Re 14:1-20. The Lamb Seen
on Zion with the 144,000. Their
Song. The Gospel Proclaimed before the
End by One Angel: The Fall of Babylon,
by Another: The Doom of the Beast
Worshippers, by a Third. The Blessedness
of the Dead in the Lord. The Harvest.
In contrast to the beast, false prophet, and apostate
Church (Re 13:1-18) and introductory to the announcement of
judgments about to descend on them and the world (Re 14:8-11, anticipatory of Re 18:2-6), stand here the redeemed, "the divine
kernel of humanity, the positive fruits of the history of the world and
the Church" [Auberlen]. The fourteenth
through sixteenth chapters describe the preparations for the Messianic
judgment. As the fourteenth chapter begins with the 144,000
of Israel (compare Re 7:4-8, no
longer exposed to trial as then, but now triumphant), so the fifteenth
chapter begins with those who have overcome from among the
Gentiles (compare Re 15:1-5 with Re 7:9-17); the two classes of elect forming
together the whole company of transfigured saints who shall reign with
1. a—A, B, C, Coptic, and Origen read, "the."
Lamb … on … Sion—having
left His position "in the midst of the throne," and now taking His
stand on Sion.
his Father's name—A, B, and C read,
"His name and His Father's name."
in—Greek, "upon." God's and
Christ's name here answers to the seal "upon their
foreheads" in Re 7:3. As the
144,000 of Israel are "the first-fruits" (Re 14:4), so "the harvest" (Re 14:15) is the general assembly of Gentile
saints to be translated by Christ as His first act in assuming His
kingdom, prior to His judgment (Re 16:17-21, the last seven vials) on the
Antichristian world, in executing which His saints shall share. As Noah
and Lot were taken seasonably out of the judgment, but exposed
to the trial to the last moment [De
Burgh], so those who shall reign with Christ shall first suffer
with Him, being delivered out of the judgments, but not out of
the trials. The Jews are meant by "the saints of the Most High":
against them Antichrist makes war, changing their times and
laws; for true Israelites cannot join in the idolatry of the beast,
any more than true Christians. The common affliction will draw closely
together, in opposing the beast's worship, the Old Testament and New
Testament people of God. Thus the way is paved for Israel's conversion.
This last utter scattering of the holy people's power leads
them, under the Spirit, to seek Messiah, and to cry at His approach,
"Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."
2. from—Greek, "out of."
voice of many waters—as is the voice
of Himself, such also is the voice of His people.
I heard the voice of harpers—A, B, C,
and Origen read, "the voice which I
heard (was) as of harpers."
3. sung—Greek, "sing."
as it were—So A, C, and Vulgate
read. It is "as it were" a new song; for it is, in truth, as old
as God's eternal purpose. But B, Syriac, Coptic, Origen, and Andreas
omit these words.
new song—(Re 5:9, 10). The song is that of victory after
conflict with the dragon, beast, and false prophet: never sung before,
for such a conflict had never been fought before; therefore new:
till now the kingdom of Christ on earth had been usurped; they
sing the new song in anticipation of His blood-bought kingdom with His
four beasts—rather, as Greek,
"four living creatures." The harpers and singers evidently include the
144,000: so the parallel proves (Re 15:2, 3), where the same act is attributed to
the general company of the saints, the harvest (Re 14:15) from all nations. Not as Alford, "the harpers and song are in heaven,
but the 144,000 are on earth."
redeemed—literally, "purchased." Not
even the angels can learn that song, for they know not
experimentally what it is to have "come out of the great
tribulation, and washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb"
4. virgins—spiritually (Mt 25:1); in contrast to the apostate Church,
14:8), spiritually "a harlot"
(Re 17:1-5; Isa 1:21; contrast 2Co 11:2; Eph 5:25-27). Their not being defiled with
women means they were not led astray from Christian faithfulness by
the tempters who jointly constitute the spiritual "harlot."
