Notes on Revelations
1) ALPHA AND OMEGA – Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. They symbolize the beginning and the end and they also symbolize all that is.
2) YHWH – (Yahweh) God’s personal name. I am what I am and I will be what I will be. This come from a unique form of grammar called a pluperfect which is not found in English. It is a word that begins in the past, is in the present, and continues into the future without changing. God says of Himself; Who is and who was and who is to come.
3) ANGEL/MESSENGER – angel is a direct translation of the Greek word angelos (angelos) which means messenger. I believe that here we are better off to translate is as messenger and therefore referring to the Pastors of these churches.
4) EPHESUS – Chief city of the Ionian confederacy and capital of the Roman province “Asia” (Mysia, Lydia, Caria), on the S. side of the plain of Cayster, and partly on the heights of Prion and Coressus, opposite the island of Samos. A leading scene of Paul’s ministry (Acts 18; 19; 20); also one of the seven churches addressed in the Apocalypse (Rev 1:11; 2:1), and the center from from whence John superintended the adjoining churches (Eusebius, 3:23). Ephesus, though she was commended for patient labors for Christ’s name’s sake, is reproved for having “left her first love.”
5) NICOLAITANS – A symbolical name. Lightfoot suggests a Hebrew interpretation, nikola, “let us eat”; Not a sect, but professing Christians who introduce a false freedom, i.e. licentiousness. A reaction from Judaism, the first danger of the church. The Jerusalem council (Acts 15:20,29), while releasing Gentile converts from legalism, required their abstinence from idol meats and concomitant fornication. The Nicolaitans abused Paul’s doctrine of the grace of God into lasciviousness. They persuaded many to escape condemnation by yielding as to “eating idol meats,” which was then a test of faithfulness. They even joined in the “fornication” of the idol feasts, as though permitted by Christ’s “law of liberty.” The “lovefeasts” thus became pagan orgies. The Nicolaitans combined evil “deeds” which Jesus “hates” with evil “doctrine.”
6) SMYRNA – A city on the coast of Ionia, at the head of the gulf, having a well sheltered harbour; N. of Ephesus; beautified by Alexander the Great and Antigonus, and designated “the beautiful.” Still flourishing, and under the same name, after various vicissitudes, and called “the Paris of the Levant,” with large commerce and a population of 200,000. The church here was one of the seven addressed by the Lord (Rev 2:8-11). Polycarp, martyred in A.D. 168, 86 years after conversion, was its bishop, probably “the angel of the church in Smyrna.” The Lord’s allusions to persecutions accord with this identification. The attributes of Him “which was dead and is alive” would comfort Smyrna under persecution. The idol Dionysus at Smyrna was believed to have been killed and come to life; in contrast to this lying fable is Christ’s title, “the First and the Last, which was dead and is alive” (Rev 2:8).
7) PERGAMUM – A city of Mysia, three miles N. of the River Caicus. Eumenes II (197 B.C. – 159 B.C.) built a beautiful city round an impregnable castle on “the pine-coned rock.” Attalus II bequeathed his kingdom to Rome 133 B.C. The library was its great boast; founded by Earaches and destroyed by Caliph Omar. The prepared sheepskins were called pergamena charta from whence our “parchment” is derived. The Nicephorium, or thank offering grove for victory over Antiochus, had an assemblage of temples of idols, Zeus, Athene, Apollo, Aesculapius, Dionysus, Aphrodite. Aesculapius the healing god (Tacitus, Ann. 3:63) was the prominent Pergamean idol (Martial); the Pergamenes on coins are called “the principal temple-care-takers (neokoroi) of Asia,” and their ritual is made by Pausanias a standard. The grove of Aesculapius was recognized by the Roman senate under Tiberius as having right of sanctuary. The serpent (Satan’s image) was sacred to him, charms and incantations were among medical agencies then, and Aesculapius was called “saviour.” How appropriately the address to the Pergamos church says, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat (throne) is,”
8) BALAAM – not of the people (Israel), a foreigner; or, “the destroyer of the people,” corresponding to the Greek Nicolaos, “conqueror of the people” (Rev 2:14-15), namely, by having seduced them to fornication with the Moabite women (Num 25), just as the Nicolaitanes sanctioned the eating of things sacrificed to idols and fornication.
As a Judas was among the apostles, so Balaam among the prophets, a true seer but a bad man; at the transition to the Mosaic from the patriarchal age witnessing to the truth in spite of himself, as Caiaphas did at the transition from the legal to the Christian dispensation. Head knowledge without heart sanctification increases one’s condemnation. Making “godliness a source of gain” is the damning sin of all such as Balaam and Simon Magus: 1 Tim 6:5 (Greek). In Mic 6:5 (“O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beer answered him from Shittim),” the sense is, Remember the fatal effects at Shittim of Israel’s joining Baal Peer and committing whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and how but for God’s sparing mercy Israel would have been given to utter destruction. Like Judas and Ahithophel, Balaam set in motion the train of events which entailed his own destruction. Balak’s summons was the crisis in his history, bringing him into contact with God’s people and so giving him the possibility of nearer communion with God than before. Trying to combine prophecy and soothsaying, the service of God and the wages of iniquity, he made the choice that ruined him for ever! He wanted to do opposite things at once, to curse and to bless (James 3:10-12), to earn at once the wages of righteousness and unrighteousness, if possible not to offend God, yet not to lose Balak’s reward.
9) WHITE STONE – In those days, a white stone was put into a vessel by a judge to vote acquittal for a person on trial. It was also used Like a “ticket” to gain admission to a feast. Both would certainly apply to the believer in a spiritual sense: he has been declared righteous through faith in Christ, and he feasts with Christ.
10) THYATIRA – Thyatira lay a little to the left of the road from Pergamos to Sardis (Strabo 13:4, who calls it “a Macedonian colony”); on the Lycus, a little to the S. of the Hyllus, at the N. end of the valley between Mount Tmolus and the southern ridge of Tetanus. Founded by Seleucus Nicator. On the confines of Mysia and Ionia. A corporate guild of dyers is mentioned in three inscriptions of the times of the Roman empire between Vespasian and Caracalla. To it probably belonged Lydia, the seller of purple (i.e. scarlet, for the ancients called many bright red colors “purple”) stuffs (Acts 16:14). The waters are so suited for dyeing that nowhere is the scarlet of fezzes thought to be so brilliant and permanent as that made here. Modern Thyatira contains a population of 17,000. In Rev 2:18-25, “the Son of God who hath eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass,” stands in contrast to the sun god.
Tyrimnas, the tutelary god of Thyatira, represented with flaming rays and feet of burnished brass. Christ commends Thyatira’s works, charity, service, faith, and patience. Thyatira’s “last works were more than the first,” realizing 1 Thess 4:1, instead of retrograding from “first love and first works” as Ephesus (Rev 2:4-5); the converse of Matt 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20. Yet Thyatira “suffered that woman JEZEBEL (which see), which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” Some self-styled prophetess, or collection of prophets (the feminine in Hebrew idiom expressing a multitude), closely attached to and influencing the Thyatira church and its presiding bishop or “angel” (the Alexandrinus and Vaticanus manuscripts read “thy wife” for “that woman”) as Jezebel did her weak husband Ahab. The presiding angel ought to have exercised his authority over the prophetess or prophets so-called, who seduced many into the libertinism of the BALAAMITES and NICOLAITANS (sec) of Thyatira’s more powerful neighbour Pergamos (Rev 2:6,14,16). The Lord encourages the faithful section at Thyatira. “Unto you (omit ‘and’ with the Alexandrinus and the Vaticanus manuscripts, the Sinaiticus manuscript reads: ‘among ‘) the rest in Thyatira I say, … I will put upon you none other burden (save abstinence from and protestation against these abominations: this the seducers regarded as an intolerable burden, see Matt 11:30); but that which ye have hold fast until I come.” A shrine outside Thyatira walls was sacred to the sibyl Sambatha, a Jewess or Chaldaean, in an enclosure called “the Chaldaean court.”
11) JEZEBEL – = chaste, free from carnal connection. One whose name belied her nature: licentious, fanatical, and stern. Daughter of Ethbaal, or Ithobal, king of Sidon and priest of Astarte, who had murdered Phelles his predecessor (Josephus contra Apion, 1:18) and restored order in Tyre after a period of anarchy. Wife of AHAB (which see) who became a puppet in her hands for working all wickedness in the sight of Jehovah (1 Kings 21:25). She established the Phoenician idolatry on a grand scale at her husband’s court, maintaining at her table 450 prophets of Baal and 400 of Astarte (so “the groves” ought to be translated): 1 Kings 16:31-32; 18:19,13. She even slew the prophets of Jehovah (2 Kings 9:7). When Elijah under God wrought the miracle at Carmel, and killed her favorite prophets, Jezebel still unsubdued swore by her gods to do to Elijah as he had done to them (1 Kings 19:1-3). Even he was constrained to flee for his life to Beersheba of Judah and the desert beyond.
Like Clytemnestra or Lady Macbeth, she taunted Ahab with lack of kingly spirit in not taking what he wished, Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:7,14,23): “dost thou govern Israel? I (the real monarch) will give thee the vineyard of Naboth.” So she wrote in Ahab’s name to the Jezreelite elders, and sealed the letters with his seal; and to her it was that they wrote the announcement that they had stoned Naboth for blasphemy. Upon her therefore fell a special share of the divinely-foretold doom. She survived Ahab 14 years, and still as queen mother exercised an evil influence in the courts of her sons Ahaziah and Joram of Israel, and in that of her daughter Athaliah’s husband Jehoram (2 Chron 21:6; 22:2). But judgment was executed upon her by JEHU (which see) for all her whoredoms and witchcrafts, which had become proverbial (2 Kings 9:22,30-37).
In Rev 2:20 Jezebel typically expresses some self-styled prophetess, or a set of false prophets (for the Hebrew feminine expresses collectively a multitude), as closely attached to the Thyatira church as a wife is to a husband, and as powerfully influencing that church for evil as Jezebel did her husband. The Sinaiticus manuscript and the Paris manuscript and Vulgate Latin read as the KJV; but the Alexandrinus and Vaticanus manuscripts “thy wife,” i.e. the wife of the presiding bishop or “angel.” Like her father, the ancient Jezebel had been swift to shed blood. A priestess and devotee of Baal and Astarte herself, she seduced Israel beyond the calf worship (the worship of the true God under the cherub ox form, a violation of the second commandment) to Baal worship, of which whoredoms and witchcrafts were a leading part (a violation of the first). The spiritual Jezebel of Thyatira similarly, by pretended inspiration, lured God’s servants to libertinism, fornication and idol meats (Rev 2:6,14-15), as though things done in the flesh were outside the man, and therefore indifferent. The deeper the church penetrated into paganism, the more pagan she became.
12) MORNING STAR – Jesus Christ is “the Bright and Morning Star” (Rev 22:16). The promise in Rev 2:28 suggests that God’s people shall be so closely identified with Christ that He will “belong” to them! But perhaps there is also an allusion here to Satan, who wanted the kingdom for himself and who offered the world’s kingdoms to Christ if He would worship him but once (Matt 4:8-11). In Isa 14:12, Satan is named Lucifer, which in Hebrew means “brightness, bright star.” The compromising people in Thyatira were following “the depths of Satan,” which would lead to darkness and death. God’s overcomers, on the other hand, would share the Morning Star!
13) SARDIS – Capital of Lydia, in Asia Minor; on the Pactolus, at the root of Mount Tmolus. Northward is a view up the Hermus valley. Southward stand two beautiful Ionic columns of the temple of Cybele, six feet and one third in diameter, 35 ft. below the capital; the soil is 25 ft. above the pavement. The citadel is on a steep, high hill. So steep was its S. wall that Croesus the last king omitted to guard it; and one of Cyrus’ Persian soldiers, seeing a Lydian descend by cut steps to regain his helmet, thereby led a body of Persians into the acropolis. Now an unhealthy desert; not a human being dwelt in the once populous Sardis in 1850.
Famed for the golden sands of Pactolus, and as a commercial entrepot. In Sardis and Laodicea alone of the seven addressed in Rev 2; 3; there was no conflict with foes within or without. Not that either had renounced apparent opposition to the world, but neither so faithfully witnessed by word and example as to “torment them that dwell on the earth” (Rev 11:10). Smyrna and Philadelphia, the most afflicted, alone receive unmixed praise. Sardis and Laodicea, the most wealthy, receive little besides censure. Sardis “had a name that she lived and was dead” (Rev 3:1; 1 Tim 5:6; 2 Tim 3:5; Titus 1:16; Eph 2:1,5; 5:14). “Become (Greek) watchful” or “waking” (Greek), what thou art not now. “Strengthen the things which remain,” i.e. the few graces which in thy spiritual slumber are not yet extinct, but “ready to die”; so that Sardis was not altogether “dead.” Her works were not “filled up in full complement (pepleeromena) in the sight of My God” (so the Siniaticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus manuscripts).
Christ’s God is therefore our God; His judgment is the Father’s judgment (John 20:17; 5:22). He threatens Sardis if she will not watch or wake up, “He will come on her as a thief”; as the Greek proverb, “the feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool,” expressing the noiseless nearness of God’s judgments when supposed far off. Sardis had nevertheless “a few names” in the book of life, known by the Lord as His (John 10:3). The gracious Lord does not overlook exceptional saints among masses of professors. Their reward and their character accord. “They have not defiled their garments,” so “they shall walk (the best attitude for showing grace to advantage) with Me in white, for they are worthy,” namely, with Christ’s worthiness “put on them” (Rev 7:14; Ezek 16:14). The state of grace now, and that of glory hereafter, harmonize. Christ’s rebuke was not in vain. Melito, bishop of Sardis in the second century, was eminent for piety; he visited Palestine to investigate concerning the Old Testament canon, and wrote an epistle on it (Eusebius 4:26; Jerome Catal. Script. Eccl. 24). In A.D. 17, under the emperor Tiberius, an earthquake desolated Sardis and 11 other cities of Asia; Rome remitted its taxes for five years, and the emperor gave a benefaction from the privy purse.
