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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Revelation 14

Verse 1

The Lamb (το αρνιον). See Revelation 5:6; Revelation 7:17; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 13:8 and is in contrast with the anarthrous αρνιον in Revelation 13:11. This proleptic vision of the Lamb "standing on the mount Zion" (εστος επ το ορος Σιων, second perfect active participle neuter of ιστημ with επ and accusative) is reasoning after the visions of the two beasts. Mount Zion is the site of the new city of God (Hebrews 12:22), the Jerusalem above (Galatians 4:26), the seat of the Messianic Kingdom whether heaven or the new earth (Revelation 14:21; Revelation 14:22). These victors have the name of the Lamb and God upon their foreheads as in Revelation 3:12; Revelation 22:4, in place of the mark of the beast above (Revelation 13:16; Revelation 14:11). This seal protects them (Revelation 9:4).

A hundred and forty and four thousand (εκατον τεσσερακοντα τεσσαρες χιλιαδες). "Thousands" literally (χιλιας feminine word for a thousand and so εχουσα feminine plural). For the 144,000 see Revelation 7:5; Revelation 7:8, though some scholars seek a distinction somehow.

Verse 2

As a voice of many waters (ως φωνην υδατων πολλων). For which see Revelation 1:15.

Of a great thunder (βροντης μεγαλης). For which see Revelation 6:1; Revelation 19:6. For this voice out of heaven see Revelation 10:4; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 18:4 and note accusative with ηκουσα.

As the voice of harpers harping with their harps (ως κιθαρωιδων κιθαριζοντων εν ταις κιθαραις αυτων). Triple use of κιθαρα (Revelation 5:8), κιθαρωιδων (Revelation 18:22), κιθαριζοντων (old verb κιθαριζω, in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 14:7). Wonderful melody in this chorus by the angels, not by the 144,000.

Verse 3

They sing as it were a new song (αιδουσιν ως ωιδην καινην). See Revelation 5:9 for this phrase (cognate accusative) save that here ως (as if) is added. There the new song was sung by the four living creatures and the elders, but here "before" (ενωπιον) them and so apparently by the throng who were themselves redeemed by the Lamb.

No man could learn the song save (ουδεις εδυνατο μαθειν την ωιδην ε μη). Imperfect (εδυνατο) of δυναμα and second aorist (ingressive) active infinitive of μανθανω. In Revelation 5:9-12 the angels join in the song. In Revelation 15:3 it is the Song of Moses and the Lamb.

Even they that had been purchased out of the earth (ο ηγορασμενο απο της γης). Perfect passive articular participle of αγοραζω, purchased by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 5:9), masculine plural in apposition with χιλιαδες (thousands) feminine plural (Revelation 7:5; Revelation 7:8; Revelation 14:1). Απο (from) here, though εκ (out of) in Revelation 5:9. The 144,000 are not yet separated from the earth (John 17:15). Whether the 144,000 here are identical with that number in Revelation 7:4-8 or not, they must embrace both men and women.

Verse 4

Were not defiled with women (μετα γυναικων ουκ εμολυνθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of μολυνω, old verb, to stain, already in Revelation 3:4, which see. The use of this word rules out marriage, which was not considered sinful.

For they are virgins (παρθενο γαρ εισιν). Παρθενος can be applied to men as well as women. Swete takes this language "metaphorically, as the symbolical character of the Book suggests." Charles considers it an interpolation in the interest of celibacy for both men and women. If taken literally, the words can refer only to adultery or fornication (Beckwith). Jesus recognised abstinence only for those able to receive it (Matthew 19:12), as did Paul (1 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Corinthians 7:8; 1 Corinthians 7:32; 1 Corinthians 7:36). Marriage is approved by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:3 and by Hebrews 13:4. The New Testament exalts marriage and this passage should not be construed as degrading it.

Whithersoever he goeth (οπου αν υπαγε). Indefinite local clause with modal αν and the present active indicative of υπαγω. The Christian life is following the Lamb of God as Jesus taught (Mark 2:14; Mark 10:21; Luke 9:59; John 1:43; John 21:19, etc.) and as Peter taught (1 Peter 2:21) and John (1 John 2:6).

Were purchased from among men (ηγορασθησαν απο των ανθρωπων). First aorist passive indicative of αγοραζω, repeating the close of verse Revelation 14:3.

First fruits (απαρχη). See for this word 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 11:16; Romans 16:5. This seems to mean that the 144,000 represent not the whole, but only a portion of the great harvest to come (Matthew 9:37), not only the first installment, but those marked by high spiritual service to God and the Lamb (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5).

Verse 5

Was found no lie (ουχ ευρεθη ψευδος). First aorist passive indicative of ευρισκω. In 1 Peter 2:23 this passage (Isaiah 53:9) is quoted with δολος (deceit, guile) instead of ψευδος (lie), but the difference is not great.