follow the Lamb whithersoever he
goeth—in glory, being especially near His person; the fitting
reward of their following Him so fully on earth.
being the—rather, "as a
first-fruit." Not merely a "first-fruit" in the sense in which
all believers are so, but Israel's 144,000 elect are the
first-fruit, the Jewish and Gentile elect Church is the
harvest; in a further sense, the whole of the transfigured and
translated Church which reigns with Christ at His coming, is the
first-fruit, and the consequent general ingathering of Israel
and the nations, ending in the last judgment, is the full and final
5. guile—So Andreas in one copy. But A, B, C, Origen, and Andreas
in other copies read, "falsehood." Compare with English Version
reading Ps 32:2; Isa 53:9; Joh 1:47.
for—So B, Syriac, Coptic, Origen, and Andreas read. But A and C omit.
"blameless": in respect to the sincerity of their fidelity to Him. Not
absolutely, and in themselves blameless; but regarded as such on
the ground of His righteousness in whom alone they trusted, and whom
they faithfully served by His Spirit in them. The allusion seems to be
15:1, 2. Compare Re 14:1, "stood on Mount Sion."
before the throne of God—A, B, C,
Syriac, Coptic, Origen, and Andreas omit these words. The oldest
Vulgate manuscript supports them.
6. Here begins the portion relating to the
Gentile world, as the former portion related to Israel. Before the
end the Gospel is to be preached for a WITNESS unto all nations: not that all
nations shall be converted, but all nations shall have had the
opportunity given them of deciding whether they will be for, or
against, Christ. Those thus preached to are "they that dwell (so
A, Coptic, and Syriac read. But B, C, Origen, Vulgate, Cyprian, 312, read, 'SIT,' compare Mt 4:16; Lu 1:79, having their settled home) on
the earth," being of earth earthy: this last season of grace is given
them, if yet they may repent, before "judgment" (Re 14:7) descends: if not, they will be left
without excuse, as the world which resisted the preaching of Noah in
the the hundred twenty years "while the long-suffering of God waited."
"So also the prophets gave the people a last opportunity of repentance
before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, and our Lord and His
apostles before the Roman destruction of the holy city" [Auberlen]. The Greek for "unto" (epi,
in A and C) means literally, "upon," or "over," or "in respect to"
9:12; Heb 7:13). So also
"TO every nation" (Greek,
"epi," in A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Origen, Andreas,
Cyprian, and Primasius). This, perhaps, implies that the Gospel,
though diffused over the globe, shall not come savingly
unto any save the elect. The world is not to be evangelized till
Christ shall come: meanwhile, God's purpose is "to take out of the
Gentiles a people for His name," to be witnesses of the effectual
working of His Spirit during the counter-working of "the mystery of
everlasting gospel—the Gospel which
announces the glad tidings of the everlasting kingdom of
Christ, about to ensue immediately after the "judgment" on Antichrist,
announced as imminent in Re 14:7. As
the former angel "flying through the midst of heaven" (Re 8:13) announced "woe," so this angel "flying
in the midst of heaven" announced joy. The three angels making
this last proclamation of the Gospel, the fall of Babylon (Re 14:8), the harlot, and the judgment on the
beast worshippers (Re 14:9-11), the voice from heaven respecting the
blessed dead (Re 14:13),
the vision of the Son of man on the cloud (Re 14:11), the harvest (Re 14:15), and the vintage (Re 14:18), form the compendious summary,
amplified in detail in the rest of the book.
7. Fear God—the forerunner to embracing
the love of God manifested in the Gospel. Repentance
give glory to him—and not to the beast
(compare Re 13:4; Jer 13:16).
the hour of his judgment—"The hour"
implies the definite time. "Judgment," not the general judgment,
but that up on Babylon, the beast, and his worshippers (Re 14:8-12).
worship him that made heaven—not
Antichrist (compare Ac 14:15).
sea … fountains—distinguished
also in Re
8. another—So Vulgate. But A, B,
Syriac, and Andreas add, "a
second"; "another, a second angel."
