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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 14

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-20


Section Twelfth

Heavenly World-picture of the Seven Vials of Anger, or the Judgment of Anger in its General Form (embracing the Three Special Judgments upon Babylon, the Beast and Satan.) (Chs. 14, 15)

General.—The peculiar sublimity of this section is thoroughly manifest only when it is regarded as representative of the heavenly celebration of God’s anger-judgments on earth, and when its relation to these is recognized in the treatment of it. The dreadful darkness of these judgments, as they here appear, is pure light above,—aye, it is there resolved into festal radiance. Above, the measures of Divine anger, ruling, as a holy anger of united love and righteousness, over the wrath of the heathen [nations], and, by its ruling, conducting the latter to the judgment of self-annihilation, are recognized and magnified, in their holiness and gloriousness, to the glory of God and the Lamb.

In the foreground of the whole festal scene stands the Lamb, on the Mount Zion, surrounded by the 144,000 elect, who represent the Church Triumphant. Herein two grand ideas are involved. On the one hand, the Lamb has lifted His heavenly Congregation high above the sphere of anger; and, on the other hand, it is the very righteousness and privilege of the Lamb and His companions by which the wrath of the heathen [nations] is excited, and the holy anger of God at that wrath is superinduced. Here lies the causality of the Vials of Anger.

Next follows a description of the perfect heavenly consciousness of the necessity for these judgments, as well as of the ideal import of them—that at the right time they must needs come as the harvest of the earth, now that the earth is ripe for harvest,—ripe for a judgment which will be the final redemption, in virtue of its separation betwixt the wheat and the chaff. This entire description is presented in the form of a grand transaction between six Angels, three of whom are charged with the proclamation of the judgment, whilst the three others have the symbolic execution of it. The two divisions are separated by an intervening voice from Heaven, declaratory of the blessedness of the dead who die in the Lord. The first herald of the judgment proclaims throughout the universe that the imminent judgment will be an eternal Gospel, a Gospel of eternity, for all who give glory to God. As a death-judgment, the judgment is divided into two sections, the first consisting of the judgment upon Babylon the Great, and the second composed of the judgment upon the Beast and its worshippers. These two judgments form two sides of the one general judgment (Revelation 14:19-20). The transactions of the three executive Angels likewise fall into two divisions. At the head of the three executive Angels appears the seventh, or rather the first, figure of the entire group, the Man on the white cloud, or the Lamb, again, in another form. As the Father has reserved to Himself the time and the hour of the final judgment, an Angel represents this reservation on the part of the Father, by summoning the One on the cloud to the harvest of the earth. Christ casts His sickle upon the earth, and thus ensues the harvest in the truest sense of the term—the harvest of redemption, of the redeemed. This is followed by the harvest of anger. Thus is unfolded the perfect heavenly consciousness concerning the idea, the purpose, the time and the hour of the judgment of anger.

Next follows Act the Third, the representation of the holy order of the judgment of anger, and its sacred heavenly measures. The Divine clemency which characterizes the judgment itself is expressed first by the fact that it is septenariously divided; secondly, by the execution of the judicial decrees by seven Angels of God; and, thirdly, by the circumstance that the result of the judgment once more appears,—the crystal sea, the eternal, new humanity,—and that this result is celebrated by a song, in which the song of Moses, or the song of anger, and the song of the Lamb, or the song of love, are united. Worthy of special prominence is the further fact that the Angels go forth from the Temple of the tabernacle of the witness, and thus accord with the ideality of the Divine Law—a truth which is likewise expressed in their holy adornment [clothed in pure and white linen], and in the committal to them of the dispensation of the Divine anger in golden vials—in heavenly measures, determined by Divine faithfulness (see Exeg. Notes).


[Chs. 14, 15.] Pre-celebration of the anger-judgment in Heaven.

[Revelation 14:1-5.] The Church Triumphant: (a) Her stand-point, (b) her centre, (c) her characteristics, (d) her song.—Relation of the 144,000 triumphant ones to the 144,000 sealed ones (Revelation 7:0).—The end-judgment as the harvest of the earth.—The new Bong: (1) Its newness, (2) its melodies, (3) the singers, (4) the hearers.

[Revelation 14:6.] The eternal [everlasting] Gospel as the Gospel of eternity. Or as the eschatological phase of the one principial Gospel.

[Revelation 14:8.] Pre-celebration, in Heaven, of the judgment upon Babylon.

[Revelation 14:9-11.] Pre-celebration of the judgment upon Antichristianity.

[Revelation 14:12.] The patience of the saints, (1) as endurance in persecution, (2) as forbearance from persecution.—Great warning against Antichristianity (Revelation 14:9-11).

