to the two, without the note of identification being expressly set in the text. The presumption certainly is that the same number occurring here, representing as there the elect and first-fruits of the church, here as there also inscribed on their foreheads with the seal of God in the one case, and His Name in the other, must be descriptive of the same body of persons. And this view, if acquiesced in here, will reflect back considerable light on that former vision of the sealing in ch. 7. Those, as these, will represent the first-fruits or choice ones among God’s people, as indeed we have treated them in this commentary, and not the totality of those who shall form the great multitude which no man can number. These, as those, are taken to represent the people of God: their introduction serves to place before us the church on the holy hill of Sion, where God has placed His King, as an introduction to the description of her agency in preaching the everlasting Gospel, and her faithfulness amidst persecutions). And I heard a voice out of heaven as a voice of many waters (reff.), and as a voice of great thunder (ch. Rev 6:1 ): and the voice which I heard ( was ) as of harpers harping with (the ἐν of investiture, cf. ch. Revelation 6:8 , Rev 9:19 and notes) their harps. And they sing [ as it were ] a new song (i. e. if the ὡς be retained, they sing what sounded like a melody unheard before. The subject to ᾄδουσιν is of course not the 144,000, but the heavenly harpers. On the subject of their song, see below) before the throne and before the four living-beings and the elders (the whole heavenly symbolism remaining as before, while the visions regarding God’s temple and Mount Sion and the holy city are going forward. I would call the attention of the reader to the fact, essential to the right understanding of the vision, that the harpers and the song are in heaven, the 144,000 on earth): and no one was able to learn the song (to apprehend its melody and meaning, so as to accompany it and bear a part in the chorus) except the hundred and forty-four thousands who (the gender is πρὸς τὸ σημαινόμενον , see ref.) were purchased (reff. and Rev 14:4 ) from the earth (the song has regard to matters of trial and triumph, of deep joy and heavenly purity of heart, which none other among men but these pure and holy ones are capable of apprehending. The sweetest and most skilful harmonies convey no pleasure to, nor are they appreciated by an uneducated ear: whereas the experienced musician finds in every chord the most exquisite enjoyment. The unskilled ear, even though naturally distinctive of musical sounds, could not learn nor reproduce them: but both these can be done by those who have ears to hear them. Even so this heavenly song speaks only to the virgin heart, and can be learnt only by those who accompany the Lamb whithersoever He goeth). These are they who were not (the aor. shews that their course is ended and looked back on as a thing past: and serves to confute all interpretations which regard them as representing saints while in the midst of their earthly conflict and trial) defiled with women (see below); for they are (always were and have kept themselves till the time present) virgins (there are two ways of understanding these words. Either they may be figurative, merely implying that these pure ones lived in all chastity, whether in single or in married life, and incurred no pollution (ref. 2 Cor.): or they may be meant literally, that these purest ones had lived in that state of which St. Paul says 1 Corinthians 7:1 , καλὸν ἀνθρώπῳ γυναικὸς μὴ ἅπτεσθαι . And as between these two meanings I conceive that the somewhat emphatic position of μετὰ γυναικῶν goes some way to decide. It is not ἐμολύνθησαν , the fact of impurity in allowed intercourse, but μετὰ γυναικῶν , that is put forward, the fact of commerce with women. I would therefore believe that in the description of these who are the first-fruits from the earth, the feature of virginity is to be taken in its literal meaning. Nor need any difficulty be found in this. It is on all hands granted that he who is married in the Lord enters into holy relations of which the single have no experience, and goes through blessed and elevating degrees of self-sacrifice, and loving allowance, and preferring others before himself. And as every step of grace assured is a step of glory secured, there is no doubt that the holy married servants of God shall have a peculiar entrance into the fulness of that future Kingdom’s employ, which will not be the lot of the single: seeing that in this matter also, the childhood of this state will be the father of the manhood of that one. But neither on the other hand can it be denied that the state of holy virginity has also its peculiar blessings and exemptions. Of these, the Apostle himself speaks of that absence of distraction from the Lord’s work, which is apt to beset the married, busy as they are with the cares of a household and with pleasing one another. And another and primary blessing is, that in them that fountain of carnal desire has never been opened, which is so apt to be a channel for unholy thoughts and an access for the tempter. The virgins may thus have missed the victory over the lusts of the flesh: but they have also in great part escaped the conflict. Theirs is not the triumph of the toil-worn and stained soldier, but the calm and the unspottedness of those who have kept from the strife. We are perhaps more like that which the Lord intended us to be: but they are more like the Lord Himself. And if He is to have round Him a peculiar and closer band, standing with Him on Mount Sion, none will surely grudge this place to those who were not defiled with women. Among these will be not only those who have lived and served Him in holy virginity, but also the dear children whom He has claimed from us for Himself, the youths and maidens who were gathered to His side before the strife began: before their tongues had learned the language of social falsehood, or their good names been tarnished with the breath of inevitable calumny. There is one meaning which these words will not bear, and which it is surprising that any Commentator should ever have attached to them; viz. that μετὰ γυναικῶν refers to the woman mentioned below, ch. 17. So Bp. Wordsworth, Lectures, p. 284: “They have not been defiled with women. What women? it may be asked. If we proceed, we read of the woman seated on the Beast, and of the harlotry of the woman, with whom the Kings of the earth commit fornication. And soon we see her displayed in all her meretricious splendour. There then is the reply.” Similarly in his notes ad loc. The fact, that an indefinite plural sometimes points to a singular, is, as in all other figures of speech, substantiated by the undoubted requirements of the particular context: whereas here the whole context is against it: the following παρθένοι γάρ εἰσιν carrying its decisive condemnation): these ( are ) they that follow the Lamb wheresoever (for this use of ὅπου , see reff.) he goeth ( ἄν seems to have lost its peculiar force, and to have been joined to the ὅπου preceding, so that an indicative after it did not offend the ear.

