John Wesley's Explanatory Notes
Verse 1. I heard a loud voice of a great multitude - Whose blood the great whore had shed. Saying, Hallelujah - This Hebrew word signifies, Praise ye Jah, or Him that is. God named himself to Moses, EHEIEH, that is, I will be, Exodus 3:14; and at the same time, "Jehovah," that is, "He that is, and was, and is to come:" during the trumpet of the seventh angel, he is styled, "He that is and was," Revelation 16:5; and not "He that is to come;" because his long-expected coming is under this trumpet actually present. At length he is styled, "Jah," "He that is;" the past together with the future being swallowed up in the present, the former things being no more mentioned, for the greatness of those that now are. This title is of all others the most peculiar to the everlasting God. The salvation - Is opposed to the destruction which the great whore had brought upon the earth. His power and glory - Appear from the judgment executed on her, and from the setting up his kingdom to endure through all ages.
Verse 2. For true and righteous are his judgments - Thus is the cry of the souls under the altar changed into a song of praise.
Verse 4. And the four and twenty elders, and the four living creatures felt down - The living creatures are nearer the throne than the elders. Accordingly they are mentioned before them, with the praise they render to God, Revelation 4:9,10; ; inasmuch as there the praise moves from the centre to the circumference. But here, when God's judgments are fulfilled, it moves back from the circumference to the centre. Here, therefore, the four and twenty elders are named before the living creatures.
Verse 5. And a voice came forth from the throne - Probably from the four living creatures, saying, Praise our God - The occasion and matter of this song of praise follow immediately after, verses 6, Revelation 19:6 &c.; God was praised before, for his judgment of the great whore, verses 1-4. Revelation 19:1-4 Now for that which follows it: for that the Lord God, the Almighty, takes the kingdom to himself, and avenges himself on the rest of his enemies. Were all these inhabitants of heaven mistaken? If not, there is real, yea, and terrible anger in God.
Verse 6. And I heard the voice of a great multitude. So all his servants did praise him. The Almighty reigneth - More eminently and gloriously than ever before.
Verse 7. The marriage of the Lamb is come - Is near at hand, to be solemnized speedily. What this implies, none of "the spirits of just men," even in paradise, yet know. O what things are those which are yet behind! And what purity of heart should there be, to meditate upon them! And his wife hath made herself ready - Even upon earth; but in a far higher sense, in that world. After a time allowed for this, the new Jerusalem comes down, both made ready and adorned, Revelation 21:2.
Verse 8. And it is given to her - By God. The bride is all holy men, the whole invisible church. To be arrayed in fine linen, white and clean - This is an emblem of the righteousness of the saints - Both of their justification and sanctification.
Verse 9. And he - The angel, saith to me, Write - St. John seems to have been so amazed at these glorious sights, that he needeth to be reminded of this. Happy are they who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb - Called to glory. And he saith - After a little pause.
Verse 10. And I fell before his feet to worship him - It seems, mistaking him for the angel of the covenant. But he saith, See thou do it not|-In the original, it is only, See not|, with a beautiful abruptness. To pray to or worship the highest creature is flat idolatry. I am thy fellowservant and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus - I am now employed as your fellowservant, to testify of the Lord Jesus, by the same Spirit which inspired the prophets of old.
Verse 11. And I saw the heaven opened - This is a new and peculiar opening of it, in order to show the magnificent expedition of Christ and his attendants, against his great adversary. And behold a white horse - Many little regarded Christ, when he came meek, "riding upon an ass;" but what will they say, when he goes forth upon his white horse, with the sword of his mouth? White -Such as generals use in solemn triumph. And he that sitteth on him, called Faithful - In performing all his promises. And True -In executing all his threatenings. And in righteousness - With the utmost justice. He judgeth and maketh war - Often the sentence and execution go together.
Verse 12. And his eyes are a flame of fire - They were said to be as or like a flame of fire, before, Revelation 1:14; an emblem of his omniscience. And upon his head are many diadems - For he is king of all nations. And he hath a name written, which none knoweth but himself - As God he is incomprehensible to every creature.
Verse 13. And he is clothed in a vesture dipped in blood - The blood of the enemies he hath already conquered. Isaiah 63:1, &c
Verse 15. And he shall rule them - Who are not slain by his sword. With a rod of iron - That is, if they will not submit to his golden sceptre. And he treadeth the wine press of the wrath of God - That is, he executes his judgments on the ungodly. This ruler of the nations was born (or appeared as such) immediately after the seventh angel began to sound. He now appears, not as a child, but as a victorious warrior. The nations have long ago felt his "iron rod," partly while the heathen Romans, after their savage persecution of the Christians, themselves groaned under numberless plagues and calamities, by his righteous vengeance; partly, while other heathens have been broken in pieces by those who bore the Christian name. For although the cruelty, for example, of the Spaniards in America, was unrighteous and detestable, yet did God therein execute his righteous judgment on the unbelieving nations; but they shall experience his iron rod as they never did yet, and then will they all return to their rightful Lord.
Verse 16. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh - That is, on the part of his vesture which is upon his thigh. A name written - It was usual of old, for great personages in the eastern countries, to have magnificent titles affixed to their garments.
Verse 17. Gather yourselves together to the great supper of God - As to a great feast, which the vengeance of God will soon provide; a strongly figurative expression, (taken from Ezekiel 39:17,) denoting the vastness of the ensuing slaughter.
Verse 19. And I saw the kings of the earth - The ten kings mentioned Revelation 17:12; who had now drawn the other kings of the earth to them, whether Popish, Mahometan, or pagan. Gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse - All beings, good and evil, visible and invisible, will be concerned in this grand contest. See Zechariah 14:1, &c.
Verse 20. The false prophet, who had wrought the miracles before him - And therefore shared in his punishment; these two ungodly men were cast alive - Without undergoing bodily death. Into the lake of fire - And that before the devil himself, Revelation 20:10. Here is the last of the beast. After several repeated strokes of omnipotence, he is gone alive into hell. There were two that went alive into heaven; perhaps there are two that go alive into hell. It may be, Enoch and Elijah entered at once into glory, without first waiting in paradise; the beast and the false prophet plunge at once into the extremest degree of torment, without being reserved in chains of darkness till the judgment of the great day. Surely, none but the beast of Rome would have hardened himself thus against the God he pretended to adore, or refused to have repented under such dreadful, repeated visitations! Well is he styled a beast, from his carnal and vile affections; a wild beast, from his savage and cruel spirit! The rest were slain - A like difference is afterwards made between the devil, and Gog and Magog, Revelation 20:9,10.
Verse 21. Here is a most magnificent description of the overthrow of the beast and his adherents. It has, in particular, one exquisite beauty; that, after exhibiting the two opposite armies, and all the apparatus for a battle, verses 11-19; Revelation 19:11-19 then follows immediately, verse 20, 19:20 the account of the victory, without one word of an engagement or fighting. Here is the most exact propriety; for what struggle can there be between omnipotence, and the power of all the creation united against it! Every description must have fallen short of this admirable silence.
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