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Revelation 10

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Revelation 10:1-19


The Angel and the Little ScrollThe Mighty Angel with the ScrollAn InterludeThe Angel and the Little ScrollThe Imminence of the Last Punishment
Revelation 10:1-7Revelation 10:1-7Revelation 10:1-7Revelation 10:1-4Revelation 10:1-7
John Eats the Little BookRevelation 10:5-7The Seer Eats the Small Scroll
Revelation 10:8-11Revelation 10:8-11Revelation 10:8-10Revelation 10:8Revelation 10:8-11
Revelation 10:9
Revelation 10:10-11
Revelation 10:11
The Two WitnessesThe Two WitnessesThe Measuring of the Temple and the Two WitnessesThe Two WitnessesThe Two Witnesses
Revelation 11:1-13Revelation 11:1-6Revelation 11:1-3Revelation 11:1-3Revelation 11:1-10
The Witnesses KilledRevelation 11:4-6Revelation 11:4-6
Revelation 11:7-10Revelation 11:7-10Revelation 11:7-13
The Witnesses Resurrected
Revelation 11:11-14Revelation 11:11-13Revelation 11:11-13
The Seventh Trumpet
Revelation 11:14Revelation 11:14Revelation 11:14Revelation 11:14
The Seventh TrumpetSeventh Trumpet: the Kingdom ProclaimedThe Seventh TrumpetThe Seventh Trumpet
Revelation 11:15-19Revelation 11:15-19Revelation 11:15-19Revelation 11:15-18Revelation 11:15-18
Revelation 11:19Revelation 11:19

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


A. The first interlude (chapter 7) came between the sixth and seventh seals. This second interlude (Revelation 10:1-14) comes between the sixth and seventh trumpets. There is no interlude between the sixth and seventh bowls (Revelation 16:0), but there is another interlude before them (Rev. 12-14).

B. This interlude, like Revelation 7:0, uses OT terms (tabernacle, altar, Jerusalem). However, just as the Jewish allusions in Revelation 7:0 refer to the NT people of God, the Church, so too, in this chapter. The allusions are drawn from Daniel 9:0 but they have been adapted to the Greco-Roman, first century setting.

Here is a brief quote from Alan Johnson's Commentary on Revelation, "The Jewish view suffers from its inability to relate this chapter to the context of chapter 10, to the parallelism with the seal interlude (Revelation 7:0), to the ministry and significance of the two witnesses, and to the further chapters in Revelation (esp. Rev. 12-13). Therefore, it is better to understand Revelation 11:0 as referring to the whole Christian community" (p. 104).

C. As Alan Johnson sees Revelation 11:0 in its relationship to Revelation 7:10, and 12-13, George Ladd sees it as an independent literary unit related to the preservation of the Jewish people and their final salvation (cf. Matthew 23:39; Luke 21:24; Romans 11:26). See his Commentary on the Revelation of John, pp. 150-151.

It is difficult to decide between these two views. I certainly feel that because of God's promises to Israel, there will be an end-time revival among natural or proselyte Israel in which many will turn to faith in Christ (cf. Zechariah 12:10); this is part of Paul's argument in Romans 11:0 (it is surely possible that the revival alluded to in Zechariah 12:10 occurred in the Palestinian church of the first century). However, the context of Revelation 7:10, and 12-13 implies a universal scope both of protection to all of God's people and judgment against all unbelievers. In this context a believing Jewish emphasis or even a Jewish-versus-Gentile emphasis is out of place.

D. Will there be two end-time witnesses, or is this symbolic of an end-time witness? It is so hard to be confident in interpreting the symbols of this book. If John intended them to be literal, he would have chosen a different genre to reveal this to believers of all ages.

Did this reference to "two witnesses" have special meaning to the first century believers experiencing persecution (probably Emperor worship cults)? This cannot be answered with finality. John's choice of imagery is drawn from several sources: the Old Testament, apocalyptic literature, Greco-Roman culture and at times Near Eastern mythology (chapter 12). Did the first hearers completely and fully understand his sources and symbolism? Possibly not, not in a specific way, but they did understand the genre! They would not have forced a literal historical fulfillment for all the details.

My only fear in making this statement is how OT predictive prophecy was interpreted by the inspired NT authors! Often they saw literal fulfillment of OT details in the life of Christ. Some of these fulfillments were rabbinical word plays or type/antitype symbols. Under the Spirit's guidance (or Jesus' teaching, cf. Luke 24:13-35) the Apostles' current historical setting was viewed through OT prophetic texts. This same thing may occur for the last generation of persecuted believers. However, intervening interpreters are not able to predict which of these details through theology or hermeneutics! Modern interpreters must not (1) force their history into these apocalyptic texts nor (2) seek literal fulfillment on every detail of this highly symbolic genre. Time will tell!