The description has very commonly been taken as applying to the entire obedience of the elect, following their Lord to prison and to death, and wherever He may call them: so Cocceius, Grot., Vitringa, Wolf (who cites the oath of soldiers, ἀκολουθεῖν τοῖς στρατηγοῖς ὅπου ποτ ʼ ἄν ἄγωσιν ), Bengel, De Wette, Hengstb., Ebrard: but this exposition is surely out of place here, where not their life of conflict, but their state of glory is described. The words, as Aug [115] (in a beautiful passage, De sancta Virginitate, c. 27, vol. vi. p. 410 f., in which however he rhetorically mingles both meanings), Andreas, Züllig, Stern, Düsterd., are used of special privilege of nearness to the Person of the Lamb in glory): these were purchased from men as a first-fruit to God and to the Lamb (all have been thus purchased: but these specially as and for the purpose of being a first-fruit. The ref. James treats of a different matter, the purchase of all the redeemed as the first-fruits of creation. But these are a first-fruit among the purchased themselves), and in their mouth was not found falsehood: they are blameless (the Apostle has before him the words of Psalms 14:1 ff., so strikingly similar: τίς κατασκηνώσει ἐν τῷ ὄρει τῷ ἁγίῳ σου ; πορευόμενος ἄμωμος , … λαλῶν ἀλήθειαν ἐν καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ , ὃς οὐκ ἐδόλωσεν ἐν γλώσσῃ αὐτοῦ . These stand on Mount Sion, with Him who eminently fulfilled this character, and being in all things like Him).

[115] Augustine, Bp. of Hippo , 395 430

Verses 1-20

1 20 .] THE CONTRAST: THE BLESSEDNESS, AND THE COUNTER-AGENCY OF THE SAINTS OF GOD. THE HARVEST AND THE VINTAGE OF THE EARTH. This is not entirely another vision, but an introduction of a new element, one of comfort and joy, upon the scene of the last. And thus it must be viewed: with reference to the persecution by the beast which is alluded to in its course, Revelation 14:9 ff. It is also anticipatory, first containing reference to the mystic Babylon, hereafter to become the subject of prophecy in detail; and to the consummation of punishment and reward, also to be treated in detail hereafter. It is general in its character, reaching forward close to the time of the end, treating compendiously of the torment of the apostates and the blessedness of the holy dead, and leading, by its concluding section, which treats of the harvest and the vintage of the earth, to the vision of the seven last vials, now immediately to follow.

