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Revelation 19

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
(18:21-19:4) Heaven Exults Over Babylon Praises in Heaven (18:24-19:4) Songs of Victory in Heaven
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb 19:1-10 19:1-4 The Wedding Feast of the Lamb 19:1-4
19:5-8   19:5-8 19:5-8 19:5-10
19:9-10   19:9-10 19:9  
      19:10a-b  
      19:10c  
The Rider on the White Horse Christ on a White Horse The Victory of Christ and His Heavenly Armies The Rider on the White Horse The First Eschatological Battle
19:11-16 19:11-16 19:11-16 19:11-16 19:11-16
  The Beast and His Armies Defeated      
19:17-21 19:17-21 19:17-21 19:17-18 19:17-18
      19:19-21 19:19-21

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

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

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

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

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO REVELATION 19:1-21

A. The chapter division in this section of Revelation was made in an inappropriate place (chapter divisions, paragraph divisions, verse divisions, capitalizations, and punctuation are not part of the inspired original Greek text). Revelation 19:1-10 is obviously the concluding remarks about the destruction of the great whore described in 17:1-18:24. As people rejoiced over the fall of Assyria and Babylon in the OT, now holy angels (cf. v. 4) rejoice over the fall of Babylon, the harlot (i.e., human government apart from God), as did the believers in 18:20.

 

B. The series of praises of 19:1-10 is in response to 18:20.

 

C. This is generally understood as being the chapter which describes the Second Coming of Christ (cf. 19:11-16). But it must be seen that this chapter closes another cycle of judgment. The return of Christ is described in this chapter in very Jewish terms, which seem to be altogether different from the Pauline description of I Thess. 4:14-18. The Jews expected the Messiah to return in the manner described in vv. 11-16. The NT describes the Second Coming in several different, but related, ways. Most Christians see the end-time in terms of Jesus' Mt. Olivet discourse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) and Paul's discussion of the "man of sin" (cf. II Thessalonians 2).

 

D. To those suffering persecution, Jesus as Warrior, Defender, and Judge was a comforting perspective.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:1-5a
 1After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God; 2because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her." 3And a second time they said, "Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever." 4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, "Amen. Hallelujah!" 5And a voice came from the throne, saying,

19:1 "I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven" This is an allusion to Jer. 51:48. Chapters 17-18 draw heavily from Jeremiah 50-51 (the destruction of Babylon) for their imagery. This same phrase or concept is also found in Rev. 11:15 (the Second Coming after the seventh trumpet) and 19:6. There has been much discussion about who the multitude might be, but it is simply speculation as to whether it is the faithful angelic host, redeemed humanity, or both.

▣ "Hallelujah" This Hebrew term means "praise YHWH" (BDB 237 II and 219). This is the only occurrence of this term in the NT. It appears in this context four times: vv. 1,3,4, and 6. The OT background to this is found in the praise Psalms used in the liturgy of both the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. 104:35; 105:45; 106:48; 111:1; 112:1; 113:1; 116:19; 117:2; 125:1,21; 146:1,10; 147:1;148:1,14; 149:1,9; 150:1,6). A parallel phrase is found in v. 5b.

"salvation" This characterizes God's desire for all mankind (cf. 9:20-21; 14:6-7; 16:9,11; 21:7; 22:17; Ezek. 18:23,30-32; John 3:16; 4:42; I Tim. 2:4; 4:10; II Pet. 3:9; I John 4:14). It can refer to the OT concept of physical deliverance, but probably relates to a total, eternal, cosmic salvation for believing individuals, and all physical creation (cf. Acts 3:21; Rom. 8:18-25; Col. 1:19).

▣ "glory and power" Throughout the book heavenly choirs break into songs of praise to God. Often these praise songs are the key to interpreting the immediate context.

19:2 "because His judgments are true and righteous" This may be an allusion to Ps. 19:9; 119:138 and 142. God's judgments are appropriate and fair (seen in the three cycles of judgment). This would have been very encouraging to a group of Christians undergoing persecution (cf. v. 11; 15:3,4; 16:7).

▣ "the great harlot" This fallen, anti-God world system goes by several names:

1. the great city

2. Babylon

3. the prostitute (cf. 14:8; 16:19-21; 17:1-18:24)

Verses 1-4 continue the context from chapters 17 and 18.