E. The literary patterns and imagery of the seals and the trumpets is almost identical. Both bring human history up to the very end (cf. Revelation 6:12-17 and Revelation 11:15-19).


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. What is the purpose of this interlude?

2. Why do so many interpreters try to identify the angel in chapter 10 with Christ?

3. What is the mystery of God mentioned in Revelation 10:7?

4. What was the little book that John was commanded to eat?

5. Who are the two witnesses? What was their message?

6. Does Revelation 11:9 describe the city of Jerusalem or anti-God world kingdoms? Why?

7. List the Old Testament allusions found in this interlude.

Verses 1-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 10:1-7 1I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; 2and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land; 3and he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars; and when he had cried out, the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices. 4When the seven peals of thunder had spoken, I was about to write; and I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder have spoken and do not write them." 5Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, 6and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, 7but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.

Revelation 10:1 "I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven" Notice that John is back on earth after the vision of Rev. 4-5 (if John's call to heaven in Revelation 4:0 was the rapture of the church, is this the fall of the church?). This angel is described in terms which apply to YHWH in the OT and to Christ in Revelation 1:12-20. Because of this, many have asserted that this is Christ Himself. However, this is doubtful for the following reasons:

1. Christ is never called an angel in Revelation

2. there are other mighty angels listed in Revelation (cf. Revelation 5:2; Revelation 18:21)

3. this angel will swear by God in Revelation 10:6, which is inappropriate for Christ

4. there is an angel in Daniel 10:0 who is also described in similar terms.

This elaborate description may contrast this angel of light with the angel of the abyss in Revelation 9:0. As the angel in Revelation 9:0 was directed, this angel is self-directed. This may be an allusion to the powerful angel of Daniel 10:5-6 or to Michael, the archangel of Israel in Revelation 10:3 and 12:1.

"clothed with a cloud" In the OT clouds were the unique transportation of deity (cf. Psalms 97:2; Psalms 104:3; Daniel 7:13; Acts 1:9).

"and the rainbow was upon his head" Many see this as an allusion to Revelation 4:3 and therefore another title of power and authority reminiscent of deity. The allusion may go back to Ezekiel 1:28, where a rainbow is the portable throne/chariot of YHWH.

"his face was like the sun" This follows the description of Christ found in Revelation 1:16 (cf. Matthew 17:2).

"his feet like pillars of fire" This description is also similar to Christ in Revelation 1:15.

Revelation 10:2 "he had in his hand a little book which was open" There has been much discussion about this little book. Some see it as the little book of Revelation 5:1, now opened, but two different Greek words are used (Revelation 5:1, biblion; Revelation 10:2, biblaridion). Others see it as related to Ezekiel 2:8-14. Since this is an angel and not Christ, Ezekiel is the best allusion.

"He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land" The size of the angel speaks of a universal message. The rabbis (in the Talmud) discussed an angel named Sandelfon, whose enormous height was the same as the distance of 500 miles taller than other angels (cf. Hagigah 13b).

Revelation 10:3 "he cried out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars" This term "roars" (mukaomai) is usually used for the voice of oxen (a low bellow). However, it seems appropriate given that this is an allusion to the OT passages where God spoke as a lion (cf. Jeremiah 25:30; Hosea 11:10; Joel 3:16; Amos 3:8).

"the seven peals of thunders uttered their voices" The identity of these seven thunders is disputed. This could be:

1. an allusion to the seven "voices" of God in Psalms 29:3-9

2. parallel to the seven seals and seven trumpets, which were cycles of God's judgment on unbelievers (cf. Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 16:18) for the purpose of redemption

3. a sound coming from God's throne (cf. Revelation 4:5)

4. it may also relate to the seven spirits of God (cf. Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:6 from Isa. 11:22)

Revelation 10:4 "Seal up" There are several places in the Bible where someone has received a revelation from God but could not reveal it. Two of these are (1) Daniel (cf. Daniel 8:26; Daniel 12:4, Daniel 12:9) and (2) Paul (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:4). However, this is a very surprising statement. John is told to write what he sees (cf. Revelation 1:11, Revelation 1:19; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:5). John is told in Revelation 22:10 that the words of this prophecy are not to be sealed up. It must refer to this message alone!

Revelation 10:5 "lifted up his right hand to heaven" This is a gesture for oath-taking (cf. Genesis 14:22; Exodus 6:8; Numbers 14:30; Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:15, Ezekiel 20:28; Daniel 12:7). The form of this oath is very striking in its titles for God.

Revelation 10:6 "Him who lives forever and ever" This characterization of God recalls His two most common OT names:

1. YHWH from the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exodus 3:14). "I Am that I Am" was the covenant name for deity; it emphasized God as Savior and Redeemer (cf. Genesis 14:19; Exodus 20:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 146:6).