It naturally divides itself into three sections: of which the first is,

Verses 6-13

6 13 .] Three Angels appear in midheaven, announcing three details of the period of the coming prophecy. A proclamation of the blessedness of the holy dead . These four announcements form the text and the compendium of the rest of the book: see Prolegg. § v. parr. 57 ff. And I saw an [ other ] angel (besides those already mentioned) flying in mid-heaven (see ch. Rev 8:13 ), having the everlasting gospel (such and no other is the meaning of εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον , notwithstanding that it is anarthrous. From this latter circumstance no argument can be derived in the case of a word which had become so technical an one: even in Romans 1:1 , we have ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ : and in no place in the N. T. does the word occur in any other than the technical sense of “the Gospel.” Besides which, the epithet αἰώνιος here, if nothing else, fixes it to this meaning. Düsterd., wishing to evade the prophetic sense, would render it, a message of good tidings (viz. regarding the Lord’s coming) determined by God from everlasting. And so Grot. (“bonum nuntium jampridem a Deo definitum”), Ewald, Züllig, Hengstb., al. I should have thought such a rendering only needed mentioning to be repudiated. Ch. Revelation 10:7 , which is adduced to justify it, is quite beside the purpose. See there.

The epithet αἰώνιος , here only applied to the Gospel, belongs to it as from everlasting to everlasting, like Him whose word it is: in contrast to the enemies of God whose destruction is in view) to preach (see reff.) to (“ over ,” throughout the extent of, and thus “ upon .” Or we may justify it as in reff., by the signification “with reference to,” “ towards .” Ch. Revelation 10:11 , which is referred to by Düsterd., is not to the point) those that sit (reff.) upon the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people (cf. Matthew 24:14 , κηρυχθήσεται τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ οἰκουμένῃ , εἰς μαρτυρίαν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν · καὶ τότε ἥξει τὸ τέλος ), saying with a loud voice, Fear God and give Him glory (the message of repentance ever accompanies the hearing of the Gospel among the nations; cf. the first preaching of our Lord and of His Forerunner, Matthew 4:17 ; Matthew 3:2 , and St. Paul’s message to the Thessalonians, 1Th 1:9 ), because the season of His judgment is come (see the citation from Matthew 24:0 above: the time of the end is close at hand when this great era of Christian missions is inaugurated: see below): and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters (i. e. turn from idols and vanities to serve the living and true God. The division of the waters into the sea and the fountains is one kept up through this prophecy: cf. ch. Revelation 8:8-11 , Rev 16:3-4 ). And another second angel followed (“Quot res nunciandæ, totidem nuncii,” of Grot., is not strictly correct, the last being announced merely by a voice in heaven. But it belongs to the solemnity of this series of proclamations that a separate place and marked distinction should dignify each of them) saying, Babylon the great is fallen , [ is fallen ] (aor. of that which is past; only to be expressed in English by a perfect), which hath given all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication (two things are mingled: 1) the wine of her fornication, of which all nations have drunk, ch. Revelation 17:2 ; Revelation , 2) the wine of the wrath of God which He shall give her to drink, Revelation 14:10 , and ch. Revelation 16:19 . The latter is the retribution for the former: the former turns into the latter: they are treated as one and the same. Grot. and Ewald would render θυμός venenum ; and Ewald and Züllig understand by οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ , vini fervidi, neither of which the words will bear. The whole is from Jeremiah 51:7-8 , where Babylon is a cup in the Lord’s hand of which the nations are made to drink.