14) PHILADELPHIA – In Lydia, on the lower slopes of Tmolus, 28 miles S.E. of Sardis; built by Attalus II, Philadelphus, king of Pergamus, who died. 138 B.C. Nearly destroyed by an earthquake in Tiberius’ reign (Tacitus, Annals 2:47). The connection of its church with the Jews causes Christ’s address to have Old Testament coloring and imagery (Rev 3:7-18). It and Smyrna alone of the seven, the most afflicted, receive unmixed praise. To Smyrna the promise is, “the synagogue of Satan” should not prevail against her faithful ones; to Philadelphia, she should even win over some of “the synagogue of Satan,” (the Jews who might have been the church of God, but by opposition had become “the synagogue of Satan”) to “fall on their faces and confess God is in her of a truth” (1 Cor 14:25). Her name expresses “brotherly love,” in conflict with legal bondage. Her converts fall low before those whom once they persecuted (Ps 84:10; Acts 16:29-33). The promise, “him that overcometh I will make a pillar,” i.e. immovably firm, stands in contrast to Philadelphia often shaken by earthquakes. Curiously, a portion of a stone church wall topped with arches of brick remains; the building must have been magnificent, and dates from Theodosius. The region being of disintegrated lava was favourable to the vine; and the coins bear the head of Bacchus. This church had but” little strength,” i.e. was small in numbers and poor in resources, of small account in men’s eyes. The cost of repairing the often shaken city taxed heavily the citizens. Poverty tended to humility; conscious of weakness Philadelphia leant on Christ her strength (2 Cor 12:9); so she “kept His word,” and when tested did “not deny His name.” So “He who hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth,” “set before” Philadelphia an open door which no man can shut. Faithful in keeping the word of Christ’s patience (i.e. the persevering endurance which He requires) Philadelphia was kept, i.e. delivered, out of the hour of temptation. “Among the Greek churches of Asia Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins, a pleasing example that the paths of honour and safety may be sometimes the same.” (Gibbon.)
15) KEY – A piece of wood, from seven inches to two feet long, fitted with pegs which correspond to small holes in the bolt within; the key put through a hole draws the bolt. The symbol of authority to open or shut (Isa 22:22; Rev 3:7; 1:18).
16) SYNAGOGUE – from the Greek word sunagogue which means an assembly or a group. It does not necessarily mean a church of Satan or Satanic worship and in this case most it likely does not means that but more likely means unbelievers
17) LAODICEA – A city of Phrygia. Originally Diospolis, then Rheas, then Laodicea. Site of one of the seven churches addressed by Christ through John (Rev 1:11; 3:14). In Paul’s epistle to the COLOSSIANS (Col 4:13-16) Laodicea is associated with Colossae and Hierapolis, which exactly accords with its geographical position, 18 miles W. of Colossae, six miles S. of Hierapolis. It lay in the Roman province “Asia,” a mile S. of the river Lycus, in the Maeander valley, between Colossae and Philadelphia. A Seleucid king, Antiochus II, Theos, named it from Laodice his wife. Overthrown often by earthquakes. It was rebuilt by its wealthy citizens, without state help, when destroyed in A.D. 62 (Tacitus, Annals 14:27). This wealth (arising from its excellent wools) led to a self-satisfied “lukewarm” state in spiritual things, which the Lord condemns as more dangerous than positive icy coldness (Rev 3:14-21). The two churches most comfortable temporally are those most reproved, Sardis and Laodicea; those most afflicted of the seven are the most commended, Smyrna and Philadelphia. Subsequently, the church was flourishing, for it was at a council at Laodicea, A.D. 361, that the Scripture canon was defined.
The angel of the Laodicean church is supposed to be Archippus whom Paul 30 years before had warned to be diligent in fulfilling his ministry (Col 4:17). The “lukewarm” state, if the transitional stage to a warmer, is desirable (for a little religion, if real, is better than none), but fatal when an abiding state, for it is mistaken for a safe state (Rev 3:17). The danger is of disregarded principle; religion enough to lull the conscience, not to save the soul; halting between two opinions (1 Kings 18:21; 2 Kings 17:41; Ezek 20:39; Matt 6:24). The hot (at Hierapolis) and cold springs near Laodicea suggested the simile. As worldly poverty favors poverty of spirit (Matt 5:3, compare Luke 6:20), so worldly riches tend to spiritual self-sufficiency (Hos 12:8). Paul’s epistle to the neighbouring Colossae was designed for Laodicea also, though Paul had not seen the Christians there at the time (Col 2:1,3; 4:6); it tells Laodicea “in whom” to find “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” whereas she thought she had all sufficiency in herself, “because thou sayest I am rich,” etc. He endured a sore conflict, striving in anxious prayer in behalf of the churches of Ephesus and Laodicea that they might be delivered from Judaizing teachers, who blended Eastern theosophy and angel worship with Jewish asceticism and observance of new moons and sabbaths, professing a deeper insight into the world of spirits and a nearer approach to heavenly purity and intelligence than the simple gospel afforded (Col 2:8-9,16-23). A few arches and part of an amphitheater are all the remains left of Laodicea Now Denishu.
18) Here begins Revelation proper; first, Rev 4 and Rev 5 set forth the heavenly scenery of the succeeding visions, and God on His throne, the covenant God of His Church, revealing them to His apostle through Christ. The first great portion comprises the opening of the seals and the sounding of the trumpets, (Rev 4-11.) As the communication respecting the seven churches opened with a suitable vision of the Lord Jesus as Head of the Church, so this part opens with a vision suitable to the matter to be revealed. The scene passes from earth to heaven.
19) Jasper and Sardine stone – Jasper. From Rev 21:11, where it is called most precious, which the jasper was not, Ebrard infers it was a diamond. Ordinarily, the jasper is a stone of various wavy colours, somewhat transparent. In Rev 21:11 it represents crystalline brightness. The sardine, our cornelian, or else a fiery red. As the brightness represents God’s holiness, so the fiery red His just wrath. The same union of white brightness and fiery redness appears in Ezek 1:4; 8:2; Dan 7:9; Rev 1:14; 10:1.
20) Rainbow round about the throne – a complete circle (type of God’s perfection and eternity: not a half-circle, as the earthly rainbow) surrounding the throne vertically. Its various colours, which combined form one pure ray, symbolize the various aspects of God’s providences uniting in one harmonious whole. Here, however, predominant among the prismatic colours is green, the most refreshing to look upon, symbolizing God’s consolatory promises in Christ to His people amidst judgments on His foes. The rainbow was the token of God’s covenant with all flesh, and His people in particular. Hereby God renewed the grant originally made to the first man. As the rainbow was reflected on the waters of the world’s ruin, and is seen only when a cloud is over the earth, so another deluge, of fire, shall precede the ‘new heavens and earth’ granted to redeemed man, as the earth after the flood was restored to Noah. The Lord on His throne, whence (Rev 4:5) proceed “lightnings and thunderings,” shall issue the commission to rid the earth of its oppressors; but amidst judgment, when other men’s hearts fail for fear, the believer shall be reassured by the rainbow, the covenant token, round the throne (DeBurgh). The heavenly bow speaks of the shipwreck of the world through sin; also of calm sunshine after the storm. The cloud is the token of God’s presence-in the tabernacle Holiest Place; on mount Sinai at the giving of the law; at the ascension (Acts 1:9); at His coming again (Rev 1:7).
21) Who are these twenty-four elders seated on thrones? It is unlikely that they are angels, because angels are not numbered (Heb 12:22), crowned, or enthroned. Besides, in Rev 7:11, the elders are distinguished from the angels (see also Rev 5:8-11). The crowns they wear are the “victor’s crowns” (the Greek word stephanos); and we have no evidence that angels receive rewards.
These elders probably symbolize the people of God in heaven, enthroned and rewarded. There were twenty-four courses of priests in the Old Testament temple (1 Chron 24:3-5,18; see also Luke 1:5-9). God’s people are “kings and priests” (Rev 1:6), reigning and serving with Christ. Note especially their praise (Rev 5:9-10). When Daniel (Dan 7:9) saw the thrones set up (not “cast down” as in the King James Version), they were empty; but when John saw them, they had been filled. Since there were twelve tribes of Israel and twelve Apostles, perhaps the number twenty-four symbolizes the completion of God’s people.
22) Thunderings and voices. – transpose, ‘voices and thunderings.’ Compare, at the giving of the law, Ex 19:16. ‘The thunderings express God’s threats against the ungodly; there are voices in them (Rev 10:3): i.e., not only does He, threaten generally, but predicts special judgments’ (Grotius).
23) Like unto crystal – not imperfectly transparent as the ancient glass, but like rock crystal. Contrast the turbid “many waters” on which the harlot “sitteth,” (Rev 17.) Compare Job 37:18. Primarily, the pure ether which separates God’s throne from all things before it, symbolizing the ‘purity, calmness, and majesty of God’s rule’ (Alford). But see the analogue in the temple, the molten sea before the sanctuary (note, Rev 4:4). There is in it depth and transparency, but not the fluidity and instability of the natural sea (cf. Rev 21:1). It stands solid and clear. God’s judgments are “a great deep” (Ps 36:6). In Rev 15:2, it is a “sea of glass mingled with fire.” There is symbolized the purificatory baptism with water and the Spirit, of all made “kings and priests unto God.” In Rev 15:2, the baptism with trial is meant. Through both all the king-priests have to pass in coming to God. His judgments, which overwhelm the ungodly, they stand firmly upon, able, like Christ, to walk on the sea as if solid glass.
24) It is supposed that there is a reference here to the four standards or ensigns of the four divisions of the tribes in the Israelite camp, as they are described by Jewish writers. The first living creature was like a lion; this was, say the rabbis, the standard of JUDAH on the east, with the two tribes of Issachar and Zabulon. The second, like a calf or ox which was the emblem of EPHRAIM who pitched on the west, with the two tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin. The third, with the face of a man, which, according to the rabbis, was the standard of REUBEN who pitched on the south, with the two tribes of Simeon and Gad. The fourth, which was like a flying (spread) eagle, was, according to the same writers, the emblem on the ensign of DAN who pitched on the north, with the two tribes of Asher and Naphtali. This description agrees with the four faces of the cherub in Ezekiel’s vision.
Christian tradition has given these creatures as emblems of the four evangelists. To John is attributed the EAGLE; to Luke the OX, to Mark the LION, and to Matthew the MAN, or angel in human form. As the former represented the whole Jewish church or congregation, so the latter is intended to represent the whole Christian church.
25) This song is taken from Isaiah 6:2. Isaiah has a vision of the Lord in the Temple. In Isaiah’s vision the serephs are singing this song. Holy, Holy, Holy, reminds us that God is more holy than anything else. Something that is set apart for God only is called Holy. The Holy of holies is the part of the temple where the Arc of the Covenant is kept. The was thought to be the throne of God on earth, and no one was allowed in there except for one day a year. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to ask forgiveness for the sins of the nation. God is even more holy than the Holy of Holies. God is Holy, Holy, Holy. Three is also a number in Hebrew that means completeness, so by repeating it three times we are reminded that God is completely holy.
26) The right hand symbolizes power. By god holding the scroll in His right hand it symbolizes that the words of this scroll will be carried out by the power and authority of God. Legal documents were sealed, often with seven seals imprinted with the attestations of seven witnesses. (The wax seals would have to be broken to free the strings beneath them, which wrapped the scroll and guaranteed that it had not been opened and thus altered.) This form was used for contract deeds and wills; it became increasingly common in Roman documents of the period, and some Palestinian Jewish documents of this sort have been recovered. Scrolls were normally written on only one side of a papyrus sheet, reserving the outside for the title or address; but this scroll is particularly full and written on both sides (cf. Ezek 2:9-10).
27) Lions were used on Torah shrines (containers which housed law scrolls) in early Jewish art and were regarded as figures of strength and authority, but a more direct background lies at hand. The “lion of Judah” alludes to Gen 49:9-10, which predicted the Davidic dynasty and was understood messianically in later Jewish literature. “Root of David” alludes to Isa 11:1 and 10 (Jesse was David’s father), which suggests that the *Messiah would come after the Davidic line had seemed cut off.
28) Whereas a lion was the ultimate symbol of power in ancient views of the animal kingdom (cf. also, e.g., Isa 35:9; 65:25), a lamb was considered powerless (cf. Isa 40:11); a slaughtered lamb was a dramatic contrast with a reigning lion (cf. Isa 53:7). Lambs were associated with a variety of sacrifices, but in Revelation this figure especially represents the Passover lamb, who delivers God’s people from the plagues of the following chapters (cf. Ex 12:12-13).
29) He appears as a lamb, having seven horns and seven eyes, perfect power to execute all the will of God and perfect wisdom to understand it all and to do it in the most effectual manner; for he hath the seven Spirits of God, he has received the Holy Spirit without measure, in all perfection of light, and life, and power, by which he is able to teach and rule all parts of the earth.
30) The priests of Israel (Levites) were set apart from the rest of the nation to lead the people in worship and care for the religious life of the nation. They offered the sacrifices, the burnt offerings, and the prayers for the people to God. They were the ones who interceded between people and God. With the death of Jesus for our sins, there is no need for someone else to be a go between for us. We can go directly to God ourselves.
