Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
ZION WITH THE 144,000.
PROCLAIMED BEFORE THE
DOOM OF THE
WORSHIPPERS, BY A
BLESSEDNESS OF THE
DEAD IN THE
In contrast to the beast, false prophet, and apostate Church
and introductory to the announcement of judgments about to descend on
them and the world
stand here the redeemed, "the divine kernel of humanity, the positive
fruits of the history of the world and the Church"
[AUBERLEN]. The fourteenth through sixteenth
chapters describe the preparations for the Messianic judgment. As the
fourteenth chapter begins with the 144,000 of Israel
no longer exposed to trial as then, but now triumphant), so the
fifteenth chapter begins with those who have overcome from among
the Gentiles (compare
with Re 7:9-17);
the two classes of elect forming together the whole company of
transfigured saints who shall reign with Christ.
1. a--A, B, C, Coptic, and ORIGEN
Lamb . . . on . . . Sion--having left His
position "in the midst of the throne," and now taking His stand on
his Father's name--A, B, and C read, "His name and His
in--Greek, "upon." God's and Christ's name here
answers to the seal "upon their foreheads" in
As the 144,000 of Israel are "the first-fruits"
so "the harvest"
is the general assembly of Gentile saints to be translated by Christ as
His first act in assuming His kingdom, prior to His judgment
the last seven vials) on the Antichristian world, in executing which
His saints shall share. As Noah and Lot were taken seasonably out of
the judgment, but exposed to the trial to the last moment
[DE BURGH], so those who
shall reign with Christ shall first suffer with Him, being delivered
out of the judgments, but not out of the trials. The Jews
are meant by "the saints of the Most High": against them Antichrist
makes war, changing their times and laws; for true Israelites
cannot join in the idolatry of the beast, any more than true
Christians. The common affliction will draw closely together, in
opposing the beast's worship, the Old Testament and New Testament
people of God. Thus the way is paved for Israel's conversion. This last
utter scattering of the holy people's power leads them, under
the Spirit, to seek Messiah, and to cry at His approach, "Blessed is He
that cometh in the name of the Lord."
2. from--Greek, "out of."
voice of many waters--as is the voice of Himself, such also is
the voice of His people.
I heard the voice of harpers--A, B, C, and
ORIGEN read, "the voice which I heard (was) as of
3. sung--Greek, "sing."
as it were--So A, C, and Vulgate read. It is "as it were"
a new song; for it is, in truth, as old as God's eternal
purpose. But B, Syriac, Coptic, ORIGEN, and
ANDREAS omit these words.
(Re 5:9, 10).
The song is that of victory after conflict with the dragon, beast, and
false prophet: never sung before, for such a conflict had never been
fought before; therefore new: till now the kingdom of
Christ on earth had been usurped; they sing the new song in
anticipation of His blood-bought kingdom with His saints.
four beasts--rather, as Greek, "four living creatures."
The harpers and singers evidently include the 144,000: so the parallel
(Re 15:2, 3),
where the same act is attributed to the general company of the
saints, the harvest
from all nations. Not as ALFORD, "the harpers and
song are in heaven, but the 144,000 are on earth."
redeemed--literally, "purchased." Not even the angels can learn
that song, for they know not experimentally what it is to have
"come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes white in the
blood of the Lamb"
in contrast to the apostate Church, Babylon
spiritually "a harlot"
Their not being defiled with women means they were not led
astray from Christian faithfulness by the tempters who jointly
constitute the spiritual "harlot."
follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth--in glory, being
especially near His person; the fitting reward of their following Him
so fully on earth.
being the--rather, "as a first-fruit." Not merely
a "first-fruit" in the sense in which all believers are so, but
Israel's 144,000 elect are the first-fruit, the Jewish and
Gentile elect Church is the harvest; in a further sense, the
whole of the transfigured and translated Church which reigns with
Christ at His coming, is the first-fruit, and the consequent
general ingathering of Israel and the nations, ending in the last
judgment, is the full and final harvest.
5. guile--So ANDREAS in one copy. But A, B,
C, ORIGEN, and ANDREAS in
other copies read, "falsehood." Compare with English Version
for--So B, Syriac, Coptic, ORIGEN,
and ANDREAS read. But A and C omit.
without fault--Greek, "blameless": in respect to the
sincerity of their fidelity to Him. Not absolutely, and in themselves
blameless; but regarded as such on the ground of His
righteousness in whom alone they trusted, and whom they faithfully
served by His Spirit in them. The allusion seems to be to
Ps 15:1, 2.
"stood on Mount Sion."
before the throne of God--A, B, C, Syriac, Coptic,
ORIGEN, and ANDREAS omit
these words. The oldest Vulgate manuscript supports them.