This is the first mention of Babylon, hereafter to be so much spoken of. I reserve treatment of the interpretation till ch. 17: only mentioning by anticipation that Rome, pagan and papal, but principally papal, is intended). And another third angel followed them saying with a loud voice, If any one worshippeth the beast and his image (see above, ch. Rev 13:15 ), and receiveth the mark on his forehead or upon his hand (ch. Rev 13:16 ), he also ( καί either 1) may be quasi-redundant, introducing the apodosis merely as an addition to the protasis, or 2) may mean, as well as Babylon. The former sense seems to me the more probable) shall drink (we have the second person πίεσαι of the same future form in Luke 17:8 ; see also Psalms 74:8 , cited below) of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mingled (i. e. as E.V. poured into the cup. From the almost universal custom of mixing wine with water, the common term for preparing wine, putting it into the cup, came to be κεράννυμι . Hence the apparent contradiction in terms here, τοῦ κεκερασμένου ἀκράτου (and in Psa 74:8 below). On Od. ε . 93, κέρασσε δὲ νέκταρ ἐρυθρόν , Eustathius says, οὐ δηλοῖ κρᾶμά τι , ἀλλ ʼ ἀντὶ τοῦ ἐνέχει κεῖται . See Wetst., who gives several citations in which κεράννυμι itself is derived from κέρας , a drinking-horn) pure (unmixed: cf. Galen in Wetst., οἶνον ἄκρατον εἶναι λέγομεν , ᾧ μὴ μέμικται τὸ ὕδωρ , ἢ παντάπασιν ὀλίγον μέμικται .

The figure of the cup of the Lord’s wrath is found in ref. Ps., ποτήριον ἐν χειρὶ κυρίου, οἴνου ἀκράτου πλῆρες κεράσματος.… πίονται πάντες οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ τῆς γῆς , from which this is evidently taken) in the cup of His anger, and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the angels and in the presence of the Lamb (see ch. Revelation 20:10 , and ref. Isa. from which the imagery comes. De Wette is certainly wrong in interpreting ἐνώπιον “ nach dem Urtheile ,” “in the judgment of.” It is literal, and the meaning as in Luke 16:23 ff., that the torments are visible to the angels and the Lamb). And the smoke of their torment goeth up to ages of ages (see ref. Isa., and Genesis 19:28 , which doubtless is the fountain-head: also ch. Rev 19:3 ): and they have not rest (from torment) day and night who worship the beast and his image; and whoever (from speaking collectively the solemn declaration becomes even more solemn by individualizing) receives the mark of his name. Here (viz. in the inference to be drawn from the certainty of everlasting torment to all who worship the beast or receive his mark: that all the saints of God must refuse to do either) is the endurance of the saints, who keep (the independent nom. construction, see reff.) the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (gen. objective, which has Him for its object: compare ref. Mark). And I heard a voice out of heaven (whose, is not told us, and it is in vain to speculate: certainly not, as Hengstb., from the spirits of the just themselves. The γράψον would rather point to the angel who reveals the visions to the Seer, ch. Revelation 1:1 , and compare ch. Revelation 4:1 , and Rev 19:9 ), saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth (the connexion is not difficult. The mention of the endurance of the saints brings with it the certainty of persecution unto death. The present proclamation declares the blessedness of all who die not only in persecution, but in any manner, in the Lord, in the faith and obedience of Christ. And the special command to write this, conveys special comfort to those in all ages of the church who should read it. But it is not so easy to assign a fit meaning to ἀπ ʼ ἄρτι . That it belongs to the former sentence, not to the following one, is I conceive plain: few will be found to join with Lambert Bos, Exercitt. p. 209, in connecting it to ναί , and making it = ἀπηρτισμένως , absoluté. And, thus joined with the former sentence, it must express some reason why this blessedness is to be more completely realized from this time when it a proclaimed, than it was before. Now this reason will quickly appear, if we consider the particular time, in connexion with which the proclamation is made. The harvest of the earth is about to be reaped; the vintage of the earth to be gathered. At this time it is, that the complete blessedness of the holy dead commences: when the garner is filled and the chaff cast out. And that not on account of their deliverance from any purgatorial fire, but because of the completion of this number of their brethren, and the full capacities of bliss brought in by the resurrection. Nor can it legitimately be objected to this, that the pres. part. ἀποθνήσκοντες requires a continuance of that which is imported by it: that the deaths implied must follow after the proclamation. For no doubt this would be so, the proclamation itself being anticipatory, and the harvest not yet actually come: but on the other hand so much must hardly be built upon the pres. part., which is so often used to designate a class only, not to fix a time). Yea, saith the Spirit (the utterance of the voice from heaven still continues. The affirmation of the Spirit (reff.) ratifies the blessedness proclaimed, and assigns a reason for it), that they shall rest (the ἵνα gives the ground of the μακάριοι , and the construction with an indic. fut. is a mixed one compounded of “that they may,” and “in that they shall.” The future ἀναπαήσονται from ἀναπαύω is formed as κατακαήσομαι from κατακαύω . It seems not to be elsewhere found) from their labours: for their works follow with them ( γάρ , which has seemed so difficult, and which apparently gave rise to the δέ of the rec., is in fact easily explained. They rest from their labours, because the time of working is over, their works accompanying them not in a life of activity, but in blessed memory: wherefore not labour, but rest is their lot. Wetst. quotes from Aboth vi. 9, “hora discessus hominis non comitantur eum argentum aut aurum aut lapides pretiosi aut margaritæ, sed lex et opera bona”).