31) The particular praise reflects the redemption of Israel from Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb (see also comment on Rev 1:6), except that the people of God now explicitly include representatives from every people, celebrating redemption in their multiethnic, diverse styles of worship. Further, they would finally reign over the rest of the earth; Jewish traditions portrayed Israel as receiving the *kingdom and reigning over the nations in the end time.
32) “Ten thousand” was the largest single number used in Greek, so “ten thousands of ten thousands” (myriads of myriads) is the author’s way of calling them innumerable.
33) Christ, whether in person or by His angel, preparatory to His coming again, as appears from Rev 19:11-12.
Crown, [stefanos] – the wreath of a conqueror: also implied by His white horse, white being the emblem of victory. In Rev 19:11-12, the last step in His victorious progress: accordingly there He wears many diadems
And to (that He should) conquer – to gain a lasting victory. All four seals usher in judgments on the earth, as the power which opposes the reign of Himself and His Church. This, rather than conversion, is meant, though, secondarily, the elect will be gathered out through His Word and His judgments.
34) The “sword” was often a symbol of judgment by war in the *Old Testament and later literature, and red was the color most associated with war and bloodshed (hence the “red planet” is named Mars for the Roman god of war). The bloody unrest of A.D. 68 A.D.-69, when three emperors were successively killed, would have been one illustration of the principle here. In Matthew 24:3-8 and Mark 13:3-8, the disciples ask Jesus what will be a sign of the end times. Jesus tells them that there will be wars and rumors of wars.
35) Black symbolizes hardship and famine, bad times for the people of the earth
The “scales” indicate rationing, or at least the caution of merchants to get every cent the food is worth. Barley and wheat were basic staples. Because a quart of wheat was a day’s sustenance, and a denarius was a day’s wage, a man with a family would have to buy the cheaper barley instead. Even then, three quarts of barley was hardly enough daily food for a whole family to subsist on; in the many peasant families with large numbers of children, several children would die. The famine also created a high inflation rate: this wheat costs more than ten times the average price of wheat.
36) Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol. This is the place of the dead. It is not a place for the guilty but just symbolizes death. We cannot assume that those who die are only the sinners.
37) Under the altar. As the blood of sacrificial victims on the altar was poured at the bottom of the altar, so the souls of those sacrificed for Christ’s testimony are symbolically represented under the altar in heaven; for ‘the life is in the blood,’ and blood is often represented as crying for vengeance (Gen 4:10). The sacrificial altar was not in the sanctuary, but outside; so Christ’s literal sacrifice, and the figurative sacrifice of the martyrs, took place, not in the heavenly sanctuary, but outside, here on earth. The blood of the martyrs cries from the earth under Christ’s cross, whereon they may be considered virtually to have been sacrificed:
38) Gentiles often personified the elements of nature themselves or recognized gods attached to them; Jewish people believed that God had delegated his authority over various features of nature (including winds) to angels under his command. “Four corners” of the earth was meant figuratively, even in ancient times. Most people viewed the earth as circular; “four corners” was nevertheless conventional speech, as was the idea of four winds from the four directions of heaven. The winds had both positive and negative effects in ancient sources. According to some views, the wind carried along the sun and moon chariots, or God founded the heavens on the winds, and the stoppage of winds could signal the advent of a new age.
39 From the east – ‘the rising of the sun:’ the quarter from which God’s glory manifests itself. This angel is coming from the presence of God
40) “Seal” refers to the impress of a signet ring; an official who wished to delegate his authority for a task to a representative would allow that subordinate to use his signet ring.
41) Till we have sealed the servants of our God – parallel to Matt 24:31. God’s love is such that He cannot do anything in judgment until His people are secured (Gen 19:22). Israel, just before the Lord’s coming, shall be re-embodied as a nation; for its tribes are specified (Joseph, however, substituted for Dan: whether because Antichrist is to come from Dan, or Dan is to be his tool,( Gen 49:17; Jer 8:16; Amos 8:14, as there was a Judas among the Twelve). Out of these tribes a believing remnant will be preserved from the judgments which destroy the anti-Christian confederacy (Rev 6:12-17), and shall be transfigured with the elect of all nations-namely, 144,000 (or whatever is meant by the symbolical number), who shall faithfully resist the seductions of Antichrist, while the rest, restored to Palestine in unbelief, are his dupes, and at last his victims.
42) The palm branch is the symbol of joy and triumph: used at the Feast of Tabernacles, on the 15 th day of the 7 th month, when they kept feast to God in thanksgiving for the ingathered fruits. This shall be the completed harvest of the elect from every nation. The earthly Feast of Tabernacles will be renewed, in commemoration of Israel’s preservation in her long wilderness-like sojourn among the nations from which she shall have been delivered, just as the original feast commemorated her dwelling for 40 years in tabernacles in the wilderness.
43) Great tribulation – the literal Greek translation is the great pressure – ‘the tribulation, the great one,’ to which the martyrs were exposed under the fifth seal; which, Christ says, is to precede His coming (Matt 24:21,29-30, “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world”), followed by the same signs as the sixth seal: the climax including all the tribulation which saints of all ages have passed through. This Rev 7 recapitulates the vision of the six seals, Rev 6 filling up the outline there in what affects the faithful. There, however, their number was waiting to be completed; here it is completed; they are taken out of the earth before the judgments on the anti-Christian apostasy: with their Lord, they, and all His faithful witnesses of past ages, wait for His and their coming to be glorified and reign together. Meanwhile, in contrast with their previous sufferings, they are exempt from the hunger, thirst, and scorching heats of their earthly life (Rev 7:16), and are refreshed by the Lamb of God Himself (Rev 7:17; 14:1-4,13): an earnest of the post-millennial final state (Rev 21:4-6; 22:1-5).
44) The seven angels who stand before God. Seven “Angels of the Presence” have a well-documented history in Jewish literature, possibly commencing with Isaiah 63:9, which mentions “an angel of his [God’s] presence” (compare Lk 1:19, “I am Gavri’el,” the angel answered him, “and I stand in the presence of God.”), and Ezekiel 9:2, which speaks of “six men…with slaughter weapons, and one man among them clothed in linen with a writer’s ink well at his side,” to whom God speaks. In the Apocrypha, Rafa’el identifies himself as “one of the seven holy angels” (Tobit 12:15). 1 Enoch 20 gives the names and functions of seven “holy angels who watch”: Uri’el, Rafa’el, Ragu’el, Mikha’el, Saraka’el, Gavri’el and Remi’el. The first four are called “ministering angels” (“mal’akhey-hasharet”) in the Talmud, the siddur, and the kabbalah;
45) During this silence, the seven angels were given trumpets, significant to John, because he was a Jew and understood the place of trumpets in Israel’s national life. According to Num 10, trumpets had three important uses: they called the people together (Num 10:1-8); they announced war (Num 10:9); and they announced special times (Num 10:10). The trumpet sounded at Mount Sinai when the Law was given (Ex 19:16-19), and trumpets were blown when the king was anointed and enthroned (1 Kings 1:34,39). Of course, everyone familiar with the Old Testament would remember the trumpets at the conquest of Jericho (Josh 6:13-16).
46) The angel fulfills a task assigned to a priest in the earthly temple. In some other Jewish texts (including in the Old Testament, in Ps 141:2), prayers are presented as incense.
47) On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kipur), the high priest would put incense on the coals in the censer and, with the blood of the sacrifice, enter the holy of holies (Lev 16:11-14). But in this scene, the angel put the incense on the altar (presented the prayers before God) and then cast the coals from the altar to the earth! The parallel in Ezek 10 indicates that this symbolized God’s judgment; and the effects described in Rev 8:5 substantiate this view. A storm is about to begin! (see Rev 4:5; 11:19; 16:18)
Like it or not, the prayers of God’s people are involved in the judgments that He sends. The throne and the altar are related. The purpose of prayer, it has often been said, is not to get man’s will done in heaven, but to get God’s will done on earth – even if that will involves judgment.
48) Hail and fire mingled with blood” reminds us of the seventh plague that God sent against Egypt (Ex 9:18-26). The Prophet Joel also promised “blood and fire” in the last days (Joel 2:30). Since this is a supernatural judgment, it is not necessary to try to explain how hail, fire, and blood become mingled. “Fire” could refer to the lightning of a severe electrical storm.
49) Waters running with blood would normally indicate war (e.g., Isa 15:9), but these verses also echo the first plague in Ex 7:20-21. This plague addresses contamination of the water supply, effecting not only many swift deaths by dehydration but also long-term devastation by destruction of Egypt’s irrigation and fishing (Ex 7:18) resources.
One small nuclear warhead, carried in a standard submarine torpedo, can destroy one square mile of the ocean and anything that is in it.
50) Desolation in the fresh water (vv. 10-11). God’s wrath next reaches inland and touches the rivers and fountains of water (wells and sources of the rivers), making the fresh water taste bitter Like wormwood. The National Geographic Society lists about 100 principal rivers in the world, ranging in length from the Amazon (4,000 miles long) to the Rio de la Plata (150 miles long). The U.S. Geological Survey reports thirty large rivers in the United States, beginning with the mighty Mississippi (3,710 miles long). One third of these rivers, and their sources, will become so bitterly polluted that drinking their water could produce death.
God has His stars numbered and named (Job 9:9-10). It is likely that this fallen star is molten and that, as it nears the earth, it begins to disintegrate and fall into the various bodies of water. If a star actually struck the earth, our globe would be destroyed; so this star must “come apart” as it enters the atmosphere. Of course, this event is a divinely controlled judgment; therefore, we must not try to limit it by the known laws of science.
51) The word translated “wormwood” gives us our English word absinthe, which is a popular liqueur in some countries of the world. The word means “undrinkable,” and in the Old Testament was synonymous with sorrow and great calamity. Jeremiah, “the Weeping Prophet,” often used it (Jer 9:15; 23:15; Lam 3:15,19), and so did Amos (Amos 5:7, “those who turn justice into wormwood,” NASB). Moses warned that idolatry would bring sorrow to Israel, like a root producing wormwood (Deut 29:18). Solomon warned that immorality might seem pleasant, but in the end, it produces bitterness like wormwood (Prov 5:4).
If the people who drink from these waters are in danger of dying, what must happen to the fish and other creatures that live in these waters? And what would happen to the vegetation near these rivers? If the ecologists are worried about the deadly consequences of water pollution today, what will they think when the third trumpet blows?
52) Desolation in the heavens (vv. 12-13). The judgments from the first three trumpets affected only a third part of the land and waters, but this fourth judgment affects the entire world. Why? Because it gets to the very source of the earth’s life and energy, the sun. With one third less sunlight on the earth, there will be one third less energy available to support the life systems of man and nature.
This judgment parallels the ninth plague in Egypt (Ex 10:21-23), which lasted three days. “The Day of the Lord is darkness, and not fight” (Amos 5:18). Think of the vast changes in temperatures that will occur and how these will affect human health and food growth.
It is possible that this particular judgment is temporary, for the fourth bowl judgment will reverse it, and the sun’s power will be intensified (Rev 16:8-9). Then, at the close of the Tribulation, the sun and moon will be darkened again to announce the Saviour’s return (Matt 24:29-30; see also Luke 21:25-28).
53) This fallen star is a person, the king over the beings in the pit (Rev 9:11). He does not have complete authority, for the key to the pit had to be given to him before he could loose his army. This “star” is probably Satan and the army, his demons (Eph 6:10 ff). One of the names for Satan is Lucifer, which means “brightness”; he also is compared to the “morning star” (Isa 14:12-14). Jesus said to His disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).
54) The army from the pit (vv. 1-12). The “bottomless pit” is literally “the pit of the abyss.” Luke makes it clear that this “pit” is the abode of the demons (Luke 8:31), and John states that Satan will be temporarily “jailed” there during our Lord’s reign on the earth (Rev 20:1-3). The Antichrist (Le., “the beast”) will ascend out of this pit (Rev 11:7; 17:8). It is not the lake of fire, for that is the final “prison” for Satan and all who follow him (Rev 20:10), but part of that hidden underworld under the Lord’s authority. Today, the fearsome army described here is already incarcerated, waiting for the hour of liberation.
55) The normal lifespan of the locust is about five months (May to September), and this is the length of time that the judgment will last. These demons will sting people and thus create such pain that their victims will actually want to die, but death will flee from them (Jer 8:3).
56) Hebrew “Abaddon” and Greek “Apolluœn” both mean “Destroyer.” The angel of the Abyss is most likely not Satan but one of his lieutenants.
57) The army from the east (vv. 13-21). It was at the golden altar of incense that the angel offered the prayers of the saints (Rev 8:3-5); now from this same altar a voice speaks, commanding that four angels be loosed. These angels are apparently wicked, because no holy angel would be bound. Each angel is in charge of part of the vast army that follows them at their liberation, an army of 200 million beings! The army is released at a precise time, for a special purpose: to kill (not just torment) a third of the world’s population. Since a fourth of mankind has already been killed (Rev 6:8), this means that half of the worlds population will be dead by the time the sixth trumpet judgment is completed.
Are we to identify this as a literal army of men, moving in conquest across the globe? Probably not. For one thing, the emphasis in this paragraph is not on the riders, but on the horses. The description cannot fit war-horses as we know them or, for that matter, modern warfare equipment, such as tanks. To assert that this is a literal army, and to point to some nation (such as China) that claims to have 200 million soldiers, is to miss the message John is seeking to convey.
The deadly power of these horses is in their mouths and tails, not in their legs. Fire, smoke, and brimstone issue from their mouths, and their tails are Like biting serpents. They can attack men from the front as well as from the rear.
I take it that this is another demonic army, headed by four fallen angels; and that all of them are today bound by the Lord, unable to act until God gives them permission. Why they are bound at the Euphrates River is not explained, though that area is the cradle of civilization (Gen 2:14), not to mention one of the boundaries for Israel (Gen 15:18).
