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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Revelation 14



Other Authors
Verse 1

1. τὸ ἀρνίον. Of course the same as in chap. 5.

ἐπὶ τὸ ὄρος Σιών. Probably the earthly one—the heavenly Jerusalem of chap. 21 has not yet appeared. And in Revelation 11:7-8 we had an intimation that the Seer’s gaze was now directed to Jerusalem: Babylon, though mentioned in Revelation 14:8, is not seen till chap. 17.

ἑκατὸν τεσσεράκοντα τέσσαρες χιλιάδες. Cf. Revelation 7:4.

τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ. Notice that it is assumed as understood that the Lamb is the Son of God. See notes on Revelation 3:12, Revelation 7:3.

Verses 1-5

Revelation 14:1-5. THE LAMB UPON MOUNT SION

Verse 2

2. ὡς φωνὴν ὑδάτων πολλῶν. This marks the volume of the sound.

βροντῆς μεγάλης. This marks its loudness.

ὡς κιθαρῳδῶν κιθαριζόντων. This marks that it was articulate and sweet: the harpers sing as they play.

Verse 3

3. ᾄδουσιν ὡς ᾠδήν. The ὡς is perhaps mechanically inserted from the former clauses, it is not found in Revelation 5:9. Naturally we should suppose the subject of ᾄδουσιν to be the harpers whom St John seems to hear without seeing: yet how can they be angels when we are told that only the ransomed of earth can learn the new song? If the hundred forty and four thousand are heard singing the new song in heaven and seen drawn up in battle array on Mount Sion (on the ruins of the holy city? see on Revelation 12:1-6), the vision at this point becomes very like a dream.

Verse 4

4. παρθένοι. The first instance of the use of the word as a masculine substantive. It was adopted in ecclesiastical language, and applied e.g. to St John himself. It is best to understand the word literally. St Matthew 19:12; 1 Corinthians 7 prove, on any fair interpretation, that a devout and unselfish celibacy gives special means for serving God, and so we need not be surprised to learn here that it has a special reward from Him. No disparagement of holy matrimony is implied. Marriage is lowered by the Fall from what God meant it to be (Genesis 3:16), and so, like other things which God made very good, has its own evils and dangers; but it does not follow that it is here conceived as in any sense defilement—they who are virgins à fortiori are “not defiled with women.” It is noticeable that we owe to the two celibate Apostles the highest consecration of marriage, see Ephesians 5:23-33, and the last two chapters of this book.

ἀπαρχή. This seems to imply, as is required by the view that “virgins” strictly speaking are meant, that the 144,000 do not represent the whole number of the Elect, but a specially sanctified number from among them. See on Revelation 7:4.

Verse 5

5. ἄμωμοι γάρ εἰσιν. Here, if γὰρ be retained, the argument, as in Revelation 14:4, is that the higher degree of perfection includes and guarantees the lower: if γὰρ be omitted, ἅμωμοί εἰσιν would be the inference from their perfect truth, not a proof of it. Cf. St James 3:2.

Verse 6

6. ἄλλον ἄγγελον. Different from the many mentioned before, perhaps especially distinguished from the one who appears in ch. 10, but see Revelation 14:17; Revelation 18:1, where such a reference is hardly possible.

ἐν μεσουρανήματι. See on Revelation 8:13.

εὐαγγέλιον αἰώνιον. It is true that these words have not the article, but neither has “[the] Gospel of God” in Romans 1:1. Even if, therefore, the grammatical usage of this book were more regular than it is, it would be needless to translate “an eternal piece of good news,” in which, moreover, it would be hard to find a sense for the epithet. No doubt “gospel” is used in its constant N.T. sense; and the gospel is called “everlasting,” as declaring the eternal truth of God. The preaching of the Gospel here stands in the same relation to God’s Judgement as in St Matthew 24:14. But notice, that the name is applied to the whole truth of God, not to what was revealed by Christ only: for the substance of the angel’s message is pure natural theism. Hence some infer a distinction between the “Gospel of the Kingdom” preached to Israel during a limited “Day of Visitation,” and the “Everlasting Gospel” proclaimed to all nations till the end of the world.

εὐαγγελίσαι. See on Revelation 10:7.

ἐπὶ τοὺς καθημένους ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. The phrase is only found here and is suggested by the picture of men sitting on the ground while the angel flies overhead.

Verse 6-7


Verse 7

7. λέγων. See on Revelation 4:1.

δότε αὐτῷ δόξαν. See on Revelation 11:13.

