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Bible Commentaries
Revelation 15

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Verses 1-4

Rev 15:1-4

SECTION THREE

POURING OUT OF THE SEVEN PLAGUES

Revelation 15:1 to Revelation 16:21

PreliminaryNotes:

1. There are three sets of symbolic sevens, each one bringing the story to the end of time or the coming of the Lord. Since the prophetic history of the church from John’s time was pictorially revealed in the book of seven seals, naturally the seventh seal would not be exhausted till the end. The seven trumpets came under the last seal and the sound-ing of the seventh one brings the end. (Revelation 11:15-19.) In like manner the plagues, under another set of symbols, complete the cycle, for Revelation 15:1 says in them is "finished the wrath of God."

2. The fourteenth chapter was designed to encourage saints in their struggles by predicting the fall of Babylon (verse 8) and the final victory of the righteous (verse 13). Section three points out the means by which these glorious results are to be accomplished.

3. In view of the fact that these plagues were to be poured out upon the beast and his worshipers (Revelation 16:2; Revelation 16:10), it is evident that they represent a series of events that will ultimately end the papal hierarchy--accomplish the destruction of the "man of sin." This event will occur at the coming of the Lord. (2 Thessalonians 2:8.) All this is proof that the plagues did not begin to be poured out till after the 1,260-year period, or the time when Rome’s complete sway began to be destroyed.

1. AN INTRODUCTORY VISION

Revelation 15:1-4

1 And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God.--This sign which John saw in heaven was one of marvelous beauty fitted to excite wonder and prepare the mind to appreciate the promise of victory over the beast. Appearing in heaven would indicate that this victory would come through the judgments that God would providentially bring upon the beast. Saying that these plagues are the last is explained to mean that when they are completed the wrath of God against the papal beast power will be finished. However long a time may be covered by the plagues, their finish means the end of the world.

2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name,--A similarvision is recorded in 4:6 except that here the sea of glass is "min-gled with fire." There it was "before the throne"; here it is in heaven, hence must have reference in some way to the saved. This is further evident by the fact that it is those who are victorious that are standing by it, or upon it, according to the margin. Compare the notes on Revelation 4:6. On the expressions image of the beast and the number of his name see the notes on Revelation 13:15-18. The victory mentioned here evidently refers to the fact that those standing by the sea of glass had successfully resisted all the schemes and devices of the papacy to force them to accept its doctrines and practices; this they did in spite of threats and persecutions. The fire may represent the persecu-tions in which they attained their glorious victory. (Acts 14:22.)

standing by the sea of glass, having harps of God.--As the scene was laid in heaven and the persons were those who had gained a victory over the beast, it must refer to saints in glory, not to those in the church on earth. The word "harps," as a symbol, doubtless, means the praise that the redeemed will render to God. It certainly could not mean mechanical harps, for pure spirit beings would not need material harps. In Ephesians 5:19 Paul uses the Greek word psallo in a figurative sense, saying that it is done with the heart. Whatever spiritual faculties we have for praising God will be the heavenly harps. Whatever the meaning of this expression, it can have no reference to the church on earth. See notes on Revelation 14:2.

3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages.--It does not seem reason-able that those who gained a victory over the beast should sing the same song that was sung when Moses led Israel out of Egypt. (Exodus 15:1.) That they should celebrate their victory in an appropriate song like the Israelites did at the Red Sea is altogether reasonable hence, the language probably means that they sang a song to the Lamb as the Israelites did to Moses. Both victories were accomplished through God’s help and in a similar way. Since reference is made to the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, it is natural for the song to speak of God as having almighty power and his works being great and marvelous. The Red Sea and Mount Sinai furnish examples. That God should be just or righteous, true in all his ways, is required by his very nature. Pharaoh with all his wickedness was as justly treated as the Israelites in their affliction. So the reverses that fell upon the beast power were but evidences of the just providences of God.

God is here referred to as the "King of the ages"; the margin says King of nations, and the King James Version King of saints.It is immaterial which is the true reading, for if God is King at all, he is King of all three. There is a broad general sense in which God has and will rule in all ages, though the specific reign in this age is given to Christ. Since this authority was given to him by the Father, and he operates through the Father’s power, the direct reign will he given back to the Father in the final state. (1 Corinthians 15:24.)

4 Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest. --This means that all should fear his name because of his holiness. Then it is affirmed that all nations--that is, people from all nations--will come and worship before him. His righteous acts have been made known and those influenced by them to be faithful regardless of persecution will he per-mitted to worship before him in heaven and join in the song of praise.

Commentary on Revelation 15:1-4 by Foy E. Wallace

(1) The sign of the seven angels—Revelation 15:1-2.

1. And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues: for in them is filled up the wrath of GodRevelation 15:1. The “sign in heaven” carried the same import as observed in previous comments on other visions and in the Lord’s own preview of the destruction of Jerusalem in Matthew 24:31. What was here envisioned in heaven (the sphere of authorities) was carried out on earth (among the inhabitants of Palestine) with special reference to Judah and Jerusalem.

The seven angels with the seven vials and plagues formed a visional recapitulation of the seven seals and trumpets of the first series of visions--the difference existed in the central figures of the visions. The first series surrounded Christ, the Lamb; the second series surrounded the church, his Bride. The second series, though repetitive, was also a progressive development of the events in an enlargement of judicial punishments inflicted on the empire-beast. The seven plagues in the hands of the seven angels were contained in seven vials, as mentioned in Revelation 15:7, and this chapter had the effect of an introduction to the pouring out of the plagues contained in the vials of the following chapter.

In reference to the seven vials, verse 1 stated that in them is filled up the wrath of God, which indicated the fulfillment of time. The function of the seven angels therefore was to execute the seven plagues in the series of cosmic woes to be poured out on the earth--the land of the Jews. The visions of these final plagues, or woes, anticipated the overthrow of apostate Jerusalem, referred to previously as the fall of the harlot Babylon. Later, the same seven angels were seen showing to John the new Jerusalem emerging as the spiritual Jerusalem in contrast with the old apostate Jerusalem.

2. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of GodRevelation 15:2. Here was the vision of a crystal sea, with the transparency of glass, signifying that the impending events were soon to be manifest. The mingling of fire in the crystal denoted the consuming judgment of God soon to descend upon the beast and his minions. Standing on the crystal sea were the host of martyrs “that had gotten victory over the beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name . . . having the harps of God,” and they sang “the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.” The reference to the song of Moses indicated that the elements of this vision were formed from the deliverance of Israel and were a comparison with the Red Sea, which swallowed up Pharaoh and his hosts. The saints had “gotten victory” over the emperor-beast as Israel was victorious over Pharaoh; and as Israel sang the triumphant “song of Moses” standing by the sea; so these saints also, standing on the sea, sang “the song of Moses and the Lamb.” It was Pharaoh there, and the emperor here; the victorious Israelites there, the triumphant saints here; it was oppressed Israel delivered from Egypt there, the persecuted saints “redeemed from the earth.”

The reference to the Egyptian Pharaoh in comparison with the Roman emperor was made clear by the mention of “the song of Moses, the servant of God” and “them that had gotten victory over the beast, over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name”--the language identifies Pharaoh Rameses and Nero Caesar.

The mention of the victorious host having the harps of God, as in chapter fourteen, could not be literal any more than the angels and martyred saints could be physical. The harps here, as in preceding visions, were the symbol of the perfect melodious harmony of the grand symphony of redeemed voices singing. “the song of Moses and the Lamb” in exultant victory, standing on the crystal sea; as Israel in the exodus sang “the song of Moses,” standing by the sea.

The analogy drawn enforced the relation between the oppression and deliverance of Israel in the Old Testament, and the persecution and victory of the church in the New Testament. The symbols and apocalypses were parallel, and must be so applied. Otherwise the New Testament history of the early oppressions of the church loses force, and, the visions lose meaning, the symbols become enigmatic, the entire book becomes a dilemma, and its apocalyptic events anachronistic.

(2) The song of Moses and the Lamb—Revelation 15:3-4.

1. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saintsRevelation 15:3. The song of Moses had long been incorporated in the temple services, which the temple worshippers sang in choruses. This visional victory song of the saints, as previously stated, was patterned after the Old Testament exodus song of Moses, led by Miriam; but here the phrase and the Lamb was added--the song of Moses and the Lamb.

The rhetoric of the song enhances the supreme excellence and glory of the object of its praise--the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb of God. The comparison of the irreverent familiarity of present times in addressing God, as if He were on equality with man is an inadvertent profanation. The eulogies of the song are sublime, as should be all prayer to God. The supreme title Lord God Almighty expressed omnipotence; the tribute great and marvellous was exclamatory of matchless majesty; the attributes just and true, were the acknowledgment of submission to His righteous judgment; the coronation name, thou King of saints, included the saints of all ages, hence has been variously translated thou King of the ages; and it ascribed to Him eternal existence and the Sovereign of all saints, through whose power they were freed from the dominion of the imperial beast.

2. Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgments are made manifestRevelation 15:4. The interrogation, “Who shall not fear thee?” was expressive of complete and unalloyed adoration, short of the late irreverent familiarity. The refrain thou only art holy was the superlative holiness inherent only in God. The declaration all nations shall come and worship before thee was promissory of liberation from Roman image idolatry and the freedom of all men to worship God. The judicial declaration for thy judgments are manifest had reference to the meeting out of retributive justice to the oppressors of the saints.

The song is a combination of many triumphant expressions of Old Testament psalmody of praise and adoration pertaining to Israel’s deliverance from enemy nations and lord of dominion, and again represents a parallel of apocalypses of Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church.

Commentary on Revelation 15:1-4 by Walter Scott

ANOTHER SIGN. Revelation 15:1-8.

Revelation 15:1. — And I saw another sign in the Heaven, great and wonderful: seven angels having seven plagues, the last; for in them the fury of God is completed.

We have had the “great sign” of the woman, Israel (Revelation 12:1), then “another sign,” that of the dragon (Revelation 15:3), now we have “another sign” spoken of as “great and wonderful.” Those three signs are each seen in the Heaven — the dwelling place of God and angels. What makes the third one of such solemn import, even more so than the two preceding, is, that corresponding to the third Woe, the fullness of God’s wrath is poured out upon the Beast, the diabolic persecutor of the woman. The first sign directs attention to Israel, the second to the real instigator of the evil, the dragon, and the third to the apostate civil power, who under Satan blasphemes God and persecutes Israel.

“Seven angels.” There are three numbered groups of angels: of four (Revelation 7:1), of seven (Revelation 8:2; Revelation 16:1), and of twelve (Revelation 21:12). In the ministry of judgment under the Trumpets and under the Vials there are two distinct groups of seven angels. Those connected with the Trumpets are evidently a highly honoured company, as they are spoken of as those “who stand before God,” (See remarks on Revelation 8:2.) and are likewise introduced by the definite article “the seven angels” (Revelation 8:2). Not so the Vial angels.

“Having seven plagues, the last.” The Seal judgments were succeeded by the Trumpet series, and now the seven Vial plagues are about to be poured out, in which the pent-up and concentrated wrath of God is fully expressed. These providential judgments are the last. Emphasis is laid upon this expression of finality; not that the Vials close up the story of divine wrath, but they bring to an end the providential judgments of God. Further strokes of the divine vengeance are most surely inflicted, but these are by the Lamb in Person at His Coming (Revelation 19:1-21; Matthew 25:31-46).

“For in them the fury (or wrath) of God is completed.” The reason is here given why these seven plagues are the last. “For” therein the wrath of God is exhausted, that is, His providential dealings in judgment with a wicked and apostate scene.(*“The wrath of God,” as an expression occurs six times in the Apocalypse: Revelation 14:10; Revelation 14:19; Revelation 15:1; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 19:15. In Revelation 19:15-16 God’s wrath and the Lamb’s wrath are united in action.) On the conclusion of the Vials, the wrath of the Lamb, even more terrible than the wrath of God, is openly expressed on the subjects of vengeance. “Commission to act is given to Christ as soon as the ministration of the Vials ends.” The secret providential dealings of God are brought to an end with the Vials, or Bowls of wrath, after which the Lamb in Person publicly assumes the government of the world. But as the nations at His Coming are in armed rebellion — apostate and wicked beyond all human conception — the wrath of the Lamb burns in its fierceness. The wrath of God is finished in the Vials, to be succeeded by the wrath of the Lamb.

THE VICTORIOUS MARTYRED COMPANY OF JUDAH.

Revelation 15:2-4. — And I saw as a glass sea, mingled with fire; and those that had gained the victory over the Beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name, standing upon the glass sea, having harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses, bondman of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and wonderful (are) Thy works, Lord God Almighty; righteous and true (are) Thy ways, O King of nations. Who shall not fear (Thee), O Lord, and glorify Thy Name? for (Thou) only (art) holy; for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy righteousnesses have been made manifest. In the earlier vision (v. 1) we had a solemn intimation of what is coming on the organised political (Revelation 16:10) and religious (v. 19) systems then dominating the earth, as also on those connected with them. On these the wrath of God in resistless force spends itself, while the civil and ecclesiastical leaders are reserved for special punishment under the wrath of the Lamb inflicted at His Coming in power. The vision of judgment in verse 1 is resumed in verse 5. In the parenthesis between the visions of wrath we are introduced into an exceedingly grand scene of victory and song (vv. 2-4). The awfulness of the Vials (v. 1) is an occasion for God to bring into bold and striking relief His thoughts about His suffering people, and that before a blow is struck at the enemy. They are here witnessed in a parenthetic vision after the announcement of wrath, and before its execution. Historically the Beast triumphed (Revelation 13:7) over the saints in the great Tribulation. They were not preserved from his brutal power. Now, however, we see the position reversed. The saints who had been martyred are here the victors on high, and the Beast on earth a subject of the fullest vengeance of God.

A SEA OF GLASS.

Revelation 15:2As a glass sea, mingled with fire,” like it in appearance. In the first of these heavenly visions (Revelation 4:1-11) the Seer beheld a sea of glass like crystal spread out before the throne of the Eternal, intimating a fixed state of purity in keeping with the holy character of the throne. The glassy sea like crystal (For the force of the imagery see remarks on Revelation 4:6.) signifies the solid calm of that scene of unsullied light. But in the vision before us the crystal is omitted. In beautiful accord with the divine character of the scene detailed in chapter 4 it would be morally out of place in our chapter. Here the sea is “mingled with fire,” evidently referring to the fiery persecution under the Beast, a trial exceeding far in its combination of suffering anything hitherto experienced (Mark 13:19). The pagan persecutions of early times, and the still more exquisite and refined torments under papal Rome, come short of the horrors of the great Tribulation.

The victory of the conquering band standing on the sea of glass is assured. The Beast concentrated his power and energies to overthrow the faith of the martyrs. Paradoxical as the statement may seem, yet it is true that in death they triumphed. In the victory of the Beast we behold the triumph of the saints. They “gained the victory over the Beast, and over his image, and over the number of his name.” The victory was thorough and complete.

Revelation 15:2Standing upon the glass sea. They stand in keeping with their new position as conquerors and worshippers; the elders sit, save when engaged in praise or other service. The glass sea in the early vision is unoccupied; here we witness the happy, victorious, and praising company standing upon it.

HARPS.

Revelation 15:2Having harps (See remarks on Revelation 5:8.) of God. The Authorized Version wrongly inserts the article before harps. There are two heavenly companies spoken of as having harps, the only musical instrument mentioned in the Apocalypse. First, the glorified saints who had been translated at the Coming into the air (Revelation 5:8); second, the martyrs under the Beast, a victorious company on the sea of glass (Revelation 14:2; Revelation 15:2). We gather that the harp singers of chapters 14 and 15 are the same company. It will be noted likewise that harp and song are conjoined in each of the three references. The words of God signify that they are provided by Him for His direct praise and worship — God’s harps; inasmuch as the instruments, the musicians, and the themes are His.

Each one of the rejoicing band is a skillful minstrel and each a joyous singer. Harp and song correspond; no jar, no discord to mar the harmony of the strains of the heavenly and triumphant host. Neither voice not heart can be out of tune when the leader of their song is Jesus, the Savior and Lord (Hebrews 2:12). There is a somewhat striking parallel between this triumphant company and Israel of old in the day of her deliverance and gladness. Egypt, the oppressor, smitten with plagues; Israel across the Red Sea, saved and emancipated, and singing on the eastern bank of the sea, the first song recorded in Scripture (Exodus 15:1-27); all this has its spiritual counterpart in the Beast, the enslaver of God’s saints smitten in a series of plagues; the godly remnant beyond the malice of the Beast, saved and triumphant, and singing the song of Moses on the sea of glass, the last song recorded in Scripture (Revelation 15:1-8).

THE SONG.

Revelation 15:3. — They sing the song of Moses, bondman of God, and the song of the Lamb. The songs are united. The song of Moses celebrates Jehovah’s mighty deliverance of His people, His acts of power, and His ways of grace with and for Israel from the beginning of their history till their final triumph. Grace and glory are celebrated in the magnificent song sung on the eastern bank of the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-27) — pre-eminently the song of Moses. (The prophetic song of Moses (Deuteronomy 31:30; Deuteronomy 32:1-52), when a hundred and twenty years old, cannot be entitled to the appellation, “The Song of Moses.” That the song of Exodus, and not the Deuteronomy one, is meant seems evident from the following considerations: The apocalyptic reference to the victors on the sea on which they stand; their conscious triumph over their enemy; the term “plague” common to the Mosaic and apocalyptic judgments on Egypt and on the Beast, as also the character of the plagues alike in both. These and other considerations which might be adduced prove conclusively that “The Song of Moses” is that of Exodus 15:1-27, and not the subsequent one on the eve of his death.) But it was an earthly redemption, and won with power over the might of the enemy. The song of the Lamb intimates two main subjects: first, redemption from guilt and sin’s consequences by the blood of God’s Lamb; and, second, the exaltation of the Lamb to which this book bears ample testimony.

