Revelation of John 14

CHAPTER XIV.

The Lamb on mount Sion, and his company and their character,

1-5.

The angel flying in the midst of heaven, with the everlasting

Gospel, 6, 7.

Another angel proclaims the fall of Babylon, 8.

A third angel denounces God's judgments against those who

worship the beast or his image, 9-11.

The patience of the saints, and the blessedness of them who die

in the Lord, 12, 13.

The man on the white cloud, with a sickle, reaping the earth,

14-16.

The angel with the sickle commanded by another angel, who had

power over fire, to gather the clusters of the vines of the

earth, 17, 18.

They are gathered and thrown into the great winepress of God's

wrath, which is trodden without the city, and the blood comes

out 1600 furlongs, 19, 20.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIV.

Verse 1. A Lamb stood on the mount Sion] This represents Jesus

Christ in his sacrificial office; mount Sion was a type of the

Christian Church.

And with him a hundred forty and four thousand] Representing

those who were converted to Christianity from among the Jews. See

Re 7:4.

His Father's name written in their foreheads.] They were

professedly, openly, and practically, the children of God, by

faith in Christ Jesus. Different sects of idolaters have the

peculiar mark of their god on their foreheads. This is practised

in the east to the present day, and the mark is called the

sectarial mark. Between eighty and ninety different figures are

found on the foreheads of different Hindoo deities and their

followers.

Almost every MS. of importance, as well as most of the versions

and many of the fathers, read this clause thus: Having HIS NAME

and his Father's name written upon their foreheads. This is

undoubtedly the true reading, and is properly received by

Griesbach into the text.

Verse 2. The voice of many waters] That is, of multitudes of

various nations.

The voice of harpers] Though the sounds were many and apparently

confused, yet both harmony and melody were preserved.

Verse 3. They sung-a new song] See Clarke on Re 5:9.

No man could learn that song] As none but genuine Christians can

worship God acceptably, because they approach him through the only

Mediator, so none can understand the deep things of God but such;

nor can others know the cause why true believers exult so much in

God through Christ, because they know not the communion which such

hold with the Father and the Son through the Holy Ghost.

Verse 4. These are they which were not defiled with women] They

are pure from idolatry, and are presented as unspotted virgins to

their Lord and Saviour Christ. See 2Co 11:2. There may be an

allusion here to the Israelites committing idolatry, through the

means of their criminal connection with the Midianitish women. See

Nu 25:1-4; 31:16.

Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth] They go through good and

through evil report, bear his reproach, and love not their lives

even to the death.

The first fruits unto God] The reference appears to be to those

Jews who were the first converts to Christianity.

Verse 5. In their mouth was found no guile] When brought before

kings and rulers they did not dissemble, but boldly confessed the

Lord Jesus.

Verse 6. Another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the

everlasting Gospel] Whether this angel mean any more than a

particular dispensation of providence and grace, by which the

Gospel shall be rapidly sent throughout the whole world; or

whether it mean any especial messenger, order of preachers,

people, or society of Christians, whose professed object it is to

send the Gospel of the kingdom throughout the earth, we know not.

But the vision seems truly descriptive of a late institution,

entitled THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIBLE SOCIETY, whose object it is

to print and circulate the Scriptures of the Old and New

Testaments, through all the habitable world, and in all the

languages spoken on the face of the earth. Already they have been

the instruments, by actually printing (or by affording the means

to different nations to print for themselves) the Bible in a vast

number of languages and dialects, so that it has been sent in

hundreds of thousands of copies, in whole or in part, to almost

every part of the globe: viz., in their native language to the

Welsh; in Erse to the Irish; in Gaelic to the Highlands

of Scotland; in Manks to the Isle of Man; in French, Italian,

Portuguese, and Spanish, to those countries and Switzerland; in

Low Dutch to Holland, &c.; in High Dutch to Germany, Prussia,

&c. Through them a similar society has been established at St.

