CH. Revelation 17:1 to Revelation 19:10.] THE JUDGMENT OF BABYLON. And herein, Revelation 17:1-6.] The description of Babylon under the figure of a drunken harlot, riding on the beast. And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials (we are not told which of the seven, and it is idle to enquire. The seventh has been conjectured, because under the outpouring of his vial Babylon was remembered) and talked with me saying, Hither (see reff.), I will shew thee the judgment of the great harlot that sitteth upon [the] many waters, with whom the kings of the earth (have) committed fornication, and they who inhabit the earth have been made drunk from the wine ( ἐκ, the wine having been the source of their drunkenness) of her fornication (the figure here used, of a harlot who has committed fornication with secular kings and peoples, is frequent in the prophets, and has one principal meaning and application, viz. to God’s church and people that had forsaken Him and attached herself to others. In eighteen places out of twenty-one where the figure occurs, such is its import; viz. in Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:1; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:8; Ezekiel 16:15-16; Ezekiel 16:28; Ezekiel 16:31; Ezekiel 16:35; Ezekiel 16:41; Ezekiel 23:5; Ezekiel 23:19; Ezekiel 23:44; Hosea 2:5; Hosea 3:3; Hosea 4:15 (Micah 1:7). In three places only is the word applied to heathen cities: viz. in Isaiah 23:15-16 to Tyre, where, Revelation 17:17, it is also said, “she shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth:” and in Nahum 3:4 to Nineveh, which is called the well-favoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. And there the threat is pronounced of a very similar ruin to that which befalls Babylon here. So that the Scripture analogy, while it points to unfaithfulness and treachery against God’s covenant, also brings to mind extensive empire and wide-spread rule over the kingdoms of the earth. It is true, that as far as the image itself is concerned, pagan Rome as well fulfils its requirements as Tyre and Nineveh. It will depend on subsequent features in the description, whether we are to bound our view with her history and overthrow. Still, it will not be desirable to wait for the solution of this question till we arrive at the point where those features appear: for by so doing much of our intermediate exegesis will necessarily be obscured. The decisive test then which may at once be applied to solve the question, is derived from the prophecy of the destruction of Babylon in ch. Revelation 18:2. It is to be laid utterly waste, and to “become the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Now no such destruction as this has yet befallen Rome, unless her transfer from pagan to papal rule be such a destruction, and the Pope and his ecclesiastics be described in the above terms. In an eloquent passage of Vitringa, he presses Bossuet with this dilemma. Again, it is said of this harlot, μεθʼ ἧς ἐπόρνευσαν οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς. But we may ask, if this be pagan Rome, who and what are these kings, and what is indicated by her having been the object of their lustful desires? In the days of Imperial Rome, there were no independent kings of the earth except in Parthia and Persia. Rome in her pagan state, as described for the purpose of identification in Revelation 17:18, was not one who intrigued with the kings of the earth, but ἡ ἔχουσα βασιλείαν ἐπὶ τῶν βασιλέων τῆς γῆς: she reigned over them with undisputed and crushing sway.
I do not hesitate therefore, induced mainly by these considerations, which will be confirmed as we proceed step by step in the prophecy, to maintain that interpretation which regards papal and not pagan Rome as pointed out by the harlot of this vision. The subject has been amply discussed by many expositors. I would especially mention Vitringa, and Bp. Wordsworth.
