The New Testament book by John
King James Version
Update September 8, 2013: Since writing this article I've adopted a strictly literalBibleInterpret/LiteralBible.htmlmethodology of Bible interpretation. Symbols are real and have a tangible existence in the spiritual realm.The 1,000 years ofRevelation 20 is from the time Jesus to about the time of the great schismbetween eastern and western Christendom in 1054 A.D.
(Revelation 1:1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
There are many instances in the Bible in which God sends angels to deliver his message.
This revelation from Jesus Christ to the apostle John concerns things which would soon occur. The first people who heard this book read likely would have assumed that these things would occur in their lifetime.
Depending on how we interpret the word soon, here are various predictions which did occur soon:
(Revelation 1:2) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
John is testifying to all the things he saw in his visions. He calls these visions the 'word of God' because its source is God.
(Revelation 1:3) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
There is a blessing for two groups of people: (1) those who read the book, and (2) those who hear it. This blessing is only for those who do what this book commands them to do. Therefore, this book contains commands and moral laws to be followed.
Since the people of the early church didn't have Bibles (there were no Bibles for about 400 years) they would have to attend a church service to hear it read. The blessing is for the readers (the ones who read it in the church service) and those in the congregation who hear it. Presumably it is read in the same language spoken by the people.
The book of Revelation takes about an hour to read so presumably it was read over the course of a few weeks. Note that sermon-based church services do not match this model since they do not have lengthy readings as part of the church service. Therefore, the sermon-based church model is not the New Testament, early church model even though proponents often claim that it is.
(Revelation 1:4) John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
The apostle John specifically wrote this book to the seven churches in Asia (modern-day Turkey). These are the churches over which he had direct authority and responsibility.
Notice that the early church was organized by geographical regions with a bishop or patriarch responsible for each region. Many Protestant denominations do not match this organizational model. Therefore, these churches do not follow the New Testament, early church model even though they often claim that they do.
(Revelation 1:5) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Jesus is named the Prince just as in Daniel 8:25 and 9:25.
(Revelation 1:6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
The first generations of hearers of this book are called kings and priests. I believe that this also applies to all Christians of all ages.
This verse refutes the idea that there will be a yet-future earthly millennial kingdom in which believers living at the time will be kings ruling over subjects. All believers of all ages are already kings and priests when alive on the earth.
(Revelation 1:7) Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Jesus will come with the clouds. Everyone will see him, even those put to death (who pierced him). Who did this? At the time of Jesus it was specifically some Jewish leaders and some Roman leaders. I suppose you could make the case that it was also the crowds who shouted "crucify him."
Every eye shall see Jesus when he returns. Is John limiting this to the people who are living on the earth at the time (and who have physical eyes with which to see him?) A similar question for who it is that will wail; is it limited to those who are living on the earth at the time?
Notice that everybody wails, even the Christians who will end up in the new heavens and new earth.Why would Christians wail when they see Jesus coming? I suppose it is because we will all be painfully aware of our sins when in the direct presence of God.
(Revelation 1:8) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
(Revelation 1:9) I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: The apostle John refers to himself as sharing the tribulation and persecution which the readers and hearers of this book are also experiencing. Therefore, the book was written at a time when there was persecution. Several historical occasions when this could be:
(Revelation 1:10) I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
John had his visions on Sunday. It must have taken him many, many hours to write them all down. Perhaps he had all the visions on one Sunday and then wrote them down over the course of many days with the Holy Spirit keeping them fresh in his memory.
(Revelation 1:11) Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
Jesus commands John to write down the visions in one book and to send this book specifically to the seven churches of Asia.
(Revelation 1:12) And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
7 golden candlesticks (1:20) — the 7 churches in Asia.
(Revelation 1:13) And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
Note that Jesus is wearing different clothing than he did when alive as a human on earth. It is not unreasonable that those leading church services should also wear special clothing. Those who object to this have no good reason for their objection.
Jesus is walking in the midst of these 7 churches. I suppose by application we could say that Jesus is walking in the midst of all churches and is noticing the good and the bad.
(Revelation 1:14) His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
(Revelation 1:15) And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
(Revelation 1:16) And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
7 stars (1:20) — the angels of the seven churches. This clearly refers to the members of each of the churches, to the body of Christ (see 2:10 where he speaks of some of them.)
(Revelation 1:17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
(Revelation 1:18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
In Matthew 16:18-19 Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (of God) but only Jesus has the keys of hell and of death. In the church age the kingdom of God is the church (among other things).
(Revelation 1:19) Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Jesus commands John to write 3 kinds of things:
It is common to interpret this verse as being a model or outline for interpreting the book of Revelation. However, this verse doesn't strictly say that. What it says:
Apparently, the prophecies in the book of Revelation are not limited to those events which will occur soon (see 1:1) even though those which occur soon are the main focus of the book.
Examples of things that are: (1) The spiritual condition of the 7 churches in Asia (the good and the bad), (2) the unspiritual condition of the anti-Christian Jews (because God has judged and/or will judge Israel, the temple, and Jerusalem), (3) the unspiritual condition of the Roman empire (evidenced by God's future judgment and destruction of Rome and the Roman empire).
Examples of things which will soon take place: (1) Persecution of Christians by Roman emperors, (2) destruction of the Jewish temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
(Revelation 1:20) The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
John's vision specifically concerns the 7 churches that he is in charge of, the 7 churches in Asia.
Some interpret the angels of the 7 churches to refer to the pastors of these churches. But this clearly refers to the members of each of the churches, to the body of Christ (see 2:10 where he speaks of some of them.) These angels are in the hand of Jesus (1:16).
(Revelation 2:1) Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
John is commanded to write to one of the angels (one of the 7 stars) which Jesus holds in his right hand. Then he proceeds to write to the members of this church (see 2:10 where he speaks of some of them.)
(Revelation 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
Notice that there are false apostles. It seems odd that there could be bishops who are false apostles; after all, weren't they ordained by other bishops who were true apostles? Thus we have the principle that we can't trust everyone who is ordained to be true teachers of the faith. I believe we still have this situation today in the Catholic Church in which not all bishops are orthodox. Unfortunately, the magisterium of the church does not acknowledge this point.
The Bible is not shy about calling people liars who are teaching error.
(Revelation 2:3) And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
These people are working very hard for the kingdom of God.
(Revelation 2:4) Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
The efforts have become routine habits and are not motivated out of love for Christ.
(Revelation 2:5) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Notice that they will lose their place as a valid church (a candlestick) if they don't repent. Presumably, the individual members will also lose their salvation.
(Revelation 2:6) But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.
It is unclear who the Nicolaitans were other than the quote from Irenaeus that they "they lead lives of unrestrained indulgence." Jesus hates their deeds and so did the members of the church in Ephesus. I find it odd that these people were in the midst of the other Ephesian Christians — why weren't they excommunicated? Apparently the early church was no better at enforcing discipline among its members than the Catholic Church of today.
(Revelation 2:7) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Notice that message is to the churches, not merely to the church at Ephesus. Presumably these 7 letters to the churches in Asia were to be read by all 7 of the churches.
In order to enter heaven we must overcome. This implies a life of active, working faith.
(Revelation 2:8) And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
(Revelation 2:9) I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
The members of the church in Smyrna were suffering persecution at the time the book of Revelation was written. Polycarp, who became a bishop of Smyrna, was martyred in 155 A.D. which was 60 or 90 years after the book of Revelation was written so this persecution was long-lasting.
There is a reference to people who claim to be Jews but who blaspheme the Lord. Perhaps this refers to the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit referred to in Mark 3:28 in which people attribute Jesus' miracles to Satan. These are Jews who reject Christianity and who reject Jesus as the Messiah. In addition they seem to be persecuting the Christians.
(Revelation 2:10) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Their short-lived tribulation of 10 days doesn't prevent them from being martyred for the faith.
The 10 days may refer to a time of testing (see Daniel 1:15). The purpose of their tribulation is to test them.
(Revelation 2:11) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
(Revelation 2:12) And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
(Revelation 2:13) I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Antipas was a bishop of Pergamum who was ordained by the apostle John and who was martyred in 92 A.D. Thus, the book of Revelation was written after this.
Satan's seat (throne) likely refers to Roman emperor worship since Antipas was martyred for refusing to worship the emperor.
(Revelation 2:14) But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
In the Old Testament, Balaam tempted the Israelites to mix with foreigners and to accept their ways.
(Revelation 2:15) So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
See 2:6 for comments about the Nicolaitans.
(Revelation 2:16) Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
See comments on 2:6.
(Revelation 2:17) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Emphasis on overcoming. Most of the blessings are given to those who overcome. This implies that our salvation depends not on belief in a moment in time but, rather, in a lifelong commitment to following Jesus.
White stone with new name — It is unclear what the white stone is. White is an unusual color for a stone so it certainly has some special significance. There are examples in the Bible of people receiving new names. This refers to God singling them out for special ministry and honor.
Hidden manna — It is unclear what this refers to. In the Old Testament the manna was food provided miraculously by God to the Israelites for 40 years. In John 6:58 Jesus used the occasion of the people asking for manna from Jesus to instruct them in the Eucharist. Certainly we would be sustained physically and spiritually by the hidden manna.
(Revelation 2:18) And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
(Revelation 2:19) I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
There are many factors to a Christian life: works, charity (love), faith, patience (endurance in the face of trials and persecution). This contradicts the Protestant doctrine of faith only (see James 2:24).