Petersburgh, by which the Bible has been sent in Slavonic to the

Russians; and in different dialects to the people of that vast

empire; besides the Turkish, Tartaric, and Calmuck. They have also

sent the Holy Scriptures in ancient and modern Greek to Asia Minor

and the different isles of the Mediterranean Sea; in Arabic and

AEthiopic to Egypt and Abyssinia; in Syriac to the Holy

Land, and to the Christians at Travancore. They have also greatly

and effectually assisted a very worthy society in the East Indies,

whose indefatigable and incomparable missionaries, the Rev.

Messrs. Carey, Marshman, and Ward, have translated the Scriptures

into the principal languages of India; and they have furnished the

means of printing a complete translation of the New Testament in

the Chinese language at Canton, by the Rev. Mr. Morrison. In

short, almost every nation in the universe has, through this

society, directly or indirectly received, or is receiving, the

words of eternal life; so that it appears to answer the

description of the Apocalyptic "angel, flying 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."

Verse 7. Fear God, and give glory to him] This is the general

language of the sacred writings. Worship the true God, the creator

and governor of all things; and give him glory, for to him alone,

not to idols or men, all glory and honour belong.

Verse 8. Babylon is fallen, is fallen] This is generally

understood to be a prediction concerning Rome; and it is certain

that Rome, in the rabbinical writings, is termed Babylon.

That great city] Among the same writers this city is styled

karta rabbetha, the great city; and Romi

rabbetha, the great Rome. But which Rome is meant? Pagan or

Papal Rome? Some parts of the description apply best to the

former.

The wine of the wrath of her fornication.] There is an allusion

here to a custom of impure women, who give philtres or love

potions to those whom they wish to seduce and bind to their will;

and these potions are generally of an intoxicating nature, greatly

inflaming the blood, and disturbing the intellect.

Fornication and adultery are frequently used in Scripture as

emblems of idolatry and false worship.

The wine of the wrath is another expression for the envenomed or

poisoned cup given by such women.

No nation of the earth spread their idolatries so far as the

ancient Romans; they were as extensive as their conquests. And

papal Rome has been not less active in disseminating her

superstitions. She has given her rituals, but not the everlasting

Gospel, to most nations of the earth.

Verse 9. And the third angel followed] Bishop Bale considers

these three angels as three descriptions of preachers, who should

bear their testimony against the corruptions of the papal Church.

The beast and his image] See the notes on Re 13:1-18.

Mark in his forehead] Such as the sectarial marks of the

idolatrous Hindoos, as has been observed before.

Verse 10. The wine of the wrath of God] As they have drunk the

intoxicating wine of idolatry or spiritual fornication, they shall

now drink the wine of God's wrath, which is poured out into the

cup of his indignation. This is an allusion to the poisoned cup,

which certain criminals were obliged to drink, on which ensued

speedy death. See Clarke on Heb 2:9.

Shall be tormented with fire and brimstone] An allusion to the

punishment of Sodom and Gomorrha for their unnatural crimes.

Presence of the holy angels, and-of the Lamb] These being the

instruments employed in their destruction; the Lamb-the Lord

Jesus Christ, acting as judge.

Verse 11. The smoke of their torment] Still an allusion to the

destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha.

Verse 12. Here is the patience of the saints] Here the faith of

the true Christians shall be proved; they will follow the Lamb

whithersoever he goeth, they keep the commandments of God, and are

steadfast in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sometimes ηυπομονη, patience or perseverance, is taken for

the reward of these virtues; the text therefore may be thus

understood: Here is the reward of the perseverance of the true

Christians; for although they die for the testimony of Jesus, yet

they shall be unutterably blessed. See the next verse.

Verse 13. I heard a voice from heaven] As the information now to

be given was of the utmost importance, it is solemnly communicated

by a voice from heaven; and the apostle is commanded to write or

record what is said.