58) The description of the angel (vv. 1-4). This angel amazes us, for he has some of the characteristics that belong especially to the Lord Jesus Christ. John had seen and heard a “strong angel” (Rev 5:2), and the same Greek word is here translated “mighty.” All angels excel in strength (Ps 103:20), but apparently some have greater power and authority than others. This may have been another of the Archangels.
We first saw the rainbow around the throne of God (Rev 4:3); now it sits like a crown on the head of this messenger. The rainbow was God’s sign to mankind that He would never again destroy the world with a flood. Even in wrath, God remembers His mercy (Hab 3:2). Whoever this angel is, he has the authority of God’s throne given to him.
God is often identified with clouds. God led Israel by a glorious cloud (Ex 16:10), and dark clouds covered Sinai when the Law was given (Ex 19:9). When God appeared to Moses, it was in a cloud of glory (Ex 24:15 ff; 34:5). “[He] maketh the clouds His chariot” (Ps 104:3). A cloud received Jesus when He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9); and, when He returns, it will be with clouds (Rev 1:7).
The fact that the angel’s face is “as the sun”, reminds us of the description of Moses as he came down off of the mountain after meeting with God.
59) His right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, symbolizing the fact that this angel’s mission involves the whole world.
60) It was customary to lift up the hand toward heaven, appealing to the God of truth, in a solemn oath.
61) The directions that the angel gave to John (Rev 10:8-11) should remind us of our responsibility to assimilate the Word of God and make it a part of the inner man. It was not enough for John to see the book or even know its contents and purpose. He had to receive it into his inner being.
62) God’s Word is compared to food: bread (Matt 4:4), milk (1 Peter 2:2), meat (1 Cor 3:1-2), and honey (Ps 119:103). The Prophets Jeremiah (Jer 15:16) and Ezekiel (Ezek 2:9-3:4) knew what it was to “eat” the Word before they could share it with others. The Word must always “become flesh” (John 1:14) before it can be given to those who need it. Woe unto that preacher or teacher who merely echoes God’s Word and does not incarnate it, making it a living part of his very being.
God will not thrust His Word into our mouths and force us to receive it. He hands it to us and we must take it. Nor can He change the effects the Word will have in our lives: there will be both sorrow and joy, bitterness and sweetness. God’s Word contains sweet promises and assurances, but it also contains bitter warnings and prophecies of judgment. The Christian bears witness of both life and death (2 Cor 2:14-17). The faithful minister will declare all of God’s counsel (Acts 20:27). He will not dilute the message of God simply to please his listeners (2 Tim 4:1-5).
63) The place is Jerusalem and the time is the first half of the Tribulation. Israel is worshiping again at its restored temple, built under the protection of the Antichrist, whose true character has not yet been revealed. To spiritualize Rev 11:1-2 and make the temple refer to the church creates a number of serious problems. For one ding, how could John measure an invisible body of people, even if the church were still on earth? If the temple is the church, then who are the worshipers and what is the altar? And since the church unites Jews and Gentiles in one body (Eph 2:11 ff), why are the Gentiles segregated in this temple? It seems wisest to interpret this temple as an actual building in the holy city of Jerusalem (Neh 11:1,18; Dan 9:24).
John’s measurement of the temple is a symbolic action. To measure something means to claim it for yourself. When we sold our house in Chicago, the new owners brought in an architect to measure various areas and recommend possible changes. Had the architect shown up previous to the buyers’ commitment, we would have thrown him out. The Lord was saying through John, “I own this city and this temple, and I claim both for Myself!” The Old Testament background is found in Ezek 40-41 and Zech 2:1-3.
64) What John did was especially significant because the Gentiles had taken over Jerusalem. Antichrist had broken his agreement with Israel (Dan 9:27) and now he was about to use the temple for his own diabolical purposes (2 Thess 2:3-4). All of this will be elaborated in Rev 13. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles,” said Jesus, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). The “times of the Gentiles” began in 606 B.C. when Babylon began to devastate Judah and Jerusalem, and it will continue until Jesus Christ returns to deliver the Holy City and redeem Israel (Zech 14).
65) Note that the two witnesses minister during the first half of the Tribulation (Rev 11:3; 1,260 days). Jerusalem is then overrun by the Gentiles for forty-two months, the last half of the Tribulation. This gives us the 7 years of Tribulation.
66) Their witness is related to Israel and the temple. How tragic that the power of God and the Word of God will be outside the temple and not within as in former ages. Like the temple that Jesus left, this new house will be desolate (see Matt 23:38). These two men are specifically called prophets (Rev 11:3,6), and I take this to mean prophetic ministry in the Old Testament sense, calling the nations to repent and return to the true God of Israel.
Not only do these witnesses declare God’s words, but they also do God’s works and perform miracles of judgment, reminding us of both Moses and Elijah (Ex 7:14-18; 1 Kings 17:1 ff; 2 Kings 1:1-12). Some students cite Mal 4:5-6 as evidence that one of the witnesses may be Elijah, but Jesus applied that prophecy to John the Baptist (Matt 17:10-13). John the Baptist, however, denied that he was Elijah returned to earth (John 1:21,25; see also Luke 1:16-17). This confusion may be explained in part by realizing that throughout Israel’s history, God sent special messengers – “Elijahs” – to call His people to repentance; so in this sense, Malachi’s prophecy will be fulfilled by the witnesses.
Instead of relating the ministry of the witnesses to Moses and Elijah, the angel who spoke to John connected their ministry with Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest (Zech 4). These two men helped to reestablish Israel in Palestine and to rebuild the temple. It was a discouraging task, and the Gentiles made it even more difficult; but God provided the special power they needed to get the work done. This truth is an encouragement to God’s servants in all ages, for the work of the Lord is never easy.
67) This comes only when they have finished their testimony. God’s obedient servants are immortal until their work is done. “The beast” (Antichrist) is now in power and wants to take over the temple; but he cannot succeed until the two witnesses are out of the way. God will permit him to slay them, for no one will be able to make war against “the beast” and win (Rev 13:4).
68) The witnesses will not even be permitted decent burial (see Ps 79:1-3). But even this indecency will be used by God to bear witness to mankind. No doubt the TV cameras in Jerusalem will transmit the scene to people around the world, and the news analysts will discuss its significance. The earth-dwellers will rejoice at their enemies’ removal and will celebrate a “satanic Christmas” by sending gifts to one another. It thus would appear that the power of the two witnesses will not be limited to Jerusalem, but that they will be able to cause things to happen in other parts of the world.
These two prophets will definitely have a relationship with Israel; and the world, for the most part, has not approved of the nation Israel. In the middle of the Tribulation, “the beast” will turn against Israel and begin to persecute the Jews. The two witnesses will not be around to protect the nation and a frightening anti-Semitic movement will ensue.
69) Jerusalem is called a “great city” (Rev 11:8); and from a human viewpoint, this is a true statement. But God looks at men and nations from a spiritual viewpoint. To Him, Jerusalem will be considered as polluted and worldly as Sodom and as rebellious and proud as Egypt.
70) This may point to the rapture of the believers along with the two witnesses. This thought is called mid tribulation rapture.
71) An announcement of victory (v. 15). These “great voices” were probably the choirs of heaven. The great announcement is that the kingdom (John uses the singular because “the beast” now has the world under his control) of this world belongs to Jesus Christ. Of course, Christ does not claim His royal rights until He returns; but the victory has already been won. Satan offered Him the world’s kingdoms, but He refused the offer (Matt 4:8-9). Instead, He died on the cross, arose, and returned victoriously to heaven; and there the Father gave Him His inheritance (Ps 2:4-9).
72) This is the final judgement of all people, when each person great and small will have to answer for the choices they have made in life and face either eternal glory or eternal punishment.
73) In the Old Testament tabernacle and temple, the ark stood behind the veil, in the holy of holies. God’s glory rested on the ark, and God’s Law was within the ark, beautifully illustrating that the two must never be separated. He is the holy God and must deal righteously with sin. But He is also the faithful God who keeps His promises to His people. It was the ark of God that led Israel through the Jordan and into their inheritance (Josh 3:11-17). This vision of the ark would greatly encourage God’s suffering people to whom John sent this book. “God will fulfill His promises!” John was saying to them. “He will reveal His glory! Trust Him”‘
74) John’s vision opens with two wonders in heaven (Rev 12:1-6). The first is a woman giving birth to a son. Since this child is identified as Jesus Christ (compare Rev 12:5 with Rev 19:15 and Ps 2:9), this symbolic woman can be none other than the nation Israel. It was through Israel that Jesus Christ came into the world (Rom 1:3; 9:4-5). By further comparing the description in Rev 12:1 with Gen 37:9-10, the identification seems certain.
In the Old Testament, Israel is often compared to a woman, and even a woman in travail (Isa 54:5; 66:7; Jer 3:6-10; Mic 4:10; 5:2-3).
75) The great red dragon is the second. Rev 12:9 makes it clear that this is Satan. The color red is associated with death (Rev 6:4) and Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). The heads, horns, and crowns will appear again in Rev 13:1 and 17:3. The heads represent mountains (Rev 17:9), and the horns represent kings (Rev 17:12). We shall study the meaning of these symbols in more detail later.
The dragon was cast out of heaven (Rev 12:9), and he took with him a third of the angels (Rev 12:7,9). They are spoken of as “stars” in Rev 12:4 (see also Dan 8:10). This is evidently a reference to the fall of Satan (Isa 14:12-15), when he and his hosts revolted against God. However, the casting out described in Rev 12:7-10 is yet future.
The color implies the dragon’s fiery rage as a murderer from the beginning. His representative, the beast, corresponds, having seven heads and ten horns, (the number of horns on the fourth beast, Dan 7.) But in Rev 13:1, ten crowns are on the ten horns (for, before the end, the fourth empire is divided into ten kingdoms); here, seven crowns are upon his seven heads. In Dan 7, the anti-Christian powers, up to Christ’s second coming, are represented by four beasts, having among them seven heads – i.e., the first, second, and fourth beasts having one head each; the third, four heads. His universal dominion as prince of this fallen world is implied by the seven diadems (contrast the ‘many diadems on Christ’s head,’ Rev 19:12, when coming to destroy him and his), caricaturing the seven spirits of God. His worldly instruments of power are the ten horns, ten being the world-number. The ten horns, among which subsequently arose the little horn, seem earlier in the fourth kingdom; and the little horn, which plucks up three, the temporal papacy. The ten crowned horns, which receive power with the beast, are at the close of the fourth kingdom. The little horn ‘wears out the saints’ for “a time, and times, and the dividing of time;” but the beast’s reign with the ten kings is but “one hour” (cf. Dan 7:7-8,20-22,24-26, with Rev 17:12-13,16-17). ‘The judgment takes away the little horn’s dominion, consumes and destroys it unto the end’ by a lengthened process; but ‘the beast is (summarily) slain, and his body given to the burning flame’ (cf. Rev 19:20-21). It marks his self-contradictions that he and the beast bear both seven (the divine) and ten (the world-number).
76) The dragon was cast out of heaven (Rev 12:9), and he took with him a third of the angels (Rev 12:7,9). They are spoken of as “stars” in Rev 12:4 (see also Dan 8:10). This is evidently a reference to the fall of Satan (Isa 14:12-15), when he and his hosts revolted against God. However, the casting out described in Rev 12:7-10 is yet future.
77) Just as soon as the child was born, Satan tried to destroy Him. This conflict between Satan and “the woman” began soon after man fell (Gen 3:15). Throughout Old Testament history, Satan tried to prevent the birth of the Redeemer. There was always a “dragon” standing by, waiting to destroy Israel or the ancestors of the Messiah. Pharaoh is called a “dragon” (Ezek 29:3), and so is Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 51:34). At one critical point, the royal line was limited to one little boy (2 Kings 11:1-3). When Jesus Christ was born, Satan used King Herod to try to destroy Him (Matt 2). Satan thought that he had succeeded when he used Judas to betray the Lord and hand Him over to be crucified. But the Cross was actually Satan’s defeat! “And they overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 12:11).
78) The son is born and is then caught up to the throne of God (Rev 12:5). We have symbolized here the birth of Christ and His victorious ascension, but nothing is said about either His life or His death. The colon in the middle of the verse represents thirty-three years of history!
79) Satan’s strategy is to persecute God’s people and devour them if possible (1 Peter 5:8). He has a special hatred for the Jewish people and has been the power behind anti-Semitism from the days of Pharaoh and Haman (see the Book of Esther) to Hitler and Stalin. Finally, in the middle of the Tribulation, there will come a wave of anti-Semitism such as the world has never seen (Rev 12:6).
80) But God will protect His people during those three-and-a-half years (1,260 days; see Rev 11:2; 13:5).Apart from the 144,000 (who are sealed and protected), a believing remnant of Jews will survive this very troublesome tune. We are not told where God will protect them or who it is that will care for them. Matt 24:15-21 will take on special meaning for those believing Jews who live in the end days.
81) The next scene in this cosmic drama is a war in heaven (Rev 12:7-12). Scripture makes it clear that Satan has access to heaven even today (Job 1-2). Once he was the highest of God’s angels, but he rebelled against God and was cast down (Isa 14:12-15).
What is this celestial conflict all about? The fact that Michael led God’s angels to victory is significant, because Michael is identified with the nation Israel (Dan 10:10-21; 12:1; note also Jude 9). The name Michael means “who is like God?” and this certainly parallels Satan’s egocentric attack on Jehovah – “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). Apparently, the devil’s hatred of Israel will spur him to make one final assault against the throne of God, but he will be defeated by Michael and a heavenly host.
82) Devil – Greek for ‘accuser,’ ‘slanderer.’ Satan – Hebrew for adversary, especially in a court of justice. The twofold designation marks the twofold objects of his accusations and temptations-the elect, Gentiles and Jews.