(Revelation 2:20) Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Jezebel — It is uncertain who the woman Jezebel refers to. It could be a person with that name, but more likely it refers to a person or group of people who have been influential in this church and have been corrupting it for some time. This person claims to teach authoritatively and persuades some of the Christians to adopt un-Christian beliefs and practices. The reference to fornication could refer to the literal act of fornication, but this would limit it to unmarried people (although some uses of the term fornication in the Bible seem to refer to sexual sins of any kind). More likely, the term fornication refers to worshipping gods other than the true God. The reference to eating things sacrificed to idols hints at worship of false gods. So whatever these people were doing, they were straying from worshipping the true God.
(Revelation 2:21) And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
I am surprised the bishops tolerated such activity in this church. I suppose it is no different today in which some of the Catholic bishops tolerate all kinds of doctrinal and moral abuses from the priests, theologians, and scholars and some Catholic bishops themselves seem to promote un-Christian ideas.
(Revelation 2:22) Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
God will judge these people.
(Revelation 2:23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Notice that God judges Christians according to their works. This contradicts the 'faith only' doctrine of the Protestants. Verses such as this were one of the factors which resulted in my conversion to evangelical fundamentalist Protestantism to Catholicism. There were so many verses which clearly stated that Christians are judged by their works but these were all given different interpretations by the Protestant preachers and teachers.
Apparently the judgment of these people would lead to their death. It is unclear what kind of judgment God could perform that would cause some people to die but not others. 1 Corinthians 11:30 refers to a similar idea.
(Revelation 2:24) But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
This false teaching is doctrinal in nature. It may be a form of Gnosticism since that system of belief had special knowledge (represented by the phrase 'the depths of Satan').
(Revelation 2:25) But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
We are to remain faithful until the second coming of Jesus or until the day we die when Jesus comes for us.
(Revelation 2:26) And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Those who overcome will end up in the new heavens and new earthwhen they die. From there they will have power over the nations. This is a reference to the Catholic doctrine of the Saints in heaven who intercede for us back here on earth.
(Revelation 2:27) And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Rule with a rod of iron — This refers to judgment, not political rule (see Psalm 2:9). The nations are judged by Jesus. The word 'nations' refers to the people of all nations. God judges individual people, not human institutions. If God wishes to judge members of a particular institution he does so by judging the individual members of the institution which has an effect on the institution. For example, God judged the Roman empire by sending barbarians to destroy it. Certainly they destroyed buildings and took booty but the judgment of the Roman empire is really a judgment of the people of the Roman empire.
The Saints in heaven have a role in these judgments upon people back here on earth.
(Revelation 2:28) And I will give him the morning star.
Morning star — Jesus is this morning star (see 22:16). Jesus is the reward for those who overcome.
(Revelation 2:29) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This message is to the angel of this church and to the churches. More evidence that the angel of each particular church refers to the members of that church.
(Revelation 3:1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
People think that this church is alive but it is really spiritually dead.
(Revelation 3:2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Notice that it is the people's works which are the problem.
(Revelation 3:3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
If we are not watchful we might die while outside of the grace of God. We need to be doing those holy things which Jesus commanded and avoiding mortal sins to remain in a state of grace.
(Revelation 3:4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
White garments — Garments symbolize the wearer's spiritual condition. A white garment is for those who are spiritually pure and holy. Those with dirty, defiled garments have been living sinful lives.
(Revelation 3:5) He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
It seems that everyone's name is in the book of life at first, but people who do something which disqualifies them from entering heaven have their name removed from this book of life. God wishes that all would enter heaven.
Again the emphasis on overcoming in order to enter heaven and receive a white garment.
For those who are worthy of heaven, Jesus intercedes before the Father and in the presence of the angels. I suspect that this is what occurs at the final judgment for believers when they receive their glorified, resurrected bodies.
(Revelation 3:6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 3:7) And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Key of David — From Isaiah 22:22. Jesus has the key of David and provides access to God and heaven.
(Revelation 3:8) I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Notice the conditions for entrance into heaven: (1) must keep God's word, his commandments; and (2) must not deny the name of Jesus. This second point became more significant as Christians began to be martyred for their faith. Notice that it is sufficient for Christians to have merely a little strength; God provides the rest of what is necessary.
(Revelation 3:9) Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
Synagogue of Satan — This certainly refers to a group of people claiming to be Jews but who in some way are not really Jews. Several possibilities: Perhaps they are schismatic Jews. Or perhaps they are materialistic, worldly Jews as the Pharisees were. Or perhaps if they were true Jews they would be Christian Jews since Jesus was the Messiah. Or perhaps John is referring to the Judiaizers who believe that Christians must practice Jewish rites and rituals. This last option makes the most sense to me.
(Revelation 3:10) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Hour of temptation — We must endure the temptation to renounce our faith under the threat of persecution or martyrdom. Certainly this was an important theme for the first audience of the book of Revelation.
(Revelation 3:11) Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
(Revelation 3:12) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Pillar — Likely refers to 1 Kings 7:21.
The city of God is the new Jerusalem.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: This reference to the temple is the reason that some say the book of Revelation was written in 68 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was still standing. The reference in this verse is just as sensible if the book was written in 96 A.D. after the temple was destroyed.
(Revelation 3:13) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 3:14) And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Jesus is the beginning of the creation of God, meaning, that Jesus is the cornerstone of the church and of salvation for all the redeemed.
(Revelation 3:15) I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
It is hard to understand why Jesus would prefer someone who is cold to someone who is lukewarm. Perhaps someone who is cold is still open to God and can be reached by God but someone who is lukewarm is no longer interested in God and is no longer listening. These lukewarm people referred to are Christians so even in the early years of the church not all Christians were devout followers of Christ.
(Revelation 3:16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Jesus is commenting on their works. We are judged by our works.
(Revelation 3:17) Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
(Revelation 3:18) I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
We are to be pure and holy and to have spiritual discernment.
(Revelation 3:19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
God wants us to repent of our sin, that's why he rebukes and chastens us.
(Revelation 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
Even Christians need to open the door to Jesus. The common Protestant 'faith only' doctrine gives the impression that once we have opened the door to Jesus we don't need to do it again. But we need to do it daily.
(Revelation 3:21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Those who overcome will enter heaven where they will rule and reign with Jesus. The Saints in heaven rule on the earth from heaven. This includes Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is ruling the earth from heaven.
(Revelation 3:22) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
(Revelation 4:1) After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter.
Some use this verse to support the doctrine of the rapture. They say that John was raptured. This interpretation of this passage doesn't make any sense at all.
John is mystically transported to heaven and he sees things from a heavenly perspective. He is given a preview of what it is like in heaven. It is passages such as these that prompt my view of heaven as a realm in which symbols have a real existence.
John is shown things that occur on earth after the time he was shown the visions. These events are future from the time John wrote the book of Revelation.
(Revelation 4:2) And immediately I was in the spirit; and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
This scene in heaven is a church service of sorts.
The throne and the person seated upon it (God, the Father) is the focal point of this heavenly church service.
(Revelation 4:3) And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Precious stones represent beauty and value. All these images of God involve light.
(Revelation 4:4) And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
These 24 elders are sitting around the throne.
These 24 elders are clothed in white clothing (3:4,5,18). White clothing is given to those who overcome, those who die in a state of grace and who enter heaven. So these 24 elders are those who died and went to heaven. Perhaps the number 24 refers to those of both the old covenant and the new covenant (12 tribes of Israel plus 12 apostles).
Crowns (2:10; 3:11) are given to those who are faithful unto death by keeping God's word unto death. Therefore, those faithful Christians who end up in the new heavens and new earthhave crowns. It is significant that crowns are given to them. They are rulers who from heaven reign on the earth as priests and kings (5:10; 20:4,6). In fact, those who end up in the new heavens and new earthwill rule for ever and ever (22:5), even after the earth is destroyed by fire and God recreates the new heavens and new earth. At this time I suppose there will only be rulers and no subjects.
Referring to gold or other rare, costly jewels is a way of indicating the immense value of gifts from God or of God himself.
(Revelation 4:5) And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
7 lamps of fire — The 7 Spirits of God.
(Revelation 4:6) And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.
Sea of glass — The laver in the temple which is used for ceremonial cleansing of the priests (see Jeremiah 52:20).
4 beasts —
Full of eyes — See 5:6 where the 7 eyes are stated to be the 7 Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. These 4 beasts have so many eyes because they can see the true nature of things, especially of God.
(Revelation 4:7) And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
All creatures are created by God and ultimately recognize him for who he is. Perhaps this image refers to the metaphysical spirit of life which is created by God and which worships God.
Lion — The wild animals.
Calf — Domesticated animals. As a side point, these are the animals mentioned which Noah took on the ark along with fowls and creeping things (Genesis 6:20). Wild animals are not mentioned.
Man — Humans
Flying eagle — perhaps refers to angels.
(Revelation 4:8) And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.
Each of these 4 beasts had 6 wings. In Isaiah 6:2 the Seraphim each have 6 wings and are also closely connected with the throne of God the Father and they give praise and worship to God.
The 4 beasts continually give worship and praise to God.
Each of these 4 beasts were full of eyes within. I suppose this refers to the fact that the 'spirit of life' can see the truth about who God is and that he created all life.
I should mention that the book of Revelation contains many images from the Old Testament and that these images are often changed in some way.
(Revelation 4:9) And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,
(Revelation 4:10) The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
One way that those in heaven worship God is to cast their crowns before God. This is a way of acknowledging that all that we have originates from God and that we are willing to give it all back to God.