Blessed are the dead] Happy are they. They are happy in two

respects: 1. They do not see the evil that shall come upon the

world, and are exempted from any farther sufferings. 2. They

actually and conscientiously enjoy happiness in a state of

blessedness.

In the first sense, Happy are the dead! is a proverb frequently

to be met in the Greek and Roman poets. Ex. gr.

τριςμακαρεςδαναοικαιτετρακιςοιτοτολοντο

τροιηενευρειηχαρινατρειδησιφεροντες

ωςδηεγωγοφελονθανεεινκαιποτμονεπισπειν

ηματιτωοτεμοιπλειστοιχαλκηρεαδουρα

τρωεςεπερριψανπεριπηλειωνιθανοντι

ODYSS., lib. v. ver. 306.

Happy, thrice happy; who, in battle slain,

Press'd, in Atrides' cause, the Trojan plain:

O, had I died before that well fought wall;

Had some distinguished day renown'd my fall,

Such as was that when showers of javelins fled,

From conquering Troy, around Achilles dead.

POPE.

Thus imitated by the prince of the Roman poets:-

Extemplo AEneae solvuntur frigore membra.

Ingemit, et, duplices tendens ad sidera palmas,

Talia voce refert: O terque quaterque beati,

Queis ante ora patrum Trojae sub moenibus altis

Contigit oppetere! O Danaum fortissime gentis

Tydide, mene Iliacis occumbere campis

Non potuisse? tuaque animam hanc effundere dextra?

Saevus ubi AEacidae telo jacet Hector, ubi ingens

Sarpedon: ubi tot Simois correpta sub undis

Scuta virum, galeasque, et fortis corpora volvit.

VIRG., AEN. i., ver. 93.

"In horror fix'd the Trojan hero stands,

He groans, and spreads to heaven his lifted hands.

Thrice happy those whose fate it was to fall,

Exclaims the chief, before the Trojan wall!

O, 'twas a glorious fate to die in fight!

To die so bravely in their parents' sight!

O, had I there, beneath Tydides' hand,

That bravest hero of the Grecian band,

Pour'd out this soul, with martial glory fired,

And in the plain triumphantly expired,

Where Hector fell, by fierce Achilles' spear,

And great Sarpedon, the renown'd in war;

Where Simois' stream, encumber'd with the slain,

Rolls shields and helms and heroes to the main."

PITT.

Which die in the Lord] These are the only glorious dead. They

die, not in the field of battle, in either what are called lawful

or unlawful wars against their fellow men; but they die in the

cause of God, they die under the smile and approbation of God, and

they die to live and reign with God for ever and ever.

From henceforth] απαρτι From this time; now; immediately.

This word is joined to the following by many MSS. and some

versions. It was a maxim among the Jews, that as soon as the

souls of the just departed from this life they ascended

immediately to heaven.

Yea, saith the Spirit] The Holy Spirit confirms the declaration

from heaven, and assigns the reasons of it.

That they may rest from their labours] Have no more tribulation

and distress.

And their works do follow there.] εργααυτωνακολουθειμετ

αυτων And their works follow WITH them. They are in company.

Here is an elegant prosopopoeia or personification; their good

works, sufferings, &c., are represented as so many companions

escorting them on their way to the kingdom of God.

There are some good and pertinent things in the Jewish writers

on this subject. "Rabbi Jonathan taught, If a man perform one

righteous action in this life, it goes before him into the world

to come. But if a man commit one crime, it cleaves to him, and

drags him to the day of judgment." Sota, fol. 3, 2. Avoda Sara,

fol. 5, 1.

"Come and see, If any man observe a precept, that work ascends

to God, and says, Such a one performed me. But if a man transgress

the law, that sin ascends to the holy blessed God, and says, I

came from such a one, who has performed me." Sohar Levit., fol.

34, col. 136. Here the same personification is observed as that in

the text.

