Bible Commentaries
Revelation 19

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations

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Revelation 19:1-5 God is praised in heaven for judging the great whore, and avenging the blood of his saints.

Revelation 19:6-9 The triumph because of the marriage of the Lamb.

Revelation 19:10 The angel who showed John these things, refuseth to be worshipped.

Revelation 19:11-16 The vision of the Word of God sitting upon a white horse, and followed by his armies.

Revelation 19:17-19 The fowls called to feast on the flesh of those that took part with the beast.

Revelation 19:20,Revelation 19:21 The beast and false prophet cast into the lake of fire and brimstone; and the rest slain.

Verse 1

And after these things; after the pouring out of the fifth vial upon the seat of the beast, Revelation 16:10; for Revelation 17:1-24, as we have formerly hinted, is but a parenthesis to the history. God, in this chapter, more fully describes the effects of the pouring out that vial.

I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying: it may be understood either of the third heavens, or the heaven upon earth, the church of God; for the church triumphant and militant both will concur in praising God for the ruin of antichrist’s power.

Alleluia is a Hebrew word, and signifies: Praise ye the Lord.

Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: all these are but terms of honour and praise given unto God, acknowledging that the church’s salvation is from him, the effect of his power; and that to him, upon that account, all honour and glory imaginable is due, as having shown himself his people’s God.

Verse 2

For true and righteous are his judgments: the Lord’s judgments, in holy writ, sometimes signify his precepts, sometimes his dispensations of providence, either more generally, or more specially; in which last sense it signifies (as here) his punishment of sinners: these are just and righteous, and therefore called judgments.

For he hath judged the great whore, for he hath punished the papacy,

which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, which corrupted a great part of the earth with its idolatry.

And hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand; and by these judicial dispensations God hath also taken vengeance on them for the blood of his saints shed by them. It is remarkable, that all along this book idolatry and persecution are made the beast’s provoking sins.

Verse 3

As the church proceeded in her praises, so God proceeded in his judgments upon the great whore, until she was ruined past recovery.

Verse 4

See Poole on "Revelation 4:1", and following verses to Revelation 4:11. All the heavenly choir praise God upon this account, desiring that the Lord would fulfil what he had begun.

Verse 5

And a voice came out of the throne, from Christ, declaring it the will of God, that all holy ones should praise him upon this account.

Verse 6

By this multitude most understand the church. Some understand the Jews as well as the Gentiles, supposing that they shall be before this time converted and added to the church. Others think their conversion is the marriage spoken of in the next verse. The saints do not rejoice in the ruin of their adversaries, but in the glory of God advanced by it, and as his kingdom is by it promoted.

Verse 7

A late reverend author tells us: That as there is a three-fold resurrection mentioned in Scripture;

1. A rising to a newness of life, Ephesians 5:14;

2. The conversion of the Jews, called life from the dead, Romans 11:15;

3. In the end of the world:

so there is a threefold marriage of the Lamb;

1. To particular souls, when by faith they are united to Christ;

2. To his church completed, when the Jews shall be called;

3. When all his elect shall be made one with him in glory, after the general resurrection.

He seemeth to understand it of all these. Probably the conversion of the Jews stayeth for the fall of the papacy, whose worship and persecution are great scandals to them. Probably also, upon the fall of it, many will be converted besides the Jews, and the general resurrection will not be far off. The learned Dr. More seems to restrain it to the Jews’ conversion; I had rather understand it more generally.

Verse 8

And to her was granted; that is, to the Lamb’s wife, whether Jews or Gentiles, or both.

That she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; that she should be clothed with the righteousness of Christ, reckoned to her for righteousness. This

is the righteosness of the saints; called the righteousness of God, Romans 1:17; a righteousness through the faith of Christ, Philippians 3:9; called righteousness, in the Greek, because there are many saints to be clothed with it; and because it is imputed both for justification and sanctificaion, not to excuse us from holiness, but to make up our defects.

Verse 9

And he saith unto me, Write; write it, as a business of moment, of which a record is fit to be kept.

Blessed are they which are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb; that is, (say those who understand by the marriage of the Lamb the Jews’ conversion), who live in this happy period of time when the Jews shall be converted, and with the Gentiles make one gospel church. But this seems to me not sufficient. The marriage is one thing, the supper another, and (ordinarily) consequential to the marriage itself. The kingdom of glory seems to me rather intended, and those are called to it, who are made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

These are the true sayings of God; that is, these are the undoubted truths of God, and therefore to be called into question by none.

