All Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
Chapter 13 discusses the nature of the Church age beast, while chapter 14 discusses the judgment of this beast. The fact that this chapter is about the harvest of the earth, the judgment of the world, confirms the interpretation of this commentary that the beast is the kingdom of darkness, which manifests itself via its image, which is the kingdom of the world, the world system that opposes the truth — in which Christ is central, who is Himself the truth (Jn 14:6).
This chapter begins with the 144,000, which is symbolic of the Church – consisting of those who have been “purchased from among men” (vs. 4) and “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (vs. 4). This is contrasted with those who “worship the beast and his image” (vs. 9). Clearly we’re dealing with two different kingdoms here, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness, and those who belong to those kingdoms. It’s the kingdom of Christ versus the Kingdom of Satan.
The idea that the beast is a man – commonly believed to be the Antichrist – and that the second beast (the False Prophet) of chapter 13 is also a man, and that the image of the beast is a statue, or such nonsense, falls tragically short of what’s actually revealed in the book of Revelation. The premillennial interpretation is the equivalent of a doctor seeing and dealing with the symptoms instead of dealing with the cause. In other words, the premillennial position sees only what would be a consequence or the outworking of what’s causing it all. It sees the symptoms of the beast, but fails to see the beast itself (not that the premillennial position is correct). Stated another way, their position identifies the outworking of the beast rather than identifying the originating source of its power. If we identify the originating source, we identify the beast — which is what this commentary has done. Premillennial teachers don’t go deep enough to correctly identify the subjects of these two chapters.
Note: While the beast of chapter 13 is the kingdom of darkness, as we learned, there is a ruler who comes on the world stage briefly prior to the return of Christ, whom I believe to be the “man of sin” of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. I believe he is also the “eighth king” of Revelation 17:11, who proceeds from the beast.
(see chapter 13 and 17 for full explanation).
1 And I saw, and behold, the Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his name, and the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.
This represents the whole Church, all the redeemed, which is true Israel. Thus what we see here in the beginning of this chapter, is a revelation of the completed Church in Christ. This takes us to the end of the Church age, and the end of this present world via the judgment of God upon the world, as described beginning in verse 7.
(For a detailed discussion of the 144,000, see commentary on Rev 5:9-10; 7:2-10)
Refers to the city of Jerusalem, which is representative of all Israel. In this context, it’s symbolic of true Israel, which is the Church. Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and the Church as a spiritual nation (1 Pet 2:4-10).
“the name of his Father, written on their foreheads.”
This is a symbolic mark of identification, of belonging to God as followers of Christ.
2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers harping with their harps:
3 and they sing as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the elders: and no man could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand, even they that had been purchased out of the earth.
NET – 14:2 I also heard a sound coming out of heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. Now the sound I heard was like that made by harpists playing their harps,
NET – 14:3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one was able to learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.
“like that made by harpists playing their harps”
Notice the sound that John heard was “like” that of “harpists playing their harps.” He doesn’t say that what he heard was actually harps being played — only that’s what it sounded like. We have to keep in mind all the symbolism and figurative language being used in this book.
In addition to what sounded like “harps” being played, John also heard what sounded like “many waters” and “loud thunder.” He’s not saying that it was these things that he was actually hearing, but only that is what it all sounded like. Since singing is involved, what John heard may be the dynamic and melodious singing that he was actually hearing. When all the redeemed in Heaven are singing before the Lord, one can imagine what that would sound like, and John was merely telling us what it sounded like to him.
“they sing as it were a new song”
This is a future scene in Heaven of all the redeemed of the earth, those who are in Christ. This “new song” is a song of worship, and it’s new, in that, it’s a new beginning of life in the eternal presence of God. The old world and the old life with all its sins is past, and the beginning of the Eternal Kingdom has begun (Rev 21:1-4).
“they that had been purchased out of the earth”
“These were purchased from among men” (vs. 4)
This can only describe all the redeemed in Christ throughout history. This refutes the idea that the 144,000 are a group of Jewish believers who appear on the scene during the so-called final seven years — as Premillennialism teaches. There is absolutely no justification for limiting the “redeemed from the earth” to one group of people — namely, ethnic Israel.
4 These are they that were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they that follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, to be the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb.
5 And in their mouth was found no lie: they are without blemish.
Again, this whole description can only refer to all believers in Christ, all who obtain salvation in Him throughout history.
“not defiled with women; for they are virgins” (2 Cor 11:2)
“they that follow the Lamb”
“in their mouth was found no lie”
“they are without blemish” (blameless)
All of these statements are figurative language that describes our pure position in Christ as forgiven and cleansed of all sin, and as being complete in Christ. However, it also describes the obedience of those who are truly saved. The outworking of true salvation is faithfulness. In other words, the evidence of true salvation is someone who “follows the Lamb wherever He goes.” A Christian is one who lives his or her life in sincere allegiance to Christ their King.
6 And I saw another angel flying in mid heaven, having eternal good tidings to proclaim unto them that dwell on the earth, and unto every nation and tribe and tongue and people;
“good tidings” (good news/gospel)
This is the “good news,” the gospel of Jesus Christ that is to be proclaimed throughout the whole world until the Church is complete and Jesus returns in judgment — as the remainder of this chapter describes.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is what’s proclaimed throughout the Christian era, which is the Church age between the two advents of Christ. This is the gospel of the whole gospel era. This verse strongly confirms that the book of Revelation is about that period of time and history, and not simply about a mere seven year period before the return of Christ.
The whole context of this passage confirms that the 144,000 refers to all the redeemed in Christ, both believing Jews and believing Gentiles — who make up the whole Church throughout history.
7 and he saith with a great voice, Fear God, and give him glory; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.
“Fear God, and give him glory”
This is the last call to turn to God through faith in His Son before He brings “judgment” upon the world:
“the hour of his judgment is come”
This is, of course, a call to the world throughout the Church age, including our own day, which could be the last call for many — for we don’t know what the next day will bring, or even the next minute. As Paul said, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).
This is also a warning to professing Christians who may have one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, or who are living in outright sin. We can’t live in the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of darkness (kingdom of the world) at the same time. At some point we have to decide who or what we’re going to live for. We can’t have it both ways. The line is drawn between the two kingdoms, and so if we profess Jesus as our Savior and King, then we must be all in with Christ and the teachings of the Christian faith. As we get close to His return, that line of distinction will become more and more defined and apparent, and people will have to decide which side of the line they want to be on. That time of decision is now.
8 And another, a second angel, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
This is God’s judgment upon “Babylon the great,” which is the whole world system. Babylon the Great is to be understood as the “image of the beast,” which is the kingdom of the world. This judgment is the end of the world and of those who belong to it. We see this judgment described in detail in Rev 18 (also Rev 16:12-16; 17:16-18). This is God’s judgment against the whole kingdom of darkness (Rev 19:19-20; 20:10).
The idea that the beast is just about one man – referred to as the Antichrist by many – and about a short seven year period, is very shortsighted. This goes far deeper than that!
Central to the world system (Babylon), are the false religions and philosophies and idols of the world. Again, the whole world system is the “image of the beast,” the beast being the kingdom of darkness. However, false religion is central because the religions of the world are the counterfeits of the truth, a false and useless means of obtaining a right relationship with God. These false religions and false gods lead people away from the truth and the true God. Therefore, in the end, false religion and false gods will be utterly judged and destroyed forever and ever.
Sex outside of marriage is of Satan. Sex within marriage is of God. Likewise, false belief systems are of Satan, while the truth of Christ is of God. Therefore, “fornication” refers to the false form of the true form. Outside the truth of Christ, all forms of belief systems are corrupt, unclean, and unholy.
“hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
This is referred to also in chapter 17:
2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and they that dwell in the earth were made drunken with the wine of her fornication.
The world is “drunk” on the false belief system of the world. Meaning, the whole world is engulfed in all forms of false religion and idols and philosophies, and people are not seeing them for what they really are. They’re not seeing the truth. They’re staggering through life on a crooked path that leads to destruction.
I believe “the wine of the wrath of her fornication,” is an indirect reference to Satan:
12 Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe for the earth and for the sea: because the devil is gone down unto you, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time. (Rev 12:12)
The devil is carrying out an assault on the people of the world through the world’s false system. It’s his wrath against the people of this world because of his hatred for God. He has but a “short time,” so he wants to take as many with him to hell as he can. Thus his “wrath” is seen in the form of false belief systems — and overall, the false belief system of the world. Not only is this false system a vehicle for his wrath, but belief in this false system leads to the “wrath of God,” which begins in judgment of the world when Christ returns, and ends in the eternal lake of fire (verses 10-11 and Rev 20:14-15).
Therefore, false belief systems are always associated with wrath. Whereas, the truth of Christ is always associated with peace and eternal blessings.
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, If any man worshippeth the beast and his image, and receiveth a mark on his forehead, or upon his hand,
As we learned in chapter 13, “the beast” is the kingdom of darkness, and its “image” is the kingdom of the world or the world’s system (Babylon – the harlot Rev 17 and 18). The “mark” is a symbolic mark that identifies unbelievers with the kingdom of darkness — those who belong to Satan and his kingdom (1 Jn 3:8-10).
10 he also shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name.
I think these three verses (9-11) confirm the given interpretation of this commentary regarding the beast and the image and the mark of the beast. Verse 11 makes it clear that the ones who are “tormented forever and ever” (in the lake of fire – Rev 20:14-15), are those who “worship the beast and his image, and who receives the mark of his name.”
Therefore, the sea-beast, the land-beast (False Prophet), the image, the mark — it’s all representative. It’s all figurative language to depict the kingdom of darkness, the world system, and those who belong to it. So to be clear, those “who worship the beast,” refers to those who worship the things that belong to the kingdom of darkness, rather than the worship of the true God, Ruler of the kingdom of light.
The whole book of Revelation is about the Kingdom of Christ versus the kingdom of Satan. As I’ve said over and over, the idea of Revelation being about a mere seven year period and a world ruler – known as the Antichrist to many – falls drastically short of what this book actually reveals. Premillennialism fails to see the big picture. It fails to see the full and deeper significance of what’s going on in this book. This may also be true of many Amillennialists.
So to be clear, chapters 13 and 14 is a revelation of the kingdom of darkness and the associated world system, and of the final judgment of both. Notice that the “wine of the wrath of her fornication” is contrasted with “the wine of the wrath of God.” The “wrath of her fornication” reaps the “wrath of God” in judgment.
12 Here is the patience of the saints, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
NET – 14:12 This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.
It’s completely unreasonable that this refers to a limited few of a seven year period. This describes all Christians throughout the whole Church age up to the return of Christ. Life in this world is difficult for followers of Christ, especially for those who live in countries where the persecution of Christians is severe. But through it all, we must be “patient” and remain strong in our “faith” and keep our eyes on eternity.
“faith in Jesus”
tn Grk “faith of Jesus.” The construction may mean either “faith in Jesus” or “faithful to Jesus.” Either translation implies that ᾿Ιησοῦ (Ihsou) is to be taken as an objective genitive; the difference is more lexical than grammatical because πίστις (pistis) can mean either “faith” or “faithfulness.”
Christians are described as those who “obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.” A true Christian is one who follows Christ and the teachings of the Christian faith. They’ve turned from self-will and the things of this world in order to live for the glory of God. A true Christian is one who endures in his or her faith — even in (or especially in) the midst of severe persecution. True faith is revealed or demonstrated by a life of faithfulness.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.
We have to keep in mind that this revelation is given at the beginning of the Christian era. Those who “die in the Lord from now on,” refers to all Christians up to the time of Christ’s return and the judgment of the world. This is just one more indication that this book covers the whole Church age.
“that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.”
Those who truly belong to Christ will show the fruit of true salvation. Serving Christ our King is what we do as those who belong to His kingdom. Everything we do for Christ will follow us into eternity where we will be rewarded for our faithful service.
14 And I saw, and behold, a white cloud; and on the cloud I saw one sitting like unto a son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Over and over, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of man” in all four of the Gospels. So by this title alone we can safely identify this “son of man” as Jesus. We must allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. Therefore, the “golden crown” belongs to Jesus, which refers to His majesty as Ruler and Judge. The “sharp sickle” symbolizes judgment, the judgment of the world at His return (Rev 16:12-21; Rev 19:11-21). It also symbolizes the separating of believers from unbelievers.
15 And another angel came out from the temple, crying with a great voice to him that sat on the cloud, Send forth thy sickle, and reap: for the hour to reap is come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
16 And he that sat on the cloud cast his sickle upon the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Again, this is the judgment of the world, the “harvest of the earth,” where Christ separates the “sheep from the goats.” Jesus talks about this harvest in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43; 47-50. Once separated, both believers and unbelievers will stand before Christ – “goats on His left and the sheep on His right” – and the unrighteous will “go away into eternal punishment,” while the righteous will go “into eternal life” (Matt 25:31-46).
17 And another angel came out from the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.
18 And another angel came out from the altar, he that hath power over fire; and he called with a great voice to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Send forth thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe.
19 And the angel cast his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vintage of the earth, and cast it into the winepress, the great winepress, of the wrath of God.
Apparently in verses 14-16, we’re seeing primarily the separation of the righteous — the “sheep” who belong to Christ. In verses 17-19, we’re seeing the judgment and the separation of the unrighteous — the “goats” who do not belong to Christ.
The first reaping must refer primarily to the resurrection (also rapture of those still alive) of the righteous, while the second reaping must refer to both the physical judgment of the world and of the resurrection of the unrighteous. Thus this reaping of both groups is a separating of the two, which puts them both before the throne of Christ at the final Judgment (Rev 20:11-15). Those who die without Christ, who are not found written in the “book of life,” will be “cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:14-15; 21:8), while the redeemed who are found written in the “book of life,” will enter into the Eternal Kingdom of the new heaven and new earth (Rev 21:1-7). It’s at this judgment that rewards for faithfulness will be determined.
20 And the winepress was trodden without the city, and there came out blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs.
“without the city” (outside the city)
Not to be understood as a literal city. This is figurative language for the Church, the city of believers. This is a judgment of all those outside of that city. We have to keep in mind that this is a judgment of separation, believers from unbelievers — those who are in the city of Christ, and those who are outside of that city.
“blood from the winepress, even unto the bridles of the horses, as far as a thousand and six hundred furlongs.”
NASB – “and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.”
Not to be taken literally, of course, for that would be impossible. This is figurative language that describes the judgment of the entire unbelieving world — not a literal 200 mile radius. That idea is ridiculous. We must always keep in mind the symbolic nature of this book. The blood refers to judgment and death of those judged. The blood “up to the horses’ bridles,” simply refers to the complete and worldwide aspect of this judgment. In other words, there is nothing left uncovered or untouched by God’s judgment upon the world of Christ-rejecting sinners. Thus the “two hundred miles” is symbolic for the whole world.
Horses in this context, no doubt, refers to war, for it was on horses that soldiers went to war in those days. We have to keep in mind that what we’re seeing in this judgment is the “War of Armageddon” (Rev 16:16), where Christ returns in defeat of all His enemies (1 Cor 15:23-26; Rev 19:11-21), which marks the end of the world.
Note: The beginning of the “War of Armageddon” begins with a worldwide attack on Christians, in which most are killed, but then resurrected (see commentary on verses 17-19. Also commentary on Rev 11). This war ends with the return of Christ in judgment.