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Revelation Chapter 19

Many people think of Revelation chapter 19 as the chapter that describes the Second Coming but, as we have seen, the Second Coming (downloadable PDF diagram) is referred to in several places throughout the book of Revelation.

"And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand." (Rev 19:1-2)

This is after John saw the events related to the judgment of Babylon but seemingly before the Second Coming which is related in verses 11-21. God is being praised for his judgment upon Babylon which is completed and seen to be "true and righteous." It is possible that verses 1-10 are post second coming with a flashback in the rest of the chapter to detail the events of the second coming.

The first half of this chapter is filled with praise and worship.

"And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." (Rev 19:3)

Here is an example of the correct understanding of "for ever and ever." The great whore/Babylon will not burn forever but the effects of the burning do go on forever - the great whore will never rise again. This is similar to the description of Sodom and the other cities that were destroyed:

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)
"And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia." (Rev 19:4)

The identity of the 24 elders is discussed here.

"And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great." (Rev 19:5)

Whose voice is this? It comes out of the throne. Jesus is described as being "in the midst of the throne"

"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth." (Rev 5:6)

He also has been recorded as referring to His Father as "my God and your God" and thus it would be appropriate for Him to say "our God."

"Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20:17)
"And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." (Rev 19:6)

This verse provides evidence for waters being symbolic of people since the voice of many waters is linked to the voice of a great multitude. Thunder is also likened to a voice in scripture; one example:

"The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice." (2 Sam 22:14)

There is further evidence that this is still the voice of the Son of God as Revelation describes His voice as "the sound of many waters":

"... one like unto the Son of man ... And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters." (Rev 1:13,15)

The Aramaic English New Testament (Andrew Roth) translates the praise of Rev 19:6 as:

"... Hallelu-YAH; for our Master YHWH Elohim, Omnipotent, reigns." (Rev 19:6)

This version uses "Yahweh" the personal name of the Father and "Hallelu-YAH" or praise YAH where Yah is the shortened version of Yahweh.

So verse six could be just describing the Son giving praise to the Father Who is the God of all.

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready." (Rev 19:7)
Marriage Supper of the Lamb

By the time verse ten comes, it is apparent that an angel is speaking to John. What is not clear is at which point of John's record the angel starts speaking. It may be this verse or is may be at verse eight.

Who is the Lamb's wife?

"And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God," (Rev 21:9-10)

So the Lamb's wife is the holy city or the people who inhabit the city or the city when it is inhabited by the holy people. Paul spoke of the churches relationship to Christ in terms of the bridegroom/bride metaphor. Here are two examples:

"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor 11:2)
"That he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:27)

How does she make herself ready? That seems to be related to the next verse.

"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Rev 19:8)

What is the righteousness of saints? Some versions render "the righteousness of saints" somewhat differently:

"... the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." (Rev 19:8, YLT, NKJV)
"... This linen stands for the good things God's people have done." (Rev 19:8, CEV)

These are indicating that the saints come to the point of actually being righteous in their actions and not just being considered righteous when they really aren't. This condition is in relation to being a fit bride of Christ not of simply being saved. Scripture does seem to indicate that this is a process that we are not capable of on our own:

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Rom 3:10)
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good." (Psa 53:1)

The process requires help from above:

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels." (Isa 61:10)

And the secret to this is to be connected to (or abiding in) the One who provides the power and motivation to act:

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4)
"And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Rev 19:9)

Who is the "he" of verse 9? It seems that it must be the angel that John goes to worship in verse 10. This is the angel that is showing things to John (Rev 1:1, 22:8)

"Blessed" or happy are those at the marriage supper. I guess so! Those who attend the marriage supper also receive eternal life.

What are "the true sayings of God?" Would it not be the things just said in verses 6-8.

"And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev 19:10)

As the one John is about to worship is only an angel, he quickly corrects John who is about to worship him and tells him "see thou do it not." God has declared that His Son is worthy of worship but that is never said about angels; they are created beings as opposed to the Son Who was begotten of God:

"And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." (Heb 1:6)

We are to worship God only meaning the Father and His Son who is God by virtue of being begotten of His Father.