6. Here begins the portion relating to the Gentile world, as the
former portion related to Israel. Before the end the Gospel is
to be preached for a WITNESS unto all
nations: not that all nations shall be converted, but all nations
shall have had the opportunity given them of deciding whether they will
be for, or against, Christ. Those thus preached to are "they
that dwell (so A, Coptic, and Syriac read. But B, C,
ORIGEN, Vulgate, CYPRIAN, 312, read, 'SIT,' compare
having their settled home) on the earth," being of earth earthy:
this last season of grace is given them, if yet they may repent, before
descends: if not, they will be left without excuse, as the world which
resisted the preaching of Noah in the the hundred twenty years "while
the long-suffering of God waited." "So also the prophets gave the
people a last opportunity of repentance before the Babylonian
destruction of Jerusalem, and our Lord and His apostles before the
Roman destruction of the holy city" [AUBERLEN].
The Greek for "unto" (epi, in A and C) means literally,
"upon," or "over," or "in respect to"
So also "TO every nation" (Greek,
"epi," in A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac,
CYPRIAN, and PRIMASIUS).
This, perhaps, implies that the Gospel, though diffused over the
globe, shall not come savingly unto any save the elect. The
world is not to be evangelized till Christ shall come: meanwhile, God's
purpose is "to take out of the Gentiles a people for His name," to be
witnesses of the effectual working of His Spirit during the
counter-working of "the mystery of iniquity."
everlasting gospel--the Gospel which announces the glad
tidings of the everlasting kingdom of Christ, about to ensue
immediately after the "judgment" on Antichrist, announced as imminent
As the former angel "flying through the midst of heaven"
announced "woe," so this angel "flying in the midst of heaven" announced
joy. The three angels making this last proclamation of the Gospel,
the fall of Babylon
the harlot, and the judgment on the beast worshippers
the voice from heaven respecting the blessed dead
the vision of the Son of man on the cloud
and the vintage
form the compendious summary, amplified in detail in the rest of the
7. Fear God--the forerunner to embracing the love of God
manifested in the Gospel. Repentance accompanies faith.
give glory to him--and not to the beast (compare
the hour of his judgment--"The hour" implies the definite
time. "Judgment," not the general judgment, but that up on Babylon,
the beast, and his worshippers
worship him that made heaven--not Antichrist (compare
sea . . . fountains--distinguished also in
Re 8:8, 10.
8. another--So Vulgate. But A, B, Syriac, and
ANDREAS add, "a second"; "another, a second
Babylon--here first mentioned; identical with the harlot,
the apostate Church; distinct from the beast, and judged
is fallen--anticipation of
A, Vulgate, Syriac, and ANDREAS support the
second "is fallen." But B, C, and Coptic omit it.
that great city--A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and
Coptic omit "city." Then translate, "Babylon the great." The
ulterior and exhaustive fulfilment of
because--So ANDREAS. But A, C,
Vulgate, and Syriac read, "which." B and Coptic
omit it. Even reading "which," we must understand it as giving the
reason of her fall.
all nations--A, B and C read, "all the nations."
the wine of the wrath of her fornication--the wine of the
wrath of God, the consequence of her fornication. As she
made the nations drunk with the wine of her fornication, so she herself
shall be made drunk with the wine of God's wrath.
9. A, B, C, and ANDREAS read, "another, a
third angel." Compare with this verse
Re 13:15, 16.
10. The same--Greek, "he also," as the just and
wine of . . . wrath of God--
without mixture--whereas wine was so commonly mixed with
water that to mix wine is used in Greek for to pour
out wine; this wine of God's wrath is undiluted;
there is no drop of water to cool its heat. Naught of grace or hope is
blended with it. This terrible threat may well raise us above the fear
of man's threats. This unmixed cup is already mingled and
prepared for Satan and the beast's followers.
indignation--Greek, "orges," "abiding wrath," But
the Greek for "wrath" above (Greek, "thumou") is
boiling indignation, from (Greek, "thuo") a root
meaning "to boil"; this is temporary ebullition of anger; that is
lasting [AMMONIUS], and accompanied with a purpose
of vengeance [ORIGEN on Psalm 2:5].
tormented . . . in the presence of . . .
(Ps 49:14; 58:10; 139:21;
God's enemies are regarded by the saints as their enemies, and when the
day of probation is past, their mind shall be so entirely one with
God's, that they shall rejoice in witnessing visibly the judicial
vindication of God's righteousness in sinners' punishment.
