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Bible Commentaries

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

Revelation 14


Questions For Revelation Chapter Fourteen

1.What did John see at this time?

2.Where was it standing?

3.Who were standing with him?

4.Tell what was written on them?

5.What did he hear?

6.How did it sound?

7.What did he hear further?

8.Tell what they were doing.

9.Where were they singing?

10.Who alone knew this song?

11. What had been done for this throng?

12. State their moral character.

13. Whom do they follow?

14.What were the firstfruits unto God?

15.What was not in theIr mouth?

16.Tell their standing before the throne.

17.What person did John next see?

IS.Tell what he was doing.

19.And state what he had.

20.To whom was he to deliver it?

21.Whom did he command men to fear?

22.What must they give to Him?

23.Tell what hour had arrived.

24.Whom must men worship?

25.What had he created?

26.Who followed all this?

27.Repeat his announcement.

2S.What had she done?

29.Tell what person followed this.

30.Against what worship did he give warning?

31.State the penalty if unheeded.

32.With what shall he be tormented?

33.In what presence will this be done?

34.What ascends up forever?

35.When do they have rest?

36.Whom had they been worshiping?

37.What quality of the saints is shown here? 3

38.From where did .J ohn hear a voice?

39.What work was John told to do?

40.State what dead are to be blessed.

41.From what may they rest?

42.What will follow them?

43.Tell what John saw next.

44.Who was upon this?

45.Tell what John saw next?

46.And what was in his hand?

47.Who came next?

4S.From where did he come?

49.To whom did he cry?

50.What did he direct him to do?

51.Why should he do so now?

52.What was then thrust in?

53.Tell what was done with the vine

54. Where was it trodden?

55.What came out of the press?

56.How deep was this?

57.To what length did it reach?

Verse 1

The preceding chapter took us back to the first century of the Christian Era and dealt with the years of Pagan Rome, then came on to the time of Papal Rome and predicted the Dark Ages of1260 years. The present chapter will continue down through that period and through the days of the Reformation, finally reaching the last great day of judgment and the separation of the saved from the unsaved. The Lamb is Christ and Zion is the true church which has been persecuted all through the Dark Ages. In the course of that period there were multitudes of faithful Christians who would not receive the mark of the beast, but instead they had the name of the Father written in their foreheads.

Verse 2

Voice of many waters symbolizes that great numbers had resisted the temptations of Rome, and thunder is a symbol denoting that the sound of triumph is strong and of great volume. Voice of harpers means the organs of song in the bodies of the redeemed, for the next verse says they were singing with the harps.

Verse 4

Verse4. In figurative language heathenism, paganism or idolatry, likewise any other form of unlawful worship is used to symbolize adultery and other forms of immorality. The persons of this verse were disciples who had remained true to the service of Christ though often tempted to commit spiritual adultery with paganism and other practices of Rome. Follow the Lamb whitltersoever he goeth covers much more than is often realized. It means to follow Him through sorrow as well as joy; through evil report as well as good, and through the valley of death if the enemy drives that affliction upon the servant of the Lord. Incidentally this verse gives us some int"ormation on the subject of virgins. The common idea is that only women can be virgins but these are called such because they had not been defiled with women. and men only could be defiled in that way. True the writer is considering spiritual adultery, but the language would not have been used were it not understood that either sex may be a virgin. Firstfruits is figurative in the sense of quality, and the word is based on the requirements of the Mosiac law. The Jews were commanded to give the first of all their flocks and herds and the products of the field unto the Lord. The word finally came to mean the best service that one could render to Him. The disciples of this verse had performed such excellent devotions that the word firstfruils is used denoting something especially dear to the Lord.

Verse 5

Guile means deceit and these faithful disciples had no desire nor occasion to try deceiving anyone. That evil trait was one of the prominent ones of the "man of sin." Fault means blemish or spot in one's conduct or manner of life. Hence this verse represents persons who are correct in both word and deed. That would indicate that their hearts were right also because "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" ( Matthew 12:34). and from the heart come "murders, adulteries," etc. ( Matthew 15:19). These saints were free from all these products of an evil heart so we may conclude they were pure in heart. That explains why they were allowed to be before the throne of God, for Matthew 5:8 says the pure in heart shall see God. These brave soldiers of the cross had been strengthened in their fight of faith by the very trials that were intended to destroy them.