Without blemish (αμωμο). Alpha privative and μωμος (blemish, spot). As Christ the Paschal Lamb is (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 9:14), so the followers of the Lamb are to be in the end (Philippians 2:15).

Verse 6

Another angel (αλλον αγγελον). A new turn in the drama comes with each angel (Revelation 7:2; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 8:13; Revelation 10:1). Here the angel is seen "flying in mid heaven" (πετομενον εν μεσουρανηματ), while in Revelation 8:13 John heard him "flying in mid heaven" (genitive case of same participle, which see). This one is in the sight and hearing of all.

Having (εχοντα). Accusative singular agreeing with αγγελον like πετομενον (flying), but λεγων in verse Revelation 14:7 is nominative, as if a new sentence like λεγων in Revelation 4:1.

An eternal gospel (ευαγγελιον αιωνιον). The only use of ευαγγελιον in John's writings, though the verb ευαγγελισα (first aorist active infinitive epexegetical with εχοντα like John 16:12) occurs here and in Revelation 10:7. Here it is not το ευαγγελιον (the gospel), but merely a proclamation of God's eternal (αιωνιος here alone in the Apocalypse, though common in the Fourth Gospel and I John) purpose. Origen even took this "eternal gospel" to be another book to be written! Note the double use of επ (with accusative after ευαγγελισα and the genitive with γης). See Revelation 5:9 for the races, etc.

Verse 7

And he saith (λεγων). See above.

Fear God (φοβηθητε τον θεον). First aorist passive (deponent) imperative of φοβεομα, here transitive with the accusative as in Luke 12:5. It is a call to judgment with no hope offered except by implication (Acts 14:15).

Give him glory (δοτε αυτω δοξαν). Second aorist active indicative of διδωμ. For the phrase see Revelation 11:13.

The hour is come (η ωρα ηλθεν). Second aorist (prophetic use) active indicative of ερχομα. Common idiom in John's Gospel (Revelation 2:4; Revelation 4:21; Revelation 4:23; Revelation 5:25; Revelation 5:28; Revelation 7:30, etc.).

Worship (προσκυνησατε). First aorist active imperative of προσκυνεω with the dative case. Solemn call to the pagan world to worship God as Creator (Revelation 4:11; Revelation 10:6), as in Psalms 96:6; Acts 14:15. For "the fountains of waters" see Revelation 8:10.

Verse 8

Another, a second angel (αλλος δευτερος αγγελος). This second angel "followed" (ηκολουθησεν, first aorist active indicative of ακολουθεω) and interpreted in part the first one.

Fallen, fallen (επεσεν, επεσεν). Prophetic aorist active indicative of πιπτω, repeated as a solemn dirge announcing the certainty of the fall. The English participle "fallen, fallen" is more musical and rhythmical than the literal rendering "fell, fell." The language is an echo of Isaiah 21:9, though B in the LXX has πεπτωκεν, πεπτωκεν (perfect).

Babylon the great (Βαβυλων η μαγαλη). The adjective μεγαλη occurs with Βαβυλων each time in the Apocalypse (Revelation 14:8; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 17:5; Revelation 18:2; Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:21) as a reminder of Nebuchadrezzar. There is no doubt that Rome is meant by Babylon, as is probably seen already in 1 Peter 5:13. As a prisoner in Patmos John can speak his mind by this symbolism.

Hath made to drink (πεποτικεν). Perfect active indicative of ποτιζω, old causative verb (from ποτος drinking, 1 Peter 4:3), as in Matthew 25:35. The remarkable phrase that follows seems based on Jeremiah 51:8 (Jeremiah 25:15). It is a combination also of Revelation 14:10 (the wine of God's wrath, also in Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15) and Revelation 17:2. There is no doubt of the dissoluteness of the old Babylon of Jeremiah's day as of the Rome of John's time. Rome is pictured as the great courtesan who intoxicates and beguiles the nations to fornication (Revelation 17:2; Revelation 17:4; Revelation 17:6), but the cup of God's wrath for her and her paramours is full (Revelation 14:10; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 18:2).

Verse 9

A third (τριτος). "The third of this succession of herald angels denounces the Caesar-worshippers" (Swete). Cf. Revelation 13:12. This counter proclamation (verses Revelation 14:9-12) warns those tempted to yield to the threats of the second beast about boycott and death (Revelation 13:11-17).

If any man worshippeth the beast and his image (ε τις προσκυνε το θηριον κα την εικονα αυτου). Condition of first class challenging those afraid of the beast. Note accusative (θηριον) after προσκυνε, not dative as in verse Revelation 14:7.

And receiveth a mark (κα λαμβανε χαραγμα). Carries on the same condition and picks up the very language of Revelation 13:16. These Caesar-worshippers are guilty of an "eternal sin" (Mark 3:29).