The 4 beasts are leading some sort of liturgical worship service in which the other participants (the 24 elders) respond by giving praise and worship and by bowing down. This is evidence that the early church practiced the mass as their worship service. In the mass the congregation worships God the Father and Jesus who sacrificed his life. There are priests who lead the congregation. The congregation expresses their worship by words and bodily gestures. The sermon-based Protestant worship services are missing some of these ingredients and therefore do not represent the form of worship practiced by the New Testament. This is ironic considering that one of their claims is that they are the New Testament church.
(Revelation 4:11) Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
(Revelation 5:1) And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
God has the sealed book in his right hand. The right hand refers to strength, power, and ownership. This image is based on the fact that most people are right handed. In the old days of warfare with swords, the right hand had the power because the right hand held the sword. The king was, by necessity, a warrior so his right hand was the ultimate power and authority.
Sealed book — I assume that this is a scroll written on both sides with 7 wax seals which have to be removed before the scroll can be opened and read. Removing the first 6 seals one by one results in terrible judgments occurring on earth. Removing the 7th seal results in silence in heaven for half an hour. There is no mention of reading the scroll after that but perhaps the rest of the book of Revelation is just the contents of the scroll.
(Revelation 5:2) And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
Strong angel —
There is a divine drama being acted out in heaven and the angels are the actors.
(Revelation 5:3) And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
No one can open the book or read it. The seals prevent this and no one is worthy to open the seals.
(Revelation 5:4) And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
John is greatly moved by this scene. Whatever the book says must be extremely significant.
(Revelation 5:5) And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
John's dilemma is solved. Jesus will open the book. There is no reference to reading this book, presumably some part of John's visions contains the content of the book or refers to the content of the book.
Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9, Hosea 5:14) and the Root of David (see Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15, Revelation 22:16).
Jesus has prevailed and is therefore able to open the book.
(Revelation 5:6) And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Lamb as it had been slain — This lamb is standing.
7 horns and 7 eyes — The 7 Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. The Holy Spirit has power (horns) and sees all (eyes).
In the Catholic mass we worship Jesus who is the lamb who was slain. He is present on the altar.
(Revelation 5:7) And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
Jesus takes the book from God the Father.
(Revelation 5:8) And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
The prayers of the saints — It is unclear whether these prayers of the saints are the prayers of those on earth or of those in heaven. The prayers are in the form of odors contained in golden vials. Incense, which has an odor, is also associated with the prayers of the saints (8:3,4).
The worshippers of God have harps. Presumably they play these harps as part of the worship service. As part of the mass we sing songs.
(Revelation 5:9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
New song — There are many new things referred to in the book of Revelation — new name (2:17; 3:12), new Jerusalem (3:12; 21:2), new heaven and new earth (21:1), all things new (21:5). Our current imperfect condition and nature will some day be replaced by a glorious new condition and nature.
Christianity is not just a Jewish religion, anyone may join.
(Revelation 5:10) And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
It is those in heaven who are referring to themselves as kings and priests. Notice that these kings and priests in heaven reign on the earth. This is an important point. Those who die and enter heaven become kings and priests and rule the earth from heaven.
(Revelation 5:11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
Some arithmetic: 10,000 x 10,000 = 100 million. 1,000's x 1,000's = millions. The point is that there were very many angels.
(Revelation 5:12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
It seems odd that the lamb would need to receive anything since, as God, he would already possess everything. Perhaps this refers to the fact that after Jesus suffered and died in our place (as the lamb) he enters heaven with a human body.
(Revelation 5:13) And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
All creatures, human and non-human, worship God. It is significant that animals worship God. I suppose any creature with conscious awareness worships God by virtue of their ability to perceive and because they have a soul. Notice that plants are not included in this list. The word 'creature' doesn't refer to plants.
Creatures in heaven — Saints in heaven and angels, or may refer to birds (the sky is called heaven).
Creatures on the earth — humans and land animals.
Creatures under the earth — animals such as worms and groundhogs.
Creatures in the sea — Animals such as fish, whales, and dolphins.
(Revelation 5:14) And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.
(Revelation 6:1) And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.
The flow of ideas in the 7 seal visions:
I don't believe that this series of visions are a single chronological account of historical (or future) events; rather, I see them as reflection on the human condition and how man's wickedness results in human suffering.
The first audience of the book of Revelation have already experienced some persecution and they will have much worse persecution in the several centuries to come. I believe that one of the main purposes for this book is to encourage the Christians during this early 'martyr' church to persevere and to remain true to the faith. In reading the writings of the early church fathers in this period we see a strong emphasis on this theme.
(Revelation 6:2) And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.
White horse —
Bow, crown, conquering —
In Revelation 19:11 we see Jesus coming back to earth at his second coming on a white horse. I doubt that the rider in 6:2 is Jesus (although some interpret it this way). Perhaps this vision refers to the kind of military conqueror who believes he has a noble purpose for his conquests. The horse is white which represents purity. There have been plenty of conquerors throughout history who wage war and conquer others and seem to believe that they are ordained by God to do so.
I suppose it would be proper to say that the image of the rider on the white horse refers to the fact that throughout history there have been those who conquered others. This has caused untold suffering for those who are unfortunate to be living at the times and places involved.
(Revelation 6:3) And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see.
(Revelation 6:4) And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.
Red horse —
Sword, take peace from the earth, that people would kill each other —
This rider seems to lack the noble intention of the rider of the white horse. His goal seems to be his love for war and he seems to have no regard for the effects of his warlike activities. The horse is red which is the color of blood. There have been plenty of military leaders throughout history who have matched this image.
I suppose it would be proper to say that the image of the rider on the red horse refers to the fact that throughout history there have been senseless wars. This has caused untold suffering for those who are unfortunate to be living at the times and places involved.
(Revelation 6:5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.
Black horse —
(Revelation 6:6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
Wheat and barley are overpriced —
Don't hurt oil and wine —
This rider rides a black horse. I suppose black refers to darkness and evil. There is no reference to wars or conquering in this image but there is a rider. I suspect that this rider has a larger role than merely doling out food; I suppose this rider has power over the distribution of food supplies and does things which result in scarcity for the people. There have been many times in history in which famine occurred as a consequence of various economic policies by leaders and rulers.
I suppose it would be proper to say that the image of the rider on the black horse refers to the fact that throughout history there have been times of famine caused by evil actions by evil leaders. This has caused untold suffering for those who are unfortunate to be living at the times and places involved.
(Revelation 6:7) And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see.
(Revelation 6:8) And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Pale horse —
Death; hell; kill with sword, hunger, beasts.
This rider seems to cause the worst effects on the people. People are not just hungry but the are starving. Life in these times is a living hell on earth. The pale horse is the color of a corpse. This stage of immoral leadership has no noble purpose at all; it is merely the raw exercise of power. I suppose this occurs in the later stages of decay of empires or civilizations in which moral sensibility has disappeared. I suppose the French Revolution and the late stages of the holocaust of the Nazi's would be examples of this.
There is a moral deterioration in the effects and motives of the four horseman. I personally see no reason to assume that these are four stages of some time in history; rather, I thinks these visions merely highlight (1) that man's inhumanity to man is part of the human condition, (2) that it can be motivated by noble as well as evil purposes, and (3) that it causes much suffering for people.
(Revelation 6:9) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
The effects of the four horsemen went from bad to worse. In the fifth seal we see the effects of persecution against those who are faithful to following the true God. I suppose this indicates that the influence of Satan is even more prevalent in those societies and in those times.
(Revelation 6:10) And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
The martyrs are concerned that justice be done. This is a common theme in the Old Testament.
(Revelation 6:11) And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
At the time the book of Revelation was written there were martyrs and there were to be many more after this.
(Revelation 6:12) And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;
The sixth seal seems to take a detour but upon careful reflection we see that it fits in with the flow of ideas.
Earthquake, sun becomes black, moon becomes as blood.
The vision of the sixth seal is much longer than the other seal visions — it is from 6:12 to 7:17. It addresses the topics of:
(Revelation 6:13) And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
Stars fall to earth —
(Revelation 6:14) And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.
Sky is rolled up as a scroll —
Mountains and islands move —
Images of shocking and impossible natural phenomena are common in the Old Testament. They seem to appear to indicate that God will judge the people because of their extreme wickedness and habitual rejection of God. The particulars of the judgments vary: Sometimes they are conquered and taken into slavery, sometimes there is natural disaster, sometimes God brings a miraculous destruction, sometimes the wickedness and decay of the society is itself the judgment which results in dreadful living conditions.
It is interesting to note that the images of the first 4 riders describe the various ways in which God has judged the Israelites in the Old Testament when they were disobedient.
Over the years I have tried to understand this images literally. The only way I could do this was to assume that this is what will happen at the end of the world when Jesus returns and when the universe is dissolved (2 Peter 3:12). But this interpretation doesn't work out because after this there are always people still alive, usually hiding and in great distress. My current view is that these images are figurative and represent God's judgment in a way that is clearly experienced by the people he is judging.
(Revelation 6:15) And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
The unbelievers are afraid of God and his righteous judgment.
(Revelation 6:16) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
The unrighteous wish to die rather than see God or repent from their sin.
(Revelation 6:17) For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
(Revelation 7:1) And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
The judgment of the 6th seal is not the final judgment at the second coming of Christ. The 6th seal judgment are all the other judgments of God before the final judgment. I suppose the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the destruction of the Roman empire are examples.