▣ "who was corrupting the earth with her immorality" This refers to materialism, idolatry, or immoral pagan fertility worship, or emperor worship (cf. 2:14,20,21; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2,4; 18:3).

SPECIAL TOPIC: DESTROY, RUIN, CORRUPT (PHTHEIRŌ)

▣ "He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on Her" This may be an allusion to Deut. 32:43 or II Kgs. 9:7 (cf. Rom. 12:19). God acts on behalf of the prayers of His saints (cf. 6:9-11; Matt. 7:7-8; 21:22; John 21:22; 14:13-14; 15:7,16; 16:23-24, 26; James 4:2; I John 3:22; 5:14-16).

The anti-God world system has always been involved in the persecution and killing of God's people. God allows evil to reveal its true intentions (cf. 13:5,7,15).

19:3 "Her smoke rises up forever and ever" This is an allusion to Isa. 34:10 which describes universal judgment. We must remember that this literary genre (apocalyptic) uses symbols to communicate truth. The truth here seems to be one of two possible foci:

1. eternal punishment (cf. 6:10; Matt. 3:12; 25:41; Luke 3:17; Mark 9:43,48)

2. complete destruction (cf. Isa. 34:8-10). This same truth is found in Rev. 14:11

 

19:4 "the twenty-four elders" See Special Topic at 4:4.

▣ "Amen" This term is used in 1:6,7; 3:14; 5:14 and 7:12; 19:4; 22:20; and 22:21. It is a form of the OT Hebrew word for "faith" (emeth, cf. Hab. 2:4). Its original etymology was "to be firm" or "to be sure." It came to be applied in the OT to the trustworthiness of God. However, in the NT, its use is primarily liturgical in the sense of "I agree" or "I affirm." See SPECIAL TOPIC: AMEN at 1:6.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the Old Testament (אמן)

19:5 "and a voice came from the throne saying" Because of the phrase "our God" (v. 5b), this must be an angel, not Deity. Jesus never calls God "our God" (Michael MaGill, NT Transline, p. 1011).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:5b-6a
 5b"Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great." 6Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying,

▣ "Give praise to our God" This is an allusion to Ps. 115:13; 134:1; 135:1. The term is a present active imperative, but it is a different term than "Hallelujah," which is found in vv. 1,3,4 and 6. It is theologically unusual that an angel would use the words, "Our God," but v. 10 shows that angels identify themselves not only with the saints in service, but also with the saints in their testimony concerning Jesus.

▣ "all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great" This is an allusion to Ps. 115:13 (used earlier in Rev. 11:18).

19:6 These descriptive phrases were used

1. of God in Ezek. 43:2

2. of a powerful angel in Dan. 10:6

3. of Christ in Rev. 1:15

4. of the redeemed community in Rev. 14:2

5. in context this seems to be an angelic choir

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:6b-8
 6b"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. 8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."

"the Lord our God, the Almighty" This threefold title for God from the OT (YHWH, Elohim, and El Shaddai, see SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 4:8) appears in various forms in 1:8; 4:8;11:7; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:15; and 21:22.

The pronoun "our" is very unusual because it is spoken by an angel. It appears in no other occurrence with this threefold title. However, the textual evidence for its inclusion is strong.

1. "Lord the God of us" in an early corrector of MS א2 (UBS4 puts this in the text but gives it a "C" rating)

2. "the God, the Lord of us" in the original MS of א*

3. in some later minuscule Greek texts, "the God of us" (MSS 051, 209)

4. "Lord God" (MS A)

5. "Lord" (Peshitta and Coptic versions)

 

▣ "reigns" There has been much discussion over this aorist tense verb (cf. 11:17). Some see it as God beginning to reign (an ingressive or inceptive aorist, cf. Ps. 93:1; 97:1, NJB). However, God has always reigned (a constative or gnomic aorist, cf. Ps. 99:1). Some see it as God reigning on the earth now as He has in heaven (a culminative or effective aorist, cf. Matt. 6:10). The end of time and the consummation of God's kingdom occurs several times in Revelation at the end of the different cycles of judgment (seals, trumpets, bowls). This seems to be parallel to 11:15. It may be an allusion to Isa. 24:23; 52:7 or Micah 4:7. See SPECIAL TOPIC: REIGNING IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD at 5:10.