Verse 10

He also shall drink (κα αυτος πιετα). Future middle of πινω. Certainty for him as for Babylon and her paramours (Revelation 16:17).

Of the wine of the wrath of God (εκ του οινου του θυμου του θεου). Note εκ (partitive) after πιετα. In Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15 we have both θυμου and οργης (wrath of the anger of God). The white heat of God's anger, held back through the ages, will be turned loose.

Prepared unmixed (του κεκερασμενου ακρατου). A bold and powerful oxymoron, "the mixed unmixed." Ακρατος is an old adjective (alpha privative and κεραννυμ to mix) used of wine unmixed with water (usually so mixed), here only in N.T. So it is strong wine mixed (perfect passive participle of κεραννυμ) with spices to make it still stronger (cf. Psalms 75:9).

In the cup of his anger (εν τω ποτηριω της οργης αυτου). Both θυμος (vehement fury) and οργη (settled indignation).

He shall be tormented (βασανισθησετα). Future passive of βασανιζω. See Revelation 9:5; Revelation 11:10.

With fire and brimstone (εν πυρ κα θειω). See Revelation 9:17 for fire and brimstone and also Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8. The imagery is already in Genesis 19:24; Isaiah 30:33; Ezekiel 38:22.

In the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb (ενωπιον αγγελων αγιων κα ενωπιον του αρνιου). This holy environment adds to the punishment.

Verse 11

The smoke of their torment (ο καπνος του βασανισμου αυτων). See Revelation 9:5 for βασανισμος, only there it was a limited penalty, here it is "for ever and ever" (εις αιωνας αιωνων, unto ages of ages). See also Revelation 18:9; Revelation 19:3; Revelation 20:10.

They have no rest (ουκ εχουσιν αναπαυσιν). The very language used in Revelation 4:8 of the four living creatures in praising God. "Those who desert Christ for Caesar will be the victims of a remorse that never dies or sleeps" (Swete). The rest of the verse repeats the solemn challenge of verse Revelation 14:9.

Verse 12

Here is the patience of the saints (Hωδε η υπομονη των αγιων εστιν). John's own comment as in Revelation 13:10; Revelation 17:9. In this struggle against emperor worship lay their opportunity (Romans 5:3). It was a test of loyalty to Christ.

They that keep (ο τηρουντες). In apposition with των αγιων (genitive), though nominative, a frequent anacoluthon in this book (Revelation 2:20, etc.). Cf. Revelation 12:17.

The faith of Jesus (την πιστιν Ιησου). "The faith in Jesus" (objective genitive) as in Revelation 2:13; Mark 11:22; James 2:1.

Verse 13

Write (Γραψον). First aorist active imperative of γραφω as in Revelation 1:11. John's meditation is broken by this command. This new beatitude (μακαριο, Blessed) for the Christian dead goes farther than Paul's words (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:18). Probably "from henceforth" (απ' αρτ) goes with "those who die in the Lord," giving comfort to those facing persecution and death.

That they may rest (ινα αναπαησοντα). Purpose clause with ινα and the second future passive of αναπαυω.

From their labours (εκ των κοπων αυτων). From the toils, the wearinesses, but not from the activities (εργα), for these "follow with them." There is this to comfort us for all our growth here. Even if cut short, it can be utilized in heaven, which is not a place of idleness, but of the highest form of spiritual service.

Verse 14

A white cloud (νεφελη λευκη). Like the "bright cloud" of Matthew 17:5 (Transfiguration), a familiar object in the Mediterranean lands. See Daniel 7:13; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:9; Acts 1:11 for the picture of Christ's return.

I saw one sitting (καθημενον). No ειδον here, but the accusative follows the ειδον at the beginning, as νεφελη is nominative after ιδου, as in Revelation 4:1; Revelation 4:4.

Like unto a son of man (ομοιον υιον ανθρωπου). Accusative here after ομοιον as in Revelation 1:13, instead of the usual associative instrumental (Revelation 13:4).

Having (εχων). Nominative again after the ιδου construction, just before, not after, ειδον.

A golden crown (στεφανον χρυσουν). Here a golden wreath, not the diadems of Revelation 19:12.

A sharp sickle (δρεπανον οξυ). Old form δρεπανη (from δρεπω, to pluck), pruning-hook, in N.T. only in this chapter and Mark 4:29. Christ is come for reaping this time (Hebrews 9:28) for the harvesting of earth (verses Revelation 14:15-17). The priesthood of Christ is the chief idea in Revelation 1:12-20 and "as the true Imperator" (Swete) in chapter Revelation 14:19.

Verse 15

Send forth (πεμψον). First aorist (urgency) active imperative of πεμπω. "Thrust in thy sickle now," this angel urges Christ.