ὅτι ἦλθεν ἡ ὥρα τῆς κρίσεως αὐτοῦ is not at variance with αἰώνιον: the Gospel is to be preached ἓως τῆς συντελείας τοῦ αἰῶνος.

θάλασσαν might easily have had the article, which would be less natural with πηγὰς ὑδάτων: cf. Revelation 8:3; Revelation 8:10, Revelation 16:3-4.

Verse 8

8. ἔπεσεν ἔπεσεν. Isaiah 21:9.

Βαβυλὼν ἡ μεγάλη, as in Revelation 17:5. See also Revelation 18:10; Revelation 18:18; Revelation 18:21 where we have “Babylon the great city,” “the great city” (meaning Babylon), and “the great city Babylon.” The omission of city here makes the presumption less that “the great city” of Revelation 11:8, Revelation 16:19 is the same.

ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τῆς πορνείας. If the text be right, and if it be impossible to regard θυμοῦ as representing the Hebrew word translated “provocation,” 2 Kings 23:26, there is a blending of two views. Babylon makes the nations drink of the cup of her fornication; and she is made, and they are made with her (at first perhaps by her), to drink of the cup of God’s wrath: Revelation 14:10, Revelation 16:19. In Revelation 18:6 as in Jeremiah 51:7, from which the image is taken, there is, as probably here, a combination of the two.

Verses 8-11


Verse 9

9. αὐτοῖς. A and Primas[486] read αὐτῷ.

θηρίον. A has θυσιαστήριον.

Verse 10

10. καὶ αὐτός. He, like Babylon; his fear of the Beast will not excuse him.

πίεται ἐκ τοῦ οἴνου τοῦ θυμοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ. Psalms 75:8 [9]; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15 sqq.

κεκερασμένου ἀκράτου. Lit. “mixed unmixed”: there is prob. nothing meant but the sense of the A. V[498] “poured out unmixed,” the “pouring out” of wine being usually a process of “mixing.” But the paradoxical form of expression comes from the LXX. of Psalms 75:8, where the word “red” (or perhaps “foaming,” “fiery”) is translated by “unmixed,” proving that St John knows and uses the LXX. version, though not exclusively dependent on it.

ἐν πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ. Probably the preposition has the same Hebraistic sense as in phrases like ἐν μαχαίρῃ, ἐν τῇ ῥομφαίᾳ though the ordinary Greek sense would be possible here. See Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:15, Revelation 21:8.

ἐνώπιονἀρνίου. Only one translation of these words is possible: they prove that the holy angels, and the Lamb Himself, acquiesce or something more in the justice and necessity of God’s awful judgements. This being so, we dare not give weight to sentimental or à priori arguments against their possibility, though to our present faculties God’s future treatment of sin may be as hard to reconcile with His known attributes as His permission of its origin in the past. We are forced to pass over the one difficulty: faith and humility will pass over the other.

Verse 12

12. ὧδε ἡ ὑπομονὴ τῶν ἁγίων ἐστίν. See Revelation 13:10 and end of note there. Knowing the terrors of the Lord they endure the terrors of the Beast.

οἱ τηροῦντες. For the nom. see on Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:20.

Verse 13

13. γράψον. See on Revelation 10:4.

μακάριοι οἱ νεκποί. Two questions arise as to this verse, though its touching associations make us unwilling to raise questions about it. What is its relevance here? and why are the holy dead blessed “from henceforth”?—i.e. probably, from the time foreshadowed by the last part of the Vision. One answer to both probably is suggested by the reference to Isaiah 57:1-2, that in those days a holy death will be the only escape from persecution and temptation, which “if it were possible should seduce even the Elect.” Not only “for the Elect’s sake the days shall be shortened,” but even before they end, one and another of the Elect will be delivered from them. Even now it is a matter of thanksgiving when a Christian is delivered by death “from the miseries of this wretched world, from the body of death, and from all temptation,” and much more then, when temptation is so much sorer that no Saint can dare wish to abide in the flesh. This seems better than supposing that the special blessedness of the dead of those days consists only in the interval being shorter before their “perfect consummation and bliss.” At the same time it is probably intended that the faithful dead are “henceforth” more perfectly blessed than those who fell asleep before the Advocate had been taken up and the Accuser cast down.

ναί· λέγει τὸ πνεῦμα. The Spirit in the Church and in the Seer bears witness to the Voice from Heaven.

ἵνα ἀναπαήσονται. They die in order to their rest. For the ellipse, cf. St John 1:8; John 13:18; 1 John 2:19. The future expresses that their rest is the sure result as well as the providential end of their dying.