The “sitting upon many waters” is said of Babylon in Jer. in reff., but has here a symbolical meaning; see below, Revelation 17:15. On the ἐμεθύσθησαν see ch. Revelation 14:8. The same thing is said of Babylon in Jer. l. c. But there she herself is the cup in the Lord’s hand). And he (the angel) carried me away to the wilderness (not, as Elliott, al., and even Düsterd., “a wilderness.” Such inferences from the absence of the art. in this later Greek, never secure, are more than ever unsafe when a preposition precedes: and the usage of the LXX should have prevented any such rendering here. In no fewer than twenty places (see Tromm.) they use the word ἔρημος anarthrously, where there can be no question that “the wilderness” is the only rendering. In fact it may be questioned whether the expressly indefinite rendering, “a wilderness,” is ever justifiable, except in case of predication, or junction with an adjective, without some further indication than the mere omission of the definite article after a preposition. Had it been intended here, we may safely say that εἰς τόπον ἔρημον, or εἰς τόπον τινὰ ἔρημον would have been used. The most natural way of accounting for the Seer being taken into the wilderness here, is that he was to be shewn Babylon, which was in the wilderness, and the overthrow of which, in the prophecy from which come the very words ἔπεσεν ( πέπτωκεν, LXX) βαβυλών (Isaiah 21:9), is headed τὸ ὅραμα τῆς ἐρήμου. So that by the analogy of prophecy, the journey to witness the fall of Babylon would be εἰς ἔρημον. The question of the identity of this woman with the woman in ch. 12 is not affected by that of the identity of this wilderness with that) in the spirit (see reff., and note on ch. Revelation 1:10): and I saw a woman sitting upon a scarlet beast (this beast is introduced as if a new appearance: but its identity with that mentioned before, ch. Revelation 13:1 ff., is plain as the description goes onward. For not to mention the features which the two have in common, this beast, as soon as described, is ever after mentioned as τὸ θηρίον: and in ch. Revelation 19:19-20 the identity is expressly established. For there we read, Revelation 19:19, that the beast and the kings of the earth make war against the Lamb, which beast can be no other than this on which the woman rides, cf. our Revelation 19:12-14 :—and in the next verse, ch. Revelation 19:20, we read that the beast was taken, and the false prophet who did miracles before him, which beast can be no other than that of ch. 13. See Revelation 19:14 there. The identity of the two is therefore matter not of opinion, but of demonstration. The differences in appearance doubtless are significant. That with which we are now concerned, the scarlet colour, is to be understood as belonging not to a covering on the beast, but to the beast itself. It is akin to the colour of the dragon ( πυῤῥός), but as that is the redness of fire (see however ch. Revelation 6:4), so is this of blood, with which both the beast and its rider are dyed. It was the colour, see ref. Heb., of the wool to be used in sprinkling the blood of sacrifice. There may be an allusion to the Roman imperial purple: for the robe which was put on our Lord in mockery was κόκκινος, ref. Matt. But this is more probably conveyed by its own proper word in the next verse.
By the woman sitting on the wild-beast, is signified that superintending and guiding power which the rider possesses over his beast: than which nothing could be chosen more apt to represent the superiority claimed and exercised by the See of Rome over the secular kingdoms of Christendom), full of names of blasphemy (for the construction with accus., see reff., and Winer, edn. 6, § 32. 5. The names of blasphemy, which were found before on the heads of the beast only, have now spread over its whole surface. As ridden and guided by the harlot, it is tenfold more blasphemous in its titles and assumptions than before. The heathen world had but its Divi in the Cæsars, as in other deified men of note: but Christendom has its “most Christian” and “most faithful” Kings, such as Louis XIV. and Philip II.; its “Defenders of the faith,” such as Charles II. and James II.; its society of unprincipled intriguers called after the sacred name of our Lord, and working Satan’s work “ad majorem Dei gloriam;” its “holy office” of the Inquisition, with its dens of darkest cruelty; finally its “patrimony of St. Peter,” and its “holy Roman Empire;” all of them, and many more, new names of blasphemy, with which the woman has invested the beast. Go where we will and look where we will in Papal Christendom, names of blasphemy meet us. The taverns, the shops, the titles of men and of places, the very insurance badges on the houses, are full of them), having seven heads and ten horns (as in its former appearance, ch. Revelation 13:1; inherited from the dragon, ch. Revelation 12:3. These are presently interpreted: we now return to the description of the woman herself). And the woman was clothed in purple (St. John’s own word, even to its peculiar form, see reff., for the mock-imperial robe placed on our Lord: and therefore bearing probably here the same signification; but not in mockery, as Bed(121), “fucus simulati regiminis:” for the empire is real) and scarlet (see above. This