The song of the martyred victors, the harp singers of Revelation 14:2-3, the brethren of the spared Jewish remnant on mount Zion (Revelation 14:1), is not so elevated nor characterised by such depth as that sung by the elders (Revelation 5:1-14). The worship of the latter is more profound, yet both companies are partakers of the heavenly calling. (“Their song is very peculiar. The song of Moses is triumph over the power of evil by God’s judgments. The song of the Lamb is the exaltation of the rejected Messiah, of the suffering One, and like Whom they had suffered; for it is the slain remnant amidst unfaithful and apostate Israel whom we find here. The song celebrates God and the Lamb, but by victorious sufferers who belong to Heaven.” — “Synopsis of the Books of the Bible,” in loco.)

THE SUBJECTS OF THE SONG.

Revelation 15:3Great and wonderful (are) Thy works, Lord God Almighty; righteous and true (are) Thy ways, O King of nations. The opening words of the song, “Great and wonderful,” occur also in Revelation 15:1. The connection, of course, is different, but one cannot overlook the recurrence of the phrase in a scene admittedly closing up the manifested wrath of God upon public evil. The sign of closing judgment is “great and wonderful” (Revelation 15:1), so also are the works of God (Revelation 15:3). The time of the pouring out of the Bowls of wrath will be brief, but acts of stupendous and wonderful power will characterize it.

It will be observed that the works are ascribed to JEHOVAH, the Self-Existing, Sovereign, Independent One; ELOHIM, the Creator, the God of gods; and SHADDAI, Almighty in power, Almighty in resources, Almighty to sustain. As Jehovah He was known to Israel (Exodus 6:2-3). As God He stands related to creation (Genesis 1:1-31). As the Almighty He revealed Himself to the patriarchs (Genesis 17:1). The order in which the divine names and titles are here employed differs from that of their revelation. God, Jehovah, (“By My Name JEHOVAH was I not known to them,” i.e., Israel (Exodus 6:3), means that it was not known as a title of ordinary relationship. To Israel, of course, the name was familiar, but not known formally in special relation to them as a people.) and the Almighty is the historical order. But the true, real Israel is before God in the victorious company on the sea of glass, and thus the representatives of the nation use the appropriate divine title first. How true God is to His own Word and Name! Jehovah from the early days of Exodus 6:1-30 still stands related to Israel. Jehovah and Israel! Ah, then the people can never perish; never cease to be remembered. What a tower of strength in the combination of these divine titles! How consoling in their application to believers in all ages! How awful to contemplate their exercise to the enemies of God and of His saints!

But the ways of God also form part of the song. His tenderness, His grace, His love, His wisdom, and every gracious, moral feature manifested in His dealings with His saints pass before the victors in review. The holiness and pity of God to His saints form a tale that never can be fully told. The conspicuous acts of Jehovah were displayed before the eyes of Israel. These acts of power did not call for an intimate knowledge of Jehovah’s character; they were self-evident to all. But the ways of God — those dealings flowing from what He is — could alone be discerned by the spiritual, hence we read, “He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel” (Psalms 103:7). His ways here, however, are ways of judgment, and that judgment, however variously expressed, is “righteous and true.” The ways of God in His dealings with His people are ever just and true, but equally so in the chastisement of His enemies; this latter is specially in view in the passage before us.

Revelation 15:3O King of nations. In the text of the Authorized Version we have saints instead of nations; the latter, however, is inserted in the margin. Without doubt, the correct reading, on competent authority, should be nations, not saints. Christ is King of kings, King of the earth, King of Israel, King of the nations, but is never spoken of as “Our King,” and never as the King of saints. Believers in the present dispensation have kingly rule and authority conferred upon them (1 Corinthians 4:8; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; Revelation 1:6); its exercise is yet future. We shall reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12). The nations comprising the Roman earth are about to come under judgment, hence the appropriateness of the title “King of nations” (see Jeremiah 10:7). We gather that in this song of praise both God and Christ are worshipped, the former in the greatness of His Being, but in relation to Israel, and the latter in His ways of judgment with the Gentiles or nations.

Revelation 15:4. — Then the victors in their song throw out a universal interrogation. “Who shall not fear (Thee), O Lord, and glorify Thy Name? The threefold repetition of the conjunction for supplies three reasons, each grounded upon the character of God, why all should comply with the interrogative claim to fear the Lord and glorify His Name. (1) “For (Thou) only (art) holy.” The word here rendered “holy” is not the word usually applied to God in speaking of His holy character. It is used here and in Revelation 16:5 of Him, otherwise it is applied to men as denoting the sum of moral qualities of a divine character. But in the two apocalyptic references it signifies that the sum of qualities in God alone entitles Him to the exclusive worship of the creature. The word “holy” as employed here denotes therefore all in God entitling Him alone to worship. In the Septuagint we have the same word in “the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:3). How fitting the application of this word to the Lord at a time when the world wonders after and worships the Beast, a worship and homage to which God alone is entitled, as signified by this word “holy.” (2) “For all nations shall come and worship before Thee.” The prophecies of the book are generally cast in the present tense, but the one before us is an exception. The future is employed. As a result of these ways of judgment by the “King of nations” the iron will of the peoples is broken, and they turn from human props and confidences to God, and worship in His presence. It will be the time and fulfilment of such Scriptures as Psalms 100:1-5; Psalms 148:1-14; Isaiah 2:2-4; Isaiah 56:6-7; Zechariah 14:16-17, etc. (3) “For Thy righteousnesses (The same word in Revelation 19:8. Only in our text it is applied to judgments on the wicked, whereas in the other Scripture it is employed to set forth the righteousness or righteous acts of the saints. In a footnote to Revelation 19:8 in “The New Translation (Morrish, London) the learned translator says: “In Hebrew the plural of acts expressing a quality is used for the abstract quality itself. This may be the case by analogy here (also in Revelation 15:4). So Psalms 11:7, where in Hebrew it is ‘righteousness,’ but it is actual, not imputed.”) have been made manifest.” The manifestation of God’s righteous acts of judgment is indicated in the plural “righteousnesses.” God declaring Himself in judgment is surely a powerful reason why His Name should be glorified.

Commentary on Revelation 15:1-4 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 15:1. The preceding chapter describes the vision before John that came down to the day of judgment and to the final assignment of all mankind to their eternal destinations. The present chapter goes back some distance (as the book has done before), and will again take up the judgments of God that were poured out upon the apostate church for her worship of idols and her persecution of the faithful servants of God. Seven angels are seen as a symbol of the completeness of God’s system for executing his wrath upon the wicked of the earth.

Revelation 15:2. Clear glass and fire are symbols of opposite facts and yet are appropriately used. The verse tells of several persons who had won a victory of a spiritual nature over the forces of Rome. The fire symbolizes their conflicts in which they were victorious, and the clear glass signifies their calmness of mind after the victory. The beast, the image and the mark were all involved in the conflict. The faithful servants resisted the direct attacks of Rome, also avoided imitating her in their lives, and as a consequence had escaped receiving the mark of guilt. Over the number of his name. The man whose number is stated in the text is Nero Caesar. Getting the victory over the number of his name is an indirect way of saying their victory was over Nero. That is significant since he was the emperor who was chief among the heads of Rome that tried to force the Christians to sin.

Revelation 15:3. The song of Moses and of the Lamb was especially appropriate. It is to be associated with the four and twenty elders who have been mentioned a number of times. Twelve of them represent the Mosaic system and twelve stand for that under Christ. The song John heard these happy persons singing was about the lawgivers of those great institutions. But while the subject matter of the song was concerning them as the lawgivers, they ascribed the credit to works of God because they are marvelous, and to Christ as a King who is true and just in his ways-

Revelation 15:4. The occasion for this great rejoicing is the prospect of judgments that are soon to be inflicted upon the powers of Rome whose hold upon the people has just been broken by the effects of the Reformation. That is why they exclaim about the worthiness of the Lord to be glorified. All nations shall come and worship before thee. Their worship will consist in doing homage to God as the true object of praise, for the light of truth that the Bible shed, on them since it was given back to them. Through that channel of information they have been informed that God’s judgments are just.

Commentary on Revelation 15:1-4 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 15:1

This, the shortest chapter in Revelation, together with Revelation 16, for which it is merely the introduction, again takes us through the whole cycle of time to the eternal judgment (Revelation 16:17-21). Several times already the final judgment has been prophesied (Revelation 6:12-17; Revelation 11:15-19; Revelation 14:14-20). Many have pointed out the remarkable resemblances between the seals, trumpets, and bowls. All are judgments of God; the areas affected by them are similar, especially in the trumpets and bowls sequences. Thus, in the trumpet series: (1) the earth; (2) the sea; (3) the rivers; (4) the sun; (5) the abyss, or throne of the beast; (6) the Euphrates; and (7) the final judgment are exactly the same as the things mentioned in the bowl sequence, and in the same order. Hendriksen thoroughly developed these parallels.[1]

There is also a progression. Whereas the trumpet judgments were restricted to "one third," the bowl judgments are not so limited. However, the woman, the dragon, and the two beasts of Revelation 12-14 are operative throughout exactly the same time period; namely, all the way to the end of time.