(Revelation 7:2) And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
The 7 trumpet judgments and the 7 vial (bowl) judgments involve harm to the earth and sea.
(Revelation 7:3) Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
Forehead — Those who worship the beast are marked on the forehead. Everyone is marked on the forehead.
(Revelation 7:4) And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
144,000 — They are sealed by God. These are those of the church who remained pure and holy. Those who did not go to purgatory but who went directly to heaven (see 14:3).
After being introduced to the unrighteous (6:15) we are now introduced to a special category of the righteous.
In those days the number 144,000 would have been a huge number of people. There were very many Christians in the early centuries of the church who lived under the constant threat of persecution and martyrdom. I suppose John is indicating that there are a large number of these Christians by the use of such a large number.
(Revelation 7:5) Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:6) Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:7) Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:8) Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
(Revelation 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
The white clothes symbolize that they are holy and pure. They have palm branches to worship Jesus (Matthew 21:8).
There are very many of them.
These are from the Great Tribulation (see 7:14).
(Revelation 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
(Revelation 7:11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
(Revelation 7:12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
(Revelation 7:13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
(Revelation 7:14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Great tribulation — The time before Christ's second coming in which Satan is loosed to deceive the nations. When Christ returns with the clouds, Satan will gather armies from all nations to oppose him. The Great Tribulation will be a time of great suffering and persecution for Christians and there will be many martyrs.
Those introduced in 7:9 are those from the great tribulation (1) who lived through it and still kept to the faith, or (2) who were martyred.
(Revelation 7:15) Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: This reference to the temple is the reason that some say the book of Revelation was written in 68 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was still standing. The reference in this verse is just as sensible if the book was written in 96 A.D. after the temple was destroyed.
(Revelation 7:16) They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
The blessings of heaven are often described by stating that undesirable and unpleasant things on earth do not exist in heaven.
(Revelation 7:17) For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Notice that the living water is in heaven.
(Revelation 8:1) And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
After all the noise, confusion, and cacophony of events in the first six seal visions the silence in heaven would be welcome.
Human history is over. All the believers of all time are now in heaven.
There is peace for all those afflicted humans throughout history who looked to God for their salvation and who were true to their faith even through dreadful trials, persecutions, and human misery and suffering.
Thus ends the seal visions.
In my opinion the various visions and images do not form a single chronological flow of historical (or future) events. Rather, these visions are loosely-connected vignettes about various related topics. Therefore, the following 7 trumpet visions do not follow chronologically after the 7 seal judgments.
(Revelation 8:2) And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
In the ancient world trumpets are used to warn the people of impending doom so they could prepare to meet the danger.
The theme of 7 trumpet judgments is that they are judgments from God on a world which has rejected him. Since this concerns God's judgments we encounter images of bizarre and horrifying natural phenomena so common in the Old Testament. This is a literary way of saying that these events are judgments from God.
The image of one-third:
The common themes in these three passages are:
A list of things that can be affected by God's judgments.
A warning to the society which is persecuting Christians. I believe these warnings are specifically targeted to the Roman empire for its decadent culture involving: (1) immorality, (2) emphasis on materialism, (3) emperor worship and persecution of Christians. Throughout the rest of the book of Revelation we see these themes over and over again as well as God's judgment against them.
The good things which are destroyed in God's judgment:
(Revelation 8:3) And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
Prayers of the Saints — The angel offers these prayers along with incense. Incense is associated with prayers.
(Revelation 8:4) And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
(Revelation 8:5) And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
(Revelation 8:6) And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
(Revelation 8:7) The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
(Revelation 8:8) And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
(Revelation 8:9) And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
(Revelation 8:10) And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
(Revelation 8:11) And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
(Revelation 8:12) And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
(Revelation 8:13) And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
(Revelation 9:1) And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit.
(Revelation 9:2) And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit.
(Revelation 9:3) And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
The image of locusts and scorpions are things which have devastating effects on humans.
(Revelation 9:4) And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
The trumpet judgments are directed toward the wicked and unrighteous as a warning for them to repent. The righteous are immune.
Everyone in marked on the forehead.
(Revelation 9:5) And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man.
This judgment is not fatal, but God in his mercy allows these people time to repent of their wickedness.
(Revelation 9:6) And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
(Revelation 9:7) And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men.
These are not regular locusts which eat crops, but demonic influences which vex the spirits of people.
(Revelation 9:8) And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.
(Revelation 9:9) And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle.
(Revelation 9:10) And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months.
(Revelation 9:11) And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.
It is unclear whether Abaddon/Apollyon is Satan but the main thing is this demonic attack on the wicked which God allowed is coordinated by the demonic forces of evil.
(Revelation 9:12) One woe is past; and, behold, there come two woes more hereafter.
(Revelation 9:13) And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God,
(Revelation 9:14) Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.
In the Old Testament, the invasions from Assyria and Babyloncame from across the Euphrates. The river Euphrates is the northern border of the promised land God gave to the Israelites (see Deuteronomy 11:24). This woe represents armed invasion by foreigners.
(Revelation 9:15) And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.
(Revelation 9:16) And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them.
200 million horsemen — This is an awesome army. It would frighten anybody. I doubt if this is referring to a modern-day Chinese army.
(Revelation 9:17) And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire, and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone.
These are very scary images. I don't believe that they are descriptions of modern weapons.
(Revelation 9:18) By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.
(Revelation 9:19) For their power is in their mouth, and in their tails: for their tails were like unto serpents, and had heads, and with them they do hurt.
An animal with a harmful bite and a harmful sting from their tail would be a fearsome animal indeed. Usually dangerous animals have one or the other.
(Revelation 9:20) And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:
The people didn't repent. They continued to worship things other than God.
(Revelation 9:21) Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.
These people have been practicing very bad mortal sins yet they don't repent of them.
(Revelation 10:1) And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:
(Revelation 10:2) And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth,
Little book — See 10:8–10
(Revelation 10:3) And cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when he had cried, seven thunders uttered their voices.
(Revelation 10:4) And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
A message for John only which he was not to share with anyone else.
(Revelation 10:5) And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,
(Revelation 10:6) And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:
The final judgment of Rome will occur soon.
(Revelation 10:7) But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
The destruction of the Roman empire was prophesied in the Old Testament (see Daniel 2:34,44-45).
(Revelation 10:8) And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.
(Revelation 10:9) And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey.
The message of this book seems sweet but it has a bad after-effect. A false prophecy would qualify — the hearers would be happy to hear the good news but when the bad reality happened, they would wish things had turned out differently.
(Revelation 10:10) And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.
(Revelation 10:11) And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.
In contrast to the prophecy in the little book which is untrue, John's prophecies will occur.
These prophecies are targeted to everyone, not just the Jews.
(Revelation 11:1) And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: This reference to the temple is the reason that some say the book of Revelation was written in 68 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was still standing. The reference in this verse is just as sensible if the book was written in 96 A.D. after the temple was destroyed.
The temple in Jerusalem —
(Revelation 11:2) But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
The Gentiles (Romans) will trample the city of Jerusalem and the temple for 3–1/2 years.
(Revelation 11:3) And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
(Revelation 11:4) These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
2 Olive trees and 2 candlesticks (see Zechariah 4:11-14). In this passage the reference is to the Priest (Joshua) and the Prince (Zerubbabel). In the passage in Zechariah there is only one candlestick.
(Revelation 11:5) And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
Although it not the official teaching of the Catholic church, there are many early church fathers who interpreted this passage of the 2 witnesses to refer to 2 people in the great tribulation before the second coming of Christ. These 2 witnesses are invincible until God finally allows them to be killed. I reject this view.
(Revelation 11:6) These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
These 2 witnesses have the same powers as Moses and Elijah had.
(Revelation 11:7) And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
Finally, the 2 witnesses are killed.
(Revelation 11:8) And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
The bodies of the 2 witnesses lie in the street — no one buries them. This is a great insult for anyone. In the Old Testament it is mentioned as one of the effects of God's judgment.
Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem so it is tempting to think that the great city referred to is Jerusalem. But there are so many other passages in the book of Revelation in which Rome and the Roman empire in general seem to be meant. Certainly Jesus was also crucified in the Roman empire, so this fits as well.
This great city is ripe for judgment just as Sodom was in the book of Genesis and as Egypt was in the book of Exodus.
(Revelation 11:9) And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
The bodies of the 2 witnesses will remain in the streets for 3–1/2 days.
(Revelation 11:10) And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
These 2 witnesses had many words to say against the wicked so they were hated. This is not so different from those in our decadent culture today who hate Christias because they are vocal about expressing the sinful nature of their activities and behaviors.
(Revelation 11:11) And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
The 2 witnesses rise from the dead.
(Revelation 11:12) And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
Then they ascend into heaven much as Enoch, Elijah, and Mary (the mother of Jesus) did.
(Revelation 11:13) And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
The image of an earthquake is common in the Old Testament prophecies of judgment. In the time when the book of Revelation was written they didn't know what caused earthquakes so they assumed it was from God. We see this regarding many kinds of extreme natural phenomena in the Old Testament which are assumed to be from God.
(Revelation 11:14) The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
(Revelation 11:15) And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Currently Satan rules over the kingdoms of the world. One day at the second coming, Chirst will take possession of all kingdoms.
(Revelation 11:16) And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
(Revelation 11:17) Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
(Revelation 11:18) And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.
At the second coming of Christ all will be judged. Notice that everyone is judged including Christians. Protestants commonly teach that Christians are not judged but there are many, many passages in the New Testament which clearly say that even Christians are judged and that they are judged by their works.