very colour is not without its significance: witness the Cardinals, at the same time the guiding council of the Church and princes of the State), [and] gilded with gold and with (the κεχρυσωμένη is zeugmatically carried on) precious stone and with pearls (this description needs no illustration for any who have witnessed, or even read of, the pomp of Papal Rome: which, found as it is every where, is concentrated in the city itself), holding a cup of gold in her hand full of abominations and of the impure things (the change of construction is remarkable: for such it must be accounted, and not, with Düsterd., the accus. governed by ἔχουσα. It seems to be made, not to avoid an accumulation of genitives, as Hengstb., but to mark a difference between the more abstract designation of the contents of the cup as βδελύγματα, and the specification of them in the concrete as τὰ ἀκάθαρτα κ. τ. λ.) of her fornication (this cup is best taken altogether symbolically, and not as the cup in the Mass, which, however degraded by her blasphemous fiction of transubstantiation, could hardly be called by this name, and moreover is not given, but denied by her to the nations of the earth. That she should have represented herself in her medals as holding forth this cup (with the remarkable inscription, “sedet super universam;” see Elliott, vol. iv. p. 30, plate), is a judicial coincidence rather than a direct fulfilment), and (having) upon her forehead a name written (as was customary with harlots: so Seneca, Controv. i. 2, in Wetst.: “Stetisti puella in lupanari:.… nomen tuum pependit a fronte: pretia stupri accepisti:” and Juv. Sat. vi. 123 of Messallina, “Tunc nuda papillis Constitit auratis, titulum mentita Lyciscæ”), Mystery (is this word part of the name, or not? On the whole it seems more probable that it is. For though no such word would in the nature of things be attached to her forehead as part of her designation, so neither would the description which follows βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη, to which the word μυστήριον seems partly to refer. But whether part of the name or not, the meaning will be the same: viz. that the title following is to be taken in a spiritual and an enigmatical sense: compare ch. Revelation 1:20, and 2 Thessalonians 2:7), Babylon the great, the mother of the harlots and of the abominations of the earth (i. e. not only first and greatest of these, but herself the progenitress and origin of the rest. All spiritual fornication and corruption are owing to her, and to her example and teaching). And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus (as the Seer contemplates the woman, he perceives that she is drunken: and from what is revealed to him, and from her symbolic colour of blood, he assigns the cause of that intoxication. Wetst. quotes Plin. H. N. xiv. 28, “quo facile intelligitur ebrius jam sanguine civium, et tanto magis eum sitiens”). And I wondered, when I saw her, with great wonder (what was the ground of the Seer’s astonishment? One doubtless might be assigned, which would at once account for any degree of such emotion. If this woman is the same as he before saw, who fled into the wilderness from the face of the dragon, “the faithful city become an harlot” (Isaiah 1:21), he might well wonder. And certainly there is much in favour of such a supposition. It has been taken up by some considerable expositors, such as Auberlen (Der Prophet Daniel, pp. 278 ff.), who has argued earnestly but soberly for it. There is one objection to it, which has been made more of in this place than perhaps it deserves. It is, that in the Angel’s replication to St. John’s wonder, no allusion is made to this circumstance as its principal ground. But, it may well be replied, this would be just what we might expect, if the fact of identity were patent. The Seer, versed in the history of man’s weakness and depravity, full of O. T. prophetic thoughts and sayings, would need no solution of the fact itself: this would lie at the ground of his wonder, and of the angel’s explanation of the consequences which were to follow from it. Auberlen very properly lays stress on the fact, that the joint symbolism of the wilderness and the woman could not fail to call up in the mind of the Seer the last occasion when the two occurred together: and insists that this symbol must be continuous throughout. Without going so far as to pronounce the two identical, I think we cannot and ought not to lose sight of the identity of symbolism in the two cases. It is surely meant to lie beneath the surface, and to teach us an instructive lesson. We may see from it two prophetic truths: first, that the church on earth in the main will become apostate and faithless, cf. Luke 18:8; and secondly, that while this shall be so, the apostasy shall not embrace the whole church, so that the second woman in the apocalyptic vision should be absolutely identical with the first. The identity is, in the main, not to be questioned: in formal strictness, not to be pressed. This being so, I should rather regard St. John’s astonishment as a compound feeling, occasioned partly by the enormity of the sight revealed to him, partly also by the identity of the symbolism with that which had been the vehicle of a former and altogether different vision).