19:7 The first two verbs in v. 7 are subjunctives.

1. let us rejoice – present active

2. let us exult – present active

The third verb has several variants.

1. dōsōmen (irregular aorist active subjunctive) – MS P

2. dōsomen (future), "we will give glory" – MSS א2, A

3. dōmen (aorist active subjunctive) – MS א*

Numbers 1 and 3 would be translated like the first two verbs, "let us give glory." Number 2 would be translated "we will give glory" (RSV). The UBS4 gives #1 a "C" rating; the UBS3 gave it a "D" rating. The committee could not decide which was original.

▣ "give the glory to Him" This may be a metaphorical phrase for trusting, believing, or placing faith in Christ. In 11:13 it could mean that some repented and became believers as a result of God's acts of judgment. This phrase is used of God's people in 14:7 and of tormented unbelievers' refusal to worship God in 16:9.

▣ "the marriage of the Lamb" "Lamb" has an OT sacrificial connotation (cf. Lev. 1-7). This phrase links a sacrifice element with a communal meal (peace offering). There is an allusion to this marriage feast in Matt. 8:11; 26:29; Luke 14:15; 22:16. It focuses on the Jewish marriage custom of a betrothal period, a waiting period, and a seven-day wedding feast. It is interesting to note that within a few passages the metaphor changes to God's people, not as bride, but as wedding guests (cf. v. 9 and Matt. 22:1-14). The metaphor will change again in 21:2,9 to God's people as "the New Jerusalem." The concept of a marital relationship between God and His Church is found in the OT in Isa. 54:4-8; 62:5; Jer. 31:32; Ezekiel 16; and Hosea 2:14-19. The metaphor is seen in the NT in II Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:21-31; Rev. 19:9; 21:2,9; 22:17. Also, Jesus is depicted as a bridegroom (cf. Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35; John 3:29). Several parables in Matthew continue this theme (cf. Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13). Marriage may be the best human example of the concept of a biblical covenant.

▣ "His bride has made herself ready" This is an aorist active indicative. Some have interpreted this as meritorious human works. The aorist passive of v. 8 shows this interpretation cannot be true. This context affirms the paradoxical relationship between God's initiating activity (cf. John 6:44,65) seen in the invitation of v. 9, which is a perfect passive participle, and mankind's necessary faith response (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21). This paradoxical relationship can be seen in Phil. 2:12-13. It is supported by the fact that in v. 8 God gives permission to dress, but the dress refers to the good deeds (righteous acts) of God's people (cf. 14:13; Eph. 2:10; I Tim. 5:25).

In Word Pictures in the New Testament A. T. Robertson has an interesting comment on v. 7. "Three metaphors of women appear in the Apocalypse (the Mother in chapter 12, the Harlot in 13 to 19, and the Bride of Christ here to the end). 'The first and third present the Church under two different aspects of her life, while the second answers to her great rival and enemy (Swete)'" (p. 449).

19:8 "the righteous deeds of the saints" The term "righteous acts" (dikaiōma) has several usages in the NT.

1. it refers to God's acts of justice (cf. 15:4)

2. it refers to Jesus' act of dying on behalf of mankind (cf. Rom. 5:16,18)

3. it refers to believers' lives of justice (cf. 19:8)

4. it refers to a decree, a law, or an ordinance, usually the Law of Moses (cf. Luke 1:6; Rom. 1:32; 2:26; 8:4; Heb. 9:1,10).

The main theological issue related to this family of Greek terms (dikaioō, dikaiōsis, dikaios, dikaiosune) is how fallen mankind can claim to be right, righteous, just, justified. It must be stated emphatically that this spiritual condition was not accomplished by human effort (cf. Rom. 3:21-30; Eph. 2:8-9), but by Divine choice (the Father), through a Divine act (the Son), and the Divine drawing of the Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65). Mankind can only receive the finished result (cf. Rom. 5; II Cor. 5:21).

The goal of right standing is right living, Christlike living (cf. Rom. 9:29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10). Righteous living is evidence of a relationship with God (cf. 14:13), not the grounds of that relationship (cf. Gal. 3:1-3)! See Special Topic at 19:11.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:9-10
 9Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" And he said to me, "These are true words of God." 10Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

19:9 "Blessed are" This is the fourth of seven blessings to the redeemed in Revelation (cf. 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14).