Some scholars, such as Ladd, view those chapters (Revelation 12-14) as "an interlude between the trumpets and bowls";[2] but as Roberson observed:

The seven bowls are usually classed with the seals and trumpets; and there obviously is a close affinity, particularly with the latter; but the connection with the woman and her enemies (Revelation 12-14) is even closer. They belong to the long struggle of the church in the world.[3]

The conclusion required by all of this was stated by William Milligan:

Nothing can more clearly prove that the Revelation of St. John was not written upon chronological principles than the scenes to which we are introduced in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the book.[4]

"These chapters describe the entire period between the first and second coming of Christ."[5] In all of these extensive views, "John is telling us something of what will happen in the end-time and something of what goes on in human history."[6] "The statement that these are the last plagues shows that the set of visions now commencing carries us clown to the end of the age."[7] The thought is not that of focusing all of the revelation upon the very end-time, but a bird’s-eye view of all time subsequent to the prophecy, including the very end.

But the vision does not move immediately to the terrible judgments. "Once more there is a pause, as if the safety of God’s people in the midst of all this sin and judgment could not be insisted on sufficiently."[8] The anticipatory, consolatory vision of the song of the redeemed is again heard (Revelation 15:2-4).

Lenski pointed out another relation between the seals, trumpets, and bowls: "The seals reveal, the trumpets announce, and the bowls execute the long-restrained anger of the living God."[9] Earle’s excellent outline of this short chapter is:

I. The waiting angels (Revelation 15:1).

II. The victorious saints (Revelation 15:2-4).

III. The emerging angels (Revelation 15:5-8).[10]

[1] William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1956), p. 26.

[2] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), p. 203.

[3] Charles H. Roberson, Studies in Revelation (Tyler, Texas: P. D. Wilmeth, P.O. Box 3305,1957), p. 114.

[4] As quoted by Albertus Pieters, Studies in the Revelation of St. John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1954), p. 241.

[5] William Hendriksen, op. cit., p. 191.

[6] Leon Morris, Tyndale Commentaries, Vol. 20, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1969), p. 187.

[7] W. Boyd Carpenter, Ellicott’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VIII (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1959), p. 604.

[8] J. R. Dummelow, Commentary on the Holy Bible (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937), p. 1085.

[9] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation (Minneapolis, Minn.: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943), p. 461.

[10] Ralph Earle, Beacon Bible Commentary, Vol. 10 (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1967), p. 584.

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having seven plagues, which are the last, for in them is finished the wrath of God. (Revelation 15:1)

And I saw another sign in heaven ... Beasley-Murray connected this mention of the seven angels with "the seven angels that stand before God (Revelation 8:2),"[11] concluding that this structural parallelism between the trumpets and bowls corresponds to a parallelism in content. Lenski, however, did not agree, translating this expression without the article (the), "I saw ... seven angels,"[12] as in our version (ASV). The point would not appear to be important. The perfect number "seven" could also symbolize an innumerable company of angels waiting and ready to do the will of God. Hardly anything here is to be understood literally. Plummer observed that:

The last time this statement was made was in Revelation 12:1, where the history of the war between Satan and the church began ... Again, John returns to the beginning to trace the development of the punishments inflicted upon men for their worship of the devil.[13]

Seven plagues, which are the last ... This does not mean that they refer exclusively to the end. "Whenever in history the wicked fail to repent in answer to partial manifestations of God’s anger in judgments, the final effusion of wrath follows."[14]

[11] G. R. Beasley-Murray, The Book of Revelation (Greenwood, South Carolina: The Attic Press, 1974), p. 234.

[12] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 453.

[13] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 381.

[14] William Hendriksen as quoted by Morris, op. cit., p. 187.

Revelation 15:2

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that come off victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name, standing by the sea of glass, having harps of God.

As it were a sea of glass mingled with fire ... Rist and a number of others believe that there is an indirect reference here to the Red Sea,[15] through which God delivered the first Israel from the wrath of Pharaoh; and the typology certainly fits, but Beckwith declared such an interpretation as "purely fanciful."[16] Perhaps it is best to view it as "symbolizing the majesty and holiness of God,"[17] as in Revelation 4:6. The group here assembled is clearly the host of the redeemed from earth, as in a number of similar visions throughout the prophecy. As for the glass sea, Lenski was sure that, "It is the same as that in Revelation 4:6."[18]

Having harps of God ... "These are symbolical of heavenly melodies."[19] "The harps are a symbol of their victory ... of praise and worship to God."[20] We prefer the view that sees the harps as symbols of the songs of the saints, especially of that song which this company was about to sing (Revelation 15:3). It is nothing short of phenomenal that a whole group of commentators go hog wild on this verse and find nothing at all in it except literal harps. Even Lenski identified them as "zithers of God on which to play the music of the glory song!"[21] Beasley-Murray saw "harps for the worship of God."[22] "They are holding the harps that God had given them."[23] Earle was certain that "these harpists sing as well as play."[24] Such literalisms are absolutely preposterous. As Pieters said:

Literalism is here hopeless. How could one put the wrath of God in a bowl and pour it on the sun?[25]

Actual harps in heaven? Who could believe such a thing? Is there also a department of cats to supply the cat gut strings? Ridiculous! Note that God "gave" these harps to the singers. What else could this be except the voices which were created by God? In the entire history of the world up to this time, that is the only musical instrument which God ever made; and we refuse to believe that he will enter into the manufacture of mechanical instruments of music in heaven. In Revelation 8:4, the "incense" is the prayers of the saints; here the "harps" are the songs of the redeemed, as the very next verse says. To literalize "harps" here, and then to declare that this constitutes divine approval of mechanical instruments in Christian worship, is just as unreasonable as it would be to declare the "incense" of Revelation 8:4 to be literal and as divine approval of the burning of sacred incense in Christian worship. We dare to affirm that not a single one of the exegetes who did this to the harps would dare to follow their own reasoning and apply it to the incense. How strange it is that the same scholars who have no trouble at all seeing the symbolical nature of these visions in the instance of the incense, lose all rationality when they come to the "harps."

[15] Martin Rist, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York-Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 478.

[16] Isbon T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1919), p. 674.

[17] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 235.

[18] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 455.

[19] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 383.

[20] George Eldon Ladd, op. cit., p. 204.

[21] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 456.

[22] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 235.

[23] G. B. Caird, op. cit., p. 197.

[24] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 585.

[25] Albertus Pieters, op. cit., p. 243.

Revelation 15:3

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are thy ways, thou King of the ages.

And they sing the song of Moses ... and ... the Lamb ... Morris said of this, "They sing (presumably to their own harp accompaniment)."[26] At least, Morris named such a conclusion what it is; namely, a presumption, a presumption which we do not allow for a moment as in any sense valid. The notion of literal harps is simply not in this passage. The text says "they sing."

Of Moses and of the Lamb ... Perhaps no more is meant by this than the unity of the saints of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Moses was the grand Old Testament type of Christ. See extensive development of this in my Commentary on Hebrews, pp. 67-69. The song is that of redemption.

Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God, the Almighty ... Significantly, this song, made up of a blended collection of Old Testament texts, deals not with the overcoming of the saints, but with the mighty works of God. "There is not a single word about their own achievement."[27] Self is at last forgotten; selfishness is finally destroyed. In heaven, the song of Moses and the Lamb is exclusively an anthem of loving praise to the Almighty.

The Almighty ... "This title, which is ascribed to God nine times in Revelation, is found but once elsewhere in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 6:18)."[28]

Thou King of the ages ... The KJV has "King of the saints," and the ASV margin has "King of the nations." The passage is true, however it may be rendered.

[26] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 188.

[27] William Barclay, The Revelation of John (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 120.

[28] Robert H. Mounce, Commentary on the New Testament, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), p. 288.

Revelation 15:4

Who shall not fear, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all the nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy righteous acts have been made manifest.

Who shall not fear the Lord ...? This is a rhetorical question meaning that all people shall indeed fear and honor God.

All nations shall come and worship thee ... Rist criticized this passage as being, "out of harmony with the belief expressed throughout Revelation that the nations shall stubbornly refuse to repent."[29] Such a criticism does not properly construe the meaning. It is everywhere taught in the prophecy that "an innumerable company" will be saved (Revelation 7:9) from "every tribe and tongue and nation and people." It is that company who are meant here. They are the true nations who shall come and worship before the Lord. When God is through with this world, all that remains of it will glorify God. "The Apocalyptist thus declares the absolutely universal recognition of God in the End."[30] "The teaching of the Scriptures is that in the end the whole universe will acknowledge the righteousness of all God’s acts and verdicts."[31]

[29] Martin Rist, The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. XII (New York-Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1957), p. 479.

[30] Isbon T. Beckwith, op. cit., p. 675.

[31] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 459.

Commentary on Revelation 15:1-4 by Manly Luscombe

1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. John sees seven angels. These angels have the seven “last plagues.” We are told three important things hereè 1. These are the “last” plagues. 2. They are from the wrath of God. 3. They represent the “complete” wrath of God. Again we have seven angels and seven plagues. Since “seven” is the number of divine completeness, the image is presented here to show this is the total, complete, and final wrath of God.