CH. Revelation 18:1 to Revelation 19:10.] THE DESTRUCTION OF BABYLON. And herein, Revelation 18:1-3.] Announcement of the destruction. The Seer does not see the act of destruction: it is prophesied to him in ch. 17, and now announced, as indeed it had been by anticipation before, ch. Revelation 14:8, as having taken place. After these things I saw another angel (another besides the one who shewed him the vision in the last chapter: or, perhaps, as it is natural to join the ἄλλον in some measure with the participle following,—another besides the last who came down from heaven, ch. Revelation 10:1) coming down out of heaven (the Seer is still on the earth) having great power (possibly, as Elliott suggests, as the executor of the judgment that he announced. If so, the announcement is still anticipatory, see Revelation 18:21), and the earth was lighted up by his glory ( ἐκ, as the source of the brightness): and he cried with (or, in) a mighty voice saying, Babylon the great is fallen [is fallen], and is become an habitation of dæmons (see especially LXX, Isaiah 34:14 ff.), and a hold (a place of detention: as it were an appointed prison) of every unclean spirit, and a hold of every unclean and hated bird (see the prophecy respecting Babylon, Jeremiah 50:39): because by (out of, as source: or, according to the other reading, of) the wrath of her fornication all the nations have fallen (or, according to the other reading, drunk: see on ch. Revelation 14:8. The use of the θυμός is even more remarkable here: of (or, by) that wine of her fornication which has turned into wrath to herself), and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth became rich out of the quantity ( δύναμις, copia, as Vitringa, who remarks, “alluditur ad Hebræam vocem חיל, cujus hæc significationis vis est, Job 31:25, Ezekiel 28:4.” We have πλούτου μεγάλου δύναμιν in Jos. Antt. iii. 2. 4) of her luxury ( στρῆνος, see reff. and note on 1 Tim., seems properly to mean the exuberance of strength, the flower of pride).
1–8.] The Church’s song of praise at the destruction of Babylon. As each of the great events and judgments in this book is celebrated by its song of praise in heaven, so this also: but more solemnly and formally than the others, seeing that this is the great accomplishment of God’s judgment on the enemy of His Church. Cf. ch. Revelation 4:8 ff., introducing, the whole heavenly scenery: Revelation 5:9 ff., celebrating the worthiness of the Lamb to open the book: Revelation 7:10 ff.: Revelation 11:15 ff., on the close fulfilment of God’s judgments at the sounding of the seventh trumpet: Revelation 15:3, on the introduction of the series of the vials: Revelation 16:5, on the retributive justice shewn in the pouring out of the third vial.
After these things I heard as it were a great voice of much multitude in heaven, of people saying ( λεγόντων is most naturally a second dependent genitive following on ὄχλου) Hallelujah (the word so often found in the Psalter, הַלְלוּ־יָה, ‘Praise ye Jah,’ i. e. Jehovah. Perhaps it is hardly justifiable to lay, as Elliott has done, a stress on this Hebrew formula of praise being now first used, and to infer thence that the Jews are indicated as bearing a prominent part in the following song. The formula must have passed, with the Psalter, into the Christian Church, being continually found in the LXX: and its use first here may be quite accounted for by the greatness and finality of this triumph), the salvation and the glory and the might belong to our God: because true and just are His judgments: because He judged (the aorr. as before are proleptic. In this case they can be rendered by the simple past in English) the great harlot, which corrupted (imperf.: whose habit it was to corrupt) the earth in ( ἐν of the element of the corruption) her fornication; and He exacted in vengeance the blood of His servants from her hand (so almost verbatim in 4 Kings Revelation 9:7, καὶ ἐκδικήσεις τὰ αἵματα τῶν δούλων μου τῶν προφητῶν, καὶ τὰ αἵματα πάντων τῶν δούλων κυρίου ἐκ χειρὸς ἰεζάβελ. The vengeance is considered as a penalty exacted, forced, out of the reluctant hand: see also Genesis 9:5; Ezekiel 33:6, where the verb is ἐκζητεῖν). And a second time they