Verses 14-16

14 16 .] The harvest. And I saw, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud ( ἐπί with accus. on first mention, see ch. Rev 4:2 note), one sitting like to the Son of man (i. e. to Christ, see ch. Rev 1:13 note. This clearly is our Lord Himself, as there), having upon his head a golden crown (in token of His victory being finally gained: see ch. Rev 19:12 ) and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel (besides the three angels before mentioned: no inference can be drawn from this that the Sitter on the cloud is a mere angel) came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to him that sat upon the cloud, Put forth (send = ἀποστέλλειν , ref. Mark. De W.’s objection, that the sitter on the cloud cannot be Christ Himself, because He would not be introduced receiving a command from an angel, may be well answered, as Düsterd., that the angel is only the messenger of the will of God. And I may add what to me makes this reply undoubtedly valid, that the command is one regarding the times and seasons, which the Father hath kept in his own power) thy sickle (the whole is a remembrance of our Lord’s own saying in ref. Mark: see below) and reap: because the time to reap is come, because the harvest of the earth ( θερισμός for that which is to be reaped: as in the first ref.) is dried (perfectly ripe, so that the stalk is dry = παρέστηκεν ὁ θερισμός , Mark 4:29 ; = also the fields being λευκαὶ πρὸς θερισμὸν ἤδη , John 4:35 ; which they can only become by losing their moisture. The distinction in the passages cited by Mr. Elliott from Bernard (“magis siccæ ad ignem quam albæ ad messem”), and Pope Gregory X. (“agerque potius arescere videatur ad ignem, quam albescere inveniatur ad messem”) does not seem really to exist. The passage of Hermas, book iii. sim. 3, 4; Luke 23:31 ; John 15:6 , do not apply; trees, and not grain, being there spoken of). And he that sat upon the cloud put in (reff.) his sickle upon (into, from above) the earth, and the earth was reaped (to what does this harvest refer? Is it the ingathering of the wicked, or of the saints, or of both together? Each of these has examples in Scripture symbolism. The first, in Jeremiah 51:33 , where it is said of Babylon, “It is time to thresh her, yet a little while and the time of her harvest is come:” and as appears, Joel 3:13 , though the reference seems rather there to be to the vintage, and the LXX render קָצִיר τρυγητός : the second, in Matthew 9:37-38 ; Mark 4:29 ; Luke 10:2 ; John 4:35 ; the third, in Matthew 13:30 ; Matthew 13:39 . The verdict of Commentators is very much divided. There are circumstances in the context which tell both ways. The parallelism with the vintage, which follows, seems to favour a harvest of the wicked: but then on the other hand, if so, what is the distinction between the two ingatherings? And why do we read of the casting into the winepress of God’s wrath in the second case, and of no corresponding feature in the other? Again, why is the agency so different the Son of man on the white cloud with the golden crown in the one case, the mere angel in the other? Besides, the two gatherings seem quite distinct. The former is over before the other begins. On the whole then, though I would not pronounce decidedly, I must incline to think that the harvest is the ingathering of the saints, God’s harvest, reaped from the earth: described here thus generally, before the vintage of wrath which follows. And thus we have at least these two visions in harmony with the character of this section, which contains the mingled agency and fortunes of the Church and of its enemies; thus this harvest answers to the great preaching of the everlasting gospel above, Revelation 14:6-7 , while the following vintage fulfils the denunciations of wrath on those who worship the image or receive the mark of the beast, Revelation 14:8 ; Revelation 14:11 . And thus too we bring this description into harmony with our Lord’s important parable in Mark 4:29 , where the very words are used of the agency of Christ Himself when the work of grace is ripe, whether in the individual or in the church. But while thus inclined, I will not deny that the other view, and that which unites both, have very much to be said for them).