Verse 6

Everlasting gospel is what had been kept from the people during the Dark Ages. As long as Rome could hold her subjects in ignorance of the Bible she was able to continue the dictatorial rule over them. Even the kings and other rulers over the various nations and countries were held back because they were not permitted to make their own application of the scriptures either for the lives of their subjects or for themselves. They were told that the scriptures were "not of any private interpretation" (making a perverted use of 2 Peter 1:20), and that they must leave that to the church. Not only were they forbidden to interpret what they might have been able to read. but the Bible was kept in the Latin language so that they could not even read it. But Martin Luther and his associates gave the Book to the people in their native tongue so they could read for themselves. Concerning this great work I shall make a quotation from Edward Gibbon the English historian: "By their hands the lofty fabric of superstition, from the abuse of indulgencies to the intercession of the Virgin. has been levelled with the ground. Myriads of both sexes of the monastic profession [that of the secluded monks] were restored to the liberty and labors of social life. A hierarchy of saints and angels, of imperfect and subordinate deities. were stripped of their temporal powers. and reduced to the enjoyment of celestial happiness; their images and rellcs were banished from the church: and the credulity [blind readiness to believe] of the people was no-longer nourished with the daily repetition of miracles and visions."—Volume4, Page608.

Verse 7

The angel is announcing the glorious work of giving the word of God back to the people, and bidding them rejoice over it and give Him glory for it. Hour of his judgment means the time is come when the great apostate institution is to be judged by having her power broken through the work of the reformers. Worship him that made heaven and earth, instead of the superstitious objects held before them by Rome.

Verse 8

A result of the everlasting gospel which the preceding angel announced is then stated by another angel, namely, Babylon is fallen. The reader is reminded that the term Babylon in this part‘ of the great drama means the institution that was formed by the union of church and state. It is here called that great city because its head was the city of Rome where both the emperor and pope resided. Wine of the wrath of her fornication is a figurative phrase combining the false teaching and idolatrous practices of Rome. As long as the people were kept in ignorance of the Bible, they could be made to drink of this wine. The announcement that Babylon is fallen means that the union of church and st-ate was dissolved as a result of the information brought to the people through the Bible, translated in their native language so they could read it for themselves, and form conclusions independent of Rome.

Verse 9

A third angel appeared to give a warning for all who might still persist in following after the evil pattern set by Rome. He mentions the three phases of the subject that were treated at Revelation 13:14-17. Concerning the image I shall make another quotation from Edward Gibbon which follows that which is quoted at verse6. ‘The imitation of Paganism was supplied [replaced] by a pure and spiritual worship of prayer and thanksgiving, the most worthy of Prayer of Manasseh, the least unworthy of the Deity."

Verse 10

The false worshippers are told that if they persist in drinking of this wine'of the wrath of Rome, they will be punished by having to drink of another supply of wine; that will be the wi-ne of the wrath of God. Wine has been used figuratively for centuries to symbolize wrath and anger and other intense conditions of the intellect. (See Psalm 60:3; Proverbs 4:17; Jeremiah 25:15; Jeremiah 51:7.) Without mixture means it will not be diluted nor weakened, but they shall get the full effect of the wrath of God upon those who have been devoted to Rome. Shall be tormented with fire and brimstone refers to the lake of fire into which the wicked will be cast at the day of judgment. In the presence . . .of the Lamb. This denotes that the sentence of this punishment will be pronounced in the presence of Christ and his angels. (See Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.) The sentence will be pronounced then but it will be served according to the next verse.

Verse 11

Smoke of their torment refers to that which will arise from the fire in the lake into which the wicked will have been cast. Ascendeth up for ever and ever. If the smoke is to ascend for ever it follows that the torment will continue for ever. It will come from the lake of fire which has been created for the purpose of tormenting the unsaved. The particular unsaved persons named in this place are those who have guilty relations with the beast, the image or the mark ( Revelation 13:14-15). But all the unsaved will be in this place for Matthew 25:41 says they will be told: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fi Revelation, prepared for the devil and his angels." No rest day nor night is another way of saying that the punishment of the unsaved will be endless. Terrible thoughtl!