▣ "those who are invited" This is a Perfect passive participle, which emphasizes God's call to salvation (cf. 17:14; John 6:44,65).

▣ "These are the true words of God" This phrase emphasizes the trustworthiness of the angel's message (cf. 21:5; 22:6).

19:10 "Then I fell at his feet to worship him" There has been much discussion about John's attempt to worship an angel (cf. 22:8). Possibly John included it intentionally as a word against angel worship (cf. 22:9; Col. 2:18). John was awed by this powerful angelic person and may have assumed that he was either a divine personification (cf. Gen. 16:7-13; 22:11-15; 31:11,13; 48:15-16; Exod. 32,4; 13:21; 14:19; Jdgs. 2:1; 6:22-23; 13:3-22; Zech. 3:1-2; Luke 24:5) or a physical manifestation of the Spirit (cf. 22:8-9).

"I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus" John called himself by this same term in 1:1. The angel identifies himself not only as a servant of God (cf. Deut. 33:2; Ps. 103:21; Dan. 17:10) but also of redeemed mankind (cf. Heb. 1:14). This angel also identifies himself with the testimony of Jesus, which is normally said of saints rather than angels (cf. 12:17).

▣ "for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" This is a highly unusual phrase and has been widely interpreted. It may refer to either

1. Jesus as the focus of prophecy

2. the fact that prophecy has returned as a sign that Jesus has brought in the new age of the Spirit (cf. 1:2; 6:9; 12:17 and 14:12 for a similar use of this phrase)

3. Jesus is the very breath of prophecy (similar to "God breathed" of II Tim. 3:16)

The context shows that those who have trusted in Christ have been led by the Spirit. No one can come to Christ unless

1. the Spirit woos him (cf. John 6:44,65)

2. helps him understand the gospel message

3. encourages him to trust Christ

4. baptizes him into Christ

5. forms Christ in him (cf. John 16:8-11)

The Spirit's ministry is magnifying Christ!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:11-16
 11And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."

19:11 "And I saw heaven opened" This is a perfect passive verbal form and may relate to Ezek. 1:1. Several times in Revelation heaven has been opened (in partial ways) to reveal truth to John in progressive stages (cf. 4:1;11:19; 15:5). See Special Topic at 3:7.

▣ "a white horse" The bridegroom in the previous paragraph is revealed further as an all-conquering warrior. This describes Jesus' coming as the Jews expected Him the first time, a powerful military general. This is somewhat different from Paul's description of the Second Coming (the Parousia) found in I Thess. 4:13-18. For a group of persecuted Christians this is an extremely encouraging metaphor. Interpreters must remember

1. that this is not a full and complete discussion of the Second Coming

2. that it is clothed in symbolic, apocalyptic language

3. that it is true; our God, in Christ, is personally coming again to receive His own (cf. John 14:2-3) and to judge all mankind according to their deeds (cf. Gal. 6:7)

 

▣ "He who sat on it" Although there is a white horse in 6:2, this is obviously different.

▣ "called faithful and true" The terms "Faithful and True" in Hebrew convey trustworthiness (cf. Rev. 3:14 as well as 1:5; 3:7).

SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUTH" (THE CONCEPT) IN JOHN'S WRITINGS

SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUE" (THE TERM) IN JOHN'S WRITINGS

▣ "in righteousness He judges and wages war" This is an allusion to Isa. 11:3-5 (cf. Isa. 9:7; 16:5; 32:1; Ps. 96:13), which describes the New Age of righteousness, the New Age of the Spirit. See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS

19:12 "His eyes are a flame of fire" This is a description of Jesus from 1:14 and 2:18. It has an OT angelic background from Dan. 10:6.

▣ "On His head are many diadems" This refers to royal crowns. Jesus has more crowns than

1. the rider on the white horse in 6:2 (which symbolizes effective warfare)

2. Satan (the red dragon of 12:3)

3. the beast of 13:1

 

▣ "and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself" This may be an allusion to Rev. 2:17, but if it is, its meaning is still uncertain. Some see it as an allusion to the ancient belief that to know the name of gods was to have power over them. Others believe that it represents the fact that no one can completely know the character of Christ. Since the title is unknown, it does not refer to any of the titles of Jesus ("Faithful and True" of v. 11, and "The Word of God" of v. 13) found in this passage (or in the book) including "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" of v. 16.

