Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 14:2

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Celibacy;   Chastity;   Harp;   Heaven;   Music;   Praise;   Righteous;   Song;   Vision;   Thompson Chain Reference - Harps;   Instruments, Chosen;   Joy;   Music;   Musical Instruments;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Heaven;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Christians, Names of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Order;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Harp;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Birthright;   Cuttings;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Predestination;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Atonement (2);   Harp ;   Praise;   Thunder ;   Type;   Voice;   Voice (2);   Water ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Harp;   Lamb;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Forehead;   Thunder;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ascension;   Revelation of John:;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for March 16;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The voice of many waters - That is, of multitudes of various nations.

The voice of harpers - Though the sounds were many and apparently confused, yet both harmony and melody were preserved.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-14.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I heard a voice from heaven - Showing that the scene is laid in heaven, but that John in the vision was on the earth.

As the voice of many waters - As the sound of the ocean, or of a mighty cataract. That is, it was so loud that it could be heard from heaven to earth. No comparison could express this more sublimely than to say that it was like the roar of the ocean.

As the voice of a great thunder - As the loud sound of thunder.

And I heard the voice of harpers - In heaven: the song of redemption accompanied with strains of sweet instrumental music. For a description of the harp, see the notes on Isaiah 5:12.

Harping with their harps - Playing on their harps. This image gives new beauty to the description. Though the sound was loud and swelling, so loud that it could be heard on the earth, yet it was not mere shouting, or merely a tumultuous cry. “It was like the sweetness of symphonious harps.” The music of heaven, though elevated and joyous, is sweet and harmonious; and perhaps one of the best representations of heaven on earth, is the effect produced on the soul by strains of sweet and solemn music.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-14.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps.

And I heard a voice from heaven ... Although the person or persons speaking in this great voice is not indicated, the fact of its being "from heaven" proclaims the true power and authority of it. God either spoke the message or authorized it.

As the voice of many waters ... It was not the noise of many waters which John heard, but something so powerful as to suggest that.

As the voice of harpers harping with their harps ... Just as in the case of the waters, John did not hear "waters"; he did not hear, in this case, either the harps or the voice of the harpers, but something suggesting that. What John heard was not singers singing and playing harps, but a sound as precious and sweet as that, meaning that, "It was articulate and sweet."[10] Morris described the voice as loud and melodious, supposing that, "It was the voice of the 144,000."[11]

As might have been expected, not all scholars could resist the temptation to fabricate an argument from this to favor worshipping God with mechanical instruments of music. "We see that there are zithers of God ... The zithers accompany the singing!"[12] But, of course, there are no literal harps in heaven; nor is it stated in the text that John heard any harps. As Hinds said, "The passage gives no support for the use of mechanical instruments in worship.[13] Furthermore, there is the valid principle that the appearance of anything whatever in these visions could not possibly provide any authority for the incorporation of such things into the worship of God through Christ on earth. This verse was falsely rendered by the New English Bible (1961) thus, "It was the sound of harpers playing on their harps." As Plummer pointed out, "The ASV rendition as in this text is supported by all the leading uncials, the Sinaiticus, the Alexandrinus, the Vatican and the Codex Ephraemi."[14] Therefore, the New English Bible (1961), like so many of the so-called "modern" translations, is, in certain texts, not a translation at all, but a perversion of the word of God.

[10] W. H. Simcox, The Revelation, Revised, Cambridge Greek New Testament (Cambridge: University Press, 1893), p. 139.

[11] Leon Morris, op. cit., p. 176.

[12] R. C. H. Lenski, op. cit., p. 421.

[13] John T. Hinds, A Commentary on the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1962), p. 208.

[14] A. Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 22, Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 347.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I heard a voice from heaven,.... The same with the voices heard in heaven upon the sounding of the seventh trumpet, Revelation 11:15;

as the voice of many waters; very loud, and uttered by a great multitude of people, signified by waters in this book, Revelation 17:15; the same with those that praise the Lord for the destruction of antichrist, and for the marriage of the Lamb, Revelation 19:1;

and as the voice of a great thunder; to which the Gospel may be compared for its open, loud publication, being heard far and near, as thunder is:

and I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps; that is, singing the praises of God, for the fall of Babylon, the happy state and condition of the church, and the blessings of grace; the harp being a musical instrument, used under the Old Testament in singing praise: Brightman thinks that these different sounds represent the course of Gospel doctrine, and the church's voice throughout the reign of antichrist; that when the church first went into the wilderness, her voice was like the murmuring of waters, confused and indistinct; when she began to revive under the Waldenses and Albigenses, Wickliff, Huss, &c. her voice was like thunder, loud and terrible; and at the Reformation, it was as the voice of harpers, when confessions of faith were published with sweet harmony and consent. Others have thought that the different properties and efficacy of the Gospel are designed; as its rapidity and irresistible force, by the many waters; its striking and shaking the consciences of men, by the thunder, Christ's ministers being sometimes "Boanergeses", sons of thunder; and its harmonious music, pleasant sound, peace, joy, and comfort it brings, by the voice of harpers. The Alexandrian copy, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, read, "the voice which I heard was as harpers", &c.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-14.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

fromGreek, “out of.”

voice of many waters — as is the voice of Himself, such also is the voice of His people.

I heard the voice of harpers — A, B, C, and Origen read, “the voice which I heard (was) as of harpers.”

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-14.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

As a voice of many waters (ως πωνην υδατων πολλωνhōs phōnēn hudatōn pollōn). For which see Revelation 1:15.

Of a great thunder (βροντης μεγαληςbrontēs megalēs). 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 ηκουσαēkousa the voice of harpers harping with their harps (ως κιταρωιδων κιταριζοντων εν ταις κιταραις αυτωνhōs kitharōidōn kitharizontōn en tais kitharais autōn). Triple use of κιταραkithara (Revelation 5:8), κιταρωιδωνkitharōidōn (Revelation 18:22), κιταριζοντωνkitharizontōn (old verb κιταριζωkitharizō in N.T. only here and 1 Corinthians 14:7). Wonderful melody in this chorus by the angels, not by the 144,000.

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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)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

And I heard the voice of harpers ( καὶ φωνὴν ἤκουσα κιθαρῳδῶν )

The correct reading is, καὶ ἡ φωνὴ ἣν ἤκουσα ὡς κιθαρῳδῶν andthe voice which I heard (was) as (the voice) of harpers. Κιθαρῳδός is from κιθάρα aharp (see on Revelation 5:8) and ᾠδός asinger. Properly, one who sings, accompanying himself on the harp.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-14.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

And I heard a sound out of heaven — Sounding clearer and clearer: first, at a distance, as the sound of many waters or thunders; and afterwards, being nearer, it was as of harpers harping on their harps. It sounded vocally and instrumentally at once.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-14.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

Ver. 2. As the voice of many waters] The word of God (called here a voice from heaven) hath, saith Mr Forbes, three degrees of operation in the hearts of men. 1. It works wondering (as the sound of many waters) and acknowledging of a strange force and more than human power, Mark 12:22; Luke 4:32; John 7:46; John 2:1-25. It works not only wonder but fear, as thunder doth; thus it wrought in Felix, and may do in any reprobate. 3. It works in the elect peace and joy; it makes music in the soul, far sweeter than that of harpers, 1 Peter 1:8.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-14.html. 1865-1868.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

St. John here describes the true worshippers of Christ in the midst of antichristian idolatry; where we have,

1. The acceptable worship they perform, prayer and praise, an heavenly exercise, which, like thunder, and the voice of many waters, sounds loud in the ears of God, and is certainly heard by him, and is melodious like the harp, and therefore as acceptable to him as the sweetest music is to us.

2. The persons described who perform this acceptable worship, such as were redeemed from the earth; where the earth is put for earthly-minded men, the false church; the meaning is, that God has fetched this small number of true worshippers, the hundred forty-four thousand, from among the false worshippers and impure ones, he hath rescued them from the world of idolaters, and from the superstitious multitude.

3. The persons described before whom this worship is performed, Before the throne, and before the four beasts and elders,-- before the throne, to show the reverence and sincerity wherewith they performed the same, as in the sight of the great and glorious God, and before the beasts and elders, that is, the whole congregation of the saints, according to that of the Psalmist, Psalms 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assemblies of his saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about him.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/revelation-14.html. 1700-1703.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 14:2. καὶ φωνὴ ἣν ἤκουσα ὡς(153)) Thus Comp. Copt. and almost all the copies. But the reading of Erasmus, καὶ φωνὴν ἤκουσα, without ὡς (which particle is however found even in And. 1), is scarcely supported by one or two ancient authorities. I wish the reader to observe my Edition, connected by Wolf more distinctly than by the printer with the Complutensian, and not with the Græco-Anglican. John by degrees more articulately describes the voice which he heard; and the article has the force of a relative, by which the meaning is conveyed, that the same voice was heard first as of many waters and of great thundering, and next as of harpers.(154)

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/revelation-14.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

As the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; a loud voice, and terrible also to the followers of antichrist.