said Hallelujah; and her smoke (of her burning, ch. Revelation 18:9 al.: not, as Ewald, because τῆς πυρώσεως αὐτῆς is not added, of hell in general) goeth up to the ages of the ages (this addition gives a reason for the praise, parallel with those introduced by ὅτι before). And the twenty-four elders and the four living-beings fell down and worshipped God who sitteth upon the throne, saying Amen: Hallelujah (thereby confirming the general song of praise of the great multitude). And a voice came forth from the throne ( ἀπό perhaps (De W.) gives more the direction than the actual source of the voice ( ἐκ, as rec.). It is useless to conjecture whose voice it is: but we may say that ( τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν) it is not that of the Lamb, as Ew. and Hengstb. Our Lord never spoke thus: cf. John 20:17, note) saying, Give praise to our God, all His servants (cf. Psalms 134:1), [and] ye that fear Him, the small and the great (cf. Psalms 115:13). And I heard as it were the voice of much multitude (cf. Revelation 19:1), and as it were the voice of many waters, and as it were the voice of strong thunders, saying (nom. see ref.], Hallelujah, because the Lord God Almighty reigneth (here is a case where we cannot approach the true sense of the aor. ἐβασίλευσεν but by an English present: “reigned” would make the word apply to a past event limited in duration: “hath reigned” would even more strongly imply that the reign was over. It is well to note such cases, to shew the inadequacy of our past tenses to reproduce the Greek ones). Let us rejoice and exult, and we will give the glory to Him: because the marriage of the Lamb is come (these words introduce to us transitionally a new series of visions respecting the final consummation of the union between Christ and His Church, which brings about the end, ch. Revelation 21:1 ff.: the solemn opening of which now immediately follows in Revelation 19:11 ff. This series, properly speaking, includes in itself the overthrow of the kings of the earth, the binding of Satan, the thousand years’ reign, the loosing of Satan, the final overthrow of the enemy, and the general judgment: but is not consummated except in the entire union of Christ and His with which the book concludes. So that the aorr. ἦλθεν, ἡτοίμασεν, are in a measure proleptic.
This figure, of a marriage between the Lord and His people, is too frequent and familiar to need explanation. Cf. in the O. T. Isaiah 54:1-8; Ezekiel 16:7 ff.; Hosea 2:19 f.: and in the N. T., Matthew 9:15 (123) and note, Matthew 25:1 ff.; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25 ff. Indeed it penetrates almost every where the thoughts and language used respecting Christ and the Church), and his wife hath made herself ready (is complete in her adornment, as in next verse).
And it was given to her (have we in these words still the voice of the celestial chorus, or are they merely narrative, written in the person of the Seer himself? It seems to me that the latter alternative is rendered necessary by the fact of the explanation, τὸ γὰρ κ. τ. λ., being subjoined. Düsterd. makes the song end at λαμπρόν: but this seems harsh and disjointed. Moreover the ἐδόθη is the regular formula narrandi of the book) that (a construction of St. John’s, see reff.) she should be clothed in fine linen raiment, bright (and) pure (“Vides hic cultum gravem ut matronæ, non pompaticum qualis meretricis ante descriptus.” Grot.), for the fine linen raiment is (imports, see Matthew 26:26 reff.), the righteousness of the saints (i. e. their pure and holy state, attained, as in the parallel description ch. Revelation 7:14, is declared by the elder, by their having washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The plur. - ματα is probably distributive, implying not many δικαιώματα to each one, as if they were merely good deeds, but one δικαίωμα to each of the saints, enveloping him as in a pure white robe of righteousness. Observe that here and every where, the white robe is not Christ’s righteousness imputed or put on, but the saints righteousness, by virtue of being washed in His blood. It is their own; inherent, not imputed; but their own by their part in and union to Him).