Babylon—here first mentioned;
identical with the harlot, the apostate Church; distinct from
the beast, and judged separately.
is fallen—anticipation of Re 18:2. A, Vulgate, Syriac, and Andreas support the second "is fallen." But B,
C, and Coptic omit it.
that great city—A, B, C, Vulgate,
Syriac, and Coptic omit "city." Then translate, "Babylon the
great." The ulterior and exhaustive fulfilment of Isa 21:9.
because—So Andreas. But A, C, Vulgate, and Syriac
read, "which." B and Coptic omit it. Even reading "which," we
must understand it as giving the reason of her fall.
all nations—A, B and C read, "all
the wine of the wrath of her
fornication—the wine of the wrath of God, the
consequence of her fornication. As she made the nations drunk
with the wine of her fornication, so she herself shall be made drunk
with the wine of God's wrath.
9. A, B, C, and Andreas read, "another, a third angel." Compare with
this verse Re 13:15, 16.
10. The same—Greek, "he also," as
the just and inevitable retribution.
wine of … wrath of God—(Ps 75:8).
without mixture—whereas wine was so
commonly mixed with water that to mix wine is used in
Greek for to pour out wine; this wine of God's
wrath is undiluted; there is no drop of water to cool its heat.
Naught of grace or hope is blended with it. This terrible threat may
well raise us above the fear of man's threats. This unmixed cup
is already mingled and prepared for Satan and the beast's
"orges," "abiding wrath," But the Greek for "wrath" above
(Greek, "thumou") is boiling indignation, from
(Greek, "thuo") a root meaning "to boil"; this is
temporary ebullition of anger; that is lasting [Ammonius], and accompanied with a purpose of
vengeance [Origen on Psalm 2:5].
tormented … in the presence of …
angels—(Ps 49:14; 58:10; 139:21; Isa
66:24). God's enemies are
regarded by the saints as their enemies, and when the day of probation
is past, their mind shall be so entirely one with God's, that they
shall rejoice in witnessing visibly the judicial vindication of God's
righteousness in sinners' punishment.
11. for ever and ever—Greek,
"unto ages of ages."
no rest day nor night—Contrast the
very different sense in which the same is said of the four living
creatures in heaven, "They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy,
holy"; yet they do "rest" in another sense; they rest from sin and
sorrow, weariness and weakness, trial and temptation (Re 14:13); the lost have no rest from sin and
Satan, terror, torment, and remorse.
12. Here, &c.—resumed from Re 13:10; see on Re
13:10. In the fiery ordeal of persecution which awaits all who will
not worship the beast, the faith and patience of the
followers of God and Jesus shall be put to the test, and
"hupomene," "patient, persevering endurance." The second "here"
is omitted in A, B, C, Vulgate, Syriac, Coptic, and Primasius. Translate, "Here is the endurance of the
saints, who keep," &c.
the faith of Jesus—the faith which has
Jesus for its object.
13. Encouragement to cheer those persecuted
under the beast.
Write—to put it on record for
Blessed—in resting from their
toils, and, in the case of the saints just before alluded to as
persecuted by the beast, in resting from persecutions. Their
full blessedness is now "from henceforth," that is, FROM THIS TIME, when the judgment on the beast and
the harvest gatherings of the elect are imminent. The time so earnestly
longed for by former martyrs is now all but come; the full number of
their fellow servants is on the verge of completion; they have no
longer to "rest (the same Greek as here,
anapausis) yet for a little season," their eternal rest,
or cessation from toils (2Th 1:7; Greek, "anesis,"
relaxation after hardships. Heb 4:9, 10, sabbatism of rest; and
Greek, "catapausis," akin to the Greek here) is
close at hand now. They are blessed in being about to sit down
to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Re 19:9), and in having part in the first
resurrection (Re 20:6), and
in having right to the tree of life (Re 22:14). In Re 14:14-16 follows the explanation of why they are
pronounced "blessed" now in particular, namely, the Son of man on
the cloud is just coming to gather them in as the harvest
ripe for garner.
Yea, saith the Spirit—The words of God
the Father (the "voice from heaven") are echoed back and confirmed by
the Spirit (speaking in the Word, Re 2:7; 22:17; and in the saints, 2Co 5:5; 1Pe
4:14). All "God's promises in
Christ are yea" (2Co 1:20).
unto me—omitted in A, B, C,
Vulgate, Syriac, and Coptic.
that they may—The Greek
includes also the idea, They are blessed, in that they SHALL rest from their toils (so the
and—So B and Andreas read. But A, C, Vulgate, and
Syriac read "for." They rest from their toils because
their time for toil is past; they enter on the blessed rest
because of their faith evinced by their works which, therefore,
"follow WITH (so the Greek)
them." Their works are specified because respect is had to the
coming judgment, wherein every man shall be "judged according to his
works." His works do not go before the believer, nor even go by his
side, but follow him at the same time that they go with
him as a proof that he is Christ's.
"stephanon," "garland" of victory; not His diadem as a
king. The victory is described in detail, Re 19:11-21.
one sat—"one sitting," Greek,
"cathemenon homoion," is the reading of A, B, C, Vulgate,
15. Thrust in—Greek, "Send." The
angel does not command the "Son of man" (Re 14:14), but is the mere messenger announcing
to the Son the will of God the Father, in whose hands are kept
the times and the seasons.
thy sickle—alluding to Mr 4:29, where also it is "sendeth the
sickle." The Son sends His sickle-bearing angel to reap the righteous
when fully ripe.
harvest—the harvest crop. By the
harvest-reaping the elect righteous are gathered out; by the
vintage the Antichristian offenders are removed out of the
earth, the scene of Christ's coming kingdom. The Son of man Himself,
with a golden crown, is introduced in the harvest-gathering of
the elect, a mere angel in the vintage (Re 14:18-20).
is ripe—literally, "is dried." Ripe
16. thrust in—Greek, "cast."
17. out of the temple … in
18. from the altar—upon which were
offered the incense-accompanied prayers of all saints, which bring down
in answer God's fiery judgment on the Church's foes, the fire
being taken from the altar and cast upon the earth.
fully ripe—Greek, "come to
their acme"; ripe for punishment.
19. "The vine" is what is the subject of
judgment because its grapes are not what God looked for considering its
careful culture, but "wild grapes" (Isa 5:1-30). The apostate world of Christendom, not
the world of heathendom who have not heard of Christ, is the object of
judgment. Compare the emblem, Re 19:15; Isa 63:2, 3;
20. without the city—Jerusalem. The
scene of the blood-shedding of Christ and His people shall be also the
scene of God's vengeance on the Antichristian foe. Compare the
"horsemen," Re 9:16, 17.
blood—answering to the red wine. The
slaughter of the apostates is what is here spoken of, not their eternal
even unto the horse bridles—of the
avenging "armies of heaven."
by the space of a thousand … six hundred
furlongs—literally, "a thousand six hundred furlongs
off" [W. Kelly]. Sixteen hundred
is a square number; four by four by one hundred. The four
quarters, north, south, east, and west, of the Holy Land, or else of
the world (the completeness and universality of the world-wide
destruction being hereby indicated). It does not exactly answer to the
length of Palestine as given by Jerome,
one hundred sixty Roman miles. Bengel
thinks the valley of Kedron, between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives,
is meant, the torrent in that valley being about to be discolored with
blood to the extent of sixteen hundred furlongs. This view accords with
Joel's prophecy that the valley of Jehoshaphat is to be the scene of
the overthrow of the Antichristian foes.