2 And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. In the middle of all this “wrath” and “plagues” is the calmness of God. There is no mass confusion or hysteria. God is not flying off in a “fit of rage.” The wrath of God comes from a calm determination to meet out punishment to the wicked on earth. On this sea, calm as glass, is fire. The fire of God’s wrath. The fire of retribution. The fire of eternal punishment. Around this calm sea are all who remained faithful. They did not receive the mark of the beast. They did not succumb to the temptation to worship the beast. They have suffered great tribulation and persecution. They overcame death. They overcame temptation. They are now in the calmness of God’s presence. They offer to God worship and praise.

3 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Christians are singing people. The apostles sang a hymn after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. (Matthew 26:30) James asks if we are happy. If we are happy, we sing. These faithful saints who have overcome are rejoicing. They sing the song of the Lamb. The words to this song are words of praise. God is great, marvelous, powerful, and Almighty. God is true to His word. God promised a reward for the faithful. They are now rejoicing that their faith in these words is not misplaced. Have you sung this song lately? Have you taken time to just praise and magnify the Lord God for his majesty and power?

4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” The song continues here. The second verse points out that the enemies of God will also fear Him. Who will fear God? Answer: All will, at some point, honor, recognize and fear God. For the world of unbelievers, this fear of God will be too little and too late. But, they will confess that Jesus is Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11). God is a Holy God. Only God is only holy. We have not done enough study on the holiness of our God. We must learn to appreciate His holy nature. All people will confess and worship God. It will be too late, but they will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. This song also praises God for his judgments. Some Christians have questioned if a loving God would send anyone to punishment in an eternal hell. The answer is at least three-fold. God will not cause them to be lost. They are lost because of the choices they made. Just as in our judicial system, a judge is not the one who sends someone to prison. They are sent to prison because of their decision to violate the law. God will announce the sentence. The “cause” is their decision to sin. God will pour out wrath on the disobedient. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 is clear that God will punish those who do not believe in God and those who do not obey the gospel. They will suffer eternal punishment. (Matthew 25:46). All faithful Christians will agree with God’s judgment. Some seem to question the judgment of God. I believe this verse, and some others in Revelation, show that when judgment comes, we will agree that God had to judge the wicked or He would not be a Holy and Just God. The holiness of God requires that sin be separated from Him. He cannot allow wicked, evil and sinful men to be in His presence. God cannot be Just and allow the evil beast to be rewarded just like those the beast killed and persecuted. Even we humans have a sense of justice.

Verses 5-8

Rev 15:5-8

2. THE SEVEN ANGELS COMMISSIONED

Revelation 15:5 to Revelation 16:1

5 And afterthese things I saw, and the temple of the taber-nacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:--"After these things" means after the things mentioned in the vision de-scribed in verses 1-4. The tabernacle was erected in the wil-derness and the temple was a permanent building on the same plan builded in Jerusalem. Both buildings were divided into two apartments--holy and most holy--the latter being typical of heaven. (Hebrews 9:1-7; Hebrews 9:24.) The two names referred either to the whole building or to either apartment of it. The word tabernacle here probably means the entire building and the word temple means the most holy part. This represented the actual dwelling place of God. It was the place where God’s law was kept and was filled with God’s presence; hence, it was a testimony to God’s presence. John saw within this place the vision.

6 and there came out from the temple the seven angels that had the seven plagues, arrayed with precious stone, pure and bright, and girt about their breasts with golden girdles.--Seeing these angels come out of the open temple indicated that they came from God’s presence and shows that their mission to bring punishment upon the beast and his dupes was with divine approval. Seven is acknowledged as the number of per-fection. Seven angels with authority to pour out seven plagues means that the punishment would be thorough and complete --God’s wrath on the beast being finished with the last one. Whether the text should read "stone pure and, bright" or "pure and white linen" (as in the King James) is a matter for textual critics. Evidently both expressions are found in some manuscripts. One would mean that their garments were adorned with precious stones; the other that they were clothed with pure white linen indicative of the purity of their mis-sion. Precious stones would show the value of their work. There is no material difference which one is the true reading --both express a truth. Their golden girdle was like that worn by Christ in the vision of 1:13. They were appropriately arrayed.

7 And one of the four living creatures gave unto the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.--The four living creatures were introduced in vision in 4:6, 7. See the notes on those verses for an explanation. It is evident that they are some kind of heavenly beings in attendance upon God, and therefore suitable beings to deliver the plagues to the angels. Which one of the four acted in this event is not stated. The bowls were full of the wrath of God. Doubtless that expression was used in refer-ence to the custom of drinking poison out of a bowl, and was intended here to indicate the punishments that would be poured out upon the papal beast. The figure of "pouring out" God’s wrath is common to the Old Testament. See Psalms 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25 Zephaniah 3:8. The thought here seems to be: each angel received out of the sum of God’s indignation against the beast power a measure of wrath into the bowl given him and poured it out at the proper time and at the proper place. In words without a figure, it means that punishments would fall upon the papal power.

8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; --This language indicates that the smoke came from the glorious power of God, and is, therefore, an appropriate symbol of divine power. Mount Sinai, when Jehovah descended upon it, was covered with smoke. (Exodus 19:18.) When the tabernacle was put up the cloud filled it (Exodus 40:34); the same was true when the temple was built later (1 Kings 8:10). When Isaiah received his com-mission, he saw in a vision God sitting upon his throne and the house filled with smoke. (Isaiah 6:4.) Smoke here then represents the glorious power of God which was a guarantee that the plagues would be certain to fall as indicated in the symbol.

and none was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels should be finished.--The general application of these verses is to the plagues promised to the beast. Interpretations of special expressions must harmonize with the general idea. In the literal temple the most holy apartment represented God’s dwelling place; hence, it was there that the high priest made the atonement in behalf of the people. No one being allowed to enter the symbolic temple till all the plagues had been finished indicates that nothing could prevent the falling of the plagues just as promised. The beast power had reached the point in wickedness when noth-ing but punishments would meet the demands of divine justice. The door would be closed against those who would petition in behalf of such a corrupt institution; its ultimate end must be destruction. The Lord’s ears are open to the supplication of the righteous, but against those that do evil. (1 Peter 3:12.) This symbol presents the "man of sin" as doomed to destruction with no power to prevent, for there would be no means that would produce repentance and refor-mation. Since God is always ready to hear the righteous, we know the foregoing application of this text must be the right one.

Revelation 16:1 And I heard a great voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, Go ye, and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God into the earth.--These words are a statement of the commission to the angels. They were spoken in the temple, indicating that the authority to execute their commis-sion is from God. The word "earth" here is to be taken liter-ally, for the angels who were to pour out the plagues were in heaven, and those upon whom they were to fall were dwelling on the earth. The part of the earth in each case corresponds with those affected. This verse is but a general statement of authority being conferred upon the angels; the remainder of this chapter is a detailed description of how that authority was carried out.

Commentary on Revelation 15:5-8 by Foy E. Wallace

(3) The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony—Revelation 15:5-8.

1. And after that I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony was open—Revelation 15:5. The phrase “after these things” referred to the things that occurred after the vision of the exultant song of triumph. The first part of this chapter served to announce the scene which was continued and completed in chapter sixteen. It was after. these preliminary visions of the seven angels that the procession forming the final events began.

The reference to the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was in comparison with the measuring of the temple in chapter eleven. The picture here portrayed was that of the temple transferred from Jerusalem to heaven and transformed from temporal to spiritual. The vision is based on all that the temple on mount Zion meant to the nation of Israel. “Who are the Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:4-5). Thus the tabernacle stood for the most precious things in old covenant history. It was appropriate for the seven angels with the vials of plagues to be poured out on the harlot Jerusalem, ready for destruction, to come from the transformed temple in heaven.

2. And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles—Revelation 15:6. The attire of the seven angels for the execution of the plagues of judgment was described, as “clothed in pure and white linen” and as having “golden girdles.” This linen was not ordinary cloth, but was represented in another figure as “arrayed with precious stone, pure and bright”--they were garments with the composition of solid precious jewels. The golden girdle was like that of the son of man in chapter one. It is the symbolism of the glory and power of the Lord himself, and it signified the unlimited exercise of power to execute the will of the Lamb and the judgments of God.

3. And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth forever and everRevelation 15:7. The use of the article the before the four beasts indicated their identity with the creatures mentioned in chapter five. They should not be confused with the sea and land beasts, as applied to the persecutors. The word here has been properly translated creatures, or beings, as in chapter five, which called the signals for the horses and the riders in the visions of persecution. (See comments in chapter 5) The vision of this chapter was the last scene in which the four beings appeared and it was an appropriate representation that these heavenly beings should act as the intermediaries between God and the seven angels of the vials in the role of this scene of plagues. They were special ministers of the Lamb to order the procession of events in imagery of the vials and the plagues.

4. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled—Revelation 15:8. The vision of the cloud-filled temple filled with the smoke from the glory of God, and from his power was the symbol of the invisible presence of God. As recorded in Exodus 40:34-35 none could enter the tabernacle during the manifestations of God’s presence. So in this vision no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled--that is, until the order of events resulting in the destruction of the old Jerusalem and the old temple had been accomplished, after which the new Jerusalem, and the new temple would be open to all true worshipers; when the tabernacle of God with men would be accessible to all nations of men. But until this succession of events occurred the entrance of the temple was barred, and none could appear in intercession before God to avert the doom of destruction pronounced on Jerusalem, that once “faithful city turned harlot,” and the fallen Babylon of apostasy.

Commentary on Revelation 15:5-8 by Walter Scott

THE MINISTERS OF GOD’S WRATH

EQUIPPED FOR JUDGMENT.

Revelation 15:5-8. — And after these things I saw, and the temple of the tabernacle of witness in the Heaven was opened. And the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple, clothed in pure bright linen, and girded about the breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls, full of the fury of God, Who lives to the ages of ages. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one could enter into the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.” The opening words of this vision constitute a technical expression signifying a complete break, introductory of an entirely new subject (see Revelation 4:1, R.V.). Thus the Vial plagues are altogether unique, and form a body of special judgments by themselves. There are two important respects in which they differ from the Seal and Trumpet chastisements: the throne in “the Heaven” is the source and authority of these latter, while the temple is the scene from whence the Vials of wrath are poured out. The fact that the temple takes the place of the throne changes the situation entirely, and introduces a severer course of dealing, one flowing from what God is in His righteous and holy character. Hence the second marked difference of the Vials from preceding judgments is that in them the wrath of God against the organized systems of evil is finished up or completed. “After these things” is a technical formula several times found in the Apocalypse.

Revelation 15:5The temple of the tabernacle of witness in the Heaven was opened. We have already remarked upon the interesting fact that in all this part of the Apocalypse, from Revelation 11:19 to chapter 19, the temple, not the throne, as in the earlier part of the book, is the source from whence action on earth proceeds. Both here and in Revelation 11:19 (In the early part of the chapter (11) the temple in Jerusalem is referred to (Revelation 11:1). “The temple of God in the Heaven” must not be understood as a literal one. The point is what it symbolically represents.) the temple is opened in “the Heaven,” the residence of God and of angels. But in the earlier reference the ark of the covenant is seen, the token of God’s presence with and interest in His people, as also the pledge and witness of His purpose and grace. Here it is the tabernacle of witness, or testimony. This was a testimony really to the rights of God then openly denied. The former, i.e., “the covenant,” was the sign of security to Israel. The latter, i.e., “the witness,” of judgment according to the nature of God on the enemies of God and of His people. The temple (or house) of the tabernacle of witness” is a singular expression, and alone occurs here. We understand by the term naos, meaning the structure or building itself, to the exclusion of court, etc., God’s dwelling place, where He is approached and worshipped. Now inside the golden furniture and tables of stone constituted the witness, or testimony, but as they were found within the temple, or house, this could be spoken of in a higher and fuller way than “the tent of the testimony” merely (Acts 7:44). It was “the temple of the tabernacle of witness.”

What a strange sight meets the gaze of the Seer! Not the priests ministering in the holy place, or the high priest in the holiest of all, but “the seven angels who had the seven plagues came out of the temple,” not priests the ministers of grace, but angels the ministers of judgment. They are commissioned and equipped for their service by God Himself, and come out from His immediate presence fully empowered to maintain the rights and vindicate the character of the God of Israel in judgment. The temple of old was a witness of grace, here it is opened for judgment. The wickedness of man deserved it, and the holiness of God demands it.

The righteous character of their mission is signified by the pure and bright linen in which they are clothed (compare Revelation 19:8), while the golden girdles round their breasts set forth that divine righteousness and faithfulness characterize their action (see Isaiah 11:5; Revelation 1:13). Why girded at the breasts, and not, as usual, at the loins? Because the wrath about to be poured out is measured by the Holy nature of God.

Revelation 15:7. — And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden (Gold, brass, and linen, viewed as symbols, each sets forth the truth of righteousness. Gold is intrinsic, divine righteousness (Revelation 1:12-13; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 21:18-21). Brass is righteous judgment, or, as another has expressed it, “Righteousness in dealing with man in his responsibility” (Revelation 1:15; Revelation 2:18). Linen, righteous acts or deeds; human righteousness (Revelation 15:6; Revelation 19:8).) bowls ("The word means bowls or cups, and is taken from the vessels used for pouring out drink-offerings, etc., before the Lord." — "Lectures on the Book of Revelation," by William Kelly.) full of the fury of God, Who lives to the ages of ages. The living creatures are the executors of the judicial government of God. There are three distinct steps in this work of judgment. First, the angels are commissioned and equipped in the sanctuary (Revelation 15:6). Second, they then receive golden Bowls full of God’s fury from one of the living creatures (Revelation 15:7). Third, not a step in the act of judgment can be taken till God authoritatively gives the command (Revelation 16:1). How calm and measured are the ways of God in judgment! The Ever-Living, Eternal God is the God of judgment. Who is He Who is about to plague the earth and visit it with His utmost fury? He Who lives to the ages of ages.

The temple was darkened with smoke from the glory of God — not incense but smoke filled the temple. Nothing could be seen and none could enter. God’s glory was moved to intense action. Intercession was of no avail. Neither incense nor blood could arrest the coming storm of divine judgment. The temple was given over, not to worship or intercession, but to the fiercely burning wrath of God. The smoke here is not that of incense, but of fire, the symbol of divine consuming judgment (Isaiah 6:4; Exodus 19:18). The house filled with smoke (In the dedication of the tabernacle Moses could not enter into the tent of testimony (Exodus 40:34-35), and when the temple and its services were inaugurated (1 Kings 8:10-11) the priests could not enter. In both the glory of the Lord filled the house. Here, however, it is not the glory but the smoke of it, that is, the glory of God in judgment.) intimated that none then need seek Him in grace. He could not be seen or found by any in the temple. Judicial action was then in question, and till the seven angels had completed their allotted work of judgment God was for the time being hidden in the thick darkness of His own glory and power in righteous vengeance on the corrupt mass on earth.

Commentary on Revelation 15:5-8 by E.M. Zerr

Revelation 15:5. This verse has the same significance as Revelation 11:19.

Revelation 15:6. Much of what is said and is to happen in many of the chapters to come has been considered before. It will pertain to God’s judgments against the corruptions of Rome and for her mistreatment of the faithful servants of Christ. Seven angels were clothed in white linen which means purity and the golden girdles signify the splendor of the place.

Revelation 15:7. It is important to keep constantly in mind that we are studying in a book of symbols or signs. Many of the things John saw in the vision have reference to the severe denunciations that were made in the days of the Reformation. Those statements were sounded into the ears of kings and other leaders of the apostate church. A vial is used in the symbolic picture because it is a vessel out of which something can be poured, and the judgments of God are said to be poured out. That would indicate a large and continuous stream of His judgments. One of the beasts (living creatures) gave the vials to the angels; that was appropriate. The beasts were the saved in the Lord who had been the victimsof the rage of the beast of Rome. They had won a victory through faith, and it was fitting that they should have the honor of handing the vials to the angels.

Revelation 15:8. Temple was filled with smoke. This was not the smoke of incense as is sometimes mentioned, for that occurs only when righteous servants are performing worship, and that is not what is going on now. It is the smoke of God’s wrath against the corruptions of the beast. Those guilty of the corruptions are under judgment and God is about to execute wrath upon them. It is too late for them to expect mercy from God, hence no one will be permitted to enter the temple to plead for it.

Sermon on Revelation 15-16

Pouring Out of God’s Wrath

Brent Kercheville

In chapter 14 we read about the coming doom for the Roman Empire. Three angels have predicted its judgment: “The hour of judgment has come” (Revelation 14:7), “Fallen, fallen in Babylon” (Revelation 14:8), and “Drink the wine of God’s wrath poured full strength” (Revelation 14:10). The sickles were swung over the earth, reaping the righteous and wicked. The wicked are described as being thrown “into the great winepress of the wrath of God” (Revelation 14:19).

The other image to keep in mind from chapter 14 as we approach the fifteenth chapter is the warning of death for the Christians. The people of God are told to endure, calling for them to continue to keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12). But the gloomy doom is predicted: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Chapter 15 of Revelation describes the preparations being made for the fulfillment of these prophecies of the coming doom against the Roman Empire.

Back Into Heaven (Revelation 15:1-2)

The first two verses of chapter 15 turn attention to the throne room of heaven. In the new sign that appears, John sees a sign that is great and amazing. He sees seven angels with seven plagues. There are two important things we are told about these seven angels and the seven plagues they carry. First, these are the last of the judgments. Once these judgments are completed then the earth will be at rest. We are not going to have any more “sevens” in judgment. The seven bowls of wrath will be the last of the judgments. The second important thing to observe is why these are the last of the judgments. God’s wrath is finished with these seven bowls.

Standing beside the sea of glass mixed with fire are those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name. Conquering does not come by warring militarily with the beast but by remaining faithful and pure to the Lamb. These are the 144,000 of chapter 14 singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. Just like the new song, the song of Moses was a song of victory. Such are the words of their song.