83) Verses 10, 11, and 12 are most likely an early church hymn.
84) Christ’s shed blood gives us our perfect standing before God (1 John 1:5-2:2). But our witness to God’s Word and our willingness to lay down our lives for Christ defeats Satan as well. Satan is not equal to God; he is not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient. His power is limited and his tactics must fail when God’s people trust the power of the blood and of the Word. Nothing Satan does can rob us of “salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ” (Rev 12:10), if we are yielded to Him. God’s great purposes will be fulfilled!
Believers in any age or situation can rejoice in this victory, no matter how difficult their experiences may be. Our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of the wicked one; and these have been defeated by our Savior).
85) God will prepare a special place where the Jewish remnant will be protected and cared for. It is interesting that the remnant’s escape from Satan is described in terms of a flying eagle, for this is a repeated image in the Old Testament with reference to Israel. God delivered Israel from Egypt “on eagles’ wings” (Ex 19:4), and cared for the people in the wilderness as an eagle would her young (Deut 32:11-12). Their return from Babylonian Captivity was Like “mounting up with wings as eagles” (Isa 40:31).
86) The phrase “water as a flood” is not explained, but there is a parallel in Ps 124. (Also note the phrase “escaped as a bird” in verse 7 of this same Psalm.) This “flood” is probably an outpouring of hatred and anti-Semitic propaganda. Or it may symbolize armies that invade Israel and seek to defeat the remnant. If that is the meaning, then the earth opening up could well be an earthquake that God sends to destroy the invaders.
87) When Satan discovers that the people he seeks to kill are protected, then he turns on those who were not carried to the hidden place of safety. He will declare war, and God will permit him to have victory for a time (Rev 13:7); but ultimately, the old serpent will be defeated.
88) The fact that the beast comes out from the sea indicates that he is a Gentile, for the sea of humanity is involved as his source (cf. Rev 17:15).
89) Many have said that the beast refers to some character in past history, but the context clearly refers to the final three and one-half years before Christ’s second coming. Under the control of this central ruler in the Middle East during the Great Tribulation will be 10 nations (cf. Dan 7:24, “The 10 horns are 10 kings”).
90) The seven implies the world-power assuming Godhead, and caricaturing the seven spirits of God; its God-opposed character is detected by ten accompanying the seven. Dragon and beast both bear crowns-the former on the heads, the latter on the horns (Rev 12:3; 5:1)
91) Both heads and horns refer to kingdoms: in Rev 17:7,10,12, “kings” represent kingdoms whose heads they are. The seven kings-the great powers of the world-are distinguished from the ten, represented by the horns (simply “kings,” Rev 17:12), The ten mean the last phase of the world-power, the fourth kingdom divided into ten parts.
92) Name of blasphemy., a name on each of the heads; blasphemously claiming attributes
93) The four beasts of Daniel are four kingdoms; and most scholars identify them as Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. Since all are ancient history, futurists expect the beast of vv. 1-8 to be a revived Roman Empire, or a nation covering the same territory, or a nation in which the brutal and depraved spirit of the Roman Empire finds expression. C. I. Scofield, expressing the Dispensationalist view, regards the head with a fatal wound (v. 3) as the restored Roman Empire, which is “dead” now but will live again, to everyone’s amazement. A few years ago the “newspaper exegetes” (1:1) saw the fulfillment of this prophecy in the ten members of the European Common Market. The fact that the Common Market now comprises more than ten participating nations does not necessarily disprove the futurist approach.
Non-futurists sometimes make this beast an allegory of all Satanic power mobilized against God’s people on earth, especially governmental power (as opposed to religious).
94) The power of the beast was derived from Satan himself: the dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. This accords with Paul (2 Thess 2:9) who referred to “the lawless one” (i.e., the Antichrist, this first beast of Rev 13) as working “all kinds of counterfeit miracles.
95) The seven heads of the beast seem to represent important rulers, and one of them, probably the seventh, suffered a fatal wound caused by a sword (v. 14), which was subsequently healed, causing astonishment in the entire world.
Many have attempted to identify this beast as someone in the past or present who is to become the final world ruler. Among the suggestions have been Nero, Judas Iscariot, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Kissinger, and many others; but such men obviously do not fit the details of this yet-future ruler.
What is the meaning of the fatal wound that is healed? Two possibilities seem to fit this description. Alford, for instance, sees the deadly wound as the destruction of “the Roman pagan Empire” by “the Christian Roman Empire,” thus making it a matter of history rather than prophecy (The Greek Testament, 4: 675). The revival of the Roman Empire would then be its miraculous healing. Another plausible explanation is that the final world ruler receives a wound which normally would be fatal but is miraculously healed by Satan. While the resurrection of a dead person seems to be beyond Satan’s power, the healing of a wound would be possible for Satan, and this may be the explanation. The important point is that the final world ruler comes into power obviously supported by a supernatural and miraculous deliverance by Satan himself.
96) The supernatural character of the beast makes him the object of worship along with Satan, the source of his power. It has always been Satan’s purpose to receive the worship due to God alone, as stated in Isa 14:14: “I will make myself like the Most High.” This is Satan’s final form of counterfeit religion in which he assumes the place of God the Father, and the beast or the world ruler assumes the role of King of kings as a substitute for Christ. This situation is probably introduced at the beginning of the last three and one-half years when the Great Tribulation begins.
97) Recognizing the supernatural character of Satan and the ruler, the question is raised, Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him? (Rev 13:4)
98) This apparently explains how the beast could become world ruler without a war. His blasphemous assumption of the role of God continues for 42 months, during which time he blasphemes God as well as heaven and those who live in heaven.
99) The beast becomes a worldwide ruler, for his authority extends over every tribe, people, language, and nation. As predicted in Dan 7:23, he does “devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it.”
In addition to achieving political domination over the entire world, he also abolishes all other religions and demands that everyone worship him (cf. 2 Thess 2:4). All inhabitants of the earth worship the beast except for those whose names are recorded in the book of life. In the expression the Lamb that was slain from the Creation of the world, the words “from the Creation of the world” seem, as in the NIV margin, to relate to the time in eternity past when the names were written in the book of life, rather than to Christ’s crucifixion, since He was not crucified when the world was created. As Paul wrote, those who were saved were foreordained to salvation before Creation (cf. Eph 1:4).
100) The whole earth followed after the beast and worshipped it, except for believers in Jesus, those whose names are written in the Book of Life( belonging to the Lamb), Jesus, slaughtered before the world was founded (God planned his atoning death before creating the world; 5:6&N, Ep 1:3-12, Co 1:14-23).
101) The language is from Jerimiah 15:2 and 43:11, where God promises to exterminate most of the Israelites by various means and to enslave the others in captivity; but the judgment here is against all nations who have rebelled against God. This judgment would encourage the martyred saints concerning their vindication (Rev 14:11-12).
102) In contrast with the first beast who came “out of the sea” (v. 1), the second beast came out of the earth. He was similar to the first beast. However, while the first beast was a Gentile, since he came from the entire human race as symbolized by “the sea” (v. 1), the second beast was a creature of the earth. Some have taken this as a specific reference to the Promised Land and have argued that he was therefore a Jew. There is no support for this in the context as the word for “earth” is the general word referring to the entire world . Actually his nationality and geographic origin are not indicated, and he is apparently the one referred to as “the false prophet” in 19:20 and 20:10.
103) The second beast had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon, that is, like Satan. From this it can be gathered that he was a religious character whose role was to support the political ruler, the first beast. He had great authority apparently derived from Satan and the political ruler, and he made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, the one whose fatal wound had been healed.
The false religious system, which was supported in this way imitated the divine Trinity. Satan seeks to take the place of God the Father; the first beast assumes the place of Jesus Christ, the Son, the King of kings; and the second beast, the false prophet, has a role similar to the Holy Spirit who causes Christians to worship God. This is Satan’s final attempt to substitute a false religion for true faith in Christ.
104) To induce people to worship the first beast, the second beast performs great and miraculous signs, including fire…from heaven. People sometimes overlook the fact that, while God can do supernatural things, Satan within certain limitations can also perform miracles, and he used this power to the full in this situation to induce people to worship Satan’s substitute for Christ. Accordingly the second beast deceived the inhabitants of the earth.
105) In addition to causing fire to come down from heaven, the second beast set up an image of the first beast. The image was probably set up in the first temple in Jerusalem which was taken over from the Jews. According to Paul (2 Thess 2:4) the first beast actually sat in God’s temple at times and received worship which properly belonged to God. Perhaps the beast’s image was placed in the same temple to provide an object of worship when the beast himself was not there.
106) The fact that the second beast could give breath to the image of the first beast, even making it speak, has created problems for expositors, for the Bible does not seem to indicate that Satan has the power to give life to an inanimate object. Only God is the Creator. So probably the beast’s image is able to give an impression of breathing and speaking mechanically, like computerized talking robots today. There might be a combination of natural and supernatural powers to enable the beast out of the earth to accomplish his purpose. It apparently was quite convincing to people and induced them to worship the image.
107) The command to worship the image as well as the first beast was enforced by killing those who refused to do so. But there was a difference between the decree to put them to death and its execution. The problem of ferreting out everyone in the entire earth who would not worship the beast would naturally take time. Hitler, in his attempt to exterminate the Jews, took many months and never completed his task. The multitude of martyrs is referred to in 7:9-17.
108) Enforcing his control over the human race and encouraging worship of the beast out of the sea, the second beast required everyone…to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, and without this evidence that he had worshiped the beast no one could buy or sell. The need to buy or sell such necessities as food and clothing would force each person in the entire world to decide whether to worship the beast or to bear the penalty. Apparently the great majority worshiped the beast.
109) There has been much speculation on the insignia or “mark” of the beast, but it could be any of several kinds of identification. Countless attempts have been made to interpret the number 666, usually using the numerical equivalents of letters in the Hebrew, Greek, or other alphabets. As there probably have been hundreds of explanations continuing down to the present day, it is obvious that if the number refers to an individual it is not clear to whom it refers.
110) Probably the best interpretation is that the number six is one less than the perfect number seven, and the threefold repetition of the six would indicate that for all their pretensions to deity, Satan and the two beasts were just creatures and not the Creator. That six is man’s number is illustrated in many instances in the Bible, including the fact that man should work six days and rest the seventh.
111) “And I looked, and behold” indicates another vision (Ezek 10:1; 44:4; Dan 10:5). Mount Zion was the Temple Mount (sometimes loosely encompassing all Jerusalem), thus applied to the heavenly temple in the present (Rev 11:19) but pointing to the new Jerusalem of the future (21:2), a hope shared by nearly all ancient Jews, who longed for the restoration of their city and its sanctuary. Mount Zion thus figures prominently in *apocalyptic expectations (it appears by that title in *4 Ezra and *2 Baruch).
112) First, another view is given of the 144,000 who were standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb. It is reasonable to conclude that this is the same group mentioned in 7:4-8, except that here they are in a later period of the Tribulation. Chronologically the vision anticipates the triumph of the 144,000 still intact at the time of Jesus Christ’s return from heaven to earth. In contrast with many others who become martyrs, these people live through the period. But they are not the only ones to survive, as many Gentiles and Jews will turn to Christ in the end time and somehow escape martyrdom and be honored to welcome Christ at His return.
113) The song is that of victory after conflict with the dragon, beast, and false prophet: never sung before; for such a conflict was never fought before. Until now Christ’s kingdom on earth was usurped. They sing the new son in anticipation of His taking possession of His blood-bought kingdom with His saints.
114) Virgins – spiritually (Matt 25:1): in contrast to the apostate church, Babylon (Rev 14:8), ‘a harlot’ (Rev 17:1-5; Isa 1:21). Their not being defiled with women means they were not led astray from Christian faithfulness by the spiritual ‘harlot.’
115) Being the – rather, ‘as a first-fruit.’ Not merely in the sense in which all believers are so (James 1:18), but Israel’s 144,000 elect are the first-fruit; the Gentile elect, of “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people,” who refuse to worship the beast, are the harvest: in a further sense, the whole transfigured and translated Church, which reigns with Christ at His coming, is the first-fruit, and the consequent universal ingathering of Israel and the nations, ending in the last judgment, is the full harvest.
116) The Greek word here is euaggelion (yoo-ang ghel-ion) it means good news and is often translated as gospel. Here it is better translated as good news. The angel’s “good news” is the vindication of God’s people by judgment on the wicked. Because the activity of angels in heaven often corresponds to what happens on earth, however (12:7), this picture may refer, as some commentators have suggested, to the final proclamation of the good news of the *kingdom (including both salvation and vindication /judgment) preceding the end.
117) She has fallen! She has fallen! Babylon the Great! This cry, combining Isaiah 21:9 with Daniel 4:21, is repeated at 18:2, when the destruction of Babylon is being detailed (chapters 17-18). In the Tanakh Babylon epitomizes evil. Already in Genesis 11 it is the site of the Tower of Babel. In Isaiah 14 the king of Babylon is a thinly veiled stand-in for Satan (especially Isaiah 14:12-16). Following are discussions of four possible meanings for “Babylon” here and at 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21.
(1) Literal Babylon. Babylon was located on the Euphrates River (16:12) and was crisscrossed by canals (“sitting on many waters,” 17:1, alluding to Jeremiah 51:13, “O you who dwell on many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, and the measure of your greed.”). But against a literal interpretation is 17:15, which interprets the “waters” figuratively, and Jeremiah’s prophecy that Babylon’s “desolation” would be “everlasting” (Jeremiah 25:12; also Isaiah 13:19-22 and most extensively Jeremiah 50:1-51:64).