[Revelation 14:13.] Blessed are the dead, etc., or the heavenly peace-bell, pealing amid the thunders of judgment.

[Revelation 14:14-20.] God’s double harvest on earth: 1. The proper harvest (the sickle); 2. The improper harvest (the wine-press).

Revelation 15:0 : The heavenly equipment of the seven Angels of Anger in its grand significance: 1. What they effect (Revelation 15:2); 2. What they glorify (Revelation 15:3); 3. What they bring about (Revelation 15:4).

[Revelation 15:6.] Forth-going of the judgments of God out of His Temple.—The judgments of God in their beauteous heavenly aspect (Revelation 15:6-7).

[Revelation 15:8.] Sublime veiling of the majesty of God during the time of His judgments on earth, and the import of that veiling.

Starke (Chap. 14.): Christ stands in the midst of His Church, over against Antichristian abominations and cruelties, as a Conqueror (Psalms 100:2), and is ready to help His people (Acts 7:56).—Cramer: The holy Christian Church is not founded upon the sand, but upon a mountain (Psalms 68:16), aye, firmer than the seven mountains on which the great city lies (Revelation 17:9).

Revelation 14:2. This is to be understood of the true confessors of the Church’s doctrine, in which doctrine they, in reference to the corruption of the spiritual Babylon, are emphatic and unanimous. Hence there is ascribed to them a voice of great waters, because with their doctrines they instituted many movements; a voice of a great thunder, which penetrates and shakes all things, indicates the mighty preaching of the Gospel, Mark 3:17; and a voice of harmonious music teaches that all their doctrines beautifully harmonized in Christ, Colossians 3:16. (All this is, indeed, not yet fulfilled in Protestant theology or the ecclesiastical structures of the Reformation, so far as their outward form is concerned.) This picture is drawn from the service of the Levites in the Old Testament (Psalms 134:0).

Revelation 14:3. It sounded entirely new (as when we hear a new and unknown song, set to a strange and unaccustomed tune), because the faithful bring it with new hearts, and because it tells of new benefits, etc.—It is called new in antithesis to the old.—God’s praise must be sung in the Church.—He who would sing the Gospel song aright, must have a new heart and must have his face set toward God and His Throne.

Revelation 14:6. The Angel with the everlasting Gospel. Those who regard this as fulfilled, explain it as follows; This has reference to a remarkable teacher who should reform the Church and purify it in the time of Antichrist; by this Angel, Luther and his associates, who began the Reformation, are intended. Those who regard it as future, explain as follows: The voices of these three Angels pertain to the very last time, etc.

Revelation 14:8. This expression is taken from the philters or love-potions of abandoned women, etc.

Revelation 14:9. This proves clearly that the Beast cannot be the Harlot, or the Papacy.

Revelation 14:13. The ancients carefully distinguished between dying for the Lord and dying in the Lord; the former is peculiar to martyrs, the latter is common to all true Christians. (The distinction, becomes false, however, so soon as it is pressed.)—The voice of the Lord which gives command to write, also commands men to read.—The tears which flow at the departure of pious persons may be wiped away by the diligent contemplation of the bliss to which they have attained.—The Holy Scriptures know of no purgatorial fires; those who have died in the Lord they place, immediately upon their death, in Heaven.

Revelation 14:15. And another Angel. Some understand, by this other Angel, the Holy Ghost, Who is sent into the hearts of men and, with strong crying, makes the distress of the faithful known unto Christ.

Revelation 14:18. Some regard the Angel mentioned here, as the Holy Ghost.

Revelation 14:20. In the grain harvest there is no sign of anger, but, on the contrary, there is mercy in it, for believers who have remained faithful to Jesus under the domination of the Beast, are then gathered into God’s garner because the judgment upon the wicked is at hand (Matthew 13:30). The vintage is a harvest of anger, for there is express mention of anger in this connection (Revelation 14:19).—Revelation 15:3. Some apprehend the song of Moses as the Law and the song of the Lamb as the Gospel (in contra-distinction to those who regard the song of Moses as the song of the physical redemption, by means of the passage through the Red Sea, and the song of the Lamb as the song of the spiritual redemption from the spiritual Egypt). True servants of God must unite the song of Moses and that of the Lamb—the old and the new.

Sabel (see p. 73): Revelation 14:1. He is called the Lambkin [τὸ�] in antithesis, to the great red Dragon (Revelation 12:3) who gave his great authority to the Beast (Revelation 13:2), and in antithesis to the Beast itself, which speaks great things and blasphemies (Revelation 13:5).

Revelation 14:3. No one could learn the song, etc. There are, then, lessons to be learned even in Heaven. That learning will, however, be something different from our more mechanical, discursive learning. Even [in this mortal life] we know the difference between this latter learning and the being taught of God (John 6:45).