The Song of Moses and the Lamb (Revelation 15:3-8)

The song the conquerors sing praises God for his great and amazing deeds. His ways are just and all must fear him and glorify him. Chapter 14 has revealed God’s righteous acts as God is about to judge the beast for its sinfulness and killing of the people of God. Just as Israel praised God by the sea after he delivered them from Pharaoh, so the conquerors praise God for defeating the beast. This is another use of prophetic certainty. The beast is defeated even though it had not happened yet.

The door to the temple is opened again. I think the TNIV has a good rendering of this image. “After this I looked, and I saw in heaven the temple—that is, the tabernacle of the covenant law—and it was opened.” (Revelation 15:5 TNIV; NIV 2010)

We then see the seven angels each receiving a golden bowl full of the wrath of God. Bowls of wrath is an image used by Isaiah to describe God’s wrath coming to punish sinners.

Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. (Isaiah 51:17 ESV)

Thus says your Lord, the LORD, your God who pleads the cause of his people: “Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering; the bowl of my wrath you shall drink no more; (Isaiah 51:22 ESV)

Revelation 15:8 reminds us that these judgments are coming from God. The sanctuary is filled with smoke because God is about to act (Exodus 40:34-35; Exodus 40:34-35).

The Bowls Poured Out (Revelation 16:1-16)

A loud voice commands the seven angels to pour out their bowls of wrath on the earth. As we read the bowls of wrath consider the similarities to the plagues poured out on Egypt in the days of Moses. The first bowl brings harmful and painful sores on those who have the mark of the beast and worship its image. The lack of description about this plague tells us that we are not to find literal details or meanings in these symbols. This chapter is simply revealing the pain and suffering that God is unleashing on those who are worshiping the beast rather than the Lamb. The sores parallel the painful boils of the Egyptian plagues.

The second bowl turns the sea to blood killing everything living thing in the sea. This judgment reminds us of the Nile turning the blood in the Egyptian plagues. The third bowl turns the rivers and springs of water into blood. The second and third bowls probably picture the economic devastation that God’s wrath will incur. One of the reasons for these judgments is given in Revelation 16:5-7. They are killing God’s servants and this wrath is deserved.

The fourth bowl pours out pain on the worshipers of the beast. Rather than repenting, the people curse God. They did not repent or give God glory. Thus, the judgments continue. The fifth bowl pours out judgment on the throne of the beast. It is “lights out” for the Roman Empire. The kingdom is plunged into darkness. Its day in the sun is over. Rather than repenting, the people curse God all the more and did not repent.

The sixth bowl is the first bowl that gives us any details. The brevity of the first five bowls is astonishing. The sixth bowl gives us more information about the judgments to come. The sixth bowl dries up the Euphrates River. This is an imagery of a coming war and being overthrown by a rival nation. The drying up of the Euphrates River is how Cyrus conquered Babylon (Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 44:27-28; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 51:10). The kings coming from the east also has a couple prophetic references in Isaiah (Isaiah 41:2; Isaiah 46:11). The sixth bowl envisions a nation coming from the east to battle.

Revelation 16:13 shows the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet will do everything for survival. The unclean spirits remind us of the deceptive nature of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The unclean spirits also remind us of their immorality through their paganism, idol worship, and Caesar worship. These three are full of uncleanness. The imagery of demons (unclean spirits) is used in the New Testament to speak of idolatrous worship.

No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20-21 ESV)

Finally, we see in the sixth bowl the assembling of the kings of the earth at the place called Armageddon. This is the only place in scriptures where the word of Armageddon occurs. Many false teachings have been made about the event of Armageddon. However, all that is revealed is that this is the place they will gather. The text does not say that there will be a battle there.

So what does Armageddon mean? It literally means “mount of Megiddo.” Now there is not a mount of Megiddo but we do read in the scriptures about a valley of Megiddo and cities of Megiddo. When we go through the Old Testament we see that several decisive battles occurred at Megiddo. Most interesting to me is the reference to the kings who went into battle and died. In 2 Kings 9:27 we see that Ahaziah, king of Judah was slain. In 2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chronicles 35:22 King Josiah is slain in battle. Judges 5:19 speaks of kings fighting by the waters of Megiddo but failing to take the spoil. When we put all of these images together, we see that the work of Satan through the Roman empire and its religions will dry up and fail. They may assemble for battle but it is a decisive loss for Satan and the Roman empire. Gathering in Armageddon is a symbol of their destruction and judgment. We must remember that these bowls are images of God’s judgment, not information about the victory of Satan or the beast.

Revelation 16:15 therefore gives a call to preparation for the people of God. God’s judgment will come like a thief. Be prepared. Stay awake. Do not be caught by surprise.

The Seventh Bowl (Revelation 16:17-21)

The seven angel pours his bowl and makes the important declaration: “It is done!” The end has come for this world power. God’s cataclysmic wrath has come. A great earthquake describes is desolation since that is the way many cities were destroyed in ancient times, sometimes never to be rebuilt or inhabited again. The great city falls and the cities of the nations also fall. God fulfills his promise, making the nation drink the cup of God’s wrath full strength. The empire has fallen. The devastation was great and the people curse God from the plagues.

Chapters 17-18 are going to explain the details of this judgment that were summarized in chapter 16. The next two chapters are not new images of judgment but a fuller explanation of how this judgment will come and what its impact willbe when the devastation comes.

Life Lessons

1. God’s judgments come like a thief. Notice Revelation 16:15 again. “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” No nation thought they would ever fall. No world power thought that they would be taken over by another. Yet history shows that nation after nation has risen and fallen. We must always be prepared to remain true to Jesus even if it becomes the time for our nation to receive judgment for its sins. Sometimes we think that we know if God would judge the United States of America. But God’s judgments come unexpectedly.

2. God’s final judgment will come like a thief. We must be prepared to remain faithful in the face of any national calamity. We must also be ready and prepared for the return of our Lord.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV)

Commentary on Revelation 15:5-8 by Burton Coffman

Revelation 15:5

And after these things I saw, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:

The temple of the tabernacle of the testimony ... "John is here seeing this picture, not in terms of the Jewish temple, but in terms of the ancient tabernacle."[32] In this, he joins so much of the rest of the New Testament in absolutely ignoring and bypassing the Jewish temple. "This phrase, tabernacle of the testimony is found in only one other place in the New Testament (Acts 7:44),"[33] where it occurs in the address of Stephen. One of the most significant things in the New Testament is this absolute bypassing of the Jewish temple by New Testament writers. The author of Hebrews is another conspicuous example. We have commented upon this extensively in this series: Commentary on Acts, pp. 142ff, Commentary on Mark, pp. 272ff, Commentary on 1Corinthians, pp. 50ff, and Commentary on 1Peter, pp. 192ff. It was the ancient tabernacle, not the Jewish temple, that was made like the pattern God showed to Moses.

[32] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 121.

[33] Martin Rist, op. cit., p. 479.

Revelation 15:6

and there came out from the temple the seven angels that had the seven plagues, arrayed with precious stone, pure and bright, and girt about their breasts with golden girdles.

And there came out ... the seven angels ... All was in readiness for the judgment to be executed. The appearance of these angels seems to be significant, as indicated by the golden girdles resembling the apparel of Christ himself (Revelation 1:13), apparently conveying that they were wearing the livery of their Master and therefore engaged in his business, just as a jockey wears the colors of the owner in a horse race. The judgment belongs to Christ.

Arrayed with precious stone ... This is an additional description of the apparel of the angels. It is translated, "clothed in pure and white linen" in the KJV, which is undoubtedly correct. The way this change came about is interesting:

The word for linen is found in the Vatican and Sinaiticus manuscripts, and a very similar word meaning precious stone occurs in the Alexandrinus and the Codex Ephraemi manuscripts.[34] But the scholars of the ASV preferred precious stone, on the basis of the critical "law" that "the more difficult reading is likely to be the original."[35] But after ASV was published, the Chester Beatty Papyrus was found to support the KJV rendition.[36] On account of this, the RSV went back to the KJV translation.

It would be difficult indeed to find a better example of just how arbitrary and undependable the so-called "Lectio Difficilior" actually is. It has been invoked to justify a whole family of unjustifiable renditions. See "Excursus on New Testament Criticism" in my Commentary on James , 1,2 Peter 1, 2, 3John and Jude, pp. 282-290.

[34] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 383.

[35] F. F. Bruce, A New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1969), p. 656.

[36] Martin Rist, op. cit., p. 480.

Revelation 15:7

And one of the four living creatures gave unto the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.

Are these literal bowls? Not any more than the harps were literal harps, which means they were not in any sense literal. See under Revelation 15:2 for Pieters’ comment on the absurdity of taking any of this literally.

Bowls ... This is a very interesting word. "It meant (1) a shallow vessel used for drinking purposes,"[37] as in the case of Old King Cole who called for his pipe and his bowl; (2) a broad shallow vessel used for libations as in Revelation 5:8; and (3) it signified a funerary urn for the ashes of the dead."[38] "This word is found only in Revelation 5:8; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1-17; Revelation 17:1; Revelation 21:9."[39]

Full of the wrath of God ... The bowls were not literal receptacles of any kind, as nothing literal could be a suitable container of the wrath of God. They rank with the incense, the harps, the horses, the trumpets, etc., as part of the imagery of the vision. The fact of their being "golden" speaks of the extreme value in God’s purpose of judgment. "The wrath of God is simply the operation of God’s righteous law against sin ... That law is adverse to evil, and will eventually root evil out."[40] The dramatic scenes of Revelation 16 are designed to symbolize just that.