(Revelation 11:19) And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: This reference to the temple is the reason some say the book of Revelation was written in 68 A.D. when the temple of Jerusalem was still standing. The reference in this verse is just as sensible if the book was written in 96 A.D. after the temple was destroyed.
This verse should have been designated as verse 1 of chapter 12 since it begins the new topic.
(Revelation 12:1) And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
This woman is Mary, the mother of Jesus (see comments on 12:5. Notice that she is in heaven and that she has a crown. She is the queen mother of Jesus (For Old Testament references of the queen mother see 1 Kings 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18; 29:2).
In verse 1 we see Mary as she was at the time the book of Revelation was written; in heaven.
(Revelation 12:2) And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
In verse 2 we see Mary as she was at the time Jesus was born.
Mary gives birth to Jesus.
(Revelation 12:3) And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
We are introduced to Satan, the antagonist from Genesis 3:15. Notice that in 3:15 of Genesis we are informed that there is enmity between Satan and the woman, Mary. In Revelation chapter 12 we read about this story in more detail.
Beasts having 7 heads and 7 horns:
In my opinion all these references refer to the same thing — the wicked Roman empire and its wicked rulers who are energized by Satan.
(Revelation 12:4) And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
A reference to Satan's rebellion and the angels which followed him. This rebellion results in them being expelled from heaven and cast to the earth. (But note that Satan still had access to God in heaven — see Job 1:6).
Satan tries to kill the baby Jesus (see Matthew 2:13,18).
(Revelation 12:5) And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
This male child is Jesus, therefore the woman of chapter 12 is Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Jesus rules all nations with a rod of iron (see 2:27; 19:5). This rulership occurs after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus — he rules and reigns the earth from heaven. Notice that his throne is in heaven.
(Revelation 12:6) And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
1260 days is about 3–1/2 years.
This image may refer to the escape to Egypt soon after Jesus was born. Perhaps they were in Egypt for 3–1/2 years. Archelaus (Matthew 2:22) would have still be ruling after 3–1/2 years.
Some use this verse as evidence that the book of Revelation was written after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. (they assume that the escape of Christians to the wilderness could not be known about in advance) but this is not a very good reason because Jesus had already predicted this (see Matthew 24:15-20; Psalm 2:9).
(Revelation 12:7) And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
After Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension; there is war in heaven and Satan is expelled from heaven (see 20:2,3).
(Revelation 12:8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
See above 12:7.
(Revelation 12:9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Satan was cast into the earth, into the bottomless pit in the earth. He influences those of us on earth but he cannot deceive the nations anymore. This corresponds to the idea that the gates of hell will not prevail over the church (see Matthew 16:18). In other words, Satan can not destroy the church and Christian teaching which is infallible in its dogmas and moral teaching.
(Revelation 12:10) And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Notice that birth of the church is associated with salvation, the kingdom of God, and the power (rulership) of Christ and that this occurs at the same time that Satan is cast down (at the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus).
(Revelation 12:11) And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Christians have overcome Satan by Christ's sacrificial death. They appropriate this salvation from the kingdom of darkness by their confession of faith and by their willingness to be martyred rather than renounce their faith.
John emphasizes the persecution and martyrdom of Christians.
(Revelation 12:12) Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Now that Satan is on earth (in the bottomless pit)he will wreak havoc on the earth. I don't know if it is possible to discern that the world is any worse off since the time of the birth of the church — looking back through world history we can find many periods in which things were pretty bad. Perhaps this verse merely expresses Satan's desperation as he notices that his time is very short.
In other verses in the book of Revelation in which the events occur after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, we see evil coming out of the bottomless pitto plague mankind (9:11, 11:7, 17:8).
(Revelation 12:13) And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
A direct reference to Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent] and the woman."
This verse indicates that Satan is the cause of persecution of Christians. Thus, when the Roman emperors began enforcing emperor worship, this was motivated by Satan who was influencing them.
Again we see that the image of the woman has morphed into the image of the church but it still refers to Mary. Mary was the mother of Jesus and by persecuting the church Satan is persecuting Mary. Thus there is a close mystical connection between Mary and the church.
(Revelation 12:14) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
A direct reference to Genesis 3:15: "And I will put enmity between . . . thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
The woman referred to is still Mary. The image has not changed. Perhaps Mary was protected from being tormented by Satan for 3 1/3 years after the ascension of Jesus.
Christians fled from Jerusalem when they saw the signs which Jesus predicted in Matthew 24:15-20.
3–1/2 — The Roman Empire lasted for about 350 years after the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. The church was protected from Satan during this time and was not destroyed, but rather, flourished.
(Revelation 12:15) And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
The image of a flood is used in the Old Testament to represent an invasion (Jeremiah 47:2). This represents the persecutions by Rome against the Christians.
The woman referred to is still Mary. Satan tries to persecute her.
(Revelation 12:16) And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
There are references in the Old Testament to the earth swallowing up (1) the enemies of God (see Exodus 15:12), or (2) the wicked (see Numbers 16:30-32).
The woman referred to is still Mary. Mary is protected from Satan's attacks.
(Revelation 12:17) And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The woman referred to is still Mary. When Satan realizes that he cannot destroy Mary because she is protected, he goes after the church which is the seed of Mary, the body of Christ. The church is the remnant of the seed of Christ.
Now the church is called the seed of Mary. In addition we learn that the church is the body of Christ. The seed of Mary (Jesus) is the church.
Who belongs to the church? Those who obey the commands of Jesus. Thus we see that salvation is not by faith only or by faith alone (see James 2:24).
(Revelation 13:1) And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
This scarlet colored beast represents Rome, the Roman empire, and the Roman rulers (17:3). The 7 heads and 10 horns are clues that this is the same beast.
(Revelation 13:2) And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
This is similar to Daniel 7. The beasts of Daniel 7 refer to kingdoms of this world.
(Revelation 13:3) And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
Some time after the death of Nero, the Nero Redivivus Myth came into being. An early version of this myth appears in Book V of the Sibylline Oracles, which was written about 80 A.D. A later version of the Nero Redivivus myth declared that Nero had in fact died but that he would be resurrected (but certainly John did not believe that Nero would be resurrected). In the Nero Redivivus myth it is claimed that in the near future Nero would return to Rome with an army of Parthians to conquer Rome and take possession of the Empire. Because of this supposed miraculous display of the divine power of the emperor, people were more willing to believe in the claims of emperor worship.
(Revelation 13:4) And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
In honoring the glories of the wicked and depraved Roman empire and Roman culture, the people are in actuality worshipping Satan who is the driving power behind the culture.
(Revelation 13:5) And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
42 months = About 3–1/2 years. Perhaps the persecution of Christians is Asia under emperor Domitian lasted 3–1/2 years.
(Revelation 13:6) And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
In persecuting Christians people are in actuality blaspheming God.
(Revelation 13:7) And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
The Christians were from all nations, not just from the Jews.
(Revelation 13:8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
There are only 2 choices possible: Either a person worships Christ or they worship Satan.
(Revelation 13:9) If any man have an ear, let him hear.
(Revelation 13:10) He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.
God judges based on our works. The Christians trust God to be just in his judgments.
(Revelation 13:11) And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.
The 2nd beast comes from the earth, not from heaven. He mimics the Messiah by claiming worship for himself. He speaks and acts against Chrristians just as Satan does.
(Revelation 13:12) And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
The Roman emperors who indulged in emperor worship demanded that the people worship the emperor. The 1st beast was killed but came back to life (see 13:3).
(Revelation 13:13) And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,
I'm uncertain about the meaning of these seemingly miraculous displays of power. Three possibilities: (1) Refers to the awesome might of the Roman army which destroys cities and other armies. See Genesis 19:24 (Sodom and Gomorrah), 2 Kings 1:14 (Elijah), and Luke 9:54 (James and John want to call down fire from heaven like Elijah did), (2) Refers to God miraculously igniting the sacrifice on the altar (see 2 Chronicles 7:1) — Perhaps the Roman emperors used magic tricks to impress the people, (3) Job 1:16 seems to refer to lightning which burned up people's homes — Perhaps this refers to the emperors' destruction of the homes and possessions of Christians.
(Revelation 13:14) And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.
The 1st beast was killed but came back to life (see 13:3).
(Revelation 13:15) And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
Some interpret this to mean that this image comes to life, perhaps only through illusion or technology. The image refers to the statue of the head of the emperor who people were to acknowledge as divine by offering a pinch of incense, bowing, and perhaps speaking some words. In idolatry the physical idols are considered to be alive with the spirit of the false god.
(Revelation 13:16) And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
The wicked are marked, as are the righteous.
(Revelation 13:17) And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
There are social, economic, and political pressures put on people in a wicked, Godless, materialistic, secular society to encourage them to give up their faith in God.
(Revelation 13:18) Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
The second beast is Nero.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: Some use this identification of Nero with the second beast as evidence that the book was written in 68 A.D. However, it could very well be that Nero is used as a symbol for all the wickedness and depravity since it was he who killed Peter and Paul and who martyred Christians in such a cruel manner for no reason except his own perversion.
(Revelation 14:1) And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads.
144,000 — These belong to God the Father. They have his name written on their foreheads.
Just as in the previous reference to the 144,000 (7:4), they are introduced immediately after the wicked are introduced. In this case the wicked have the mark of the beast on their foreheads, while the 144,000 have the mark of God's name on their foreheads.
(Revelation 14:2) And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
(Revelation 14:3) And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
144,000 — those who were redeemed from the earth.
