Commentary on Revelation 19:1-10

Notes (NET Translation)

1 After these things I heard what sounded like the loud voice of a vast throng in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 because his judgments are true and just. For he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality, and has avenged the blood of his servants poured out by her own hands!”

The great multitude is probably the saints since there is mention of salvation and the avenging of the blood of God’s servants (6:10; 7:9-10; 12:10). The word “Hallelujah” is from the Hebrew halal and Jah, meaning “Praise Yahweh”. In v. 1 salvation means more than personal salvation, it means the safeguarding of God’s entire redemptive program. The corrupting influence of the prostitute (14:8; 17:2; 18:3; 23-24) and the blood of the saints (6:10; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24) has been mentioned earlier.

3 Then a second time the crowd shouted, “Hallelujah!” The smoke rises from her forever and ever.

Isa. 34:8-10 prophesied that the smoke from Edom’s land would rise “forever and ever”. The point is that the destruction of the city is absolutely final. The city will never rise again to oppress the earth.

4 The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures threw themselves to the ground and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne, saying: “Amen! Hallelujah!”

The twenty-four elders and four living creatures were mentioned in 5:6-10 where they sang of the worthiness of the Lamb to open the sealed scroll. Now they worship God for his righteous judgment.

5 Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God all you his servants, and all you who fear Him, both the small and the great!”

This voice may be from one of the heavenly beings who surrounds the throne or from Christ. The voice admonishes those of all socioeconomic levels and all degrees of spiritual maturity to praise God (cf. Ps. 115:13).

6 Then I heard what sounded like the voice of a vast throng, like the roar of many waters and like loud crashes of thunder. They were shouting: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the All-Powerful, reigns!

7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory, because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

The opening of v. 7 appropriately echoes Matt. 5:12 where the persecuted saints are to rejoice and be glad because of their reward in heaven. Here in Revelation that reward is now pictured as a wedding feast where the church is the bride and Christ is the bridegroom (cf. Matt. 22:1-14; 25:1-13; Mark 2:19-20; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27). In the first century a procession would go to the bride’s house and then return to the groom’s house for a wedding feast. The bride/church has made herself ready through the blood of the Lamb and obedience to God.

8 She was permitted to be dressed in bright, clean, fine linen” (for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints).

The phrase “was permitted” (edothe) implies God’s sovereignty over the event.

Yet there seems to be a contradiction between God’s control and the actions of the people of God (“preparing herself” by “righteous deeds”). Yet there is no true contradiction, for these are the works of James (“Faith without deeds is dead,” 2:26) rather than the works of Paul (“By grace you have been saved … not by works,” Eph. 2:8–9). These deeds follow salvation as the necessary proof that regeneration has occurred. Here we have the two sides of the Christian life described in Phil. 2:12–13. The believers “work out their own salvation” (= “prepared herself”) as God “works in them” (= God “has given her clothes to wear”). (Osborne 674)

The righteousness of the bride stands in stark contrast to the unrighteousness of the great prostitute (18:5).

9 Then the angel said to me, “Write the following: Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These are the true words of God.”

The followers of the Lamb are both the bride and those invited to the banquet (17:14; cf. Matt. 8:11; Luke 14:15; 22:30). The marriage metaphor and the banquet metaphor both point to the intimate communion between the saints and Christ. The marriage metaphor depicts the corporate church while the banquet metaphor depicts individual believers. Whether others will be invited to the banquet is not stated.

10 So I threw myself down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Do not do this! I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

It is not clear why John fell down at the angel’s feet (cf. 22:8-9). Since angels and Christians are servants of the same God it makes sense for the angel to identify himself as a fellow servant. Worship of God is the only form of appropriate worship. The meaning of the phrase “for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” is disputed. I. Boxall provides a couple possibilities. The first is that it means that the witness Jesus bore is the essence or paradigm of prophecy. All who speak the prophetic words of God are uttering what Jesus himself witnessed to in his life. The second option is that it is the Holy Spirit that inspires prophecy. Along the same lines, G. Fee thinks it means that the spirit of this prophecy, meaning the book of Revelation, has been about bearing witness to Jesus.

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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