The voice of harpers harping with their harps; a musical, melodious voice, as of persons rejoicing. Mr. Mede rather thinks, that the voice as of many waters, signifies no more than a great multitudes, and indeed it is so expounded, Revelation 19:6.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-14.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

гуслистов См. пояснение к 5:8.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-14.html.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

John did not identify the person who spoke from heaven. This could be the voice of Christ (cf. Revelation 1:15; Ezekiel 1:24; Ezekiel 43:2), the Tribulation martyrs ( Revelation 7:10), an angel (cf. Revelation 6:1; Daniel 10:6), or many angels ( Revelation 5:8; Revelation 5:11; Revelation 7:11; Revelation 19:6). Perhaps the last option is best in view of how John described it here and in the next verse (pl. "they sang"). These angels do not include the four living creatures and the24elders, however ( Revelation 14:3).

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-14.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 14:2. A voice is heard out of heaven. The description of it shows that it is a voice of mingled terror and sweetness.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-14.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

many waters. See Revelation 1:16; Revelation 19:6.

a. Omit.

I heard, &c. The texts read "the voice which I heard (was that) of harpers", &c.

harpers, &c. Accompanying the voice.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-14.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

From - `out of.'

Voice of many waters. As is the voice of Himself (Revelation 1:15), such also is the voice of His people.

I heard the voice of harpers. 'Aleph (') A B C, Origen, read, 'the voice which I heard (was) as of harpers.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-14.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) And I heard a voice . . .—Translate, And I heard a voice out of the heaven. The saints stand with their Lord, the Lamb, on Mount Zion, and just as of old a voice came from heaven bearing witness to Christ, so round the abode of the saints heavenly voices are heard, full of majesty, terribleness, and sweetness, as though the sounds of sea and thunder blended with the music of heavenly harps. We call to mind the magnificent 29th Psalm; there the saints, secure in Zion, hear all around them the voice of God in the thunder and in the sea, while in His safe sanctuary the saints can sing of His honour.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-14.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
a voice
10:4; 11:12,15; 19:1-7
of many
1:15; 19:6; Psalms 93:4; Isaiah 17:13; Ezekiel 43:2
of a
1:10; 8:7-13; 9:1; 10:3,4; 11:15; Exodus 19:16; 20:18; Zechariah 9:14
harpers
5:8; 15:2; 18:22; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1-7; Psalms 33:2; 43:4; 57:8; 92:3; Psalms 98:5; 147:7; 149:3; 150:3-6
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 10:12 - harps;  2 Chronicles 20:28 - with psalteries;  Psalm 68:25 - the players;  Matthew 3:17 - lo;  John 3:23 - much;  John 12:29 - thundered

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-14.html.

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

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.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-14.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 14:2

Revelation 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

The saints being now congregated in a general assembly on Mount Sion, and the Lord Jesus Christ with them, as Hebrews 12:22-24. Their

voice

(that Isaiah, their declaration, or testimony) was like the noise of many waters, and a great thunder, loud and terrible; somewhat like the march of Jehosaphat, against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir. Compare 2 Chronicles 20:10-30 with Psalm 83:5-18.

And I heard the voice of harpers, harping with their harps.

This was the voice of praises and thanksgivings to God; these harpers were God's David's, who were prepared to sing in the spirit, { 1 Corinthians 14:15-16} who being filled with the Holy Spirit, and their harps, that Isaiah, their hearts, being in a spiritual frame, they were prepared to sing Hosannas and Hallelujah's, { Ephesians 5:19-20} as David prophesied the congregated churches of saints in the later days shall do, { Psalm 149:1-9}

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-14.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.Heard a voice from heaven—From the ethereal or firmamental heaven, over the company on the mount, there comes a choral voice. The blessed air is full of heavenly music. It is from a very full celestial choir, for their voice is as the voice of many waters, as’ a great thunder.

And I heard—Better reading, And’ the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, etc. There was but one aerial company, at first heard but not seen, whose voice was sweet as harp melody, yet full as the waters’ roar, and loud as a great thunder.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 14:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-14.html. 1874-1909.