New song — Presumably only the 144,000 could learn this song. Others in heaven could not. The 144,000 is a special category of the redeemed.
(Revelation 14:4) These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.
Those who complain about priests and other consecrated Catholic religious taking vows of celibacy have no biblical case for this objection. This verse, Matthew 19:12, and 1 Corinthians chapter 7 provide ample biblical support. Even before the end of the first century virginity was highly valued.
(Revelation 14:5) And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.
While on earth they lived holy lives so that God could not find fault with them.
(Revelation 14:6) And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
God is concerned for everyone of all nations, of all ages.
(Revelation 14:7) Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
The content of the gospel: (1) Know that God exists, (2) fear him, (3) give him glory, (4) he is the creator, (5) worship him, (6) he judges sin.
(Revelation 14:8) And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
(Revelation 14:9) And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
(Revelation 14:10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Those who are judged as unworthy to enter heaven will be tormented forever.
Fire and brimstone is what God used to judge and destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. It also hints at the lake of fire, Gehenna.
Jesus and the angels will be observing the eternal torments of those in Gehenna. This verse doesn't mention that humans in heaven will see this; I suspect they won't.
(Revelation 14:11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
(Revelation 14:12) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
The Saints are contrasted with those who end up in Gehenna. Notice that it is by keeping God's commandments and by faith in the gospel message of Jesus that people end up in the new heavens and new earth,it is not by faith only.
(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
A word of encouragment to those who are faithful to God. The good works of faith they do will have eternal significance and value.
(Revelation 14:14) And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
The harvest is near. I believe that the harvest refers to the second coming of Christ. The previous verses have been discussing eternal salvation and eternal damnation.
(Revelation 14:15) And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
(Revelation 14:16) And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
There are 2 angels and 2 harvests. The first sat on white cloud, the second came out of the temple. I suppose this refers to the Old and the New Covenants. Jesus will come back with the clouds and the temple was the focal point for worship in the Old Covenant; in fact, the very presence of God resided in the temple.
(Revelation 14:17) And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
(Revelation 14:18) And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
The altar is that place where sacrifices are offered. Eternal judgment is warranted for the wicked because God provided forgiveness for sins by animal sacrifices in the Old Covenant, and by the sacrifice of his Son, the perfect unblemished sacrifice (Jesus) in the New Covenant.
(Revelation 14:19) And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.
Winepress — Refers to final judgment.
(Revelation 14:20) And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
The amount of blood is far, far greater than that of the Old Testament sacrifices or of any gruesome battle. God will judge everyone from all ages.
Jesus was sacrificed outside the city.
(Revelation 15:1) And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
(Revelation 15:2) And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
Sea of glass — The laver in the temple which is used for ceremonial cleansing of the priests (see Jeremiah 52:20). The image of fire is of purification.
(Revelation 15:3) And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
The song of Moses was sung when the Israelites escaped from the Egyptians and the Egyptians were miraculously destroyed by God.
The song of the Lamb has the same outlines; God destroyed the power of sin and we were delivered from Satan and death.
(Revelation 15:4) Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
(Revelation 15:5) And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened:
In the writings by Moses it was common to refer to the tabernacle when Moses had encounters with God.
(Revelation 15:6) And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
(Revelation 15:7) And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
The vial (bowl) judgments are not warnings like the trumpet judgments were. They are real judgments. They are the removal of God's blessing and the destruction of things needed by humans:
I think the vial (bowl) judgments refer specifically the decay and final fall of the Roman empire.
Some translations say "bowls for libation" in Jeremiah 52:19. Libation is also called a drink offering and is the ritual pouring out of wine or blood as part of the Old Testament sacrificial system (see Jeremiah 44:17; 52:19, Philipians 2:17, 2 Timothy 4:6).
(Revelation 15:8) And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
Just as the cloud covered the tabernacle after Moses finished constructing it so people could not enter it (see Exodus 40:34,35).
(Revelation 16:1) And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: This reference to the temple might provide evidence that the book was written in 96 A.D. after the temple was destroyed. One of the reasons God has for judging Rome and the Roman empire is that they destroyed the temple.
I wonder if the image of pouring out the vials is from the Old Testament in which the priests pour out the blood from the sacrificed animals?
(Revelation 16:2) And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
The wicked get sores. Certain sinful activities result in sickness and disease (HIV/AIDS, STD's). Probably there was increased sickness in the late stages of the decline of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:3) And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living soul died in the sea.
The sea and the life within it (fish, whales, dolphins). Overfishing because of greed results in depletion of the fish. I don't know whether this occurred in the late stages of the decline of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:4) And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
Rivers and springs. This might also address wells which dry up. Might refer to water pollution.I don't know whether this occurred in the late stages of the decline of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:5) And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.
(Revelation 16:6) For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.
Often it was the people of Israel who killed the prophets. Often these prophets were sent by God to help the Israelites.
These wicked drink blood. The Israelites were forbidden to drink blood.
(Revelation 16:7) And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.
(Revelation 16:8) And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.
Humans scorched by the sun. This could refer to the depletion of the ozone layer or global warming. Perhaps it refers to the lack of adequate housing and shelter for people in the late stages of the decay of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:9) And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
(Revelation 16:10) And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain,
Social and political chaos resulting in all kinds of human misery. Certainly this occurred in the late stages of the decaying Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:11) And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.
People don't turn to God when they suffer the judgments from God. Instead, they curse God.
(Revelation 16:12) And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
Barbarian invasions which caused the end of the Roman empire. In Old Testament times it was from peoples across the Euphrates. The Romans were conquered by barbarian invasions from all sides. Even after these barbarian invasions people still did not repent.
(Revelation 16:13) And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.
The 2nd beast is called the false prophet.
The unholy trinity. The 'word' of the unholy trinity is not the word of truth (as with the Trinity) but demonic (In some ancient cultures there was a frog god).
(Revelation 16:14) For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
These spirits like frogs are demonic.
(Revelation 16:15) Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
There will be much destruction and killing in these battles. Even Christians will be killed.
(Revelation 16:16) And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
Armageddon — The valley of Megiddo. In 2 Kings 23:29 and 2 Chronicles 35:22 we read about how king Josiah was killed in battle against the Egpyptians in Megiddo. Presumably Josiah attacked Egypt even though Jeremiah told him not to.
Thus Armageddon symbolizes destruction that comes as a result of judgment by God for disobedience.
(Revelation 16:17) And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.
The 7th vial judgment represents the final judgment upon the Roman empire.
(Revelation 16:18) And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.
The images of thunder, lightening, and earthquakes are commonly used in the Old Testament to refer to judgments of God.
(Revelation 16:19) And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
The cities of the Roman empire were destroyed and conquered by the barbarians who invaded.
Rome was divided into 3 parts. It was no longer one city ruled by one leader, but was divided by the conquerors.
In Genesis 11:5-9 we read of God dividing the nations (see Genesis 10:25). Perhaps this reference to dividing the great city (Rome and the Roman empire) refers to the unity provided by the empire being taken away.
The only reference to 'three parts' is in Deuteronomy 19:3 which refers to the cities of refuge where a person who accidentally killed someone could flee for safety.
(Revelation 16:20) And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
The islands are those islands in the Mediterranean Sea.
There are many images in the Old Testament in which God's judgment results in striking images of effects on the mountains, the islands, etc. (see Isaiah 34:2-4; 41:15; 42:15; 54:10; Jeremiah 4:24; 9:10; Ezekiel 38:20; Micah 1:4; Nahum 1:5; Habakkuk 3:6,10).
(Revelation 16:21) And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.
The image of hail is commonly used in the Old Testament to refer to God's judgment (see Exodus 9:18).
(Revelation 17:1) And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters:
The setting seems to switch from judgment at the second coming of Christ to the judgment and the fall of the wicked Roman empire.
(Revelation 17:2) With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(Revelation 17:3) So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
In Revelation 17:9 we learn that this woman sits on Rome. Therefore, the scarlet colored beast represents Rome, the Roman empire, and the Roman rulers.
(Revelation 17:4) And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
(Revelation 17:5) And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
(Revelation 17:6) And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
It is the Romans who martyred the Christians.
(Revelation 17:7) And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns.
(Revelation 17:8) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Was, is not, ... — Refers to the beast who was introduced in 17:3 and represents the spiritual powers behind Rome, the Roman empire, and the Roman rulers.
Notice that those wicked people who reject Christ have been excluded from heaven since the beginning of the creation of the universe. God is omniscient and knows all things. He has known since the beginning of time who would reject him and his plan for salvation.
The beast (the spiritual powers behind the wicked Roman empire) has been in existence for some time since the writing of the book of Revelation and it will continue into the future before God finally destroys it.
(Revelation 17:9) And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
In my opinion this verse is a key verse in understanding the images in the book of Revelation. The image of the 7 mountains is a very clear reverence to the 7 hills of Rome. Therefore the woman sits on Rome. Many other images also fall into place.
Much of the specific imagery in the book of Revelation is in code so it that will not cause additional persecution for Christians by the Romans. The fact that the Roman emperors of the day and the Roman empire are key topics in the book would surely stir up wrath by the Roman rulers when they read the book (or more likely, heard it read in mass).
(Revelation 17:10) And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.