(2) Rome. The arguments in favor of Babylon as a codeword for Rome are weighty. Rome was widely known as the city set on seven hills (17:9). “Babylon” was a common euphemism for “Rome” in the Pseudepigrapha (2 Baruch 11:1, 67:7; Sibylline Oracles 5:143, 159) and in rabbinic writings. Because Rome’s political power has declined since the book of Revelation was written, making the literal understanding of Rome less relevant, there are Protestants who equate Babylon with Rome and Rome with Roman Catholicism, turning the passage into an anti-Catholic polemic.
(3) The wicked world-system, ruled in the spiritual realm by Satan and ultimately in the physical world by the anti-Messiah. Viewing Babylon allegorically as the evil world-system accords with the extensive description of the rule of the anti-Messiah in chapters 12-13 and the return of this imagery in the immediate context (vv. 9-11).
(4) The ungodly in general. This less specific understanding of Babylon the Great as the ungodly in general as over against the godly would derive from a hermeneutic that interprets the whole book along such figurative lines (see 1:1).
118) John in his vision next saw seated on a white cloud one like a Son of Man wearing a crown of gold and holding a sharp sickle. Though some have identified “a Son of Man” as an angel, it is more probable that it is Christ Himself who is frequently called “the Son of Man”. In the Book of Matthew alone this title is ascribed to Christ more than 25 times (Matt 8:20; 9:6; 11:19; 12:8,32; 13:41; etc.). The sickle in His hand suggests judgment. And this is supported by the messages of the three angels (Rev 14:15-20).
119) An angel called out to Christ to reap, because the harvest of the earth is ripe. The ripeness is in the sense of withered or overripe.
120) From the altar – upon which were offered the incense-accompanied prayers of all saints, which bring down in answer God’s fiery judgment on the Church’s foes, the fire being taken from the altar and cast upon the earth (Rev 6:9-11; 8:3-5).
121) The grape harvest is often a picture of judgment (see Joel 3:13 ff, which anticipates the Day of the Lord). In actuality, Scripture portrays three different “vines.” Israel was God’s vine, planted in the land to bear fruit for God’s glory; but the nation failed God and had to be cut down (Ps 80:8-16; Isa 5:1-7; see also Matt 21:33-46). Today, Christ is the Vine and believers are branches in Him (John 15). But the world system is also a vine, “the vine’ of the earth” in contrast to Christ, the heavenly Vine; and it is ripening for judgment. The wicked system – Babylon – that intoxicates people and controls them, will one day be cut down and destroyed in “the winepress of the wrath of God.”
122) Without the city – Jerusalem. The scene of blood-shedding of Christ and His people shall be also the scene of God’s vengeance on the anti-Christian foe
123) The custom was to produce grape juice by trampling on grapes in a winepress. The result here, however, is different. Blood flowed out of the press rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia, about 180 miles. While this distance may be literal and may designate the area of judgment as around the city of Jerusalem, it is of course impossible for the blood to reach a height where it would touch horses’ bridles. What this affirms is a tremendous bloodletting in which blood is spattered as high as the bridles of horses. This is a graphic picture of a great slaughter (Isa 63:1-3). Other Scriptures (e.g., Rev 16:14; Dan 11:40-45) make it clear that there will be a world war of tremendous scope underway at the time of the second coming of Christ, and this may be a partial fulfillment of these prophecies.
124) The sea may symbolize baptism into the family of God. It is also a reminder of God leading the Hebrew people out of Egypt and through the Red Sea and bringing a victory over their enemies. The fire may represent the Holy Spirit and its part in baptism and the Christian life. It also, may represent the trials that the believers have gone through.
125) just as the Israelites stood by the Red Sea after their Egyptian pursuers were drowned in it. At that time the Israelites sang the song of Moses (Exodus 15:1-18; see 13:4&N), which is included in its entirety in the daily morning synagogue service and liberally quoted again in the twice-daily blessing after the Shema. The victors over the beast will sing the Song of Moses, signifying that true believers in Jesus fully identify with the Jewish people.
The song of the Lamb, as given in vv. 3 b-4, is not sung to or about the Lamb, but by the Lamb to God—just as the Song of Moses was sung by Moses and not to him. Just as the victorious Jewish people learned and sang the song which Moses sang (Exodus 15:1), so the victorious believers in heaven learn and sing the song which the Lamb sings. Like the Song of Moses the Song of the Lamb exults in the just ways of God, using the language of the Tanakh as found in Jeremiah 10:7; Amos 3:13, 4:13; Malachi 1:11; Psalms 86:9-10, 92:6(5), 98:1, 111:2, 139:14, 145:17; 1 Chronicles 16:9, 12. But unlike the Song of Moses it also brings out that in the final judgment God is revealed as king of the nations, king of the whole world, as prophesied in Zechariah 14:9, so that all nations will come and worship before him—as predicted in the continuation of that passage (Zechariah 14:16-20).
126) The sanctuary (that is, the Tent of Witness). The word “tent” appears only here in Revelation. If there was a Hebrew original underlying our Greek text, this phrase, unique in ancient literature, could be explained as a corruption of “the Temple of God in heaven,” which appears with the same verb (“was opened”) at 11:19. If the phrase stands as translated, the “sanctuary” is the Holy of Holies, which was also the location (or “tent”) of the ark of the Covenant (MJ 9:4&N), called the ark of the Testimony throughout Exodus 25-40. Verse 8 supports this rendering, for we read that the smoke from God’s Shekhinah glory filled the sanctuary; in Exodus and Ezekiel God’s glory inhabited the sanctuary. These final “bowl” plagues come from God’s ultimate holiness.
127) The clean, shining linen of the angels indicates their purity, and the golden sashes around their chests point to the glory of God.
128) The seven angels emerge from the heavenly temple (see Rev 11:19), because their work is holy as are the judgments they bring. The angels’ clothing reminds us of the priestly garments, for their service is a divine ministry. When the Old Testament tabernacle and temple were dedicated, these earthly buildings were filled with God’s glory (Ex 40:34-35; 2 Chron 7:1-4); but now the heavenly temple is filled with smoke (see Isa 6:4; Ezek 10:4). This smoke likewise is evidence of God’s glory and power.
129) This vial judgment reminds us of the sixth plague in Egypt (Ex 9:8-12; note also Deut 28:27,35). Only those who have submitted to “the beast” and who have rejected the warning of the first angel will experience this judgment (Rev 14:6-7).
130) Waters turned to blood (vv. 3-6). The second and third vials parallel the first plague in Egypt (Ex 7:14-25). The second vial will center on the sea, and the third will turn the Hand waters (rivers and fountains) into blood. When the second trumpet judgment occurred, a third part of the sea became blood; but with this judgment, the entire system of seas and oceans will be polluted. The third trumpet made a third part of the inland waters bitter as wormwood; but the third vial will turn all of those bitter waters into blood.
131) Heaven gives justification for this terrible judgment: the earth-dwellers have shed the blood of God’s people, so it is only right that they should drink blood. In God’s government, the punishment fits the crime. Pharaoh tried to drown the Jewish boy babies, but it was his own army that eventually drowned in the Red Sea. Haman planned to hang Mordecai on the gallows and to exterminate the Jews; but he himself was hanged on the gallows, and his family was exterminated (Est 7:10; 9:10). King Saul refused to obey God and slay the Amalekites, so he was slain by an Amalekite (2 Sam 1:1-16).
132) This is not worldwide darkness; only “the beast,” his throne, and his kingdom are affected. This reminds us of the fifth trumpet (Rev 9:2) and the ninth plague (Ex 10:21-23). Where is the throne of “the beast”? His image is in the temple in Jerusalem, so that may be the center of his operation. Or perhaps he is ruling from Rome, in cooperation with the apostate church headquartered there.
When God sent the ninth plague to Egypt, the entire land was dark, except for Goshen where the Israelites lived. The judgment of the fifth vial is just the opposite: there is light for the world, but darkness reigns at the headquarters of “the beast”! Certainly this will be a great blow to his “image” throughout the earth.
133) The Euphrates dried up (vv. 12-16). This famous river was mentioned earlier in Revelation, when the sixth trumpet sounded (Rev 9:13 ff) and the angels were loosed who were bound therein. At that time, an army of demonic horsemen was also released. Now, an army from the nations of the world gathers for the great battle at Armageddon. The drying up of the river will make it possible for the army of the “kings of the East” to come to Palestine and invade the Holy Land.
134) Christ’s return is often compared to the coming of a thief. It implies suddenness and unpreparedness as far as unbelievers are concerned. Just as Christians are not to be surprised by the Rapture of the church (1 Thess 5:4), so believers at the time of the Second Coming will be anticipating His return. Blessing is promised to the one who is prepared for the coming of the Lord by being attired in the righteousness or clothing which God Himself supplies.
135) We often speak of “the battle of Armageddon,” but nowhere does the Bible use that phrase. On September 2, 1945, when General Douglas MacArthur supervised signing the peace treaty with Japan, he said: “We have had our last chance. If we will not devise something greater and more equitable [than war], Armageddon will be at our door.”
The name Armageddon comes from two Hebrew words, Har Megiddo , the hill of Megiddo. The word Megiddo means. “place of troops” or “place of slaughter.” It is also called the Plain of Esdraelon and the Valley of Jezreel. The area is about fourteen miles wide and twenty miles long, and forms what Napoleon called “the most natural battlefield of the whole earth.” Standing on Mount Carmel and overlooking that great plain, you can well understand why it would be used for gathering the armies of the nations.
136) The devil is “the prince of the power of the air,” so perhaps this seventh vial has a special effect on his dominion (Eph 2:2). But the immediate result is a devastating earthquake that affects the cities of the nations. Satan’s entire system is now about to be judged by God: his religious system (the harlot, Rev 17), his political and economic system (Babylon, Rev 18), and his military system (the armies, Rev 19).
137) The “great city” (Rev 16:19) is probably Jerusalem (see Rev 11:8). The Prophet Zechariah prophesied an earthquake that would change the topography of Jerusalem (Zech 14:4). But the key idea here is that Babylon would fall (see Jer 50-51). “The beasts” great economic system, which subjugated the people of the world, would be completely destroyed by God.
138) This evil woman symbolizes the religious system of Babylon, and the waters symbolize “peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages” (v. 15). The angel informed John that the kings of the earth had committed adultery with the woman; in other words, they had become a part of the religious system which she symbolized
139) Following the invitation, John was carried away “in the Spirit” into the wilderness. There he saw “the harlot” and wrote down the description of what he saw (Rev 17:3-6). Gen 2 speaks of a pure bride in a lovely Garden; but by the Bible’s end, civilization has degenerated to an impure harlot in a wilderness! That is what sin does to the world.
140) Upon a scarlet-coloured beast. The same as Rev 13:1: there described as here, ‘having seven heads and ten horns (betraying that he is representative of the dragon, Rev 12:3), and upon his heads name of blasphemy:’ cf. also Rev 17:12-14, below, with Rev 19:19-20, and Rev 17:13-14,16. Rome, resting on the world-power, and ruling it by the claim of supremacy, is her chief, though not exclusive, representative. As the dragon is fiery-red, so the beast is blood-red; implying blood-guiltiness, and deep dyed sin. The scarlet is also symbol of kingship.
141) The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls. Her adornment is similar to that of religious trappings of ritualistic churches today. While purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones, and pearls can all represent beauty and glory in relation to the true faith, here they reveal a false religion that prostitutes the truth.
142) Mystery – a spiritual fact heretofore hidden, incapable of discovery by reason, but now revealed. As the union of Christ and the Church is a ‘great mystery’ (a momentous spiritual truth, once hidden, now revealed, Eph 5:31-32), so the Church, by conformity to the world, becoming a harlot, is a counter “mystery.” As iniquity in the harlot is a leaven working in “mystery” – i.e., latently (‘the mystery of iniquity’) – so, when she is destroyed, the iniquity shall be revealed in the man of iniquity, the open embodiment of all previous evil (2 Thess 2:7-8). Contrast the “mystery of God” and “godliness,”
Her name, which was written on her forehead. It was the custom of impudent harlots to hang out signs, with their names, that all might know what they were. Now in this observe, (1.) She is named from her place of residence—Babylon the great. But, that we might not take it for the old Babylon literally so called, we are told there is a mystery in the name; it is some other great city resembling the old Babylon. (2.) She is named from her infamous way and practice; not only a harlot, but a mother of harlots, breeding up harlots, and nursing and training them up to idolatry, and all sorts of lewdness and wickedness—the parent and nurse of all false religion and filthy conversation.
143) Her diet: she satiated herself with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus. She drank their blood with such greediness that she intoxicated herself with it; it was so pleasant to her that she could not tell when she had had enough of it: she was satiated, but never satisfied.
144) I wondered with great admiration – wonder. John did not admire her. Elsewhere (Rev 13:3; 17:8), all the earthly-minded wonder in admiration of the beast. Here only is John’s wonder called forth: not the beast, but the woman sunken into the harlot, the Church become a world-loving apostate, moves his astonishment at so awful a change. That the world should be beastly is natural; but that the faithful bride should become the whore is monstrous, and excites the same amazement in him as Israel’s like transformation excited in Isaiah and Jeremiah. “Horrible thing” (Jer 2:20-21; 23:14) answers to “abominations” here. When the Church falls, she sinks lower than the godless world, in proportion as her right place is higher than the world. In Rev 17:3, “woman” has not the article, ‘the woman,’ as if before mentioned: for though identical in one sense with the woman (Rev 12), in another she is not. The elect never become apostates, but remain as the true woman invisibly in the harlot; yet Christendom, regarded as woman, has apostatized from its first faith.