"In that hour in which a man passes from this life into

eternity, all his works precede him; and there they say unto him,

'This and that thou hast done in such a place on such a day.' This

he shall acknowledge. They shall require that he shall subscribe

this with his own hand, as it is written, Job 37:7; each man

shall subscribe with his own hand; and not only this, but he shall

acknowledge that the sentence brought against him is most just."

Taanith, fol. 11, 1.

The following elegant similitude Schoettgen gives from Sepher

Hachayim, Part II., fol. 47, 1, 2. "A certain man had three

friends, two of whom he loved; but the third he did not highly

esteem. On a time the king commanded him to be called before him;

and being alarmed, he sought to find an advocate. He went to that

friend whom he loved most, but he utterly refused to go with

him. The second offered to go with him as far as the door of the

king's palace, but refused to speak a word in his behalf. The

third, whom he loved least, not only went with him, but pleaded

his cause so well before the king that he was cleared from all

blame. In like manner, every man has three friends, when he is

cited by death to appear before God. The first friend, whom he

loved most, viz., his money, cannot accompany him at all. His

second, viz., his relations and neighbours, accompanied him only

to the grave, and then returned; but could not deliver him from

the Judge. The third friend, whom he held but in little esteem,

viz., the law and his good works, went with him to the king, and

delivered him from judgment." The meaning of this most plainly is,

that nothing except the deeds of good and evil men shall accompany

them to the judgment-seat of God, and that a man's lot will be in

the other world as his conduct has been in this; Their works

follow with them.

Verse 14. A white cloud] It is supposed that, from this verse to

the end of the chapter, the destruction of Rome is represented

under the symbols of harvest and vintage; images very frequent

among the ancient prophets, by which they represented the

destruction and excision of nations. See Joe 3:12-14;

Isa 17:5; 63:1; and Mt 13:37.

A golden crown] In token of victory and regal power.

Verse 15. Thrust in thy sickle] Execute the judgments which God

has decreed.

For the harvest of the earth is ripe.] The cup of the people's

iniquity is full.

Verse 16. The earth was reaped.] The judgments were executed.

But where, or on whom, who can tell?

Verse 18. Power over fire] Probably meaning the same angel which

is mentioned, Re 8:3; 9:13, who stood by the

altar of burnt-offering, having authority over its fire to offer

that incense to God which represents the prayers of the saints.

Verse 19. The great winepress of the wrath of God.] The place or

kingdom where God executes his judgments on the workers of

iniquity, whether pagans or persecuting Christians; Rome pagan, or

Rome papal.

Verse 20. Even unto the horse bridles] A hyperbolical

expression, to denote a great effusion of blood. The Jews said,

"When Hadrian besieged the city called Bitter, he slew so many

that the horses waded in blood up to their mouths." The same kind

of hyperbole with that above. See Wetstein on this verse.

The space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.] It is said

that the state of the Church, or St. Peter's patrimony, extends

from Rome to the Po, two hundred Italian miles, which make exactly

one thousand six hundred furlongs! If this be really so, the

coincidence is certainly surprising, and worthy of deep regard.

On these two last verses pious Quesnel thus speaks: "As the

favourable sickle of Jesus Christ reaps his wheat when ripe for

heaven, so that of the executioners of his justice cuts off from

this life the tares which are only fit for the fire of hell. Then

shall the blood of Christ cease to be trampled on by sinners; and

that of the wicked shall be eternally trodden down in hell, which

is the winepress of the wrath of God.

"And the winepress was trodden without the city, eternally

without the city of the heavenly Jerusalem, and far from the

presence of God; eternally crushed and trodden down by his

justice; eternally tormented in body and soul, without any hope

either of living or dying! This is the miserable lot and portion

of those who shall have despised the law of God, and died in

impenitence. My God, pierce my heart with a salutary dread of thy

judgments!"

Whatever these passages may mean, this is a prudent and

Christian use of them.

Copyright information for Clarke