Here are the kings of Rome from the time of the Roman Empire up to Nero:
Emperors after Nero (the 8 kings in 17:10,11):
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: They assume that Nero is the king who is and so conclude that the book of Revelation was written during the time of Nero. I agree that there is an emphasis on Nero is because he is the first emperor who blatantly martyred Christians and he is the one who killed Peter and Paul in Rome. Nero is, therefore, the personification of the wickedness of the Roman emperors. Also, the Nero Redivivus Myth makes Nero's influence continue into the future (see 13:3).
(Revelation 17:11) And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.
The 'resurrected' Nero (see 13:3 for discussion of the Nero Redivivus Myth) will come in the future. This must mean that the current Roman emperor is not Nero, nor is he this 'resurrected' Nero. Since the Nero Redivivus Myth refers to the 'resurrected' Nero coming back with others ro conquer and take possession of Rome, this event must of necessity always be future (since it never occurred). Therefore, Domitian was the 6th king in 17:10, the one who is.
The beast is the 8th king and is the beast who was introduced in 17:3 and represents Rome, the Roman empire, and the Roman rulers.
Technically the 8th king is Trajan, but I believe that the image of the 8th king also refers to all Roman emperors who persecuted Christians during and after the time the book of revelation was written.
(Revelation 17:12) And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast.
The 10 kings refers to future Roman emperors after Trajan. There were many more than 10.
There were 10 Roman Emperors who persecuted Christians but only 7 of them were after Trajan. Perhaps there were 10 emperors after Trajan who practiced emperor worship.
(Revelation 17:13) These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast.
These Roman Emperors are all of one mind and are a cause of the wickedness of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 17:14) These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.
By persecuting Christians these emperors are actually attacking Christ.
Those who belong to Christ are referred to as the called, the chosen, the faithful. True Christians must remain faithful to Christ even under persecution. During the early centuries of the church where there was persecution of Christians, the church had to address the issue of what to do about Christians who denied their faith under threat of torture. There was disagreement about this but the popes always promoted the policy that these should be readmitted back into the church (after a public confession of their sin and a time of public repentance which might last for years).
(Revelation 17:15) And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.
The image of the water refers to the many people of the Roman empire; perhaps to all people living on earth.
(Revelation 17:16) And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
It is interesting that the 10 then-future kings of Rome will even hate the great harlot who represents (among other things) the wicked people and culture of the Roman empire. The wicked Roman Emperors had no concern for the very people who they were corrupting and perverting; they only cared for their own ambitions and pleasures.
(Revelation 17:17) For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.
The wicked Roman emperors were really pawns in the hand of Satan. They were unwittingly fulfilling the goals of Satan which is to destroy anything holy and righteous.
(Revelation 17:18) And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
(Revelation 18:1) And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.
(Revelation 18:2) And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
(Revelation 18:3) For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Even the other nations of the world have participated in the wickedness of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 18:4) And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Christians are not to be part of the wicked civilizations in which they live. We are to be separate.
(Revelation 18:5) For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
(Revelation 18:6) Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
(Revelation 18:7) How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
(Revelation 18:8) Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
(Revelation 18:9) And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
The other nations of the world mourned for the loss of the Roman empire.
(Revelation 18:10) Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
(Revelation 18:11) And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
There was severe economic hardship.
(Revelation 18:12) The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
(Revelation 18:13) And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
(Revelation 18:14) And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
(Revelation 18:15) The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
(Revelation 18:16) And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
(Revelation 18:17) For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
(Revelation 18:18) And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
(Revelation 18:19) And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
(Revelation 18:20) Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
The empire that persecuted and martyred Christians is judged because of its atrocities.
Notice that the apostles and prophets who are in heaven have a role in ruling and reigning on earth.
(Revelation 18:21) And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
(Revelation 18:22) And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
(Revelation 18:23) And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
The Roman empire practiced sorcery and other occult practices.
(Revelation 18:24) And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
Jesus laments the fact that it was often in Jerusalem that the prophets were martyred (see Matthew 23:37). But in this context it is in the great city that prophets, Christians, and others were killed. John is writing to churches outside of Jerusalem (the 7 churches in Asia) so it is not likely that he is referring to Jerusalem.
(Revelation 19:1) And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
(Revelation 19:2) For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
God judged the unrighteous Roman empire.
In the Old Testament prophecies we see that often God chooses to judge a nation or a person because they oppress the weak and poor.
(Revelation 19:3) And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
God is holy and when he judges wickedness his holiness is demonstrated. The effects of God's judgments are tributes and demonstrations of his holiness.
(Revelation 19:4) And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
(Revelation 19:5) And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
(Revelation 19:6) And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
(Revelation 19:7) Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
The image of a marriage is used to refer to the joining together of the redeemed with God after the final judgment.
(Revelation 19:8) And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
(Revelation 19:9) And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
(Revelation 19:10) And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
(Revelation 19:11) And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
The rider is Jesus Christ.
At the second coming, Jesus makes war on the powers of evil and overcomes them for all time.
At the second coming, Jesus comes to earth from heaven to judge the world.
(Revelation 19:12) His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
Name — No one can really know God in his essential nature.
(Revelation 19:13) And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
Jesus has the means of providing for the salvation of the redeemed because he shed his blood, died, and was resurrected.
(Revelation 19:14) And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
The Saints in heaven come with Jesus. They have been ruling and reigning with him during the church age.
(Revelation 19:15) And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
Jesus is the second person of the Trinity, the word of God, the Son of God. His word is truth. All are judged by his word of truth.
Rod of iron — In other biblical passages this refers to judgment, not rulership.
Winepress of his wrath — This is the final judgment.
(Revelation 19:16) And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
(Revelation 19:17) And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
In the events surrounding the second coming of Christ I suppose that all who are alive on earth will either be killed or will be directly transported into heaven. Soon after Christ arrives the earth will be destroyed by fire.
(Revelation 19:18) That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.
(Revelation 19:19) And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.
Once Jesus returns to earth there will be a literal battle as those who follow the Satan will attempt to destroy Jesus. I have no idea what kind of army or weapons Jesus will have.
(Revelation 19:20) And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.
This battle doesn't last long. All who oppose Christ are cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire. This occurs after the white throne judgment.
(Revelation 19:21) And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
(Revelation 20:1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
These verses do not occur chronologically after verses 19:11-21 but go back to the establishment of the church and quickly tell the story of the church age from a different perspective.
Key — this is figurative.
Bottomless pit— The sphere in the center of the earth has no bottom. Perhaps the idea is that if you dig a hole deep enough, no one can escape. References to such things as the bottomless pit, the lake of fire, etc. do not correspond to locations in the physical universe but, rather, to locations in the spiritual realm.
Chain — this is figurative. The chain is to constrain and restrain Satan.
See 12:9 for additional comments.
(Revelation 20:2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Satan has many names — Dragon, serpent, Devil.
1,000 years— the church age. It began during Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension. It ends at the second (and final) coming of Christ when he destroys the universe (the heavens and earth), judges everyone, and creates the new heavens and new earth.
(Revelation 20:3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
Shut him up, set a seal — When you wanted to ensure that someone didn't escape, you put a seal on it so you could prove that no one tampered with it.
Not deceive the nations — This corresponds to the idea that the gates of hell will not prevail over the church (see Matthew 16:18). In other words, Satan can not destroy the church and Christian teaching which is infallible in its dogmas and moral teaching.
Loosed a little season — from about 1054 A.D. to the end of the world occurring perhaps hundreds, or thousands, or millions of years from now. It might seem the phrase "little season" demands fulfillment within a decade or two but remember, Satan has been at his corrupting of the creatures of the world for 4+ billion years.
The Catholic Church teaches that just before the second (and final) coming of Christ, Satan will be released for a short time and there will be a great tribulation. I reject this view. From article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution . . . will unveil the 'mystery of iniquity' in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."
(Revelation 20:4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
Those Christians who die during the church age (the Saints) who are in heaven rule and reign on earth with Christ. This provides support for the Catholic idea that the Saints are capable of interceding for us on earth and are able to hear our prayers.
Those who are martyred during the age of the church are among those who are in heaven and who rule and reign on earth with Christ.
The image of the mark of the beast refers to accepting the un-Christian culture of the Romans. Christians were to reject emperor worship or any other kind of rejection of the claims of Christianity.
(Revelation 20:5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Those who were "saved" but who did not live holy enough lives to enter heaven remain in purgatory. At the end of the church age, all the redeemed who are not yet in heaven; those still on earth and those in purgatory, will receive their resurrected bodies along with those who are already in heaven.
The first resurrection refers to those whose original sin is removed through baptism and who remain in God's grace by avoiding mortal sin, and those who God may choose to redeem outside of the normal means of baptism.
(Revelation 20:6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
|First Resurrection — Baptism, entrance into the kingdom of God||First Death — physical death|
|Second Resurrection — Resurrection of the body at the second coming||Second Death — eternal separation from God in hell. This is stated in 21:8.|
(Revelation 20:7) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
See comments on 20:3.
(Revelation 20:8) And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
See comments on 20:3.
Presumably the Satan will wage some war to attempt to wipe out the church.
This verse is immediately before the time of the second coming of Christ and corresponds to 19:11-19.
(Revelation 20:9) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Beloved city — Jerusalem was the city beloved by Jesus. It may represent the Vatican in Rome.
They were destroyed just as Sodom and Gomorrah were.
Why is Satan allowed to do this mischief? Perhaps it is so that those who are alive at the time of the second coming will be able to be purged from the effects of their sins in lieu of going to purgatory since there will be no purgatory for them to go to after the second coming of Christ. If this is true, it implies that all believers will be martyred or will be in the process of being martyred when Christ returns. This will indeed be a time of great tribulation, but it is not the 3–1/2 or 7 year Great Tribulation of premillennialism; I reject that kind of Great Tribulation. Also, those who are not Christians will have the opportunity to be offended morally by what is taking place so that the might perhaps turn from their sin and receive salvation.