9, 10.] The Bride in this blessed marriage being in fact the sum of the guests at its celebration, the discourse passes to their blessedness, and an assurance of the certainty of that which has been foretold respecting them. The Apostle, moved by these declarations, falls down to worship the angel, but is forbidden. And he saith (who? the only answer ready to our hand is, the angel of ch. Revelation 17:1. Some, as Ewald and Ebrard, suppose some one angel to have been constantly with St. John throughout the visions: but there seems no reason for this) to me, Write (cf. ch. Revelation 14:13) Blessed are they who are bidden (see reff.: and bear in mind, throughout, our Lord’s parables on this matter: Matthew 22:1 ff; Matthew 25:1 ff. Our ch. Revelation 3:20 furnishes us with a link binding on the spiritual import to the figure) to the supper of the marriage of the Lamb. And he saith to me (the solemn repetition of this formula shews that what follows it is a new and important declaration), These sayings (cf. ch. Revelation 17:17. If we understand that the speaker is the angel of ch. Revelation 17:1, then οὗτοι οἱ λόγοι will most naturally include the prophecies and revelations since then) are the true (we should hardly be justified, in a book where ἀληθινός has repeatedly occurred in a sense hardly distinguishable from ἀληθής, in pressing it here to its more proper meaning of “genuine” (as Düsterd.), which would very well suit the sense in this place) (sayings) of God (are the very truth of God, and shall veritably come to pass).
And I fell down before his feet to worship him (out of an overweening reverence for one who had imparted to him such great things: see also ch. Revelation 22:8, where the same again takes place at the end of the whole revelation, and after a similar assurance. The angel who had thus guaranteed to him, in the name of God, the certainty of these great revelations, seems to him worthy of some of that reverence which belongs to God Himself. The reason given by Düsterd., that in both cases John imagined the Lord Himself to be speaking to him, is sufficiently contradicted by the plain assertion, here in ch. Revelation 17:1, and there in ch. Revelation 22:8 itself, that it was not a divine Person, but simply an angel): and he saith to me, Take heed not (to do it): I am a fellow-servant of thine, and (a fellow-servant) of thy brethren who have the testimony of Jesus (as in reff.: on the former of which see note): worship God (both words are emphatic: let προσκύνησις be reserved for Him), for (these words following are those of the angel, not of the Apostle, as Düsterd.: Revelation 19:8, and ch. Revelation 5:8, where the Apostle gives explanations, are no rule for this place, where the explanation of necessity comes from the speaker, whose reason for prohibiting the offered homage it renders) the testimony of Jesus (the gen. ἰησοῦ is, as before, objective: the testimony borne to Jesus by these σύνδουλοι, men and angels) is the spirit of prophecy (there is no real difficulty in this saying: no reason for destroying its force by making ἰησοῦ subjective, and ἡ μαρτ· ἰης. to mean “the witness which proceeds from Jesus” (Düst.). What the angel says is this: Thou and I and our brethren are all ἔχοντες τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἰησοῦ (= μάρτυρες ἰησοῦ, as uniformly in this book); and the way in which we bear this witness, the substance and essence of this testimony, is, the spirit of prophecy; ἓν πνεῦμα ἐποτίσθημεν. This Spirit, given to me in that I shew thee these things, given to thee in that thou seest and art to write them, is the token that we are fellow-servants and brethren. Thus Vitringa: “Idem ille Spiritus qui loquitur agitque per eos qui prædicant testimonium Christo, quod agebant Apostoli, idem ipse est, qui per me loquitur, qui missus sum a Domino ut res venturi temporis tibi declararem. Tanta itaque tua quanta mea est dignitas, sumusque adeo conservi ad officia non disparia honoris et gradus a Domino appellati.” It does not follow that every one of those ἐχόντων τὴν μαρτυρίαν ἰησοῦ has, in the same distinguished degree, the Spirit of prophecy: but every such one has the same Spirit, and that one Spirit, and no other, is the Spirit of prophecy).