Verse 10

And I fell at his feet to worship him: prostration, or falling at the feet of superiors, to pay them an homage in consideration of their superiority, was ordinarily used in those Eastern countries, Genesis 44:14; 1 Samuel 25:24; 2 Kings 4:37; Esther 8:3. To worship him, therefore, here must be understood of prayer or praise, which are pieces of Divine adoration, which it is not probable this great apostle would have offered, had he not mistaken him, and thought him an uncreated angel.

And he said unto me, See thou do it not; but the angel doth not only refuse it, but with some indignation; Oρα μη, Have a care you do it not. From whence we may observe, what a fig leaf they have made to cover the papists’ idolatry, in worshipping the bread in the eucharist, who (to show us their great skill in divinity) think they may be excused from idolatry in it, because they think the bread is turned into the body of Christ; idolatry is not to be excused by think so’s.

I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: the angel gives him a reason why there was no adoration due to him, because he was his equal in office, though not in nature; he was both his and all their brethren’s fellow servant, who by preaching the gospel give a testimony to Christ. Well, therefore, Revelation 2:1-22, may the ministers of churches be called angels.

Worship God; there is no prayer, no praise, due but to the Creator.

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy: there are divers senses given of the last phrase; but of all given, there are two which seem to me most probable: either:

1. The spirit of this prophecy, by which I have revealed these things to thee, is not mine, it is the testimony of Jesus; he therefore is to be adored, not I. Or:

2. Thy preaching the gospel, which is thy testimony to Christ, is as much from the Spirit of God, as my spirit of prophecy: we are therefore equals, and I am not to be worshipped more than thou art.

We have the same, Revelation 22:8,Revelation 22:9, to let us know that even good men may twice run into the same error; and to let us know, that by the mouth of these two witnesses this truth ought to have been establisled, so that papists should not after this have paid any Divine adoration to angels, much less to saints; and if invocation be no Divine adoration, nothing is. This deserveth the consideration of them, who think it so easy to excuse the popish religion from idolatry.

Verse 11

The remaining part of this chapter is conceived more fully to open what shall come to pass under the sixth and seventh vials, mentioned Revelation 16:12,Revelation 16:17, more especially the battle in Armageddon, mentioned there, Revelation 16:16. There mention was made only of the armies’ being gathered together; here it is more fully described. At the beginning of the gospel, (saith a late learned annotator), John saw only a door opened, Revelation 4:1. At the resurrection of the witnesses, he saw the temple opened, Revelation 11:19. Here, after the ruin of Babylon, he seeth

heaven opened.

And behold a white horse: John saw such a horse, Revelation 6:2. Dr. More observes, that the horse with his rider signifies rule; and the white colour, prosperity and success. It appears that the rider was Christ, because he is called

Faithful and True, which agrees with Revelation 1:5; and by the names in the following verses, Revelation 19:13,Revelation 19:16, given to him.

Verse 12

His eyes were as a flame of fire: see Revelation 1:14; Revelation 2:18. This denoted either his piercing knowledge, or his infinite wisdom and understanding.

And on his head were many crowns; and there needs must be so; for, Revelation 19:16, he is said to be the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

And he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself; this denoted the incomprehensibleness of his Divine essence and perfections.

Verse 13

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; either to denote that he was he who redeemed us by his blood; or rather, to signify that he was now coming forth to shed the blood of his enemies, both in vindication of his own honour and glory, or of his people; in which notion it also agrees with Isaiah’s vision of him, Isaiah 63:1-3; Their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.

And his name is called The Word of God:

See Poole on "John 1:1". He is also called the Word, Revelation 1:2, a name given him hardly by any except this apostle.

Verse 14

And the armies which were in heaven followed him; the glorious angels, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, and ten thousands of his saints, Jude 1:14, who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.

Upon white horses; to prophesy success and victory.

Clothed in fine linen, white and clean; to denote their glory, purity, and holiness.

Verse 15

And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword: I can easily agree that this two-edged sword is the word of Christ coming out of his mouth, but not the gospel, (the time was past for that, it was the time of the sacrifice in Bozrah), but his word of command, calling out his people to take vengeance upon the remainder of his enemies. The sword was both the sword of the Lord, commanding it to be drawn, and the sword of his people, whose hands were to wield it.

That with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: with this he now smites the remainder of his enemies, and breaks them to pieces.

And he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God: his enemies were the grapes, that now were put into the winepress of God’s watchful providence; Christ trod them there: see Isaiah 63:3.