Revelation 14:4. Even on the basis of the Apocalypse a literal interpretation of this passage would be productive of great embarrassment. Such an interpretation would exclude from the 144,000 the Apostles themselves—a thing inconceivable according to Matthew 19:28; the brethren of the Lord—of whom it is related, 1 Corinthians 9:5, that they carried their wives with them on their missionary journeys; and also Philip, one of the deacons, the father of four daughters (Acts 21:8-9). There is, moreover, not the slightest indication to be found in the Old Covenant, from the participants in which the nucleus of the heavenly congregation of the first fruits had been gathered, that celibacy was regarded with any favor in Israel. On the contrary, no eunuch, no impotent man, could enter into the congregation of God (Deuteronomy 23:1), and only of the future system of salvation was it prophesied that not even the eunuch should be shut out from it (Isaiah 56:3; see Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4-5; Eph 5:23; 2 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Timothy 4:1-3).—The Angel with the everlasting Gospel. This is the Angel of missions, the representative of all missionary labor, both within apostate Christendom and in heathen lands. (Missions are good and great; but the reference here is to a time when missions must have completed their work, and to a new fact, the end-judgment, in its character of a gospel of a blessed eternity, for believers.)

[From M. Henry: Revelation 14:13. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth, etc. They are blessed, 1. In their rest; they rest from all sin, temptation, sorrow, and persecution. 2. In their recompense, their works follow them; they do not go before them as their title or purchase, but follow them as their evidence of having lived and died in the Lord. 3. In the time of their dying, when they have lived to see God’s cause reviving, the peace of the Church returning, and the wrath of God falling upon their idolatrous, cruel enemies.—From The Comprehensive Commentary: Revelation 14:4. They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. Through persecutions and tribulations, into obscurity, or into prisons, with self-denial, obedient faith, and patient hope; “taking up their cross,” and copying His example of meekness, purity and love. (Scott.)—From Barnes: Revelation 14:3. To appreciate fully the song of Zion; to understand the language of praise; to enter into the spirit of the truths which pertain to redemption, one must himself have been redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Revelation 14:11. And they have no rest, day nor night. It will be one of the bitterest ingredients in the cup of woe, in the world of despair, that the luxury of rest will be denied forever, and that they who enter that gloomy prison sleep no more; never know the respite of a moment—never even lose the consciousness of their heavy doom.

Revelation 14:13. Blessed are the dead. We should be grateful for any system of religion which will enable us thus to speak of those who are dead; which will enable us, with corresponding feeling, to look forward to our own departure from this world.—Which die in the Lord. Not all the dead; for God never pronounces the condition of the wicked who die, blessed or happy. The declaration is confined to those who furnish evidence that they are prepared for heaven. “To die in the Lord” implies, 1. That they who thus die are the friends of the Lord Jesus. 2. It would seem also to imply that there should be, at the time, the evidence of His favor and friendship. This would apply (1) to those who die as martyrs; and (2) to those who have the comforting evidence of His presence and favor on the bed of death.—That they may rest from their labors. In view of such eternal rest from toil, we may well endure the labors and toils incident to the short period of the present life, for however arduous or difficult, it will soon be ended.—Their works do follow them. Note here, 1. That all that the righteous do and suffer here will be appropriately recompensed there. 2. This is all that can follow a man to eternity. He can take with him none of his gold, his lands, his raiment; none of the honors of this life, none of the means of sensual gratification. All that will go with him will be his character, and the results of his conduct here; and, in this respect, eternity will be but a prolongation of the present life. 3. It is one of the highest honors of our nature that we can make the present affect the future for good; that by our conduct on earth we can lay the foundation for happiness millions of ages hence.

Revelation 14:15. For the time is come for Thee to reap. That is, “the harvest which Thou art to reap is ripe; the seed which Thou hast sown has grown up; the earth which Thou hast cultivated has produced this golden grain, and it is fit that Thou shouldst now gather it in.”—From Vaughan: Revelation 14:7. Till a man fears, he can never know hope. The first, call of the everlasting Gospel itself is to fear God and to worship the universal Creator.

Revelation 14:11. Some rest not day nor night from praise (Revelation 4:8); others rest not day nor night from suffering.

Revelation 14:15. As there is a harvest of the earth for good, so also there is a harvest of the soul, an immaturity and a ripeness of the individual Christian.

Revelation 14:18. So also there is an individual ripening for the vintage of wrath and judgment.—From Bonar: These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. We follow Him here in suffering and service, as we shall follow Him hereafter in glory and joy.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/revelation-14.html. 1857-84.
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