(Revelation 20:10) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Final judgment for Satan. This verse is at the time of the second coming.
The various Roman rulers who caused so much grief for the Christians were cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire, at Christ's second coming (see 19:20).
(Revelation 20:11) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Immediately after Christ's second coming is the great white throne judgment. This begins right after the universe is destroyed. The sequence of events is:
(Revelation 20:12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
All people are judged. Everyone, even Christians, are judged by their deeds, by their works. They are not judged by their faith.
(Revelation 20:13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Everyone who dies no matter what became of their dead bodies. Some people's dead bodies ended up in the sea, some were buried in the ground or in tombs, some were left on the surface of the ground to rot or be consumed by birds and animals. No matter what became of their dead body, all are judged.
All people are judged. Everyone, even Christians, are judged by their deeds, by their works. They are not judged by their faith.
(Revelation 20:14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Whatever death and hell are, they are no longer in existence after the white throne judgment. If there are angels or demonic beings associated with them, these are cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 21:1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Now John addresses the subject of eternity in heaven for all the redeemed.
New heavens and new earth — Just as Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, took on human nature as part of God's nature; the new heavens and new earth will become part of heaven. Thus, heaven will one day contain a physical, material nature in addition to its current spiritual nature. The redeemed will receive glorified bodies and will bodily inhabit the new heavens and new earth.
New heaven — The word 'heaven' refers to the sky and the universe where the stars are. This will be re-created.
New earth — The material, physical earth will be re-created.
(Revelation 21:2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
New Jerusalem — Just as Jerusalem was the focal point for God's chosen people of Israel, the new Jerusalem will be the focal point for the redeemed. Notice, that this new Jerusalem comes down from heaven (the abode of God) to this newly-created new heavens and new earth where the redeemed will reside.
New Jerusalem is called the bride of Christ. But in 19:7 we learn that it is the redeemed that is the bride of Christ. The New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, the abode of God, because the various blessings given to the redeemed originate from God.
The term 'New Jerusalem' seems to refer to several things: (1) the redeemed (the bride of Christ), (2) the blessings given to the redeemed, and (3) the characteristics of life in heaven for the redeemed.
Hebrews 12:22 refers to the 'heavenly Jerusalem' which is in heaven. Hebrews 11:10 refers to a heavenly city that Abraham longed for. I mention these references because some interpret Revelation 21:2 as referring to an event that occurred in 70 A.D. I reject this view; it has the bad side-effects of preterism.
(Revelation 21:3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Tabernacle — In the Old Testament the tabernacle was that special place where the presence of God resided and in which worship was performed by the priests. In the Catholic Church the tabernacle is that special place where the presence of Jesus resides in the sacramental Eucharistic presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread. This tabernacle is part of the worship of God performed by the priesthood of all believers (Catholics) with special usage by the priests of the church. In the new heavens and new earth God will reside with all the redeemed in the new heavens and new earth, particularly in the New Jerusalem. I suppose that the redeemed will visit the New Jerusalem and particularly the tabernacle for special, regular worship events.
(Revelation 21:4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
The many similar images in the Old Testament refer to this time of redemption in heaven (the new heavens and new earth).
(Revelation 21:5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
(Revelation 21:6) And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
The water of life is in heaven. I mention this because there are some who claim that the New Jerusalem is the church (see 7:17).
(Revelation 21:7) He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Another reference to those Christians who are being persecuted or bombarded with influences which tend to draw them away from their Christian faith, and the necessity of remaining faithful to the end, even if this results in martyrdom.
(Revelation 21:8) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
A list of mortal sins which result in loss of salvation.
(Revelation 21:9) And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
Jesus, the lamb of God, has a bride. This bride is the New Jerusalem (see 21:2). In 19:7 we learn that it is the redeemed that is the bride of Christ. So all the characteristics described for the New Jerusalem are given to those who are redeemed.
(Revelation 21:10) And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
The New Jerusalem is not the heaven in which God lives, rather, it is a gift to the redeemed. The heaven where God lives is forever outside of the experience of any created being.
(Revelation 21:11) Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
(Revelation 21:12) And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
The Old Testament nation of Israel is a foundation for the New Jerusalem. God founded that nation to reveal the path of redemption to the world and to prepare for the coming of the church.
(Revelation 21:13) On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
(Revelation 21:14) And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
The foundation of the New Jerusalem is the apostles who were the foundation stones of the church. All the redeemed of all ages are ultimately saved through the church.
(Revelation 21:15) And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
As a way of expressing the glory of the New Jerusalem it is described with characteristics impossible for an earthly city.
(Revelation 21:16) And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
(Revelation 21:17) And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
(Revelation 21:18) And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
(Revelation 21:19) And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
(Revelation 21:20) The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
(Revelation 21:21) And the twelve gates were twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
(Revelation 21:22) And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ) both reside in the New Jerusalem. In the Old Testament the temple was the place were the presence of God resided and where worshippers came to worship God and to offer sacrifices of worship and sacrifices for their sin. In the New Jerusalem these functions are still performed.
(Revelation 21:23) And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
On the earth we need to sun to provide light and heat. In the New Jerusalem God directly provides for all our needs.
(Revelation 21:24) And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
(Revelation 21:25) And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
In ancient times there was the need for city walls and a gate to protect the inhabitants from invaders. The gate was shut when the invaders threatened. Also, in Israel, the gates were shut to prevent merchants from violating the Sabbath by selling their wares. In the New Jerusalem there is eternal safety and eternal worship and rest.
(Revelation 21:26) And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
In the Old Testament nation of Israel, non-Jewish worshippers would come from all the surrounding nations on the various Jewish feast days to worship God in Jerusalem. In the new heaven (the new heavens and new earth) everyone will come to the New Jerusalem to worship God.
(Revelation 21:27) And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Nothing unpure can enter the New Jerusalem. Only those who merit salvation will be in heaven.
A list of mortal sins which exclude people from salvation.
(Revelation 22:1) And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
River of life —
The thrones of God the father and of Jesus, the Son of God, reside in the New Jerusalem.
(Revelation 22:2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Tree of life — This is the same tree of life which was in the garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned they were no longer allowed access to it. All the redeemed in heaven will be allowed access to the tree of life. This tree of life has characteristics which would be considered desirable by us in this world: (1) 12 kinds of fruit, (2) a harvest every month (instead of one a year), (3) even the leaves are beneficial.
(Revelation 22:3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
The curse on mankind caused by original sin is removed.
Those in heaven are still God's servants and they still serve God. This is what humans and all living things were created for.
(Revelation 22:4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
Finally people will be allowed to see God's face. In the Old Testament it was known that to see God's face was to die and everyone longed to someday see God's face.
Having God's name on their forehead is in contrast to having the mark of the beast on their forehead. All are marked on the forehead but we should desire to receive God's mark.
(Revelation 22:5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
The inhabitants of the new heaven and new earth will reign forever. All are kings but there are no subjects. In this world a king with no subjects in a king in name only, but in heaven it will glorious to be a king.
(Revelation 22:6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
Regarding the things which would occur soon, see comments for 22:10.
(Revelation 22:7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Jesus is coming quickly. This doesn't refer to the second coming of Jesus since that didn't happen quickly. Two possibilities for what this quick coming of Jesus refers to: (1) In the Eucharist which took place every Sunday during mass in which Jesus is sacramentally present, and (2) at the death of a Christian (the human lifespan is short and Jesus comes to us at death).
We are to keep the prophecies of the book of Revelation. We are to be strong in the faith even when persecuted and even upon threat of martyrdom.
(Revelation 22:8) And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which showed me these things.
(Revelation 22:9) Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
Notice that John's mistake of worshipping the angel was not such a terrible thing. Protestant anti-Catholicsand who object to Catholic veneration of Mary and the Saints are too intense in their objections. Even if it were true that Catholics worship Mary and the Saints (which they don't) as John worshipped the angel; the proper response would be to correct them, not to treat them as vile, hated, non-Christians which is a common response from anti-Catholics toward Catholics.
(Revelation 22:10) And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
The time is at hand — These prophecies will occur soon after John wrote the book. Thus the various yet-futuristic millennial end time views are false.
Comments on the date the book of Revelation was written: The two categories of prophecies which did occur soon are: (1) Christians were persecuted and martyred, (2) the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. (this was soon if the book of Revelation was written if 68 A.D.), (3) The Roman empire did become more decadent and it was ultimately destroyed, (4) Christians who died did die soon (the human lifespan is short), and (5) the judgments of certain of the 7 churches of Asia did occur soon.
(Revelation 22:11) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
(Revelation 22:12) And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
(Revelation 22:13) I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
(Revelation 22:14) Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
(Revelation 22:15) For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
(Revelation 22:16) I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
(Revelation 22:17) And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
(Revelation 22:18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
(Revelation 22:19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
(Revelation 22:20) He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
(Revelation 22:21) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
There are 2 possibilities:
For some verses which support one date or the other I comment on this. To locate these comments search for the text 'Comments on date the book of Revelation was written'.
It's not possible to try to interpret the prophecies of Revelation or Daniel without doing some math. Some historical dates:
Some possibilities from the math and assuming that the 3–1/2 times of Daniel 7:25 refers to 350 years.