Verses 14-20

14 20 .] The vision of the harvest and the vintage .

Verses 17-20

17 20 .] The vintage of wrath . And another angel (the ἄλλος may perhaps refer to the three angels who have already appeared in this vision: or, which is more probable, referring to the last-mentioned Agent, may be a general term, not necessarily implying that He was a mere angel) came out from the temple which was in heaven (from which come forth God’s judgments: see ch. Rev 11:19 ), having himself also (as well as that other: but the καὶ αὐτός rather raises a distinction between the two personages than sets them on an equality: there is some slight degree of strangeness, after what has gone before, in this angel having a sickle) a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar (viz. that elsewhere several times mentioned, ch. Revelation 6:9 , Revelation 8:3 , Revelation 16:7 , in connexion with the fulfilment of God’s judgments in answer to the prayers of His saints), he who hath power over the fire (viz. that on the altar; the same angel who is introduced ch. Rev 8:3-5 as presenting the prayers of the saints, and casting some of the fire of the altar to the earth as introductory to the judgments of the trumpets), and he cried with a great cry to him who had the sharp sickle (it is to be observed that the whole description of this angel, coming from the altar of vengeance, differs widely from any thing in the former part of the vision, and favours the idea that this vintage is of a different nature from that harvest), saying, Put in thy sharp sickle, and gather the bunches of the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe. And the angel (no such expression is used above, Revelation 14:16 . There it is ὁ καθήμενος ἐπὶ τῆς νεφέλης . All these signs of difference are worthy of notice) put in (reff.) his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast (viz. what he had gathered) into the great winepress of the wrath of God (the curious combination, τὴν ληνὸν … τὸν μέγαν , is only to be accounted for by an uncertainty in the gender of the substantive (it is masc. Genesis 30:38 ; Gen 30:41 ed. Rom. See Winer, edn. 6, § 59. 4, b), and perhaps a tendency, when emphatically subjoining an epithet describing greatness, to substitute the worthier gender.

Any thing corresponding to this feature is entirely wanting in the previous description of the harvest. See on it, ch. Revelation 19:15 , and the prophetic passages in reff. especially Isa. from which the symbolism comes). And the winepress was trodden (reff.) outside the city (see below), and blood (so Isa 63:3 ) came forth from the winepress as far as to the bits of the horses, to the distance (ref.) of a thousand six hundred stadii (it is exceedingly difficult to say what the meaning is, further than that the idea of a tremendous final act of vengeance is denoted. The city evidently = ἡ πόλις ἡ ἔξωθεν of ch. Revelation 11:2 (not that of Revelation 11:8 , see note there), viz. Jerusalem , where the scene has been tacitly laid, with occasional express allusions such as that in our Revelation 14:1 . The blood coming forth from the treading of the winepress is in accordance with the O. T. prophecy alluded to, Isaiah 63:3 . It is in the depth, and the distance indicated, that the principal difficulty lies. The number of stadii is supposed by some to be the length of the Holy Land as given by Jerome (Ep. (cxxix.) ad Dard., 4, vol. i. p. 971) at 160 Roman miles. But the great objection to this is, that 160 miles = 1280, not 1600 stadii. Another view has been, that 1600 has been chosen as a square number, = 40 × 40, or 4 × 400, or 4 × 4 × 100. Victorinus explains it “per omnes mundi quatuor partes: quaternitas enim est conquaternata, sicut in quatuor faciebus et quadriformibus et rotis quadratis.” He gives a very curious interpretation of the depth, “usque ad principes populorum.” We may fairly say, either that the number is assigned simply to signify completeness and magnitude (in which case some other apocalyptic numbers which have been much insisted on will fall perhaps under the same canon of interpretation), or else this is one of the riddles of the Apocalypse to which not even a proximate solution has ever yet been given).

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 14". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/revelation-14.html. 1863-1878.
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