2. Elohim, which was used of God in Genesis 1:0 as creator, sustainer, and provider of everything on earth (cf. Genesis 14:19; Exodus 20:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalms 146:6).

This oath is a way of asserting the trustworthiness of the angel's message.

"there will be delay no longer" This may be a response to the question of the martyrs in Revelation 6:10. It is literally "that time (chronos) no longer shall be." The concept of time is very fluid in this book for several reasons.

1. There are two different Greek words that express time

a. chronos, the passing of time (cf. Revelation 10:6)

b. kairos, a special time, season, or event (cf. Revelation 1:3; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 12:12, Revelation 12:14).

2. There are several idioms used:

a. "the things which must shortly take place" (cf. Revelation 1:1; Revelation 22:6)

b. "the time is near" (cf. Revelation 1:3; Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:10)

c. "I am coming quickly" (cf. Revelation 2:5, Revelation 2:16; Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 22:20)

d. "I will come like a thief" (cf. Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15)

All of these speak of immediacy (see Special Topic at Revelation 1:3). However, some passages speak of a delay (cf. Revelation 6:11; Revelation 10:6; Revelation 14:13). Another idiom is that the day of judgment and rewards has arrived, "it is done" (cf. Revelation 16:17; Revelation 21:6) or "the time has come" (cf. Revelation 11:18; Revelation 20:12).

This fluidity has been exploited by the differing interpretive systems to emphasize a certain aspect of time (first century, every age, or last generation). The solemn oath of the angel is that the end-time events must now begin. The prayers of the martyrs have been answered! Revelation must be interpreted in light of its first readers (see John Bray, Matthew 24:0 Fulfilled).

Revelation 10:7

NASB"the mystery of God is finished" NKJV"the mystery of God would be finished" NRSV"the mystery of God would be fulfilled" TEV"God will accomplish his secret plan" NJB"the mystery of God will be fulfilled"

The term has several connotations.

1. Paul uses it often to refer to God's eternal plan of the redemption of Jews and Gentiles through faith in Christ (cf. Ephesians 2:11-13, see Special Topic at Revelation 4:1).

2. Revelation often refers to a mystery about part of a vision (cf. Revelation 1:20; Revelation 17:5, Revelation 17:7).

3. In Revelation 10:7 it refers to God's eternal plan of redemption, as Paul did in Romans 16:25-26 and Ephesians 2:11-13.

It is possible that John took this term from Daniel, particularly chapter 2 (cf. Daniel 2:18, Daniel 2:19, Daniel 2:27, Daniel 2:28, Daniel 2:29, Daniel 2:30, Daniel 2:47). If so, it refers to God's ability to reveal His actions. God is knowledgeable of and in control of all history.


"the prophets"


Verses 8-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Revelation 10:8-11 8Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking with me, and saying, "Go, take the book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the land." 9So I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, "Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey." 10I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter. 11And they said to me, "You must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings."

Revelation 10:8 "the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again" There has been much speculation about the identification of the speaker. Some have asserted that it is God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or one of the powerful angels.

In Revelation 10:11 the voice is plural, possibly referring to the Triune God. The plurals used of deity in the OT (the name Elohim and the "us" of Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 7:11; Isaiah 6:8) have been explained in several ways.

1. a grammatical form called "the plural of majesty" whereby the plural intensifies the concept or term

2. YHWH speaking collectively of the angelic council (cf. 1 Kings 22:19; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Jeremiah 23:18; Daniel 7:10)

3. an incipient form of the concept of a Triune God or Trinity (cf. Psalms 110:1; Zechariah 2:8; 17:10)


Revelation 10:9 "'Take it and eat it'" This is an allusion to Ezekiel 2:8-14 or Jeremiah 15:16-17. This symbolizes being commissioned to speak God's message. The little book symbolizes God's message which contains both assurance to believers (honey, cf. Psalms 19:10-11; Psalms 119:103) and judgment to unbelievers (bitter). This scroll is not the same as the one that Jesus opened in chapter 6. This refers to the message from the almighty angel (cf. Revelation 10:7-11).

Revelation 10:11 "they said to me" The powerful angel or the Triune God is affirming John as prophetic recorder and spokesman.

"many peoples and nations and tongues and kings" This terminology is used of both unbelievers (cf. Revelation 11:9; Revelation 13:7-8; Revelation 14:6; Revelation 17:15) and believers (i.e.,before Judgment Day cf. Revelation 7:9; Revelation 15:4 and after Judgment Day cf. Revelation 21:24, Revelation 21:26; Revelation 22:2). This verse could refer to preaching the gospel (cf. Revelation 10:11; Revelation 14:6) to all nations (cf. Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) or the prediction of further temporal judgments of the wrath of God.

Revelation 11:0

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Revelation 10". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/revelation-10.html. 2021.
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