A separate page will look in more detail at the testimony of Jesus and the spirit of prophecy mentioned in this verse.

The scene in Revelation chapter 19 now shifts from one of worship to preparation for the Second Coming indicating that what came before was just prior to the Second Coming.

"And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war." (Rev 19:11)
Second Coming on a White Horse

Jesus was described as riding a white horse in chapter 6.

"And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer" (Rev 6:2)

Again, "war" is translated from the Greek word "polemeo" "polemeo" (Strong's G4170).

"His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself." (Rev 19:12)

Jesus receives a name that is significant to Him. This is similar to what each overcomer will receive:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (Rev 2:17)

The name that Jesus receives is just one of many names. The next verse tells us of one of His names.

"And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." (Rev 19:13)

Why "dipped in blood"? Isaiah 63:1-6 seems to connect to this.

"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth." (Isa 63:1-6)

However, the vengeance, anger and fury must be correctly understood in relation to the character of God. Note the sequence:

  • v11 heaven is opened
  • v13 a vesture dipped in blood
  • v15 the nations are smitten

The blood may not be from a literal slaying of the enemies of God - the order doesn't seem right for that. It may be more like His name written on His thigh (on His vesture). The blood stands for the life. It could even indicate the blood of the martyrs whom He has come to vindicate and raise from the dead.

Here is an interesting clue; the verb "dipped" is from the original Greek word "bapto" (Strong's G911) which is:

"Not to be confused with, baptizo. The clearest example that shows the meaning of baptizo is a text from the Greek poet and physician Nicander, who lived about 200 B.C. It is a recipe for making pickles and is helpful because it uses both words. Nicander says that in order to make a pickle, the vegetable should first be 'dipped' (bapto) into boiling water and then 'baptised' (baptizo) in the vinegar solution. Both verbs concern the immersing of vegetables in a solution. But the first is temporary. The second, the act of baptising the vegetable, produces a permanent change." (Strong's G911 Online Bible Greek Lexicon)
a pickle is first dipped

Christ's garments are white, reflecting His pure and holy character. The blood color, from being "dipped (bapto) in blood," is only temporary; it does not indicate a change in his character. Our baptism (baptizo) into Christ is meant to celebrate a permanent change in us. The two other Biblical uses of "bapto" reflect the fact, as described in the above quote that this is only temporary:

"And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip ("bapto," Strong's G911) the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16:24)
"Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped ("bapto," Strong's G911) it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." (John 13:26)
"And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." (Rev 19:14)

There are various theories as to the meaning here. Of course, there is much symbolism and one possibility is that what John saw appeared to be or looked like white horses as in:

"A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run." (Joel 2:2-4)

Who in this verse is clothed in fine linen, the armies or the horses? Verse 19:8 told us that the fine linen is "the righteousness of saints."

Some have suggested that those who "followed Him" were not on the way to earth but on the return to heaven.

"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." (Rev 19:15)

It is apparent that this sword is symbolic and is pictured as coming out of His mouth.

"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" (Eph 6:17)
"And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." (Rev 1:16)
"Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." (Rev 2:16)
"And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." (Rev 19:21)

To "rule them with a rod of iron" sounds very harsh but the word rule (Strong's G4165) is most often translated as to "feed" and it comes from a word which means to shepherd.

This is not referring to ruling as in what we would call the iron-fisted rule of modern despots but more like the gentle leading and care portrayed in Psalm 23.

"And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." (Rev 19:16)

It is the Father who is called King of Kings in this verse:

"That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." (1 Tim 6:14-16)

The passage above can be understood to be saying that the Father (Who is ... and Who only has ...) will make known, when it is appropriate to reveal it, the time of the Second Coming. This is consistent with Matt 24:36:

"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matt 24:36)

Then why would Jesus have these titles, which refer to His Father on His thigh? There is no problem. It doesn't say it is His name. He can have His Father's name written on Him. Jesus is the One Who is championing His Father, working to bring an end to the great controversy over His Father's character.