ἐκ τῶν κόπων αὐτῶν. They rest from their labours, not from their works; for these are their treasure in heaven. The distinction between κόποι and ἔργα is almost in the manner of the Fourth Gospel, cf. Intr. p. xxxviii. On the whole verse cf. Matthew 11:28, Δεῦτε πρός με πάντες οἱ κοπιῶντεςκἀγὼ ἀναπαύσω ὑμᾶς.

τὰ γὰρ ἔργα αὐτῶν ἀκολουθεῖ μετʼ αὐτῶν. For their works follow with them: there is therefore hardly any resemblance to 1 Timothy 5:24-25. The meaning of the passage is much the same as 1 Thessalonians 4:15—we are not to think of the holy dead as if they missed (and as if the dead of the last days only just missed) the glories of the Lord’s coming: for they and their good works are kept by Him safe against that day, ready to share in its glories.

Verses 13-20


Verse 14

14. εἶδον, καὶ ἰδού. The first accounts for the accusative καθήμενον, the second for the nominative νεφέλη.

ἔχων. Here, as often, a participle seems to take the place of a finite verb.

στέφανον χρυσοῦν. There is no other instance of a crowned Angel in this book; for the Rider on the White Horse in chap. 6 is probably the spiritual form of an earthly conqueror.

δρέπανον ὀξύ. The image of the harvest, combined with that of the vintage, is from Joel 3:13. See however St Matthew 13:36 sqq.

Verses 14-20

14–20. There are two difficulties in these verses: one is, are they a vision of the Last Judgement? the other, is the Reaper Christ the Lord? The first is not the hardest: if we suppose the visions to have been seen at intervals, it would disappear altogether, for it is clear that if so, chaps, 13, 14 if not 12–14, are a whole in themselves, of which Revelation 15:2-4 are the epilogue: even if chaps, 4–22 are the record of a single ecstasy, it would still be true that each of its stages seems to close with a glimpse of the end, which afterwards is more fully revealed (see on Revelation 6:12 and parallels). Apart from this, the order in which the visions succeed each other, though doubtless always significant, cannot be pressed as marking in all cases the chronological succession of the events foreshewn. Revelation 11:7 in some sense anticipates the events of chap. 13, while chap. 12 goes back to events earlier, probably, than any others indicated in the book. In this chapter itself we have in Revelation 14:8 an anticipation of chap. 18. We need not therefore hesitate to suppose that here we have an anticipation of chap. 20. And a vision of the Last Judgement might be fitly interposed here to encourage “the patience of the Saints” that is to be so sorely tried. But if the Harvest here too is the End of the World, must not the Reaper be Christ? He is seen sitting on a cloud: is it not He Who comes with the clouds, Revelation 1:7? He is like a Son of Man: is it not He Who in the same likeness walks in the midst of the Seven Golden Candlesticks? It is no difficulty that He waits for God’s word to thrust in the sickle: so far Alford’s reference to Acts 1:7 is relevant, see also St John 5:19; John 5:30; but this does not meet the difficulty that the word is sent to Him by an Angel out of the unseen depths of the heavenly temple. Not to quote the parable of the tares, where the Son of Man Himself sends forth His Angels to reap, how are we to harmonise such a representation with the homage paid by the Angels to the Lamb, Who has prevailed to open the Book with the Seven Seals, on which they are not able so much as to look? Then again, if the Reaper be Christ, what of the Angel with the sickle who gathers the clusters of the vine of earth, and casts them into a winepress that, it seems, a multitude of horsemen tread? The Rider of the White Horse, in chap. 19, has trodden the winepress alone on earth: that is why He rides in blood-dipt raiment at the head of the white-robed armies of heaven. Tyconius seems to have turned the difficulty by applying his rule that what is said of Christ may be understood of His Body the Church, which may certainly be enlightened by angels in her office of judging the world. If so, the figure of the Son of Man would come back to its primary sense in Daniel, where it certainly symbolises the whole body of the Saints of the Most High. If this be unsatisfactory, we must choose between putting on the words, “one like unto the (or ‘a,’ see on Revelation 1:13) Son of Man,” the gloss “An Angel in the likeness of the Messiah” (which in view of Revelation 14:17-20 is not impossible, though difficult), and supposing that the Seer is reproducing in some measure the language of Jewish apocalypses without being led to supply their shortcomings. In the former case we should also have to suppose that one of God’s typical and anticipatory judgements is described in terms suitable to the last. Then it might be possible that the Reaping was suggested by the first stage of the Jewish War, and the Vintage by the second and more terrible, of which the scene was Jerusalem: as Nero, seen spiritually, bore the likeness of the Beast, Vespasian, or “his angel,” may have borne the likeness of a son of man.