The execution of God’s wrath in the outpouring from the hands of these angels is directed against all evil. Many scholars make what appears to be a very limited application of these divine judgments. Beeson limited them to the wrath of God in the destruction of Jerusalem;[41] McDowell applied them to the great conflict between the Christ and the Caesars;"[42] Wilcock said they were directed against Babylon as a composite of both the sea-beast and the land-beast;[43] Roberts wrote, "These are the last plagues upon the pagan city of Rome";[44] Hinds saw them as "a series of events that will ultimately end the papal hierarchy and accomplish the destruction of the man of sin."[45] There was a measure of God’s wrath fulfilled in all such things; but we refrain from identifying these judgments exclusively with any particular time-frame, as did Beasley-Murray, for example, who understood them as "messianic judgments of the last time."[46]

The overriding meaning of these bowls is that when people of any time, place, or circumstance have repeatedly flouted initial and repeated heavenly warnings (by judgments), there comes the time of total overthrow and destruction. This is nothing new. It has always been God’s way, Pharaoh of the Old Testament being a classical example; and the Christian dispensation will provide other examples of the same phenomenon; indeed it has already done so.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ralph Earle, op. cit., p. 586.

[40] Boyd W. Carpenter, op. cit., p. 606.

[41] Ulrich R. Beeson, The Revelation (Little Rock: Ulrich R. Beeson, 1956), pp. 120,121.

[42] Edward A. McDowell, The Meaning and Message of the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1951), p. 152.

[43] Michael Wilcock, I Saw Heaven Opened (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1975), p. 141.

[44] J. W. Roberts, The Revelation of John (Austin, Texas: The R. B. Sweet Company, 1974), p. 123.

[45] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: The Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 223.

[46] G. R. Beasley-Murray, op. cit., p. 231.

Revelation 15:8

And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and none was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels should be finished.

And the temple was filled with smoke ... "The main point of this is the inevitability of the plagues. When God’s good time has come, nothing can stop final judgment."[47] This symbolizes the judicial hardening of the incorrigibly wicked. It will be recalled from Isaiah 6:4 ff that the "smoke" from God’s presence meant the prophecy of the hardening of Israel. So here, the smoke means that, in this situation, God’s work of grace is finished. "None was able to enter into the temple." "The sanctuary is inaccessible ... the time for intercession is past."[48]

Rather than limit this to the end time, when this very condition of the human race will probably have occurred, why should it not also include the irrevocably wicked of any and all generations? It is a dreadful thing to contemplate, no matter how it may be interpreted. How dreadful must be that day, when for any man, or any nation, there comes the time when God’s face is turned away, when his holy presence is obscured by smoke, and when prayer may receive no answer except the petitioner’s agony. The bowls of the wrath of God were indeed once poured out upon rebellious Jerusalem, not because she rebelled against Rome, but because she had previously rebelled against God in the rejection of Christ. They were again poured out upon pagan Rome. When the vast wicked empire had finished with tormenting and persecuting the saints, and when the time came for God to humiliate her under the heel of the invader, the city fell in 476 A.D. From this it may be concluded that there is no world situation of entrenched wickedness anywhere on earth that has ever been safe, or ever will be safe, from the type of judgments signified by these bowls.

[47] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 191.

[48] F. F. Bruce, op. cit., p. 656.

Commentary on Revelation 15:5-8 by Manly Luscombe

5 After these things I looked, and behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened. Now the temple is opened. This temple is in heaven. This is not the temple of the Jewish system. Of course the tabernacle, and later the temple, represents the very presence of God. The Mercy Seat above the Ark of the Covenant was in the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 25:8; 2 Chronicles 7:12)

6 And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen, and having their chests girded with golden bands. Out of the temple, from the very seat of God, come seven angles with seven plagues. They are in pure bright (white) linen. White linen is the righteousness of the saints. (19:8) They have golden bands around their bodies. There is some symbolism with the “Christian armor” and the “girdle of truth.” (Ephesians 6:14)

7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. According to Revelation 11:6, the two witnesses (Christians) have the power to harm the earth with plagues. Christians have two sources of power to inflict plaguesè 1. Word of God. The Word of God is powerful. (Hebrews 4:12) It is described as a two-edged sword. (Ephesians 6:17) We can smite the earth by the power and authority of the Word of God. 2. Prayer. Christians have at their disposal the power of prayer. (Ephesians 6:18) Prayer can bring rain and stop rain. Prayer can change people, situations and circumstances. Christians have the ability to appeal to the throne of God directly. God can, in harmony with His eternal will and purpose, answer the plea and petition of Christians. The golden vials contain the wrath of our Eternal God. The four living creatures are the same ones introduced in chapter 4. They are around the throne, close to God and serving God.

8 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed. Here is a dramatic climax to this chapter and the drum roll to begin the final plagues from the wrath of God. There is smoke. This is not the smoke of tormenting fire. This smoke is said to be from the glory of God and from His power. The temple is open. It is not ready to allow us to enter, yet. It is open to allow out the angels with the wrath of God. When the wrath is complete, we will be allowed inside.

LESSON 20.

THE SEVEN BOWLS OF WRATH

Read Revelation 15, 16

1. What great and marvelous sign was seen in heaven? Ans. Revelation 15:1.

2. Who was seen standing by the sea of glass? Ans. Revelation 15:2.

3. What song did they sing? Ans. Revelation 15:3-4.

4. What was opened in heaven? Ans. Revelation 15:5.

5. Who came out from the temple? Ans. Revelation 15:6.

6. What did one of the four living creatures give to the seven angels? Ans. Revelation 15:7.

7. With what was the temple filled? Ans. Revelation 15:8.

8. What were the seven angels told to do? Ans. Revelation 16:1.

9. Tell what happened when the first bowl was poured out. Ans. Revelation 16:2.

10. How was the sea affected by the pouring out of the second vial? Ans. Revelation 16:3.

11. Into what was the third bowl poured? Ans. Revelation 16:4.

12. What did the "angel of the waters" say? Ans. Revelation 16:5-6.

13. What statement came from the altar? Ans. Revelation 16:7.

14. Tell of the pouring out of the fourth bowl. Ans. Revelation 16:8-9.

15. On what was the fifth bowl poured, and what effect did it have? Ans. Revelation 16:10-11.

16. On what was the sixth bowl poured? Ans. Revelation 16:12.

17. What came out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast and the false prophet? Ans. Revelation 16:13.

18. Who were these "spirits"? Ans. Revelation 16:14.

19. For what great battle were they preparing? Ans. Revelation 16:16.

20. What timely admonition is given here? Ans. Revelation 16:15.

21. Tell all that occurred at the pouring out of the seventh bowl of wrath. Ans. Revelation 16:17-21.

E.M. Zerr

Questions on Revelation

Revelation Chapter Fifteen

1. What did John see now?

2. Where was it?

3. Was it small?

4. Was its appearance ordinary?

5. What beings did he see?

6. Tell what they had.

7. Were other plagues to follow?

8. Tell what was in them.

9. How much of God’s wrath was there?

10. Tell what object John saw.

11. Of what was it composed"?

12. With what was it mingled?

13. What had the people gotten?

14. Over what creature had they obtained this?

15. Was the beast alone in this defeat?

16. Over what number had they been victorious?

17. Where were they standing?

18. What harps did they have?

19. How did they use them?

20. What two persons were the subject?

21. In what position had the first been to God?

22. What praise did they ascribe to God?

23. How did they describe his ways?

24. Of whom was he King?

25. Who did they announce should be feared?

26. And do what for his name?

27. He only has what quality?

28. What shall all nations do?

29. Where will they do so?

30. What were made manifest?

31. After this what did John do?

32. What building did he behold?

33. Of what tabernacle was this?

34. Where was this opened?

35. Who came into sight?

36. From where did they come?

37. Tell what they had.

38. In what were they clothed?

39. How were they girded?

40. On what part of their person were these?

41. What creature next appeared?

42. What kind of vials did he have?

43. Of what were they full?

44. What is said of God’s living?

45. To whom did he give these vials?

46. With what was the temple filled?

47. From whom was this glory?

48. And from what power?

49. What was no man able to do?

50. For how long were they kept out?

Revelation Chapter Fifteen

Ralph Starling

John saw another great marvelous sign from heaven.

7 angels with 7 plagues from God to be given.

But first a sea of glass mingled with fire,

And on the glass the victors of the Beast’s warfare.

And they sang the song of triumph and praise.

The song of Moses and the lamb they did raise,

And the temple of testimony was opened,

And God’s plan was now to be spoken.

The temple was filled with God’s glory and power.

No man coul enter ’till the plagues could devour.

Then behold the 7 angels came out of the temple

To deliver the 7 plagues sure and simple.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Revelation 15". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/revelation-15.html.
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