11–16.] The triumphal coming forth of the Lord and His hosts to victory. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse (the same words, including the five following, as in ch. Revelation 6:2. It is wonderful that this striking identity, in a book where symbolism is so constant to itself, has not prevented the mistakes which have been made in interpreting that place. This horse and Rider are (symbolically) the same as there: the νικῶν καὶ ἵνα νικήσῃ is on the point of its completion: the other horses and their riders, dark forms in His great world-long procession to victory, will now for ever vanish, and war and famine and pestilence be known no more), and He that sitteth upon him [called] faithful and true (see ref.), and in righteousness He judgeth and warreth (both those acts being his concern in his present triumphant progress. Notice that the very construction with the participles καθήμενος and καλούμενος is the same as that in ch. Revelation 6:2). His eyes (the δέ, as often, is best given in English by an asyndeton, marking a break in the sense, passing from the subjective to the objective description) [were as] a flame of fire (ch. Revelation 1:14 verbatim, again beyond question identifying Him), and upon His head (accus.: see ch. Revelation 4:2, note) many diadems (probably as He is βασιλεὺς βασιλέων: so Ewald, De W., Hengstb. Certainly these are not the crowns of the ten kings, as Züllig, al., for they are yet to be overthrown, Revelation 19:19 ff. The στέφανος of ch. Revelation 6:2 has become multiplied in the course of the subjection of the world to Him): having [names written (if these words are genuine, probably the meaning is that the names were inscribed on the diadems, signifying the import of each), and] a name written (where, is not said. From this portion of the description regarding His head, probably on the Brow) which none knoweth except Himself (what name is indicated? Certainly not that given below, Revelation 19:13; nor can these words mean that He Himself alone knows the mystery latent in that name (so Vitringa, al.). Nor again can we say that it is any of the names by which our blessed Lord is known to us already (so Ewald, al.). But it is the τὸ ὄνομά μου τὸ καινόν of ch. Revelation 3:12; some new and glorious name, indicative, as appears from the context there, of the completed union between Him and His people, and of His final triumph. This name the Apostle saw written, but knew not its import: that, like the contents of the sealed book, being reserved for the day when He shall reveal it): and clothed in a vesture dipped in blood (see Isaiah 63:2-3; which is clearly in contemplation here, from our Revelation 19:15 b. This being so, it is better perhaps to avoid the idea of His own blood being in view): and His name is called, The Word of God (this title forms so plain a link between the Apocalypse and St. John’s writings, where only it occurs, that various attempts have been made by those who reject his authorship, to deprive it of that significance. I have discussed these in the Prolegomena, § i. parr. 110, 111). And the armies which are in heaven (not the holy angels only, as De W. and Hengstb., but the glorified saints: the οἱ μετʼ αὐτοῦ of ch. Revelation 17:14, who are spoken of in reference to this very triumph, and are said to be κλητοὶ καὶ ἐκλεκτοὶ καὶ πιστοί) followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen [raiment] white, pure (this clothing also speaks for the saints being included in the triumphal procession: see Revelation 19:8, and ch. Revelation 6:11). And out of His mouth goeth forth a sharp sword (see ch. Revelation 1:16, Revelation 2:12; Revelation 2:16), that with ( ἐν, as invested in or with) it he may smite the nations; and He (there is an emphasis in this and the following clause on αὐτός, which however would be too strongly rendered by “himself”) shall rule (see ch. Revelation 2:27, Revelation 12:5, and note) them (masc.; their component members being in the Writer’s mind) with a rod of iron: and He (and none other, as we know from Isaiah 63:3) treadeth (it is His office to tread) the winepress of the wine of the fierceness of the wrath (of the outbreaking of the anger: see on ch. Revelation 16:19) of Almighty God. And He hath upon His vesture and upon His thigh a name written (i. e. most naturally, written at length, partly on the vesture, partly on the thigh itself; at the part where, in an equestrian figure, the robe drops from the thigh. The usual way of taking the words is to suppose the καί epexegetic or definitive of the former words, “on His vesture,” and that on the part of it covering His thigh. So De W., Düsterd., al. Others imagine (so Grot., al.) a sword, on the hilt of which the name is inscribed. But there is no trace of this in the text. Wetst. quotes Cicero, Verr. iv. 43, “Signum Apollinis pulcherrimum, cujus in femore literulis minutis argenteis nomen Myronis erat inscriptum:” and Pausanias, Eliac. extr., ἀνάθημα … ἀνδρὸς εἰκὼν … ἐλεγεῖον δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτὸ γεγραμμένον ἐστὶν ἐπὶ τοῦ μηροῦ, ζῆνι θεῶν βασιλεῖ μʼ ἀκροθίνιον ἐνθάδʼ ἔθηκαν ΄ενδαῖοι. See also Herod. ii. 106, where the inscription runs across the chest from shoulder to shoulder), King of Kings, and Lord of Lords (ch. Revelation 17:14).