Verse 15

15. ἄλλος ἄγγελος. It is probably not relevant to argue that in classical Greek this would not necessarily imply that the previously named Person is an Angel, even if “another” is meant to distinguish the Angel from him. But comparing Revelation 14:6, it appears that the angel may be called “another” simply to distinguish him from those of Revelation 14:6; Revelation 14:8-9 : and then no decisive inference can be drawn as to the figure of Revelation 14:14.

ἐκ τοῦ ναοῦ. See Revelation 11:19 and note on Revelation 4:6.

πέμψον. Lit. “send,” cf. ἀποστέλλει, St Mark 4:29. It may be implied here, as it probably is in St Mark, that the Son of Man does not reap Himself, cf. St Matthew 24:31. See on the next verse.

ἐξηράνθη. Lit. “is dried,” hence R.V[499] “is over-ripe”:—possibly a more literal translation than St Mark’s account of our Lord’s words in the parable, to which there is probably a reference.

Verse 16

16. ἔβαλεν. Lit. “cast”: but the word is used in much milder senses, e.g. of the Lord “putting” His fingers in the deaf man’s ears, St Mark 7:33. The A.V[500] rendering “thrust” can therefore be defended: but it is also possible that He Who sat on the cloud threw down the sickle, for others (unnamed angels) to reap with.

ἐθερίσθη ἡ γῆ. Comparing the parables in SS. Matthew and Mark there is little doubt that the gathering the harvest indicates or includes the gathering of the Elect. In Jeremiah 51:33, it is true, the image of harvest is used of the time of God’s vengeance, and so Joel 3:13, where, as here, it is combined with that of the vintage. But it would be pointless to have the two images successively worked out, if they meant exactly the same: while the vengeance of the other image is clearly defined in Revelation 14:19-20, and there is nothing (like the threshing of Jer., l.c.) to indicate it here.

Verse 17

17. ἅλλος ἄγγελος. It is a possible view that he gathers the grapes for the Reaper to tread.

Verse 18

18. ἔχων ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τοῦ πυρός. See crit, note. The rendering of A. V[501] “which had power over fire” leads us to understand an elemental Angel, like “the Angel of the Waters” in Revelation 16:5. This is not impossible: the word “fire” has the article, but in Greek “the element of fire” would be naturally so expressed. It may therefore be that “the Angel of Fire” is made to invoke the judgement on the wicked which will be executed by fire. But it is easiest to understand that this is the Angel “who had power over the fire” on the Altar—perhaps therefore the Angel whom we have already heard of, Revelation 8:3-5, the rather that an angel with this title is found in Rabbinical literature.

πέμψον. See on Revelation 14:15 : here it can hardly mean that the Angel is to commit his sickle to others.

Verse 19

19. ἔβαλεν. “Cast” as in Revelation 14:16; but here the Angel himself plainly gathers as well, he does not merely supply the instrument for gathering.

τὴν ληνὸντὸν μέγαν., Isaiah 63:2-3; Lamentations 1:13. The masculine is probably most simply explained by a reminiscence of the LXX. Genesis 30:38; Genesis 30:41. Tyconius thought that “the mighty” was cast into the winepress. Weiss holds that God’s great wrath is itself the winepress.

Verse 20

20. τῆς πόλεως. Probably Jerusalem, see on Revelation 14:1.

αἷμα., Isaiah 63:3.

ἄχρι τῶν χαλινῶν τῶν ἵππων. Literally, “even unto the bridles of the horses”—though no horses are mentioned in the context. Probably the A. V[502] rendering “even unto the horse bridles,” which implies that the words are meant as a mere measure, that any horseman riding there finds his horse bridle-deep in blood, is right: but some think of the horsemen of God’s avenging army in Revelation 19:14. There can hardly be a reference to the horses of chap. 6 or of Revelation 9:17.

ἀπό, i.e. at a distance of: the construction is common in late Greek, e.g. Diodorus and Plutarch, but only found in the New Testament here, and in the fourth Gospel, Revelation 11:18, Revelation 21:8.

σταδίων χιλίων ἑξακοσίων. 200 Roman miles, or about 183 English. It is hardly likely that it is meant that the blood covered a space of 40 furlongs square—more probably, that it extended 1600 (or perhaps 800) in every direction from the city, or perhaps the river of blood flows to that distance. It has been imagined that the distance specified stands for the length of Palestine, which is estimated by St Jerome at 160 Roman miles, by modern surveys at about 140 English.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Revelation 14:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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