"And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great." (Rev 19:17-18)

The angel is not literally "standing in the sun." It may be a way of saying that He is standing near a source of brilliant light - the glorious light of the divine presence. Think of "the brightness of His coming" (2 Thess 2:8). This angel could be standing near the Son of God much as an armorbearer would stand near his master.

The reference to the birds is typical of the common language of the day in regard to one combatant challenging another.

"And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel." (1 Sam 17:44-46)

It may also have been a way to indicate that the victim would not be buried. The day before I wrote this is saw about 20 large ravens circling near our house and then found a deer carcase in the bush.

Other references to the birds similar to this are:

"And the carcases of this people shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth; and none shall fray them away." (Jer 7:33)
"And, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD; Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves on every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan." (Eze 39:17-18)

Will there actually be birds that survive the last day events and can eat as mentioned? It may be, with all the natural disasters happening near the end, that the large carrion-feeding birds will do quite well. Notice the progression:

  • 17-18 - invitation to the birds
  • 19-21a - account of the gathering for war and resulting slaying
  • 21b - the birds are well-fed

Or, it may be mostly figurative language. It's interesting that the list of the groups of people mentioned: "kings," "captains," and "mighty men" is similar to those mentioned in Rev 6:15 who have just been asking the mountains and rocks to hide them.

It should also be noted that horses can represent groups of people - see the discussion on Revelation 6 about the four horsemen.

"And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army." (Rev 19:19)

It is the beast, the kings and their armies that are gathered, not all the people of the earth.

The word "war" is again translated from the Greek word "polemos" which, as we have noted before, is the word from which we get our word "polemic" meaning a debate or controversy. However, in other places in the New Testament it is used in the sense of a physical war or battle (Matt 24:6, Luke 14:31) and is translated as "battle" in:

"And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea." (Rev 20:8)

Many physical wars first start out as arguments or disagreements about something and then escalate into physical violence.

"And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." (Rev 19:20)

The terms "beast" and "false prophet" identify systems, not individuals although they may be headed by a single individual at the end.

Where is the "lake of fire"? The Bible does not define it as a place but rather as an experience - the second death.

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." (Rev 20:14)

Revelation contrasts people who take part in the experience of the first resurrection with people who take part in the experience of the second death:

"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Rev 20:6)

People experience one or the other, the first resurrection or the second death. Revelation uses it in this way, to identify something people experience, in other verses:

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev 21:8)

The groups of people listed in the verse above experience the second death. The uses of "fire and brimstone" in association with the lake of fire is very interesting - we will look at that in chapter 20.

"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." (Rev 22:19)

Each of the three verses quoted above (Rev 20:6, 21:8 and 22:19) use the word "part" in the sense of taking part in something.

There is an interesting use of this word in Colossians.

"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:" (Col 2:16)

The word "respect" is translated from the same word (meros, Strong's G3313) that is also translated as part in the three verses we are considering. We might speak of not being judged in respect to our beliefs, whether we keep something or not. But Paul is not saying do not let anyone judge you whether you keep it or not. Rather, he is saying do not let anyone judge you for taking part in an holyday etc. He is speaking to people who do observe these things. See more discussion here of the meaning of "meros."

There is further reasoning that the beast and false prophet referred to here are systems and not individuals. The second death is eternal separation from God and from life itself. There is no resurrection from the second death. If verse 20 was speaking of individuals experiencing the second death at this point, they would be exempted from the second resurrection at the end of the millennium and the judgment that happens at the great white throne. You can't die the second death twice; it is final.

"And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh." (Rev 19:21)
The "remnant" is not simply a word to define the last part of God's people. It has to be understood in the context; you have to determine the identity of the group under discussion of which the remnant is the last part. In this case, it is those who were not killed by any of the disasters, plagues etc.  

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The Greek has multiple words for forgiveness? God forgives (charizomai) whether we ask or not. Receiving forgiveness (apheimi) is by our choice.
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