19:13 "He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood" This is an allusion to a poem of YHWH's judgment from Isa. 63:3, which is also alluded to in v. 15. The term "dipped" (MS A, UBS4 gives it a B rating) or "sprinkled" (MSS א*, P from Isa. 63:3) is in perfect tense; commentators disagree as to whether it refers to

1. the blood of his enemies, which seems to be the focus of the paragraph and is reflected in a Targum on Gen. 49:10-11 (however, in context, the battle has not occurred)

2. His own redemptive, sacrificial blood in which the saints have washed their own garments white (cf. 7:14)

3. it is even possible it is the blood of His witnesses, who are precious to Him

In context option #1 seems best.

▣ "and His name is called The Word of God" This is the term logos, which links the book of the Revelation with the Apostle John, for he is the only biblical author who uses this as a title of Jesus (cf. John 1:1,14; I John 1:1).

The gospel is both a person (the Living Word of God, Jesus) and a message (the written Word of God, the Bible). This same dual aspect is reflected in the biblical use of the term "faith," which is both a personal act of welcoming Jesus and a cognitive act of believing doctrinal truths ("the faith," cf. Jude vv. 3,20).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HEBREW AND GREEK BACKGROUND OF LOGOS

19:14 "the armies which are in heaven" This has been interpreted in two ways.

1. Because of 17:14 and the description of the saints in v. 8 in this immediate context, many have assumed that this refers to the saints.

2. Because of the OT background of Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17; and Zech. 14:5 as well as the NT passages of Matt. 13:41; 16:27; Mark 8:38; 13:27; Luke 9:26; I Thess. 3:13; II Thess. 1:7, many believe that it must refer to the angels.

This same ambiguity is present in many passages.

19:15 "from His mouth" This is an allusion to Isa. 11:4 and Rev. 1:16 and 2:16. This same judgmental metaphor has been found in Jewish apocalyptic literature (cf. IV Esdras 12:6; the Psalms of Solomon 17:10,45,49; and the book of I Enoch 62:6).

▣ "a sharp sword" This is a metaphor for the power of the gospel or of God's spoken word (cf. Gen. 1; Isa. 55:11; John 1:1; II Thess. 7:8), not a literal description.

The end-time destruction of rebellious human armies is depicted in Ezek. 38-39. This destruction is accomplished by (1) the sword (cf. Ezek. 38:21 and Rev. 19:15,21) or (2) fire from heaven, cf. Ezek. 38:22; 39:6; and Rev. 20:9. This parallel between Revelation 19 and Revelation 20 (i.e., the different ways of destroying the armies of the nations), both of which reflect Ezekiel 38-39, implies a recapitulation. The Second Coming of Christ in 19 is repeated in different language in 20:1-10. Recapitulation has already been seen between the seals, trumpets, and bowls.

"the nations" The OT origin of these armies is the godless nations listed in Ezekiel 38 from all over the Ancient Near East (cf. vv. 2,5,6,13). John is using the end-time battle of Ezekiel 38-39 (or possibly Psalm 2) as the source of his imagery about the eschatological battle between good and evil! Jesus has by far the biggest sword! See notes at 2:26 and 10:11.

▣ "He will rule them with a rod of iron" This is the second of three descriptions about the one riding on the white horse. This description of judgment comes from Ps. 2:9 and 110:5-6 (cf. Rev. 2:27; 12:5).

▣ "and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty" This third description of judgment is an allusion to Isa. 63:2-3; Jer. 51:33; Lam. 1:15; Joel 3:13 (cf. Rev. 14:19-20). The color of crushed grapes reminded the ancients of blood, death, and battle!

For "wrath of God" see note at 7:14.