11. for ever and ever--Greek, "unto ages of ages."
no rest day nor night--Contrast the very different sense in
which the same is said of the four living creatures in heaven, "They
rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy"; yet they do "rest"
in another sense; they rest from sin and sorrow, weariness and
weakness, trial and temptation
the lost have no rest from sin and Satan, terror, torment, and
12. Here, &c.--resumed from
In the fiery ordeal of persecution which awaits all who will not
worship the beast, the faith and patience of the
followers of God and Jesus shall be put to the test, and proved.
patience--Greek, "hupomene," "patient, persevering
endurance." The second "here" is omitted in A, B, C, Vulgate,
Syriac, Coptic, and PRIMASIUS. Translate,
"Here is the endurance of the saints, who keep," &c.
the faith of Jesus--the faith which has Jesus for its
13. Encouragement to cheer those persecuted under the beast.
Write--to put it on record for ever.
Blessed--in resting from their toils, and, in the case of
the saints just before alluded to as persecuted by the beast, in
resting from persecutions. Their full blessedness is now
"from henceforth," that is, FROM THIS TIME, when
the judgment on the beast and the harvest gatherings of the elect are
imminent. The time so earnestly longed for by former martyrs is now all
but come; the full number of their fellow servants is on the verge of
completion; they have no longer to "rest (the same Greek
as here, anapausis) yet for a little season," their eternal
rest, or cessation from toils
Greek, "anesis," relaxation after hardships.
Heb 4:9, 10,
sabbatism of rest; and Greek, "catapausis," akin
to the Greek here) is close at hand now. They are
blessed in being about to sit down to the marriage supper of
and in having part in the first resurrection
and in having right to the tree of life
follows the explanation of why they are pronounced "blessed" now in
particular, namely, the Son of man on the cloud is just coming
to gather them in as the harvest ripe for garner.
Yea, saith the Spirit--The words of God the Father (the "voice
from heaven") are echoed back and confirmed by the Spirit (speaking in
Re 2:7; 22:17;
and in the saints,
All "God's promises in Christ are yea"
unto me--omitted in A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, and
that they may--The Greek includes also the idea, They are
blessed, in that they SHALL rest from
their toils (so the Greek).
and--So B and ANDREAS read. But A, C,
Vulgate, and Syriac read "for." They rest from their
toils because their time for toil is past; they enter on the
blessed rest because of their faith evinced by their works
which, therefore, "follow WITH (so the
Greek) them." Their works are specified because respect
is had to the coming judgment, wherein every man shall be "judged
according to his works." His works do not go before the believer, nor
even go by his side, but follow him at the same time that they
go with him as a proof that he is Christ's.
14. crown--Greek, "stephanon," "garland" of
victory; not His diadem as a king. The victory is described in
one sat--"one sitting," Greek, "cathemenon
homoion," is the reading of A, B, C, Vulgate, and
15. Thrust in--Greek, "Send." The angel does not command
the "Son of man"
but is the mere messenger announcing to the Son the will of God the
Father, in whose hands are kept the times and the seasons.
thy sickle--alluding to
where also it is "sendeth the sickle." The Son sends His
sickle-bearing angel to reap the righteous when fully ripe.
harvest--the harvest crop. By the harvest-reaping the
elect righteous are gathered out; by the vintage the
Antichristian offenders are removed out of the earth, the scene of
Christ's coming kingdom. The Son of man Himself, with a golden crown,
is introduced in the harvest-gathering of the elect, a mere
angel in the vintage
is ripe--literally, "is dried." Ripe for glory.
16. thrust in--Greek, "cast."
17. out of the temple . . . in heaven--
18. 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.
fully ripe--Greek, "come to their acme"; ripe for
19. "The vine" is what is the subject of judgment because its
grapes are not what God looked for considering its careful culture, but
The apostate world of Christendom, not the world of heathendom who have
not heard of Christ, is the object of judgment. Compare the emblem,
Isa 63:2, 3;
20. without the city--Jerusalem. The scene of the blood-shedding
of Christ and His people shall be also the scene of God's vengeance on
the Antichristian foe. Compare the "horsemen,"
Re 9:16, 17.
blood--answering to the red wine. The slaughter of the apostates
is what is here spoken of, not their eternal punishment.
even unto the horse bridles--of the avenging "armies of heaven."
by the space of a thousand . . . six hundred
furlongs--literally, "a thousand six hundred furlongs off"
[W. KELLY]. Sixteen hundred is a square number;
four by four by one hundred. The four quarters, north, south,
east, and west, of the Holy Land, or else of the world (the
completeness and universality of the world-wide destruction being
hereby indicated). It does not exactly answer to the length of
Palestine as given by JEROME, one hundred sixty
Roman miles. BENGEL thinks the valley of Kedron,
between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, is meant, the torrent in
that valley being about to be discolored with blood to the extent of
sixteen hundred furlongs. This view accords with Joel's prophecy that
the valley of Jehoshaphat is to be the scene of the overthrow of the