And reap (κα θερισον). First aorist (urgency) active imperative of θεριζω, old verb (from θερος, summer), as in Matthew 6:26. See verse Revelation 14:7 for "the hour is come." Θερισα (to reap) is epexegetical infinitive (first aorist active of θεριζω).

The harvest (ο θερισμος). Old, but rare word (from θεριζω, to harvest), as in Matthew 13:30; John 4:35, here only in Revelation.

Is over-ripe (εξηρανθη). First aorist (prophetic as in Revelation 10:17; Revelation 15:1) passive of ξηραινω (cf. James 1:11), to wither, to dry up. Perhaps just "ripe," not "over-ripe." Cf. Joel 1:17.

Verse 16

Cast (εβαλεν). Second aorist active indicative of βαλλω. No violence by the use of εβαλεν as is seen in Matthew 10:34 (βαλειν ειρηνην, to bring peace).

Was reaped (εθερισθη). First aorist passive indicative of θεριζω. Both prophetic aorists again. Christ puts in the sickle as he wills with his own agents (Matthew 9:37; Matthew 13:39; Matthew 13:41).

Verse 17

He also (κα αυτος). As well as the Reaper on the cloud. This is the fifth angel who is God's messenger from heaven (temple where God dwells). This fifth angel with his sharp sickle is to gather the vintage (Revelation 14:18-20) as Christ did the wheat.

Verse 18

Another angel (αλλος αγγελος). The fifth angel above Swete terms "the Angel of vengeance." He responds to the call of the sixth angel here as Christ does to the call of the fourth angel in verse Revelation 14:15.

Out from the altar (εκ του θυσιαστηριου). From the altar of incense where he is in charge of the fire (εξουσιαν επ του πυρος). If it is the altar of burnt offering (Revelation 6:9; Revelation 11:1), we are reminded of the blood of the martyrs (Swete), but if the altar of incense (Revelation 8:3; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 9:13; Revelation 16:7), then of the prayers of the saints.

The sharp sickle (το δρεπανον το οξυ). Useful for vintage as for harvesting. So "send forth" (πεμψον) as in verse Revelation 14:15.

Gather (τρυγησον). First aorist active imperative of τρυγαω, old verb (from τρυγη dryness, ripeness), in N.T. only Revelation 15:18 and Luke 6:44.

The clusters (τους βοτρυας). Old word βοτρυς, here only in N.T. (Genesis 40:10).

Her grapes (α σταφυλα αυτης). Old word again for grapes, bunch of grapes, in N.T. only here, Matthew 7:16; Luke 6:44.

Are fully ripe (ηκμασαν). Old and common verb (from ακμη, Matthew 15:16), to come to maturity, to reach its acme, here only in N.T.

Verse 19

Cast (εβαλεν). As in verse Revelation 14:16.

Gathered (ετρυγησεν). Like εθερισθη in verse Revelation 14:16, in obedience to the instructions in verse Revelation 14:18 (τρυγησον).

The vintage of the earth (την αμπελον της γης). "The vine of the earth." Here αμπελος is used for the enemies of Christ collectively pictured.

And cast it (εβαλεν). Repeating εβαλεν and referring to αμπελον (vintage) just before.

Into the winepress the great winepress (εις την ληνον τον μεγαν). Ληνος is either feminine as in verse Revelation 14:20; Revelation 19:15, or masculine sometimes in ancient Greek. Here we have both genders, a solecism frequent in the Apocalypse (Revelation 21:14 το τειχος εχων). See Matthew 21:33. For this metaphor of God s wrath see Revelation 14:10; Revelation 15:1; Revelation 15:7; Revelation 16:1; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 19:15.

Verse 20

Was trodden (επατηθη). First aorist passive indicative of πατεω, to tread. The image of treading out the grapes is a familiar one in the East. Perhaps Isaiah 63:3 is in mind.

Without the city (εξωθεν της πολεως). Ablative case with εξωθεν (like εξω). This was the usual place (Hebrews 13:12). See εξωθεν in Revelation 11:2. Joel (Joel 3:12) pictures the valley of Jehoshaphat as the place of the slaughter of God's enemies. Cf. Zechariah 14:4.

Blood from the winepress (αιμα εκ της ληνου). Bold imagery suggested by the colour of the grapes.

Unto the bridles (αχρ των χαλινων). Old word (from χαλαω to slacken), in N.T. only here and James 3:3. Bold picture.

As far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs (απο σταδιων χιλιων εξακοσιων). A peculiar use of απο, for "distance from (of)" as also in John 11:18; John 21:8, somewhat like the use of προ in John 12:1. The distance itself covers the length of Palestine, but it is more likely that "the metaphor is worked out with the exuberance of apocalyptic symbolism" (Swete) for the whole earth.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 14". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/revelation-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.