19:16 "on His thigh a name written" There has been much discussion about the term "His thigh":

1. this was the place that a sword normally hung

2. this was the place that His garment was most clearly seen on horseback

3. it was the strongest muscle of his body and was symbolic of His might

 

"KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS" Does this refer to one name or two? Revelation 17:14 shows that it refers to one name (cf. I Tim. 6:15). It has two possible OT backgrounds:

1. a description of YHWH (cf. Deut. 10:17 and Enoch 9:4)

2. a Babylonian and later Persian title of deity transferred to YHWH (cf. Dan. 2:37)

It is interesting to note that this phrase in Aramaic adds up to 777, in contradistinction to the number of the beast, which is 666. Ultimate perfection versus ultimate imperfection.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:17-18
 17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great."

19:17 "to all the birds" This gruesome paragraph is an allusion to two OT passages which deal with battle scenes. This context is the same battle discussed in 16:12-16, called Armageddon. The predatory birds are described as drawn to battlefields as in I Sam. 17:46 (cf. Matt. 24:28; Luke 17:37) and Ezek. 39:17-20, which is the end-time battle of Gog and Magog. John often uses the OT imagery in new ways. In chapter 20 the battle of Gog and Magog deals with Satan after the millennium, whereas the battle in chapter 19 occurs before the millennium and deals with the wild beast and his false prophet.

▣ "Come, assemble for the great supper of God" The word translated "come" is an adverb used as an aorist active imperative plural which matches the second word, "assemble," which is an aorist passive imperative plural. This is an antithesis to the Lamb's banquet mentioned in vv. 7 and 9. The Lamb invites lost people to come and be saved and join His wedding feast. But the angel invites the birds of prey to come to the feast of dead bodies (and dead souls) at the great end-time battle (cf. Jer. 12:9; Ezek. 39:17). God's wrath is real and symbolized as a feast, on the flesh of His enemies (cf. Isa. 34:6; Jer. 12:12; 46:10; Zeph. 1:7).

19:18 This goes back to 6:15, which is also an eschatological setting where these same general categories of mankind were also mentioned. The horror of being unburied was especially shocking to the people of the Ancient Near East.

The victorious return of Jesus occurs at the end of each judgment cycle: seals, 6:12-17; trumpets, 11:15-18; and bowls, 19:1-21.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:19-21
 19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. 20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

19:19 The actual battle begins. This is an allusion to Psalm 2. Does this refer to a specific, literal end-time battle, or is it symbolic of the struggle between good and evil? The genre of Revelation implies symbolic; the parallel passages in Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; and II Thessalonians 2 imply literal. This ambiguity is the source of great disagreement in the interpretation of Revelation by godly people. Dogmatism is surely inappropriate!

19:20 "the false prophet who performed the signs" He is the second beast (cf. 13:11-18; 16:13). This goes back to 13:12-13, where the false prophet's relationship to the sea beast is a parody of the Holy Spirit's relationship to Christ.

▣ "received the mark of the beast" (cf. 13:16-17).

▣ "these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire" The phrase "lake of fire" is unique to the book of the Revelation, but is a synonym for the term Gehenna (see Special Topic at 1:18), which Jesus used so often to denote Hell. The specific OT allusion may be to Isa. 30:23-33 and Dan. 7:11. There are so many prophetic passages that connect judgment with fire or burning. This theme of an eternal fire is developed in apocalyptic Judaism (cf. Enoch 27:1ff; 54:1ff; 56:3ff; 90:26; IV Ezra 7:36; Apoc. of Baruch 59:10; 85:13 [list taken from George E. Ladd, Revelation, p. 258]). This phrase is used in Revelation in 20:10,14; 21:8. It was a place prepared for Satan and his angels, but humans who rebel against God will also find this as their ultimate dwelling place. It is the final dwelling place of Satan. It is the natural result of rebellion against God and is a permanent form of the abyss (cf. Matt. 25:46; Rev. 9:11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1,3).

19:21 Those who received that mark of the beast (cf. 13:16; 14:9,11), the very ones who had persecuted the believers, are now killed by the word of Christ (as the sea beast will be, cf. II Thess. 2:8).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

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

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

1. List the different groups who praise God in vv. 1-8 and the reasons for their praise.

2. Where does the concept of the marriage feast of the Lamb come from and what are its implications?

3. What does v. 10 imply about angels?

4. Explain the significance of verses 11-16 as they apply to Christ.

5. What battle is described in vv. 17-21? How many battles are there in the End-time?