145) The time when the beast “is not” is during ‘the deadly wound’ (Rev 13): the time of the seventh head’s Christianity, when its beastlike character was suspended temporarily. The healing of its wound answers to its ascending out of the bottomless pit. The anti-Christian world-power returns worse than ever, with Satanic powers from hell (Rev 11:7), not merely from the sea of convulsed nations (Rev 13:1). Christian civilization smites the beast but for a time: the deadly wound is always connected with its being healed up, the nonexistence of the beast with its reappearance.
Since the beast pretends to the position of God, the angel sarcastically describes him in language similar to that used to describe God, “the One who is, who was and who is coming”
146) The Greek word translated astonished here is a different form of the word that is used when John is astonished. The word here means they marveled at the beast.
147 Seven heads are seven mountains. The connection between mountains and kings must be deeper than the outward fact to which allusion is made, that Rome (the then world-city) is on seven hills ,The seven heads can hardly be at once seven kings or kingdoms (Rev 17:10), and seven geographical mountains. But, as the head is prominent in the body, so the mountain in the land. Like ‘sea,’ ‘earth,’ “waters … peoples” (Rev 17:15), so “mountains” have a symbolical meaning, namely, prominent seats of power. Especially such as oppose the cause of God (Ps 68:16-17; Isa 40:4; 41:15; 49:11; Ezek 35:2);
148) Is of the seven – ‘springs out of the seven.’ The eighth is not merely one of the seven restored, but a new power proceeding out of the seven. At the same time, there are not eight, but only seven heads, for the eighth is the embodiment of all the God-opposed features of the seven.
149) “The beast” not only has seven heads, but also ten horns, which represent ten kings. But these are very special kings: they enable “the beast” to rise to power and are even Willing to yield their authority to him. Recall that at the opening of the first seal (Rev 6:1-2), Antichrist began his “peaceful” conquest of the nations. He organized a “United States of Europe,” brought peace to the Middle East, and appeared to be the great leader the troubled world was seeking.
150) Here is the ground or reason of the victory assigned; and this is taken, 1. From the character of the Lamb: He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He has, both by nature and by office, supreme dominion and power over all things; all the powers of earth and hell are subject to his check and control. 2. From the character of his followers: They are called, and chosen, and faithful. They are called out by commission to this warfare; they are chosen and fitted for it, and they will be faithful in it. Such an army, under such a commander, will at length carry all the world before them.
151) By the vast multitude who paid obedience and subjection to the beast and to the whore. She sat upon (that is, presided over) many waters; and these waters were so many multitudes of people, and nations, of all languages; yea, she reigned not only over kingdoms, but over the kings, and they were her tributaries and vassals.
152) In the days when Johns prophecy will be fulfilled, an amazing thing will happen: “the harlot” will be made desolate by the very system that carried her! It is important to note that “the beast” carries “the harlot” Satan (and Antichrist) will use the apostate religious system to accomplish his own ends (i.e., attain world power); but then he will do away with “the harlot” and establish his own religious system. And all of this will be the fulfillment of God’s Word (Rev 17:17).
Since “the beast” sets up his image in the temple about the middle of the Tribulation, we can assume that “the harlot” and “the beast” work together during those first three-and-a half years. This is corroborated by the fact that the ten kings assist him in desolating “the harlot” (Rev 17:16). These are the same ten kings associated with “the beast” when he sets up the “United States of Europe” during the first half of the Tribulation.
Throughout history, political systems have “used” religious bodies to further their political causes. At the same time, church history reveals that religious groups have used politics to achieve their purposes. The marriage of church and state is not a happy one, and has often spawned children that have created serious problems. When dictators are friendly with religion, it is usually a sign that they want to make use of religion’s influence and then destroy it. The church of Jesus Christ has been most influential in the world when it has maintained a separated position.
Finally, note that those who trust the Lord are not influenced by “the harlot” or defeated by the kings (Rev 17:14). Once again, John points out that the true believers are the “overcomers. ”
Satan’s counterfeit religion is subtle, requiring spiritual discernment to recognize. It was Paul’s great concern that the local churches he founded not be seduced away from their sincere devotion to Christ (2 Cor 11:14). In every age, there is the tremendous pressure to conform to “popular religion” and to abandon the fundamentals of the faith. In these last days, we all need to heed the admonitions in 1 Tim 4 and 2 Tim 3 and remain true to our Lord.
153) The word here that some translations translate as adultery and some translate as fornication is from the Greek word porneia (porneia) which means to be unfaithful. So each of these translations could be correct. If you see Babylon as representing the church which is the bride of Christ adultery would be correct. If you see Babylon as the illegitimate church and therefore not the bride of Christ then fornication would be correct.
154) a better translation of this would be: she will be given back double what she has given to you, and double what she has done. She will be mixed a double portion in her own cup.
155) The very ways in which the church (Babylon has sinned is the way that God is going to punish her. She has gotten into bed with the leaders of the world and it is the leaders of the world which will turn on her and destroy her.
156) “Hallelujah” is frequent in the Psalms (cf. Ps 146-150), a strong command to praise the Lord – it is the strongest possible command, probably originally uttered by the inspired Levite musicians summoning their hearers to worship); it was appropriate in all worship, especially in praising God for his magnificent acts. It functioned as a call to worship in the temple, and so functions in the heavenly courts of worship.
157) The marriage of the Lamb is come. The full, final consummation is at Rev 21:2-9, etc. Previously there must be the beast’s overthrow, etc., at the Lord’s coming, the binding of Satan, the millennial reign, the loosing of Satan, his last overthrow, and the general judgment. The elect Church, the heavenly Bride, soon after the destruction of the harlot, is transfigured at the Lord’s coming, and joins in His triumph over the beast. On the emblem of the heavenly Bridegroom and Bride, cf. Matt 22:2; 25:6,10; 2 Cor 11:2. Perfect union with Himself, and participation in His holiness, joy, glory, and kingdom, are included in this symbol (cf. Song). Besides the heavenly Bride, the transfigured, translated, and risen Church, reigning over the earth with Christ, there is also the earthly bride, Israel, in the flesh, never yet divorced, though for a time separated, from her Divine Husband, who shall then be re-united to the Lord, and be mother-church of the millennial earth, Christianized through her, (Isa 50:1; 54; 60:1-62:12; 65.) Scripture restricts the language of marriage-love to the Bride, the Church as a whole. Individuals, in relation to Christ, ought not to adopt it, as Rome does as to her nuns. Individually, believers are guests; collectively, they constitute the Bride. The harlot divides her affections among many; the Bride gives hers exclusively to Christ.
158) Pure linen was mandatory apparel for the high priest entering the holy of holies (Lev 16:4), extended in time to all ministers in the sanctuary; angels were often supposed to be dressed in linen too (probably based on Dan 12:6-7). Its symbolic use for purity and (here) righteous deeds would thus be natural.
Righteousness – Each saint must have righteousness; not merely be justified, as if it belonged to the Church in the aggregate. The saints together have righteousness: Christ is accounted “the Lord our righteousness” to each on believing, the robe being made white in the blood of the Lamb. The righteousness of the saint is not inherent, but imputed. If it were otherwise, Christ would be merely enabling the sinner to justify himself. Rom 5:18-19, is decisive. The justification is now GIVEN the saints in manifestation-they openly walk with Christ in white. This, rather than their primary justification on earth, is the reference here. Their justification before the world, which persecuted them, contrasts with the judgment on the harlot. ‘Now that the harlot has fallen, the woman triumphs’ contrast with the Brides pure fine linen (indicating simplicity and purity), the harlot’s (Rev 17:4; 18:16) tawdry ornamentation. Babylon, the apostate church, is antithesis to new Jerusalem, the transfigured Church.
159) Revelation seems to encourage the view that Christians on earth worship with the angels, in communion with the worship of heaven (a common Jewish view); but the book simultaneously rejects the views of those who prayed to and praised angels (amulets and incantations attest that some Jews invoked angels). Most of early Judaism associated the *Spirit of God with the spirit of *prophecy; for John, all witnesses of Jesus dependent on the Spirit (thus, ideally, all Christians) were prophets in the broadest sense of the term. It was, in fact, the proper witness to Jesus that distinguished true prophets from false ones (1 John 4:1-6).
160) Behold a white horse: and he that sat upon him. Identical with Rev 6:2. He comes forth “conquering and to conquer.” Compare the ass-colt on which He rode into Jerusalem. The horse was used for war: here He is going forth to war with the beast. The donkey, for peace. His riding on it into Jerusalem is an earnest of His reign in Jerusalem over the earth, as Prince of peace, after all hostile powers have been overthrown. When the security of the world-power and the distress of the people of God have reached their highest, the Lord Jesus shall appear from heaven to end the whole world-course, and establish His kingdom of glory. He comes to judge with vengeance the world-power, and bring to the Church redemption, transfiguration, and power over the world.
161) Faithful and True—words applied to the Messiah also at 3:14. The two words mean virtually the same thing, since the Hebrew idea of truth was not correspondence to reality (as in Greek thought), but reliability. The “God of truth” is the God who can be trusted to keep his covenant. When John in his Gospel wrote that “grace and truth came through Jesus the Messiah” (Jn 1:17), he meant that in the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah, God’s faithfulness was revealed in fulfillment of his covenant. Likewise, the return of Jesus will be the faithful reappearance of him who has already appeared among men; this time he comes to bring God’s covenant promises to their final and full consummation.
162) Eyes were as a flame – all-searching, penetrating like fire; also, consuming indignation against sin, especially at His coming “in flaming fire, taking vengeance” on all the ungodly.
163) Many crowns – ‘diadems:’ not merely [stefanoi] garlands of victory, but crowns, as KING OF KINGS. Christ’s diadem comprises all diadems of the earth and of heavenly powers. Also, the seven crowns (diadems) on the seven heads of the dragon (Rev 12:3), and ten diadems on the ten heads of the beast. These usurpers claim the diadems belonging to Christ.
164) That no man knew but he himself – (Judg 13:18; 1 Cor 2:9,11; 1 John 3:2.) The same is said of the “new name” of believers, Rev 2:17. In all respects the disciple is like his Lord. The Lord’s “new name” is to be theirs, “in their foreheads” (Rev 3:12; 14:1; 22:4); therefore His as yet unknown name also is written on His forehead: as the high priest had “Holiness to the Lord” inscribed on the mitre on his brow. John saw it as “written,” but knew not its meaning. A name which, in all its glorious significancy, can be only understood when the union of His saints with Him, and their joint triumph and reign, shall be perfectly manifested.
165) Soaked in blood. This could be the blood of the enemies’ armies (vv. 19, 21), Jesus’ own blood shed on the cross or the blood of martyred believers (6:9-10, 12:11). Most interpreters opt for the first.
166) in the gospel of John chapter one, John tells us about Jesus. John 1:1 tells us; “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here John uses that same name, Word of God.
167) The armies … in heaven – (cf. Rev 14:20.) The glorified saints whom God “will bring with” Christ at His advent: both the living transfigured, and those raised and meeting the Lord in the air (1 Thess 4: cf. Rev 17:14); also “His mighty angels” (2 Thess 1:7).
168) Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. This is not just a punishment, but a divine judgement of the people of the earth.
169) [And he treads the wine-press of the fury of the wrath of God] This language is probably derived from Isa 63:1-4. It means here that his enemies would be certainly crushed before him-as grapes are crushed under the feet of him that treads in the winepress.
170) ‘His name written on His robe and thigh’ was partly on the robe, partly on the thigh itself, where, in an equestrian figure, the robe drops. The thigh was touched in taking an oath, as the seat of strength: it symbolizes Christ’s humanity, as, sprung from the loins of David, according to His covenant, and now the glorified “Son of man.” His incommunicable divine name, “which no man knew,” is on His head, Rev 19:12
171) KING OF KINGS. Contrast Rev 17:14,17, the beast being in usurpation a king of kings, the ten kings delivering their kingdom to him.
172) [And I saw an angel standing in the sun] A different angel evidently from the one which had before appeared to him. The number of angels that appeared to John, as referred to in this book, was very great, and each one came on a new errand, or with a new message. Everyone must be struck with the image here. The description is as simple as it can be; and yet as sublime. The fewest words possible are used; and yet the image is distinct and clear. A heavenly being stands in the blaze of the brightest of the orbs that God permits us here to see-yet not consumed, and himself so bright that he can be distinctly seen amidst the dazzling splendors of that luminary. It is difficult to conceive of an image more sublime than this. Why he has his place in the sun is not stated, for there does not appear to be anything more intended by this than to give grandeur and impressiveness to the scene.
173) [Saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven] That is, to all the birds of prey-all that feed on flesh-such as hover over a battlefield.
174) [Come and gather yourselves together] All this imagery is taken from the idea that there would be a great slaughter, and that the bodies of the dead would be left unburied to the birds of prey.[Unto the supper of the great God] As if the great God were about to give you a feast-to wit, the carcasses of those slain. It is called “his supper” because he gives it; and the image is merely that there would be a great slaughter of his foes, as is specified in the following verse.
175) These both were cast alive into a lake – ‘the lake of fire,’ Gehenna. Satan is subsequently cast in, at the close of the outbreak, after the millennium (Rev 20:10). Then death and hell, with those not found at the general judgment “written in the book of life:” this constitutes “the second death.” “Alive” – a living death; not annihilation. ‘Their worm dieth not, their fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:44,46,48).
176) Satan will be defeated (vv. 1-3). The “bottomless pit” spoken of in Rev 20:1 is not the same as hell; it is the “abyss” that we have met before in our studies (Rev 9:12,11; 11:7; 17:8). Satan is not cast into hell immediately, because God still has one more task for him to perform. Rather, Satan is confined in the bottomless pit for 1,000 years. First, Satan was cast out of heaven (Rev 12:9), and now he is cast out of earth!