Verse 12

This has the same meaning as Revelation 13:10.

Verse 13

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lordhad won a victory through faith, and it was fitting that they should have the honor of handing the vials to the angels.

Verse 14

The rest of the chapter is a vision of the day of judgment. Clouds are often used as symbols of glory and power especially white clouds. The person sitting on the cloud is like the Son of man because he is but a symbol. Yet we must think of Christ, who is being symbolized by the vision. Gold-en crown signifies a king and we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:25 that He is to reign until the end. Sharp sickle is an instrument for gathering the fruits of a harvest. Jesus is king in his own right, but he is generally represented as accomplishing the work of His kingdom in cooperation with the angels. Especially is this true of the work to be performed at his second coming. (See Matthew 25:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7.)

Verse 15

Another angel is said because angels have been named previously in this chapter, and because those heavenly beings are so often employed to act as attendants upon the Lord or sometimes upon other angels as will be done yet in this chapter. There are to be two kinds of crops ::gatjhered on the day of judgment as generally happens after any growing season. One kind is the good and the other is the bad, and they are always separated one from the other and different dispositions made of them. In the present case the good is represented in the ordinary phraseology of a good harvest which implies sheaves of grain. "l‘he bad is represented by g rapes which we have just seen above symbolize the wrath of God upon the wicked. The attending angel signalled to Him who was on the cloud to use his sickle to gather the ripe harvest.

Verse 16

The One on the white cloud did as requested and gathered the grain. The reader will understand this represents the good among mankind.

Verse 17

The other sickle was in the hands of an angel instead of Him who was on the cloud. This also agrees with the language of Christ in Matthew 13:39 where he says "the angels are the reapers." Notice these angels are said to come out of the temple. That is because it is in heaven from where the authority of God is issued.

Verse 18

The next attending angel came out from the altar. That article was also at the temple and it was the piece that was used for burning certain victims. The symbol is very appropriate since this sickle is to be used for gathering the grapes; grapes for the wrath of God. This angel gave the signal to the one holding the second sickle to use it for gathering in the clusters. The reason assigned by him for the order was her grapes are fully ripe. God is never premature in his operations. He explained to Abraham in Genesis 15:16 that the reason for waiting until the fourth generation for attacking the land of promise was that "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." In 2 Peter 3:15 it says that the longsuffering of God in delaying the destruction of the earth "is salvation." Whenever God in his infinite wisdom sees that the time is fully ripe for the harvest He will send forth the reapers and bring an end to the earth and its contents.

Verse 19

As a literal fact a winepress is a large vat in which grapes are placed for extraction of the juice. In Bible times mechanical means had not been invented for pressure, and the result was accomplished by man power. A lattice-like platform was laid on top of the grapes and a number of men walked round and round over it until the juice was forced out, being received below through a trough running from the vat to a receiving vessel. The symbolic feature is in the fact that the desired result was accomplished by a treading under foot. The operation is used to symbolize the act of the Lord in trampling under his feet the wicked people of the earth. The flowing of the wine signifies the flowing of the wrath of God against men':s unrighteousness.

Verse 20

The symbol continues with the same significance but with some added specifications. Being done without the city denotes that the punishment of the wicked will be outside the holy city in the eternal world. In computing the amount of blood (of the grape) that came out we must not forget that the whole performance is symbolic, and the volume is given in order to furnish us some idea of the terrible fate of those whose unrighteous lives have brought upon them the wrath of God. To be conservative I suppose unto the horse bridles would be about four feet. The amount was enough to flood the ground for a distance of a thousand and six hundred furlongs or two hundred miles. Nothing is said about any kind of retainer on the sides, hence to be wide enough to flow freely that far and that deep (if only in the center) would require a considerable width. It all should give us a profound impression of the fate of those who die out of Christ.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 14". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.