Verse 16

The same name as in Revelation 17:14; 1 Timothy 6:15; See Poole on "Revelation 17:14", See Poole on "1 Timothy 6:15"; denoting the sovereign power and authority which he had. This he always had, but he now comes forth openly to manifest it; therefore this name is said to be

written on his vesture and on his thigh, that all might take notice of it.

Verse 17

The best conjecture I can find at the sense of these words, is, that they signify the preachers’ of the gospel bold and clear foretelling the ruin of antichrist. There are divers kinds of fowls; amongst others, some that feed on flesh. These are those fowls here mentioned, such as feed upon dead carcasses. They are invited to the supper of the great God; called so, because it is made and prepared by the power of him who is the great God, or because it is a sacrifice to the justice of God: see 1 Samuel 17:46; Isaiah 18:6; Jeremiah 12:9; Ezekiel 39:17. God’s justice upon his enemies is called a sacrifice, Isaiah 34:6; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 39:17. Idolaters were wont upon their sacrificing to have a feast; God hath also a feast upon this his sacrifice, but it is for the fowls and beasts, that feed on dead carcasses.

Verse 18

In the former verse God invited all the ravenous fowls to a supper, he here showeth their cheer. The meaning is no more than this, that in the great battle of Armageddon, which was for the destruction of all the remainder of the enemies of the church, whether papists, or atheists, or Turks; men of all sorts and orders should be slain, and their dead bodies made meat for the fowls of heaven, that feed on dead flesh.

Verse 19

The beast, whether by it be understood the dragon, or the beast with seven heads and ten horns, or the beast with two horns, or all of them, shall before this time be all destroyed, that is, as to their power and dominion; but there will be relics left, both of pagans, and Turks, and papists, of whom it is probable that this is to be understood; viz. that after God, upon the pouring out of the fifth vial, shall have deprived the papacy of their dominion; and by the pouring out of the sixth vial, shall have deprived the Turk of his dominion; that yet such pagans, Turks, and papists, as shall be left, shall be gathered together, and make one or more great armies, with whom the Jews and Gentiles (now united in one church) shall fight under the conduct of Christ, as the Captain general of his church, by whom they shall be overcome; and that this shall be the great battle in Armageddon, mentioned Revelation 16:16.

Verse 20

The issue of this great battle will be the total ruin of all enemies of the church, their bodies being made meat for the fowls of the heaven, their souls cast into the bottomless pit of hell. The secular part of antichrist is here meant by

the beast; the ecclesiastical antichrist, by

the false prophet, that had cheated credulous princes and credulous people, with his pretended miracles, into an idolatry, that was but the image of the old idolatry of the heathens, in worshipping demons, and the images of such as were in great estimation amongst them while they were alive.

These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone; both these, the laic and secular popish party, and all their church party, that should be left to this day, shall all now be destroyed. In a matter of fact, not likely to appear in the world yet of two hundred years or more, and thus darkly foretold, who can be positive and particular? But this seemeth the sense of it, upon the former hypotheses: That the beast with the seven heads and ten horns, mentioned Revelation 13:1, and the beast with two horns, also there mentioned, Revelation 13:11, are antichrist, beginning with those Roman emperors that favoured the idolatry introduced by the bishops of Rome, and ending in ending in the universal bishop, or popes of Rome, and their clergy, who quickly wormed out the emperor’s power, and for one thousand two hundred and sixty years reigned, setting up idolatry and superstition, and corrupting the doctrine of faith, and for the six hundred years of time, persecuting the true church of Christ more notoriously. After which God will begin to reckon with him, gradually pouring out five vials upon him. I am very inclinable to think, that we in this age are yet under the pouring out of the second of these vials, seeing little yet effected towards the ruin of the papacy, more than the exposing of their idolatries and cheats to several princes and states, and to the generality of thinking people; nor hath the providence of God proceeded far in that as yet. The three other vials are yet to be poured out upon the papacy, besides that upon Euphrates, and then this last upon all the enemies of the church together: and who shall live when God shall do these things?

Verse 21

In all armies there are are common soldiers as well as officers. What the issue of this battle shall be, as to the leaders in it, the former verse told us: this tells us how it shall fare with those under the command of them. It seems they shall not be excused because they followed their leaders, and did only what they bade them; Christ commands that they also should be slain.

And all the fowls were filled with their flesh; and this bloody day (whenever it comes) will be a day of great slaughter, for the dead bodies will be enough to sup and fill all the fowls of heaven.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 19". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.