Some Bible students feel that the “chaining” of Satan took place when Jesus died on the cross and arose from the dead to ascend to heaven. While it is true that Jesus won His decisive victory over Satan at the cross, the sentence against the devil has not yet been effected. He is a defeated foe, but he is still free to attack God’s people and oppose God’s work (1 Peter 5:8). I think it was Dr. James M. Gray who suggested that, if Satan is bound today, it must be with a terribly long chain! Paul was sure that Satan was loose (Eph 6:10 ff). and John agreed with him (Rev 2:13; 3:9).
177) [That old serpent] This is undoubtedly an allusion to the serpent that deceived Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1 ff.), and therefore a proof that it was Satan that, under the form of a serpent, deceived them.
178) [The devil] This word originally means an adversary, or an accuser; then, any one opposed to us; then, an enemy of any kind. It is given in the Scriptures, by way of eminence, to the leader of evil angels-a being characterized as full of subtlety, envy, art, and hatred of mankind. He is known, also, by the name Satan, Job 1:6-12; Matt 12:26;
Devil is the Greek word for advisory and Satan is the Hebrew word. John gives them both here so there is no confusion as to who this is.
179) [A thousand years] This is the period usually designated as the MILLENNIUM-for the word “millennium” means “a thousand years.” It is on this passage that the whole doctrine of the millennium as such has been founded. It is true that there are elsewhere in the Scriptures abundant promises that the gospel will ultimately spread over the world; but the notion of a millennium as such is found in this passage alone. It is, however, enough to establish the doctrine, if its meaning be correctly ascertained; for it is a just rule in interpreting the Bible, that the clearly-ascertained sense of a single passage of Scripture is sufficient to establish the truth of a doctrine. The fact, however, that this passage stands alone in this respect, makes it the more important to endeavor accurately to determine its meaning. There are but three ways in which the phrase “a thousand years” can be understood here: either:
(a) literally; or
(b) in the prophetic use of the term, where a day would stand for a year, thus making a period of three hundred and sixty thousand years; or
(c) figuratively, supposing that it refers to a long but indefinite period of time. It may be impossible to determine which of these periods is intended, though the first has been generally supposed to be the true one, and hence the common notion of the millennium. There is nothing, however, in the use of the language here, as there would be nothing contrary to the common use of symbols in this book in regard to time, in the supposition that this was designed to describe the longest period here suggested, or that it is meant that the world shall enjoy a reign of peace and righteousness during the long period of three hundred and sixty thousand years. Indeed, there are somethings in the arrangements of nature which look as if it were contemplated that the earth would continue under a reign of righteousness through a vastly long period in the future.
180) Is this a literal kingdom on earth, or should these verses be “spiritualized” and applied to the church today? Some interpreters say that the term “a thousand years” is simply a number meaning “ultimate perfection” (10 x 10 x 10 = 1,000). They assert that it is a symbol of Christ’s victory and the church’s wonderful blessings now that Satan has been defeated and bound. This view is known as amillenniatism, which means “no millennium” – that is, no literal kingdom.
The problem with this view is that it does not explain why John introduced the period with a resurrection of the dead. He was certainly not writing about a “spiritual” resurrection, because he even told how these people died! And in Rev 20:5, John wrote of another literal resurrection. If we are now in the 1,000-year kingdom of victory, when did this resurrection take place? It seems reasonable to assume that John wrote about a literal physical resurrection of the dead, and a literal kingdom on earth
What is the purpose of the millennial kingdom? For one thing, it will be the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel and to Christ (Ps 2; Luke 1:30-33). Our Lord reaffirmed them to His own Apostles (Luke 22:29-30). This kingdom will be a worldwide display of Christ’s glory, when all nature will be set free from the bondage of sin (Rom 8:19-22). It will be the answer to the prayers of the saints, “My kingdom come!” It will also be God’s final demonstration of the sinfulness of sin and the wickedness of the human heart apart from God’s grace, but more on this later.
The Tribulation martyrs will be raised from the dead and given glorious thrones and rewards. The church will share in this reign, as symbolized by the twenty-four elders (Rev 5:10, see also 2:26-28; 3:12,21; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 2 Tim 2:12). Some Bible students believe that the Old Testament saints will also be a part of this “first resurrection”
181) At the close of the Millennium, Satan will be released from the pit and permitted to lead one last revolt against the Lord. Why? As final proof that the heart of man is desperately wicked and can be changed only by God’s grace. Imagine the tragedy of this revolt: people who have been living in a perfect environment, under the perfect government of God’s Son, will finally admit the truth and rebel against the King! Their obedience will be seen as mere feigned submission, and not true faith in Christ at all.
The naming of “Gog and Magog” (Rev 20:8) does not equate this battle with the one described in Ezek 38-39; for that army invades from the north, while this one comes from the four comers of the earth. These two events are related, however, inasmuch as in both battles, Israel is the focal point. In this case, Jerusalem will be the target (“beloved city,” Ps 78:68; 87:2). God will deal with this revolt very quickly and efficiently, and Satan will be cast into bell. Note that “the beast” and false prophet will still be suffering in the lake of fire after 1,000 years! (see Matt 25:41)
In one sense, the millennial kingdom will sum up” all that God has said about the heart of man during the various periods of history. It will be a reign of law, and yet law will not change man’s sinful heart. Man will still revolt against God. The Millennium will be a period of peace and perfect environment, a time when disobedience will be judged swiftly and with justice; and yet in the end the subjects of the King will follow Satan and rebel against the Lord. A perfect environment cannot produce a perfect heart.
182) The camp of the saints … and the beloved city – the camp of the saints encircling the beloved city, Jerusalem (Ecclus 24:11). Contrast “hateful” in Babylon, (Rev 18:2; ‘Jacob, the beloved,’ Deut 32:15; Septuagint) Ezekiel’s prophecy of Gog and Magog refers to the attack on Israel before the millennium; but this attack is after the millennium; so that “Gog and Magog” represent the final adversaries led by Satan.
183) After Satan’s followers will be destroyed, he will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur. Being cast into the lake that was prepared for him and his angels is the final judgment on Satan (cf. Matt 25:41). Most significant as a support of the doctrine of eternal punishment is the concluding statement, they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The word “they” includes the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. The lake of burning sulfur is not annihilation, for the beast and false prophet are still there a thousand years after they experienced their final judgment
184) The word translated Heaven here would be better translated sky. It is talking about the heavens that are above the earth, not the dwelling place of god and the angels.
Earth and heaven fled from his presence and no place was found for them, because they are corrupted by sin, unholy and impure (Ro 8:19-22). Although in the present age the impure defiles the pure, when God himself appears in glory his purity banishes the impure, for his holiness cannot abide that which is corrupted by sin. The only remedy is “a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away”
185) Jesus Christ will judge these unsaved people on the basis of what is written “in the books.” What books? For one ding, God’s Word will be there. The Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Every sinner will be held accountable for the truth he or she has heard h this life.
There will also be a book containing the works of the sinners being judged, though this does not suggest that a person can do good works sufficient to enter heaven (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Why, then, will Jesus Christ consider the works, good and bad, of the people before the White Throne? To determine the degree of punishment they will endure in bell. All of these people will be cast into hell. Their personal rejection of Jesus Christ has already determined their destiny. But Jesus Christ is a righteous Judge, and He will assign each sinner the place that he deserves.
There are degrees of punishment in hell (Matt 11:20-24). Each lost sinner will receive just what is due him, and none will be able to argue with the Lord or question His decision.
God knows what sinners are doing, and His books will reveal the truth.
“The Book of Life” will be there, containing the names of God’s redeemed people (Phil 4:3; Rev 21:27; note also 13:8; 17:8). No unsaved person will have his or her name in the Lamb’s Book of Life; only true believers are recorded there (Luke 10:20).
186) There appears to be two different books that are spoken of here. The first are books which contain all the details of a person’s life. All the things which have been done both good and bad. These books are spoken of a number of times in the Old Testament, and the Apocrypha (Daniel 7:10,Enoch 90:20, 2 Baruch 24:1, 4 Ezra 6:20). There are some who believe that there are levels of hell and the more evil a person has done the lower the level in hell that person is put. The problem with this thinking is that it does not seem to be supported by the Bible and especially by this passage where in verse 15 it states that anyone whose name does not appear in the Book of Life is thrown into the Lake of fire.
The second book that is opened is called by John the Book of Life. This book is also referred to in both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 32:32, Psalms 69:28, Isaiah 4:3, Philippians 4:3, and Revelation 3:5,13:8).This is a book of all those who have given the lives over to the control and service of Jesus Christ. John tells us in Revelation 3:5 that those who overcome, that is do not deny Jesus. Will not have their name blotted out of the Book of Life. This does seem to point to the fact that a name can be blotted out of the book of Life for the denial of Jesus.
187) God has promised His people a new heaven and earth (Isa 65:17; 66:22). The old creation must make way for the new creation if God is to be glorified. Jesus called this event “the regeneration” of the earth (Matt 19:28), and Peter explained it as a cleansing and renewing by fire (2 Peter 3:10-13). Bible students are not agreed as to whether the old elements will be renewed or whether the old will be destroyed and a whole new creation ushered in. The fact that the Greek word translated new means “new in character” (Rev 21:1,5) may lend credence to the former explanation.
“No more sea” does not mean “no more water.” It simply indicates that the new earth will have a different arrangement as far as water is concerned. Three fourths of our globe consists of water, but this won’t be the case in the eternal state. In John’s day, the sea meant danger, storms, and separation (John himself was on an island at the time!); so perhaps John was giving us more than a geography lesson.
188) the announcement of the New Jerusalem is coming down out of heaven to unite the new heaven and the new earth. The New Jerusalem refers to the capitol of the new creation. The concept of the New Jerusalem derives from the Old Testament expectation of the restoration of Jerusalem and the return of God to His temple and His acknowledgement by all nations (Isaiah 2:1-5; 49:14-18; 52; 54;60-62; 65:17-25; Jeremiah 31:38-40; Micah4:1-4; Zechariah 14).
189) Alpha (A) and Omega (W) are the first and the last letters in the Greek alphabet. By using these two letters to describe himself he is saying that everything that can be said or written is completed in him.
190) The city’s description follows the pattern of cities with which John’s readers were familiar: foundations, walls, and gates. The foundations speak of permanence, in contrast to the tents in which “pilgrims and strangers” lived (Heb 11:8-10). The walls and gates speak of Protection. God’s people will never have to fear any enemies. Angels at the gates will act as sentries!
In this city, saints of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant will be united. The twelve gates are identified with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve foundations with the 12 Apostles (see Eph 2:20). John is assuring us that all of God’s believing people will be included in the city (Heb 11:39-40).
191) John had measured the earthly Jerusalem (Rev 11), but now he is invited to measure the heavenly city. Foursquare means “equal on all sides,” so the city might be a cube or a pyramid. More importantly, the fact that it is equal on all sides indicates the perfection of God’s eternal city: nothing is out of order or balance.
The measurements are staggering! If we take a cubit as eighteen inches, then the city walls are 216 feet high! If a furlong is taken as 600 feet (measures differed in ancient days), the city would be about 1,500 miles square! There will be plenty of room for everyone!
192) Building foundations are usually underground, but these foundations will not only be visible but beautifully garnished with precious stones. Each separate foundation will have its own jewel, and the blending of the colors will be magnificent as God’s light shines through.
No one can be dogmatic about the colors of these gems, and it really does not matter. Jasper, as we have seen, is a clear crystal. Sapphire is a blue stone, and chalcedony is probably greenish-blue. The emerald, of course, is green; and the sardonyx is like our onyx, a white stone streaked with brown, though some scholars describe it as red and white. Sardius is a red stone (sometimes described as “blood red”), and chrysolite a yellow quartz Like our modern topaz. Beryl is green and topaz a yellow-green. We are not sure about the chrysoprasus; some think it is a golden-tinted stone, others, an apple-green color. The jacinth is probably blue, though some claim it was yellow, and the amethyst is a rich purple, or blue-red.
193) The Tree of Life was in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), but after sinning, Adam and Eve had to be kept from it (Genesis 3:22) and the way to it guarded by an angel (Genesis 3:24). Here in restored Eden, the tree of life too is restored. Like the other phenomena of the new creation (see 21:14-21) it is unlike anything we now know, producing twelve kinds of fruit, a different kind every month. Moreover, the leaves of the tree are for healing the nations—no longer will there be any curses. Here “healing” seems to mean “making whole.” The “curses” are evils that come upon nations—both Israel and the Gentile nations—due to their continued and unrepented sins; most of the biblical prophets pronounced curses at one time or another.
194) The removal of the curse is from Zech 14:11, and in this context it refers to the reversal of the curse in Eden (Gen 3:16-19. This is the doing away with death.
195) There is found in the Old testament a fear seeing the face of God. This come from Exodus 33:20. In the New Jerusalem God will now be fully disclosed to his people. The people of God will experience being in the presence of God fully
196 The entire Book of Revelation was delivered by Christ through His angel and is for the churches. Christ described Himself as the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. Historically Christ comes from David (Matt 1:1; cf. Isa 11:11; Rev 5:5). Prophetically His coming is like the morning star, the beginning of a bright new day. The Holy Spirit joined with the bride, the church, in extending an invitation to all who heed. Those who hear are encouraged to respond and also to extend the invitation to others. The wonderful promise is given that all those who are thirsty may come and will receive God’s free gift.
This is the wonderful invitation extended to every generation up to the coming of Christ. Those who recognize their need and realize that Christ is the provider of salvation are exhorted to come while there is yet time before the judgment falls and it is too late. As the Scriptures make clear, the gift of eternal life (here called the water of life; cf. 22:1; John 7:37-39) is free. It has been paid for by the death of Christ on the cross and is extended to all who are willing to receive it in simple faith.