Revelation 19:11 to Revelation 22:5.] THE END: beginning with the triumphal coming forth of the Lord and His saints to victory (Revelation 19:11-16), then proceeding with the great defeat and destruction of the beast and false prophet and kings of the earth (Revelation 19:17-21), the binding of Satan and the millennial reign (ch. Revelation 20:1-6), the unbinding of Satan and his destruction and that of the deceived nations (Revelation 20:7-10), the great general judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), and terminating with the vision of the new heavens and earth, and the glories of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1 to Revelation 22:5).
17–21.] Defeat and destruction of the beast and the false prophet and the kings of the earth: preceded by (Revelation 19:17-18) an angelic proclamation, indicating the vastness of the slaughter.
And I saw an (one) angel standing in the sun (not only as the place of brightness and glory becoming the herald of so great a victory, but also as the central station in mid-heaven for those to whom the call was to be made): and he cried with a great voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid-heaven, Come, be gathered together (see, on the whole of this proclamation, Ezekiel 39:17 ff., of which it is a close reproduction; also Matthew 24:28) to the great banquet of God, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains of thousands, and the flesh of strong men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all, free as well as bond, both small and great (this proclamation is evidently not to be pressed into a place in the prophecy, nor are its details to be sought in the interpretation, as has been done by Andreas and Primasius, who hold the birds to be angels, and Brightm., who holds them to be nations and churches. The insertion is made, as above, to shew the greatness and universality of the coming slaughter). And I saw the beast (ch. Revelation 13:1) and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together (as above under the sixth vial, ch. Revelation 16:12 ff., on the field of Harmagedon) to make their war (viz. that predicted above, ch. Revelation 16:14, Revelation 17:14) with Him that sitteth upon the horse and with his army ( στρατεύματος, sing. probably as being one, and having one Head, whereas they are many, and under various leaders). And the beast was taken (reff.), and those with him (to wit, the ψευδοπροφήτης, and οἱ λοιποί, Revelation 19:21; or, and with him the false prophet),—the false prophet who wrought the miracles in his presence (cf. ch. Revelation 13:11-17, by which it clearly appears that this false prophet is identical with that second beast), with which he deceived those who received (not necessarily nor probably, who had received, as E. V.: the aor. part. is contemporary, as usual, with the aor. verb: and is probably here used because the receiving the mark is one act, the worship ( προσκυνοῦντας) a continued habit) the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image (cf. ch. Revelation 13:14; Revelation 13:16): the two were cast alive into the lake of fire which burneth (the extraordinary concord, τοῦ πυρὸς τῆς καιομένης, appears to have been in the original text, and must be simply accepted as it stands) with brimstone (viz. into Gehenna, or hell properly so called, Matthew 5:22; where also, after the millennium, Satan himself is cast, ch. Revelation 20:10, and when their work is finally accomplished, Death and Hades, Revelation 20:14 a. This lake of fire constitutes the second death, Revelation 20:14 b, Revelation 21:8. These only, and not the Lord’s human enemies yet, are cast into eternal punishment. The latter await the final Judgment, ch. Revelation 20:11 ff.). And the rest (the βασιλεῖς and their στρατεύματα) were slain with the sword of Him that sitteth on the horse, which (sword) goeth forth out of His mouth (see Isaiah 11:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8. De Wette remarks, that it is a hint of the spiritual nature of this victory, that no battle seems actually to take place, but the Lord Himself, as in 2 Thess., destroys the adversaries with the sword out of his own mouth. But clearly, all must not be thus spiritualized. For if so, what is this gathering? what is indicated by the coming forth of the Lord in glory and majesty? Why is His personal presence wanted for the victory?): and all the birds were satiated with (out of, as the material of the satiety) their flesh.
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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Revelation 19". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany