Commentary on Revelation 14:6-13

Notes (NET Translation)

6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, and he had an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people.

The angel is flying directly overhead so that he will be seen and heard by all the earth’s inhabitants. The gospel is eternal perhaps because it has its beginnings in eternity (not just in the ministry of Jesus) or because of its enduring quality (it is immutable and permanently valid).

7 He declared in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has arrived, and worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water!”

“To fear God is to reverence him; to give him glory is to pay him the respect and honor that is his due” (Mounce loc. 5064-5065).

Even on the verge of the Judgement, the urgent voice of heaven still calls out to humanity to think again and acknowledge the God for whom it was made and in whom it finds its true destiny: the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of waters (a variation on Revelation’s normal threefold division of creation into heaven, earth and sea). (Boxall 207)

8 A second angel followed the first, declaring: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great city! She made all the nations drink of the wine of her immoral passion.”

Babylon the Great has not yet appeared in the book (cf. 16:9; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21) but the readers are expected to understand the reference. Babylon was renowned for its luxury and moral corruption. The term “Babylon the Great” is a symbol of the godlessness that is prevalent in every age. The cry of Babylon’s fall uses the words of Isa. 21:9. The talk of how she made the nations drink is drawn from Jer. 51:7. To drink the wine of Babylon’s immoral passion means to participate in her immorality.

9 A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, 10 that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.”

Vv. 9-11 summarize the punishment that will be given to those who worship the beast. The phrase “mixed undiluted” needs to be broken down. Wine could be mixed with spices so as to increase its strength. An undiluted wine was a wine that was not diluted with water. The image implies that God’s wrath will be poured out in full strength. The punishment is described with symbolism but the overall point is that the damned face a terrifying fate. That the judgment occurs in front of or in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb may indicate that they are making the judicial proclamation of judgment.

The contrast with the prayers of the holy ones is obvious. The latter ascend with the smoke of sweet-smelling incense before the throne (8:4), around which the four creatures sing the Trisagion ceaselessly day and night (4:8). Those tormented in the fire and foul-smelling sulphur enjoy no rest either by day or by night; the smoke from their torment ascends for ever and ever. The juxtaposition of the two suggests an intimate connection between the prayers being heard and the torments of those associated with the monster (cf. 6:9–11). (Boxall 209)

12 This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.

Endurance demands believers to wait on the Lord and to overcome evil.

13 Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.”

The command to “write” emphasizes the importance of what is said.

Most commentators connect “from now on” with the preceding clause. Those who die in the Lord from that time on are blessed. But this seems to imply that from that point on a special blessedness is connected with the death of the faithful that sets them apart from believers who have died previously. Others connect the phrase with the following clause: “Henceforth, says the Spirit, they may rest from their labors” (NEB). This requires the omission of the word “yes.” The apparent implication that gave rise to these alternatives, however, is more imaginary than real. To assure those facing the prospect of martyrdom that to die in the Lord is to enter into eternal blessedness is not to deny the same reward to those saints who previously died in less trying circumstances. “From now on” marks the transition into the more active persecution of those who hold unswervingly to their faith. (Mounce loc. 5146-5152)

The “rest” proclaimed by the Spirit is the rest from persecution for the faith. Note the contrast between the blessed and those tormented v. 11 who have no rest day or night.

Bibliography

Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.

Boxall, Ian. Revelation of Saint John, The. Black’s New Testament Commentary. Baker Academic, 2009.

Fee, Gordon D. Revelation. Kindle ed. New Covenant Commentary Series. Cascade Books, 2010.

Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation. Revised. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Osborne, G. R. Revelation. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002.

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